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Generosity lessons from Zimbabwe

Photo of Barrie Thompson Barrie Thompson
4 min

I witness ‘giving out’ all the time. I see people giving out from their resources, their time, finances, and energy. I see others richly blessed as a result. I see needs met, necessities provided for, provisions supplied, results achieved, and God’s kingdom breaking through. At Stewardship, it’s what I witness every day. I am privileged to help generous people generously give out so that many will be enriched, enabled, and encouraged.

In Zimbabwe, where I was visiting a recipient charity, the results of this ‘giving out’ were plain to see. Because of the wonderful financial generosity of some here in the UK, many hundreds of people in this difficult, unstable, poor, troubled country are being given the chance to pull themselves out of a life of darkness and desperation into one in which they might see light and hope as their future; a life in which they are offered opportunities to learn, achieve, and provide for themselves and those they love.

I witness ‘giving away’ a lot too. I see people give away what they have, what they own, earn, and produce. I see people give away sacrificially and from a surplus of possessions. Again, I see others richly blessed as a result. At Stewardship, I’m well aware that the financial gifts made by many generous individuals are a ‘giving away’ so that others can be sent on their way to serve God and love others as He calls them.

In Zimbabwe, the results of this ‘giving away’ were a delight to see: new books for children in church schools; new farming equipment and materials for adults being given the chance to make a living and earn a wage; new experiences for youngsters on camps, from sports activities to the joy of study and worship. This was generous sharing from generous hearts; a giving away so that others might find their way.

The purpose of my recent trip was to visit a number of projects being run by a Zimbabwean charity, from campsite missions reaching 300 youngsters each year, to an education initiative providing schooling to 80 children, to an orphanage housing around 50 children who would otherwise be on the street or in prison or worse. Many of these projects are operational because of the love and generosity of supporters here in the UK, and it was my honour to see first-hand how their ‘giving out’ and ‘giving away’ was making such a significant difference.

It was the lesson I learnt from two members of the projects’ staff teams, which caused me to stop and think upon returning home. They taught me the value, joy, and powerful impact of ‘giving back’.

Rachel is a member of the staff team running Zambezi Ministries, a project to provide campsite missions around five times a year to young people aged 13-19. Rachel was a camper first, someone who experienced for herself the activities and worship times at the camps, and also the love of those who were leading, who wanted to reveal the heart of Jesus to her. When she turned 17, Rachel became a camp leader, responsible for looking after the younger children and seeing that they had a great and safe experience of the camp. She gave her life to Jesus, and then decided she would ‘give back’. Rachel now works for the project, helping promote, organise, set up, and run the camps. Why? In her words, “I am who I am because of Zambezi Ministries camps.” That’s quite an endorsement!

The second was a young man called Nomatter. I met Nomatter half-way through his maths lesson on ratios, which he was giving to the eldest children at Cross Over. This project is an education initiative, providing schooling to children who, for various reasons, are unable to have a place at a public school. He started at Cross Over as a pupil, and then went to a public school where he gained 4 'O' Levels. What he did next was to return to the project to tell them he wanted to ‘give back’ and train to be a teacher / mentor.

These two individuals have inspired me to make a list of people and organisations I want to give something back to; people and places that have made me who I am, who have shaped me, and who have provided examples to me of generosity in all its incredible forms. It will be my way of saying ‘thank you’; another opportunity for me to look beyond myself and serve others; a means by which I can give praise that I have been loved, cared for, and nurtured by faithful people who love God’s generosity.

Profile image of Barrie Thompson
Written by

Barrie Thompson

Barrie is an Account Manager working with Philanthropy Fund clients.

He has worked for Stewardship since early 2009 (Giving Services, Individual Partners, Compliance). Prior to this, he worked for HSBC in various roles, and then, following a time at Bible College to take a Theology Degree, he was a Church Minister. 

Barrie lives in Harlow, and is a Deacon at his home church, preaching and leading services on a regular basis. 

Barrie is passionate about the local church and how it serves its community and responds to the needs of others.