When I first started my new role at Baptist World Aid encouraging Australians to consider how they might make an impact in the world by leaving a gift in their Will, I decided to spend time getting to know some people who have done exactly that. Each person I spoke with generously shared parts of their life story with me, so that I could better understand what motivates people to give to charity.
One such woman was Susy Lee – who some of you might know as our Catalyst Coordinator in the Advocacy team.
For those of you who haven’t yet had the good fortune of meeting Susy – either through a Catalyst event or our End Poverty launches in February – she is one of those people who manifests a passion for life, God, and justice, that is contagious to all who encounter her. And so, it was my privilege to go a little deeper into the life of Susy.
As we walked together through the national park that backs onto our Sydney office, Susy shared with candid honesty about what giving to charity means to her and to her husband as Christians.
“I’m worried about our culture of consumerism. It promises to ease our (often emotional) problems when we buy stuff. To me, giving is about being able to push back at our overly materialistic and consumerist world. By choosing to buy less, we are actively living a counter-cultural lifestyle – with a bit of self-sacrifice – that relies on a deeper trust in God’s provision for our emotional and practical needs. We’ve seen missionaries receive the exact amount they need to cover a week’s rent, but we deny ourselves those miracles if we surround ourselves with everything that we think we need. By giving money away, we are opening up the possibility of God working in our lives.”
“If everyone in the world lived as we do in Australia, we would need the resources of at least three earths. It’s just not sustainable to have such resource disparity. So, we need to live differently and to embrace a type of giving that moves systems and institutions to make positive changes for all societies. That’s why we support Baptist World Aid’s advocacy work – it works at a systemic level.
“We support missionaries that we know personally, ministries in our local neighbourhood, and organisations like Baptist World Aid that work to systematically change global injustices. In all these areas we’re just participating in God’s kingdom work on earth!”
When I asked Susy if this approach to life has translated into how she has approached her giving decisions in her Will, I should not have been surprised by her response.
“Including charity is the first thing we did for our Will. Our Solicitor thought this was radical, but for us, it’s about showing where our heart and faith lies. Our sons understand this too. We believe God is restoring all relationships within creation. Our decision is about wanting to help – to see a world transformed! We think God has a better idea about how to do this than us, so we’re putting our wealth back into the hands of the Creator of all things.”
Including a gift to charity in their Will was such a simple decision, because it was just an extension of the same, selfless way Susy and her husband have been choosing to live for years.
“The money we earn allows us to be participants in God’s bigger picture. By considering the least and the oppressed; by asking God to shape our hearts and lives to be like that of Christ; by trusting that God is bigger than our own plans… we’re hoping to be part of something greater.”
I was wonderfully surprised. In living out her faith in the goodness of God in all areas of life, Susy is living radically, trusting that God can use each of us to participate in building up His kingdom. And in that moment, I was reminded that faith is radical. That giving generously is often counter-cultural. That hoping for a redeemed world means we’re called to be active participants in God’s story of redemption for creation.
That day in Lane Cove National Park was a breath of fresh air. In seeing Susy’s hope for a restored world, and the way she chooses to live her life to be a part of it, I also saw how every action we take can move us towards God’s heart for this world.
I pray Susy’s words have, in some way, resonated with you or inspired and encouraged you to take one more step of courageous faith to live generously… as they did me.
Together, we can use what we have and love those who need it most. And when we do, we are seeking to be part of God’s kingdom work here on earth.
If this article inspired you to consider leaving a gift in your Will to Baptist World Aid, or if you would like to talk to someone about how you can go deeper in your support for ending poverty, then please reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you. Call 1300 789 991 or email [email protected] to chat to one of us when you’re ready.