Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Power of Little People

It’s amazing what little people can do. Lately I’ve been working with two Kenyan missionaries preparing for service in Toliara, Madagascar (one of the poorest regions of the world and with nearly 75% believing in witchcraft). We wanted to hold a fundraising event for the mission, and after much debate decided on an afternoon “Tea Party.” I encouraged the guys to invite all of their targeted supporters, and we sent out many invitations, hoping that Nairobi businesspeople would attend, catch the vision, and decide to get involved. On the day of the fundraising event, the crowds were much smaller than we expected. We delayed starting the Tea Party hoping more would show up. We waited and waited and waited. In the end, only 30 young people joined us, and most of them were unemployed students who came only for moral support and free snacks. There were no businesspeople, no suits and ties, just a small group of youth, many of whom came from slums or impoverished neighborhoods. Needless to say, we didn’t have high expectations for the fundraiser, but we decided to continue with our program anyway. Several of the youth shared songs, and we watched a video about Madagascar and discussed the call for cross-cultural service and missions. At the end there was a chance for guests to make an offering or monthly pledge. We waited a few minutes and then collected the baskets with funds and pledge forms. We sealed the cash and pledges, set them aside, and waited till the next day to make our tally. What we found was amazing! Despite the challenges of poverty, the youth were extremely generous. Some donated their hard earned savings. Others promised to raise support and help the missionaries. Several more offered to skip one meal a week for the next three years, pledging the amount spent on the meals in monthly gifts. When all was counted, the little people raised 293,560 ksh (nearly $5,000 USD).

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