“I train lots of people, freely, without asking any money,” Moise said, proudly smiling. “What I have, I give.”
Sitting on white plastic chairs at Moise’s home in the Republic of Congo, I looked out at the fields of newly sprouted cabbages as I mulled over Moise’s words. The grey sky overhead mirrored the heaviness of the conversation as Moise described his considerable challenges—his wife’s deteriorating health, the immense cost of her treatment, losing his loan repayment when a fellow group member left it behind in a taxi. And after this string of hardships, he was still willing to give of his time to train farmers in his community?
“How do you continue to be so generous when you have so many challenges of your own?” I asked, perplexed as I recognized that, had I been in Moise’s shoes, I would have held on tight to all the resources available to me.
“Since I was young, I learned that I need to love my brother the way I love myself,” he said, folding his hands over his blue polo. “It has increased my faith.”
He continued, telling me that he not only openhandedly shares his extensive knowledge of agriculture, but he often shares starter crops with his neighbors to help them grow their own. “When I teach others, I can help them live a good life,” he said. “I tell them that when you close your hands, you will continue to suffer. But when you put grain into the ground, you are getting something. That is how I contribute to the life of my community.”
Working in marketing at HOPE, I’m no stranger to astounding generosity. Each day, I hear stories of remarkable donors who operate out of the deep conviction that their resources are not theirs to keep. Yet, Moise’s openhanded posture struck a different chord in me—how he freely gives of his time, energy, and resources when he has such immense need of his own. His generosity sounded … painful.
Moise’s attitude reminded me of the words Jesus spoke after seeing a widow drop two coins into the offering: “This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of our poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:3-4).
Staring out the window on my flight back to the U.S., I thought about Moise’s simple statement: “What I have, I give.” Convicted, I sadly thought back to how challenging circumstances actually make me less generous. I am far more tightfisted with my time, money, and energy when it feels that I have less to give. I give only when I feel like I have enough to spare.
Moise is right—giving sacrificially is certainly a faith-stretching exercise, one that I’ve often missed out on. Often, my stinginess comes from a lack of trust—a stubborn reluctance to believe that God will meet all of my needs. True generosity happens when we approach God open-handedly, willing to give whatever He asks of us, regardless of how costly it is.
Leaving Moise’s farm, I was sobered by the ongoing realities of living in poverty, but also encouraged that for followers of Christ like Moise, pain can’t stop obedience.
Read Moise’s full story here.