Meeting the team: Andy

I get to meet some really, really good people. People like Andy. He and the rest of the Convoy of Hope Intern team members challenge me, encourage me, and help me keep life in perspective.

Here, he shares 2 minutes of his incredible life story. I’ll post about other team members in the future.

What gives you perspective?

Samantha, Brittany and 100+ more…

Brittany with baby in El Salvador

When Amber asked if I’d write about some of our former Convoy of Hope interns for OnCourse Magazine, I got excited. The team members (past and present) make up an enormous part of my life…I love that God’s given me the opportunity to work with them.

Samantha & Brittany

Samantha was on our team to Bangladesh/Nepal/Mobile, AL, last year and is now in school. She’s preparing for full time work as a teacher in Tanzania. Brittany was on our Summer ’08 team to Nicaragua and El Salvador, and has done a ton of other international trips. She’s now working working with one of Convoy of Hope’s partners in Dallas, Buckner International…she helps provide shoes to kids around the world.

Samantha Shryack

Proud of each of them.

It’s fun filling out reference forms (got to fill out 3 this week…) and seeing where God takes our former interns…who we see as still a part of the family.


The latest? Here’s Andy…he just got hired with the development office of the Eastern Mennonite Missions in Pennsylvania. They’re lucky to have this guy….

The upcoming generation will do well…

I’m quite sure that the next generation of those who will serve and lead internationally will do so with passion and focus and a huge love for Jesus and people.

Do you agree?


Giving shoes to Grace

Grace has shoes

Grace has shoes

In the midst of one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, I watched Grace get shoes.

In Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, we ventured to the heartland of the Masai people. The Masai are a proud tribe of beautiful people with a semi-nomadic culture about which many books have been written. There, our Convoy of Hope interns spent time with some big thinking pastors to partner with them and their churches to show compassion throughout the valley.

It was there we encountered Grace. I’m not sure of her age, but she’s a beautiful follower of Christ who was taking care of her younger siblings. Our team connected well with her, and noticed she didn’t have shoes. While Grace isn’t the only teenage Masai member with no shoes, she was the one with whom Shannon, a 18-year-old intern, was speaking. Shannon had more than one pair, so why should Grace have none?

That day, in a gesture that some might consider small…Grace got shoes.

There’s a lot of places grace needs shoes…amongst the hurting, ashamed, poor and wounded. I want to be like Shannon, ready with any small/medium/large gesture to make sure she has them.gracerift

Standing Grace, with her siblings

Standing Grace, with her siblings

10 things for which I’m thankful…a not so traditional list

Over the last decade, I’ve seen more of the world than I dreamed possible. It’s opened my eyes to things for which I’m thankful…things I never considered until the “around the world with Jesus” life began…here are some real examples:

arsenic in water can cause sores

arsenic in water can cause sores

1. I’m thankful I don’t have sores on my legs because of arsenic in my water supply.

2. I’m thankful we have enough food on our table so we don’t have to consider whether or not to sell a family member to those who might hurt them in order to pay for food for others in the family.

3. I’m thankful that when I go home I don’t worry about anyone in my family threatening me because of my belief system.

4. I’m thankful that every single night of my 38-year-old life I’ve had adequate shelter…in the midst of snow/ice/intense heat/wind/crazy storms and more. Every night.

5. I’m thankful I’ve never had to look in trash piles for food.

6. I’m thankful the Bible is translated into the language in which I think, dream and speak.

7. I’m thankful for the Church and amazing people around the world who care about those in need so much it’s moved them to help those in their own communities…people like Pastor Jose, Sascha, Raul, Pastor Paul, Pastor Boris and my pastor,Rick.

8. I’m thankful for people who care about others so much they’ve left home to live in the midst of those in need to offer help and hope. This year alone I’ve worked with Jason & Kristi, Duane & Lori, Karl & Ann, Dustin & Natalie, Larry, Bryan & Kim and others.

