During our series “Simple”, we talked all about the community from Acts 2:42-47 and how we can live out that community today. One week of that series we focused particularly on fellowship. Acts 2:44-45 says, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” We asked the question what would this type of fellowship look like for us today? Here is one story about how a need was met and the ripple effect that can come when a body of believers exercise biblical generosity.
Growing up in the Bay Area of San Francisco, Owen knew from an early age that money for college would be scarce. When his parents divorced in sixth grade, the financial struggles seemed to deepen, limiting choices for his education. “Coming from a family without much money, community college looked more likely than university,” he said. “Being in a non-Christian home, private Christian university was a dream–not a reality.”
After meeting Jesus at a youth camp during the same season of his parent’s split, the sovereign timing of God wasn’t lost on Owen. In response, he chose to serve on various worship teams, in the kids’ ministry and to be heavily involved with the youth group. His dream of being involved in ministry and perhaps planting a church one day began to grow, “I wanted to be part of a raw, real church that I could truly believe in–one that not only points people to Jesus, but to the true fullness that is in Him.” When the time came for him to choose a college and a degree, he felt drawn to Northwest University to study Biblical Literature.
“Coming from a lower-income family, I knew from the start that I wasn’t going to be able to pay for all of college.” He took it upon himself to pay for what he could and applied for financial aid, but it was most likely that he would come up short.
After much consideration, he stepped out in faith and enrolled.
During Owen’s first year, the money ran out as he suspected. Around the same time, Reach began its “As Any Had Need” series and Owen felt torn between asking for help and figuring it out on his own. "I thought that my need was too ridiculous to be met. I actually had a huge internal battle to even write my need down on a response card one Sunday. I thought there would be no way that anyone would do this for someone they may not know.”
One night sitting in his dorm room, an email came that an anonymous donor had given him $3,000 to sew up the hole in his unpaid tuition. He was in shock and began telling everyone he knew, “I had an unbreakable joy and gratitude towards the personal miracle that had happened. I contacted my mom, close friends and anyone who had known and told them about the incredible act of faith and generosity that someone did for me.”
Owen knew from the start that paying for his education would be a struggle, “It was an act of faith for me to move from California to attend college at NU, especially knowing I would have to figure out a way to pay for it.” But through the power of sacrificial giving Owen’s idea of loving his neighbor has been transformed, “I’ve learned that some of the biggest acts of love involve sacrificing personal gain for someone you don’t know. I was blown away by how faithful the anonymous donor was, and I think they have taught me multitudes more than they think.”
As Owen continues his time at NU, he is now armed with a new perspective, “I need to be okay with whatever God has for me, whether that means leaving where I thought he had called me, taking time off from college or going forward in study and life.”
"God provides,” he explained, “And oftentimes, God provides through his faithful servants.”