Recent Articles

Learning about Africa and AIDS »

World Vision is doing an awesome job telling the story of HIV/AIDS. Take a look at this.

Fast Company Magazine–2008 Social Capitalist Awards »

I loved looking at these individuals who found a way to make sustainable differences in people’s lives. I think you’ll find them both inspiring and helpful as you explore ways to bring change to your country in Africa


Blogging the Summit: More on Partnerships »

Again, the HIV/AIDs Summit continues to emphasize the role of partnerships. Rick Warren speaks of a three-legged stool which stands on “cooperation” among the public, profit and parish sectors.

To effectively partner, we–the faith/parish sector in the West and/or the Western church–must move forward with humility and teachability. It’s not about us. The more invisible we become, the more we can bring sustained change.

It’s critical to find “partners” who share your vision, can perform at a high level, and with whom you want to build a long-term relationship.

Recognize that “money and power” can easily distort any relationship. So as you build relationships, think of building both the human infrastructure and the business infrastructure. In both, build in lots of integrity and accountability into those structures. (For example, limit the “bureaucratic costs” of running a program to 8%.)

If possible, make the local church the “main transformational agent” of change. Community ownership leads to sustainability.

Blogging the Summit: Partnerships »

If we were to rate ourselves on effective partnerships in Africa, the scorecard would measure:

  1. Sustainable Impact over Short-Term Impact
  2. Extended Relationships over Short-term Relationships (You can’t partner until you’re friends.)
  3. Corporate Success over Individual Success
  4. The Smaller Leading over The Bigger Leading
  5. Measured Outcomes over Anecdotal Measures
  6. Indigenous Ownership, Perspective, Leadership over Non-indigenous Ownership, Perspective, Leadership

Blogging the Summit: More on Starting »

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Good people do nothing because they can’t do everything. That’s the wrong response.

Everyone can start if:

  1. He or she knows what to do.
  2. He or she knows whom to trust.

Bono’s Wave of Sorrow »

My daughter in law posted a Bono interview video on her blog, from the following unpublished song.

Heat haze rising
On hell’s own hill

You wake up this morning
It took an act of will
You walk through the night
To get here today
To bring your children
To give them away

Oh… oh this cruel sun
Is daylight never done
Cruelty just begun
To make a shadow of everyone

And if the rain came
And if the rain came

Souls bent over without a breeze
Blankets on burning trees
I am sick without disease
Nobility on it’s knees

And if the rain came
And if the rain came… now
Would it wash us all away
On a wave of sorrow
On a wave of sorrow

Where now the holy cities?
Where the ancient holy scrolls?
Where now Emperor Menelek?
And the Queen of Sheba’s gold

You’re my bride, you wear her crown
And on your finger precious stones
As every good thing now been sold

Son, of shepherd boy, now king
What wisdom can you bring?
What lyric would you sing?
Where is the music of the Seraphim?
And if the rain came
And if the rain came… now
Would it wash us all away
On a wave of sorrow
A wave of sorrow

Blessed are the meek who scratch in the dirt
For they shall inherit what’s left of the earth
Blessed are the kings who’ve left their thrones
They are buried in this valley of dry bones

Blessed all of you with an empty heart
For you got nothing from which you cannot part
Blessed is the ego
It’s all we got this hour

Blessed is the voice that speaks truth to power
Blessed is the sex worker who sold her body tonight
She used what she got
To save her children’s life

Blessed are you, the deaf cannot hear a scream
Blessed are the stupid who can dream
Blessed are the tin canned cardboard slums
Blessed is the spirit that overcomes

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10)

Jesus Christ said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Effective Partnerships »

I see it over and over. Movements that bring change depend on partnerships. Working together is a Trinitarian expression. God lives in community, in relationship, in a heavenly dance–modeling the cooperation he intends for us as families, as churches, as organizations. Satan’s strategy is always to divide.

Unfortunately, over the last 200-300 years, the intense individualism of Western societies has made the journey toward wholeness, relationship, and cooperation much harder. Personally I’ve been driven so often by building my particular organization rather than building the kingdom. I’m beginning to repent.

Phil Butler, in his book Well Connected, argues that “individualism has inflected our lives, our theology, our churches, our educational paradigms, and the fruits of the missionary movement.”

In his book, Phil identifies some of the key issues and principles of effective partnerships. If we as Campus Crusade want to “build movements everywhere,” we must build effective partnerships–at all levels of our organization. The following principles will help us build such partnerships.

