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A see-saw

Uncertainty, instability and generosity?

Photo of Barrie Thompson Barrie Thompson
3 min

I get paid a monthly salary. Thank you, Stewardship! I get paid every month, on a particular date of every month, and the funds go directly into my Bank account every month. This happens without fail … every month. And I have instant access to those funds, and numerous ways to get at and spend that money.

It makes you wonder what it feels like when the processing of a salary payment depends on many other factors; when a salary payment isn’t a certainty, and most definitely not a regular occurrence.

In Zimbabwe, because the economic and financial climates are so unstable and unpredictable, payment of a salary can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes, there simply won’t be enough money around to pay staff. Often, salaries are delayed because an organisation (such as the one I went to visit in October) hasn’t received funds from a supporter in time, and it doesn’t have access to reserves. It’s not straightforward, because (i) the Banks are in such turmoil, (ii) hard cash is difficult to come by, and, (iii) inflation is once again spiralling out of control in Zimbabwe. There simply isn’t the ability to pay people a lot of the time. And there aren’t the stable financial mechanisms in place that enable organisations to get monies from A to B easily.

I have a feeling I’d panic if I knew my salary was going to be even slightly delayed. Who knows what my reaction would be if I was told it was possible I might not be paid at all for some time, or that I could not readily have a selection of £5 and £10 notes in my wallet, or that there was no balance in a Bank account to meet Direct Debit liabilities. My lifestyle is such that I automatically pay for many things because I know that I’ll be paid every month; mortgage, utility bills, insurances, etc. I cannot begin to comprehend how I would cope without knowing if I was to receive a payment; if I could not get hold of hard currency; if I was unable to go to my Bank and arrange to withdraw funds or send them elsewhere.

What would my response be if I knew I was depending upon the generosity of others for my salary, for my daily financial bread?

Zimbabweans I met, who find themselves in this very position, taught me several important lessons. Admittedly, I haven’t come to terms with everything I saw and heard (processing it all is taking some time), but some very challenging responses to very difficult situations has given me much to think about.

For example, here are just a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself:

  • Would my faith grow if I had to rely on supporters in other parts of the world for my salary?
  • Would my love for others deepen as I realised that generous individuals elsewhere in the world were giving in order that I could live?
  • Would my praise and worship of the God of generosity and abundance reach new heights of devotion and thanksgiving as I responded to such love and support?
  • Would I be more content about living in the present?
  • Why aren’t I more thankful for my salary and my comfortable financial status and wealth than I am?
  • How can I help, even in a small way?

Thank you to all those generous individuals who help pay towards the salaries of staff and leaders of charities in Zimbabwe and across the world – those I have met are doing amazing things in Jesus’ name, the Spirit’s power, and for the glory of God.

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.