Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Who is my neighbor?

Recently the women in my Bible study group have taught me a lot about loving our neighbors. I have seen them work together to meet the physical needs of several others in our village and to pray for them over the past few weeks. These are not wealthy women who are giving out of their excess. These are women who work making beautiful jewelry and crafts so that they can feed their children, buy soap and medicine for their families, and send their children to school. These women have gone to bed hungry at times. These women have slept in leaky huts during rainy season. A few of them have been able to save up to buy a few solar powered lights for their family to have electricity. They all have to fetch water daily. These women have many physical needs, but they have shown me how to care more about the needs of others first. It has been a joy to see these women choose to use a portion of their earnings to help several others in our village!

This week, our Bible study was on Luke 10, where Jesus tells the parable about the Good Samaritan in response to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" Before our Bible study, we found out that a woman in our group had some complications with her pregnancy, had to have an emergency C-section and the baby died. Using all her savings, she had enough money that the hospital was willing to do the C-section, but she could not be discharged from the hospital until the full bill had been paid. Of course, that means that she is grieving while at the hospital and away from her family and friends, all the while increasing the bill by staying more days. The remaining bill was equal to what she is able to earn in our Buwundo Beads and Crafts group in 2 months time (a sixth of her annual salary).  The women discussed what they might do to help and agreed that if they all loaned her more than one third of their earnings for that week, she could be discharged from the hospital and pay them back one at a time as she is able. I wonder how many of us would be willing to do that?

A few weeks back, the kitchen/cooking hut of an elderly man in our village blew down in a storm. Since it is the rainy season it isn't possible to cook outside most days. And since people mostly cook over firewood and an open flame it isn't safe to cook inside the small hut where you sleep and keep your clothing. Since this man does not have a source of income, he could not afford the poles, nails and iron sheets to build his kitchen. Additionally, since he is elderly, he would really struggle to build the structure. The women from Buwundo Beads and Crafts decided to all contribute a portion of their income that week to go toward building a new cooking hut for this man. They each contributed about a fifth of their weekly income in order to care for a neighbor in need.

About a month before that, another elderly women in the community had a cooking hut with a grass roof. The roof caught on fire and the structure burned down. One of her daughters let us know about the need and I asked the women what they wanted to do. They all agreed that they wanted to contribute toward assisting her.  One of her neighbors had some poles to contribute toward the structure as well.

In each of these situations, people often come to me asking me to solve the problem since our family has resources. I definitely do want to be generous with the money God has given us, but I have realized that asking these women in the community to consider how to help is much more valuable than me jumping in and solving the problem. They often know better than I what to do and how to go about it. I am glad that they have been able to work and save money through Buwundo Beads and Crafts that they use not only for supporting their families, but also for loving their neighbors and caring for their needs. Thank you to all of you who have purchased jewelry, baskets, hot pads, and more in order to support these women. God is using them to do great work in Buwundo village, Uganda! And I pray that hearing about how these women love their neighbors, will help us all grow in our understanding of God's generous love for us and grow in the way we show His gracious love to those around us.

Also, if you are interested in helping to sell the beautiful, handmade, Buwundo Beads and Crafts products, please contact me! I have items in several locations around the United States.

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