Teaching Generocity in Worldwide Poverty

 

 

As a child, I loved spending time with my Grandfather.  He would have the best stories to tell.  Every time I would go to his house, he would speak of a time "long, long ago when gas was only 25 cents a gallon and when ice cream was just a nickle." As I look back to those conversations, some of the things that come to my mind are that my Grandfather loved spending time with me and he loved thinking about his better days.  For him, he thought it good to tell me about times past with an almost warning that those days are over and will likely not return.  Now, as a parent of four children, I find myself battling not to tell them about "the good ole' days" when life presents me with something different than what I'm used to or situations I don't want to happen.  Instead, my desire is to help them look at the world around them through the lens of the Bible to see that God is giving them an opportunity to live generously!  Here are three practices to help kids focus their thoughts on a generous God and how he works through the lives of His generous people.

1.  Take advantage of everyday moments to teach your children.

We had just returned home from a trip where poverty was everywhere. There was only one store to buy food and it certainly was not filled with thousands of products like our local Walmart. As my kids began trying to sneak their favorite foods into the cart, I quickly saw an opportunity to shift gears and talk about how our world was not the world.  I asked them questions about how the food got into the store and if they thought every country had the amount of selections we had.  We talked about the blessings of God and His provision and prayed for those that we knew where in need...right there in aisle 8.

2.  Create moments where you kids can be generous.

Sometimes we over think how easy it is to have an impact in the lives of people around us.  Our family received a letter in the mail from one of our friends asking to support them to serve the needy overseas.  Instead of my wife and I just stroking a check, we asked our kids how we as a family could help our friend.  My six year old decided it was good to bake cookies and make lemonade to sell on our neighborhood street corner.  She colored a sign to display her cause and stood on that corner all day selling the products she had made.  In all, we raised close to $50 to give in support of our friend.  She was so proud and became invested in our friend's trip.


3. Don't just talk about what to do, be the example!

If you have ever heard that kids are listening to your every word and watching your every move, it is a resounding true statement. They see how you spend your money and what you do with your time.  Don't let it make you nervous, but use it as an opportunity for them to see you be generous with those resources. One of the easiest ways to do that is by sponsoring a child.  My grandfather was wrong when he said a dollar couldn't buy anything anymore.  At NHC, $1 Feeds 1 Child For 1 Week in our feeding program.  So little does go so very far and it is an easy opportunity to introduce generous giving to your children.

 

 

 

Waiting

Simon

Most of us have heard scripture verses about waiting on the Lord...

"but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint."
 -Isaiah 40:31

But, if we were honest with ourselves, most of us would say we do not enjoy waiting. The inconvenience of sitting for long periods of time at a red light or standing behind a person at our favorite fast food joint who can't decide on what to order can be like nails on a chalk board. We want the world to move at our pace!

What happens when the waiting not only slows our pace, but causes the path that we were taking to take a drastic trajectory change that impacts our lives forever? In walks a young man named Simon.  He and his family lived in a distance village on the outskirts of Kenya.  He said, growing up in the village, he remembered how hard his father worked to provide food for his family.  His mother had died a couple years earlier from the flu and his role as the only son was to take care of the responsibilities of the house while his father worked. 

"It was a hard life, but a good life as I loved my father very much" he said timidly as he shared stories of how he and his father would do everything together. 

One morning, Simon recalled his father not getting out of bed as quickly for his work.  "I knew that he was not feeling well, but I was not ready for what was about to happen." For the next three days, Simon said his father laid in bed unable to get up for even the smallest task. The village "doctor" came to the home and confirmed that Simon's father was very ill and only time would tell about his recovery. 

"I remember praying that the Lord would heal my father. I would lay on the dirt floor by his bed praying and waiting for him to rise up and us go on a walk together as we had done so many times before.  The waiting was very hard."

The story does not end with Simon getting to walk with his earthly father again.  His father died a few weeks later from his illness. Simon was then taken to live in his Uncle's home in Nairobi. 

"I can say I was mad at God.  I waited on Him to make my father better and I felt like He did not hear me."

Later, Simon found himself rummaging through "The Dump Site" (a place where all the trash is dumped from the city and surrounding slums) to find scrap metal to sell for money to buy glue to sniff.

"The glue was the only thing that would help me not remember the hurt I was feeling."  

You may be asking what this story has to do with waiting.  That question would be good if it were the end of the story.  Simon did not know it yet, but the walk he wanted to take earlier with his earthly father was going to be with his Heavenly Father.

"I was at the dump site one day and saw a group of kids my age playing and having fun and I wanted to be with them."  Simon later said that one of the Chaplain's from No Hungry Children invited him to come and join them.  "They taught me about the Bible and fed me food.  I knew this is where I wanted to be.  I could not go back to The Dump Site "

Simon asked God to rescue his father from sickness, but did not realize God was going to rescue him by taking his father.  The waiting for Simon was not over and it took him having to move to a new city to be able to receive an education and learn about a Father that would satisfy him eternally. Simon shared the story of how God gave him a new heart and a new chance at life.   


 

Cheers! Where Everybody Hears His Name

Stepping through the doors of each school in our feeding program yields new thoughts and new emotions every time we visit.  When laying eyes on children that are full of joy despite their circumstances in poverty and hearing the songs they are taught about the Kingdom of God to come is overwhelming to say the least.  As Christian Americans, we have to cut through the thick fog of our society's pop culture mentality that desires our name to be great and known among people.  A quick antidote to falling into the temptation of making much of ourselves is seeing those who are thought very little of in their culture and around the world and are left unfazed.  They are not so much concerned of who knows their name as much as knowing the name of the One who is their Provider and Sustainer.   On our last trip, one of the little boys in the program was so full of joy when getting food.  When questioned about his joy he explained that the food was a blessing, but the reason his heart was so full was because, "I prayed for food and God showed Himself faithful!  He can be trusted to meet my every need."  This child was around 12 years old and was teaching the team deep truths about communing with a good God.  One of NHC's highest goals is to feed children spiritually so each child can testify to hearing and knowing His name regardless of who knows theirs.

The Dumps

 

These boys are the typical kids in the slums that we found not in school...carrying trash they've found in the dump piles that they think they can sell to make a little money for food. The children in our feeding program no longer have to do this. They are eating 2 meals a day and getting fed spiritually, mentally and emotionally as well!! Thanks to all who make it possible for us to serve the 2100 children in our program. All glory, honor and praise be unto Jesus!

 

 

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