“Loving by Giving” has teamed up with The Besom in Norwich for the fifth year running to distribute Christmas treat boxes for less privileged people across Norwich. This year, 12 (twelve) generously filled boxes full of lovely seasonal goodies were donated by “Loving by Giving” volunteers to bring the spirit of happiness and goodwill to those who find themselves in difficult personal or financial circumstances, fleeing persecution or suffering from loneliness during this particularly difficult time of the year.
Every year during the annual Christmas carol service, children are encouraged to bring food items such as biscuits, chocolates and savoury treats, as well as crackers, baubles and indulgent gifts such as bubble bath to the stage where they have just performed their nativity play. After the service, these generous donations are then assembled into beautifully decorated boxes and a simple card reading “With love from Christians in Norwich” attached to the boxes before they are distributed by The Besom with the help of various local agencies. “They physical act of bringing gifts to other people who are less privileged is a very effective way of making the true meaning of Jesus’ birth visual to children in particular,” said Dr Jaco Beukes, chief executive of Loving by Giving.
The Besom in Norwich was formed in 2003. It is part of a national movement of Christians who wish to encourage other Christians to recognise the needs of people in their local community and do something about it. The Besom in Norwich encourages volunteers, from different Churches and different denominations, to appreciate that Jesus has no one other than us to do something about it in His name and that He wants us to get involved.
written by Adri van der Colff
Photos: “Loving by Giving” volunteers assemble donations into beautiful Christmas gifts hampers for distribution across Norwich by The Besom.
by Adri Rossouw
Our little band of 8 left from Luton Airport on the 20th of August heading to Romania and Bod, where we would spend the next 7 days working on the old school building that Rom Train Ministries bought from the German Lutherans. At Ortopeni Airport, we were joined by Cristina, a young Romanian woman who has worked with us before. As usual, we were taken by people carrier and Cristina’s car from Bucharest to Bod, which took quite a while as there is only one main road and it felt like the whole of Romania has joined us on the road!
The Team: Shaun, Reece, Madèl, Roelien, Laurette, Jaco, Marli, Adri
On arrival in Bod, we were assigned our sleeping quarters with the women joining the London Chinese Church Youth outreach group’s ladies in the OM building and the three gents joining the same group’s men in the Rom Train building.
And the first thing that Adri spotted was this little kitten:
Little Junior, who was about 8 weeks old. He was thrown over the wall when he was about 10 days old, and Alina, whose family are the caretakers of the OM building, raised him and looked after him.
The next day being Sunday, Jaco was asked to preach as part of the Sunday worship session. This he did with his usual enthusiasm with the help of Radu, one of the Romanian youth workers.
The rest of the day was spent discussing the week ahead with Tero, our Finnish supervisor and mingling with the Chinese group and the OM people at the site.
Monday morning found us in the foyer of the old school building, ready for whatever the day was going to throw at us. Tero started us off on the old showers and adjacent rooms with tools consisting of scrapers, crowbars, hammers, chisels and step ladders.
And so a week of scraping off layer after layer of paint started. By the end of the first day, we had finished the work set out for us for the week, and started on the foyer as well, much to the surprise of Tero and Vali, the Romanian builder.
In typical South African/Romanian style, we tackled the job with little regard to health and safety rules as we know it in the UK.
On Tuesday morning, we were greeted by the sight of Finnish precision as we entered the foyer: all our tools neatly arranged by Tero!
And so we moved from foyer to a large classroom with two adjacent rooms.
In-between we had breaks with snacks and the ever-popular Fanta Madness.
In the evenings we joined the Chinese Youth Group in worship and reflection on the day. Roelien could not keep her hands of the Chinese music band’s drums!
On quite a few evenings, we were joined by Junior, who lapped up all the attention he got from us and the Chinese group.
