Giving back to live generously!
June 1, 2018Connections
When I think about giving back, I am reminded of stories my mother shared with me, as a child, about her missionary friend, Gladys Aylward. Whenever she would receive a letter from Gladys, she would gather us around to hear the powerful yet gentle words from a woman so utterly devoted to an inner vision, that she changed the world for generations of people – including me.
My mother first met Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China, in the fall of 1959 when my father took her on date to hear Gladys speak in Sarnia, Ontario. After a challenging message, Gladys gave an invitation for anyone interested in missionary service to come forward for prayer. My father went forward to dedicate his life to missions while my mother waited at the back. She was surprised, when after the service, Gladys approached her and said, “My dear, promise me you will serve the Lord and go wherever He leads you and that you will seek first the kingdom of God.” Years later, my mother realized that these simple words propelled her into a lifetime of missionary service in Latin America and Spain.
Over the years, I have learned that God specializes in using ordinary people to impact the lives of others – providing each of us with many opportunities to give back. The stories of Gladys’ life are ones of faith and determination while overcoming insurmountable odds. She is quoted as saying, “Oh God, here’s my Bible. Here’s my money. Here I am. Use me, God.” Gladys learned Chinese and she planted many churches, she brought about prison reform and traveled for 27 days over mountains, on foot, to take 100 orphans to safety during the Second Sino-Japanese War between Japan and China. She also organized the Red Cross in the bombed-out cities and towns in Shansi province and she raised and educated dozens of orphans.
This woman was a giant of the faith and I have read about the many ways that generous people supported her ministry so she could devote her life to serving others. It is because of her example and encouragement, that my parents became missionaries – sharing God’s love during 34 years of missionary service.
I marvel at the fact that because people in North America supported their work – my parents were able to rescue more than 200 heroin addicts from the streets of Spain. Today, many of them are pastors and leaders in churches across that country. It is a real privilege to have been a missionary kid because I witnessed and experienced generosity firsthand. As Christians, we know that giving back is at the heart of the gospel because God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that we would not perish but have eternal life.
In 1969, my mother wrote a letter to Gladys Aylward to thank her for influencing her life and to tell her that our family was headed to Colombia, South America to be missionaries. Here is a portion of the response from Gladys.
Now you just trust for yourself, your husband and your children, for your daily food and everything. Twenty eight years ago I started out from England with very little, no bank
account or knowing anyone but here I am. I have raised over 200 children and helped all sorts of others; I still have 41 children, a Mission and this small house. Where it all comes from I really cannot tell you. So look up, trust Him and I know all will be well. May He use you and give you all the love you will need to really love people. How shall they know of Him unless we show them? Write again soon and let me know about your news.”
Yours with love in Him and for His sake,
I realize, that while God calls some people to be missionaries, we are all called to give
back – to live generously.
Throughout my life, I have witnessed how being wise with money and living generously go hand in hand as an expression of faith. My role as the Marketing and Outreach Manager at FaithLife Financial has been like coming full-circle. I now understand how the gift of life insurance, as part of a wise financial plan, can actually help us leave a lasting legacy with the potential to impact generations of people.
Marta LoFranco is FaithLife Financial’s Manager of Marketing, Communications and Outreach. She lives with her husband in Kitchener, ON and is the mother of four grown children and Mam-ma to four grandchildren. She is passionate about her faith and attends a local Presbyterian church with her family.
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