If you want to help the poor, FIRST ask them to help you. If you want to teach a student, FIRST ask them to teach you.
A healthy community that crosses global, economic, racial, cultural gender and education barriers has to start with mutual respect and trust. Every member of the BGU family is rich in some way. We are all called to give to others out of the generous supply God has given us. Those who have money are called to receive well from the poor who often have profound spiritual riches that come from desperate dependence upon God’s faithfulness. Those with more overt riches must learn to receive genuinely from those who have more subtle riches.
In Matthew 19:24 Jesus says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a place of continual dependence upon God that results in the joy of trusting God’s character over self, wealth, power or circumstances. A rich person can be desperately and consistently dependent upon God but they often need the help of those who have journeyed on this road before them.
A poor person can be self-reliant and scramble to avoid depending upon God. Yet God often uses poverty, sickness, persecution and pain to bring us to the reality of His love. Those who have less of their own resources to buy their way around these instruments of God often arrive a unique depth of dependence and joy.
The money poor and dependence rich are obligated in God’s economy to share what they have with those who are “dependence-challenged.” The money rich in God’s family are obligated to share what they have but to start their gifts with listening and receiving so they come not as parents and bosses, but as siblings and peers.
Yet money, used in the right way to communicate mutual respect and trust, is an important part of this community of mutual giving and receiving.
One of BGU’s micro-enterprise partners requires that a person seeking to access their revolving loan fund must first contribute $20. For these people, $20 is a large sacrifice. That money is held for six months before the training. The trained person then has access to a $160 loan which can launch a whole new business for their community. While it may seem illogical to ask for a person who needs money to give up so much money for so long, that investment is a vital key to the success of this program. It starts the relationship with an overt exchange of value. The long-term greater gift will be their sacrifice of time, hard work, and commitment to learn and apply the principles of micro-enterprise, but they started the relationship with a gift of money because it is so tangible.
In 2011, BGU alumni from non-developed and developing economic nations asked that BGU no longer give away 100% scholarships to students from their nations. BGU is a very lean organization and with appropriate discounts, its tuition is within reach of most global economies. Instead they asked that BGU provide 50% discounts to students from non-developed nations, and 30% discounts to students from developing nations. By doing this, every student pays at least 50% of the cost of their education. This is an almost impossible hurdle for some students. Many start their education with a fundraising course to learn how to raise the funds they need for their education from their own nation as well as from global sources. However, as difficult as this beginning of their BGU journey is, they learn financial skills for a lifetime of stewardship that helps them avoid toxic charity in their work after they graduate from BGU.
BGU is one of the most diverse Universities in the world with students, faculty, alumni and staff in over 65 nations. It was founded on a global network originally started by Billy Graham. For 17 years it has been growing from a US-based school serving international students to a global school that is globally dispersed with staff, faculty, and alumni in six continents. Part of this growth is learning to listen well, choosing to trust God as we choose to trust those from cultures who confuse us, and creating avenues of mutual respect, including financial gifts from the poor as well as to the poor.