Shop Local Here, Shop Local There

On Thursday, people of the USA gave thanks to God. On Friday and Saturday, America shopped. These days and their emphasis can be in tension with each other.

Not always…

My wife owns a small business, Healing Hands Massage Therapy and Skin Care, making this an important weekend for our family. This year, along with Black Friday, we joined the movement to “shop local” on “Small Business Saturday.” I enjoyed the opportunity to help.

Encouragement to shop local stems from the idea that if money can be spent on locally-owned businesses, a greater percentage of those funds will help people throughout the community.

These days full of bargains remind me of the many times I’ve been in one of the world’s poorest places, then come home to the USA as holiday shopping is in full gear. It can be culture shock. How can capitalism and the philosophy behind the billions spent in my country connect with the front lines on the war on extreme poverty?


1. If “shopping local” helps my community, couldn’t it help theirs?

At Convoy of Hope, we continue to explore ways to leverage this idea throughout our work in the world. For instance, we’ve launched a Women’s Empowerment Initiative in Ethiopia. This initiative helps women unleash their entrepreneurial passions to start small businesses. Instead of giving them things to help their families, we engage with the community from within to discover ways they can help their families in the future with their own resources. These women now have something to sell locally, and income to help them purchase locally. It can be a win-win for all involved. Learn more here.

2. Strategic purchasing from target communities.

It’s not always possible or practical for Convoy of Hope to purchase life-saving food or other helps in the communities where we serve. However, we endeavor to engage local economies in the most strategic ways possible.

In Haiti, our summer Convoy of Hope Interns worked with local farmers as part of a much larger agricultural initiative. We helped these farmers, under the guidance of our lead agronomist, to grow their crops in a more sustainable way. The farmers reported much higher yields, and some said their income grew over 50%!

Additionally, we are beginning to purchase food from some of them for our feeding program in Haiti, helping not only the children being fed, the farmers who grow some of the food…and the shop owners where they purchase things with that money, and…the list goes on. You can see more here.

3. Social entrepreneurialism.

Enter April’s spa. I’ll note that even without this element of her business, what she does is very important. She helps people live healthy lives, cares for her clients which have become friends, and employs some wonderful team members. Along with these things, she’s concerned for the local and global community.

She’s part of a growing movement to help the world with engagement far beyond a simple tax write-off. The products she sells are impacting the world, and she’s committed to ensuring Healing Hands resources are used to help people. We believe in the hope-sharing mission of Eurasia Cafe, the multi-layered local and global community assistance from Askinosie Chocolate , and in giving victims of human trafficking a place to sell their crafts.

She’s not alone in the desire to help through her business (Tom’s Shoes comes to mind), but she’s my best friend and I love the ways she helps people through her work.

1. Engage the community from within

2. Strategic purchasing

3. Social entrepreneurialism

What are some examples that you’ve seen where people have used capitalism to help others?



We all can carry on some of Grandma’s legacy…

Our family just returned from a week in Seattle where we celebrated my grandmother, Ruby Wilkie’s life. Many kind things were said about her. The local (Duvall, WA) newspaper will soon run a story on the woman many called “The Mother Teresa of Duvall”.


I.D. Cards from 1940

She and Grandpa Wilkie served as missionaries in Latin America beginning in the early 40’s. I was moved while going through her things when I found these I.D. cards from some of their earliest travels.

These cards note they were traveling from Santa Ana, El Salvador, the city where their missions work began. They later served in Bolivia and Uruguay.

In 2008, I was riding through the mountains of El Salvador towards that same city, Santa Ana. I was with a Latin American Child Care (LACC) school director, and we were working with the Convoy of Hope Interns. After telling the director about Grandma, I thought I’d call her. In our conversation I learned more about their work in the country, and found out she had been sponsoring a “little” girl through LACC.

I learned her name and my friend made a few phone calls. Within a few moments, we had Silvia, who was then 16-years-old, on the phone.

April and I soon met Silvia and her family. It was fun seeing the photos of my grandmother that were in her bedroom.

Silvia holding pictures of my grandmother and cousins.

Silvia holding pictures of my grandmother and cousins.

You can read about my first visit to Silvia here. We were devastated a few months later when he father was murdered. I believe Grandma’s prayers during that season were a big part of helping her family.

