Let's save the "poor & needy" discussion for another time. It's worthy of conversation.
But, in this post I would rather share with you what motivates me ... much of the time.
And, I've got an amazing story to demonstrate it.
We were on the veranda, much like every morning, here in Jinja, Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. Breakfast had been consumed and those of us sitting in the circle, around the empty plates and mostly empty coffee cups, were bringing Jesus to each other. The gate to the compound was open, as it normally is, soon after 7 AM ... meaning that, "It doesn't matter who you are, you are welcome here."
Suddenly there was a man leaning on the rail with a rather anxious look on his face.
There are few people who show up at our house who don't have a need. And this young man was no different. I didn't know the visitor, but I knew the man he came to tell us about. A man who had an accident while driving his motorbike. The means of income that he uses everyday to generate resources for his family and their needs.
But, boda boda accidents are common. In Kampala it is estimated that an average of 30 boda boda drivers arrive at the government hospital everyday as a result of accidents!
Responding to need ... just by itself ... would drive me crazy in no time here. But, that particular morning I couldn't say no. Even though I already had a plan for the day. Everything changed ... not because of the need of a boda boda man who had a compound fracture ... but because I knew him.
I wrote the story about it around the first of the year and you can read about it if you click on this link.
Now the story is mostly over. The one about the intervention of Next Generation Ministries to not only save Kityo Peter's leg, but his life. The effort resulted in a total bill of $5,634 and we didn't have any money when we said YES and started the journey of Kityo's repaired femur. Making the "need" known resulted in about $1,600 in donations. The balance came out of the General Fund of Next Generation Ministries.
But, I couldn't say NO. Why?
Because Kityo, whom we have called Peterson, is a friend. Friendship has a priority over money. Both are important, but relationships have priority. And, Kityo has been a friend since my first visit to Uganda in 2001. He has been a good friend. We have been involved together in agriculture, finances, conflict resolution, culinary arts, and spiritual life.
Here in Uganda we have a serious problem. Poverty has been a giant in the land for hundreds and hundreds of years. But, the poverty is not the core problem. I personally believe it is more of a symptom. But, because it has been a major thread in the fabric of the culture for so long, there is this spoken and unspoken faith that money will fix it ... and most everything else.
There are few relationships that I have here that don't have that element to them. Actually, most people here in Uganda love me conditionally. They love me for what I can do for them.
From my perspective it seems that most people ... not, just in Uganda, but also in developed nations, have come to believe that finances are the only area of life that requires capital.
But, it is not true. People should be building spiritual, intellectual, physical, AND relational capital.
|Dr. Klinger with Kityo at International Hospital Kampala|
But, I won't know most of them. And, a need is not what motivates me.
Relationships motivate me.
My presence in Uganda is a result of a relationship with the One I've given my life to.
Saying yes to a $5,634 surgical needs was motivated by a relationship. Without the friendship that we share with Kityo there would have been no medical adventure and faith adventure with him.
Relational capital. How much do you have? How are you building it? What makes it grow? How are the dividends paying off?
Relationships are core to the Kingdom of God. Without them we are really poor.
A footnote: From Kityo's perspective he has experienced a miraculous provision by God. He tells me that getting his life preserved and his leg healed has brought many neighbors in his village to his house. And, he has "preached" to them about the goodness, greatness, and grace of God. It started with a relationship.