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Stewardship Stories: Givers and the Joy of Giving (R)

Is your giving a source of joy to you and blessing to others? In the stories below, you’ll meet numerous people who have lived generously and experienced the joy. You’ll also meet others who missed out on the joy of giving. If you have been moved by the testimonies or biographies below, share your brief story with us—so that other Christians might excel in generous giving. Also, you may wish to read a shorter list of key giver stories or comments from givers about Generous Giving.
Reed, Randy
    My Business Is a Kingdom Business
    Randy Reed. Testimony delivered at Generous Giving’s annual joint conference with the Christian Community Foundation of Kansas City, Overland Park, Kans., May 10, 2002.
    “The reason for [one’s] business is for the sake of the kingdom, to be a steward of what God has entrusted.” Kansas City car dealer Randy Reed gained a bigger picture of who God is as his business grew. Recognizing God’s timing and provision in his life, he began to see his vocation—selling cars—as a tremendous ministry opportunity: witnessing Christ’s love to employees, influencing other business leaders, and giving a portion of company profits to Christian ministries. By trusting in the Lord with all his heart and not leaning on his own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), Reed has experienced the joy and blessing of serving God by running a “kingdom business.”

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Richards, Philip
    Focus: Million Donor Man. Meet the Hard-Nosed Capitalist Who Has Just Given Almost Half His £8m Salary to Charity. John Arlidge Reports on New Philanthropy among the Super-Rich
    John Arlidge. The Sunday Times, London, United Kingdom, April 16, 2006.
    Why is Philip Richards, the top hedge fund boss in England, the exception to the rule? Instead of using his £8m a year to buy a yacht and a brand new car like many other English investors of his caliber, he is giving some it away. In 2006, Richards gave nearly half that amount to help build a church and a Christian youth center. This article also recognizes that Richards is different from the status quo because he does not give out of guilt but rather because “he is serving God and his fellow man.” He is a member of a new group of wealthy British that strongly believe that philanthropy and faith should go together. To Richards, “God is creative and, if you are a Christian, you should want to be creative, too.” Through his business Richards believes that “Making pots of cash not only satisfies the Christian duty to be creative, it benefits society.” This article is a reminder to every believer that the world is watching us. The question we should constantly be asking ourselves is whether we stick out like Philip Richards: Are we the exception to the rule?

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Robinson, David
    David, the Goliath of Giving: David Robinson’s Great Generosity off the Court Might Be His Ultimate Legacy
    Greg Boeck. Hoop, March 2000.
    Meet David, the Goliath of Giving. As one of the top players in the NBA for more than a decade, David Robinson seems to have it all: fame, fortune and family. Yet for Robinson this is not enough. In fact, for at least 10 years Robinson has given generously on two fronts—fiscally, with 10 percent of his income annually targeted to the David Robinson Foundation, and physically with his time and energy. The words of Matthew 5:14 set the tone and define the work of his foundation: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” Although Robinson is an athlete who has achieved great wealth, it has not dimmed for him what is most important in life: “God has given me more than I ever hoped for, so it’s my responsibility to give back.”

    The Admiral Leads the Way: David Robinson and Other Funders Set High Standards for Aiding the Urban Poor with Private Schools
    Justin Torres. Philanthropy, March/April 2004.
    David Robinson, recently retired center for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, was a giant on the basketball court. But he is also an outspoken Christian and a giver to the cause of Christian education in the inner city. Through the David Robinson Foundation, he has given millions of dollars to early childhood centers, Christian fellowship causes, and education. In 2000, near the end of his career, Robinson made a $9 million commitment to the Carver Academy, a private, non-denominational elementary school on San Antonio's largely poor and minority east side. This Philanthropy Roundtable article tells the story of Robinson’s Carver Academy.

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Rockefeller, John D. Sr.
    Yes, I Tithe
    John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
    America’s first billionaire, the late founder of Standard Oil Co., gave away more than $500 million, the equivalent of $5 billion today. His lifelong practice of giving began with a small tithing exercise as a boy.

    Business Lessons from History: John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1839-1937)
    Rick Williams, Jr. Business Reform 3, no. 6 (November/December 2003).
    The story of John D. Rockefeller Sr.’s life is presented here as a contradiction between “questionable business tactics” and “staggering generosity” grounded in “a sense of piousness.” The article briefly traces out the history of his life as it developed between these two contradictory strands and concludes that “regardless of one’s opinion of Rockefeller’s business practices and the sincerity of his Christian faith, he is deserving of further study for anyone in business today.”

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Ross, Percy
    Obituary: Percy Ross, Flamboyant Philanthropist
    Chuck Haga. Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN, November 14, 2001.
    Percy Ross, the showy philanthropist whose personal brand of charity included tossing $15,000 in silver dollars to children as he rode in a parade, claimed to have given away as much as $30 million in 17 years through his syndicated newspaper column, Thanks a Million. "I've achieved my goal," he wrote in his final column, published in September 1999. "I've given it all away." But because of what he had received from readers, he said, "In many respects, I'm far richer today than when I started."

    Thanks a Million: The Life of Percy Ross
    Thanks a Million, 2002.
    It was the tremendous tide of mail following the 1977 Children’s Christmas Eve party that inspired the late philanthropist Percy Ross (1916-2001) to develop his Thanks a Million syndicated newspaper column. Seventeen years and more than $30 million later, Ross had given away his entire fortune to help thousands of readers from more than 750 publications across North America. Typical requests included money for medical adaptive equipment, household appliances, educational tools, clothing, medication, past due utility bills, car repairs, etc. Ross believed that his thinly spread philanthropy not only would provide a compassionate helping hand but also would be just enough to teach valuable lessons in life stewardship. “We have always believed in giving 10 individuals $300, rather than giving one individual $3,000.”