About a week before Grandma passed away, Silvia emailed me to let me know she would soon graduate from high school and start nursing school. She knows that she’ll be a key bread-winner for her mother and brother…and she wondered if the scholarship Grandma had been giving could go towards he collegiate work.

Normally, the scholarships end with graduation, but we’ve been given permission through LACC for donations to be made in memory of Grandma…and the funds can go towards helping Silvia through her 5-year nursing program.

To make a donation, you may mail a check with “In Memory of Ruby Wilkie” in the memo line to:


1445 N. Boonville Ave.

Springfield, MO 65802

The strongest emotion I feel as we celebrate her life isn’t sadness or despair or anything else negative, but instead it’s gratefulness. I’m thankful to have had her and her prayers in my life for these 39 years…and I know Silvia’s life is changed too. I’m hoping to work with you and others to help carry on her legacy…

Four generations...

Four generations...

Just e-tell me. Let’s e-talk. Introducing new words to the world


Have you ever said, “Just text me, or Facebook me, or DM me or something…”  Or, “I got this email from a friend the other day–well, it was a Facebook–actually a Facebook chat–anyways, he said…”?

We all have. Bummer, isn’t it? It would be much easier to have one method to communicate the various forms of electronic communication. I know you’ve been thinking the same thing.

It’s time for a new way to communicate. Our Convoy of Hope interns, while on a wild road trip through the foothills of Nepal’s Himalayas, invented the solution to this world-wide dilemma.

These aren’t completely random words for which we’ve created a meaning (i.e. Conan inventing “crunk” so many years ago), but instead they’re words that can enter the world’s vocabulary quickly with little tutelage necessary.  I realize we’re not the first to emply “e” usage. However, I know of no one currently using the popular “e” in this fabulous way. Are you ready for the words?  Here they are with their meanings:



Main entry: e-tell

Pronunciation: \’e-tel\

Function: verb

Meaning: To communicate a message via an electronic medium. I will e-tell you when the meeting is over.

Alternatives: May be used in similar fashion with similar tenses as the word “tell.” She e-told me that she broke up with him.

Word dob: March 29, 1010


And the second word:

Main entry: e-talk

Pronunciation: \e-talk\

Function: verb

Meaning: To communicate via electronic means things often spoken. Let’s e-talk about a time to have coffee.

Alternatives: May be used in a similar fashion with similar tenses as the related word, “talk.” While e-talking with a friend, I learned that Johnny Cash’s new CD is beautiful.

Word dob: March 29, 2010


I encourage you to e-tell as many people as possible through your networks and relationships. I also encourage you to e-talk about this approaching phenomenon in communication.

Also, please use the words verbally in casual conversation. If people don’t know what you mean when you say “e-talk” or “e-tell,” please show respect as you inform them. I don’t want anyone to feel hurt in their hearts that they’re left out of the circle of knowledge, but do want them to feel excited when they realize they’re a part of this new day in verbal communication regarding social media.

Nepal: A few random things

I’ve been telling stories from our Convoy of Hope interns and our trip to Nepal. Here are a few random things we saw while there…

Here you’ll see:
–The best burger in Nepal. It’s actually one of the best burgers I’ve had anywhere…and it was a nice surprise.
–A nepali “rest stop”. The team didn’t use those straw restrooms often…
–I think it’s the first sermon I’ve preached in just my socks. Great church…
–Fish on a stick
–A cow hoof in the trees. I think there’s a meaning behind that, but not sure what it is. Do you know?
–Beautiful kids
–I guess Leo and Hillary are paid spokespersons for this salon. I’m sure they know their image is being used to promote the place…
–Monkey! Our host has only seen 2 of this type in his almost decade in the country. It’s a langur, and they’re much harder to spot than the monkeys we’d see crossing the road and in many other places. Not a great quality picture, but at least I got one…
–I flew across the country. In a plane with no door on the cockpit. With a pilot who was reading the paper during most of the flight. Aargh.
–Shannon and Sam in a rickshaw.
–A nepali school bus. I loved these.

Happy birthday Johnny Cash: a tribute to the Man in Black

Happy 78th birthday, Johnny Cash. Is there cake in Heaven?

The other day someone asked when I became a Johnny Cash fan. I guess it was in ’94, around the time his first American Recordings  project was released. It was given a 5-star rating in Rolling Stone, and my friend Jorin played it for me. Wow.

