I just returned from a trip to India and Nepal to visit the home base and headquarters of a client mission organization. I designed this trip to spend time with their leadership, gain a better understanding of the scope of their ministry, and mainly to produce a series of videos that will help cast their vision and mission to a wider audience in the upcoming year.
Interviewing in a Local Village. Photo ©Copyright Gary S. Chapman 2011
While I loved the people, hospitality, and many parts of the culture, the heartbreaking and mostly unseen reality is filled with intolerance. Persecution doesn’t begin to describe what many of these people have seen. Some of the experiences just can’t be shared unless you are there. Overwhelmingly, these stories were told with incredible joy, and together these people brought James 1:2-4 to life. Persecution is part of their lives, and they accept it readily because they believe their message is worth it, and that ultimately God receives glory as His Kingdom is extended. I’ve overheard the founder say this before: Don’t pray that the persecution will end; pray that we would have the strength to persevere through it so our message is stronger.
While there I interviewed and heard stories of:
- pastors who had been rescued from slavery as children and gone back to their native tribal areas to enhance the lives of their neighbors.
- a pastor who given the option to leave, chose to preach to a crowd at gunpoint (that gunslinger is now slinging a Bible).
- students who have been disowned, kicked out, and threatened by their families for their faith in Jesus.
- staff and pastors who have been beaten, jailed, and worse because of their faith in Jesus.
- beautiful children who are being sponsored or raised in their children’s home because they have been found in a plastic bag, left at the door, forced to watch their parents brutally murdered in an act of persecution, or because their hospital staff was able to convince a teenage mother not to have a late term abortion (and furthermore, that she could still have value in life as an unwed mother, even though the culture tells her she should be excommunicated).
This organization cares deeply for people by feeding and educating those who would go without, providing medical assistance for anyone (including those who have persecuted them), and in countless other ways. They earn the right to let people know why they have been cared for, and the ministry has grown and been blessed in amazing ways. I went mostly to capture a few specific stories. I found many, many more. Experiencing the joy, vigor, and struggle of these people left me feeling incredibly inadequate at times, and as a result, praying for boldness.
Why is this kind of a trip important for a fundraiser? It communicates to me as a leader in this organization that I am doing a work that matters greatly — the stories above are raw and real, and there is an audience that wants and needs to know about them. In this particular ministry, it alerts me of several cultural challenges I will encounter in our partnership, and allows me to address them at the beginning of the relationship. As a bonus, just to keep me humble, it lets me know there is nothing I can do alone that will impact great change, but only through true partnership, strategic guidance, and intentional follow through. It provides the opportunity for me to identify areas they may not have been thinking about (4th perspective), and lets me begin to lay the foundation for the next stages of communication and funding priorities. In a more external sense, it allows me to have conversations with donors that I could not have before seeing the work with my own eyes. The communications I am producing now open the door for dedicated and specifically targeted areas of giving. It begins the process for personalization of gifts of many donors which helps increase repetitive giving to the same organization (and more specifically, the same area within the organization where the donor feels a particular calling).
I went seeking stories. Seven in particular. I found thousands worthy of anyone’s time, and an understanding I can now take back to individual and church donors that will help accelerate generosity for this organization.
Welcomed at the children's home. Photo ©Copyright Gary S. Chapman 2011
Note: while I am “producing” the series of videos, this is not my area of expertise, and I hired Whistle Peak Productions. I also hired Gary S. Chapman, an incredible photographer. The organization was well served by them, and I recommend them especially if you are looking for international work. I now consider them my “team” for this client and am looking forward to sharing some of their work on this blog in the future.