A year or two ago on one of our family vacations to Las Vegas, we were out to dinner with an old youth group student who was playing football at UNLV. He’s a great kid…grounded, godly, gigantic. Can I call someone a kid when they are 6’3″ and weigh 300 pounds? This “kid” is a top notch guy, his only flaw being that he dumped our darling (now 22 year old) “daughter,” making the biggest mistake of his life, and breaking the heart of the most beautiful, Christ-centered, moral charactered young woman around. It’s never too late, Matt… But I digress. Back to the topic at hand…
Just the other day, our “kid” got signed to play football for the Atlanta Falcons! Way to go, Matt. Every year we have had the pleasure of seeing you grow in maturity, and we’re proud of the man you’ve become. I know we’ll continue to be proud of the Christ-like life you lead in the NFL. I promised you a while back that I would send you a list to help you with ideas as you begin tithing. Now, as for that dough…
Here is a list of my favorite causes. I tend to lean towards organizations whose leaders I know personally, or groups who have been around forever and are highly praised. If anyone is looking for a good cause to support, these are a great place to start.
Northrise University Initiative: This is a Christ-centered university in Zambia, whose aim is to change Zambia from the inside out. The founders, Moffat and Doreen, are a wonderful, godly Zambian couple whom I’ve known for years, even before they started Northrise University. It’s so wonderful to see the fruit of their ministry over the years. Their website has this to say about their mission:
We seek to transform the lives of our students through a Christ-centered education so they can change the lives of others and collectively we can change a nation. If Zambia and other parts of Africa are ever to be released from the gripping effects of poverty, we must create change from the inside out. Modeled by our founders, we seek to raise up leaders who are equipped with a solid education who will choose to stay within Zambia and be part of the change. Our hope is that Northrise might inspire you to realize the Lord’s miracles around the world and that through Him, anything is possible. Northrise is more than a university, we are a family, a help to those in need, and above all we are a community dedicated to changing a nation.
Every Generation Ministries: EGM works to equip Sunday School teachers around the world to make Christ accessible to kids. When I was in elementary school, I was lucky to have Daniel, the founder of EGM, as the children’s pastor at my church. I was even luckier to get to live with him and his wife Marla in Krakow, Poland for several months when I was twenty. What passion for children, what a great outreach model, what integrity this organization has. Their mission statement is simple. “Transforming children in Christ through His church.” Here’s a little bit more detail about them from their site:
Every Generation Ministries is deeply rooted in God’s vision for seeing boys and girls in all nations become disciples of Jesus Christ. From our earliest days, God spoke to us clearly about his desire to see every church in the world equipped to make disciples of boys and girls in their communities, to reach out to non-Christian children with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to equip those children who respond to live the Christian life and give them opportunity to serve in his Kingdom. We have pursued that vision relentlessly since our founding.
Olive Crest: This is our foster family agency. I have heard about Olive Crest for years, and I’m glad to report that they are just as great from the inside viewpoint as from outside. We don’t always agree with what they do, but they are always available for us and they are always looking out for Midge’s best interests first, and ours second, which is exactly how it should be. And I’m so impressed with their new Safe Families For Children program, which I’ve mentioned here before. The monthly newsletter we get from them highlights all the good they do for foster kids in our county and a few others nearby, and I’m constantly impressed with them and what they are doing. They are meeting needs that must be met. Every 10 seconds a child abuse report is filed in the United States. Every day in America, five children die as a result of child abuse. Over 3.5 million cases of child abuse are reported in the United States each year.
Olive Crest is dedicated to Preventing child abuse, to Treating and Educating at-risk children and to Preserving the family… “One Life at a Time.”
Wycliffe Bible Translators: When I grew up, I wanted to be a missionary. Specifically, a missionary with Wycliffe, learning new languages and translating the Bible into those languages to reach all people groups of the world. In college, I enrolled in a linguistics class to get myself on that track, but I dropped it after one class because it was SO DULL. But that’s another story. Wycliffe is one of those organizations that is widely recognized as the group that is bringing the word to the world, and they’ve already translated scripture into over 700 languages. Their goal is to reach all of the world’s language groups by 2025. I volunteered there one summer and ended up filing papers in the estate giving department in a basement. Not quite as glamorous as living in a jungle. Of course, when I met Greg and I realized he’s not really the international missions sort of guy, I prayed hard about whether God wanted me to become a missionary or whether he wanted me to marry Greg. Surprisingly, God chose Greg for me over missions. So now I try to do my part by giving to serve the people whom I once thought I’d be meeting face to face. I like the way they put it on their website:
Each person who participates in the Bible translation movement has been created by God, gifted by God and called by God. While we are a diverse community, we are driven by a single passion: The glory of God through the translation of the Word for every person on earth in the language they understand best.
Free Wheelchair Mission: I love this mission. Patio chairs turned into life-changing wheelchairs for under $75. It’s such a simple and unique solution to a problem that disabled people struggle with all over the world. When I lived in Germany, I realized how different America is in its treatment of the disabled. I was on a bus when a disabled person boarded, and a middle aged couple sitting in the front with the disabled access seats refused to get up and give this person their seats. Can you imagine? That is in a first world country. What about the people living on the ground all over the world? Our neighbors have actually participated in delivering these chairs in Baja California, Mexico, and they have nothing but great things to say about Free Wheelchair Mission. This mission is locally based and has some great promotional videos on Youtube, if you want to get all teary eyed.
Our mission is “to provide the transforming gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor in developing countries, as motivated by Jesus Christ.” (I also like their values which are listed on their website as follows.) We conduct our mission with integrity and humility. We honor God in all we do. We value individuals and relationships. We encourage creativity and innovation. We manage with accountability, transparency and for cost-effectiveness.
Heartline Ministries: This ministry is relatively new to me, as I was introduced to it by reading the Hendricks family blog about a year ago. We don’t give financially to them, but I am impressed with the heart of these missionaries and the work they are doing with the people of Haiti, so I thought I’d add it here. Their administrative work is all done by volunteers, so the donations are headed straight to the people they serve and their missionaries in Haiti. The stories of change and hope that they are bringing to the poorest of the poor is inspiring.
Heartline is located in the heart of Port au Prince, Haiti. We work to provide the women and children in our community with a safe place to learn about Jesus and to adopt life-skills.
There are so many great organizations around the world, serving the spiritual and physical needs of those around us. These are just a few of my favorites. If you have an inside scoop on an organization you love and trust, please leave it in the comments for everyone to check out.
Congratulations, Matt! Go Falcons!