Dad, Where Do Volunteers Come From

A couple of months ago during the Engage Atlanta Community Makeover (12,000+ volunteers served from 110 churches) my then 8 year old asked me a question; “Dad, where do volunteers come from?” He is not the first one to ask this question. In fact, several church or non-profit leaders over the years have asked me the same question. People who have a passion to start an organization or serve a need that has been laid on their heart have asked that.

I realize this is an important question. If God lays a vision on your heart that is bigger than you can accomplish on your own, you have to answer the question, ‘How am I going to get others involved?’ It’s really very simple, but the first step can be the biggest!

The #1 way to bring volunteers to your ministry or cause is recruiting one on one. You have to make the ask to that first person. When you find someone who believes in you and what you are doing tell them to keep it going. Then you will find yourself being able to ask the second and the third and so on. It just happens, life on life, one on one. I sat down with someone recently who just drips wisdom when he speaks, and he told me, ‘No revolution begins apart from relationships.’

If you think your dream will come true if your company sends an official email, or if your Pastor will announce your ministry/cause from the stage, or if it makes the church bulletin, that’s just not the case. If you need more Children’s Ministry volunteers, parking lot team members, it begins with the existing volunteers believing in what they are doing enough to make the ask. If you are finding fulfillment meeting a need or serving a cause, give others that same opportunity.

Are you engaged in something bigger than yourself? Who are you asking to join you?

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

Taste and See

One of my most fun privileges is to help direct our efforts in Burkina Faso through our non-profit, Engage Burkina. Every year I get to visit this West African country at least once, meet with leaders, and find out how we can best serve their efforts to spread the gospel.

Since 2008 we have had the opportunity to fund and initiate the digging or drilling of 74 wells. That has allowed us to provide water to somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000. This effort is happening from a growing network of individuals and churches from around the country.

Each year the two Burkinabe Pastors who oversee the digging of wells in the bush (where we are employing locals to do the work) send us back a detailed report of the cost for each well in each village, report to us what challenges they have encountered, and report the benefits of the wells.

Our most recent report had a comment on it that I thought was just good, clean fun. They reported that some villages are tasting things they have never tasted before. Presumably because they are growing things they have not been able to grow. Wow! I live in a country where I can have anything I want from just about anywhere, and they are experiencing new taste!

In Psalm 34:8 the writer says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him.” These people are literally being able to taste and see that God cares about them and that he can be trusted.

We are going to continue to take water to the people of Burkina Faso. This time of year we are waiting for the water table to lessen so that we can be sure the wells are dug deep enough when we begin the process again in January. Of course, that makes this a great time to gather new commitments for the next season of activity. If you want to learn more about the work in Burkina or sponsor a well you can donate online by going to engageburkina.com/store

 

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

 

Invisible Gospel

I’ve just spent some time with Compassion Int’l in Ecuador. Our church connects with Compassion in Burkina Faso. Compassion has been in Ecuador for over thirty years. They have more programs that just the Child Sponsorship program that most people are familiar with. They also have some tremendous things going on in the area of Leadership Development among college students, and Child Survival programs among pregnant mothers and infants.

One of the things that really resonates with me is that two of these three programs are run completely through the Local Church, and the people of Ecuador don’t really anything about Compassion. This is true in other countries Compassion works in as well. A child sponsored by someone in the States comes to a church for the program they get to participate in. A mother getting assistance in caring for her infant or toddler is getting that help from a volunteer at the church that has been trained by Compassion. Medicine, food, tutoring, all of those things happen through the local church. For the most part Compassion is Invisible. There are no signs on the churches. The group I was with noticed that they didn’t have a sign outside their main office.

Another really critical piece is that being a Christ-follower is not a prerequisite for being a part of a Compassion program. These programs are set up to spread the gospel, not to wall in it.

This is a great word for faith-based non-profits. I direct a couple and try to adopt these same ideas whenever possible. Take for instance, the Community Makeover. When a church goes and works at a school or does a repair on a home as part of this weekend, I don’t want the volunteers to say we are here from Engage Atlanta. I want the volunteers to say we are here from (Insert Local Church Name), and build relationships that might bring that person back to their church. The local church is God’s choice to reach out and make disciples. The non-profit can provide tools, and perhaps the vehicle, but it has to point people back to the local church.

