By Haley Heisch, Co-Director of Social Media
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” 2 Corinthians 8:2-5 NIV
As followers of Christ, one of our callings and privileges is that of giving. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul sends Titus to the believers in Corinth, urging them to complete the collection they’d begun for the sake of the suffering believers in Jerusalem. To encourage their generosity, Paul tells them about the Macedonian churches and their abundant giving, even out of extreme poverty. What a beautiful example!
The Lulu Tree is honored to partner with churches in Africa that also model the ministry of giving, and the Lord is using it to disciple them toward sustainability.
In Liberia, Pastor David Zawu practices this ministry of giving with such a beautiful heart. He has built a school for affordable education for children, providing more than 750 students with education. He is helping 3 other churches grow, and he is raising livestock and farming to create sustainability.
In Uganda, the Lulu Tree team partners with pastors who give generously by leading others in biblical training, not only in theology but also in wise living. More than 100 pastors have been equipped to lead their communities out of poverty, as well as helping to house, educate, and reconcile teenage mothers who’ve been kicked out of school due to getting pregnant.
In South Sudan, Pastor Santos and Pastor Francis are also modeling the ministry of giving by leading in biblical teaching, helping refugees and villages with sustainable farming, and Pastor Santos has opened his home to 18 refugee children who were living in child-headed homes.
In Sierra Leone, Pastor Sonnel has selflessly devoted his life to ministry and has adopted orphaned children as his own. Seven churches have been planted, a medical and birthing center built, dozens of pastors trained through a six-month course and pastor conferences that Sonnel facilitates, and an FGM rescue ministry started, rescuing girls from female genital mutilation.
These Pastors are rooted in joy and love — refreshed by the Lord, who promises to water those who water others (Proverbs 11:25). The Lulu Tree is honored to stand alongside these men as they generously invest their time, talent, and energy in their five-year plans of sustainability. Some of the main goals in the various plans include:
Equipping Women: Through micro-loan programs, training in sewing, hairdressing, and life skill training, women are being enabled to create an income that can sustain their families and give them the power to give back to the community.
Decreasing Maternal Deaths: Some countries and many villages have no government hospitals, and countless women are dying in childbirth. Pastor Zawu’s five-year plan in Liberia includes starting up a birthing and medical clinic to help save lives.
Agriculture: With the raising of livestock and creating fish ponds, existing church plants can be equipped to sustain themselves. Partnering villages can become self-sustainable through plowing and planting rice fields.
Bible Schools & Education: Pastor Sonnel is planning to purchase land in the villages of Sierra Leone to start a Bible School and one day, a church headquarters, allowing him to train up pastors and start cell groups. Pastor Francis in South Sudan is hoping to resurrect a Bible College.
FGM Rescue Program: To help this program grow while remaining sustainable in Sierra Leone, Pastor Sonnel is helping the mothers of rescued girls plant peanut farms.
Each country has its own plan, and each in its own way is practicing the extreme generosity modeled by the Macedonians and urged upon the Corinthians. As Paul wrote to them,
“Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.” 2 Corinthians 8:7-8
We’re humbled by the generosity of our partnering pastors in Africa. Like the Macedonians, they mentor us in the ministry of giving as they give their all to their communities for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Through their generosity, the mission of the Lulu Tree advances: preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s families through the local church.
To the glory of God our Father — the greatest Giver of all.
“As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you.”
2 Corinthians 9:13-14