“All For One and One for All”

Up until my trip to Africa my view of child sponsorship was very limited. I saw a child and failed to see that child’s community. Oh I talked about community and connecting the child, but everything was focused on “all for one.” It was all about that child. What I didn’t realize was how World Vision’s model empowers and maximizes that “one for all.”

Let me explain. When we sponsor a child we promise that “one” an education, food to eat, medical provision, Aids awareness, clean water etc. however when you stop and realize that some of these areas don’t have a school, or clinic, or clean water… Giving a child all the money in the world can’t fulfill the promises. So the genius of the model works like this.

School in World Vision ADP (Area Development Project)

No school… Pool money from each sponsored child in a village and build a school in the village. Outcome… Every sponsored child can now attend school. However so can every unsponsored child in the village…

“All for one” just became “one for all.”

The promise is fulfilled and multiplied to others.

Fresh onions from family farm – because of irrigation project

Lack food... We tend to think that when we sponsor a child money is used to buy that child a bag of rice or a meal. But check this out. We promise that that child will eat as will all the sponsored children in a village. So if we pool resources from each sponsored child we could build irrigation canals and every family can have an onion farm providing resources to feed not just their sponsored child but the whole family.

Hauling water from a WV water source

Gathering water from a WV water source (looks like bad water but all water is boiled from this source)

Lack water… Many children travel many miles a day to collect water. One child in this village cannot attend school because she travels 3 times per day approximately 7 miles per trip to collect water for her family. When water is provided in the village everybody benefits. Children can go to school because their day is not consumed traveling for water.

I think you get the idea… The promises are true… Your sponsored child gets an education, food, clean water, etc but that sponsorship impacts so many more at the same time.

Petro, My sponsored child from Tanzania

WV staff member translating a sponsor’s letter

So what is the difference between my sponsored child and the other children? First and probably most importantly, your sponsored child has a relationship with you. That relationship is personal and the power of that relationship is profound (see previous blog)! The value of this relationship alone is FAR greater than $35 per month. I cannot stress the importance of this relationship enough!

WV staff with file for a sponsored child

The other difference is the relational contact between World Vision staff and your child. Your child receives monthly contact and check ups by staff members in addition to personal visits every time you write your child. These children become ambassadors for their village painting a picture of what is happening in the village with all the children.

WV Core Values on wall at ADP field office

The goal of world vision is to develop a community in such a way that it is self sustaining with all the promises available for ALL the children. Your sponsorship of one impacts all.

We truly are

“ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL”

If you have not sponsored a child and would like to click here. This is our sponsorship page for our Kilimanjaro Team World Vision climb. When you sponsor a child you can simply put my name as “Athlete” to complete the form.

Bee hives from WV honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project

Banking


Irrigation Canal from river

Family Onion Farm

Sampling an onion from a family farm

Maasai family Benefitting from child sponsorship

“Dream Big Dreams” – Sponsors really do matter

Darrell and Petro

Have you ever wondered what difference child sponsorships makes in a kids life.  We hear and I have taught that when you sponsor a child you provide food, shelter,

Petro’s soccer ball has notes from sponsor

education, medical needs, and reduce their vulnerability to human exploitation.  That is all true and I will blog more about that later, but there is so much more.  Having just returned from Tanzania where I was privileged to meet Petro my sponsored child I am now even more convinced that sponsorship matters.  Having seen first hand and now having met Moses, I am all the more passionate about how we as sponsors can come alongside a child and his family and make difference that can change a world.

Let me introduce you to some folks…

Petro loves to play soccer

Here is Petro.  He loves “Football” (soccer).  He is 8 and he took his first ride outside his village in a bus 10 hours to meet me.  His Mom and Aunts are so excited about me being a part of their life.  Petro has a great future.

Showing Eniot pictures of her sponsors family

She loved blowing bubbles

Here is Eniot.  She is 11 and loves life and God.  She memorize bible verses and “tries to imitate them.”  Her favorite passage is Psalm 125.  She told me that she loves that Psalm because God is like a mountain and if you believe in him you do not need to fear.  She has led her family to Christ.  My brother is now her sponsor and will be a part of her story and future.

