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Posts Tagged ‘Food for the Hungry’

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I attended Food for the Hungry’s Hope & Courage conference today with a few friends. Food for the Hungry partners and walks with churches and leaders in overcoming poverty in various countries. I’m a huge fan of what they do and have enjoyed a long relationship with the organization.

The first session was led by Os Guinness – founder of the Trinity Forum and renowned speaker and writer. Os talked about how our faith has become diluted and that we need to get back to the gospel. He identified three big tasks: repairing the global south, winning back the west and contributing to the human future. The church has gotten worldly and has spread out to areas that aren’t influential. We need leaders and we need to let the Spirit lead like in Acts. We live in an upside down Kingdom where the least is not the greatest. We give money to get and we have an American worldview of how to care for people. But despite all that has gone on, the gospel still underlines this world and has shaped it. Accomplishing these tasks would give to rise and caring (humanity, gratitude) and Christ needs to the one to lead the movement.

I was looking forward to the next speaker. Laurent Mbanda is the bishop of the Shyira Diocese for the Anglican church of Rwanda. Laurent shared a little about his story of leaving Rwanda after the genocide and then returning. He noted that as thousands were being killed in the churches, the leaders did nothing. But today there is a lot of aid with poverty as a result of the church’s partnership with the community. He talked a lot about partnerships with existing organizations, training and working together. Today he is noticing many changes in Rwanda and he credits that to many leaders becoming Christians. He stressed areas of importance to the poor, children, education, women and health.

Bob Moffitt of Harvest Foundation spoke on poverty from scripture. Poverty is defined more than a lack of materialism. Jesus was poor and was in bad living conditions, yet he had enough. He became all God wanted Him to be without having an abundance of stuff. (He then gave the example of Japan – very materialistic and wealthy, yet the highest suicide rate). There are two types of poverty – voluntary (ex: Jesus, Mother Theresa) and involuntary (as a result of sin). He stressed scripture more than projects and that we need to respond – Personal lifestyle (humility, worship – 2 Cron 7:14, Is 58:1-6), Corporate (the church-Eph 3:10) and Transformation (our success is based on obedience, not numbers).

Hope – hope in His promises when we are obedient and then we will be courageous

Courage – like  in the book of Joshua. Be strong and courageous

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Laurent Mbanda

“The church always goes forward best when it goes backwards first.” – Os Guinness

“If you’re going to change a community, you have to focus on children” – Bishop Laurent Mbanda

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Sometimes there are things you can be very passionate about and God will use you to stir others up to get them passionate about your cause. Well.. that is what my friend Heidi from Food for the Hungry did to me. First of all, I’m a huge fan of FH. I have a long partnership with them through mission trips, fundraising events or just attending their annual summits. FH does a variety of things in the world by serving the poor with short-term emergency relief and long-term work to try to end world hunger. I’m enjoying getting reconnected with them and had a wonderful time at their luncheon at the Justice Conference in Philadelphia. I also spent time at a spring training game with some of the staff this week. Heidi just recently spent time in Bangladesh with an incredible team of people and she has used her passion of what she has experienced to help raise funds for the women there.

Earlier this week was International Women’s Day. I work with women from different countries at my job and enjoyed wishing them blessings on a day that honors them. I also enjoyed telling them about the walk I was doing. The Walk to Empower women took place at Steele Indian School Park today. The funds that are raised will benefit FH’s Women of Action program to help educate them so they don’t have to feel discriminated against and to give them an opportunity to have a choice. There were 126 in attendance and over $7,300 in donations given at the walk. That is enough to help nearly 50 women learn to read, write and acquire a business skill for additional income for her family. Praise God for this and special thanks to Heidi for all her hard work. I’m thankful to her for getting me passionate about her passion!

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Steele Indian School Park

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Busted out my old FH shirt

Heidi talks about the women of Bangladesh

Heidi talks about the women of Bangladesh

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A cupcake with the FH logo

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The Justice Conference had some pre-conference breakout sessions you can choose from. I was pretty overwhelmed with all the choices, so I looked for ones that fit with what God was doing in my own life. I bumped into my friend Seth Wells and the staff from The Grove church here in Phoenix. I was encouraged by seeing some familiar faces here taking a part in justice.

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The first session I attended was Paul Metzger’s Sustaining a Justice Movement: How did John M Perkins, Mother Theresa, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer do it? Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins – a catalyst for cultivating a community of people brought together around a shared vision of bearing witness to Christ in contemporary culture. 

He started the session off by showing this video from Dr. Martin Luther King’s A Knock at Midnight. While pursuing justice, we will get discouraged because it isn’t easy . I loved this video and found it very encouraging.