1. Effective partnerships are built on trust, openness and mutual concern. Partnerships are more than coordination, planning, strategies and tactics. The heart of Gospel is restored relationships.
2. Effective partnerships need a facilitator or coordinator — someone who, by consensus, has been given the role of bringing the partnership to life and keeping the fires burning. This “honest broker,” usually loaned or seconded from an agency committed to the task, must be a person of vision who will keep on despite all discouragement. Prophet, servant, and resource person — this individual has to be trained and nurtured. Serving everyone in a partnership is a lonely task.
3. Effective partnerships have a partnership “champion: inside every partner ministry — a person who sees how their individual agency can benefit from such practical cooperation: an individual who will sell the vision to their colleagues and keep the partnership focused to realize those benefits.
4. Successful partnerships develop in order to accomplishes a specific vision or task. Partnerships for partnership’s sake is a sure recipe for failure. This means lasting partnerships focus primarily on what (objective) rather than how (structure). Form always follows function — not the other way around. Consensus is usually better than constitution!
5. Effective partnerships have limited, achieveable objectives in the beginning, and become more expansive as the gorup experiences success. Though limited, these objectives must have clear Kingdom significance that captures the imagination and provides motivation for the group as well as relevance to each partner ministry’s vision and objective.
6. Effective partnerships start by identifying needs among the people being reached or served.They do not start by trying to write a common theological statement. From these needs, Kingdom priorities, barriers to spiritual breakthroughs, and the resources available or needed, realistic priorities for action must be distilled and agreed.
7. Partnerships are a process, not an event. The start-up, exploration and formation stages of a partnership often take a long time. Call a formation or even exploratory meeting too early and you will likely kill the possibility of a partnership. Ultimately, personal trust is required. Taking time to establish it privately in one-on-one meetings, the facilitator will find that later, in the group, it will pay rich dividends.
8. Effective partnerships are even more challenging to maintain than to start. Making sure the vision stays alive, the focus-clear, communication good, and outcomes fulfilling takes great concentration and long-term commitment.
9. Effective partnerships are made up of partner ministries with clear identities and vision. They must have their own clear mission statements and live by them. Otherwise, they will never understand how they “fit in,” and contribute to the overall picture, or benefit from the joint effort.
10. Effective partnerships acknowledges, even celebrate, the differences in their partner agencies’ histories, vision and services. But partnerships must ultimately concentrate on what they have in common, like vision and values, and ministry objectives rather than on their differences.
11. Effective partnerships serve at least four constituencies: the people they are trying to reach; the partner agencies with their own staffs and vision; the partner agencies funding and praying constituencies; and eventually, the partnership itself with it’s growing expectations. There are many more players around the table than we often acknowledge or remember. Forget them, and eventually the partnership will fail.
12. Effective partnerships have a high sense of participation and ownership. Facilitators need to give special attention to the widest possible participation in objective setting, planning and the process of meetings, and on-going communications — increasing the likelihood of wider ownership and commitment to the common vision.
13. Effective partnerships keep focused on their ultimate goals or vision and are not distracted by day-to-day operational demands. It is often easy to focus on the “means” rather than the “end”. Only constant diligency will keep this long-term view clear.
14. Effective partnerships see prayer and communion as uniquely powerful elements to bind partners together in Christ. Effective partnerships are refreshed and empowered by frequently praying in small groups where individuals can express concerns for each other’s personal needs, and by the group taking communion together.
15. Effective partnerships do not come free. Just participating in the planning and coordination takes times and money. Deeper commitment may take still greater investments. But, the “return on Kingdom investment” through the partnerships should more than offset the contributions a partner agency may make.
16. Effective partnerships expect problems and plan ahead for them. Make sure a process is built into the partnership for daling with changes, exceptions, disappointments, unfulfilled commitments, and simply the unexpected. A wise man know one thing — the only predictable thing is the unexpected.
“build on trust””a facilitator””a partnership ‘champion'””accomplish a specific vision””have achievable objectives””identify needs of those being served””it’s a process, not an event””it’s more challenging to maintain””it’s made up of partner ministries””celebrate differences””serve four consituencies””need high sense of participation and owernship””be focused on their ultimate goals””maintain prayer and communion”

Start Small But Start »

Lynne Hybels spoke yesterday about engagement in the biggest issues of the world. She made the following points, which apply to ordinary families seeking to do ordinary things to bring extraordinary change to Africa.

We must:

1. Be willing to start small. Just start somewhere, somehow. But be sure and start.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!–attributed to Goethe

2. Start in the area of your passion. If your family cares about orphans, start there. If you think micro-enterprises are critical to kingdom change, make investments there. If you’d like to support local churches in your country, find out how.

