Reversal of Fortune

Ken and Colleen

As an engineering student at the University of Calgary, Abundance Canada client Ken Godard never expected one of the most valuable lessons he’d learn would be about generosity. “I was a young man putting myself through University and I didn’t qualify for any student loans,” he explains. A strict budget allowed him to cover his expenses, but he was always careful not to live beyond his means. Then, Ken’s fiancée Colleen struck up a friendship with another young couple in the neighbourhood.

Ken and Colleen’s new friends had several children and often struggled to make ends meet. At that time, the province did not have a social welfare program (that would come in 1966). Ken remembers, “One day they confided in Colleen that they were having trouble feeding their kids”.  When the family swallowed their pride and asked Ken for a loan, it seemed an impossible request.

Giving Beyond His Means

Ken explains, “They had only asked for enough to get by, but it would still make a serious dent in my already tight budget.” His heart went out to his new friends but every time he ran the numbers, he just couldn’t see a way to manage loaning them the money. “I decided to pray about the situation before saying ‘no’,” says Ken. “I didn’t get an easy answer.”

Ken explains, “I went back to the couple and I told them that I wouldn’t lend them the money, but that I would give it to them. When or if they felt it was the right time, they could give all of it or some of it back to me.” The family accepted and Ken handed over the cash they needed for groceries and other essentials. Over the next six months, things turned around for them.

Unexpected Generosity

Unfortunately, that next six-month period brought an unexpected reversal of fortune for Ken. Without a financial cushion, his budget got tighter and tighter. “I started to struggle under the weight of tuition and living expenses,” he remembers. “Eventually, I was broke and in dire need of money.” Ken and Colleen’s friends heard that he was in trouble and arranged to get together. “They gave me enough money to get me through the rest of the year,” says Ken. “What a blessing!” He went on to earn his engineering degree, which helped him build a successful career.

Taking the Risk to Be Generous

Having experienced both sides of generosity, Ken and Colleen continue to live within their means but happily risk giving beyond them.

Today, many Canadian families are struggling under the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.  Government programs are helping, but just like Ken, we have an opportunity to step up and help our neighbours. When you see someone in need, will you take the risk to be generous?

When Abundance Canada client Ken Godard risked giving more than he could afford, he learned valuable lessons in generosity, humility and faith.

Contributed by Kevin Davidson
Gift Planning Consultant

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