A Legacy of Generosity
It can feel like receiving charity is a negative, but in fact, history shows us that it is part of a positive movement in the community; it promotes a legacy of generosity. I love the Old-English definition of the word ‘charity’ – “Christian love of others,” which looks at charity through a lens of relationship rather than transaction. Giving and receiving charity are re-framed as a catalyst for building community. In this context, the full impact of giving is celebrated. Over the years, this has been evident within our Abundance Canada family.
Giving and receiving charity are re-framed as a catalyst for building community.
The following stories show that charity is not a zero-sum game when both giving and receiving are done in humility and love. Instead, it is the beginning of a relationship which may form the basis of a thriving, generous community.
Perhaps a neighbour brought over a hot meal, or someone helped you out when you were a bit short on rent, or gave up their time to help with a project. We have all had the privilege of giving and receiving charity in lots of different ways. From the grandest gesture to the smallest kindness, these actions are creating a legacy of generosity. Next time you see someone in need, I encourage you to not only seize the opportunity to give, but also to build relationships with the people in your community.
Legacy of Generosity Stories
Anne’s mother was diagnosed with cancer when she was in University. Anne remembers, “during that time, my family was hugely blessed by our church, friends, and community”. The generosity of others saw them through day-by-day. From the simple act of bringing the family a meal on a busy, appointment-filled day, to connecting them with a support centre filled with helpful resources. “Thanks to God’s grace, and a fantastic team of doctors armed with amazing advances in technology, my Mom is now cancer free,” says Anne. However, the charity of others during those dark days continues to have a lasting impact on her family. She and her family now feel inspired to give back to others in need. “There is an important lesson to learn when we accept charity with nothing to give in return. It is both humbling and inspiring.”
The Value of Support
“I was studying mathematics at college,” remembers Lori. “But when it came time for my co-op placement, I couldn’t afford the airfare.” However, when they heard about Lori’s situation, the college provided her with the money, so she could participate. “That was really a significant experience for me, seeing firsthand the way their generosity affected my future,” says Lori, “The time I spent with the Mennonite Central Committee proved a vocational pivot point that changed me forever.” After graduation, as soon as they were able, Lori and her husband donated back to their alma mater. “The school is a very special community for our family,” explains Lori. “I went on to do my Masters and Doctoral studies there, my daughter attends there, and my son-in-law also attended.”
A Helping Hand
Ken was working hard putting himself through University when a neighbour confided that they didn’t have enough money for food and asked for a loan to help them out. “It seemed an impossible request. Although they had only asked for enough to get by, it would still make a serious dent in my already tight budget,” remembers Ken. However, he decided to pray about it before saying ‘No’. “I spent some time talking it over with the Lord and I didn’t get an easy answer,” he admits. Ken went back to the couple and told them that he wouldn’t lend them the money, he would give it to them. Over the next six months, things turned around for the family, but Ken himself started to struggle under the weight of tuition and living expenses. He remembers, “Eventually, I was broke and in dire need of money.” The family he had helped heard about his predicament, and they gave him enough money to get through the rest of the year. “What a blessing!” says Ken.
Contributed by Barbara Chambers, Director of Communications