Embracing the True Meaning of ‘Charity Begins at Home’: A Call to Action

In our latest blog, Finlay Adams-Brown shares his reflections on the meaning behind All We Can's current campaign, Charity Begins at Home. This piece expands on the sentiments shared at All We Can's latest online fundraising event, 'Charity Begins at Home: A Journey with All We Can in Liberia'.


At All We Can, our core mission is clear: to support our global neighbours and see every person’s potential fulfilled. However, in recent years, I fear that this mission has become that much more difficult to engage with and also to respond to. In a world steeped in anxiety, scepticism and uncertainty, everywhere we look, we see new fears and new challenges that we are forced to confront. We live in a perpetual scarcity mindset, in what feels like the eye of a storm that we are all in. Recently we faced Covid-19, the panic-buying of toilet rolls in Covid-19, the cost-of-living crisis now, climate change, famine, war in the Middle East, and God only knows what is next. This is the world that we have become so used to seeing, and so used to being a part of.   

Instead of hanging on to all of that anxiety, at All We Can we invite you to break free from the shackles of this scarcity mindset and do something bravely, trustingly, and sacrificially, by giving to a vision: one where every person’s potential might be fulfilled.  

To do this, we might begin by looking at the theme of this year’s campaign: ‘Charity Begins at Home’. Initially, you would be forgiven for thinking All We Can has gone completely rogue, “Are they seriously asking me to turn away from the world and look inward?!” Well, in some ways, yes! Yes, we are!  

It is important to note that we are not telling you to turn away from the world, however we are inviting you to begin by looking inward, at yourselves, and at your resources. We are not advocating for isolation but rather we are encouraging introspection. We want you to grapple with that notion of home and really consider what it means to you.  

For many of our partners across the world, the notion of home, is less limited to a particular geographical area as we in the West may know it to be but is much more focused on the transient nature of home. See, for them, and for Jeremiah Burgess, Co-Founder and Executive Director of our partner SHIFSD in Liberia, home is more a people, home is a movement, home is a feeling that if you are living in exile as Jeremiah was, in a refugee camp in Ghana, a neighbouring country, fleeing from war, that notion of home takes on a very different meaning altogether.   

Many of us, including myself, have been fortunate enough to never having ever thought of our home being taken from us or home being that transient thing. Yet, when we look back to the origins of the All We Can movement, we see its very foundations built upon these concepts. As a response to the refugee crisis in Europe in the 1930s, Henry Carter, a Methodist Minister, felt a duty and a responsibility to respond and so he founded what we now know to be All We Can. Since its inception, All We Can has helped to support hundreds and thousands of people worldwide, who may not have had a home, but now do. 

I share these reflections not to shame anyone of us reading them, but rather to prompt us to confront the anxieties of our world and respond as Henry Carter did so many years ago when the world looked just as bleak and just as hopeless as it may seem for many of us today.  

Some of the most common and despairing questions I get asked as someone who works in the international development sector are, ‘but what can I do, what difference can I possibly make?’ 

To answer this, I begin by not focussing on the scarcity and the hopelessness that is everywhere, for all to see. Rather, I begin by pointing people towards the abundant blessings and generosity of Jesus Christ.  

In Luke 21: 1-4, we are presented with a lady who did not have much at all, who gave two small copper coins to the temple treasury whilst other very wealthy people came and gave considerably more. Jesus turned to them, and He said, ‘Truly I tell you; this poor widow has put in more than everyone else here. All of these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, gave all that she had.’   

This, for me, is perhaps the truest embodiment of what it means to give, where sometimes even the smallest of gifts can represent the largest of sacrifices.  

Giving, at its core, comes from the heart – you give from your heart to something, whether that be an idea, a mission, a cause, All We Can’s cause. Our hearts deal in other currencies than money: how we deal with our time, what we do with our possessions, will all reveal our hearts. Yet still I find, how we choose to spend our money, once we spend out on all of the essentials, is arguably the truest heart monitor I know. And it is in this light, where perhaps the question shifts from not, how much should you give? But rather, how much should you keep back?  

In the story of the Widow’s Offering, Jesus sits down and watches what people are putting into the offering. Jesus understands that money issues are issues of the heart. He does not seek all of your money, but He does seek all of your heart. Giving something today, for many of us, might not be all that difficult, however giving something sacrificially today is.  

What Martin Luther King has labelled the ‘Great Exchange’ shows us that though Jesus was rich, for our sakes, He became poor so that through His poverty, we may become rich. God is asking us, when our world seems so chaotic and unstable, that we do not look to money to be our source of identity and security, to hoard and to stockpile as may have done in Covid-19 and may continue to do now. But instead, he invites us to look to the cross as the only thing capable of breaking us free from that scarcity mindset. The cross says that to you and me, you are loved, and look how you are loved. The God of heaven gave up everything for you, He entered scarcity on the cross so that you would never have to. He entered into separation from God, so that you would for all time, be connected to the riches, the grace and the extravagant generosity of your Heavenly Father. 

At All We Can, we pray that you may strike a blow in the face of such a despairing world by doing something trustingly and sacrificially as the widow did. To many, the widow gave just two small copper coins, but in reality, she gave all that she had.  

We pray that you place your faith in All We Can today as you may have done for many years previously, that you may place your faith in the partners we walk alongside. So, if you feel your heart resonating and aligning with All We Can’s vision and should you decide to give to support our partners, we encourage you to ask God the following questions:  

What are you placing on my heart?  

How much should I give and how much should I keep back?  

What figure shall I put down before you? Amen.  

This reflection expands on the sentiments expressed during our recent fundraising event, ‘Charity Begins at Home’, where we showcased the incredible work of our partner SHIFSD and called supporters to embrace the true meaning of ‘Charity Begins at Home’ and make a tangible difference in the world. If you missed out on the event and wish to catch up, please head over to our YouTube channel.

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