Moses and Becky talking outside of school

But the person I want to tell you about is Moses.  Moses was a sponsored child.  He now holds multiple degrees and has taught at Cornell and has spent time with Henri Nowen.  He is now back in Tanzania working with World Vision amongst his people group and is changing his country.  We were privileged to sit with Moses and have dinner and ask tough questions about Sponsorship.  Here are a couple things we learned that have solidified in me the value and importance of relational sponsorship and your letters.

Dream Big Dreams – you can be whatever you want to be

Moses telling us about the value of this water source for this Maasai village

Moses still caries with him as an adult the letters from his sponsor.  They are letters that not only helped him as a child growing up, but helped him get through multiple degrees as an adult.  He told us that his sponsor wrote him and told him he could be whatever he wanted to be.  As a child growing up in a Maasai tribe all he could see was becoming a herdsman and taking care of goats and cows.  But that letter planted something in him that took root later in life.  As he was going through his degrees and at different times in his life he would pull out those letters and they were a source of encouragement and hope for him.  He now holds multiple degrees and has taught at Cornell.  He now is a Godly professional back in Tanzania working to make a practical difference in his country.

Sponsorship saved my brothers life

Moses and team

Moses also told us that when he was sponsored it saved his brothers life.  I am not sure the full details of his brothers physical needs but when Moses was sponsored it engaged the family and World Vision and the community development that provided for his medical needs and he is alive today because of it.

What is the value of a relational sponsor?

John with his sponsored child’s family at their home

building relationship with Petro

I don’t think we can put a price tag on the value of a sponsor who builds a relationship with a child.  Let me encourage you as a sponsor to do more than simply send in $35.00 a month.  Write letters to your child.  Encourage him or her to dream big dreams. Be a positive influence in that child’s life and be a part of giving them hope and a future.

A great kid with a great laugh

If you are not sponsoring a child and would like to be a part of changing a child’s life forever click here.

Choose Your Own Adventure

“What is your story” is a question I have been asked and am asking a lot lately. I have come to realize more and more that we are simply in the midst of a story that is being written. A great story that has many chapters before our character came on the scene. It is a story written by the Author of life and is filled with drama, excitement, adventure, redemption, reconciliation, pain, suffering, relationships, emotion and all those other elements that make for a perfect story.

But more than anything I am realizing the importance of our story and its significance. I am a character in the plot of a broader story which will interact with and have impact on other characters as my personal plot unfolds and intersects with others.

Have you ever thought about the “random” encounters you have in life as a chance for your story to intersect with another character and at that point become a part of their story potentially even changing the outcome of their life story?

Do you remember those books where you get to choose your adventure? They were popular in the 80’s and gave kids an opportunity to make choices that determined different outcomes for the story.

As my wife and I sit in this coffee shop talking about these stories and their relevance to our lives we are struck by how our choices impact the outcomes of someone else’s story. For example, as I was hiking in Yosemite last weekend we met a team of hikers on the trail. As we began to interact with them their story began to change and have options for different outcomes in their life. Our interaction automatically introduced new characters into their story. We talked about human trafficking, child sponsorship, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and opportunities to change the story of a child forever.

We are now friends on facebook and their story has the possibility for new directions, as does mine.

The major question ringing in my ears as we talk about this is, what if we had chosen to just walk on by and not interact with our fellow hikers? Their options for different routes in their story only came through our choice to engage in meaningful conversation and open the door for relationship and opportunities.

Each of us has an incredible story.

What is your story and what are you doing with it? Your story could be the connecting point between someone else’s story and God’s story of redemption. Your story has been impacted by other characters who have intersected your path and were willing to share their life and story with you, giving you the opportunity to make choices that change the outcome of your story.

So now it is your turn to “choose your adventure.” What will you decide?

No risk requires no faith

I have been pondering the thought… “no risk requires no faith

I’m confronted with my own reality in this at times and wonder if maybe I have redefined “risk” to make myself feel better when in reality I have not really taken much of a risk.

Here are some questions I’m pondering….

Is our faith in direct proportion to our level of risk?

Is faith a trust issue attached to our jumping in with both feet when the outcome is left in the hands of God?

If my decision is based on my “doing the math” and knowing I have the ability before I take action is the act an act of risk which requires faith?

Definitions attached to the word risk include “a chance of loss, injury, hazard, or danger”. The very nature of risk taking is intentionally putting one’s self in the possibility of a harmful or negative outcome.

