“Just Come!” – The story of Two Amazing Grandparents

I have run across a lot of generous people in my lifetime but recently I met a couple that really made me stop and ask myself if I can’t be more radical in my giving.

My husband Ken met a man named Rick at a local pastor’s breakfast and they immediately connected on many levels.

Rick and his wife Sherry invited us over for dinner the very next week.  Ken told me a little bit about what Rick and Sherry are passionate about and it turns out that I have a lot in common with them as well.

They are passionate about Africa and they have spent the last several years preparing for something most of us would never even dream of doing.

They are leaving their comfortable home in Huntington Beach and moving to Uganda for six months.  They are starting a well digging program there that will involve teaching local people to dig wells and addressing medical needs.

Rick and Sherry

While I am thrilled at the amazing similarity of our goals for helping the poor and needy, I have to say that hearing the “getting there” piece of their story is spectacularly God in every way.

In 2001, Sherry began reading books like “Rich Christians In an Age of Hunger.” Their son was an Intercultural Studies major at Biola University and he began giving her books he was studying as a part of his program.  In 2003, his girlfriend Bethany, now his wife, came to live with them for the summer before her senior year.  Their son was in Thailand with World Vision.

In order to graduate, Bethany had to complete 6 weeks in an intercultural setting.  She went to Uganda for those 6 weeks.  When she returned to Rick and Sherry’s house she downloaded her pictures from Uganda onto their computer.  Sherry walked past the computer and saw a picture of Bethany, who had no medical training, holding a stethoscope to the chest of a pygmy baby, and Sherry commented, “I could do that!”

They sent an email to the doctor Bethany worked with in Uganda, saying, “We’ve never been to Africa, and we have no medical training, but if you think we could be helpful, we’re willing to give it a try.” He wrote back two words, “Just come!”

And guess what?  They did!  They went to Uganda for the entire summer of 2005 and they have never looked back.

Sherry came back and decided she wanted to go back to school to become a nurse.  Being a mother and grandmother already, she wanted to do more for children in third world countries.

Rick walked away from a successful flooring business to finish his degree in animal science and he stayed in school until 2008 when he graduated with an MBA in International Development.

In order to continue their education and prepare for life as future missionaries, Rick and Sherry rented out their house and moved on campus.  They lived on campus for two years in a converted slaughterhouse on what is called, “The farm” at Cal Poly Pomona and then spent another six months in an apartment.  As grandparents!!!

The kitchen at "The Farm" at Cal Poly

 

Now that’s what I call radical generosity.

They are now preparing for a move to a remote area in Uganda where they will live with the bare necessities so they can bring hope, health, and the redeeming message of Jesus Christ to people on the other side of the world.

When I hear stories of people like Rick and Sherry, I am humbled and challenged to learn of how else I can reflect God’s love to the world through radical giving.

Will you join me in that? I’m convinced that God is always up to something and never ceases to pour out his love to us and I never want to cease reflecting that love to others.

It could be something as simple as stepping up to become a leader in your church or it could be as complicated as quitting your job to pursue that vision that God gave you a long time ago.

Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it!  Send me an email at ali@withthisring.org and let me know what you’re thinking.

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

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Teens-Raising a Generous Generation

Teens: Raising a Generous Generation

Money for Nothing!

According to a national survey conducted by Teenage Marketing Unlimited, the average American teenager spent over $104 per week in 2001, and based on the spending of some teens, that amount has now increased by $16 or more in 2010.

Teenage Research Unlimited reports that teenage spending has risen from $122 billion per year to $172 billion per year over the past five years.

What are we going to do with our “privileged” teenagers and what will our future look like?

Well, according to these statistics, it’s not looking good!

I never thought much about how our consumer driven culture could affect my future grandchildren someday, but a young man named Gavin, a sophomore in a local high school, has made me see the light.

My fifteen-year-old son had his teenage friends over last week and while they were sitting around talking, one of them, Gavin, approached me and asked about the details of With This Ring.  He asked what he could do to get more involved and to be honest I was taken back by his interest.

He is the first teenager that has even asked about what I do.  I gladly told him all about the things we are doing at WTR and he began to rattle off idea after idea.

I went from just answering his questions to be polite, to total excitement as I heard his heart about his generation and what he’d like to contribute to it. I spent over an hour talking with him and he said he would like to come back the next day and start volunteering.

The next day he walked into my office and sat down without wasting any time as he began to explain the concepts he stayed up late imagining. It made me step back and realize I had grossly underestimated the power of a sold out teen. We sat for several hours planning and I put him on a computer, showed him how to work a program that creates flyers, and cut him loose.

By the end of three hours, he’d carefully strategized and mapped out a program he intends to launch at his high school this year, created a flyer and a one sheet to give to the school superintendant, and he even called the ASB president of his school to begin the steps to implement this new program.

I have to say that this was not what I was expecting.  I have worked with adults and spent weeks training them.  There are few volunteers who in several months come even close to what this young man accomplished in one day.

I have high hopes for this generation because I am now confident that in the middle of a self centered culture of spoiled teens, there are those like Gavin that are waiting for the opportunity to make a difference.

The name of the program he created is called, “Give Change to Make Change” and I can’t wait to see the outcome!

Do you know a teen that might be a generous giver in the making?

