A dozen children pressed their noses against the screen of our porch staring into the white people’s house. “Look”, one of them said, “They have five kerosene lamps burning!” Yiin–Lampa mɔ́n kwɛŋl! At their homes a family had only one lamp burning. These white foreigners were very wealthy indeed! Our kitchen stove, kerosene refrigerator, library of schoolbooks and our pickup truck set us apart from our neighbors in the village.
The result of our lifestyle also meant that we often had excess material belongings that we wanted to get rid of. Usually, it was when we were preparing to go back to Canada for a furlough that we sorted our stuff and came up with bags or boxes of household goods we wanted to clean up.
We had lived and worked in a particular country for several years and had learned and adjusted to much of the culture. Most days we loved being there, sharing our lives and the gospel. But there were also occasions of difficulty. Some of our new friends seemed to often need financial help along the way. We wanted our friendships to be genuine and free from the complications of lending and borrowing money. So, we decided right from the start of our ministry that we would not give out loans. After all that would put our friends under the burden of debt and paying us back. Continue reading Misunderstandings of Patron/Client Relationships→
A father often took his five-year-old son to the local minor hockey league games. Each time, they saw the same homeless man in the parking lot asking for donations.
The first time, the son asked his dad why the man was asking for money, providing an opportunity for the dad to explain homelessness. The second time, the son asked why everyone didn’t give the homeless man money, which gave the dad a chance to share a lesson on charities and generosity.
On their third trip to the rink, the young boy approached the homeless man. The father and son now knew the man by name and often engaged him in brief, casual conversation. Suddenly, the boy reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a small bag of coins and, with a big smile, offered the bag to the homeless man. The man smiled back, offering an appreciative “Thank you.” The dad could only smile as he fought back tears.
This young boy understood Abundance. Even with a small bag of nickels and quarters, he felt he had enough to share and wanted to give something to their new friend. Abundance isn’t about wealth or excess or affluence. Abundance starts with gratitude and nurtures relationship. When you’re grateful for what you have, whether a little or a lot, you want to share it with others.
There is actually much evidence out there that says living generously is good for us! The book, The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose, is the result of a five-year social scientific study of financial giving done in the United States. The authors conclude that, “Generous financial givers are happier people.”
The research also suggests that “while money cannot buy happiness, giving it away actually associates with greater happiness.” In the story, the boy, the father, and the homeless man were all affected favourably by this simple act of generosity.
The authors of Paradox of Generosity go on, “This win/win outcome of generosity also holds true for other kinds of well-being, such as health, avoidance of depression, purpose in life, and personal growth.” In contrast, when we don’t live generously and strive to protect ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, “we are affected in ways that make us more anxious about uncertainties and vulnerable to future misfortunes.” If this is true, why wouldn’t we all want to give?
Better health and happiness are simply the side effects of generosity. At Abundance Canada, we work with some of the most generous people in Canada. For them living generously is not about the size of their wallet; it’s about the depth of their heart. They don’t give because they can—they give because they want to. They are passionate about the charities they choose to support and eagerly seek out ways to express their generosity.
Our organization was built on the understanding that God is generous and that God invites us to share.When we are generous, we reflect God’s character.
Abundance Canada offers a variety of services to help people live generously. We can help you discover ways to give generously, both now and later in life—for example, a generosity plan in your will. Every person has unique circumstances. Abundance Canada consultants will listen to your story, identify your charitable goals and develop a plan to help you experience faithful, joyful giving.
Dori Zerbe Cornelsen is a gift planning consultant at Abundance Canada serving generous people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest AC office or visit abundance.ca.
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference