Hello friends! I have an exciting ministry update to share with you all! But first, a little context:
As some of you may know, in 2005 I went on a two-week missions trip that changed my life. That summer, my youth group partnered with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) to immerse ourselves in urban outreach. It was here that my heart was deeply stirred for the cause of the vulnerable and the marginalized, and I knew then I would spend the rest of my life seeking justice and compassion for the oppressed through my love of storytelling.
The next 4 years I spent a lot of Friday nights under the Burnside bridge, washing feet and handing out socks and sandwiches. I loved getting to meet people there and I began learning the power of relationships in changing hearts. However, I still was operating from a top-down mentality. What can I give you? How can I help you? Instead of, How can we work together?
Fast-forward to 2015, when my husband Ben and I decided to head to Amsterdam for three months so I could attend the SHINE anti-trafficking seminar hosted by YWAM. I stayed for an internship afterwards and learned SO much about what it means to really build relationships with women who have been abused and marginalized. I realized how many of my assumptions were very paternalistic or superior without me even realizing it. And during the seminar, I heard story after story of the damage that can be done when we use someone’s story for our own gain, without the thought of whether or not this person wants that story told.
After we returned from Amsterdam, I began working as the Director of Communications for an anti-trafficking organization here in Portland. Because of all I had been learning, I began to re-think the entire way I had viewed my role as a communicator. Suddenly it was not just about what would rend people’s heartstrings and convince them to get involved, but it was about what was best for the survivors, the poor, the people whose stories I am telling. How can I honor them in these stories? How do I show their true strengths as well as their sadness? How can I make sure I don’t share stories or photos that are not mine to tell? What does it mean to empower them to succeed, not simply give them a handout or use their story for our organization’s gain?
This led me to read books like one that you might have heard of, called When Helping Hurts. I realized how often we refer to poverty as only a physical problem with a simple solution: money and stuff. My eyes were opened to the reality it’s easy for nonprofits enter into communities where we do not know the people or culture and create more harm than good by assuming we know what these communities need. We might bring lots of money and stuff and create dependency on foreign aid and foreign goods, instead of empowering the local people to do it themselves.
I still have so much to learn, but I’m convinced that ALL people have so much to offer if only we give them the chance and look to learn from them. I’m also convinced that this is what God asks of us: to care for the poor and marginalized, and love them as we love ourselves. And you know what I’ve found is the best way to do that? Become friends! We can’t love someone we don’t know. We’re blind to many of the problems a poor person faces if we don’t walk beside them and see those obstacles first-hand. And unless they become our friends, there is always the danger that they instead become a project of pity. I’m convinced that relationships are the most effective way to follow the commands of Jesus.
Which brings me to Loom…
In the midst of this journey I learned about Loom International from a friend I met in Amsterdam. Loom caught my interest right away because of their focus on building relationships with local believers and empowering them to serve their own community. Put simply, Loom believes the most sustainable kingdom impact comes through investing in local believers working with the most vulnerable in their communities.
Loom’s strategy is to engage key local Christians—Local Experts, already making an impact in their community and then we come alongside them to empower them to greater sustainability. They listen to them and learn what they need to be sustainable in the long-run, growing their capacity, connecting them with training and relationships for success.
Did you know that an estimated 60% of ministries for children at risk fail within the first two years? Loom has identified the biggest roadblocks to success are:
- a lack of training
- a lack of financial sustainability
- access to reliable energy and water
- infrastructure—buildings and clinics.
In response, the team has designed over 20 tools to equip these workers for more sustainable ministry. These tools range from training on how to work with children at risk, to coaching staff on the financial and logistical aspects of projects, to helping integrate personal well-being and life-skills into a ministry’s daily work.
You can read the stories of several Local Experts to learn more:
After volunteering at Loom over the summer, they have offered me a full-time position on the Marketing/Communications team, with an initial 2 year commitment. My role will be assisting the team in effective communications and storytelling from the field, as well as measuring impact in their areas of ministry. Because Loom’s mission is all about building connections between the Local Expert and the local office, this role is key to their continued growth and success as an organization.
It’s amazing looking back on my life so far and seeing how every connection and circumstance has brought me to where I am today. I truly believe that God has led me to this opportunity and prepared me for it with everything I have learned and experienced so far. I’m so excited for the chance to learn from many different cultures and continue to give a voice to those who are often silenced.
Part of my privilege within this role will be building a team of Ministry Partners who are able to join with me in this new venture. I’ll be posting periodic ministry updates here along with my regular musings, so feel free to follow along!
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters…Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3 :16-18
“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17