“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~Mother Teresa

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Mathew 25:37-40

You may have read one of the famous Bible verses on love in the book of the first Corinthians chapter 13: “Love is patient, love is kind” etc. There are a few lessons I recently learned from it that challenged and convicted me. I plan to share some details in a separate post. For now, I will simply say that I am naturally sensitive and passionate, which can be good and bad. However, I will try to focus on the good part for now.

I cannot stand injustice. It hurts so much when people are not being fair. I don’t like when bad things happen to good people. I cry when I see cruelty against innocent people. I weep in front of my TV, computer or out in the open when I see homeless children who live off of the dumpster and in the streets, homeless grownups against their will, poor and hungry people. It is heartbreaking to see people who once had it all together and wars/tragedies suddenly turn their lives upside down, into refugees, homeless, helpless and starving. Life is so unpredictable.

On Tuesday this week, a woman that I have always looked up to and admired for her courage as long as I have known her, surprised me with the news I was not expecting to hear. I was already aware that she has lost her job several months ago and had been unsuccessful to obtain another one, but I had no idea as to what extent she was struggling. I wept as I read line by line. I was very sadden by the fact that she may lose her home, a home she built by herself, along with raising her young children after she lost her husband during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the minority Tutsi group in her late 20s.

Rwanda

Rwanda

My heart was torn. I was at loss for words! I haven’t cried so much in a while like I did as she explained it to me over the phone. As I felt sorry for myself for being so weak and hopeless, I remembered how Jesus felt when He arrived at His friend’s house, Lazarus. As many people gathered and mourned for Lazarus who died 3 days earlier, Jesus wept, too! (John 11:35).

The Son of God wept, NOT because He was helpless like I was or often am in situations like this. In fact, His main purpose there after His intentional 3-day delay, was to raise Lazarus from the dead and glorify His Father! Jesus was moved by the pain and weeping around Him because of Lazarus. I remembered that very moment that Jesus understood my pain and indeed cared for my friend more than I did. Although I still wish I was super rich to be able give to my friend all the amount she needs, I know that a little bit can go a long way.

I launched a GoFundMe campaign for my friend Rose. I accepted that I may not be able to raise all the money that she needs at the moment, or that I may be surprised. Either way, I am being obedient, and trusting the Lord for His provision and compassion for His children. I have not really done any other fundraising campaign, and I absolutely hate asking money from people. Nonetheless, I also believe in God’s miracles and the way He uses His own people!

Please click here to join my campaign: Help a Rwandan genocide Survivor Widow!

I cannot change the world; in fact, God knows that I am incapable of even changing a single soul. However, I am determined to do something small whenever I get an opportunity. And then, I want to leave the rest to God who is capable of answering prayers and being everything to those in need!

God bless you

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.James 1:27

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Sometime during my graduate studies at RIT in NY, a friend of mine asked me to help translate for a teenage girl that had been hospitalized but didn’t speak English. This girl fluently spoke one of the languages I understood from one of the East African countries. Her and I immediately connected and later, I was invited to their house to meet the rest of her family.

On my first visit, I was shocked to see how much preparation and trouble they went through to make it look like nothing close to a  simple gathering. It was like a royal dinner, composed of food varieties from East Africa to represent a feast that was apparently prepared for me: beef stew, plantains, homemade French fries, rice mixed with various spices, vegetables and many more. I didn’t know what to say. I normally have a disappointing appetite but this certainly did the trick.

As months went by and I visited the family again, it was exactly like the first time I was there. Since then, I figured that I should not tell them ahead of time that I was coming, after all we are Africans. Back home, you can simply show up unannounced! Even with short notice, they would distract me while I chatted with others, unaware that they were cooking. I couldn’t believe how generous they were.

An East African dish. So delicious!

Truth to be told, I can tell that this family barely makes their living on possibly minimum wages. How do I know? Because of their employment type. It is also interesting that they always have a house full of people, literally; some of them are relatives while some others are just strangers they shelter until they can get on their feet.

If I didn’t know what they did for a living, I would just have assumed that they were rich. In fact, this girl who is my connection to them is not even their biological child. They actually met her somewhere along the way in Africa, and took her in because she had no family or anyone else to raise her. Personally, I am always amazed by how positive they are about life. They love God, others and they are hopeful people. Their home is always open to everyone.

Watching their way of life challenged me: how can someone like them be so generous, loving and positive when they live on minimum wages with a house full of people? Each time I speak to the wife, she quotes the Bible a lot and encourages me with Jesus’ promises and hope that is found in following him. I’m always amazed by her love for God even when I can easily see that the family struggles to make ends meet!