In-between scraping paint off, Adri taught Alina how to make elderberry jam and apple jelly. Both these fruit trees are growing on site, and teaching Alina to utilise the fruit, would hopefully go a long way in helping them stock up for winter. We were joined by our cook and his wife preparing the veggies for the evening meal.
And just to remind Adri and Marli about their day-job, they assisted in delivering six healthy kittens!
On the Wednesday we were treated to a trip to Gimbav where we worked last year at the OM headquarters converting the loft. This has now been turned into offices and it was good to see the end product of our work, as well as seeing Dora the dog again.
We were also invited by Tero to meet his wife and three children and we were treated to coffee, cake and Finnish hospitality.
Reece joined the activities of the Chinese Youth Group on their outreach to the local Romanian children, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself in spite of the language barrier. He became very good friends with our cook’s son, with a six-year old boy acting as translator between the two!
But he also helped with scraping paint off walls!
As always, we were treated to Romanian food, of which smarma is a prime example.
The final day arrived, and as we finished more than was expected, we offered to help Tero and Vali prepare the wood that Tero, true to his Finnish roots, are going to use to build a sauna in the school building.
All too soon it was Sunday again, and after a short sermon by Jaco, we said our goodbye’s to pastor Soreen and our hosts for the week and headed back to the UK physically tired but spiritually revived and enriched by what we’ve experienced on Romania Outreach 2016.
We are Loving by Giving. We serve a loving God in any way we can, across language and cultural borders to His glory.
The thorns in Africa are big and the terrain is rough – and if you don’t have shoes, you are going to have a tough time. That is something we saw clearly as we took a hike to a nearby Maasai village. Everybody needs shoes, but not everybody can afford them.
Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you could give someone living in the harsh African conditions is a pair of good shoes. This is what we aimed to do in a Maasai village in the north of Tanzania, as well as at a local clinic about 90 minutes from there. However, what we did not take into account, was the generous hearts of the people we visited.
To make the handing out of shoes fair, we had a list of names – and as someone’s name was read out, they came to select a pair of shoes. As they patiently waited for their names to be called, the pile of shoes got smaller and smaller. This meant that many of the people on the list could not find shoes that fitted them. Yet, this did not put them off. In fact, they were just as happy to receive poorly fitting shoes, as they would have been to receive well fitted shoes, as it meant that they had an opportunity to bless someone else with the gift of a pair of shoes. It was an incredibly humbling experience to see these people walk miles, just to receive shoes that did not fit, never complaining; instead, sincere gratefulness was written all over their smiling faces, because they could now help someone else…
This can serve as a great lesson to all of us, especially during this Christmas period, to remember that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. And the amount of material goods or the size of your bank account does not determine how generous you are, that is determined by the size of your heart.
So, let’s learn from these humble people of Tanzania and let’s focus this Christmas on being a little more generous towards those in need.
Written by Dr Jaco Beukes
The children in Tanzania have very little basic resources. Old plastic bottles may be the only ‘toy’ they have to play with. Before we went to Tanzania, we decided to pack ten brand new footballs and a pump in our suitcases as a gift for the children of different villages of this beautiful country. We thought they would be happy having something to play with, but not in our wildest imagination did we expect the response we received from them.
The moment a football came out of the bag, there were gasps of admiration and anticipation and once they received the ball, there was no way to get their attention again! It brought them momentary relief from the cycle of poverty most of these children are in. For a moment, as they were kicking the ball around, they forgot the hardship they lived in, the struggle to find clean water and what it feels like to go to bed hungry.
But for some of them, the football may be even more than just a momentary escape. Some of them may even become the sport stars of the next generation… Who knows? All I know, is that having a real football to kick around a field, instead of a plastic bag wrapped in some ropes, meant the world to these children – and I would like to think that it gave them some hope… Hope that things may be different in the future, because there are still people who care enough to give them a fantastic football, something they never thought was possible. But if that is possible, what else could happen in the future…?!
