I’ve just returned from a week-long trip in Ecuador with One Mission Society’s board. It was a magnificent trip (untiI I needed a day of rest), and I could easily spend the rest of this post writing about it. But my trip to Ecuador conjured up some old memories, so I want to do something different this time.
Short-term missions trips — especially for youth — tend to produce shiny testimonies. But no one really talks about their missions trip if they don’t have a great experience. …
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
When we Americans encounter people who have little but who possess an abundance of joy, we are stunned. How can someone have so little and yet so much at the same time? Their joy flies in the face of the doctrine of American materialism.
Could this mean that the poor are more blessed than the rich? If one is rich, can one be blessed? Dallas Willard has some thoughtful words on this question.
“The rich, too,” Willard writes, “can be blessed. But if they are, their blessedness…
A few years ago, I switched from the corporate sector to the nonprofit world. While my organizational mission has changed greatly, my work is still within IT and information services. Thus my day-to-day has not changed dramatically; it is still consumed in lines of code, flurries of emails, and back-to-back virtual meetings online. I don’t get to see firsthand, unless I leave my country, the tangible good that I am helping to bring about.
What I miss about Mother Teresa the most.
“You are traveling to Cambodia? Why? ”
“Oh,” I usually respond, “I’m traveling to visit Jon (pseudonym), a young boy whom my family is sponsoring and who lives at a children’s home dedicated towards preventing children from entering the sex trade.”
That’s the easy answer that I usually tell people. But truth be told, if prevention was my only goal, then there would be no need to visit Jon in-person; all I would have to do is keep up my monthly donations to support the day-to-day operations of his home.
Rediscovering our uniqueness may require embarking on a wandering unplanned journey
When I was 22, I dropped out of college and ghosted my hometown. I spent the next three years moving around America taking care of horses as a farm hand, living with as little as $200 a month.
When I left, I was trying to find freedom. Our family history showed a legacy of wealth but that wasn’t the case anymore. I saw quickly that pursuing wealth would only lead me into yet another generation of materialistic or debt-ridden lifestyle, and I decided that experiencing life with nothing was…
How we stop feeling sorry for ourselves.
All too often advertisements and appeals from well intended nonprofits are designed to inspire sympathy and guilt in viewers. They are meant to provoke a discomfort and sense of guilty obligation.
Guilt is a legitimate feeling, but to remain in that state of mind can turn into paralysis, one in which we feel overwhelmed by the problem before us. This paralysis reflects, ironically, an ego-centered mindset, as we are turned inward and focused on our inadequacies and guilt.
Rethinking how to love your neighbor
It was 2011. I was attending a church service, during which it was announced that there would be a special session on child sex trafficking with a guest speaker. A young Asian woman took the stage — she was introduced as “Nhu” from Cambodia — and started reading aloud a prepared story. She was a vision of radiant health and beauty, which was why it was so jarring to hear the words that began to flow from her mouth. She described in calm detail how she was sold at the age of 12 to…
Rethinking standard “oppression” narratives
Walking around on the streets of Asia helps me realize what we Americans are enslaved by.
It’s typical to think of non-Western countries as “oppressed.” To learn about their human rights abuses, their dictatorial regimes, and their immense amount of poverty and think, “How could anyone be happy in such a country?”
But when you walk down the crowded streets, visit people’s humble homes, listen to the rapid-fire conversations at the marketplace, you begin to see things that surprise you. Laughter. Dignity. A refusal to be reduced to being the object of a tourist’s camera or…
“Most people at work, even in high-performing organizations, divert considerable energy every day to a second job that no one has hired them to do: preserving their reputations, putting their best selves forward, and hiding their inadequacies from others and themselves.”
“Making Business Personal,” Harvard Business Review, 2014.
We spend a lot of our energy filtering our thoughts and words when interacting with others. This is especially true in the workplace. Workplaces often require collaborating with all types of people in different departments and regions; they require navigating tricky political dynamics and conflicting interests to build consensus. …
PEOPLE tend to react to the sex trafficking industry in two ways:
1. This is just their culture, this is how they accept things. Sex trafficking is not really a big deal.
2. This is morally outrageous; how could this be possible?
Both types of reactions, in my opinion, miss the mark.
When I first learned about the industry a number of years ago, I had the second reaction: I was outraged. Outraged that it was a regular practice in Asia for virgins to be sold for sex out of a belief that it would cure HIV. …