Archive for the ‘Human Care’ Category


This post is by Brian Boitmann. Brian is a creative communicator, social entrepreneur and founder of the missional enterprise Acts of Sharing, a platform designed to enable a return to the radical generosity practiced by the first church in Acts 4:32.  You can find Brian on twitter here. 

Have you ever felt both completely qualified and unqualified to write something at the same time?  That’s about where I am.

We’re into year 4 with Acts of Sharing, a social enterprise (kingdom venture) committed to enhancing sharing and giving in churches and other communities according to the culture of the church described in Acts 2 and 4.  As we’ve walked through creating tools to help others to practice the culture of the first church, we’ve also had to walk through what it looks like for our team to practice “Acts of Sharing” as an organization.  In going back to our mission verse, Acts 4:32, I’ve been able to identify three important markers for defining how well we care for each other.

“All those who believed were one in heart and mind; no one considered anything to be his own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32

1. “One in heart and mind”-

Remaining on the same page. Many startups/nonprofits/churches have people working in different capacities (part-time, full-time, volunteers). Ours is no different, and it can be easy to look to our broader goals and mission to accomplish, without taking stock of the health of our team.  So often we start running without learning how to run together, and it looks like a really bad ten-legged race.  Acknowledging what each person on our team brings and how they fit together as a part of the whole seems pretty basic, but once we start running it feels natural to look forward looking toward the finish-line and not to our left and right at our running-mates. I need to be reminded where I fit, and so do that people around me.  That “fitted-ness” helps us to move together in one motion toward the calling we’ve received.

2. “No one considered anything to be his own”

Receiving everything and everyone as gift.  So often I forget to acknowledge the gifts and talents each person is giving and continues to give as a part of Acts of Sharing.  We have amazing people who go far and beyond what would be good in order to make great things happen.  Many times I find myself looking ahead to the next task without rejoicing for what’s been done right in front of me. When I take joy in each person on our team and value what God is doing in and through them, I’ve noticed how much healthier and connected I feel as a whole.  And I notice how much I need that same affirmation as a leader.  Receiving each person as a gift from God has helped me to delight in the way He is fitting our talents together for His purposes, and be present to enjoy each moment of the ride.

 3. “They shared everything they had”

Rejoice and mourn together as a community.  When our team is hitting on all cylinders and growing together, authentic friendships are fostered as a result.  At the beginning of our missional enterprise, I struggled to separate relationship and work, probably because of words like “holistic” and a desire not to compartmentalize faith and work. That may have worked well for me in theory, but it created confusion as to expectations and accountability for each member of our team.  As we’ve tightened up our time and worked more efficiently together, relationship has flowed naturally out of our honoring of one another’s time and gifts.  It also becomes easier to share and bear each other’s burdens from the passing of family members to difficult shifts in the direction and strategy of our organization.

It’s freeing when everyone is on the same page.

This post is by Jason Kovacs. He is the Pastor of Counseling at the Austin Stone Community Church and CoFounder of Together for Adoption. He is a contributing author of Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father, writing on ‘Missional Living and Adoption.’ Jason and his wife Shawnda live in East Austin with their 5 children. You can find Jason on twitter here.

Those who are on the front-lines of fighting injustice, serving the poor, and caring for the souls of God’s people are often those who are most desperate for care.study released just last week shows pastors are at a far greater risk – double the national average – for depression and anxiety. Often they are the last to realize it or admit it.

In my own experience as a pastor and advocate for the fatherless, and in my work as a counselor I have seen how common it is to find patterns of brokenness in those who care for others. Our greatest strengths are often the place of our greatest weakness.

