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

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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 Bible and a Gold band


Last week I got an email from a woman I’ve never met.  By this week’s end, you will be able to read her full story on our champions page.

I’d like to share some excerpts from her letter:

“My ‘ring decision’ story probably began about a year and a half ago when, at the ripe old age of 60, I felt compelled to read through the Bible, front to back, non-stop. God used that to make scripture come alive in a way I had never known before. I couldn’t put it down. Some days I would spend 4 to 6 hours reading and reading. I fell in love with Abraham, Moses, David, young John, and single-minded Paul. It all seemed fresh and new.”

“The two things that stood out were (1) that God would not tolerate idolatry and (2) how importantly He took helping the poor. I remember reading Ps. 119:37: ‘Turn your eyes away from worthless things…’ And as I read that, I lifted my eyes and looked at all the little worthless objects I had displayed all over the room – things I loved, but things that now made me ashamed.”

“How could I have spent so much money on this thing or that, when there were children starving in the world?”

“Jesus began to tender our hearts.  One day my Charisma Magazine arrived and in it was an article about With This Ring. I looked down at my beautiful wedding ring and said, ‘Oh no, Lord! Not that! Not me!’ But He grabbed my heart and made the sight of my ring unpleasant as it sat on my finger. It suddenly became an idol to me. He told me He didn’t need my ring, but He did need my obedience. In the end, I got a plain gold band, unadorned, and I can’t tell you the joy it brings me to know that it’s being there means children somewhere will not die from drinking unclean water. “

“Thank you for your organization and the wonderful work you are doing for the people in Africa as well as for the ‘donors’ who are able to experience God more intimately through your cause.”

Twyla said is that God did not need her ring, He needed her obedience.

We are all called to be obedient… to listen to the spirit of God…and to act when He speaks!  Really – it is that simple!  It may not be easy, but it is simple. Those are two very different things.

When God spoke to Esther to go before the King on behalf of her people, she risked her life to do it.  But she did it.  She may have been scared, but she still honored God with her obedience.  God used her obedience to save the entire Jewish people.

He speaks…we act…and God uses our actions for his good will.  Just like Twyla, we can either listen, finding relevance in truly serving a Living God, or we can ignore his voice and live a barren life with no real joy or purpose.

I want to be that kind of Christian – like Twyla or Esther. I want to grow and be changed.  I want my life to be marked by something more than how much stuff I have.  I want God to be pleased with me.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)

How are you living a life that is pleasing to God?  Not to boast but to encourage others, please share your story with us.

Ringless in Christ,

Ali Eastburn

With This Ring