So, next time you see some children kicking a ball around remember how privileged and blessed we all actually are and ask yourself: “what can I do to bring some joy to a child in poverty?”
Written by Dr Jaco Beukes
On Loving by Giving’s recent trip to Tanzania, I once again realised how often we take for granted those things that can make a massive impact on people living in poverty.
We had the privilege of visiting schools with WAC International, a local Tanzanian charity that invests a lot of time, energy and resources in helping those in need. On these visits, we typically donated some stationery and footballs to the school. In addition, we also gave each child a pencil and a little exercise book – and it was almost shocking to see the joy these simple gifts brought them.
In our homes, we often have more writing materials than we have place for, or could use in a lifetime, yet receiving only one pencil probably went down as one of the highlights of the year for these children. The children are hungry to learn, but unfortunately they are often hampered by the lack of basic educational resources.
Just as heart-breaking as it is to realise this, it is also inspiring, because it means that we all have the ability and the opportunity to make a massive difference in people’s lives by just donating what we already have. Most of us probably have enough “extra” stationery in our houses to stock an entire school in rural Tanzania!
Therefore, if you feel your heart stirring and want to get involved in providing educational resources for our project in Tanzania, please get in touch, it will definitely make a difference.
Written by Dr Jaco Beukes
Loving by Giving recently sent a small team to the Arusha region of Tanzania, to help people in great need. When the team got there, they immediately got involved. They visited schools, donated soccer balls and stationery, conducted children’s programmes, trained church leaders and visited local villages. This video gives a brief overview of the work they did and the lives they touched.
We have met so many amazing people on our recent outreach to Romania, but none more so than the Craciun family. They are working and living at the OM Romania base and hosted us for the week we were there.
Adi and Alina have two lovely boys, Edi and Ruben and a beautiful five month old baby girl, Bianca. Unfortunately Bianca has spent the last two of her five months in hospital.
Just after Bianca turned three months old, she started having serious seizures. Initially it was thought that this was epilepsy, but then she didn’t respond to any treatment. Since then they have tried numerous types of treatment and have done a score of tests, but still they are not sure what exactly causes the seizures. The doctors are now recommending one final test, a DNA test, in order to determine the cause of her illness and how to treat her. This test is very expensive, though, and costs around €2,000, a sum this family cannot afford.
Therefore, Loving by Giving is helping to raise the necessary funds for this family, so that they could determine how Bianca can best be helped. If you would like to make a donation for this cause, please use the Loving by Giving *bank details, with the reference “Bianca”.
Thank you for your help in this matter. Together we can make a difference.
* Bank details: Loving by Giving; HSBC; Account number: 812-979-96; Sort Code: 40-08-53
When Loving by Giving’s truckload of clothes, toys and bedding arrived in Romania, it was distributed all over the country in order to benefit as many people as possible. In this video Raluca Cardos of OM Romania describes where the aid was sent and tells a few stories of the impact it had.
Christmas is approaching fast and with this season comes the tradition of giving gifts to each other, reminding us of the very first and greatest Christmas Gift. Yet, so many children, especially in the developing world, have never experienced the joy and excitement of receiving a gift at this time of the year.
Fortunately though, there are organisations, like Samaritan’s Purse, who make it their mission to deliver shoe boxes filled with gifts to children all over the world. This is a great incentive and about a month ago we issued the challenge to people in our church to pack a shoe box for this project – and the response was amazing. On Sunday 33 shoe boxes were delivered, meaning that the lives of 33 children will be positively impacted by the generosity of a handful of caring people.
Thank you to each one of you who donated gifts for these children and the time and effort you took to pack it. Be assured that this gesture will make a huge impact on children who need to know that there are people who still care.
We still have until the 18th of November to pack gifts for Samaritan’s Purse and I am pretty sure that we will probably get a few more in before then. If you are interested in this project, have a look at Samaritan’s Purse’s website and pack a shoe box for these children, it will put a smile on their faces.
Written by Jaco Beukes