Lenten Meditations: Life Changing Experiences

This year Episcopal Relief & Development's Provincial Coordinators are sharing their reflections on select devotionals from the 2013 Lenten Meditations booklet. In this blog Virginia Holleman looks at the Lenten meditation from Monday, February 18, 2013, page 11. Below is the scripture being referenced and to the right you can click to view the whole meditation.

 

Lent, Lenten Meditations, Episcopal, hunger, poverty

 “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”...“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

                                                                                                               — Mathew 25:37-40

Reflecting on the daily Lenten meditations last week, the Scripture (Matthew 25:37-40) stayed with me. It’s Episcopal Relief & Development’s organizational mandate and I was reminded of a trip I took several years ago. I went to Belize with Episcopal Relief & Development to see firsthand the work that was being done through the generosity of so many. What I witnessed reminded me of the old saying, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.

The greatest impact of this trip for me was learning “up front and personal” about the financial assistance made available through our micro-loan program. We visited four of the program participants; these loans are usually between $500-$2,000 to go towards a small enterprise. They’re made for five years but often are paid back less than three and the payback rate is 95% or better. The loans are small so the client can reasonably be expected to repay and, just as important, so they will re-apply for a second, third or even fourth loan and stay connected to the support and training Episcopal Relief & Development provides.

So, what do these families do with this income they now have from the invested business? In addition to bare necessities, more often than not, they use the monies to provide uniforms, books and supplies so their children can attend school. With an education, whole new venues are opened up for the next generation – they can get a decent job that pays a living wage and in turn can educate their own children.

While, there’s no question that giving a hungry person something to eat or a thirsty person a drink of clean water is crucial; my trip to Belize showed me how empowering people to feed themselves and their families is life changing – for everyone. And that is what the programs engender – they ‘teach how to fish’.

 

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Virginia Holleman is an Episcopal Relief & Development Provincial Coordinator for Province VII.

 

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