Power of Half 


I need to do a better job of taking time to read when I am not traveling.  I heard about The Power of Half some time when we were still living in the United States. I didn’t start reading it until our trip to Hawaii.

The book is the story of a family of four who decided that they wanted to sell their big house in the suburbs and move into something smaller so they could use the money to help others. The book is written by the father and daughter of the family.  The father,  Kevin,  narrates the story.  At the end of each chapter,  Hannah,  gives some practical advice for families who would like to do something like this.

The Salwen family found a great house in their current neighborhood worth half the value of the house they were living in.  They had to sell or donate many household items to downsize into their new home. They thought it was a great fit for them and moved in before their house was sold.

The family spent a lot of time researching and discussing what they really wanted to do as a family.  The Salwens met with different organizations before they decided as a family how they really thought they could make a difference.

Their project of choice was to fund two epicenters in Ghana with the Hunger Project.  They had a five year commitment with a cost of $400,000. They took a family trip to Ghana to meet the people they would partner with.  The whole heart of the project is to empower the two villages to rise out of poverty through microloans and education.

They actually lived in the new home for two years before the old house sold. So when they needed to send the first $80,000 check,  they had some choices to make.  In the end,  the two teens,  Hannah and Joseph were willing to give up their college funds to pay that first installment.

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning their process.  It reminds me of Toxic Charity because they wanted to empower the people instead of just giving gifts and “turning them into beggars.”

They emphasize that selling your house isn’t for everyone,  but that every family can do something to serve others. It makes me think about how the Bible says that it isn’t really a sacrifice or an offering if it costs you nothing. They didn’t give away half of everything they owned.  They still went on vacations.  They just chose one thing to give away half.

I also liked when they wrote “sustained giving is more unifying than a one time event.” They could have chosen to give half of their clothes away and move on.  Instead,  they went on a family adventure that lasted several years and really helped this family to become closer than ever.

It’s good parenting to teach Clarissa that the world does not revolve around her.  That there are other people who are not as blessed as we are.  There are ways that our family can help,  even while she is very young.

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