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

With This Ring

www.withthisring.org

Automatic Generosity: How a 14-Year-Old Girl Used $20

My best friend, Kimmi, lives in Northern California. The other day we were talking on the phone and she mentioned that the child she sponsors, Rahema, just turned 14 years old.  She and her husband sent Rahema a letter and twenty dollars for her birthday so she could buy something special for herself.   Just a few weeks later, Kimmi got a letter back from Rahema.  It began with these words:

I greet you with feelings of joy.  Praise the Lord Jesus!

This child living in extreme poverty is exclaiming joy, praising the Lord Jesus.

I already love her.  Kimmi has told me many things about Rahema in the last three years, but somehow reading her letter made her real to me.

Rahema goes on to thank Kimmi and her husband for the generous birthday gift and then proudly announces what she bought with the twenty dollars.  If she were a typical American teenager, you might expect her to buy a new dress, or some toys, maybe even some candy or a video game. But for Rahema, those were not of any interest.

Instead, with the money she received for her birthday, Rahema bought a female goat for her family.   Then she spent the remaining money on a pair of shoes for her mother who walks long distances selling goods in local villages to support her family, like many of the women do.

That twenty dollars we don’t even hesitate to spend for a movie and popcorn is the same twenty dollars Rahema used to bring her family a little further out of poverty’s hand.

Twenty dollars is a little more than half of what Rahema’s family earns in a month.

Can you imagine giving away that much money, approximately two weeks salary, without even thinking twice about it? What is it that makes a person care about those they love more than they care about themselves?

A person who exhibits love like that has to be the result of God’s love so deeply resonating in them that their gratitude and generosity is more prevalent than their own personal needs or wants.  Love like that must be instinctual, automatic, not manufactured. It must come from a deeper knowledge of the Savior and His character, and a deeper knowledge of His love.

I want to exhibit love like that; generosity that doesn’t even consider oneself, but immediately looks to the needs of others.

I have a lot to learn from Rahema.  We all do.  Rahema values people, not things.  She values life, not riches. While the amount of money she has is limited, she is very, very rich.

So, how can we love more generously and expect nothing for ourselves?

We practice it!  We put action to our faith by living it out though our deeds, even when it is hard to do so. When God calls, we answer Him with authentic praise that is evident in everything we say and do.

I believe the reason Rahema is full of joy and praising God is because she has traded riches for contentment, and selfishness for service.

In Hebrews 13:16 it says: And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Little or big, we can all do something generous every day, and pretty soon our response will be as automatic as Rahema’s, even when it comes to the big things.

There is something generous you can do today that will be a significant blessing to someone else – once you know what it is, do it!  Then, begin to plan how you can be generous tomorrow and then the next day.

Who knows?  Maybe generosity will become contagious!

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

Executive Director

With This Ring

A Promise, a Car Battery and a Bowl of Cherries

The battery and the bowl of cherries!

A few days ago my husband Ken was praying in his morning time with God.  He was pondering the fact that we have three cars and that two of them were given to us free and clear, and he suddenly said out loud to God, “Lord forgive me.” He knew God was telling him to give his car away, and he felt like it was supposed to go to my nephew.  Right now my nephew has a broken down car that he can’t afford to repair and he is getting rides back and forth from college.

We were planning to sell two of our cars and use the money to buy Ken a used truck.  We always seem to need one and we’re running out of people to borrow from.

Ken came home and told me what God was saying to him and immediately I felt a confirmation that this was the right thing to do.

We decided to call my nephew right away.  When he answered the phone and we told him that we wanted to give him the car, he was speechless.

It was so exciting to be a part of God’s provision for someone else.  He said thank you and that he’d get a ride to our house the next day to pick it up.

The very next morning Ken drove the car to work as usual, but when he went to leave, it wouldn’t start. We had just told my nephew the night before that it was a great car and had never given us any trouble.

We called AAA out and they couldn’t even jumpstart the car.  The battery was totally corroded.  We had to replace the battery right then and there and it was not cheap.  It’s hard to shop for a good deal when you are at the mercy of a tow truck driver.

He was very professional though and said that we should take the car to the shop to check the starter.  That’s not good!  So, we took it to our local repair shop and they said it looked fine.  Crisis averted!

Meanwhile, Ken was eating cherries and bit into one that promptly broke off part of his tooth.  Come to find out, he now needs a root canal, a post and a crown to cover the freshly exposed nerve.  Go figure!

Within 12 hours of our decision to follow God and give radically, we were hit with almost $1,700 worth of new bills. The temptation here would be to go back on our commitment and sell the car to pay for these bills.   After all, why would God allow all of this to happen if we were really hearing from Him?

I believe that God was not only allowing all of this to happen, He was right in the midst of it all.  He doesn’t want us to give out of our wealth.  He wants us to give out of our poverty.

In 2 Samuel 24, it talks about David going to Araunah to buy the threshing floor to build an altar to the Lord so the plague on the people would stop. Araunah offers to give it to David at no cost and also offers him oxen, sledges and ox yokes.  David turned to Araunah and said, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”  (2 Sam. 24:24)

When we give, it should cost us something!  Then we can truly appreciate the depth of God’s love and be reminded of the cost He paid for us.

God didn’t need our car.  He could have blessed our nephew without us.  But instead He chose to teach us that our obedience matters more than our any of our stuff.

So, is God going to bless us in the midst of all of this?  He already did!

Is there something in your life that would cost you something that God is asking you to give? I challenge you to make that commitment and do it.  Once you do, I’d love to hear about it!

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

With This Ring