I serve at The Second Evangelical Church in Tanta (SECT), a Presbyterian church in the northern part of Egypt, about 60km from Cairo. As a pastor, I thought I knew everything there was to know about giving and generosity. But when I attended the NABLA conference sponsored by GTP in December 2019, I was amazed by what I learned.
As a minister, I talk to people about being generous. I teach giving to the youth in our church. But was I applying my teaching to my own life? During the conference, God challenged me and made me think about my family’s way of giving. Through one of the stories that was shared, I was encouraged be a role model in reflecting God’s generosity.
During the NABLA event, a light came to my mind when we discussed generosity as a characteristic of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Pursuing this idea, I gathered 30 youth aged 15-22 for a conference in February 2020. We studied two resources from Generous Church. The first is “Overflow,” which was translated to Arabic by GTP. The second is “Generosity Reset,” a daily devotional which I and some volunteers translated to Arabic from English.
We chose these resources because they use Scripture and stories. They teach biblical principles using simple terms. The experience greatly impacted the youth who participated. There are many stories of transformed lives. I would like to share three.
The first story is about Mina who, like many others, was affected by the pandemic. He heard that our church was encouraging people to share food and money to help people. When he learned about this initiative, he gave a big amount of money, even though he himself was in need.
A month later, he received the same amount of money as a gift from his brother, who did not know about what he did and was not a believer. He said that it was like hearing a voice from God saying, “As you gave, I’m giving back to you.”
The second story is about a high schooler who had family and money problems because his parents were divorced, and his mother was struggling to raise him. While intelligent and successful in his studies, he didn’t have enough resources to pay for his education. Through the initiative of Rafik and his friends, a group of youth from the church collected funds to help the teenager. They bought him a computer and a printer, and promised to give him a monthly allowance to help him finish the school year.
They also care for him spiritually. They visit him once a month, even though he lives in Alexandria, which is 2 hours from Tanta by train. Through this, they demonstrate one of the lessons they learned during the training on generosity: When we give, we reflect the nature of Jesus Christ.
The third story is about a woman from church who was preparing for marriage. In Egypt, the parents of the bride-to-be provide dinnerware that she and her future husband can use. This woman’s parents could not afford to do this because they are a poor family.
Upon hearing this, one of the female ministers who attended the conference invited this woman to her home and asked the bride-to-be to choose from her brand-new kitchenware. Sharing property given by one’s own parents is rare in the Egyptian culture, but it is consistent with a culture of generosity.
The practical training is changing lives. As we have seen the effect of this training in our church, we thought, “Why not help other churches benefit from the training as well?” So SECT bought 70 books and gave them to a young man who was impacted by the training, Bebo. He began sharing the books in two other churches before COVID-19 hit. Because of the lockdown caused by the pandemic, he had to pause this effort. But with him, we look forward resuming the multiplication of the training soon. We are excited to share with more people that generosity is what God wants for us, not what God wants from us.