Posted by: Louise | November 13, 2009

“We have no rice”

How would you respond to this?

“We have no rice, we are hungry, can we work?”.

“I need 50 peso’s (75p) so I can sit my school exam”

“I have this prescription from the doctor for my daughter, I have no money to buy the medicine”

“My house has burnt down, I have nothing left”

“Can we have a snack, please?!”

Almost daily people (mostly children) come to our gate with requests like these. Some of the children just come looking for a snack, and hope that I have baked some cookies that day and will share them! Others however, are obviously in need. Poorly dressed, often dirty and bare footed, these little lives come uninvited to my gate looking for help.

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I often find myself wondering how God wants me to respond. How to best help these little people? Many questions fill my mind like:

  • Are these children really in need, or just hoping to get some free food?
  • By giving food, am I meeting their long term needs for tomorrow they will be hungry again?
  • How can I meet their emotional needs and/or spiritual needs?
  • There is one theory that giving indiscriminately free gifts to the poor, only reinforces their belief that they can’t help themselves and therefore feeds into their poverty – am I doing this?

On the other hand, these children are hungry now, and as I look into their brown eyes, I can’t help but feel compassion for them and their empty bellies. I wonder where their parents are and if they are being abused through neglect, or otherwise. I wonder when the last time someone held them close and told them they were loved and valued. Has anyone ever explained to them their need for God and His love for them in a language and a way they can truly understand?

There are days when these questions way heavy on my heart and other days when their calling at the gate is nothing more than inconvenience and I realise that after five years, maybe my heart is growing cold to the reality of so many in need.   

Recently while studying Proverbs I was encouraged or challenged by these verses:

Proverbs 11:25 The generous will prosper, those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 14:31 Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but helping the poor honors him.

Proverbs 19:17 If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – He will repay you!

These days, a steady stream of banana’s and rice leave our gates and I enjoy seeing the enthusiasm with which my children run to the gate with our gifts to these lives which are precious in Gods’ eyes, but I’m also trying to be more constructive and discerning in how we give, especially money.

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Meet Richard. He is one of 11 children. His mother has passed away and his father is a street vendor. He comes to our gate looking for money to pay school fees, normally nothing more than a few pounds. Sometimes he needs school supplies or clothes. Despite his background, his grasp of English is good and I’m delighted he is still in school. He tells me he is top of some of his high school classes. Last week he asked for 50 peso’s (75p) for a exam the next day. As I gave him the money I told him I wanted him to work for it. His eyes lit up in delight. “YES please” was his response.

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A few days later he returned and tidied up our garden. He worked hard all morning in the hot sun, with a happy heart (he got some extra money, which he had fairly earned).

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Or these two guys came recently – “we have no rice, can we sweep”.   

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On our street, the unwritten rule is that each house keeps the street in front of their property swept and looking tidy, kids like these are willing to work, and do a great job.

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Many of my questions about what our response to poverty should be remain unsolved. I know that we can’t help everyone, and even the ones we can help, we can’t help in every way they need it. But their regular and persistent calls at my gate, mean that I have to respond, I just hope I do it in a way that brings honor to God and shows love to the children.
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Responses

  1. Oh so tough… there is never enough help. Im sure things have gotten even harder since leaving 3 years ago. I would love to give money and things but ya the same questions go though my head and but ultimately I have been asked to give, and trust that God is using it in any way he wishes. Thanks for all of your work over there. What a blessing you are to those kids on your street!

  2. This was a constant struggle for me. I am right there with you on this one.
    I enjoy reading your blog and will continue to pray for you guys.

  3. Louise and Mark, I don’t doubt that you are honouring God in all that you do. Such a wake up call to us all and such a reminder that we must reach out and help to those who are in need.

  4. Louise …thinking that these acts of kindness will have eternal results Matthew ch10 v42.

    these children look adorable your heart must ache for them

  5. Wow loved reading your post. I added your rss to my blogreader.

  6. Nice post. I thought o let you know that you website isn’t getting displayed proprly on android web browser on my pda.

    Have a nice time…sorry for typos


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