For Steve and Jane Pemberton from Melbourne, Australia, giving is a way of life.
Married for 32 years, they have three adult children. Steve is a lawyer and Jane, who once worked in banking and as an English as a Second Language teacher, now serves with OM in Australia on the team that works to motivate people to share God’s love with others.
Jane, who grew up in a missionary family serving in Indonesia, saw first-hand the impact of giving in her early life. “When you’re a kid,” she said, “you accept things because you don’t know any different. But as I get further away from those years, I’m more and more grateful for the Christian heritage that my parents gave me”. At age 11, Jane first came to understand God’s love for her while in Malaysia. Four years later, she was back in Australia and went to an event by Christian speaker Billy Graham, where she went forward and made a heartfelt commitment to following Christ with her life.
Steve grew up in a Christian household, but it was during his teen years that his family became more serious about their faith. “When I got to my last year of high school, my friends started talking about how religion was nonsense,” Steve remembered. “I argued with them—as a lawyer, I like to argue—about how it was real. That was when I began taking it seriously.”
Connecting with OM
In 2005, the Pemberton family moved to Singapore for Steve’s job for three years. While there, Steve and Jane met a couple from New Zealand serving with OM. It was through this couple that they learned of OM. “We hosted many international workers in our house over the next few years, giving through hospitality,” Jane shared.
When they returned to Australia in 2008, Jane began volunteering with OM in Australia because of their friendship with OM workers. Then, they were invited to a ‘partner weekend’ to hear more about what God was doing through OM internationally. “That weekend helped me realise that my view of God was too small, and it gave me a renewed, generous heart that longed to give back to Him,” recalled Jane.
Steve pointed out that it was an invitation from an OM worker that brought them to invest in God’s kingdom through giving. “He invited us to become partners with the gospel,” Steve remembered. “One thing that inspires me about OM is how people can use their interests and passions to serve God in different ways, whether it’s through agricultural projects in Southeast Asia, or teaching school, dance, etc. I find it a very inspiring model, because it’s tied to individual gifts. Personally, I love travelling and maps. For me, it’s fantastic to be supporting an organisation that connects to my hobby as well. It’s very real and personal.”
The joy of giving
For this couple, giving isn't a rule they follow in dutiful obedience. Instead, it comes from a heart of gratitude and excitement to see how God will use it. It’s a "get to” instead of a “should”. And in an even bigger way, it is its own gift. “Giving helps remind me that the stuff we have isn’t just from our own efforts,” Steve said. “It’s God’s. And when you bring God into it, it’s more than a transaction.”
Jane agrees. “I've been exposed to generosity of the greatest magnitude, and I’ve learned that it’s not something that happens later when you accumulate wealth. Generosity is something you live out wherever you are today.”
Jane states that some of the most generous people she knows are those who don’t have much in the way of money. “Many of us in this generation are richer than we’ve ever been, but for different reasons we don’t feel wealthy. We feel insecure, under pressure, and fear we won’t have enough if we give too much away. We know God provides and gives us what we need, but even as Christians, it can be hard to trust.”
Steve and Jane refer to Matthew 6:21 that says, ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ [NIV]. “Our hearts are drawn to our treasure,” said Jane. “When we give to God's kingdom our hearts are drawn to the things of God, and we can only find real contentment and joy in the things of God. We can't seek our joy in money. We won't find it and the money will control us. When we seek our joy in God, to learn to use this discipleship tool from Him wisely, it brings us incredible joy and fulfilment. Giving to OM has taught me this. The more generous I am, the richer I become.”