A True Story
on Sep 17, 2021
A couple of years ago, I engaged my Dad in a conversation as he was engrossed in some work on a computer in my room. Dad told me in the course of the conversation that some people are naturally generous while others are naturally selfish. I have come to conclude that Dad was right in his observation, for I know people who have been working for years but are stingy with their money. And I know of others who are young but very generous.
Like when I was gunning for a political seat in the 2013 Kenya's General Elections, I approached a number of friends for financial donations to help fund my campaign. And you know what? Those friends of mine who were in their 40s and 50s and who had been working for years chose to ignore my requests for help. It was those friends who were young that were kind enough to send me some money.
One of the young friends was Moses Mutoko who sent me $10 to finance my political ambition. Mutoko was then an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania; he must have therefore sacrificed a part of his pocket money to help make my campaign a success. Imagine some Christian friends who had been working for years ignored my pleas for help and here was Mutoko sending me part of his pocket money - how surprising!
Another young friend of mine who has impressed me with his generosity is David Mwakima. Back in 2017, about a year after I quit my piano-teaching job to venture into blogging, I found myself without the cash I needed to renew my blog hosting services. I approached my family members for help but they didn't come through with the money. Worried that my blog would get closed, I asked Mwakima if he was in a position to help. To my delight, he willingly gave me the money I needed.
Over the past few years, Mwakima has continued to offer me financial help whenever I am in need. Mark you, he is just a young man who graduated from Harvard College a few years ago. The last time I checked, he was a graduate student at a renowned university in California, which means he hasn't been in gainful employment. And there he has been - sending me money like it's going out of fashion!
My story about generosity would be incomplete without me mentioning an uncle of mine named Gibson Mwangi. Uncle Gibson is a kind, humble man. And generosity is his middle name. For as long as I have known him, he has always left me with some cash whenever we have met. What amazes me about him is that he gives me money even though he is not such a rich man. He is a shopkeeper who has a wife and three kids to take care of.
It is friends like Moses Mutoko, David Mwakima and Uncle Gibson Mwangi who have made me realize Dad was right in his observation that some people are naturally generous. And it is "friends" who are in their 40s and 50s and who have been working for years but have been unwilling to help me that have made me agree with Dad that others are naturally selfish.
As for me, I don't know whether to describe myself as a generous or a selfish person. Well, I occasionally dish out loose change to beggars on the streets, and feel joyful about it especially when the beggars thank me for my kind gesture. But boy, don't I find it hard to part with paper currencies!
I intend to continue being generous with beggars since the Bible says it's more blessed to give than to receive. And if I ever grow rich as I am always praying to be, I have resolved to always be there for my friends when they are in need and to donate part of my wealth for such honorable causes as construction of hospitals and building of school libraries.
My dear reader, I challenge you to also adopt a philanthropic nature. Be generous with your money. Help a friend in need. Send a donation to a blogger who impresses you with his writings. And in case you are mistaken, donating money will not make you poorer. In fact, it might make you richer, for as the Bible says in Proverbs 11:24, "A generous man will prosper." Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story about practicing generosity, you might also enjoy another one I wrote several months ago on "Sharing Knowledge". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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What Being in a Choir Taught Me
A True Story
on Sep 12, 2021
When I was leaving Starehe Institute in April 2007 as a 19-year old, I was burning with ambition. I wanted to start a lucrative business, own a sleek car and become a millionaire in my twenties. More importantly, I wanted to fly to America and acquire a degree from an Ivy League university. I was that ambitious.
Around that time I was leaving Starehe, I wandered into All Saints' Cathedral church in Nairobi on one memorable Sunday morning. And wow! The warm reception I received in the cathedral quickly glued me to the church even though I didn't believe that much in the Bible. Actually, I didn't believe in the Bible at all; I perceived it as a fictitious book of the Jews.
But when I became attached to the cathedral's 9.30am English service choir, I gradually found myself giving up my heretic beliefs and embracing the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. The tuneful hymns I learnt in the choir, the choir fellowships I attended over the weekends and the lasting friendships I formed in the choir - all these played a part in converting me to the principles of the gospel.
And it was in the choir that I came to find out how timid I was back then. Imagine I was so timid that when I was about to enter into the cathedral for choir practice, my heart would start pounding in my chest like a tom-tom. I would fear how I was going to interact with my fellow urbane choristers, some of whom were my parents' age. What a timid young man I was!
I particularly remember one experience I had on a Thursday evening in 2008 during choir practice. That evening, I was feeling rather sick and frail; I kept sitting down as other choristers sang their hearts out. A fellow tenor singer named Mike Njeru noted my unusual behavior. And when I informed him I was feeling unwell, he offered me a lift in his car and drove me to the bus station where I boarded a matatu bound for my hometown of Kiserian.
As Mike drove me to the bus station, he questioned me about my past. And you know what? His questions made me fear that he might find out I had been brought up as a Catholic. Happily, he didn't get to know that on that Thursday evening (as if there was something sinful about being a Catholic). That I feared Mike might discover my Catholic roots clearly showed how timid I was.
A number of choristers noted my timidity and did their best to embolden me with confidence. Like the choir director, a tough-talking professor from the University of Nairobi, remarked during one choir meeting that he would his leadership position to encourage the timid. Well, he didn't mention my name but I could easily tell he was talking about me.
Then another chorister had me join an evangelism course that was taking place at the cathedral in 2008. I did enroll for the course and even though it wasn't rigorous, at least it made me study the Bible more earnestly. And the highlight of the course was the graduation day during which I was pictured with my Dad, with me wearing a graduation gown.
I left Starehe as an 'A' student, full of confidence in my ability to conquer the world and achieve my dreams. But the experiences I had in the All Saints' Cathedral choir humbled me; they taught me how timid I was. I was more of a hick from the village in a choir of urbane grown-ups. Little wonder that I was rejected by the four top American colleges I applied for admission in 2007.
As I look back on my life now, I have realized I didn't achieve the dreams I had as a starry-eyed 19-year old because I lacked the mettle to become a millionaire in my twenties and the brains to get into an Ivy League university in America. I was just way too timid to achieve those dreams.
The all-knowing God must have seen it fit for me to wander into All Saints' Cathedral church and join the cathedral's 9.30am English service choir since joining the choir turned out to be my road to Damascus. In all honesty, I can say being in the choir gave me an Ivy League-worth of education.
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn which is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the hymn.