A Harvest of Giving
Just a year ago, Nancy*, a brave and impassioned leader of a house church in Asia, made a radical difference in the lives of hundreds of people she had never met. It began with a Zoom call with a group of national leaders of The Wesleyan Church in Asia. For Nancy it was the first call she had joined and included leaders from countries stretching across the expanse of Asia. During the call, Nancy not only listened but “heard.”
Nancy was moved to immediate action by the shared life stories and circumstances of fellow Christians being decimated by a mysterious new virus, COVID-19, and its companions: joblessness, poverty, and starvation. Although her home country was also experiencing loss she nevertheless responded wholeheartedly. She shared the need to her network of house churches; together they gave over $42,000 (U.S.) in only one week, bringing help to some of the least resourced countries in the world.
As is often the case, Nancy’s generosity marks a life dedicated to serving Christ and others. In sharing her story, Nancy tells of another time of threat and disaster years earlier when her compassion–compelled ministry transformed lives—not only others’ lives in the moment of service, but her own life going forward. It served as a catalyst for knowing her Savior better so she could communicate Him better.
“Jesus is not only the God of foreigners. He is the God of all…”
Nancy had left her home to help other believers who had experienced a natural disaster in her country. She recounts, “A doctor and I were assigned to a villager’s home on a mountain to cooperate with some Christians from other teams to build temporary houses with wooden stakes and large cloth billboards. One day, when I was helping a local villager cook, I asked her, ‘How long have you been a believer?’ She gave me a look of surprise, as if she didn’t understand. So, I asked again, ‘How long have you believed in Jesus?’ (Because her home was a reception station, I thought she was a believer.) To my surprise, she answered me, ‘Jesus? Isn’t he the God of foreigners? I do not know [Him].’ I burst into tears at that time, and I said with heartache, ‘Jesus is not only the God of foreigners. He is the God of all mankind.’ Due to my limited knowledge, I couldn’t explain clearly what kind of God my God is.”
The gift of a certain harvest
God planted the seeds of love for souls in Nancy’s heart there and then. “When I returned home, I took a systematic online theology course to lay a foundation in my life,” she recounts. “…At that time, I felt so blessed and was passionate in study. Some people laughed at me.”
And that desire to give and serve continued: in church, visitation and supporting missionaries. Nancy heard of someone on her team going as a medical missionary to Cambodia and sought him out to give him a small donation. She explains: “He felt surprised and asked me, ‘Why?’ …I don’t know why, but I was moved to do so. I couldn’t go, but my blessings and prayers could accompany him. Doing something for the souls of that land was my happiness.”
“…I couldn’t go, but my blessings and prayers could accompany him. Doing something for the souls of that land was my happiness.”
Nancy listens and looks for opportunities to serve. When she was asked to lead a nursing home project her team was involved in—where she already volunteered—she welcomed the new full-time ministry: “This was really a grace for me as I had more opportunities to spread the gospel, give haircuts, wash their [the residents] feet, cut their fingernails, listen to their stories, and even accompany them on their deathbeds. I put on their special clothes for the burial, and I was there to say, ‘goodbye.’ Later, their family members also believed in the Lord because of our service.”
The gift of friendship
Nancy is an expression of what discipleship looks like and how it is connected to giving. Others poured into her life, supported and encouraged her. She reflects, “Another thing I am grateful for is the good teachers and friends.” Her mentors gave her room to grow and patiently walked beside her for decades not days, incarnating the love of Christ. Nancy mentions a particular leader Paul*, “The reason I can go so far today is because of his wise guidance…. One sentence he said that I remember most deeply is, ‘Nancy, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We are all imperfect.’ Because of his words, I [‘ve] become who I am today by relying on God’s grace! I strive to keep a clear conscience, ‘speak the truth in love,’ let my ‘yes be yes,’ and my ‘no be no,’ do everything in the light, and protect myself and others.”
There’s this amazing paradox of a life of giving. The more you give, the more there is. Giving well planted creates a harvest of more giving. We love Christ because he first loved—and gave himself for—us. Nancy’s friends and teachers received and gave to her and offered an example. She follows, always seeking to learn new ways to channel living faith and give more effectively. As she gives and plants good seed, a new crop of receivers of God’s bounty grows, and they in turn give.
Gifts of time, prayer, listening, seeing, finances, and service all transform both the giver and the receiver, yielding a glorious harvest. Nancy is living proof of this.
*Names changed for security purposes.