A Christmas reflection from Randy
From Randy Brewer, Chairman/CEO, BDI
The tradition of giving and receiving Christmas gifts finds its roots in chapter two of Matthew’s gospel when the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Throughout history, there have been many variations on gift giving – far too many to name – but ultimately, I can think of no better gift than the gift God gave us in His son, Jesus.
As a fundraising consultant, I have studied, spoken and written extensively on the subject of giving. Often, the focus has been on the transaction – that is, how can a charity organization more effectively inspire increased donations?
But more recently, and especially with the publication of my book Releasing Generosity this year, I’ve thought a lot more about what motivates giving. And it’s led me to study the true heart of generosity and the benefits of living a generous life.
Generosity is a characteristic of God, as seen specifically in John 3:16: “For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE…” (emphasis mine)
There’s a profound truth in that simple, well-known verse. For those who have truly experienced God’s love, we can’t help but release it to others.
While this type of generosity may come in the form of monetary gifts, I believe it goes far beyond money. Webster’s defines generous as “living openhanded.” It’s a definition I love because to me, generosity is more of a posture than a process. To live generously encompasses both body and soul.
This past October, I spent two weeks in Kenya and Uganda in Africa. If you’ve ever traveled to Africa, you know how hard it can be to get there… and be there. It not only involves some very long plane flights and lots of time in airports, but life in Africa doesn’t include all the comforts of home. No hot showers. Brushing your teeth with bottled water. Being constantly cautious of mosquitos. And I have some unique physical challenges which made my trip harder.
But I go, and I’ll keep going, because I feel compelled to go. It’s my way of living openhanded. And I’ve found ways to extend that generosity further through the establishment of my private foundation, where we’ve been able to assist nearly two dozen university students as they pursue their degrees at various institutions in Africa (and a few overseas). These students include many former ByGrace Children’s Home residents. We also continue to sponsor a number of children through World Harvest.
My trip also saw me visiting five churches – speaking in three! – and being welcomed as a guest speaker in chapel at Africa International University. It was an honor to meet and spend time with students, families and faculty from Kenya to Uganda.
And, as you’d guess, I had some adventures along the way: I attended an outside graduation ceremony in the pouring rain, got stuck in the mud twice while driving to a village to visit a family. But I also had meaningful opportunities to learn and encourage while touring five university campuses attended by the students my foundation supports and countless small group gatherings.
For me, all these experiences illustrate what it means to release generosity and live openhanded. It isn’t about money. It’s about giving myself away, trying to encourage, inspire and motivate others’ faith journey, just as mine has been motivated by my time with them.
I write in the last chapter of my book that when I die, I want to be O.B.E. That stands for Old, Broke and Exhausted. This trip certainly left me exhausted. But it didn’t leave me old or broke yet, so I guess that means I have more to do!
This holiday season, let’s look beyond the giving and receiving of gifts. Let’s strive to live openhanded. And let’s strive, in everything we do, to release generosity.
On behalf of all your friends at BDI, I pray the blessings of generosity abound to you and yours during this special seaon. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
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