Some of the common struggles are:

  • Compassion burnout. It is easy in the work of human care to overextend ourselves. There is often a temptation to see every need as a call to help. The immensity of needs slowly erodes our capacity for empathy over time. I often need to be reminded that not even Jesus met every need in front of Him.
  • Realized or Unrealized Trauma. In our care for others their trauma can become our trauma. There is a big difference between bearing the burden of another and carrying the burden of another.
  • Depression & anxiety. The daily burden and stress experienced over time, along with the clash of expectations and reality make low-grade to extreme-grade depression & anxiety common to those in helping roles.
  • Self-Neglect. It takes so much energy to care for others that we often leave little left for ourselves. Self-care is critical along with regularly receiving the care of a community and good friends.
  • A martyr mentality. This is the mentality that says, “I may be suffering in my soul and spirit but that is the cost of serving people.” This sounds holy and good but the reality is that we can’t sustain a healthy level of care for very long on an empty tank. We must do what we can to care for our own souls.

The healthier you are the more capacity you have to help others. We must beware of committing suicide of the soul for the sake of others.

I have only shared a small sample of the struggles common to those caring for others. I name them to invite the helping community to be honest and seek help.

This is one of the reasons I am very excited about the Idea Camp Human Care conference coming up in Austin, TX. I will be there with many friends and looking forward to the conversation and space for those on the front lines to find encouragement and refreshment. We would love to have you join us!

This post is by Shannon Litton (@slitton).She is the president of The A Group (www.AGroup.com), a marketing and technology firm serving ministries and nonprofits. She lives in Franklin, TN with her husband and 5 children, 2 of whom are adopted from Ethiopia. 

I’ll never forget the day. A couple weeks had passed since we’d stepped off the plane to a crowd of family and friends ready to welcome home our two toddler boys from Ethiopia. We all celebrated. We were a family of six, together at last, just as we and a huge support group had prayed. The adoption process is hard – paperwork, uncertainty, fundraising. We had made it!

But as I sat on my couch that day, I had an overwhelming sense of fear. Had we made a mistake? Had we taken on more than we could handle? Worse yet – had we missed God’s call? For over a year we had shared our testimony that God had “called” us to adopt. Now as we struggled to parent two toddlers who didn’t speak our language, didn’t seem to like us, and screamed every time they caught sight of our miniature dachshund, I wasn’t so sure.

To make it worse, we felt like the adoption trailblazers in our church family. We were the first to adopt internationally. There were others who were now also in process so I felt a responsibility to show the good side of adoption. We put on our trendiest adoption support t-shirts and painted on our smiles and assured everybody that all those adoption horror stories were rare and overstated. Our transition was smooth sailing. Nobody could know the stress that the adoption caused my biological daughters, our marriage, and not to mention our poor dachshund.

Two years later I’m the first to admit that the long adoption road is just beginning when a family steps off the plane. But that day, I struggled to make sense of our situation. In my stupor of sleeplessness – a mix of new parent daze and lingering jetlag – I believed we must have been wrong. Surely God didn’t call us to this. I opened my computer to again google “adoption help” and noticed the prayer list emailed from our church. Our church family was incredibly supportive through our adoption. Yet just two weeks after we had returned home, our names were no longer on the prayer list. Those still in process were.

Adoption is rewarding and miraculous, but also messy and disruptive and no two stories are alike. Each family experiences it’s own degree of transition and chaos and need. How can we better support the adoptive family? Are we doing enough to help provide funds and emotional support during the confusing process? And what role should we have in helping families find long-term support and the resources they need to parent adopted children?

Let’s tackle these issues together in Austin.

 

 

Shannon Litton (@slitton) is the president of The A Group (www.AGroup.com), a marketing and technology firm serving ministries and nonprofits. She lives in Franklin, TN with her husband and 5 children, 2 of whom are adopted from Ethiopia.

Charles Lee

Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation

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Charles is the CEO & Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, an idea agency that specializes in helping businesses & organizations create & implement remarkable ideas via creative business design, organizational innovation, branding, design, marketing, social media, and divergent problem-solving. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. In addition, Charles is the creator of grassroots efforts including Ideation Conference, the Idea Camp, and the Freeze Project as well as the co-founder of JustOne. Charles regularly speaks on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making, branding, collaboration, new media, and social entrepreneurism.