Take comfort from the stories of those who have gone before us. Solidarity is key – Paul Metzger

Paul spoke on behalf of those who pursued justice first and by Jesus and his example to pursue justice. A justice movement is sustained by knowing that Jesus alone can and will sustain it. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). He mentioned Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison and Dietrich’s example of how he reacted to his enemies. We in America like to say “lets take back America”, but Jesus laid down his life for His enemies.

– Philippians 2:1-11 – Believe in the suffering God (cultural engagement, not disengagement). Believe in the Resurrected God (This is the end – for me the beginning of life – Bonhoeffer)

– See Jesus in relation to the poor (ex:Mother Theresa)

– Sense your own poverty in relation to the poor (don’t look at others like we have so much and they have so little)

– Lay down you life for your friends (we can’t do it alone)

– Invest in people (ex: John Perkins, Jesus and the woman at the well)

– Invite people to partner with you (relational structures)

– Don’t operate out of a sense of entitlement (the gospel frees people)

– Be creative in your sufferings (it’s not an obstacle)

– Focus on integrity and faithfulness, not success (ex: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, James 1:27)

– Focus on Christ’s identity (Bonhoeffer’s poem: Who Am I?)

Who am I? They often tell me
I step out from my cell
calm and cheerful and poised,
like a squire from his manor.

Who am I? They often tell me
I speak with my guards
freely, friendly and clear,
as though I were the one in charge.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bear days of calamity
serenely, smiling and proud,
like accustomed to victory.

Am I really what others say of me?
Or am I only what I know of myself?
Restless, yearning, sick, like a caged bird,
struggling for life breath, as if I were being strangled,
starving for colors, for flowers, for birdsong,
thirsting for kind words, human closeness,
shaking with rage at power lust and pettiest insult,
tossed about, waiting for great things to happen,
helplessly fearing for friends so far away,
too tired and empty to pray, to think, to work,
weary and ready to take my leave of it all?

Who am I? This one or the other?
Am I this one today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? Before others a hypocrite
and in my own eyes a pitiful, whimpering weakling?
Or is what remains in me like a defeated army,
Fleeing in disarray from victory already won?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest me; O God, I am thine!

Don’t operate out of a sense of entitlement, but a debt of gratitude – Paul Metzger

Paul Metzger

Paul Metzger

The next breakout session I went to was on social media and was hosted by Lindsey Nobels. I have followed Lindsey’s blog since her days at Project 7. She is now Director of Speakers and Strategic Partnerships for Food for the Hungry and it was a blessing to finally meet her. She interviewed Alli Worthington – blogger and founder of Blissfully Domestic on Social Media for the activist: How to build and empower online communities to serve your cause.

Lindsey Nobles and Alli Worthington

Lindsey Nobles and Alli Worthington

I’m a big fan of starting things before you’re ready. Do all the work you can while you have the time – Alli Worthington

Highlights:

– Do 2 or 3 social media sites and do them well

– Send status updates here and there that link to your site

– Twitter is the best (I agree with her). YouTube is good because people love videos. Google+ is on the rise

– The more human you can be, the better. Companies that don’t do well don’t engage with people well. Plan a strategy and be honest with people

– It’s ok to fail. Try different social media outlets. No correlations between followers and the amount of ‘likes’

– Ok to get negative feedback. If you aren’t, you are not doing a good job. Not everyone will like your cause

– Work on who you are before you get started

– Focus on email marketing more than anything with links to Facebook and twitter. Be visual and engaging.

– Safety is important

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Through dignified work, Basha provides a sustainable livelihood for women at risk and survivors of trafficking. Women gain job skills and the opportunity to develop into leaders and entrepreneurs in a healthy, healing environment.

BASHA’s house of hope is a small business based in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka. The slums of this city are bursting talent: careful tailors, printers and embroiderers. These women have little status and live in extreme poverty. They are often forced into work they would not choose for themselves, and many are unemployed. To help them build better life, now BASHA is training a number of them to turn their talent to jewellery and beautiful Kantha throws and bedspreads. 

I received this blanket today from Lindsey Nobles as I’m packing for the Justice Conference. Lindsey is director of strategic partnerships for Food for the Hungry. This is pretty special to me for many reasons. I love FH and what they do. I have quite a collection of collectables from around the world that have a story behind them and this beautiful kantha blanket is no different. I have been following and promoting the FH bloggers trip to Bangladesh since they left earlier this month. Lindsey and several other amazing people (including my friend Heidi Hatch) were a part of this trip. I felt a connection to this team and this blanket will serve as a reminder of how God spoke to me and reconnected me to FH. God has been preparing my heart to re-engage with cross-cultural missions for the past 6 months. I’m thankful to realign my heart with His and a part of what He is doing in the world.

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Tonight was a pretty fun night for me at PhoenixONE. I had my own booth set up and was able to connect with lots of people from different churches. I ran into my old buddy Malachi and chatted with lots of friends that I have made over the years. I then looked across and saw that my friend Heidi from Food for the Hungry had her booth set up across from me. She was fresh off her trip to Bangladesh with the FH bloggers. She was there to get people to sign up for the FH Empower Women 5k walk.

