Starting this nonprofit called Arukah Global is a response to the grace of God in my life. His persistent stepping toward me has compelled me to step out toward others.
My first mission was trip was to the Philippines in 2004. I remember hearing from so many people returning from such trips that their "lives had been changed". Yet, at the same time the "life change" often seemed short-lived. It was more of a spiritual shot in the arm by way of serving in a so called third-world country.
Eventually, the everyday hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley - the most expensive, innovative and perhaps most influential region in the world - creeps up and snuffs-out…or at best, tames the passion and "life change" the "goer" had acquired while serving overseas.
I remember vividly my prayer before I left on that trip in 2004: "God, please allow this trip to truly be a life-changer for me. Please spark something new in my heart. Don't let the fire fade a month or two after I return home."
Well, the prayer was answered. My trip to the Philippines was a gift from a gracious, benevolent God who loved me enough to answer my prayer and light a new fire in my soul. Jesus transformed my heart. He gave me new desires. Desires to serve His people. Desires to love and reach those who are hurting and far from him. In his loving grace, God opened my eyes, broke my heart and created in me a deeper compassion for others. Planted in the depth of my being was a desire to see others know the same love and grace I've received from the Author of life. Grace sparked new hope in my soul. It has brought restoration…and thus, empowerment to be a catalyst in stirring the hearts of others toward compassion.
I've had the privilege of serving in the Philippines and Cuba…and for the past four consecutive years in Ethiopia. Over the years I stated that my "going" has been a gift of grace from God. Seriously! How many people get to experience such things?! It is a gift not simply to travel, but to serve and watch life-change unfold before my very eyes. In His grace, God has awakened my soul to something greater than self-preservation.
So, in response to God's grace, Arukah Global was launched in May, 2015. Our desire is for those we serve in Ethiopia to experience hope, restoration and empowerment that springs from the same well of grace that has drenched our lives.
It is rather daunting task. We are a brand new organization, with no big church account from which to draw funds if we are short of cash. Yet still...we are on the runway. Doors are opening. People are supporting. Leadership is in place. I love our 2015 mission team. We've been gifted with an incredible Board of Directors. Partnerships are coming into fruition…all rather miraculously.
Even as doors open up in front of me, I doubt. Past failures haunt me. My own insecurities nag at me. What will so-and-so think? Will I be able to support my team well? Should I have done something different?
Being born and raised in Silicon Valley, I know quite a few men and women involved in Bay Area business and church start-ups. They all have similar stories of coping with fears, doubts and opinions that, if they succumbed to, would have shut them down from running successful businesses and planting the thriving churches they now oversee. I am grateful for their examples.
I need to fight off the thoughts of failure on a daily basis. I push back the doubts that creep in when I get overly concerned about the opinion of others who are not part of the solutions we are working toward. I often get stalled by doubt or fear because my heart has been broken while serving God's people before. I've become disillusioned. Sometimes overcautious. At times, cynical. Life and ministry have left some scars on this guy.
It is all part of the journey. All part of the the bigger picture.
I've now come to see the challenges and difficulties over the past few years as opportunities to grow in perseverance, character, trust in God and compassion for others. Greater purposed has been revealed through adversity and closed doors. I've learned to trust God to create something beautiful out of some unbelievably painful situations.
Those closest to me have challenged and encouraged me to persevere. In the midst of my doubts, they've helped clear the fog so I could see all of the incredible pieces falling into place. It really is nothing short of miraculous. Those who have been on this journey with me can attest to this. These are dear friends and mentors…they have walked with me through the fire and fanned the flames of the vision that has become Arukah Global.
These people remind me that one can tell a tree by its fruit, and if God is in it, all the pieces will come together.
Well, we have been witnessing a bumper crop of fruit...and pieces are indeed coming together in unbelievable ways. I've been reminded that Kingdom-minded, God-given vision, like gravity, draws people and resources toward itself. Its influence is undeniable.
I am eternally grateful for these voices of clarity in my life.
My personal hope and prayer is that Arukah Global will be used by God to touch hearts here in the states, transform our team members, and impact lives and communities in Nazret, Ethiopia far beyond our wildest dreams. We dream of seeing schools built and children educated. Women rescued from prostitution and their dignity restored. Men mentored and leading. Small businesses supported and thriving. Lives and communities flourishing and influencing for good.
It seems like such a lofty dream as I sit at my desk and type this first blog post…but, it is coming together…and we rejoice!
In his book, ONE WAY LOVE, Tullian Tchividjian writes:
"The wonderful truth is that Jesus doesn't need perfect vessels to accomplish his will. He needs broken ones - men and women who have been slain, humiliated, disillusioned of all their 'I can do it, really I can!' 'This time I'll try harder!' 'Just give me a little more time…' self-deception."
"What qualifies us for service is God's devotion to us - not our devotion to Him. This is as plainly as I can say it: the value of our lives rests on God's infinite, incomprehensible, unconditional love for us - not our love for Him."
May we serve from broken and humble hearts, plan with open hands, and love one another extravagantly.
The gift of serving is a gift of grace.