9. I’m thankful for people who partner with us so we can do what we believe we’re supposed to be doing.

10. I’m thankful that in a few hours, I’ll sit with a family I love and enjoy a fabulous meal (and good coffee…)

Praying for Dustin…and a random dusty video


I met Dustin years ago when with my friend Richard Ross in the boot heel of Missouri.  Dustin’s friends know him as someone who is funny, energetic, loves people, has traveled the world helping people, and is fun to be around. He was approved to be a part of our fall 2010 Convoy of Hope intern team.

Tragically, his car accident and the massive injuries he sustained changed his life and his plans. The wreck was in June, and he’s still in the hospital. You can keep up with his journey on the Facebook page dedicated to his journey.

Here he is standing front and center with Richard behind him and some great friends of his surrounding him.

In Kenya, our intern team prays for Dustin just about every day. As a random connection, we drove on a very, very, very “dusty” road and thought of him. Here’s that video:

Creative compassion part 2: Some ideas

I recently shared on the topic of “Creative Compassion” at a National Youth Worker’s conference in Dallas. During the talk we spoke of many different things such as:

Painting walls can be creative compassion...1. The Biblical reason for showing compassion.
2. Creative ways to show compassion.
3. Resources that either include creative ideas, or that have helped me in my understanding of the subject.
I asked for creative compassion ideas via the Twitter, Facebook, and at the conference. I said I would share them via this site. They follow:

