I love change!!! Change is just in my blood. I can't stand for things to stay the same. I can't sit still while I'm talking on the phone (seriously, I pace back and forth around the room or even better, I'll walk around outside if possible!!)…I like working in different environments…I love the changing of the seasons…and I'm always trying to move anything I'm involved with forward to try to make it better (including myself). I'm never satisfied with the status quo. I can't even play tennis without wanting to learn how to play like the pros. I'm constantly pushing myself to get better, and I'm pushing those around me to get better as well. It's a blessing and a curse really, but ultimately it's just how the Lord wired me.
This mentality has naturally carried over into my leadership within No Hungry Children. In the last 4 years, I've had the privilege of going to Nairobi Kenya 6 times, and 3 of those times have been in the last 12 months. The last time I left Atlanta headed to Kenya, I started thinking…am I eventually going to run out of things to do in Nairobi. How often do I really need to go over there to check on things. We raise money here…we send money there…they buy the food…they deliver it…the schools cook it…the kids eat it…it's a beautiful thing that the Lord has blessed us to be a part of…feeding children physically (food), emotionally (they come to school and learn and play) and spiritually (they hear about Jesus every week from our school chaplain!).
Well, it didn't take long being in Nairobi for the 3rd time this year to once again realize that we have so much work to do. There are 11 schools currently on our waiting list who are not getting fed. There are children graduating from 8th grade (the highest grade that any of our schools go up to) that have to drop out of school, because they don't have the money to go to high school (there were 16 students like that this past semester). There are holes in the roofs of many schools which cause the dirt floors and books/materials to get wet when it rains. There are "kitchen" areas (a dirt floor with an open fire and a big pot) with holes in the roof where, when it rains, they are not able to cook the food because it puts out the fire. There are schools with no bathroom facilities at all. There are schools with not enough plates, cups and spoons. There are children with no Bible, school uniform or shoes. There are pastors/chaplains who can't afford to pay their rent. There are teachers who are not getting paid a penny that eventually leave when they find another job. There are orphans who are living at the school who have no home. There are children who don't eat except the 2 meals they get at school 5 days per week, 9 months out of the year. And the list goes on and on.
Every single time I go into the slums of Nairobi to visit the 21 schools in our feeding program, I am reminded of how much we have in the USA. Most of us have clothes in our closet that we haven't worn in months or years that we've forgotten we have. We throw food out because it sits in our refrigerator for too long. We complain because the traffic light won't turn green, or because someone in the line ahead of us is using 100 coupons when purchasing their food. We spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars per month on entertainment, recreation and other non-essential items, because it's just who we are as a society.
In no way am I trying to throw the guilt trip on anyone. I am talking about myself and my family as well. We are so blessed and should enjoy the things that the Lord has blessed us with. But we should not take them for granted or think that we deserve them by any means. I believe we should just think about the blessings that we have from time to time (like every morning), and those around the world who are suffering and struggling, and then ask ourselves…Lord, am I spending the money that you've given me to manage (you do know the money you have is not really yours, right?) in a way that is pleasing to you…what spending habits do you want to change in me or my family?
I would dare say that most of us if asked the question…do you want to honor and please the Lord with your life…would answer emphatically YES! But then why is it so difficult to ask God sincerely to show us if the way we spend our money is honoring and pleasing to Him? So I challenge you…don't be comfortable with the status quo. Be intent on seeing God continue to change you, and start first by asking…do my spending habits need to change? If the Lord says YES, then embrace it and ask Him to show you how they should change.
As a business owner, I personally find that giving money away is the best remedy for loving it (which is the root of all evil) or being controlled by it. So I'm always looking for things I can give money to that I believe the Lord has His hand on. I believe the Lord has His hand on No Hungry Children and the work that is going on in the 21 schools in the slums of Nairobi Kenya that we get to be a part of. So if you want to give to that, you can know that with only $1 you can feed a child for a week…2 meals per day…5 days per week. And here are some other projects that you can give to this holiday season that we are trying to raise the money for before the kids go back to school in January:
· $2500 will provide a spoon, cup and plate for each child in our feeding program (around $1 per child for all 3 items)
· $300 will provide a new roof in the kitchen of Spring Hill Academy
· $205 will provide a new roof for part of Victory Self Help Academy
· $100 per month will provide the rent for Faith Integration School that is being forced out of their current location
100% of any money that is brought in for these special projects will go to these special projects specifically. If more money is raised for a particular project than what is needed, then 100% of the additional money will go directly into our feeding program.
By God's grace, He is giving those of us who have been given much the opportunity to do much with very little (seriously, buy a new roof for only $300!! Wow!). I pray that you will seek the Lord and sincerely ask Him how much more stuff you and your children really need this Christmas. Maybe He would be honored by our cutting back on ourselves and our families and thinking of others around the globe who are just trying to survive. Are you willing to change the way you think about how you spend money on yourself and your family? I will seek the Lord with you for myself and my family, and let's pray He does a great work in our lives…a work that changes who we are…how we think…how we live...for His glory and our good!