The Lord is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails. Psalm 103:8
Transformational Generosity Changes Both The Giver and Reciever
"No one has ever become poor by giving." Anne Frank
In 2010 I went to Myanmar to work at several children’s homes. My wife convinced me to go overseas; I was not being noble but obedient. After a grueling 40-hour, five-plane transfer sleepless trip, I arrived exhausted but expectant.
First, stern-faced military and government employees met us at the airport. After a tense time getting through customs, our Burmese friends met us clothed in smiles and grabbed our bags and suitcases with enthusiasm. We were ushered to a local hotel that looked like a scene from a 1960’s Vietnam movie.
We left for an enlightening ride to the orphanage. I saw lines of cars waiting to get 5 gallons of rationed gasoline. I saw bikes with four or more people riding.
I saw real village life as we pulled down a narrow dirt road. People of all types walked hand in hand and discuss daily life. I saw small children wandering by themselves—all kinds of animals of burden and goats anywhere.
Our large bus finally pulled through the narrow gate of the orphanage with at least two inches to spare on each side. What I saw then was overwhelming. There were children everywhere, jumping out of trees, stopping whatever they were doing, and running to meet us with smiles and tears.
Five children grabbed me when I got off the bus and waited on me throughout the week as though I was king. I thought I had traveled to ‘adopt’ them, but I was humbled. They adopted me.
One day before lunch, one of the children handed me an envelope. It was a piece of a paper sack they had folded like origami to be both envelope and a letter. As I worked to unfold the paper package, a small button fell out. This sparked my curiosity. Never before had anyone given me a button as a gift. Scrawled on the inside of the paper sack was “I love you.” She had said “I love you” not only in words but in her actions of carrying my books and bible each time I walked through the orphanage.
Yet, the button confused me. After lunch, she met me with a smile, handed me my shoes, and grabbed my Bible to guide me to the chapel. It was then that I noticed the “gift” of the button. She was missing a button on her shirt! I realized that this child had two changes of clothes as her only worldly possessions. Out of her poverty, she gave to me.
I have often “preached” about ownership versus possessions. We have an ownership mentality in the US, yet our faith exposes otherwise. We come into this world with only our souls and spirits, leaving with nothing but our souls and spirits. Anything else collected in between is only possessions. We do not own anything we didn’t arrive with or can leave with. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been bought with a price to serve God with both our bodies and spirit. A great exchange has taken place. He has given us His perfect life in exchange for our imperfect life. He has placed His life within us to live out of us to fulfill the destiny He has designed for us. Our destiny is love.
I’ve even taught this to others. That day, I truly learned this lesson from a small orphaned girl who shared her time, talent, and treasures with me. Out of her poverty, she showed me how the love of God transforms both the giver and the receiver.
What obstacles keep you from going on a mission trip?
Have you given or received any transformational gifts?
How do you view your possessions; as sources or resources?
Lord, awaken us to the beauty of Your generosity to us. May we see how You didn't even spare your Son for our lives. Amen