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Rob Morris

President of Love146

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Rob Morris is the President and Co-founder of Love146, an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation.

Rob thinks it is awkward to write a bio in “third person”, pretending that someone else is writing it. So he asked those who matter most to him, know him best and would be the most honest, to tell you about him...his six children:

“Rob is short. He is passionate, funny, patient and makes the best lasagna. He’s a rock star, mentor and friend. Rob’s the most considerate person ever and makes people happy…not sure why, but he has that affect. He gives good advice, is afraid of clowns and can’t dance. He’s the best speaker I ever heard and his favorite word is “bizarre.” Rob likes the New York Yankees and loves chicken parm, He’s the best storyteller ever, and does things that matter and make a difference. “

And from his youngest…”Me and Dad go fishing.”

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Lindsey Nobles

Director of Strategic Partnerships at Food For the Hungry

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Lindsey is a Texas transplant living in Nashville, Tennessee, with a sincere love for her precious dog Molly, a good red wine and the Pappasitos in the DFW airport. When she’s not making trips back to Orange County {where she spent a 9 month stint soaking up the sun and building community at Project 7}, Dallas {where her oh-so-sweet parents reside}, Raleigh {home to her precious sister and three nieces}, or Birmingham {where she first fell in love with the South}, she’s working furiously for Food for the Hungry to mobilize others to go to the hard places and bring hope and help to the children.

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Mike Foster

Co-Founder and Chief Chance Officer at People of the Second Chance

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Mike Foster is the Co-Founder and Chief Chance Officer at People of the Second Chance. He is the Author of the best selling book “Gracenomics: Unleash the Power of Second Chance Living” and the creator of “Freeway: Six Steps to Freedom.”

He is a frequent television commentator and speaks at churches, colleges, and events around the country. Mike’s inspirational message is practical, challenging and filled with fresh insights about God’s radical grace.

He lives with his family in sunny San Diego, California

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Brandon Hatmaker

Founding Pastor of Austin New Church

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Brandon is founding pastor of Austin New Church, a Missional Strategist with Missio (www.missio.us), and author of "Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture".

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Peter Greer

President and CEO of HOPE International

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Peter Greer is president and CEO of HOPE International, a global nonprofit focused on Christ-centered job creation, savings mobilization, and financial training.

With over 10 years working in international development, Peter spent time as a microfinance practitioner in Cambodia, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda—where he managed Urwego, named “the best microfinance institution in Rwanda” by the United Nations. In his current role at HOPE International, he has led the expansion of the network from three to 16 countries. HOPE now serves over 500,000 active clients worldwide through microfinance. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School and an honorary doctorate from Erskine College.

Peter coauthored The Poor Will Be Glad (Zondervan, 2009), Mommy’s Heart Went POP! (Russell Media, 2012) and is currently writing The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good (Bethany House, 2013) and Mission Drift (to be released in 2014). Peter blogs at www.peterkgreer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @peterkgreer.

Peter resides in Lancaster, Pa., with his wife, Laurel, and their three children.

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Esther Havens

Humanitarian Photographer

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Esther Havens is known as a Humanitarian Photographer. She captures stories that transcend a person's circumstances and reveal their true strength. For many years she has worked on social-awareness campaigns with organizations such as charity: water, TOMS Shoes, Warby Parker and Malaria No More. Her images compel thought and challenge action. She has traveled to over 50 countries in the last 10 years -- and she'll keep going until she sees that every person on the planet has access to education, clean drinking water and a job to provide for their families. At heart, she is a connector, fostering relationships across continents, cultures, industries and perspectives.

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Troy & Tara Livesay

Heartline Ministries

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Troy and Tara Livesay are raising their tribe of children in Port au Prince, Haiti where they work in the area of Maternal Health and family preservation with Heartline Ministries.

