(Photo Credit: Paige Steele)
Who is the most generous person you know? I remember one friend, Lance, who was remarkably generous. The memorable thing about Lance was not just his generosity with material possessions, or money, he was also generous with his time and his energy. I guess you could say that Lance was just generally generous! Lance and I had several memorable conversations during the years we were stationed together in Washington, D.C. As a Naval Academy graduate, Lance was used to working hard and he was willing to work hard to serve others. One Saturday, I needed help with a project and Lance was quick to jump in. I remember feeling bad for destroying his weekend, and I apologized to him.
“What are you talking about?” he said. “When God created us, He made us to work six days and to rest on the seventh day. When we begin to think we should take two days off each week, we are missing out on God’s pattern. Saturday is a day of work!” Lance willingly sacrificed his Saturday to serve me and his perspective on weekends challenged me.
In Rwanda, communities come together on the last Saturday each month to improve their community, in a practice called “Umuganda.” According to Rwandapedia, “The word Umuganda can be translated as ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.’ In traditional Rwandan culture, members of the community would call upon their family, friends and neighbors to help them complete a difficult task…today close to 80% of Rwandans take part in monthly community work.”
This monthly exercise of Umuganda reflects the Scriptural principle of “openhanded living” that is described in Deuteronomy 15:7-8: “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.”
Whether we live in the United States, or in Rwanda, we should regularly ask ourselves, “How openhandedly am I living with the time, money and energy that God has entrusted to me? Who has God brought into my life that I can serve this week?”