A few months later, I took Dad (who’d been a fan since forever) to see the Man in Black. It was a very cool show. Here’s one of my favorite photos, and some reasons why I’m a die hard Johnny Cash fan…


Sinners make the best saints  

In the God’s Gonna Cut You Down Video, Bono paints a phrase on the wall, “Sinners make the best saints.” That’s Johnny Cash. He loved being the rebel, but singing the hymn.  He loved pointing the underdog to the light, but abused alcohol and pain medication while getting in trouble with the law. He’d sing at Billy Graham crusades and (in other places) flip off “the man” for the cameras. He loved Jesus through it all. sinnerssaints

In Charles Conn’s book, The New Johnny Cash, the author says, “…even in the worst days of his wanderings, he was more of a miserable prodigal than a crusader for the evil life.”

The Wanderer finds Jesus

I love Johnny’s journey of faith. Dave Urbanski wrote The Man Comes Around: the Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash. There, he recounts a story from Cash’s words (from his autobiography, Cash) and other interviews…the story of Nickajack Cave.  In ’67 an enormously famous but broken Johnny crawled to the back of a Tennessee cave, figuring he’d get lost and die where no one could find him. While deep in the dark, he said, “I became conscious of a very clear, simple idea; I was not in charge of my destiny. I was not in charge of my own death. I was going to die at God’s time, not mine.” More on that later…

A few years ago, I interviewed his sister Joan, for On Course Magazine.  Joanne Cash invited her famous junebrother Johnny to church where her “messed up” life had just changed for the better.   Looking out from the choir loft a few weeks later, she joined the stares of the congregation, “It was John and June.”  That Sunday morning in 1971, Joanne Cash watched her brother and sister-in-law walk to the altar where they were then joined by the family.  Johnny said, “I think it’s about time I led my family back to Jesus.” 

He life was now not his own, he even said, “I don’t have a career anymore. What I have now is a ministry. everything I have and everything I do is given completely to Jesus. ” (Conn’s book)


Just before emerging from Nickaback Cave to find his wife and mother (who’d flown in knowing something was wrong), Johnny realized, “I was going to die at God’s time, not mine.” Johnny made music until God took him. I know of no other musician and very few artists who’ve stared down death in the midst of doing some of their life’s best work.

Within earshot of a respectful Rick Rubin, Johnny sat in a cabin at his Hendersonville, TN, property and recorded music. For years he and his guitar (in the end, others had to play for him as autonomic neuropathy kept his hands from being steady), made absolutely beautiful music. He recorded songs while leafing through his mother’s hymn book, he also recorded songs released this week on his project, Ain’t No Grave

He was tough, thoughtful, determined, and lived in reality until the end. I’ll share my thoughts on the project at another time, but the short version is…I love it.


I could write a book, but alas…

I could write about the various Cash eras, the great story of his career launch in Memphis, extended thoughts on his faith, and many other topics. I wrote here once about his boyhood home of Dyess, AR. I could write much more, but this is getting long…

So I’m a Johnny Cash fan. I’m not into country music at all, but Johnny was so much bigger than country…or gospel…or rock and roll.  I’m a fan of his music, his faith, his journey, and the fact that he’s one of the coolest guys to ever live.

About his friend, Bob Dylan says, “Johnny didn’t have a piercing yell, but ten thousand years of culture fell from him. He could have been a cave dweller. He sounds like he’s at the edge of the fire, or in the deep snow, or in a ghostly forest, the coolness of conscious obvious strength, full tilt and vibrant with danger.”

Happy birthday Johnny Cash. Thanks for making great music and living a life worthy of respect from people from all walks. Tell Jesus hello today and know your music lives on…

Mudpies for lunch Tuesday, and then…

A few months ago, I got my own Haitian mudpie. It sits on my desk. This gift from our Haiti director, Kevin Rose, has reminded me to pray for the poorest people in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.


On Tuesday, like every other “normal” day in Haiti, people in the poorest areas of the country were eating these for lunch. Some ate them for breakfast that morning and dinner the night before as well. They’re made of dried yellow dirt, vegetable oil and salt.

I’m going to type that again…they’re made of dried yellow dirt, vegetable oil and salt. They’re real mudpies. People eat them.

Then an earthquake hit.

I’m still processing things…but I for now, I wanted to mention the mudpies.