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Kristen Howerton

Author, Rage Against the Minivan

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Kristen is a marriage and family therapist and professor of psychology at Vanguard University. Kristen is the author of the blog Rage Against the Minivan, where she explores issues of identity, race, adoption, parenting, and the sometimes embarrassing indignities of motherhood. In addition to her own blog, Kristen is the editor of ShePosts, an online magazine dedicated to women in social media. She is also a regular contributor to Disney’s parenting site Babble, as well as to Huffington Post and OC Family Magazine.  Kristen is an avid advocate for orphans. As an adoptive mom, her greatest hope is that all children can grow up in a family, and that children in orphanages can be supported to reunite with their families or placed in an adoptive home.

In the spring of 2010, Kristen lost her long and passionate battle against the minivan.  It now sits in her driveway covered in crushed cheerios and remnants of her self-esteem.

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Mark Horvath

Founder, InvisiblePeople.tv

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In 2008, Mark Horvath, now known to many as @hardlynormal, set out to film the stories of America’s homeless and share them with as many people as possible on InvisiblePeople.tv. Since then, he has become an internationally recognized activist and ambassador for the millions of individuals and families who reside in shelters, motels, tents along the streets and under highway bridges across the country.

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Jennie Allen

Author

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Jennie Allen is the best-selling author of Anything and Restless, as well as the bible studies Stuck, Chase, and Restless. The founder and visionary for the IF: Gathering, she is a passionate leader following God’s call on her life to catalyze a generation of women to live what they believe. Jennie has a masters in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Zac. Together they have been blessed with four children, the youngest of whom was adopted from Rwanda.

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Jeremy Courtney

Founder, Preemptive Love Coalition

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Jeremy and Jessica Courtney first visited Iraq in 2006 with hopes of loving and serving the poor. Almost three years before, they had moved to Turkey to begin a business in the eastern part of that country to contribute to the development of an area that had been left behind the growing global prosperity. But drawn to areas where needs are acute and opportunities are abundant, the Courtneys felt a compelling calling to move even farther east (and south) to Iraq.

The Courtneys had dozens of ideas for how they might spread an awareness of local culture and nurture opportunities for indigenously sustainable development, but they would have never imagined they would soon be selling shoes to save kids’ lives. Through Jeremy’s initial contract work with an NGO in Northern Iraq, they began to see firsthand the heartbreaking results of poverty and stymied economic and technological development. The Courtneys also connected with a co-worker, Cody Fisher, who would quickly become a collaborator in this enterprise of culture and compassion.
Dissatisfied with mere sympathy, Jeremy started looking for solutions. He found one in his growing fascination with Kurdish klash: hand-stitched, locally-made shoes traditionally worn by the Kurds. Cody had been working with a group of non-Muslim doctors who donated their surgical skills to Muslims as a way of working towards harmony and reconciliation. The initial business – Buy Shoes. Save Lives. (BSSL) – simply connected these two discoveries, opening up an international market to buy fashionable shoes in a way that saves lives by funding travel and exam costs for pediatric heart surgeries. After months of surprising success, Fisher and the Courtneys decided that a non-profit model was the only way to successfully mobilize the level of funding needed for these Iraqi children.
As the Preemptive Love Coalition’s vision for “local-solutions to local problems” began to shift away from focusing on economic development and toward medical systems development inside Iraq instead. After the success of the first-of-its-kind Remedy Mission I in August 2010 the organization has experienced tremendous success and receptivity across Iraq, with contracts to run sixteen surgical/training missions per year in 2012 and invitations from other hospitals for an additional twelve.

Anyone who spends even a brief amount of time with Jeremy & Jessica knows that their lives are driven by a love for God. They strive in each moment to submit to Jesus’ example and to fulfill Jesus’ mission of healing and reconciliation in the world. The Courtneys see their work through PLC as a way of living out their own identity as followers of Jesus, seeking to love the most down and out of the world’s people as an expression of their love for God.