If risk and faith are attached then what does the text in Hebrews 11:6 mean when it says, “without faith it is impossible to please God”?

How are you living a life of faith that pleases God?

Are there areas in your life where you need to take a risk?

Is it possible to have faith in one area but need to grow in another area?

Just pondering…

Think about it. Would love to know your thoughts.

Let’s Climb!

19,340 feet… It gets cold on the summit of mount Kilimanjaro.  I know that.  I have the facts.  Rongai route approximately 50 miles up and down.  Elevation gain approximately 13,000 feet.  Altitude sickness can kill you. 6 days… 4 up 2 down.  5 climate zones… Gonna get hot,  gonna get wet, gonna get cold…  The mountain is in Tanzania Africa.  Malaria, Yellow fever etc.  I have read all about it and know most of the facts.

I have read the packing lists, and there are a lot of them and many different ones. (part of the problem)  It is amazing how much head knowledge we can have about something and still be overwhelmed by the unknown.

This dawned on me when I was attempting to purchase all my equipment.  Obviously I am on a TIGHT budget and am trying to figure out what I have in my closet already that “will work”.  If I had all sorts of money I could read the list and just get all the “recommended” brands and items.  Of course every recommended item is the top of the line and WAY outside my budget.

Enter the overwhelmed feeling with the unknown.  What I am discovering is that there is a big difference in head knowledge and experience.  I can read the facts about Altitude sickness but the reality is I have never experienced high altitude hiking.  I can read about the temperatures on the mountain at midnight at 14 thousand feet but I have never experienced 0 to -15 with my current sleeping bag or my clothing.

Will this outer shell, these two fleece jackets one light and one heavier and this thermal base layer work or do I need a $300.00 parka.  I have even talked to people at REI and am still overwhelmed by the unknown.  I have the factual knowledge about the mountain but I lack the practical experience to have the confidence that my gear is right.

However, if I had an experienced guide in my life who was simply providing me with the perfect gear I would not question his or its ability to do the job required to reach the summit and my overwhelmed feeling would shift to something else… probably my physical ability.. which I am responsible for not a guide or outfitter.

This has made me think about other areas of my life…   I can have all the knowledge about the Bible and God and Jesus.  I can sit in church week after week after week and gain more facts and knowledge about the word of God and God’s call for me to go and make disciples.  But I am overwhelmed as soon as I walk out the door due to lack of experience in the application of that knowledge and the use of the equipping I have received and am compelled to go get more knowledge.

However, we have the perfect experienced guide who has provided and equipped us with the perfect gear and everything we need for the mission we have been challenged with.  

I don’t need more knowledge about the mountain.  I need to put my clothes on and climb.  I need to test my boots.  I need to try on the gear and then I need to trust it and go stand on the roof of Africa.

I must say, even writing this down doesn’t remove the elements of fear and uncertainty.  Those will only disappear in the act of climbing.  However, Im compelled by the mission to climb.  The mission is more compelling in my life than the fear of the unknown.  

What unknowns out there are overwhelming you and keeping you from stepping out?  

What keeps you from climbing your Kilimanjaro?  

Chances are they will only disappear in the act of climbing?    

Im having to figure out my gear… Spiritually we have the perfect outfitter who has equipped us with everything we need to fulfill the mission to which he has called us.

Put on what you know, take your equipment that God has provided for you (it is guaranteed to be top of the line perfect for your mission) and Go make disciples.

Let’s Climb!

What is your Kilimanjaro?

SUCCESS – When does it occur

In John Bowlings book, “Making the Climb”, he states, “more than 60% of those who attempt this climb have to turn back. Only a few stand at the summit and look down on the clouds that shelter the vast plains. Soon I will see if I have what it takes to reach the top of the mountain. Either way, it will be all right. I DO NOT HESITATE FOR FEAR OF FAILURE! To make the attempt is to succeed already.

In a conversation with a medical dr on a plane (see blog coincidence or divine encounter) I was talking about how bad I wanted to summit on Kili. He looked at me and said, “no you don’t”. I was a little taken back and said, “that is why I’m climbing, of course I do.” Then he said some profound words, “then you will miss it”. “miss what I enquired”. “the journey” he said. “if you are so focused on submitting you will not have eyes to see what is all around you.” He began to tell me about all the major mountains he has climbed and when he changed his views on submitting. He helped me see that this climb was never about submitting anyway but about the journey and the joy of the journey and the personal growth and life change along the way.

