Back in November 2018, I was introduced to Adel Azmy, Managing Director of NABLA. He invited me to share a GenerousChurch curriculum for growing local generosity in Egypt. Up until that point, our work was focused on equipping church workers to unleash generous disciples in the USA, and honestly, after 17 years of effort in that field, I was burned out and not in a good place.
In March 2019, God led our team to through an intense season of prayer and fasting, God broke us and led us to repentance. Gary Hoag spoke into my life around that time and challenged me to think of multiplication, not addition, related to ministry. I began to consider how to multiply in the USA, but God had bigger plans.
Gary exhorted me to shift from serving alone to working together. He invited me to join him on a trip to Egypt to serve Adel, who also volunteers as GTP Regional Facilitator for MENA (Middle East and North Africa). I was hesitant, but with Gary’s coaching and Adel’s encouragement, I decided to go for it.
I went to Egypt in December 2019 with open hands and tempered expectations. After all, it was my first time to teach overseas and with an interpreter. The gathering was the third in a NABLA series on accountability, fundraising, and generosity. We used Overflow, a GenerousChurch curriculum, which GTP had translated into Arabic.
The impact was phenomenal. Many shared about how they were able to apply the principles they learned to their own lives and in their local church setting. Read the impact story by Pastor Botross Fadel Gubrael for more details.
During that trip, Adel shared his dream of developing local generosity materials. I revisited this idea in February 2020 with Cameron Doolittle of The Maclellan Foundation. Together, we conceptualized the Generosity Design Lab (GDL).
GDL is built on the foundational idea that biblical truth is constant and cultural contexts are different. We provide national workers with biblical building blocks and help catalyze the development of their own generosity training materials for one or more networks in a country.
The architecture of GDL includes Malcolm Webber’s Four Dynamics of Transformation, so like four pillars, GDL has spiritual, relational, experiential, and instructional aspects. With that structure, we lift up 12 biblical generosity principles. Each one is linked to Bible verses, Bible stories, present-day stories, and an activity or exercise.
Through GDL, we took what we learned through years of working on the generosity space, simplified it, and created a two-day experience where influencers who serve one or more church or ministry networks can convene and design contextualized generosity materials.
We piloted GDL in Egypt in September 2020 through three labs with Church of God Egypt, Name Sports Movement, and NABLA. On the first day of the two-day event, we shared the biblical generosity principles so participants could reflect on them.
On the second day, we facilitated the building of the curriculum and helped them identify two audiences to target over a specific timeframe. After the GDL, we provided coaching and they have given us valuable feedback and shared stories of transformation.
We are learning that this work is not about “giving people a recipe to follow” but “teaching them how to cook.” In so doing, the GDL process bridges the divide between expert and learner, so learners avoid unhealthy dependence on foreign so-called experts.
At present, eight church or ministry networks in Iran, USA, South America, and Cambodia are in the process of doing GDL, and we pray this model spreads worldwide. For God’s workers to train on biblical generosity, the materials must maintain biblical integrity and also fit in context. Like good food, it must be cooked up locally!
I’m excited about the formal partnership between GenerousChurch and GTP. We integrate well and share similar values and core convictions. We are our committed to prayer, fasting, confession, and service. We are open to going wherever God leads and investing in building up God’s workers worldwide.
Will GDL replicate across the planet? That’s our prayer. Together we resolve to get ourselves out of the way and work in partnership to make resources like GDL and relationships all over the globe available to God and see what happens.