I’m having a rough week. On Tuesday, I woke up wheezing and sick. Yesterday, Becky and I had to deal with issues at Rex’s Pre-K school regarding the use of his Epi-Pen. Today, I’m feeling frustrated that the church planters I met over the summer are pushing forward with their church plant, but if there were US partners behind them, their work would be exponentially accelerated. They would be able to reach and help more people, much, much, much more quickly. Today’s heartache blows my chest cold and yesterday’s first-world problems out of the water. It is the oppressive weight of an urgent need.
People ask me a lot about what I do, so here is a quick crash course. Most of my time is spent within the relationship between Stadia (my organization) and Compassion International. Stadia is an organization with a passion for and expertise in planting churches that focus on children. Compassion International is a global leader in releasing children from poverty, but they only create their programs in the context of a local church because having a church home is critical to the child’s spiritual development. Stadia and Compassion partner to identify indigenous church planters and church plant sites in Latin America, then in turn partner with American churches and individuals to secure funding that will accelerate the planting of a new church and opening of a new child development center. The new child development center then registers 150-200 kids, and Stadia works hard with the original funding partners, usually a church or churches, to hold an event and sponsor those children. For a year or more after the funding is sent, Stadia sends regular updates to the funding partner monitoring the progress of the new building, new church and new child development center. I manage all phases of this relationship on the Stadia side.
Okay, that’s out of the way. Here’s the thing about me, personally. I’m driven to excel. I want to be excellent and strive to be excellent. I believe that when we aren’t striving to be excellent, we are being dishonoring to whatever we are doing, and ultimately, dishonoring to God. I have no desire to dishonor anyone, especially God, so I strive to be excellent. This isn’t a bragging thing. I’m not always excellent. Sometimes, I’m not even often excellent. Sometimes, I’m like, “What the heck was that?” But I’m always trying to be excellent. My must-do is to maximize church planting by leading and bringing clarity to leaders I serve. I try to be excellent at that, and right now, that means telling the story of church planting in Latin America and securing partners to accelerate it.
I can’t handle knowing there are churches that could be effectively reaching hundreds of people this time next year with the right start-up assistance, but for now, they are reaching a dozen people and scraping together the funds that will equip them to reach more people from a population living in extreme poverty.
On that note, I can’t handle the generosity in a church launch team of 20 people making $150/month for their entire family who manage to sacrifice enough to buy $10,000 plots of land. Then on bare land, they do their best to reach their community until they block-by-block build a facility they can use over the course of years. With the resources we have, we could accelerate that change from 10 years to one year (or less)!
As an aside, giving at all when you only have $150 per month blows my mind. That is in the neighborhood of my family’s grocery bill…weekly!
I want to honor the amazing planters I have met in Latin America and be excellent for them. Some days, like today, the weight is a lot, but then again, so is the hope. With or without me, these churches will persevere and poverty will be confronted head-on. Real, radical change will come to these neighborhoods, and I’ve been lucky (#blessed) to have been part of it 50 times so far. I should rejoice in that. But, on days like today, that’s just not enough. I wonder how many more people would be reached in the next ten years, if we accelerated the start-up timeframe.
AND I want you to be part of it, too. I want you to be able to tell people you helped transform a community.
Ask Becky, I often can’t truly, deeply love an album I listen to until others around me love it as well. In much the same way, I will feel this weight until everyone I know is a part of transforming communities and/or every child has a church (#Stadia). The battle for today is to let that weight drive me, not overwhelm me.
I want to be a part of planting churches for the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to tell you the stories of transformation I learn and see in Latin America, here in the States, and across the globe.
Get involved in these stories right now:
Support my run to raise money for a church plant in Ecuador: RUN 4 ECUADOR (see some funny incentives below)
Support Stadia: STADIA
Support Revolution: REVOLUTION
$5,000 total raised – Tattoo of your choice by popular vote (certain asterisks apply)
$10,000 total raised – Above plus shave my head into a design by popular vote for the race
$20,000 total raised – Additional tattoo selected by vote of top three givers (again, asterisks…also, Crockett Davidson, pastor of Vintage City and fellow runner is lobbying to have his name be selected for this tattoo)
(Special thanks to Josh Burnett and the STADIA leadership on giving me this opportunity to work on my Must Do.)