It was just before he boarded the flight and this conversation began that I had read Bowlings words and now realized that I succeeded the day I took my first step. Success isn’t the final step but the first step. Many people miss a successful journey because they never take the first step. The first step isn’t the first step toward success but first step of success. Success is a journey of one success step after another and if in each of those steps we learn, grow, impact the world around us, enjoy the vistas and take another step we have been successful even if we don’t reach the summit.  I also wonder how many people have unsuccessfully stood on top of Kili having missed so much along the way.

But you say, “the summit is the goal and the reason for the climb.” and now I would say, “no Petro and the approximately 70 other children I have helped to sponsor was the reason for the climb and all that God wanted to teach me along the way.” If it ended today and I never boarded the plane for Africa, I would certainly be sad, heart broken and disappointed, but it would have been worth taking that first step. And if I get part way up the mountain and realize that I can’t go on, it will be disappointing but NOT a failure. I have already successfully conquered mount Kilimanjaro. Not by my picture on the summit because fear of failure did not stop me from taking that first step.

I wonder how many mountains win because we are afraid to simply take the first step.

What is your Kilimanjaro?

Border Wars

But what about all the kids in our own country?

These words ring in my ears and break my heart. Do we have needs in America? Yes. Should we care about the poor, the hurting, the trafficked and homeless and hungry in America? Again a resounding yes.

However, often times the scenario looks something like this.

Me… “Here is an opportunity to change a kids life. http://www.teamworldvision.org/kilimanjaro”

American…”but what about all the kids in America. I am tired of us sending all our money overseas to help their kids when we don’t take care of our own.”

Me… So how much have you been giving and doing for “our kids”?

American… “well, ummm, nobody is really doing much here to work with and give to.”

Me… Oh so the answer is nothing. So what are you going to do about that? What ministry are you going to start for our precious children? What have you proactively looked for to make a difference?

It doesn’t surprise me how quickly this conversation is ended or topic is changed or said American angrily leaves.

I wouldn’t have a problem with the issue if people could honestly say they were involved or if equal opportunity was given that they would act upon it. The problem I have is to say “what about ours” like we somehow care and then continue to do nothing.

However, this is a deeper spiritual Issue for me.

God is not an American! I know that is a shock to some.

God’s heart is for the poor and broken, enslaved and marginalized. God’s heart is for hurting people. These folks are in every country. It is sad how geography makes us identify with a broken person differently.

If we took 100 different kids from 100 different countries, none of them personally known by you. How would you decide which one to help? What criteria would you use? Do you help the American? Which one is the American… The white one? Nobody knows. They all have the same need and they all can be helped the same way. And you have the means… How do you choose?

For us to think a hurting American is somehow more special and more deserving of my help is spiritually sickening to me.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I AM NOT SAYING WE SHOULD NOT HELP AMERICAN CHILDREN! But an American child is no more valuable to God than a Thai, African, chinese … child.  And simply because they live in America doesn’t mean you know them and have a personal relationship or connection to that child any more than the child you don’t know anywhere else in the world.

Does geography matter to God when it comes to helping his hurting children? If not why does it matter so much to us.

I think God simply wants his children to HELP His hurting children!

So if you are doing nothing for the children in America… Please stop using them as an excuse to do nothing for children in Tanzania. And if you are “spending yourself on behalf of the poor” (Isaiah 58) in America, then I thank God for you! Keep up the great work!

It is interesting to note that many of the people who are actively involved here are also actively involved overseas… I think it is because they see the world the way God does… Without borders!

How do you see the world?

If you would like to change a child’s life forever you can do that for $35.00 per month. Click on the link below and sponsor a child.  A team of 10 of us are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in a couple months with a desire to change 500 children’s lives. I have a personal goal of sponsoring 100 children.  I am half way there.  Please put my name (Darrell MacLearn) in the “Athlete name” when you sponsor a child and then treat that child like you adopted him/her.  It will change their life as well as your own.

http://www.teamworldvision.org/Kilimanjaro