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Lessons from Refugees: A worn out yellow bag


On Sunday I visited a Presbyterian church that was mostly Nuer people in Rhino Refugee camp. Unfortunately, I don’t speak the Nuer language, but one thing I saw there did not require translation.

After a young man brought a word of encouragement to the brothers and sisters, they began to sing a song, and they pulled out a bunch of baskets. If you have ever been in church, you know what time it is: offering time.

But this offertory was different than most that I had seen lately, and it caused me to daydream a bit about how the church should work. I thought I would share it with all of you.

Out of one of the baskets they pulled a worn out yellow bag, it was being passed around with the basket, and I noticed people were pulling out teacups filled with corn and pouring them into the old bag.

By the time the offering was over about 25-30 pounds of dried corn had been collected. It was reminiscent of the Old Testament tithe which was much more practical than the modern bastardization of tithing.

In the Old Testament, tithes were usually food, and they were used to provide for the needy. (Duet. 26:12) It provided for widows, orphans, strangers (refugees) & Levites who by law could not own land to farm for themselves.

In a place like a refugee settlement, such an offering was very touching because most people only receive about ten days worth of food a month. It was a sign of great sacrificial giving. But it was also highly practical and will hopefully be used to provide for those who are trembling under the weight of hunger and malnutrition.

It is time for us Christians to return to a more Biblical understanding of our offerings and use our resources to provide for the very people Jesus concerned himself with while on this earth. It is shameful for a church to take up an offering on Sunday and its members sleep hungry on monday.

Let us as His people demonstrate His love to the needy by providing for their needs both physical and spiritual.