Select Page
Rooting for Rivals: Join us?

Rooting for Rivals: Join us?

Four years ago, Mission Drift hit shelves.  In the book, we argued faith-based organizations make unique contributions to our world because of our Christian identity.  And, demonstrated just how common it is for leaders of faith-based organizations to forget that. The continued enthusiasm for this book has surpassed even our high expectations for it. But when Peter and I reflected on the book’s impact, we realized it was incomplete.
Because even if our organizations remain steadfast, we might miss the mark. It is possible our efforts to protect and nourish the Christ-centered identity of our organizations can actually blind us to what exists beyond our organizational borders.
In our research for Mission Drift, we met leaders like Wess Stafford, president emeritus at Compassion International.  We experienced something in these leaders, but had not fully articulated it: They understood their mission was bigger than the organizational name printed on their business cards. Mission true leaders like Wess volunteered their time, organizational resources, and influence even when there was nothing in it for them. 
Though HOPE International is far smaller than Compassion, we are also a faith-based international nonprofit. Many of the donors who give to HOPE also give to Compassion. In many respects, we could be considered rivals,  peer organizations appearing to compete for funding, staff, or recognition.
Wess didn’t see it that way.
Even though we worked at different organizations, he graciously offered assistance. In retrospect, it wasn’t just Wess who modeled this type of radical generosity. This attitude was common with the exemplary leaders we interviewed in Mission Drift.
They consistently went out of their way to help. Though they were busy leaders, they always seemed to make time. They shared openly about their models and missions. They answered our questions, and our follow-up questions, and our follow-up-to-the-follow-up questions. They seemed to have nothing to hide from us, no proprietary information or trade secrets. And they offered their time with no strings attached. They talked with us without any guarantees or even expectations we would feature them in the book. They actively pursued our good and not just their own.
It was as if they had a calling and passion that superseded their organization—that helping us was in some way part of their mission. They acted as if we weren’t leaders of rival organizations competing for funding or recognition but friends on the same team working toward the same goal. At the core, these leaders seemed to think more about the Kingdom and less about their organization. Of course they cared deeply about the work they do, but they seemed just as passionate about serving others outside the organization.
These encounters with Wess and other Mission True leaders left a lasting impression. We learned from these leaders who are even more animated by advancing God’s Kingdom than building great organizations. They were in it for the “long game,” willing to sacrifice time and organizational glory for this larger purpose.
This point, which we almost missed, is significant. Beneath the very best mission true organizations are leaders who believe they have a calling beyond building their organizations. They see themselves as part of a much bigger team pursuing a much bigger mission.
They root for their rivals. 

Two months from now, Rooting for Rivalsour follow-up book to Mission Drift, releases. Peter and I are excited about this project. We had an incredible team behind this book. Dozens of people contributed to this book. Most notably, Jill Heisey provided invaluable research and editorial support over the last 18 months. And, Brianna Lapp served an important coordination role all along the way. Rooting for Rivals would not exist if not for their belief and commitment to this project.
And now we need your help. As we saw with Mission Drift, the months immediately surrounding a book’s release date are the most critical for its success. If you join our launch team (link below), we’ll provide you a free copy of the book and ask you to do four simple tasks this summer.
Will you join us?

Linking Arms for Good

Linking Arms for Good

It was a first for me. I’ve led many trips to the Dominican Republic, but they’ve always been HOPE International trips. We’ve exposed our guests to the Dominican culture and introduced them to the hard-working clients we serve. But for this trip, I linked arms with friends at Edify and Plant With Purpose. We invited friends of each of our organizations to meet Dominicans served by all three of our organizations.
Compassion, Healing Waters and the Local Church
We landed in Santo Domingo just after noon. Our guests packed light and we were able to bypass baggage claim and head straight for our first ministry visit. As a bonus, we arranged a visit to a church near our hotel. This Pentecostal church modeled partnership perhaps better than I’ve ever visited. Their church building was a hub for ministry in the community. In the basement, children sponsored through Compassion International met in classrooms to study God’s word, learn to read and to play with one another. A sewing and literacy training center was located on the second floor. And at the ground level, a clean water outlet disbursed safe water to the community. Healing Waters International designed the water solution. Using creative technologies will provide clean water to this community for at least ten years.

Church-based water filtration technology

Church-based water filtration technology


Highlight: The pastor, Domingo, reflected on how his church has changed over the years. Early on, he and his church condemned their neighborhood, quick to note the sin they saw in their community. Today, however, the community knows them by the way they serve. And the church is growing. This church serves with the help of partners, all of whom work with and through their church. “We see all these organizations as links in the same chain.”
Plant With Purpose
On day two, we were on the road early and started our day with Plant With Purpose (PWP). We visited a community they serve and met the farmers they work with. We toured the farm of Eladio Cabrera. He showed us the compost pile and organic fertilizer he created with the help of PWP and pointed out the diverse crops growing on his beautiful land. Avocados, coffee, pineapples, yucca, and citrus trees colored the fertile countryside. We finished our morning with a lunch at his home, feasting on the produce from his farm.
Highlight: As we stood by the lemon trees overlooking the rolling Dominican hills, Mr. Cabrera commented, “Even if someone offers a great price, I will not sell this farm. I raised my family on this land.”
Plant With Purpose farm

Plant With Purpose farm


Edify 
In the afternoon, we visited the first of three Edify schools we saw during the trip. Edify serves over 500 “edupreneurs” in the DR. On average, these private Christian school proprietors outperform government schools by a margin of 3:1 and do so affordably. The first school–Mi Casita (“my little house”)–served close to 300 students, all paying $20/month for a top-notch education. There are some children unable to afford that rate so this edupreneur actually has 35 students on full scholarship. My wife, Alli, teaches first grade in a Title 1 school in the Denver Public Schools system. And so meeting these students and seeing them thrive brought great joy to me, personally.
First grade students in an Edify school

First grade students in an Edify school


Highlight: We prayed for the proprietor before leaving her school. And she blessed us by returning the favor, praying for the members of our group. The spirit of mutuality we experienced throughout the trip sharply countered the paternalism so common on many short-term missions trips.
HOPE International
We visited two additional Edify schools on Friday. Our partner, Esperanza, partners with Edify as their lender. When these school owners are ready to expand or improve their buildings or add computer labs, Esperanza and Edify together provide the loan. Esperanza serves over 8,000 Dominican entrepreneurs. Brunilda was the “missionary banker” to the three Edify edupreneurs we visited and a separate group of eleven entrepreneurs we also met. We participated in an Esperanza community bank meeting, where Brunilda artfully modeled the three services HOPE provides its clients: biblically-based business training, savings accounts, and business loans.
Brunilda, a missionary banker in her community

Brunilda, a missionary banker in her community


HighlightWe finished our day by visiting Ingrid. Ingrid took her first business loan out in 2010. At that time, she had just one sewing machine and two employees. Today, she has five sewing machines and seven employees. Her business continues to flourish. I was struck, however, not by her business success, but by the way she conducted her business. The Bible on her desk was not a paper weight. It was her source of encouragement and guidance in her business. “My faith impacts everything that I do,” she shared. “I came to Esperanza for the business loan, but experiencing God was the real value of working with them.”
Ingrid, Seamstress Extraordinaire

Ingrid, seamstress extraordinaire


Summary: The 13 guests I traveled with were all emerging young leaders. As a group, we read the story of William Wilberforce, a man who at the age of 26 determined to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire. And he did. But he didn’t do it alone. In his summary of Wilberforce’s life, biographer John Pollock summarized, “Wilberforce proved that a man can change his times, but that he cannot do it alone.” Amen.