Compassion is bringing 10’s of thousands of people into church buildings all over the world, and they are invisible. They are not concerned about credit or accolades, and God is providing for them to make some amazing things happen.

You can go here to find out more about how your church can be involved in the Community Makeover, or click this graphic to find out more about sponsoring a child.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Help a Child

 

Everyone Belongs,

Paul

 

My Water Buddies

I just finished combing over a 14 page report from the Bush Pastor who is responsible for the oversight of the wells that were dug in Burkina Faso in 2010. Several churches and individuals have given towards providing water in this country since 2008. We have had the privilege of partnering with people who have been ministering in this country for a long time, and are just hoping to add support and influence to what is already happening there.

I’ll be traveling to Burkina in the next few weeks to make our plans for 2011. The Pastor who wrote the report is named Joseph (on the left side of the picture). We work with him and his brother Michel (on the right). I have worked with other indigenous leaders and seen reports from indigenous leaders in other countries, but nothing with this level of detail. Every well from every village is detailed with things I would never have thought of.

Joseph also provided some commentary as to what the benefits are in a village when a well is provided.

I decided not to attempt to make this a long flowing blog post, but just left things in his words describing the benefits of a well (translated from French):

  • Conversations that lead people to Christ
  • Reconciled homes
  • Stopped women from having to travel so far
  • (I’ve summarized this one) Many women have had to go for water at night causing husbands to accuse them of adultery and to abuse them
  • Prevented the death of children.
  • Prevented many more children from becoming orphans
  • Prevented a great deal of sickness

This is how he signs off his report. Keep in mind he lives in a mud brick hut:
“A family rejected, completely abandoned, despised, chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ, the victory belongs to the Eternal God for those elected.”

In the weeks to come I plan on challenging others to help bring water to the people of this country from this site, and another we’ve been working on. I’ll tell you why water is so strategic, and how it is spreading the gospel of Jesus to people who have never heard it. Whether or not you believe in Jesus personally, you can probably agree that everyone deserves access to water.

Water Is Life,

Paul

Love The Line

When was the last time you stood in a line you didn’t want to, but you knew you had to? Think about the DMV, or the Social Security office, or even the privilege of voting. It’s not the final act you are unhappy with, it’s just the fact that you are standing in line, and you know there are better ways you could spend your time.

I saw that look on a lot of faces this week when our community opened up Christmas registration. I was hanging around working on some administrative things with friends and team members, but my mind was on the people in the line. So the little politician that hides inside of me (and has no plans to ever run for office) started working the line, and I started to hear stories like these:

A woman who evacuated Haiti with her children, landed in American gov’t housing, and still has a hard time putting clothes on the kids and food on the table

A victim of the Atlanta floods of 2009 who says she just found new mold in her home. Her husband is out of work, and the FEMA money is long gone.

A woman whose husband died, and she is on disability.

A family who is in danger of being evicted and doesn’t know where they will call home for Christmas

Want to hear more? Tons of people out of work. Stories of loss, hurt, brokenness and despair. I was overwhelmed with the needs of people.

There is something about this time of year. If you don’t have enough food and clothes in your home; a bare table at Thanksgiving, or an empty tree at Christmas, is like lemon juice on a paper cut. But if the table is full, and the kids have gifts there is a measure of hope. This hope doesn’t come from having material things, but connects to something much deeper. The entrance of Jesus into a broken world so powerfully connects with even the secular images at Christmas that the whole season drips with the Hope that there is a personal God in heaven interested in my circumstances.

That is why we plan a giant Christmas party for the needy in NW Atlanta called, Hope For Christmas. Romans 15:13 tells us that every Christ-follower is to give hope away. I don’t know how well you feel like you do at this, but there’s no time like the present to get it started.

If you want to volunteer and want more information on how you can donate visit our website at http://hopeforchristmas.com. Join in and give hope. Love the Line.

Everyone Belongs,

Paul