To Give or Not to Give, that is the question.
It’s one we’re faced with every day. Young children approach us in town with one outstretched hand and the other rubbing their tummy. “Ten shilling?” they ask with pleading eyes.
Now is the season of Student Fees. Students attend school with modest fees through Standard 8 (Grade 8), but the cost skyrockets for Form 1-4 (Grades 9-12). They need to go away to school for Form 1-4, so each student needs a mattress, bedding, appropriate uniforms and shoes, toiletries, school supplies, etc. For families that are barely making enough money to eat once or twice a day, these additional fees seem unattainable. For some they are. But to not have an education means any hope for a bright future is gone.
This morning, Joel was approached by a young man in town. This boy spoke English well and explained his situation. Both of his parents had died and he was being taken care of by his grandmother who is blind. He’d been accepted into the Mapendo Student Support Scholarship fund (run by our fellow missionary friends Kea and Birgetta) so his tuition was paid, he just needed his essentials to start Form 1. School started yesterday, but he’s not permitted entry without all his personal essentials.
Now we’ve heard our share of stories that are modified slightly for effect, so Joel inquired of the Mapendo Manager if this student had indeed been accepted. It turns out she had been trying to locate him, but had been unsuccessful. God works in mysterious ways. In the end, he was accepted into the program for the tuition portion, but his living essentials were still due. Now Joel and I were faced with a decision. “To give, or not to give.”
This is something we and most missionaries out here struggle with. What is the Christ-honoring answer? We’ve seen the effects of the West giving with no follow-up investing in the future of Africans. Money given is often money gone with nothing to show for it, no long lasting change. In fact, free money has been shown to impede the very self-motivation that would provide a sustainable future.
So we’re left with this young man standing in front of us, his future hanging in the balance. Five more days and he loses his spot at the school. Maybe next year he can attend. Maybe.
As we’ve been inquiring of the Lord, lately we’ve been hearing more and more to care for His sheep. I’ve got to tell you, there’s A LOT of sheep.
This morning, Joel and I thought it would be an ordinary day, running errands and preparing for flights, but this tugged at our hearts, changing the course of our day. Following the Holy Spirit works like that; interrupting our schedules, disrupting our black and white lives and introducing grey.
This morning, this young man was faced with a mountain that he had no idea how or if he would overcome.
“I lift up my eyes up to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.” Ps 121:1-2
To give or not to give? How do you take yourself out of the way for the Lord’s will to be done? Where do you intervene? Are we part of God’s plan for this young man’s life? And if we are, how do we make sure God is recognized and glorified through whatever involvement we might have?