fight poverty with hope

Ask any little boy in America what he wants to be when he grows up and you might hear firefighter, doctor, or astronaut. Little girls will say they want to be teachers, nurses, lawyers. Though their answers differ, these children all have something in common: They can answer the question.

Ask a child in Africa what he or she wants to be when all grown up and you may be met with a blank stare. Shrugging shoulders. "I don't know." They can't comprehend the question and they don't know how to answer. They don't know, because they don't know how to dream.

I've seen the blank stares. I've watched the shoulders shrug. I've heard the "I don't know"s. Once when I asked a young boy what he wants to be when he grows up, he answered with a statement that has never left me: "I want to be alive."

Poverty kills dreams. It murders hope. It squashes every last ounce of ambition. Poverty impacts the old, but targets the young. It steals more than full bellies and healthy bodies; it suffocates the future and squanders potential.

What Africa needs---what anyone affected by poverty needs---is not a hand-out. Africa needs more than charity, more than money, more than employment opportunities. All of those are vitally important, but Africa needs something even greater. Africa needs to learn to dream again.

Next time you choose to make a donation, contribute your skills, or give of your time for someone or some organization, find a way to also instill hope, offer encouragement, shine a light at the end of their tunnel. As you spark dreams in people's hearts, you're doing the best thing you can do to eradicate poverty.

_______________________________________________ This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty.


“Congratulations on your retirement 10 years!” That’s what it said on the card the staff gave us last night, filled with scribbled kindness and a wad of cash. The card sat atop a new DVD player to replace the one in our house that's been broken for months.

We planned this staff getaway to thank our team for ten wonderful years of ministry, and we ended up being blown away by their gesture of appreciation for us! It was unexpected and unsought, and it really meant a lot to us.

Now we have some money to spend in Sicily, and can finish watching our boxed set of Friends in our new DVD player when we get home! Thanks, guys!


I just wrote probably the hardest email I've ever had to write. It was slow-going. I stared at the blank email box for a long time, trying hard to formulate words that could somehow capture my heart. I came up empty handed. I started with that admission and then basically mumbled and fumbled my way through it. More than ever before, I wished I could crawl through the internet and have a face-to-face conversation rather than responding in email form.

But I did it. I found words and I hit send.

Sometimes, being in leadership just sucks.

apples for sale

Late for his flight, the businessman ran through the airport with his briefcase in one hand and his trench coat folded over his other arm. In his haste, he barely noticed the boy leaning against the wall. The blind boy held a tray of apples. In one corner of the tray was a tin cup filled with change. The boy pleasantly called out, "Apples for sale!" The man heard him and glanced in the boy's direction, but never slowed his pace. He had to catch that flight to make it to his deal-breaking business meeting. As he ran passed the boy, his trench coat knocked the corner of the tray and it fell right out of the boy's hands. The apples bounced and rolled through the corridor; the change made a loud ruckus as it spread out all over the floor; the tin cup landed with a loud thud. The tray fell upside down a few yards away.

The businessman registered what happened and glanced back to see the blind boy getting down on his hands and knees to find his belongings. But he could only think of how detrimental it would be to his company if he missed his flight, so he kept running toward the gate.

The boy felt his way over to his tray and turned it upright. He scoured the floor for his cup and coins and apples. The man looked over his shoulder and the scene unfolding before him finally registered with his heart. He stopped dead in his tracks and tuned around. He walked briskly back to the child.

"I am so sorry," he said as he helped round up the apples. "I'm sorry that I thought what I needed to do today was more important than you are. I'm sorry for knocking over your tray in my rush and for not stopping right away to help you." He put all the coins back into the tin cup and loaded everything back onto the tray. He helped the boy stand upright and placed the heavy tray in his hands.

He dug in his wallet and pulled out some cash. "I'm putting $100 in your cup. I really am sorry for thinking you weren't as valuable as I am. Can you ever forgive me?"

The boy, though blind, looked directly into the man's eyes and asked, "Are you the Jesus I always hear about?"