Article by Jeff Executive Director of Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The opportunity to travel to Uganda in late March to learn firsthand about Habitat’s programs and the impact of tithe on the work was incredible. It was a unique group of people, including four executive directors from U.S. affiliates, Susan Yow with affiliate tithe at Habitat International, Ronald Ongopa with the EMEA area office, a representative from Habitat Great Britain, and leadership and field staff from Habitat Uganda. Each of us brought our own unique perspectives and experiences. Overall, the tithe champion trip was encouraging, educational and even a bit emotional.
During the weeklong trip, we were exposed to nearly every aspect of Habitat Uganda’s work, including its lending program, vulnerable groups program, among other interventions. We visited with partner families to hear their stories, as well as various program partners and government officials.
Through our affiliate’s tithe program, we are intentional at looking at priority countries and spreading our dollars to different parts of the world. However, it’s easy to have a blanket perception or idea of what the housing need is and how Habitat is addressing that need. The tithe champion trip gave me a new frame of reference. I was especially struck by how Habitat Uganda has broadened the vision to do even more to serve families.
For example, I learned that Habitat Uganda is partnering to construct an energy solar plant to bring electricity to nearly 10,000 households that are otherwise without regular power. I did not know that so many Ugandans currently live day to day without power in their homes. That never would have occurred to me.
We are very blessed to be a part of an organization that has an unbelievable global impact. I mean this very sincerely. Our ministry has been around for 40 years, and that’s not that long of a time! We have really accomplished so much in those short 40 years in all corners of the globe. This impact is both humbling and inspiring. The experience of going to a rural area like Kumi, Uganda and being welcomed so warmly by community members that know exactly what the Habitat logo on your t-shirt means gives you a real sense that we are truly living in a ‘global village.’ Tithe helps to connect us in that way.
I feel very fortunate to have had this experience and strongly encourage others to take advantage of such an opportunity if available. It completely recharges you and reminds you why we are doing this work. I realize that not everyone is in a position to take such a trip. But, everyone has the opportunity to tithe. Your tithe is real and has real impact. I think it’s important that we get serious about the 10% tithe commitment to our programs abroad, like Habitat Uganda. I’m thankful to have seen that impact first hand!