Jeremy and Jessica have a daughter, Emma (b. 2005), and a son, Micah (b. 2007). In his spare time after saving lives, Jeremy is a musician and songwriter. He is also passionate about discovering ways that people can build meaningful bridges of understanding and reconciliation across cultures through music and storytelling. In addition to her role as PLC’s Family Services Director, Jessica is a full-time mother and an avid quilter, seamstress, scrapbooker and gardener.

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Leroy Barber

Global Executive Director, Word Made Flesh

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Leroy Barber has dedicated more than 20 years to eradicating poverty, confronting homelessness, restoring local neighborhoods, healing racism, and living what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”

Leroy starts projects that shape society; in 1989, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, he and his wife Donna founded Restoration Ministries, to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1994 he became Director of Internship Programs at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Leroy was licensed and ordained at Mt Zion Baptist Church where he served as Youth Director with Donna, and also served as Associate Minister of Evangelism. In 1997, he joined FCS Urban Ministries, working with Atlanta Youth Project to serve as the founding Executive Director of Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school providing quality Christian education for low-income families in the inner city. Leroy also helped found DOOR Atlanta and Community Grounds Coffee shop in Atlanta.

Leroy is currently the Global Executive Director of Word Made Flesh, an international organization that works among the most vulnerable of the world's poor. Rev. Barber is on the boards of Mission Year and the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). He is the author of New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community, and Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World and was also chosen as a contributor to Tending to Eden, and the groundbreaking book UnChristian: What a New Generation Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters. His third book, Red, Yellow, Black and White: Who’s More Precious In His Sight?, will be published this fall.

Leroy has been married to Donna for the past 28 years and together they have three adult children - Jessica, Joshua, and Joel, and two adopted children - Asha and Jonathan.

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Eric Stowe

Founder and Director of Splash.org

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Eric Stowe believes that every child has a right to clean water—and he has built an innovative, scalable approach to act on that belief. Since founding Splash in 2006, Stowe has developed a highly effective model to ensure safe water for urban children living at the intersection of these two streets: 'greatest degrees of poverty' and 'worst water quality conditions.' Thus, his organization works in places like schools, feeding centers, pediatric hospitals, street shelters, and orphanages in the poorest sectors of these cities.

Leveraging world-class water purification technology, sustainable monitoring and maintenance, excellent people, and a rigorous commitment to transparency, Splash will soon announce that every orphanage in China has safe drinking water. Stowe's team will then demonstrate how they are customizing their approach for 15 more countries in Asia and East Africa. Stowe is a 2012 AmericanExpress NGen Fellow and a 2012 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow.

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Sarah Markley

Author

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Sarah Markley is the mother of two daughters and a wife to an amazing husband of seventeen years. She’s been writing all her life but has been blogging for the last six. She writes regularly for A Deeper Church, is a staff writer for {in}courage.me and is currently working on her first book. Sarah knows firsthand what it’s like living in a post-crisis marriage and loves extravagant grace, second chances and seeing people become whole. She blogs at www.sarahmarkley.com and has lately been exploring what bravery, honesty and risk-taking mean for us as lovers of Christ and as people who want to build His kingdom. 

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Matthew Hansen

Austin New Church & Restore Communities

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Matthew is co-founder of Restore Communities and one of the founding pastors of Austin New Church. Matthew has the honor to speak at local and national community, leadership, and advocacy events on issues of justice, human trafficking, reconciliation, theology, and community. His hope is to inspire action and pastor people into lives of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Matthew has a BA in Biblical Theology from Trinity Southwest, and is currently working on his MDiv at George Fox Seminary. Matthew and his wife Sarah live in the heart of Austin, Texas with their four kids.

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Laura Lasky

Executive Director & Founder, solaceSF

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After several years of working as a sex worker, Laura Lasky decided it was time for a change. There were no earthquakes or a voice from the sky. All she knew was that the people she loves and cares for the most are grossly misrepresented.

So. What to do?

Fast forward to October of 2008: along with a few friends, Laura ventured out to local strip clubs to deliver cupcakes and gifts with a note that read, “Thinking of you, you are loved. See you soon!” 5 1/2 years later, she and her team can be found every Wednesday night in the strip clubs and gathering places of San Francisco, visiting the ladies and gentlemen who work as strippers, escorts and porn stars.