  1. Elle from Jackson, MS, mentioned that in her city, Wired Espresso Cafe (connected with Crossings Church) will often take salad/tea/cookies/coffee/etc. to secretaries who are unable to leave work for lunch. No payment is required.
  2. Jose mentioned that his church, Northside A/G, learned that teachers in their town are required to purchase their own supplies. Their church members worked to gather supplies for every teacher/administrator in the middle school. They gathered enough supplies for over 60 school leaders to have a bag with $50-75 worth of needed supplies. It saved the teachers money, and showed that the church cared. This is a somewhat small congregation that delivered the supplies at a catered meal for these leaders.
  3. Paula’s son was shot, and her family struggled as part of the healing process. Instead of staying home sad, she led some students from her church (All Nations A/G) to help at a homeless shelter…serving food, playing with kids, and listening to stories. They even helped clean up at the end.
  4. Sean’s youth group is soon going to go to the home of elderly individuals with a 6-foot Christmas card. The card includes cut outs where students will show their faces and sing carols…They’ll do it at Christmas time 🙂
  5. Joey from Swifton A/G in AR worked with his group to rent a community center that they turned into a coffee shop. Free food/good music/snapping instead of clapping. Good times. I’m in a coffee shop as I write this, but I know that lots of towns don’t have such a place. Cool.
  6. Santana was part of pen pal club that would interact with people around the world.
  7. Madeline from Evangel Church International took a group of students to Haiti. I could share at length about the idea of going overseas to help show compassion…
  8. Jeremy is a part of The Tabernacle in Orchard, Park, NY. They’re working with churches, community leaders, and government officials to do a mini-extreme makeover in an inner city neighborhood.,
  9. Lauryn from the Lighthouse Tabernacle shared how their church would help single moms with a day for them to come to the church for pedicures, lunch a car wash, school supplies for the kids, and tools and support for them.
  10. One man is considering a car wash where his church pays the people who are getting their car washed.
  11. Kisha…adopt a neighborhood…cleaned yards. Lifepoint Church Prescott Valley
  12. Some youth groups have gotten permission from city leaders, and painted murals in rougher parts of town.
  13. Andrea’s youth group from Whitefish A/G in Montana, would purposefully do random acts of kindness..groceries/car wash/water/etc.
  14. The Dream Center in LA has a ton going on to help people in the community
  15. Shannon and Sara mentioned that Canyon Hills A/G in Bakersfield, CA, helped a person in the community by doing their version of an Extreme Makeover Home addition…cleaned blinds/etc.
  16. Mandy’s church, Bethel Temple A/G in Parma, OH, would supply Christmas gifts for kids in the community. This is much like Angel Tree, a great program through Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship, that supplies gifts for the children of prisoners…and the gifts is from the parent who is in prison, but being delivered by people from a local church.
  17. Sandy from New Horizons in Lowell, MA, mentioned that students from her church went to a local veterans nursing home and sang Christmas carols, providing residents with little packages with things like combs/etc.
  18. Shannon’s from Grand Prairie, TX, where her church would do many things on holidays for the community, such as Halloween Trunk or Treat for neighborhood kids, etc.
  19. Chelsea’s church, Valley Fellowship Yakima, WA, would deliver Thanksgiving meals when they knew families might not have one. Also, youth group in fall/winter they adopt a seniors mobile court–shovel snow, rake leaves.
  20. Chelsea’s group also would help people around the world through supplying funds through Kiva, to provide micro-loans to small businesses.
  21. Chelsea also mentioned “Make it, Take it” where her youth group would make fun gifts to give away. They find out what the family wants and take it to them.
  22. Tonya’s church in Chandler, AZ, would provide backpacks/school supplies/etc. for kids in group homes. They’d also help with birthday parties/etc.
  23. Some referenced churches that supply gift cards for the mom’s at Teen Challenge/etc.
  24. Royal Family Kids Camp is cool! Anytime the right students/adults can help at a Royal Family Kids Camp is a great thing.
  25. Karen’s college group would hand our soda/snacks to community college.
  26. Some churches had some incredible ideas for fundraisers to help those in need:
  27. The best place I’ve seen for ideas regarding fundraising for missions is through the Overflow Experience. On that site, students from around the USA and world share ideas they’ve used to raise money to help those in need. Here are a few ideas…
  28. Waylon Sears at Victory Worship Center led his students to raise funds by selling Hope For Haiti t-shirts. They sold a lot of shirts, and helped a lot of people through Convoy of Hope.
  29. Evan Courtney of The Fields Church in Mattoon, IL, wrote, “I tweeted and blogged about a specific organization each day, I was on a missions trip to Honduras. They gave me a shirt to wear for that day.” Love what Evan’s doing…
  30. Jessica’s church has shared their fine arts talents and raised funds at concerts/etc.
  31. Shawn Askinosie isn’t a youth leader, but he does make chocolate. He came up with a great idea called “Serve Someone” where you pick a family/individual that you’ll help until they don’t need the help anymore. He set up a website, to get ideas rolling, and to set up a system to help.
  32. Dawn and Jackie both mentioned how wonderful it is to have someone babysit the kids…especially special needs kids. When there’s not family around, the chance for parents to go on dates is a very nice thing.
  33. Bryce’s church has made sandwiches and more and taken them to areas where homeless people spend time. They’ll spend time with their new friend over lunch.
  34. Stephanie’s group in Georgia has taken 9 v batteries throughout neighborhoods where elderly people live around the time changes. They’ll give out batteries so people can change them in their fire alarm, and will offer to change them if it would help.
  35. Stephanie’s group will also go to neighborhoods and rake leaves, clean gutters and more.
  36. My sister’s church in Hammond, IN, adopts blocks in the area where they can help people near the church–cleaning up, etc. Other churches, such as Phoenix 1st AG have done this for years. Great idea.
  37. Our church in Republic, MO, has helped local schools with gardens, done free car washes and more.
  38. I walked through Convoy of Hope one day and saw dozens of students from Northpoint Church helping with opportunities in their own community. Great idea. Here’s their intro. video.
  39. Finally, I love being a part of Convoy of Hope and all we and partners around the world are doing to help those in need…can’t forget Convoy…

I’m positive there are many, many other ideas people have used to show compassion creatively. What are some ways you’ve seen?

Creative Compassion part 1

I’ll soon share at the Momentum 2010 National Youth Worker’s Conference on the idea of “creative compassion.” I’m excited.

Painting walls can be creative compassion...

Painting walls can be creative compassion...

It’s been fun to see students helping others by serving in soup kitchens, cleaning a neighborhood, painting (legal) murals in downtown areas, using their talents to raise funds for organizations, doing a CONVOY OF HOPE and more…

What are some fun/creative ways you’ve seen students show compassion? List them here or via facebook/twitter (, I’d love to hear your thoughts…I’ll do a follow-up post with the ideas I’ve encountered.

Many thanks! If you’re at the conference, I hope to see you in Dallas in Austin 4-6 at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.