When Giving Brings Joy

When Giving Brings Joy

by World Vision on November 21, 2019

We Pastors are no strangers to tough conversations, but talking to your congregation about giving can be especially daunting. Yet we know that generosity—when it reflects the giver’s heart—can open a path to a deeper, purpose-filled faith. How can you help your congregants practice the kind of generosity that feels personal and meaningful?

We can start by looking to the example Jesus set during His time on Earth. Even though He was the Son of God, Jesus humbled Himself by washing His disciples’ feet, teaching people to love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:39). By pointing to His example, we can encourage those we lead to emulate this selfless kind of giving as an essential part of their faith.

But we can also remind them that giving sparks joy for the giver, too—often touching their life in powerful and rewarding ways. As Acts 20:35 says, “You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting’” (The Message). Your sermons on generosity can be a blessing rather than a burden! By inviting people to give, you might just be providing them with the very encouragement they’re longing for.

That’s the kind of encouragement that Olayinka Owolabi, a successful lawyer, recently found through her own church.

Yinka, as she’s known, was feeling discouraged by some unplanned events in her life. She felt compelled to cry out to God, and asked Him to use her in a new way. She wanted the kind of fulfillment only He can bring—and was open to whatever that might look like. Yinka was already generous with her time, serving as a volunteer at Soul City, her church in downtown Chicago, and mentoring students and early-career lawyers. But she wanted more.

God answered her prayer with two unexpected opportunities.

During a church service in late February, one of the pastors gave an invitation to sponsor a child through World Vision — with a twist. Instead of each congregant choosing from hundreds of photos of kids, the way child sponsorship has worked for decades, they would instead sign up to have a child choose them as a sponsor.

Yinka and hundreds of other congregants said yes, and their photos were sent to Mwala, Kenya, where the kids would get to choose.

Mwala is a rural community where choice is an unfamiliar luxury. Most families are unable to provide well for their children — children like 8-year-old Mary Nzioki. Mary’s father runs a small nursery, but business is slow. The family struggles to get food, clean water, and money for Mary’s school fees.

Image Credit: Laura Reinhardt
But Mary loves to study, especially English. At school, she learned how lawyers help people resolve conflicts. That’s what she wants to do when she grows up — and she’s already practicing! “I was able to solve a case of two children who were fighting,” she recalls. “I am studying very hard to be a lawyer.”

Mary had been praying for more than a year for a sponsor to choose her. When it was her turn to look at the photos, she was drawn to Yinka.

Watching a video of Mary choosing her, Yinka felt awestruck. “When she shared that she wanted to be a lawyer, I was so overwhelmed because I really felt God,” Yinka said. “The fact that I am a lawyer and Mary wants to be a lawyer is not a coincidence. It feels like this is a God thing. Our paths were meant to cross.”

She also feels greater purpose, saying, “This opportunity to be used is reminding me about why I’m here.”

But Yinka didn’t stop there. When she discovered World Vision’s Gift Catalog, she immediately knew what she would choose to support: “Education for a girl. That’s near and dear to my heart. I see education as the way in which people can learn and grow [and] achieve their potential, because education opens doors and creates opportunities.”

Yinka is grateful for the chances she’s found through World Vision to develop a two-way relationship with Mary, and to open doors for more kids. The experience isn’t just making a difference in Mary’s life, it’s making a difference in Yinka’s, too. 

Her story is a beautiful picture of what God can do when we’re open to His leading. If you’re looking to inspire generosity—and spiritual growth—like Yinka’s, World Vision can help!

Chosen is one way to make giving more meaningful for the people in your church. Not only does it empower kids to choose their own sponsors, it also touches the lives of donors who experience the blessing of being selected by a child. Learn more about how Chosen can work to transform lives in your congregation

So much growth and transformation is possible when we open ourselves to God using us in new ways, like Yinka did. The World Vision Gift Catalog offers an abundance of opportunities for people to do just that. From providing education to drilling a well or giving a farm animal, there are opportunities to give that touch every heart. Learn more about how the World Vision Gift Catalog can inspire generosity in your church this Christmas!

Giving can be a powerful—and even joyful—thing. When you share a sermon on generosity, you’re not simply asking your congregation to give more. You’re inviting them to take part in the kind of experience Jesus modeled, the kind that can transform their hearts and lives as they serve others, in His name.

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