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November 22, 2011

As Thanksgiving approaches we in the world of retail become increasingly mindful of black friday, or maybe as it should be known to some, “Thanksgetting.”

Yesterday I heard of a man who has been camping outside of a Best Buy since Friday because they will be having some cheap TV’s for purchase.  So… some guy is waiting outside a store for a week in order so that he can watch TV better?  I’m sure he’s not the only one doing that this week.  Where are our priorities?

Twa (Pygmy) children let their porridge cool before sipping at it. Fed by a missionary couple 5 days a week, this may be the only meal they eat all day.

I spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas in Burundi.  What shocked me about Burundi was the fact that many Burundians only eat meat once a year.  Why?  Because they simply can’t afford to.  Keep in mind that the average GDP per capita of Burundikeep in mind averages don’t mean everyone, just the middle of the road—is $300 according to the CIA World Factbook.  That’s living on less than $1 per day.  So at celebrations, once maybe even twice on a good year, they splurge a little and have some meat.  How many meals out of the week do we eat meat?  Hmm, let’s see.  Most Americans probably eat meat at two of three meals each day, if not more.  How would your diet change if you stopped eating meat for a week?

Last year many generous people donated to Great Lakes Outreach, the missions organization I volunteered with in Burundi, to give the staff that are partnered with us Christmas bonuses.  Many of them were struggling to the point of not being able to afford meat for the holidays.  Imagine sitting down to your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal and having no turkey and no ham.  Wouldn’t that change the whole nature of the meal?

As we go into Thanksgiving and give thanks for all that we have been given, we have the opportunity to reallocate our priorities.  Thanksgiving has for centuries been a celebration of God’s providence.  While the holiday can be an excuse for gluttony and absorbing all that we’ve been given like a sponge, I’m reminded of the words God spoke to Abraham:

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

Genesis 12:2 (ESV)

A couple hundred people live in this small community of internally displaced people. Homes are made out of mud, sticks and trash. The entire village is packed into a space about the size of your average grocery store.

Just as Abraham’s blessings were not meant to be hoarded.  The words “so that” stand out to me most.  They express purpose.  God made Abraham what he was for a purpose.  Abraham could not bless unless he had been blessed.  God gave, therefore Abraham was able to give.  Think about all we have.  Is it just for us?  Was it ever supposed to be?

An easy way to make a big difference in someone’s life this holiday season is quite simple.  There are tons of ways to bless people this season.  If you don’t already have something on your mind, I’d like to propose giving to  Great Lakes Outreach which has released its Christmas appeal to bless the people of Burundi.

Here’s a breakdown of how far a little bit of money can go in Burundi:

Chicken                                        £5 / $8
School pack                              £10 / $16
Goat                                           £20 / $32
Bicycle                                      £40 / $64
Staff family bonus                 £50 /$80
Cow (milk can be sold as a source of income)                                         £200 / 320
Contribution to the orphanage Christmas party of … (whatever you’d like, we are trying to raise                                        £1200 / $1920)
To donate:
UK and the rest of the world:
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rosel permalink
    November 22, 2011 12:36

    I love how God has opened our eyes a lot more in the last 2 yrs in Burundi as well, about the meaninglessness of the pursuit of things. And that true wealth is giving to others.

  2. Cynthia Manrique permalink
    November 27, 2011 11:04

    YES!! Thank you, John , this was an inspirational article….I am humbled.

    Very good organization, the Great lakes one from Burundi, I enjoyed watching the videos and understanding little more about how they live there….. thanks for writing this article, and for posting the link to the great lakes website…..OH my goodness Burundi is BEAUTIFUL PLACE!! it is GORGEOUS over there! I read somewhere it is also known as the “heart” of Africa, because Burundi is shaped like a heart….do you agree?

    • November 27, 2011 22:41

      Yeah, that’s true. Burundi is the Heart of Africa. Many of the African countries have a name like that. Kenya is the Pride of Africa, Uganda is the Pearl of Africa, Gambia is the Smiling Coast of Africa, Malawi is the Warm Heart of Africa, yadda, yadda. I think it’s pretty cool how they have some sort of identifier to go along with their traditional names. Although, unlike the rest, Burundi really does look like a human heart. It’s a special place that will steal your heart 🙂

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