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Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell

It’s always a blessing to have my long time friends and worship leaders Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell lead worship for PhoenixONE. Brian always picks a song to get us moving around in our seats and tonight it was Hillsong’s “Break Free”. Tonight’s speaker was Brad Lomenick of Catalyst. I’m a huge fan of Catalyst and have been to a couple of their West Coast conferences in Orange county. Brad helps raise up leaders and Catalyst is a movement that helps equip them through amazing speakers and teachers.

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Brad Lomenick

Brad’s talk was about the four keys to being a change maker (the theme of the Catalyst conference this year). My notes:

1. Understanding your calling

– Our talents and passions should intersect

– Salvation and Vocation

Write down your three greatest strengths and then your three greatest passions

2. Create a legacy

– Your 20’s will establish your 70’s – start creating your legacy now.

– Be Kingdom entrepreneurs – both business and the Bible.

– Own a vision bigger than what is in front of you. Perseverance is important.

3. Excellence – be the best in the world.

– Set a standard of excellence.

– Be good at everything you do – father, co-worker, etc. Work hard and be a good finisher. The world will notice.

4. Be more like Jesus.

– Passionately pursue Him. There are too many average Christians.

– His grace leads to our passion of worship which leads to joy in our lives.

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“Break Free”

I sat with my friend Heidi during the service. She was up next to talk about Food for the Hungry‘s International Women’s Day. The Walk to Empower Women 5k walk at Indian Steele Park is in March. This is a walk to raise awareness of the women around the globe that face violence, discrimination, lack of basic rights, lack of education. Heidi has a huge heart for this and God has taught me a lot about partnerships. Heidi has put a lot of time and effort into this and I’m thankful be a voice to help raise awareness for her. Plus I have the utmost respect for Food for the Hungry and always blessed to be a part of what they are doing in to world.

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Heidi Hatch

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Late last year, God led me to this little coffee shop in Phoenix. It has been amazing to see how he has used this little community in downtown Phoenix to change my life. Anywhere from taking pictures to being an advocate for Food for the Hungry and Land of a Thousand Hills or just drinking great coffee with an amazing community of people deep in the heart of the art district all came from hanging out at 8th Day Coffee & Culture. God is working here! He is bridging a community of faith through the local art scene and the story of community-trade coffee in Rwanda. It’s just amazing to see and be a part of! And how awesome that they are located right dead center in the heart of downtown Phoenix – a place city busting with a growing urban and arts community.

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“Eternal Sunshine of Bird City”

Just recently, Joseph Sentrock Perez painted this on the outside wall of 8th Day. It’s an amazing mural called Eternal Sunshine of Bird City. Sentrock moved here from Chicago and has become quite a well-known artist here in the local Phoenix art scene. Here is Sentrock describing his inspiration behind painting this:

I painted this on 8th day cafe, a coffee spot in downtown Phx. The phrase 8th day represented eternity. That’s why I wrote Eternal Sunshine of Bird City, a play off of the movie. I wanted it to signify an eternal blessing on the city Phoenix. Sharing our art and expression will forever bless the city of Phoenix aka Bird City. 

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Art work displayed on the walls of 8th Day

A lot of the amazing art work displayed on the walls of 8th Day is organized by Steve Malakowsky (Hope thru Art). He is an amazing artist and has a huge connection with the local art scene. One of things I love is his project to display art from the homeless population here in Phoenix. The funds made go back into helping them out. He’s a great guy and I love his heart for art and people. Tonight, the Food for the Hungry artists displayed their art for the First Friday art walk and were able to showcase God’s heart for the less fortunate through their pictures and paintings.

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I had to voice my excitement!

So one of the most amazing God stories to come out of this place is the story of Juliana and Daniel. I met Juliana while teaching refugees last summer. God has used her in so many ways in my life that I can’t even write it all. She’s an amazing talented woman and I am so thankful for her friendship. In fact, I found out about 8th Day through her. Daniel is the manager of 8th Day and has become a dear friend and brother. They met at 8th Day and have recently got engaged here. I love this story and was in tears when I heard about this. I am so happy for them! Pastor Shane of St. George’s Anglican Community was on hand to bless them and I pray for a long and happy marriage for them! God is good and He is working everywhere!

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Juliana and Daniel with Pastor Shane

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So… there is this amazing team from Food for the Hungry headed to Bangladesh next week. They are the FH Bloggers and they will be using their voices to tell the stories of what God is doing there and to mobilize others to make a difference in the world. I have worked alongside Food for the Hungry many times in the past and have so much respect for them and what they do. I can’t wait to share the God story of how I got connected with this. But right now you need to follow these guys and keep the team in prayer.

FH Bloggers

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