3. Start with someone you know and trust. As we’ve mentioned before, relationships open the right doors in Africa. Before you commit, make the relational investment to learn and discern hearts and motives.

4. When you start, realize that you are in for the long haul. Change is hard process; the fight takes endurance. Relationship building takes time. But out of these relationships arise new ideas, expanding networks.

5. Start with or without a budget. By starting, you become captured by the “action.” Remember the antidote to despair is action. The challenges seem huge; they can lead to despair. But by taking some action, we eat away at despair and begin to build hope. And when we act, we reinforce our vision. And funding always follows vision.

Familes For Africa Do These Things: »

Laurie and I are currently at the Global HIV/AIDs Conference. Rick Warren made the following points about “leaders who will bring change.” Each of the five traits apply to us as families committed to changing Africa.

1. They become aware.

The men of Issachar understood their times and knew what they should do. 1 Chronicles 12:32

2. They accumulate knowledge and acquire skills.

Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights. Prov 18:15

3. They advocate for their particular cause.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those who are dying. Prov 31:8-9

4. They intentionally do something–they become activists.

If people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. James 2:14

5. They are accountable.

Anyone who knows the right things to do, but does not do it, is sinning. James 4:17

You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate to you.

The Three Legged Stool of Change

Partnerships Between:

Public (Government and NGOs)

Profit (Business)

Parish (Faith)

Where do we need leaders/families to operate?

At the National Level

At the International Level

At the Church Level

At the City and Business Level

At the Individual Level

Forces for Good–Thinking Thru Families for Africa »

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant. Jossey-Bass (2007)

I just ordered this book. Below is a summary of its main points that I robbed from Eric Swanson.

Lessons Learned

As we learned in the course of our research, great nonprofits follow six practices to achieve more impact…. In a nutshell, organizations seeking greater impact must learn how to do the following:

Work with Government and advocate for policy change, in addition to providing services

Harness market forces and see business as a powerful partner not as an enemy to be disdained or ignored

Create meaningful experiences for individual supporters and convert them into evangelists for the cause

Build and nurture nonprofit networks, treating other groups not as competitors for scarce resources but as allies instead

Adapt to the changing environment and be as innovative and nimble as they are strategic

Share leadership, empowering others to be forces for good (6)

“We don’t have time for incremental change—we need dramtic change if we are to solve the complex global problems that plague us today. The stakes are high on all sides, and we must rise to the challenge. Doing anything less would squander this momentous opportunity to advance the grater good. Fortunately, these great nonprofits—and the lessons we can learn from them—can show us a new way” (7).

“The secret to success lies in how great organizations mobilize every sector of society—government, business, nonprofits and the public—to be a force for good. In other words, greatness has more to do with how nonprofits work outside the boundaries of their organizations than how they manage their own internal operations…Great organizations work with and through others to create more impact than they ever could achieve alone” (19).

Great social sector organizations do these six things:

1. Advocate and serve. The more they advocate and serve, the greater the levels of impact they achieve.

2. Make markets work. Tapping into the power of self-interest and the laws of economics is far more effective than appealing to pure altruism.

3. Inspire evangelists. Great nonprofits see volunteers as much more than a source of free labor or membership dues. They create meaningful ways to engage individuals in emotional experiences that help them connect to the group’s mission and core values. The see volunteers, donors, and advisers not only for what they can contribute to the organization in terms of time, money, and guidance but also for what they can do as evangelists for their cause.

4. Nurture nonprofit networks. High-impact organizations help the competition succeed, building networks of nonprofit allies and devoting remarkable time and energy to advancing their larger field. They freely share wealth, expertise, talent, and power with their peers, not because they are saints, but because it’s in their self-interest to do so.

“The first four practices are more external; they represent how these groups dramatically expand their impact outside the borders of their own organizations. Each of these practices influences an external stakeholder group with which the nonprofit works so as to do more with less. In observing this external focus (ooooooh, I like that term!), we also realize that working outside the organization entails special practices inside that help these nonprofits relate more effectively to their environment. This led us to discern two additional internal practices that enable high-impact nonprofits to operate successfully in the outside world and bridge boundaries” (21)

5. Master the art of adaptation. They have mastered the ability to listen, learn, and modify their approach based on external cues—allowing them to sustain their impact and stay relevant.

6. Share leadership. These CEOs are exceptionally strategic and gifted entrepreneurs, but they also know they must share power in order to be as stronger force for good. They distribute leadership throughout their organization and their nonprofit network—empowering others to lead (21-22).

(from Jay: I’d love for others to read this book and help us make application to Families for Africa.)