The Journey of Generosity is a life-changing journey that leads people on an interactive exploration of the joys of living generously. While not a prescriptive Bible study, the programme is Christian-based, rooted in Scripture, and encourages participants on a journey of reflectively unpacking the biblical principles of generosity. It is, however, open to all people, regardless of their religious background.
The aim of the programme is to ‘give the gift of conversation’, allowing participants, who will usually already be enamoured by Jesus’ teachings on the blessedness of giving over receiving, an opportunity to have their hearts further captured by Jesus and generosity.
The Journey can be undertaken in one of three ways: a sponsored two-day away retreat; a one-day sponsored journey that requires a venue, with lunch and refreshments provided, or a virtual journey, consisting of two, two-hour sessions, with no sponsor required. Sponsors are usually individuals who have the means to sponsor events, or individuals who can sponsor themselves. All manuals and materials required are sponsored by the Journey of Generosity (JOG) organisation at zero cost to participants. JOG will also arrange for official invites to be sent out.
On the Journey, participants can expect to hear stories of how generous giving has transformed whole communities, and to discuss with like-minded individuals the connection between generosity and the abundant life. Funds are never solicited during these Journeys, so people attending – and these are usually people who already love generosity – are afforded the opportunity to think about generosity deeply and to talk about it honestly, without the usual problem of the people talking with them wanting something from them.
Bossie Ackerman, one of the programme facilitators in the UK, said:
The Journey of Generosity transformed my life into understanding it is more blessed to give than to receive.
Journey of Generosity retreats and conferences are currently hosted in more than 60 countries and 30 languages. The idea was inspired in the late 1990s, when four friends, who were already living generous lives, noticed that societal giving was on the decrease.
The friends began meeting with others like themselves to have conversations about generosity. The idea grew and other people began to ask to be included in these conversations.
The idea has been demonstrated in varied and creative ways. In Mizoram State, North East India, for instance, women, who are themselves quite poor by Western standards, have revolutionised the concept of generosity through the practice of ‘Buhfai Tham’ or ‘Handful of Rice’. This is, essentially, putting aside a handful of rice each time they cook a meal. The rice is donated to the church, where it is used to serve the community, and the surplus is sold and proceeds used to support church missions.
Buhfai Tham has been practised in Mizoram since 1910 and has become a way of life among people from all walks of life there. As a result, 95% of the 900,000 Mizoram population are Christians today, and churches in the region are able to support hundreds of missionaries, including overseas missionaries.
In Kampala, Uganda, Bishop Hannington Bahemuka was invited on a Journey of Generosity workshop. People in the village where he served had been displaced by war, and forced to flee to refugee camps where conditions were abysmal. Despite this, he encouraged the believers in the camps to share what little they had.
The first project saw refugees giving in order to provide blankets for the orphans in the camp. One little girl said she felt loved by God when she received her blanket. Bishop Hannington said it was the first time they saw the generosity principles coming to life.
Later, when they were able to return to their village, they found it completely demolished. Bishop Hannington again inspired the people to look to their own resources and to give in order to rebuild the community. Rather than expecting help from Western countries, they utilised the concept of generosity and each person gave their time, skills, and resources to rebuild homes, churches, and schools, and established businesses until the community was thriving again.
Bishop Hannington speaks of the grace of giving that has transformed his community and the people themselves, who once gave out of a sense of duty but grew to give from hearts of joy, as they witnessed the impact their generosity had made.
“This message can work in any country and in any situation,” Bishop Hannington said, “because surely generosity is transformational.”
Written by: Joy Roxborough