This family reminds me of the story of the widow’s offering where Jesus commented on her offering which was two small copper coins while rich people poured gifts in the offering box. Jesus saw that the widow has put way more than all of them because rich people gave out of their abundance but the poor widow contributed out of her poverty and put in all she had to live on. It is a challenging example that we often ignore!

A Rwandan Cabbage Salad. I made this one by myself🙂

A famous Bible verse about the way of love in 1 Corinthians 13 raises a very important question about generosity.

 “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Does this mean  that people can indeed give without love? The answer is possibly. Generosity works hand in hand with love. If they are separated it’s like faith without work. When this dawned on me, I desperately asked God to fill me with love first!

Honestly, it’s not always easy to be generous, especially with money and time. In fact, it is a human nature to be inclined to give or help people that we know well or care for. Of course it’s very important to ensure that your donations go to credible recipients but we sometime cling on it that we often forget that our giving shouldn’t necessarily be dictated by how grateful or recognizing our recipients are.

Also, for those who give often wonder how much is enough to give!

But I have learned that it’s not about the amount, but the heart of the giver. And that it is much more blessed to give than to receive.

I don’t know about you but I often want to hold onto what I have with excuses that I don’t have enough or that I have to enjoy the fruits of my hard work after all. Nothing is wrong with that, but after I was reminded that “it is blessed to give than to receive“, it changed the way I approached giving, loving people and generosity.

I have been praying and asking God to make me like the man that David cites in Psalm 112. Verse 5 states: “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends“, and verse 9: “He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor.”

I want to love and be generous to everyone God brings my way, and not expect anything in return. I am not the one to judge the character and be selective on whom to be generous to or not. I will leave it to God who will judge all the nations and reward everyone according to their work in this life. God is love and He sees everything. Everything I do is between me and Him, people easily forget!

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.’ ~ John Bunyan

“This Is Hope: God Is REAL”

Thank you for stopping by. I hope and pray that you enjoy my story of how I found Hope in God, through disappointment and hopelessness. Be encouraged, even when those you trust the most turn out to be “not what they claim to be.”

Although almost two decades later, I specifically chose to write this page in the present tense, to truly describe the intensity of suffering in the eyes of a young girl I was back then.

Please click here to read my story under the page called HOPE.

Many many years apart. It looks like I haven't changed much!

Many many years apart. Have I changed much?

This is my story!

God bless you,

Alphonsine

A Forgiving Heart

I don’t know about you but I certainly think that forgiveness is a hard thing to do: to be kind to someone who was mean or rude to you, and move on as if nothing happened. It definitely takes a brave person to do that.

I absolutely love the Bible. It’s my greatest source of inspiration. As I reflected to forgiveness, the story of a man called David came to mind. David was Jesse’s youngest of eight sons. While his three oldest brothers went to war, David tended his father’s sheep in Bethlehem. He also served Saul, the then King of Israel. God’s anointing was on David; but the king Saul rejected the commandment of the Lord and turned his back from following God. Eventually, Saul plotted with his servants and son to kill David; fortunately, Saul’s son, Jonathan, was David’s best friend and he revealed the plan to him. David fled for his life.

But one day, David got a chance to possibly revenge on Saul. Actually, not only once but multiple times.

David Spares Saul

7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” 10 And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them. (1 Samuel 26: 7-12 ESV)

Stephen Is Seized & Stoned

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6: 8-15 ESV)

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 8: 54-60 ESV).

The Crucifixion

26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23: 26-43 ESV)

It is extremely heart breaking to see how much injustice is all around these days. Watching the news channels make you sick to the stomach sometime, and you often wonder why such animosity happen. If I started to number them, I would run out of space: racism, segregation, rights suppression, unfair judgement, hatred, blood shedding of innocent lives, lies, abuse, power misuse, discrimination, selfishness and many more.

Just like Paul urged Timothy in his letter: “3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3: 3-5

Now let’s ask ourselves those questions:

– Would I want everyone I know to treat me with respect?
– If someone hurt me, would I want them to apologize to me and change their behavior?
– How do I like to feel loved and cared for?
– Do I like it when people pay attention to my needs and requests?

Now, let’s take the example of David, Stephen or Jesus. If you were faced with what happened to either of them, would you be able to forgive? It’s not easy, but if we treated others the same way we want to be treated, the world would be different. When I see/face injustice, I am consoled by knowing that there is a God who sits on the throne of Justice and He is full of Love and Grace. He sees everything, and will judge every individual, alive or dead, and hold each one accountable of their actions.

If today, you were given an open opportunity to avenge someone who wronged you, would you be able to, instead,choose forgiveness?