Guest post by Matt Darvas, from Compassion.
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
It's not about the money
The story of the woman who offered two copper coins “out of her poverty” is a lesson to us that generosity has nothing to do with the amount of money we give, but rather the heart from which it springs. I'm reminded of this truth whenever I attend church in the developing world.
I've recently returned from Kampala, Uganda. At Easter, we had the incredible opportunity to spend Resurrection Sunday at the local church that operates the Child Survival Program we'd come to visit. You should have seen our team members’ jaws drop as the offering took place. Church-goers came down the front, not just with money but offerings of sugar cane sticks, dresses, rice, bags of tomatoes and bananas. They were simply giving what they had, which for many wasn’t money. But what joy they gave with! And what came next was even more eye-opening. The pastor oversaw an auction of these unconventional offerings, to turn them into funds for the church. Members of our team took part in what bordered on a riotous exchange of goods and money, all in the middle of church and to exuberant singing and worship.
A community in disarray
Generosity is not simply about how much of our money or material possessions we give to others. I've been reminded on this trip that we're called to be generous with every aspect of our lives.
In Uganda, I met Charles and Godfrey, who are both around 19 years old and come from a community where 80 per cent of the families are polygamous, i.e. the majority of men in the area father kids to several wives. On top of this, the average age of a girl’s first pregnancy is 15; we even heard of one 12-year-old who was pregnant. The family unit, core to any community, is in complete disarray and confusion in Charles and Godfrey’s community.
These boys have not been left untouched by the family breakdown so prevalent in their community. Both grew up fatherless and have seen their mothers struggle as landless, casual agricultural labourers desperately trying to earn enough to pay rent and feed their children. It would be completely understandable for them to be bitter, resentful and broken - creating the next generation of the unhappy and unfaithful men who now reside in their community. Yet Charles and Godfrey have become the complete opposite to the men around them.
The heart of generosity
Both boys have just graduated from Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program and have submitted their applications for university. But will they use such an opportunity to escape their painful pasts and move onto bigger and better things? No. Charles now wants to be a counsellor, aspiring to speak into and mend the brokenness in the community he sees around him. Godfrey wants to study business administration, aiming to find entrepreneurial solutions to the problems around him through income and employment generation and anti-corruption measures.
These boys are an example of what a generous life looks life: a willingness to sow back into the community that raised them, no matter how damaged and broken it may be. Putting aside any self-focused dreams and desires, they're living examples of sacrifice. These boys remind me of another young carpenter who grew up quietly in a poor rural setting and later sacrificed it all...