A Generosity Lifestyle
How many times have you heard someone say, “I’d love to give more but I’m just too busy”? When we think of generosity as something we must do in addition to our everyday lives, giving can become stressful instead of joyful. As a young doctor and busy teacher raising a growing family, Abundance Canada clients Bill and Sharon Bieber understood that sentiment well. However, their experience working overseas shifted their perspective.
Sharing Their Abundance
In 1978, the Biebers moved their family to Kainantu, Papua New Guinea. Upon taking possession of their rental home, the family was warned that getting a truck to bring water from the river was exceedingly difficult, and that the river water required proper boiling to neutralize potential pathogens. Instead, their home was equipped with a 3500-gallon galvanized tank that collected rainwater from the roof.
“[They] told us that we should put a lock on our tank to prevent the people walking by from filling up their bottles on their way to the village,” explains Sharon, but the Biebers couldn’t bring themselves to do it. As a result, the local people helped themselves to the Biebers’ water tank, mostly when the family wasn’t home to notice. The Biebers didn’t mind. Sharing wasn’t difficult for the family; the area where they lived usually experienced very high rainfall throughout the year. But then one day the rain stopped.
Giving in Times of Scarcity
Bill and Sharon monitored their declining water supply. Sharon remembers, “We began to tap the rings in the metal tank to determine the water level…we knew in a few days it would be gone.” And yet sharing their water had become a part of their lifestyle. They kept the tank unlocked. Sharon explains, “Generosity is being willing to hold everything loosely, understanding that everything we have comes from the Lord for the purpose of benefitting others.”
There was only one day’s water supply left in the tank the night the skies finally opened. “It dumped rain for two solid hours!” remembers Sharon. The next morning when Bill tapped the rings on the tank, it was at least two thirds full. He went to work at the hospital just across the road from their house and in chatting with his colleagues commented how lucky they were that the night’s rain had almost filled their water tank. The staff were incredulous. Although they were close neighbours, their homes had only gotten a few drops of rain.
“We still have no explanation for what seemed at the time an impossibility,” says Sharon. “But whatever happened, it changed us. We hope forever.”
When Bill and Sharon returned to Canada, a new perspective on generosity was among the many valuable lessons they brought home with them. Bill explains, “What we’ve learned over all our years is that generosity isn’t something you do with your money, but more of a lifestyle.” Sharon says, “Our giving just plays out as a part of our normal everyday life.”
The Biebers’ advice to Canadians hoping to grow their generosity is simple and direct. “Get on with it. Stop making excuses,” says Bill. “It’s easy to say how everything is taking all your time, but there’s lots to do locally. The biggest thing is getting started!”Bill and Sharon were determined to live generously in their new home in Papua New Guinea by sharing access to their water supply. Then the rains stopped. Here's what they learned and their advice to others...
Contributed by Peter Dryden
Gift Planning Consultant