Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:18)
A few years ago, I visited Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, to spend time with the founders of a rural hospice. The conditions there were appalling to my American views of prosperity, or even comfort. They were five years into a drought, their country was ruled by an evil dictator, and their unemployment rate was a whopping 85 percent!
Imagine my surprise then when I arrived at the first of my five destinations to be welcomed by smiling, dancing, and singing men, women, and children. Oh, they weren’t just any welcome ambassadors. Most of them were suffering from AIDS, and all of the adults were volunteer caregivers for the hospice. I witnessed these caregivers as they walked from ten to twenty-five miles a day, at least two days a week, to care for those who were in the dying stages of the disease.
At every stop, I was offered food from those who had so little to share. Their smiles were as radiant as their shoes were thin. The tenderness with which they touched the sick and dying was offered from callused hands and fatigued bodies.
Standing there in the midst of dire material poverty, I saw the riches and generosity of which Paul speaks in today’s passage. And I was reminded of Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Luke 12:23).
Schedule some good deeds on your calendar next week and enjoy your new riches.
Dianne Swaim is a chaplain at the VA Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Married to Gordon, she is the mother of three and grandmother of nine.