Starting the New Year Right: Nurture Your Spirit of Giving
Many of us think that children need toys, fancy gadgets and other material things to make them happy.
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First published: January 24, 2005
Contrary to the enormous focus on gift buying and giving in America, it seems to me that most Ugandans focus and care more on family during the holidays---which I believe that is what the holiday season is all about. Or maybe it is because of the various socio-economical issues that many Ugandans cant afford to adapt this expensive option. Whatever is the case, my friends seemed glad and well content after visiting relatives in town and in the villages, despite their lack of receiving presents and looking at Christmas trees.
I spent the Christmas holiday with friends who recently shared with me that they were thrilled to open their home to me, and was pleased that I gave them in exchange only my appreciation and company.
In addition, these and other friends I spent New Years Eve with, also focused on this virtue of giving and sharing, which made me desire to continue giving to others in need in 2006.
Now, I am really not into New Years resolutions, but I have a heavy burden in my heart to give for the sake of giving, whether it is love, a hug, my time, my advice, my company, my money, and sometimes gifts to uplift a boggled-down spirit or to put a big grin on a childs face.
Recently, I attended a mission trip to Kigali, Rwanda to minister to the children at Gospel Christ Fellowship Church and to attend their Christian Leadership Conference. In Rwanda, I experienced love and the result of giving in a way that is only imaginable.
Honestly, when I left Kampala I was so spiritually pumped to give my expertise to their childrens ministry that I couldnt wait to see what I could do to put smiles on the childrens faces.
But boy, was I in for a surprise because when I saw those children, underprivileged and poor but with joy shining on their faces, they radiated more bliss and love to me than I think I could ever give to them. This made me feel extremely blessed to the point that I felt they were giving more to me than I was giving to them.
The children are part of a ministry at the church called the Abana Bumwami Children Foundation (Abana Bumwami means the Kings children) that was established two years ago at the church through Pastor Francis Mutabazi. The foundations mission is to provide the children in the surrounding community with spiritual and physical growth, and a chance to receive a proper education. Mutabazis vision is based on the command of Jesus for believers to teach the children about Him and the bible. In addition, the foundation exists to provide holistic support to the orphaned, abandoned and marginalized children of Rwanda, and to provide them with spiritual, social, mental, emotional, and material support, so they can experience a loving relationship with God. As a result, these children will grow to be positive individuals in society, responsible adults and servant leaders for today and the future.
Because of these childrens extreme poverty condition, many people would think that these children dont have much to smile about. Yet, these young children have such a passion for God and a desire to live their lives to the fullest, they cant help but to smile and laugh.
Even my host family, the family I stayed with while I was in Kigali, was a blessing to me. Not only did they feed me until I couldnt eat anymore, but the Ndayambaje family, Johnson, Mary, Richard, Benjamin, Fortunate, Ritah, Sharon and Isaac made sure they gave me their attention, love, support, and company during my entire visit to make me feel welcomed and appreciated.
I attended this trip with a few pastors, bible students and bible teachers from my church Calvary Chapel Kampala, to assist Limitless Boundaries in providing support to Gospel Christ Fellowship.
Limitless Boundaries, a mission-based organization which is affiliated with Calvary Chapel La Habra church in California, is busy cultivating and planting other churches in other parts of the world, too, in places like Europe and Asia. In addition, they have begun a missions training program where men and women are given the opportunity to learn and serve in an environment where they can experience the changing work of the word of God together. Practical ministry is also taught in order to prepare individuals for ministry service.
While visiting with these children, I could see the need. Along with the word of God, they also needed clothes and food. Fortunately, I was able to witness more than 50 children receive letters from their sponsors through Limitless Boundaries to let them know that they were continuing their commitment to financially support the childrens needs in the future.
These sponsors, who are just ordinary church folks in La Habra, are aware that some of these children were orphaned by the Rwanda genocide and some of their parents died from AIDS or were affected with the HIV virus. And, these churches and believers are trying to do all they can to keep the childrens spirits alive.
Nevertheless, when I was around the children, I felt they didnt need much from me---just my smile, hugs, a few pieces of candy, and for me to lead them in songs, bible lessons and games to keep them happy.
Many of us think that children need toys, fancy gadgets and other material things to make them happy. But after this holiday season, I hope many have realized that our loved ones, especially children, just need people to give them love and care.
Let us focus this year on achieving an attitude of simply giving out of love, without stressing ourselves about how much we need to buy so that we can give it to make a big impression. But, for our spirits to be moved to just simply give what we can afford --like our time and devotion to visit a loved one, to play with a child, and maybe get involved with a church, a faith-based organization or mission that serves our neighborhoods or our global community.
Because thats what life is all about, right? People, and not things.
If you would like more information on the Abana Bumwami Children Foundation, visit the Limitless Boundaries website.
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First published: January 24, 2005
She has written, edited and been featured in the Detroit Free Press, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the East African, New Vision, The Daily Monitor, Vibe, and other trade magazines and newspapers.
Living in Uganda as a resident, she is actively involved in the Uganda writing arena, local church activities, and volunteer organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.