“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

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“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?

Subtle shift – huge implications

Have you ever heard or said, “isn’t it good to be in Gos’s house”?

I am on a campaign to change this destructive phrase in the church world to, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house.”

This is a subtle shift with huge implications.  Change one word and we communicate a message that can radically impact our culture and the world around us.

The phrase, “isn’t it good to be IN God’s house” is an unbiblical phrase that has been passed on from generation to generation when Christians gather in church buildings and enjoy each others company and the “presence of the Lord”.   Nothing wrong with church buildings perse, but to call it God’s house subtly communicates unbiblical ideas and sets us up for a one day per week church where we go to meet with God.

What are the implications of changing from “in” to “be”

IN creates…

… Fights over paint and carpet and coffee in the building?..If  God’s house is to be reverenced and kept holy then let’s talk potlucks instead of carpet because BE means me!

IN creates…

… A one day a week connection with God where I go to meet him. Because that is where he is. Thus compartmentalizing my spiritual life.

BE creates a mindset of life and lifestyle incarnate every day in the world around me.

BE causes me to realize that my life is every day and all the time a representative of him.

IN creates an evangelism model that says come and get him or go to hell

BE creates a kingdom mindset that says in the real world around me where i live, work and play, may others see the love of christ in me and experience his love through me.

What would the world and culture around us look like if the church simply said, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house” and then went and lived in that reality?

Jesus is attractive… What if we lived AMONG the world around us and simply let others see Jesus instead of judgemental representatives.

Isn’t it good to BE God’s house?

A Picture of the Church

There are many today trying to define and paint a picture of what the church should be. I too have my thoughts and opinions. And last night my definition and opinions were solidified for me as “the church” uncovered that definition with this picture.

Jesus is revealed as the Church lives as family in community

They gathered the last few years of our journey together in pictures and had them made into this picture of Christ. It is as the church lives life together as family in their communities and neighborhoods that Christ is revealed for the world to see. The pictures tell the story of family dinners, ball games, time in the park, study of the word, sleeping on the “family” couch, refrigerator rights, loving our community, donating time and resources, crying together, serving our world, adding neighbors to the family through baptism, and simply being brothers and sisters on a journey with Christ. These pictures reveal “The Living Church”. These pictures reveal Christ in us in our community.

Thank you to the greatest example of “The Church” I have ever been a part of. You have shown me what it means to love and be loved. You have shown mean what it looks like to Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. You have shown me what it looks like to Love your neighbor as yourself. You have shown me what it looks like to GO and make disciples. You have shown me what it looks like to live as “The Church” the body of Christ. You have shown me what Christ looks like.

This Picture will hang in a prominent place in our new home where we will continue to be reminded of what it means to be the church.

Thank you. You all are DEEPLY loved!

Our Plano TX Church Family

Our McKinney TX Church Family

In the field or in the barn?

barn and fieldAs I think about Luke 10:2 and the plentiful ripe harvest described, I am struck with a truth often overlooked in today’s church world. The truth is this…. The harvest is in the field not in the barn.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send OUT workers into his harvest field. GO! I AM SENDING YOU OUT like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:2-3

In Mark 4 “A farmer went OUT to sow his seed…”  I wonder, are we spending a little too much time trying to harvest the harvested?  Are we spending a little too much time in the barn and not enough time in the field.

I asked this question at a semenar I was doing recently and the response I receieved when I talked about spending time building relationships with those in the “world” around us, not as projects but in caring relationships, didn’t surprise me.  The response was from scripture and creates a tension in the church world.  Can you guess what the passage of scripture was?

1 Cor. 15:33 —- “Don’t be misled… Bad company corrupts good character.”

So now what do we?  There is no shortage of scriptures that call us “out” and no shortage of scriptures that call us “out”.  We are to come out and we are to go out at the same time… Feel the tension yet?

What are your thoughts on this?

Churching the unchurched??????

unchurchedI have been wondering a lot about the mission of the church and how often I read about reaching the Unchurched.   Is it our mission to “church” the “unchurched”? somehow I think we have come to believe that we have reached our goal if the unchurched cross the thresholds and sit in our sanctuaries.  We are rewarded for butts in pews and bucks in plates.  We have not so subtly created a culture where if your butt is in a pew and your buck is in a plate on Sunday morning we are not to concerned with where you were Saturday night.  We wrongly assume that all is well because of where you sit on Sunday morning.  The more we reward butts in pews and bucks in plates the more we move away from our mission as the people of God the “Church”.

We have been called to go and make disciples not church the unchurched. Unless however we redefine what we mean by “unchurched”. When we use this word we tend to define it by those who “don’t attend a church on a regular basis”. This definition leads us to try and get them to our buildings. Another definition for us think about is the church as a people verses a place. Now when we think of the “unchurched” we are talking about reaching people for the Kingdom not a location.

In fact when the “unchurched” are interviewd the discoveries in these interviews reveal that the “unchurched” are not looking for another club to attend but to be connected to authentic genuine people in community.

Ed Stetzer comments in his blog, (http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/edstetzer/2009/04/interview-with-trevin-wax.html)

“But much of what the younger unchurched are looking for is found in the character of God and what our churches are called to be. Note that I said what our churches are called to be, not necessarily what they are.”

Would it change how we did ministry if we saw people as people not as butts in pews and bucks in plates?  Would it change how we did ministry if the destination was changed from our facility to the Kingdom of God?  Are we successful if the unchurched enter the church or are we more successful when the “church enters the unchurched”?

What if you were to reach people for Jesus and disciple them in community relationships but they never cross the doorstep of your church?  Would you be ok with that?  How would you feel about them?  Would you consider them unchurched, unsaved, or even a lesser class of Christian?