“The soul is healed by being with children.” – English Proverb
First Lesson: On Giving the Best
“Nothing that you have not given away will ever truly be yours.” – C.S. Lewis
There is a lot we can learn from a child. If we allow ourselves to listen. To learn.
Because this is the Season of Giving, we decided to take our children, the children of the missionaries and other expatriate families living in Zambia, to visit the slums. The poorest of the poor.
The children were excited. At their homes, they gathered food, toys, clothing, books, Bibles and anything they wanted to give away. I asked my 5-year old son to choose the toys he wanted to give away to a little child that has no toys. I “naturally” thought he would choose the toys he doesn’t play with anymore. Isn’t that what we always do? Give away what we don’t want anymore or don’t need. I found him doing the opposite. He was putting his favorite toys inside the bag. When I made sure he understood that he was not going to see these toys again, he told me in a serious way, “Mommy, it’s okay, they also don’t have a Mickey Mouse.” He gave away his very best toys. His favorite cars. His favorite things. To give a child that has nothing.
What a lesson he gave me that day. On giving my very best. On offering my best. Not what is left over of my abundance. Not what I don’t want anymore.
Not only did my son want to give toys, but he said every child must also have a Bible. They must know the stories of the Bible. I sighed. He was right. What good do we give if we do not give the Word of God. He tried to give his sister’s Bible away, but I definitely stopped him on this one :). (He ended up choosing from his own!).
I pray that in this season of giving, we can teach our children to give. To love. To offer their best. That we do the same. What am I willing to offer my Christ this year? In the coming New Year? God offered His Only Son. His Best. Himself.
“I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
Second Lesson: On Stepping out of our Comfort Zones
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
After our visitations with the children, we had a debriefing. The children came back full of joy. They talked about how much they loved the visitations. Seeing the poor children smile when they gave them gifts. Sharing the Word of God. Singing songs with them. It was beautiful. Fulfilling. Heavenly.
In an excited state, I asked who would love to go again. Out of 25 kids, only 2 raised their hands! I was shocked. I thought they loved giving. Sharing the Word of God. Bringing toys for the orphaned children. I asked them why they wouldn’t go again. They were honest. They said the slums were too smelly. Too many flies. Walked too much. Got thirsty. Hungry. Uncomfortable. Rather play games. Have fun. Bored.
We shared the message of when Christ said “. . . inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). They slowly began to understand. They are serving Christ Himself when they give to these forgotten ones. It is no coincidence that our Church is literally in between the rich shopping mall and the poor slums. God has placed us here to serve. To give. A chance to see Him.
As much as we hate to admit it, the children are right. We like to be comfortable. Stepping out of our comfort zones is hard. It is not relaxing. It is not entertaining or fun. We are going to do visitations again. We are going to keep doing it. This is good training for them. For me. I’m happy we took our children. I pray they learned and I pray it changes the way they live forever. We can’t live just by being entertained and comfortable, even for our children.
It is OK to be uncomfortable. It is OK to do something hard. And that is how we grow. Even as a missionary in Africa, I find myself going into “comfort mode.” I hide from the hard services. The challenging. The heart breaking. I was reminded by the children that I must intentionally go out of my comfort zone. To allow God to work. To rely on Him. Not myself. It is a training that we should practice as well as teach our young ones. It is never too early to start this training.
Thank you Jesus for the lessons learned from these pure and innocent children.
During this Nativity, I pray for you and your family that you are filled with the blessings and joy of the season. Through the intercessions of the generous saint of the season, St. Nicholas, may we always guide our children to give and serve Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And may we also live by example.
Let’s Chat: Recently, what lessons have you learned from our small ones?