Laura is the Executive Director and Founder of solaceSF, an organization that offers compassionate care while journeying with those they meet, know and love within the adult industry.

She is featured in Jeremy Cowart’s book, "What's your MARK?" and was given the title of “The Cupcake Lady” by The Huffington Post. Laura calls San Francisco home, is cheerfully married to her best friend, Stephen and is ready to experience tacos in Austin.

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Matt Mooney

Founder, 99 Balloons

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Matt and his wife Ginny founded 99 Balloons, an organization that engages individuals with disability locally & globally. Many know Matt through the story of his son, Eliot- whose 99 days on this earth were commemorated with 99 balloons. He is the author of the book, "A Story Unfinished".

Matt lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he busies himself raising Eliot's siblings- Hazel, Anders and Lena. He blogs at The Atypical Life.

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Steve Graves

Founder, Coaching By Cornerstone

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Steve is an organizational strategist, pragmatic theologian and social capitalist. At any given time, he is advising 5-6 high profile CEO’s or business owners, along with 3-4 young energetic social entrepreneurs. He sits on a half dozen boards, holds degrees in multiple subjects, writes often, speaks occasionally, and is part owner in over a dozen businesses. He lives in Northwest Arkansas with his wife Karen, has three adult children and if he doesn’t return your call quickly there is a good chance he snuck off to the river…again.

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Jessica Honegger

Founder, Noonday Collection

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Jessica Honegger lives in Austin where she enjoys dance parties with her three littles, 2 biological and one from Rwanda, long dinners with her husband, and good wine with her girlfriends. She spends the majority of her days running Noonday Collection, a business born out of the adoption process, that creates sustainable income opportunities for vulnerable populations. It is a dream so amazing she could have never thought of it herself. You can join the story by visiting www.noondaycollection.com

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Seth Haines

Lawyer, Child Advocate

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Seth Haines is an attorney with the Arkansas law firm of Friday, Eldredge, & Clark. Although his practices focuses primarily on commercial litigation, Seth has taken a significant interest in orphan care advocacy and the underlying policy considerations. Visiting Ethiopia in 2012, Seth spoke with leading legal scholars in the orphan care field, and visited several public and private orphan care facilities. Seth utilized this information in facilitating a seminar for University of Arkansas students, which explored the legal frame work of international orphan care, and the practical application of the that framework. In his free time, Seth enjoys reading, writing, and fishing the rivers of Arkansas. He and his wife Amber live in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and are raising four boys.

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Jason Kovacs

Pastor of Counseling, Austin Stone

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Jason Kovacs is the Pastor of Counseling at the Austin Stone Community Church and CoFounder of Together for Adoption. He has a passion to see the church gripped with the heart of God and practically living in the freedom of the Gospel. Jason oversees the care & counseling ministries including counseling training, pre-marriage, marriage counseling, support groups and Recovery. As an extension of the church he directs the Austin Stone Counseling Center providing gospel-centered professional counseling to clients from our church and in the city. Jason also helps lead the orphancare/adoption network at the Austin Stone, mobilizing, equipping, and caring for adoptive and foster families.

He is a contributing author of Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father, writing on ‘Missional Living and Adoption.'

Jason and his wife Shawnda live in East Austin with their 5 children.

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Chris Marlow

Founder, Help One Now

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In 2007, Chris met a starving young orphan living in an abandoned gas station in Zimbabwe. That encounter compelled him to start Help One Now and dedicate his life to seeking justice by empowering leaders and organizing tribes to launch global movements that do good.
He currently lives in downtown Raleigh with his wife, two daughters.

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John Ray

Youth With A Mission

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Follower of Jesus, husband of Jane and father of Hope, Hannah, Naomi and Olivia. Working on all of the above while serving with Youth With A Mission, Grace Church of NWA and studying at George Fox Evangelical Seminary.

