Hey muzungu, give me money.
Give me money.
Money. (This makes me think of Jerry McGuire, SHOW ME THE MONEY! LOL)
These are commands that we receive every day in Uganda, and to be honest most days it is exhausting. I want to be able to give, I want to be able just to constantly give out the money I have. But for many different reasons, I can’t. I can’t give to someone and create a dependence on foreigners to sustain their life style. I can’t give and enable the mentality that we are here to give handouts. I just can’t. I know that I have struggled with this more than once. It weighs on me and sometimes I don’t know what to do with it.
I want to share a story with you about a man named Brian. Brian has been coming to my house for about two years now. When he first came to my house he asked me for money. He was in a bus accident where he lost half of his right leg, from the knee down. He had crutches, was worn and exhausted. I told him that I did not have money to give him. I try to be a good steward of the money that is given to us through UIM and I felt that just giving him money would hurt him more than help him. If I gave him money he would just become dependent on me to fund his lifestyle and that’s not what I want. I asked him to go and if I had a job I would call him.
The next time he came he told me that he had a baby that was 2 years old and, in a way, he was exploiting his child to get money. He began asking me for money for school fees. I manage the child sponsorship part of our ministry and I know for a fact that two years olds don’t go to school. So, I told him no again. I struggle with this people. I still have so much compassion for people and I want to be giving but I still did not feel like he was the man I should be giving money to. I sometimes feel that as a Christian I should give when someone asks. But this happens all the time, so how do I weigh where I should and should not give my money? I was reading my Bible and the verse 2 Corinthians 9:7 it says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This helps me gage how I should give. I wasn’t cheerful about giving to Brian, something in my heart kept telling me no. Brian left and I said I would call if I had a job.
Sometime later Brian came again. By this point I am exhausted. He did not speak the best English and I still, after three years of being in Uganda….hardly know any Runyakole. He came to my house and I had a stern conversation with him. I reiterated that I would not be giving him money, but what I would give him is a Bible. I had a Bible that one of the world racers left so I gave him that. I told him that I do not have money to give you but I will give you this Bible and if you have any questions with it, or needs help, let me know and I would be glad to help..that is what I can offer you. He didn’t seem too pleased with me. This culture loves instant gratification and when you get a Bible when you’re expecting money it doesn’t exactly make you excited about what you have received. I also told him that he needs to be a man and provide for his family. Just because you lost a leg doesn’t mean you have to go around and beg. You are a man with a strong mind and you can do more than you think. He heard what I said and left with his Bible.
Fast forward to yesterday. I was making food for the week, spaghetti and chili (YUM) and Collin walked in the kitchen and said hey there is a guy here named Brian? He has a fake leg and he’s asking about you. I’ll be honest with you all, I was not happy. My first thought was noooooo are you kidding me?….Collin was confused and I just said this guy comes all the time and just asks me for money. I almost didn’t talk to him but then I swallowed my frustration and went to talk to him. You guys….Brian was so different this time. There was a light in his eyes and a huge smile on his face. He came to my house not to ask me for money but to share the good news about all the wonderful things that had been happening in his life.
He had a prosthetic leg that he got through a canon at the church and he said the Bible I gave him gave him that leg. THE WORD BROUGHT THIS MAN A NEW LIFE!!! Not just spiritually but physically as well. He was beaming with joy and he told me how he had started a sweet potatoes business and he walks around selling his crops to pay for more crops! He also has a watermelon crop too. He told Collin and I how this Mama (Me) told him to be a man and it challenged him to step up and provide for his family. God brought him out of the pit of despair he was living in and gave him confidence and a strength he didn’t know was there.
He told me about how his baby had grown and how he had brought him like 2 weeks ago but I wasn’t there. He promised he would bring his child the next time he comes so that I could see him. His life was changed and not because I gave him money but because I gave him the word of the Lord. There is power in scripture and too often we down play how powerful the word of God is. The Bible has the power to speak life into people and I witnessed it with Brian.
Brian brought his sweet potatoes to show us so Collin and I could buy some and you know we did! We were able to purchase some from Brian and also give some to our neighbor behind us. If I would have just given money he would be a different man. It was through prayerful thought and consideration that God provided a way for Brian, one that would keep on giving.
I feel that my calling in life is to be a seed planter. To be honest I feel like that’s one of the worst roles because you never see the fruits of your labor, but God let me see that through Brian. Seeing the man that Brian is now was so encouraging because I got to see the fruits of the seeds that I had a part in planting. I have been trying to write this blog for 2 weeks now and I think God waited til this moment so that I could share Brian’s story with you.
I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven that meets us where we are at and who uses us according to his purpose. I pray that as we continue to walk this journey together that we would walk in obedience with Christ. That we would be in the word daily, that we would pray throughout the day, and be in open communication with God. We are his vessels and he will use us for his divine purpose if we allow him to. I pray for more relationships like the one with Brian. I pray that lives would continue to be transformed and I that we would all be able to see the Glory of God revealed through his children.