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Ross, Steve
    Radical Generosity
    Steve Ross. First Lutheran Church, Detroit Lakes, MN.
    In this testimony to the boundless joy of giving, the owner of a Minnesota seed company reveals how he and his wife started tithing. He now challenges others to examine their own giving so that they, too, might experience the joy that follows. As they increased their tithe yearly, “The odd thing was that each year we did this, it got easier ... we had set ourselves on a path of obedience, and by our obedience we had opened a pathway for God’s grace.”

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Rosser, Dois I. Jr.
    The Real Inheritance
    Dois I. Rosser, Jr., and Ellen Vaughn. Chap. in “The God Who Hung on the Cross.” Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2003.
    On a beautiful April weekend in 1993, Dois Rosser asked his children, “How would you feel if your mother and I took our entire estate and put it the ministry of building churches and broadcasting the Mini Bible College around the world ... rather than it coming to you as your inheritance?” As the words came out, a sense of guilt soon followed as he waited for their reaction.

    Giving the Loaves and Fishes to God: A Father-Daughter Testimony
    Dois I. Rosser, Jr., and Cynthia Rosser Higgins. Joint testimony delivered at the annual Generous Giving Conference, Sarasota, Fla., February 28-March 2, 2002.
    The best investments that can be made are those made through Christ—the one who can turn five loaves and two fishes into a feast for 5,000 plus. Dois Rosser and his daughter explain how the Lord has blessed their gifts beyond what they would have dared hope or imagine. God has used this family’s ministry to build thousands of churches around the world and to take the Scriptures to millions through radio broadcast. As a father pursues his dream of spending the family fortune on such projects, how would his children respond to “losing ” their inheritance? This resource is available on compact disc.

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Rouse, Bill
    Rocks in Your Knapsack
    Bill Rouse. Testimony delivered at Generous Giving’s joint conference with the River Foundation, Lexington, Ky., February 15-16, 2006.
    Bill Rouse offers an honest and encouraging story of how he was freed from bondage to wealth as he learned to trust God and experiencing the joy of giving. The son of a banker, he wished make his future secure by making “a ton of money” but became increasingly involved in alcohol and drugs. “In 1985, at the ripe age of 28 years old, I bottomed out.” Participating in a biblical 12-step recovery program brought him back to faith in Jesus Christ, and he began giving away in small amounts. Rouse learned to trust God through changing his profession, witnessing true poverty in Haiti, and giving more generously than he ever had imagined. His involvement with Crown Financial Ministries and Generous Giving has taught him that God really does own everything, and that we must all truly ask ourselves “How much is enough” to live on? He rejoices that he is not alone in his struggle to lighten the burden of money and expresses gratitude for those who share in the load. Note: No downloadable text or audio is available at this time.

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Rutland, Guy W. Jr.
    The Steward: A Statement on Stewardship As Expressed through the Life of Guy W. Rutland, Jr.
    John Haggai. Atlanta: The Haggai Institute, 1983.
    The life of Guy W. Rutland, Jr., illustrates the impact one can levy if he firmly believes that giving brings great joy and blessing. Written by John Haggai, founder of the Haggai Institute (a ministry specializing in leadership training) and personal friend of Rutland, this biography examines the life of a man who demonstrated Christian stewardship, “the practice of systematic and proportionate giving of time, abilities, material possessions ... and all of God’s gifts to us ... based on the conviction that these are a trust from God, to be used in His service, for the benefit of all mankind in grateful acknowledgement of Christ’s redeeming love.” A severe stroke at 50 changed the direction of the successful businessman and politician’s life. Nevertheless, as a committed Christian, Rutland was thankful for the abrupt end to a career that had contained many temptations to compromise one’s convictions. After recovery, he gave up politics and instead devoted his energies and gifts to giving. Rutland maximized his effectiveness in kingdom work through his efficient prioritizing of time. He knew which tasks were most important and tackled those immediately, leaving himself enough flexibility to admit (often without appointment) anyone who came to him on an errand of the kingdom. In addition, Rutland would often find the means to give beyond his original pledges to ministries. Through its presentation of a humble role model, this inspiring biography offers much practical advice for those wishing to grow in their effectiveness as faithful stewards.

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Ryan, Jeff
    Properly Investing Your Life
    Jeff Ryan. Generous Giving, 2003.
    Though considered by many to be among Hong Kong’s most generous givers, this investment banker realized that because of his unloving attitude, he was squandering the treasures he was laying up in heaven by turning them from gold and silver into wood, hay and stubble that would be burned up on Judgment Day.

    A Man Schizophrenic about Wealth
    Jeff Ryan. Testimony delivered at Evangelical Community Church, Hong Kong, January 19, 2003.
    Most people have the dream of becoming rich, and this investment banker was no exception. But he was also very scared of money and what it might do to him if he were to acquire too much.

    The Accidental Investor: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Not Jeff Ryan
    Stephen Caldwell. The Life@Work Journal 3, no. 3 (May/June 2000).
    From his seat in the exclusive American Club's 49er's restaurant, Jeff Ryan enjoys a modest breakfast and a breathtaking bird's-eye view of the Hong Kong harbor, with cruise ships, tugboats, ferries and other assorted watercraft crisscrossing the channel under the rising sun. It seems the appropriate place for him to explain the irony of his life—of exactly how a man who feared, perhaps even despised, wealth ended up living, working and thriving in the heart of a city that comes as close as any to worshiping it. Note: No downloadable text or audio is available at this time.

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