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Bianca Juarez Olthoff

Chief Storyteller, The A21 Campaign

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Bianca Juarez Olthoff is a writer and teacher passionate about life change through the power of the gospel. She spends her week working as Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign, an anti-human trafficking organization, and shares about true freedom for those who are in bondage.

Passionate about God's word, she teaches around the globe and blogs about life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus. Whether discussing topics about justice or pop culture, Bianca has spent over 10 years dedicated to mobilizing God's people to action inside and outside of the Church.

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Ryan Keith

President of Forgotten Voices

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Ryan is President of Forgotten Voices, which he founded in 2005 after being overwhelmed by the needs of orphaned children in Zimbabwe. Forgotten Voices is innovating orphan care through the local church in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Ryan met many local pastors who knew what to do, but their ideas were not being heard. Their stories compelled him to take action to solve this issue. Previously, Ryan led innovative, job creating economic development programs in Central Pennsylvania. Ryan is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School with a Masters in Public Policy, where he was a Pforzheimer Fellow. He holds a BA in Politics from Messiah College. Ryan and his wife, Katie, live near Harrisburg, PA with two young girls.

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Dan King

Author

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Dan is a blogger and professional social media guy. He's a co-author of Activist Faith: From Him and For Him (NavPress), and the author of The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter. If you're looking for him, he's probably scheming somewhere over (fair-trade) coffee about how to change the world.

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Ashlee Heiligman

Director of Development, Compasio

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Ashlee Heiligman is a native Texan with a passion for child protection in the developing world. Since 2009, she has served with Compasio Relief & Development, whose focus is protecting the most vulnerable children on the Thai-Burma border. Operating in the largest trade hub between Thailand and Burma, Compasio’s team of Thai and Burmese nationals work daily to prevent trafficking and abuse and respond when crisis occurs. As a social worker, Ashlee spent two years in Thailand helping build capacity within the organization and developing best practices in their approach to child protection and alternative care. When her work was finished there, she moved back to the states to serve as the Director of Development. Now, Ashlee spends her days inspiring churches and individuals to get involved with what God is doing through Compasio. She and her husband, Harrison, love living in Austin but visit Thailand as often as possible.

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Lamar Stockton

Lead Worship Pastor, Austin New Church

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I've been playing music since I can remember. I live in Austin, TX. I'm a doting husband, a proud father, a social activist, a working musician, and a child of God. I’m the Director of International Operations for Help One Now and Lead Worship Pastor at Austin New Church.
I believe artists have a distinct voice in society. They ask important questions and inspire us all to find answers. I just want to be part of the conversation.

I also believe artists have a responsibility to use their gifts to both serve and enrich their community. We need to use our voices, our canvases, our photos, films and words to shed light on the beautiful… & the tragic.

There is a great deal of tension in this world...tension between joy & sadness; purpose & confusion; hope & desperation. In this tension, the mourning doves sing.

www.lamarstockton.com

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Scott Sabin

Executive Director, Plant With Purpose

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Since 1995, Scott Sabin has served as the Executive Director of Plant With Purpose (www.plantwithpurpose.org) an international Christian organization that empowers the poor in rural areas around the world where poverty is caused by deforestation. During that time the organization has grown from a single program in one country to include a staff of over 150 foresters, agronomists and facilitators in six countries who have empowered farmers in more than 300 communities to plant over 10 million trees. Through journal articles, public speaking and, most recently though his book, Tending to Eden, Mr. Sabin has become a thought leader and advocate for reforestation as a key component of sustainable community development around the world. Prior to working for Plant With Purpose, he served for seven years in the United States Navy. He holds a BS in Political Science from Oregon State University and an MA in International Relations from the University of San Diego. He and his wife Nancy, a nurse practitioner, have two children. Scott enjoys sailing and writing when he has the time.

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Shannon Litton

President, The A Group, Inc.

