Expanding the horizons…Compassion Teams launch

I love the Frederich Buechner quote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It’s from his book Wishful Thinking, a Seeker’s ABC.

There continue to be enormous needs around the world, and a passionate group of people who won’t sleep well at night unless they’re making a difference.

We love helping provide opportunities at this intersection. For 6 years, 163 Convoy of Hope Interns have served God and the poor in 17 countries around the world. We love these team members and are proud of where God is taking them as they continue their journey. Alumni are on nearly every continent helping those in need…some are serving in very, very tough places.

In 2013, we’re excited to coordinate the launch of Convoy of Hope Compassion Teams. Now, church groups and other organizations can serve as a team for about a week through Convoy of Hope around the world. Many teams will come alongside our Children’s Feeding Initiative where over 125,000 children are fed. Others will join outreaches around the world. All will help those in need through opportunities on the ground with Convoy of Hope.

Excited about future opportunities to work with great people like these friends in El Salvador.

For 11 years, I’ve helped lead teams much like this and am excited to be a part of this new endeavor. We’re still lining up many ducks (i.e. the website will be much more robust soon), but are thrilled with the potential. Throughout the year, I’ll work to help pave the way for teams to connect with even more opportunities in more places. Also, it’s very important to us that the teams serve in such a way that all involved will benefit…and that’s a difficult philosophical task!

For this to be as smooth as possible, the intern program is going on hiatus. Convoy of Hope continues to be committed to seeing the army of compassion launched throughout the world, and we continue to serve that cause with passion. When it returns, it’ll be at the most strategic time and place.

We’ve loved each step of the journey and look forward to many more ahead. I’m passionate about this expanded horizon and look forward to what God has in store…

Anticipation…

Half Good Killer…the latest from Toy Gun Films

Toy Gun Films tells stories from all over the world with excellence and truth. In their latest short film, Half Good Killer, the line between prey and predator is blurred as we get a glimpse into the tragic life of a child soldier. I appreciate the filmmakers and their heart, mind and ability to tell a good story. This isn’t so much a movie review as an encouragement to watch everything they’ve ever produced. Here’s the movie:

Half Good Killer – Full Movie from Toy Gun Films on Vimeo.

The greatest tool to fight injustice is truth…mixed with dirty hands and open hearts.

A letter to my sweet friend Pat

[Update: I got word that Pat indeed met Jesus earlier today, December 23, 2012. I’m thankful that my friend Jon read this to her in her last hour. While I don’t know how much she understood, I was able to share these things many times before and after she got sick. She was so awesome that you couldn’t help telling her to her face how much you loved and respected her. Pat is dancing with Jesus, and we’ll miss her. I’m reminded of Job 19:25-27, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”]

Dearest Pat,

First of all, I remember taking this picture in Antigua, Guatemala, at that cool coffee shop with the OneHope Intern team back in ‘04. The look you gave as we celebrated your birthday communicated, “Matt, you’d better not take my picture!”  I’m guessing you feel the same way about me posting it on this blog. Sorry (not sorry)!

You and I have traveled many places together, leading teams back in the OneHope days.  Now I join people around the world in praying for you as you struggle with one of life’s cruelest diseases, ALS. Your mind is aware of what you’re hearing, but your body is not cooperating. To say it makes me and a host of other friends around the world sad is an understatement.

You’re hearing this as Jon reads it to you. I wanted to share it here so other friends could read it too. You’ve impacted SO MANY people throughout the years and I thought this letter would tell a few more people about you…and that you could impact them too.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from you, and respected along the way…

–You are an encourager! Remember the time around the pool in Guatemala at the end of our first term together back in’ 02? I think people took about 2 hours sharing how you’d encouraged and impacted them. With Pat, there’s never a negative word, but enormous encouragement from you to many.

–You tell the truth…with love. People know they can go to you when they’ve blown it. They know you’ll not let them get away with anything, but that you’ll share what’s needed with lots of love. I blew it with poor communication on the bus schedule in Belfast, and you and the team had to wait. I deserved to hear it…and you spoke it, with tons o’ love and grace. That’s a good friend. You’re the most “go-to person” I know.

–You’re an optimist. No matter what situation you face, you face it with optimism.  Missed flights? Maybe God wanted you to meet some new people. School closed down? God must want you to share Books of Hope in another. ALS? Don’t know how you’re optimistic even with ALS, but you are and it brings glory to God and encourages us. Optimism is contagious.

