Extravagant Generosity

The church I was visiting in Georgetown, Guyana, had been cobbled together from leftover lumber, plastic, and tin. It provided minimal comfort and only the barest of protection against the extreme heat and humidity. The road to the church had been not so much a street as it was an obstacle course of massive potholes, pond-like puddles, and twisted roots of overgrown plants.

As I waited for the service to begin, watching the building fill with eager attendees, it was clear to me that the poverty of the surrounding community did not derail the people’s enjoyment of each other, or dampen the anticipation of what God had in store for them that morning.

Toward the end of the service, it was my turn to speak. What can I say, I wondered, that could possibly mean anything to these people? “Tell them how much I love them,” God impressed upon my heart. So that’s what I did. As I concluded, I prayed that the Lord would show His love to each home, each family, and each individual.

When I was done, the pastor took a few minutes to share with the congregation about God’s profound love for all children, including the preborn, and he shared how LIFE International carries this life-giving message into the nations. Then he did something I did not anticipate: he called for an offering.

Children with soiled clothing pulled pennies from their pockets. Teenagers dug out change. Adults willingly opened their wallets—all of them giving graciously, and extravagantly, to the cause of Christ, to save lives and heal hearts. $320 was raised during that offering, and I can tell you that I’ve never been so moved by a gift in my life.

At first I wasn’t even sure that I should take the money. How could I take this much money from those who could benefit significantly more by it? But the Lord corrected my thinking: while these people had given out of their abject poverty, they gave willingly and joyfully, knowing that God had taken care of their needs that day, and He would do the same tomorrow, and the next day, and the next!

Their extravagant generosity humbled me, and God taught me something about Himself that day. I thanked them for their gift, and I accepted their offering—not as owner but as steward. I brought the money back to the States and invested it into the activity of spreading the message of life around the world.

Our God is a generous God! This congregation taught me to loosen my grip on my own money and belongings, and demonstrated for me the joy to be found in trusting God to provide our daily bread.

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 21:2-4

 

Illustration: The Widow’s Mite by James C. Christensen

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