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Bringing experience from both technology and non-profit management, Shannon builds strategies that guide ministries to new levels. In 2001, she co-founded The A Group, a leader in marketing and technology for faith-based organizations. In addition to serving as president, Shannon leads teams in the successful planning, mapping and execution of creative and digital initiatives, working with local and global organizations from strategic planning through implementation.

Prior to establishing The A Group, Shannon worked in marketing for a technology leader and she provided marketing consulting to non-profits engaged in multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns.

The A Group team has provided research, technology, marketing, social media, branding and multilingual communications solutions to hundreds of organizations
Including the Christian Leadership Alliance, Awana, TWR, LifeWay, Soles4Souls, Mercy Ministries, The Church at Brook Hills (David Platt), Metro World Child, The United Methodist Church and the Institute for Creation Research. Shannon serves on the Advisory Council of the Christian Leadership Alliance.

She lives in Franklin, TN with her husband and five children, two of whom adopted from Ethiopia.

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CJ Casciotta

Founder and Chief Creative at Create Culture

@cjcasciotta
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CJ Casciotta has spent the past 10 years bringing people together and helping companies do the same. He is the Founder and Chief Creative at Create Culture, a branding and innovation agency driven to help companies make a difference in the lives of people, their community, and the bottom line.

Through Create Culture, CJ has helped movements like Whole Foods, World Vision, Invisible Children, The Salvation Army, Barna Group, Active Ride Shop, and The RED Campaign develop remarkably disruptive ideas that rise above the noise and move people to action.

CJ is a writer, speaker, and commentator on progressive culture and has contributed to several books, publications, and media outlets such as RELEVANT Magazine, CBS Money Watch, MTV, and VH1.

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Tsh Oxenreider

Author & Founder of Simple Mom

@tsh
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Tsh Oxenreider is the main blogger behind Simple Mom, a blog dedicated to the art and science of living life simpler. She’s the author of Organized Simplicity and One Bite at a Time, and her next book, Notes from a Blue Bike, will be available in early 2014 (Thomas Nelson, publisher). Tsh is also an advocate for Compassion International, is a regular contributor at (in)courage, is an A-List Expert with Real Simple magazine, and records a regular podcast with Homefries called The Simple Mom Podcast. She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe.

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Brian Boitmann

Founder, Acts of Sharing

@BrianBoitmann
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Brian is a creative communicator, social entrepreneur and founder of the missional enterprise Acts of Sharing, a platform designed to enable a return to the radical generosity practiced by the first church in Acts 4:32. While demonstrating the relational growth fostered through sharing goods, Acts of Sharing has been named a finalist at the SXSW Interactive Awards for Innovative Community and has been mentioned in media from The New York Times to Blessed Earth.

A graduate of the University of Texas with an M.A. in Asian Cultures and Languages, Brian’s work focused on conversations on religious and political identity among communities in the Middle East and South Asia. While studying Urdu in India, he became a fan and advocate for Bollywood film. He is a contributing author to Sustainable Traditions, a supporter of Stoke City football club, and is passionate about the University of Texas.

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Eric Bryant

Pastor, Gateway Church

@ericbryant
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Dr. Eric Michael Bryant will be leading a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary. He serves with Gateway Church, a church known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.” Eric’s book, Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World, equips people to engage with others no matter what their differences.

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Mike Rusch

COO, Pure Charity

mikerusch
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Mike Rusch is Chief Operating Officer at Pure Charity, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering people to create tangible, measurable results through discovering, sharing, and funding non-profit projects around the world.  Mike has served as Vice President, Shopper Insights for Nickelodeon, MTVN Kids & Family Group, Director of Retail Analytics at The Walt Disney Company, as a member of the Category Management team at Hershey Foods and within the Information Systems Division of  Walmart Stores, Inc.  Mike serves on the Board of Directors for the Kidmia Foundation, Help One Now and is a founding member of the Cobblestone Project.  Mike lives in Bentonville, Arkansas with his wife of 17 years and four amazing children.

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