This week our family has spent less on food in order that we can send some money to those suffering famine East Africa (click here for the Tearfund appeal page). It’s a pretty straightforward idea: we don’t really have spare cash lying around, so we need to go without some things in order to be able to give. I know some people do things like live off £1 a day for 5 days, but when you’re feeding little ones that doesn’t seem like a very good idea. It might not sounds like much, but our budget is tight already so it is a bit of a challenge, but definitely worth it.
There are several benefits, besides the fact that you’re able to help those suffering a famine:
- It helps the children to have a global perspective, in their own little way. As we eat our meals we can pray together for those in Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. We can pray that it will help them to have concern for people in other nations as they grow up.
- It helps us all to see how rich we are. I cut our grocery bill by a third (it would have been more, but we needed nappies and dishwasher tablets – I know, first world problems!), but we’re still eating well. They won’t go hungry, that’s for sure. They just won’t be as spoilt for choice. “It’s Cornflakes or Cornflakes, peeps!” Knowing we can live comfortably for less helps us see how much we have. This in turn should make us thankful to God for all he gives us.
- It’s challenged me to have more concern for the poor. Last night we had a homeless man sleeping outside our flat. On the way past him, Ezra said “I think that man is poor, like us.” This led to a long chat with him about what “poor” really means! It does not mean, you can’t afford a birthday party at the local soft play, or you can’t afford a Chelsea (eek) football kit. But as I was putting dinner on the table, I was challenged by the thought that Spike was sitting out there, cold and hungry. By going without some treats so we could send money to Africa, were we really showing care for the poor, or was it just a token effort? So Mike took him down some roast pork and veggies, which were much appreciated. Would I have done this if we weren’t already focussing a bit on the poor this week? Would Ezra have said anything? I don’t know. But I’m glad he did.
So that’s it really. Hope you find it helpful or thought-provoking as an idea. We’ll probably do it again next week – and hopefully we won’t need any expensive things like washing powder. I’ve done this before – for Napal that time – but my memory of it is blurry. (Maybe I was pregnant?) Hopefully if we do it often enough, our children will see it as normal and it will give them a more healthy perspective on wealth and poverty. You might think it’s nowhere near enough, but I think it’s one way we can help others and teach our children to be grateful to God for our food, rather than taking it for granted and rattling through “grace” without really meaning it.
If we do things like this, let’s do it cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver. As Chauncy the Raccoon says, “Those who are generous are blessed when they share their bread with the poor.”