Givers

Janice Munemitsu: Sharing the freedom of a generous life

You might say generosity is Janice Munemitsu’s job. As a board member for NCF California and a team member of Generous Giving, Janice inspires others to experience the freedom of a generous life. But first, she had to find that freedom herself.

“I was at an event for a ministry that I had never given to,” says Janice. “And I heard amazing stories of transformation that inspired me to give. When they handed out pledge cards, I felt God was calling me to write down an amount that was far beyond my mindset.”

Janice calls this life-defining moment her, “add-a-zero-and-change-a-digit” story. She had recently been laid off, and the amount that she pledged was a stretch for her financially. But she’d been raised in a generous family. “I thought, ‘well, I heard God pretty clearly, so I’m going to trust him,’” she says.

Well, I heard God pretty clearly, so I’m going to trust him.

About six weeks later, God provided her with a lucrative consulting project that allowed her to fulfill her pledge. Then, Janice learned through a friend at the ministry that the day they received her check, they also received another check. Together, the two checks completely paid for a project that would provide Scripture for women in a part of the world where there was no printed Bible at all. Janice says, “I thought, okay, Lord, you’ve got this. This is a story to tell.”

Janice grew up learning generosity from her parents and immigrant grandparents who had come to America with virtually nothing. Once on their feet as farmers, they sought to help others with necessities and employment. Even when they had little, they gave much. Janice witnessed this through the two generations that preceded her.

Today, Janice helps others develop their own giving stories through her job at Generous Giving, a ministry that inspires Christians to explore generosity. Most of her work revolves around facilitating Journey of Generosity events, or JOGs.

I thought, okay, Lord, you’ve got this. This is a story to tell.

Janice’s defining moment happened at a Journey of Generosity – a 21-hour, overnight experience for people to explore “It is a very moving experience that is really hard to describe,” Janice says. The format consists of a conversation about Scripture, pastoral teachings, readings on different topics, and watching video testimonies from givers sharing how God’s generosity has worked in their lives.

Janice says the JOG is focused on spurring a conversation about generosity, which is something that most people don’t talk about outside of the context of how much or where to give. “We talk about the heart and the why of generosity,” she says.

The most surprising part? “People are surprised how much fun it is to talk about something they never talk about,” says Janice. “I have seen over and over again where families, and husbands and wives, have become so much more well-aligned in their giving. And I’ve seen families walk away with great ideas for how to raise their children, or their grandchildren to be more generous.”

Janice has seen parents open Giving Funds at the National Christian Foundation (NCF) for their adult children at Thanksgiving and fund them with money to grant to charity, instead of spending the money on Christmas gifts. Then, at Christmas, they share their stories of giving rather than focusing on presents, Janice says. “In this way, parents and grandparents are passing on their legacy of giving, and the children can see what their faith really means to them.” Seeing people experience the freedom of generosity is Janice’s favorite part of her job.

“At one of my first JOGs, there was a gentleman who had inherited wealth,” says Janice. “There was something holding him back from complete joy in terms of being generous.” It turned out it was guilt.

“As we talked about what things God was asking us to release, it occurred to him that guilt was holding him back from the joy of giving.” God freed him in that moment. “Talk about a tremendous gift that God gave him, to be free of that!”

“It’s about the freedom to be who God called us to be, it’s about freedom to not be tied to the stuff of this world but to really invest in kingdom work. It’s the freedom to really enjoy more intimacy with the Lord because he’s now included in our plans.”

Janice says she’s learned that generosity can bring more intimacy with the Lord, and that’s important. “Being generous has nothing to do with demographics, or what you have or don’t have,” she says. “It has to do with your heart. I’m trusting that God is growing me in this area and that more and more I am able to abide in him. That’s where the good fruit will be harvested in my life. When I abide in him, I’m really able to be generous because he is so generous to me.”

Watch the video to learn more about Janice’s life learning from her generous parents’ on their California farm.

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