Saturday, 14 March 2009

On Giving-to God and to People

I’m worried I’ll become like ColdTusker whose blog is about Rants, Raves and Reviews but where I mostly find rants, or Andy who 'talks' a lot about the energy crisis.No offense meant guys, just that I find little uplifting, over there. But great debate there.

Today’s post is a rant. I’ve been thinking about giving a lot lately. Not thinking about giving a lot, but thinking a lot about giving. Today’s post was inspired by an incident I had. I’d promised a relative some Ksh. 50K to start a bizna as they look for a job. I’d come in to work today, a Saturday, coz I have kinda a lot on my desk, rushed to the bank like 3 minutes before the door was closed, got the money, but was stranded on how to send it as 1) M-Pesa failed me the last time I tried it, 2) Equity Bank is not yet accepting deposits bound for the Kenya side 3) I couldn’t find any Western Union/Money Gram that was open and 4) there’s no way I’m risking sending that amount of money disguised as a package on the bus. So I told the person to wait till Monday, which was likely to be very hectic anyway, but they were mad, told me to send the money whenever I can, and call them then, and then hang up on me. I tried to call them back but they wouldn’t pick up. So I sent them a text message saying it was a huge sacrifice on my part, really, and they don’t seem to understand or even appreciate that, so let’s just forget about the whole thing. I feel really sad that I’d to do that especially because they said they’d promised someone a deposit tomorrow. I really hate being taken for granted.
Back to giving: the 10% aka tithe that is advised by most churches. For the longest time, I followed that ‘law’ to the letter. When I chanced on some little money, I’d duly give 10% to my church. But over the past couple years I’ve become more critical. I recently revised the rule to 5% ‘God’ i.e. church, and 5% family and relatives. As we speak I haven’t given the 5% to the Church all of this year. Partly b/c I haven’t found one yet....lame excuse, I know.

On Giving to ‘God’: I’m putting ‘God’ in quotes juu I believe that I give to Him/Her even when I don’t give through church. I’ve become rather critical when giving to him through church. For instance, I have issues with pastors who exhibit nothing but lavish lifestyles, and whose main message is ‘give and it shall come back to you’, i.e. the prosperity gospel. By the way, that verse they love to quote has nothing to do with giving material goods, but rather judging others. As in, the measure you use to judge others is the same measure that will be used to judge you. I will never forget the day my cousin gave everything she had at a televangelist’s rally in at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru because she’d been told a miracle would take place, and had nothing for the kids that night. Also, I don’t like the way my church, the P.C.E.A., is run financially. At the highest level is the General Assembly, then the Presbyteries, the Parishes, and then the individual churches. There is no such thing as an independent church under the P.C.E.A., so most of the rules come from above. I feel rather uneasy about the fact that the General Assembly kinda decides how much each individual church has to give each year, so that there are the many ‘special Sundays’ for the different age-groups at Church; Sunday School in Dec, Youth in May, the Brigade sometime I don’t know when, the Women’s Guild in August, and then in the last few years, the Presbyterian Men’s Fellowship. Basically these are harambee days. My main beef with that is that most of the money raised goes to the General Assembly which decides what to do with it. But then again, the P.C.E.A. has some great projects like well-run schools and hospitals. I’m proud of that.

Giving to family, relatives and friends: This is complicated and ends up taking more than the 5%, because there are many, many needs and only so much to give. OK, so God blesses us so we can bless others. This is much easier to say and do when you’re on the receiving end. When I was away in the U.S., I’d send my family- I mean the extended one here- money quite often, but I didn’t feel they appreciated the amount of work that went into it. And I was often pissed by the fact that every person who chanced on my number almost always only wanted money. Like my primary school friend’s sister who I’d not seen for five years. And there’s that time I sent a lot of money only to call home just before going into my 4pm shift on a Saturday afternoon, and was told that people at home were having a huge reunion involving the kids of relatives some 3 generations ahead of me. I was jealous. That clearly wasn’t a need.

Anyway, it is neither easy nor right to say no when someone tells you that they have this or that major need. If anything, for the Christians, the Bible says that whoever does not provide for their family - and by family I mean the extended one, again-is worse than an unbeliever. Only that it’s not fair for them to not even tell you that they got the money, and only call you when they needs some more.