The Kamba tribe has a saying: “share a bird together”.
And when I met Josephine earlier this year while visiting some of our projects in the Kitui County in Kenya, I experienced this incredible saying for myself.
The birds that the Kamba tribe regularly eat are small, but the Kamba culture encourages its people to share what they have with one another, regardless of the amount or size.
At its heart, the act of sharing a bird (or a meal) with a visitor is all about generosity. And the Kamba tribe believe that by sharing what is available with a visitor to your home, you are blessing them generously.
For many years, Josephine and her husband struggled to put food on the table.
Josephine is a farmer and mum of six children. Her husband, when he’s lucky enough to find work, is employed as a casual labourer, in a city far away from home. Try as they might, there was just never enough money to make ends meet.
Rains in Kenya are infrequent and this often meant that it was difficult for Josephine to grow enough food to feed her six children.
“The dry period begins from June to October, which is the period of famine,” Josephine explains.
“It actually happens yearly because the rains have always been below (what is needed) for us to harvest enough food for a whole year.”
Can you imagine what it must be like? To toil day after day on your land knowing that, no matter how hard you work, it will never be enough?
This is what life was like for Josephine, until our Christian partner, Anglican Development Services Eastern, began working in her community.
Our Christian partner gave her farming training and taught her to plant drought resistant crops on terraces to conserve soil and increase irrigation. These simple techniques helped her to multiply her crop yield 18 times!
In just four short years, with the support of Australians like you, Josephine has completely transformed life for her family. She is harvesting more food than ever, she has received training in animal care and now receives a small payment to look after the cows in her neighbourhood, and she has started a small shop in her village. Hers is a wonderful story of strength, determination, and transformation… but it was Josephine’s generosity that moved me most.
Before I sat down to share the customary “bird” with Josephine (in this case a delicious spread of mangoes, maize and bottled water from her shop) she paused to say grace… and it brought me undone.
What she prayed that day was a genuine prayer of thanks. And, as I listened, I understood that she meant it with all her heart. In that instant, Josephine’s experience of poverty became a brutal reality in my mind. There had been times in her life when food was scarce. She’d lived through disaster and through famine… and regularly faced the heartbreak of having to send her children to bed with empty stomachs.
And yet, instead of storing her food away for the next hungry season, Josephine, who has so very little herself, chose to share the best of that little with me… a stranger who she’d only just met.
I later asked Josephine what it was that motivated her to be so generous.
“It is good to be generous because all things are provided by God,” she said.
“He wants them shared with our neighbours and friends (so we can) celebrate with them the little we have since God is our provider.
“The Bible says the hand that gives is blessed.”
What extravagant generosity!
This Christmas, Baptist World Aid is celebrating the extravagant generosity of our God… who loves us so much that He gave us a Saviour we did not deserve.
Can I encourage you, as Josephine encouraged me, to reflect God’s generosity? Share your blessing this Christmas with the families who live in the world’s poorest homes. Give to the Baptist World Aid Christmas Appeal today and help families like Josephine’s to transform their lives. Go to: baptistworldaid.org.au/christmas-appeal.