–You love and trust Jesus. When things are good, you love and trust, and when things aren’t, you continue to love and trust. You know He was with you during the fun moments like this group picture where we’re surrounding you, and you know He’s with you right now, when life is most difficult.

–Pat, you’re a woman of legacy. So many have found healing through your words. Your influence has affirmed the callings of people serving in places you and I will never see. You never had biological children, but your mom-like love and insights have helped more than many people grow beyond where they ever would have without you.

I could go on and on and on and on and on…for all of these things and so much more, thank you.

Pat, I’ll continue to pray for a miracle and believe with you that one is possible. However, if you happen to meet Jesus face to face before me, please look Him in the eye and boldly say, “HELLO! My name is PAT! And I’m from DETROIT!!!” How beautiful it will be for all of us to throw our crowns (see the photo 🙂 at His feet someday.

When the time for you to meet Him does come, I trust it’ll start a season where you’ll be very busy standing at the gate helping to welcome some of the tens of thousands from around the world with whom you’ve shared His love. How many countries? How many people? How many words of encouragement? So many…

I love you deeply Pat, and am bummed I haven’t made it to S. Florida to say hello, hug your neck and kiss your cheek. Please feel the love from my family and me, and know that Pat will always be a big part of who I am.

Until next time my sweet friend,

Matt

A Christmas greeting from our family

As April was cutting my hair earlier in the week, she said, “You’re getting grey!” She’s right. Life in 2012 has been full…not always easy, but very good and very full. My favorite Christmas verse is John 1:14 in The Message, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” He continues to be Emmanuel: God With us.

We wanted to share a quick Christmas greeting with you. We haven’t yet figured out how to keep Fisher still…as our family photo and video shoot proves. That said, here’s a short (just over 1 minute) video greeting. During this season, we’ll be praying for people around the world, that they’ll understand the life they can have with Jesus. Merry Christmas.

The poor often suffer the most

Earlier this week, Typhoon Bopha, struck the island of Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines. It went to sea and is now turning back towards the north. This brings back memories of my time on the southern island after a typhoon nearly a year ago. I made this video then (January 2012):

The foundation of a church building that was swept away by the typhoon.

I noticed something tragic, that I had read in 58: Fast Living, How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty, but was seeing up close: the poor suffered the most. Of the nearly 2000 people who died in last year’s typhoon, virtually all of them lived in weak homes along a river bank. In fact, I couldn’t get a good photo, but a view from a bridge helped me see that not only did they build in cheap land along a river, but along a curve in the river. When the typhoon came, and the river rose, it didn’t turn at the curve and wiped out thousands.

There were strong houses built on the ridge above the river, where the middle and upper class people could only watch in horror, with no ability to help.I don’t know all of the solutions…but I know that poverty is the top indicator of injury or death in the midst of a natural tragedy.

Praying today for those affected by Bopha, for our Convoy of Hope staff in the Philippines as they respond, and that God will give all insight as to key strategies in the fight on behalf of the world’s poorest people

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The story behind the photo

We love coffee, and thought a coaster would be a great way to connect our vision with you. On the back of the coaster, we speak of partnering with our work with Convoy of Hope. We wanted you to know a bit more about the photo, and the work for which we’re asking for this prayer and partnership.

Here’s the story:

Pastor Tom, a wise leader in Uganda, looked at the Convoy of Hope Intern team and said, “Please show this picture to your friends in the USA and tell them that this is the water that makes my family sick.” As a show of respect to him, the photo is below. Josh Thomassen, who took the photo, knew the importance of getting clean water to this village.

We had talked about the truth that approximately 1 billion people lack access to a purified water source, that water born disease kills thousands each day, and that Convoy of Hope is working with local churches around the world to make a difference. Our intern team built a water filter in the village, and provided a way to clean over 99% of the contaminants in the water.

The little boy with this jug? He’s one of the villagers who is benefitting from the water filters. He joins people around the world who use water filters provided by Convoy of Hope and our teams. Many are significantly healthier. These filters are but one piece of our Children’s Feeding Initiative.

Finally, my life changed when I read Isaiah 58:10, “And if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness and your darkness will become like the noonday.” I wanted to be sure and include this on the coaster as well.

Here’s the picture of Pastor Tom. If you’d like one of our prayer coasters, please email me your address at mattwilkie (at) gmail.com. I’d be happy to send you one. Also, this is the second coaster in the series. You can read about the first here.

Again, we value your prayers and partnershipWe commit to: living with integrity and generosity, a strong work ethic, and with good communication to you. We thank you too.

Pastor Tim points out the water that makes him sick.