For many years as a leader in an Episcopal congregation, I had been talking up the need for people to be more giving of themselves. I always seemed to do my part. I was serving on vestry in the role of rector’s warden. I would bring food for our homeless guests who stayed with us every seventh week through the Interfaith Hospitality Network ministry. I was at church for all the special events. I was actively participating, and on the surface this looked good, but I was not challenging myself to move more deeply and directly into the social ministries of the Gospels.
I realized, through much prayer and reflection,that it was time for me to lead more by action and less by words. Thus, I was off to Uganda in January 2002 to be a presence with prisoners housed in district prisons. The grace to be able to move from “doing enough” to experiencing Jesus in Ugandan prisoners is beyond words, but I will attempt to give you a sense of the joy.
After twenty hours of travel, I arrived in Uganda for my first visit to that land of vivid colors and contrasts. During the ten days I spent in Uganda, I logged more than six hundred land miles over all types of roads and paths, from dusty, arid grassland to banana-rich dense tropical forests. But this was no sightseeing tour; I traveled with an emergency room doctor who was on his fifth trip to minister to prisoners. My first task on arrival was to load up on blankets, reconditioned clothing, and precious medical supplies. Then I traveled to places even most Ugandans have never visited. I encountered over 400 prisoners in remote rural prison camps where they languish in tattered rags, sleeping on bare concrete in crowded cellblocks. I ministered to their physical and medical needs, but they ministered to my spiritual needs. Their needs appeared so great, but God multiplied our supplies many times over. I experienced Jesus in the faces of these prisoners.
I had the opportunity to experience the awe and wonder of tending to my Lord. I realize that God’s will for me will lead me to ministries I cannot even dream of today, and I am willing to follow Jesus’ call to tend to his people’s needs; for it is in following that I lead, and it is in giving that I receive. – Kevin Cashman
This stewardship story is from volume 6 of the Giving: Growing Faithful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine, which focuses on the theme "Go and See”, based on Mark 6:38. Use Giving magazine volume 6 and the “Go and See” Theme Materials Starter Kit to create a congregational stewardship emphasis on "Go and See".
The Ecumenical Stewardship Center offers congregational stewardship resources featuring 16 different, timeless biblical themes. Peruse them all and place an order in the ESC web store.
Photo credit: By Witstinkhout (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons