Written by Madeline Kalu
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4 (NRSV)
Thought of the Day:
Each of us has needs, and yet simultaneously, we all have gifts that can benefit others. By practising giving and receiving, we balance out social and economic inequities, encourage others, and provide hope for a better future.
In the past week or so, many of us in the northern hemisphere have experienced thunderous storms, heavy snowfall, and glacial temperatures. Here in Germany, where my husband Solomon and l live, it has also been the same.
The other day, Solomon went out to clear a snow path on the sidewalk for the footfall that passes by our house. However, this task proved to be a rather difficult one. The unexpected snowstorms and drastic drop in temperature had resulted in about 20cm of hard and soft snow, with a layer of black ice underneath. As spreading salt over snow is only allowed in extreme cases in Germany, Solomon had to crush through the snow and ice layers with his scraper in order to reach the cobbled path below.
With much exertion and plenty of patience, Solomon started to slowly carve a path through the white freezing mass. As he leaned back on his shovel and took a brief rest, a man passed him by. He was dressed inadequately for the weather and looked gaunt. The man offered to shovel snow in Solomon’s stead and fulfilled his intentions with great gusto and a cheerful spirit.
Whilst the unknown helper shoveled snow, he and my husband struck up an amicable conversation. Upon hearing that the man was homeless, Solomon’s heart was grieved. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the onslaught of a harsh winter, many homeless people are in dire need of shelter and provision. And yet this stranger had not approached Solomon with the hope of receiving, but rather with a heart intent on giving. My husband was greatly touched that this kind individual had taken the focus off his own troubles in order to offer his assistance.
Working together, the two men finished their snowy task. In return for his kindness, Solomon gave the homeless man a gift, which he accepted with thanks, before bidding him farewell.
Afterwards, Solomon ruminated on the lesson, which God had shown him through this experience – that help can come in the most unexpected of ways, and we should be open to receiving it without bias or judgement. Furthermore, every one of us has God-given gifts, which we can use to lift each other up, and thereby provide someone who is broken and lost with hope for a better tomorrow.
Merciful Father, we thank You for the sacrifice of Your precious Son Jesus, and we receive the gift of His Salvation with thankful hearts. As you taught us to receive from You, help us to receive from others without judging the situation or the giver.
Furthermore, show us Lord, where we can use the gifts You give us to provide hope to the hopeless, encourage the defeated, and bring those who are trapped in the darkness into the light of Your love and mercy.
In Jesus’ name,
Take a piece of paper and a pen and draw a line down the middle of your page.
In the left column, list down your talents, characteristics, and qualities that make you the wonderful person you are. In the right column, write down 1 way that you can use your listed talents and qualities to help someone you know, your community, or even a complete stranger. For example, if you enjoy communicating with others, you could undergo online training to become a volunteer digital counselor. If you are a gifted handyman, you could offer to help your neighbors with any repairs they need in their homes. If you have more free time due to lockdown, why not write letters to the residents of your local nursing home and thereby help them feel less isolated?
You’ll quickly see that God has equipped you with more than enough skills and a generous heart to make a positive difference in someone else’s life!
Additionally, write down the areas in your life where you are overwhelmed e.g. with your health or trying to parent your children during lockdown. If you’re completely honest with yourself, could you really do with some help in dealing with this situation?
If so, write down the names of three people whom you trust with your problem. Then, ring them up and share your burden with them. You’ll feel so much better for it, and God may even provide them with revelation of your situation, which will help you!
Too many times, a desire for self-independence, guilt, and even shame prevents us from admitting to others and even to ourselves that we need help. But you don’t need to condemn yourself. Even Jesus, who was the Son of God, was totally dependent on His Father. If Jesus could ask God for help during His time on earth, then what is stopping us from asking Him for help as well?
Not only do we need to learn how to give – we also need to learn how to receive!
Written by Madeline Kalu
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.
No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)
Thought of the Day:
During these unprecedented pandemic times, the love of God that resides in us needs to shine like a beacon through the darkness of fear and doubt, and offer encouragement and hope to others.
My husband Solomon and l have been collectively living in Germany for over 20 years. I am British and Solomon is Nigerian. Despite our acclimatization to the German culture and language, we enjoy connecting with our cultural and linguistic roots when the opportunity arises.
A few months ago, in the period between the first and second national lockdown, Solomon ran into an old friend from Nigeria in the nearby city of Essen. The friend declared that he was now a pastor of a church for African ex-pats, and consequently invited my husband to attend their upcoming church service that Sunday.
Solomon’s happy anticipation of home-grown worship and fellowship was very much realized that Sunday. After the church service, Solomon walked to the main train station with a couple of African men from the church. They maintained social distancing and had their masks on their persons.
As they were chattering and exchanging pleasantries, a lady walked past them and yelled, “Hey, Corona people!”
The group was struck dumb by this unprovoked verbal attack. One young man in particular was very upset.
“Why are we being randomly targeted as harbingers of the COVID-19 virus?” he asked the others dumbfounded. “Why be unnecessary cruel during such unprecedented times, when we all are suffering? And, who are “Corona people” anyway?”
Instead of expressing their own hurt, Solomon and the others comforted the young man. They assured him that the lady was probably feeling the stress of the Corona pandemic and was thereby projecting her fears and anxieties on them. They reminded each other that as believers of Christ they should forgive this lady, just as Christ forgave them their transgressions.
The fellowship of these men, at first carefree, had turned earnest, and they were grateful for the spiritual support they could provide each other under both happy and serious circumstances.
As they parted ways, the group expressed a wish that the lady would be able to experience the same peace and freedom that they did, by putting their faith in the Lord.
Almighty Father, we do not know why mankind has been struck down with the COVID-19 virus, but we do know that You make all things good with Your perfect timing.
Until then, we will be comforted in the knowledge that Your grace goes before us, and we will shine with Your love, so that we may be a light to others and encourage our fellow brethren in this dark world.
In Jesus’ name,
This entire experience was a reminder for Solomon of how imperative it is that we as Christians continue to be a light for others during these unprecedented times.
Where fear and anxiety reign in people’s hearts, where prejudice and postulation override common sense and sympathy, God’s love needs to be a beacon that cuts through the darkness to offer revelation and encouragement – not only to those who do not know God, but also to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.