Learning generosity from Keliko refugees

By December 24, 2019

South Sudan (MNN) — Refugees are typically seen as recipients of giving, but the Keliko people turn that concept on its head with their generosity.  Displaced in South Sudan, Keliko foster a culture of hospitality and giving despite their own difficult circumstances.

Meeting one gift with another

In 2018, Wycliffe Bible Translators finished a decades-long effort to translate the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament into the Keliko language. For this Christian people group, these Bible translations were a priceless gift. Now, believers can have and use Scripture in their own language in their daily lives.

At a recent church service, Wycliffe visitors saw Keliko generosity first-hand.  The church building was a large tent made of tarps and the pews were plastic chairs, but the congregation’s heart was one of blessing.

(Photo courtesy of Wycliffe USA)

“When they took the offering, there was a child holding a bowl… in the front, and then everyone got up out of their seats and they were dancing to the front. [Some gave] money if they had it, others [were] putting their hands in as if to say, ‘I’m all in. I’m all in for the Lord and the work of the kingdom,’” says Susha Roberts of Wycliffe USA.

A translator explained that the funds collected were to support church work, including ongoing translation and Scripture use.  Keliko refugees raised this money through small jobs and by selling portions of their food rations.

Learning from the Keliko

The attitude of giving and hospitality exhibited by the Keliko is reminiscent of the widow and her two mites. As that story teaches, it’s easy to be generous when you have much to give, but a heart of giving is something separate.

Some might think the wealthy donate more. However, that is not always the case. A report from the Chronicle of Philanthropy found the opposite during the height of the Great Recession. The average wealthy American decreased their donations to charity while their poorer counterparts gave more. Just like the Keliko, they gave even in their own time of need to help others. Read more here.

We all have something to give

For the Keliko, having a translated Bible in their language was a priceless gift. The community also now has a written language and the opportunity to attend literacy classes. Donations, prayers, and volunteered time all made that possible.  Wycliffe Bible Translators is looking to do the same for many other communities around the world.

(Photo courtesy Wycliffe USA)

Join the Keliko by giving generously to these efforts through the 2019 Gift Catalog.

These donations go to fund the translation of the Old Testament, New Testament, hymns and more. Learn more here.

“I hope those who participate… look at the Keliko and their generosity and think, ‘I can give like that. I don’t live the way they do; I have so much more’,” said Roberts.

“They barely have anything and yet they give it.”

You can also join in prayer. Pray for the completion of the Keliko’s translation, or select another group to pray for as they approach translation. Please ask God for emotional healing among the Keliko and for their eventual return to their homeland.



Header photo courtesy of Wycliffe USA.

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