This new year comes with a yearning to slow down our rush with the expectation to “get it right” in the new year. Through the readings of the advent season the prophet Jeremiah encourages us to “wait for it… the time is coming”. What we wait for is the coming of God’s Spirit, this good news, that will be written in our hearts and will guide us in all truth.
We WAIT not for baby Jesus but for the spirit of truth that is offered to us at the Passover table. And this spirit will be measured out according to our response to the greatest command of all.
“Love one another,
Love just as I have loved
Love so that the world will know
that you are my people.”
How do we love? Is the love he pours into us measured in bushels, buckets or bowls? Are we deserving of a full measure of love? And do we show a full measure of love to others? At Chikumbuso I see this powerful love poured out daily. This grassroots community is made up of the poor, the widowed and the orphan who are, to me, examples of people who listen to this spirit within. Here are three of their stories.
The spirit of generosity was a gift shown to Chola, a widow at Chikumbuso, who because of the death of her siblings to AIDS keeps 12 children in her home. One spring Chola became sick and unable to work making bags. All of the ladies at Chikumbuso worried, “How is she making it?” “What are they eating in the home?”
Then one day an organization called Zambia Consumer Protection Group came by the center and said they were looking to help a woman in need. It was a direct answer to prayer and immediately the widows thought of Chola.
A member at Chikumbuso informed Chola that ladies were coming to her home so despite being sick she cleaned her house and while cleaning she questioned herself, “Who am I to merit such favor?” “Why are they coming to me? There are many others at Chikumbuso that need help.” Her children were also wary of this generosity and fearful of visitors.
The next day six happy ladies came with gifts. “We have come to lighten your load. The heart of our ministry (what is written in their hearts) is to look for widows who are keeping many children.” These ladies, full of the spirit, were not looking at themselves but they were engaged and they stepped out to love.
Chola’s children were invited outside to take the gifts out of their truck. Chola watched as bags of dried fish, beans, three 25Kilo bags of mealie meal, oil, soap, and pounded maize. entered her home posed on the heads of her children.
Chola could not believe that she was chosen to receive this blessing because of who she was, a poor widow. That night each of her children bathed with new soap and ate a festive dinner.
“It was Christmas day, Chola said, Emmanuel, Jesus with us.”
The power of generosity is given from the life-giving word written in our hearts.
Edna lives with AIDS in Ng’ombe and her power filled gift is forgiveness. She is a widow who lost her husband to AIDS. He left her with their three children and two of her sister’s children. For six years following her husband’s death Edna went from house to house asking to wash the clothes of others hoping to feed her children. No one could afford school so her oldest children sold oranges and tomatoes around the slum. She was hungry and a burden to her family. Her father and four brothers avoided her. Their families were already stretched beyond what they could handle. Many of Edna’s friends saw her struggle but could only offer her pity. Edna says she waited on Jesus. She says that she never stopped trusting that he would somehow, in all his power, help her. She held tight to His hand.
When Edna joined Chikumbuso her children also joined the Chikumbuso school and her daily life became easier. At least here they could eat one meal a day. Before long one of her children was sponsored through our program and there was food in the home again. Edna knew how to crochet bags so as her talent grew she began to make more money and turned to support her father and her brothers’ families. When I heard, I was a bit put off by her generosity and asked how she could do that when they had been so cruel. But Edna remembered. She remembered what it felt like to be on the outside of daily life, only looking in on those who seemed to be surviving. She knew all too well the pain of being ignored and avoided.
Now leading a full and healthy life, Edna explained to me that, “Un-forgiveness is just another form of poverty. I feel good sharing His love. Mama, where there is darkness you must bring light.”
The power of forgiveness is given through the life-giving word written in our hearts.
The third story is about humility. Humbleness is defined as showing a modest estimate of one’s own importance. While celebrating the Passover Christ washed the feet of his disciples. He did this despite their objections. He did this to be an example for us. If God himself could be so humble as to wash the filthy feet of the disciples then so should we do the same.
My dear friend Trudy has been with Chikumbuso from the very beginning. She started out as our 1st grade teacher, cooking lunch for 30 kids during her break time. Later she went to school and got her degree to teach and became our school principal. Trudy has spoken to Mayors from London, Presidents from America, hordes of visitors and even an astronaut. But in my book her power filled gift is her passion for the children and more importantly for our grandmothers. Trudy wears the mark of a true leader as you watch the humble manner in which she addresses these, the poorest of the poor. Two years ago, one of our favorite grandmothers, known as the dancer, got sick. She was very old and no longer dancing. She was a sponsored grandmother and received monthly support. But her own family gave up on her. They left her in squalor and stole her monthly food allotment which forced her to eat off of garbage heaps.
Beauty and I found her one day abandoned in her room with rats hiding in her rags and from that day on Trudy took it upon herself to care for this grandmother. Twice a day she would walk about 1/2 mile to change her diaper, bathe her and feed her. Trudy did this for a month until finally this grandmother died. It was a lot of work for Trudy yet she managed and did it so humbly.
The power of humility is given through the life-giving word written in our hearts.
At Chikumbuso we strive every day to live out our mission to “remember to do for others”, not simply to receive but also to pour out our love for others in a full measure. A beautiful recent example is this lovely man who waits everyday on his stoop. He is blind and lonely.
A group of Chikumbuso ladies went to visit him and when they mentioned that they were from Chikumbuso his face lit up and he smiled. When they told him that they brought him a Christmas dinner; a live chicken, mealie meal, oil and salt he cried and then kissed the 25kg bag.
He was blessed by the life-giving word written in the hearts of those from Chikumbuso.
There are many of you who respond in love to Chikumbuso whether it be our sponsor program, general fund or raising money for teachers, bikes, shoes, a truck… your spirit filled response and your outpouring of love is Emmanuel, God with Us.
As we start our New Year I want to encourage you to remember and wait for the power within us that can change the world.
- S Prev