I used to think I was a calm, rational person. Then I met me, the mother of two preschoolers. My delusion shattered. I’m a nice person…the first time I have to wrestle dancing feet into a pair of jeans. Tell me to potty train a small human and my “good mommy” persona starts to slip. Most days my words are less than inspirational. Dirty dishes ferment on the counter; toys are scattered in every room. My husband comes home from a busy work day to hyper kids and a frazzled wife. Continue reading Musings from a Momma→
My father Russell Koch is a very innovative man. Thirty-three years ago he started a silo repair business. One of the reasons he is a successful entrepreneur is that he finds solutions to his clients’ problems, even if the requests are out of the ordinary.
A couple of years ago my dad had the opportunity to be innovative and use some of the spare silo materials he had stored. For many years his cousin Lloyd and his wife Earla have been involved in improving the Shirati KMT Hospital facilities in Tanzania.
In 2010 they started to search for solutions to the hospital’s water storage problem. The hospital pumped water in from nearby Lake Victoria, but their water tank was in poor shape and constantly leaked. In 2015, Lloyd approached my dad to help them repair the existing tank.
My dad thought it would be better to build a new tank. He had the parts of a Harvestore silo that, in his mind, could be a great solution to their water problem. He discussed the idea with Lloyd, and a new project was born. My dad donated the silo and booked a trip to Shirati.
My mom Hazel got involved as well. A container was rented to ship the silo parts to Tanzania and since there was extra space they, along with friends, family and church members donated items for the hospital and surrounding communities. While my dad built the water tank, my mom gave sewing lessons to women from the area and helped distribute the donated layettes, clothing, toiletries, and school supplies.
When my parents came home, their excitement and joy were clear to see. They told us how happy the hospital staff were to have enough water for their daily needs. My dad loved working with the people of Shirati who helped build the tank. “To be there, working side-by-side with such great people, there’s nothing that compares with that,” my dad exclaimed.
Their experience made me think of Acts 20:35, “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” (NLT).
Columnist Sharon Salzberg writes, “Generosity generates its power from the gesture of letting go. Being able to give to others shows us our ability to let go of attachments that otherwise can limit our beliefs and our experiences . . . [and we can] carry ourselves to a state of greater freedom. In short, being able to step outside of oneself and give is an essential ingredient for happiness” (The Real Power of Generosity, http://www.onbeing.org/blog/the-real-power-of-generosity).
Lloyd had mentioned the needs of Shirati to my parents two years previously, but my dad wasn’t interested. Once he went, however, the experience changed him. It impacted him so much he went back the next year for six weeks to help them build a new intensive care unit. My parents have a newfound passion for the people in Shirati. They stay in touch and are dedicated to supporting the community financially.
The fear of not having enough might be holding us back from being generous. Instead of giving, we can be prone to hold onto things to try to find happiness, but the Bible reveals that real joy is found in being generous. It may not make sense that giving up something that is precious to us (our money, our possessions, our time) can bring us joy. Yet experiences like that of my parents prove that it is true; that generosity is not only beneficial to the recipient but also provides joy to the giver.
Perhaps you’ve heard this message many times but haven’t tried it for yourself. Give generosity a try, and, without any obligation, let Abundance Canada help!
Wendy Helgerman is the Communications Specialist at Abundance Canada. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, call 1.800.772.3257 or visit abundance.ca.
I came back from Mexico more convinced than ever that God is real, powerful, and working in the lives of people everywhere. It was spring break mission trip (March 24 to April 2) to the City of Juarez in Chihuahua state.
One of the most powerful moments for me was during Sunday morning worship at Nuevo Pacto, an EMC mission church plant, our first day there. I’d been looking forward to worshipping there. It’s a church into which my parents, Jake and Bertha Kroeker, invested many years; it was my home church through my high school years. But that was in the late 70s—almost 40 years ago. I only recognized a few older people.
The worship started with powerful celebration, loud enough for the neighbourhood to participate in even without coming to church. The band was great. The worship leader did a lot of good teaching and application between songs. But the most powerful thing for me was a deep connection with these people as we worshipped the same almighty God.
I found myself getting emotional. How do you explain that kind of love and unity among strangers from such different cultures? A few tears managed to sneak out and make their way down my cheeks. I tried to stop it at that, but just then they slowed the worship right down, reflecting on God’s love and how unworthy we are to receive it.
Now I really started crying, overwhelmed by the love and presence of God there and by the love and unity I felt with those Mexicans. I sat with my head in my hands and cried. The man next to me sat down and put his head on the chair in front of him. The man in front of me was wiping away tears.
What a blessing to experience the continuing fruit of my parents’ lives in this vibrant and healthy church. What a privilege to be invited up by the young preacher to interpret into English his message on the true Gospel—that Jesus did not come to make our lives easy by taking away all our poverty, suffering, and sickness. He came primarily to take care of our sin problem and only he was qualified to do so.
After the service I couldn’t get away because I was getting so much love and attention from people who wanted me to know the impact my dear parents had had on them. It was well into the afternoon before we finally made it to the market place for lunch: chile rellenos and Coca-Cola while serenaded by mariachis sitting out in the patio under the warm Mexican sun.
How do you explain such love and unity with complete strangers across culture and race if not for Jesus? God is real and powerful and working in the lives of people everywhere.
How do you explain the love and unity with our mission trip team members, so different in so many ways?
Seven individuals, four households
Four grown men; three children; one lone girl
Ages 11 to 60-plus
Most hardly knew each other; some had never even met
Squeezed into a minivan (including luggage)
2,700 kms one way; 27 hours; two 14-hour days with one short stop for sleep
Shared sleeping space with guys who snored or coughed and coughed
One insistent on eating only authentic Mexican foodBut we got there and back, got a house straightened out (14 inches out of level in a span of 14 feet), and a new roof put on. It’s just not natural for a group like this to get along so well and work so well together, is it? How often do you see examples of that outside of the Church? It does happen occasionally, but it’s not the norm like it is among followers of Jesus. Love and unity in a common mission because of a common love for Jesus Christ. God is real and powerful and working in the lives of people everywhere.
“I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:23, NLT).
Les Kroeker is the associate pastor at Portage Evangelical Church. He is the son of Jake and Bertha Kroeker, who served as EMC missionaries in Mexico from 1958-1998.
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference