Giving Life by Sarah Bainbridgesarah bainbridge - 6 Mar 2008
Boxing day 2004. Cosied up in a country Pub in Dorset, England, I was unaware of the horror that was unfolding thousands of miles away. I was also unaware that the Boxing Day Tsunami was going to change my life.
Eight months later, I found myself in South East India. Overnight I became mom to six children and began living 600 meters away from the ocean that killed their parents. Every morning I would rise with the rising temperature, go out onto the roof and gaze over the ocean, always placid as the sunrise reflected like a burning road to the east.
5000 miles away in England, Pete Worthington (as usual) was working on a plan to take over the world. Eight months previously, Pete, surrounded by presents, looked on at the enormous devastation and knew he had to do something. But Pete wasn’t just moved to help these people, he was gripped by a need bigger than the tsunami, he knew something in him needed to live differently, not just giving in this moment of disaster, but day in day out. A life lived to bring life.
Pete started to dream of what a person with a core value of big-heartedness would look like. What would happen if we swapped our investment in the material and the self-help, and replaced it by pouring ourselves into the things that don’t tarnish.
‘Three things will last forever - faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love.’
1 Cor 13:13
But how and what would this look like? God dropped the answer into Pete’s lap:
‘live generously’ Matt 5:48
Determined to shift his lifestyle to match up with the person he wanted to be, Pete applied who he was (web-site geek, 24-7 leader and unstoppable dreamer) to the situation and the Living Generously concept was born.
Pete envisioned an online portal where people can connect with situations all around the world. Rather than feeling disempowered by the enormity of need, a way people could turn their prayer into action and invest directly into specific situations, knowing that their help would achieve breakthrough whether it was an operation, a water-well or housing for an orphan. Pete set up the site in such a way that people could give to different things on any given day, that they could receive the projects as gifts at Christmas or buy them as birthday presents. It didn’t really matter, it was just all about giving opportunity for ongoing generosity.
Yet, as we embarked on our generous journey, we discovered more and more that giving financially was just an expression of the generous soul. Being generous was greater than giving generously or doing generous things. After all, we are human beings, not human doings. The core value of generosity permeates every part of a persons’ life. It’s about whom we are, being generous with every part of ourselves. Lives overflowing relationally, ecologically and with our time. A life turned inside outwards.
Like many before me, on my return from the sub-continent, I discovered what I had suspected for some time, that poverty runs deeper than the money in your pocket. I found that the physical poverty of the South was matched only by the personal poverty of the West. Poverty, I believe, begins in a person’s heart. By investing ourselves in the perishable, we had made our own lives small and impoverished. The disillusion of materialism, the lack of a cause that’s bigger than ourselves and the loss of social connection (insular living) makes people insignificant and takes away their courage. The resulting apathy - in a time that needs heroes - makes people small in a land of giants (Numbers 13:32-33).
‘Comfortable makes cowards of us all’ Danny silk
We need to care because caring rescues us. In living a life of radical generosity, I had as much to gain as anyone. I’m now not surprised that research has found that people who give of themselves are ‘happier, healthier, richer’ (Arthur Brookes). That’s what God’s been telling us all along: ‘It’s better to give than receive’.
All Living Generously did was recognise the ‘signs of the times’, and sought to give voice to a stirring that is occurring in the West.
‘There is a young generation that couldn’t care less about money and couldn’t careless about names.’ Lou Engle
Being a voice for the cry of a generation only requires a belief that you can affect it. People are designed to be significant, free, creative and heroic like their Father.
So, our passion became twofold. We wanted to continue seeing the world impacted by generosity, but we also wanted to see people impacted themselves by being generous. It is important after decades of materialism, postmodernism and dis-couragement to create community and (en)couragement for the hosts of people out there who knew they were made to matter.
‘All men die, but not all men truly live.’ BraveHeart
Living Generously is a part of the 24-7 family and has a lot to teach us about living a whole life of generosity, through and through. And to me, it’s all about really living.