I Believe in Hope.
Have you ever wanted to do something great? How about something that would require significant sacrifice? What about something that would have a powerful impact on others?
In June 2013, my wife and I decided to go on our first international mission trip to South Africa. Of course when you think about a mission trip to South Africa, you sort of expect it to be a pretty eye-opening experience. Try as we might to prepare ourselves, when we arrived in the country, the living conditions in the squatter camps were far worse than we imagined. We made the decision to maximize our 12 days in the country to love, serve, pray for, and share hope with as many people as possible. The people we met and the stories we heard have forever impacted my life. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
In May 2014, I had another life-changing experience. I was given the opportunity to travel with a small group of leaders to Haiti. When we arrived, I saw two things: poverty and hopelessness. I couldn’t believe it. We went to visit orphanages and schools that doubled as food distribution centers for Convoy of Hope’s Feed One initiative. It’s one thing to hear about how horrific and desperate the living conditions are in a place like Haiti; it’s another to experience it firsthand. I made the decision to pray for them, but also to take action to do what I could to sponsor children with the goal of bringing food, hope, and joy one child at a time.
Often, when we think about poverty and overwhelming need, we picture places like South Africa and Haiti. Because of my experience, that’s where my mind usually goes. But recently, I was confronted with the realization that the same poverty and hopelessness I witnessed in those places is right in my backyard. One of America’s poorest cities is here in Cleveland, OH where one in three people live in poverty. This poverty rate exceeds 50% for children. The city of Cleveland also has the second highest divorce rate in the nation. Now, I’m choosing to make another bold decision. I’m stepping out and doing something to bring change to my hometown.
In cooperation with my church, Journey Community Church, I will be joining a group of adventurers to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro this September to help raise money for church planting, missions, and to fund the launch of the Cleveland Hope Center. The Cleveland Hope Center is a non-profit that will provide resources for food, job placement, counseling, and outreach to those in need in Cleveland.
My audacious goal is to raise $20,000 in support to send me to Mt. Kilimanjaro to climb Africa’s tallest mountain (only $3,500 to $4,500 — depending on flight cost — is needed for the trip. The rest of the funds go straight to the causes mentioned above). I’ve had people ask me why I would do something so radical. My answer is simple.
I believe in hope.