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New Year Essay: Giving, even when you don’t have

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If we are passionate enough about helping others, we will find a way; if not, we will find excuses

By Osa Mbonu

Some people go so broke they cannot find ordinary N20 in their house until may be the next envelope or alert comes in.

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At such a time, the only two options are to go a borrowing or go a begging. I hate begging, so the only option for me whenever I find myself in that condition is to borrow. Even at that, finding someone who would be willing to lend you as little as N200 is in itself a nightmare.

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But people do also come to borrow from me, sometimes, unfortunately when I am broken into pieces. Few months ago, a highly valued, honorable, and respectable friend whom I have never seen go to anyone before to borrow, sent me a text message asking me to lend him N5, 000 to enable him give his children something to eat.

And that day, I was thinking of how I was going to manage to get to the office with the last N300 in my pocket after harassing my children who had asked me for money that morning for their usual gala and Bobo drink at school.

After receiving that text from the friend I became troubled. All my own problems disappeared, and that N5, 000 became the only problem I had in the whole world.

“If 5k is the only problem I have in this wicked world, praise God!” I shouted. “It means I have no problem, and I must solve it before I leave the house today,” I told myself. I thanked God I had airtime credit to make calls. Without getting the money, I asked my friend to send his account number to me.

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I first called my wife who was already in her office. When she learned that “it was one of those stupid Father Christmas things I do regularly, she said she cannot give anyone the little money remaining in her hand till the end of the month. She was tired of emptying her account for me to answer endless distress calls. I left her alone.

Then I sent out more than 12 text messages to about 12 friends and colleagues, telling them I was going to die soon if they did not send me N5, 000. Some replied and told me stories. When I called the others they refused to pick my calls.

I said, “God, do you mean you can’t give me power to solve 5k problem?” Immediately, a name popped into my mind. “Call ChrisOnuoha,” a voice urged me. Chris is one of our journalists at Vanguard Newspaper.Chris is still alive today and can confirm whether this story is true or not.

When I called Chris, he said he was at Obalende attending a media event that was going to be over in few minutes. I told him I was sending a GTB account number to him immediately, and would want him to pay N5, 000 into the account. I reminded him there is a GTBank at MoloneyStreet close to where he was.

God will bless Chris. Within 30 minutes, my friend called me and said he had received alert of N5, 000, but that my name was not there as depositor. I told him it was God that sent the money to him.

I will never forget the prayer he prayed for me that day. I don’t know why God has not answered that prayer and made me rich. Men, I felt good with myself and still feel good about it and many other deeds like that till today.

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Jesus said in Matthew 5:42: “Give him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” The truth is this: if we are passionate enough about helping others, we will find a way. But if we are not, we will find excuses such as “I don’t have.” Some people will even have but will tell you they don’t have. Permit me to share this interesting, factual story with you:

In 1993, shortly after my father was buried and all his money was locked up in the bank, I went to Aba with a friend, OkeyOkereafor, to borrow N3, 000 from one of our village men, the lateMr. Leonard Okara, a manager with Shell. I am aware that my father had helped Mr. Leonard severally when Leonard was a student at the University of Ife. I desperately needed the money to enable me go back to the university and write my final exam and BA thesis. Okey, a friend from the same village who studied economics at UNN, but did not have a job yet, decided to accompany me due to the importance of my need as it had to do with completing my education.

When we got there, Dede Leo (that’s what we used to call him) counted for me how many of his brothers he was training in the university and the number of houses he was building which he was yet to complete. OkeyOkereafor is alive today and works with the World Bank, Owerri. I hereby challenge Okey to come up and say “Osa, you are lying! Keep quiet!”

I can’t remember how much Dede Leo gave us that day as transport fare back home, but I remember clearly that the money couldn’t take the two of us home and we felt so hungry when got to the road. We therefore used the transport fare he gave us to eat rice at a “mama put” joint and went home with our own money!It was Dr. Nobel Ekeh of Greenland Hospital, AkpuruNnorie, our son-in-law, who not only gave me N3, 000, but N6, 000.

Today, Mr. Leonard Okara is dead, and problems have not finished in his family. Problems will never finish in this world. So if you are waiting for when you have finished solving your problems before you can help other persons in dire need, you will never help anyone, and one day you will die and those your problems will remain, and probably start begging to be solved by those you refused to help when you were alive.

Having said all these, let me now say that there are some people who are like kids my little boy calls ‘beggybeggy’ (chronic, pathological, consistent and frequent beggars). Those are not the category of borrowers I am discussing here. If you don’t have money, please do not kill yourself because of those ones. It is not proper for you to die for Mr. Monday’s sickness.

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The borrowers I am discussing here are respectable people like you and me who don’t even like to give people problems. I am talking about honorable people like Jesus who could fast for 40 days; Jesus who could multiply few loaves of bread and few fishes to feed 5, 000 people and still have 5 basketful as leftovers. And then, something happened one day and Jesus became hungry. Then he sees you, a flourishing fig tree that ought to be full of delicious fruits, and when he approached and asked you for some fruits, you said there no fruits!

Meanwhile, the fruits may be there, but because you are waiting for when you will solve all your problems before you can start giving to others. Some people are so obsessed with themselves and their children that they don’t even know that other people exist. Don’t you see them on Facebook? The only time you sight them is when they are posting the ‘beautiful and prosperous pictures of their children’ for us to see. They can’t post any idea or comment that will benefit others. It’s always them and their ‘beautiful children’. I have also met a lot of them during my days as a home piano teacher: they would owe their children’s private lesson teachers N30, 000 monthly salaries but spend millions of naira to send their children overseas on vacation.

It may be also that you truly do not have. But what effort did you make to solve that person’s problem? “Where there is a will,” they say, “there is a way.” You know you cannot deceive God because he searches our hearts (see Jeremiah 17:10: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doing”).

What do you think the Lord will do if you bear no fruit under the circumstances in view? He will curse the barren fig tree!

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I believe God gave me this essay today as a special end of the year and New Year message to you. My prayer for you is that you will be fruitful and have the compassion to use your fruits unto good works in Jesus name!

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