I begin this week’s post with a disclaimer, or perhaps, a confession. Although I have long had a passion for mission work and have participated in or led many mission trips in my life, as far back as I can remember, my least favorite Sunday of the year was the day the church hosted a visiting missionary. I’ve always found their presentations to be self-serving, and quite frankly, the stories they tell are usually a bit “over the top” and hard to believe. I’ve been that guy — sitting at the back of the church trying not to roll my eyes as year after year, missionaries talked of God’s miraculous intervention in their work.
Then I became president of a missions organization.
I speak in churches on a regular basis, but still I feel myself cringe when I begin to relate another story; I’m remembering that guy on the back row. But I tell the stories because I have seen God absolutely injecting Himself into the affairs of Hope Unlimited for Children, and I have to give account. I want to verbally grab the human pew-warmer and say, “Look at this! This is important.”
So, with that disclaimer, I share with you a story of one of our Brazilian volunteers. But remember — this is not an isolated incident; it is the kind of thing that happens far too often to be coincidence.
For the past five years all expenses of our auto mechanics and auto body repair courses have been funded by a particular corporation in Brazil. Three months ago, we were informed that they would soon be ceasing all financing for the courses. Last month we had no choice but to close our classes and accommodate our residential students elsewhere as best we could. The day students we sent home.
Seeing no other options, we did what we always do in a crisis: we called Carlos, a young business executive who was a founding volunteer member of the Hope Mountain team. He has stood by our side these past 12 years, always bringing donations, getting others involved, hiring Hope graduates, and opening doors for us at all levels.
Last Friday, we received this email from him. (I have left out the company and personal names for their privacy.)
Normally my e-mails are very concise, but this story is worth telling. I am in Brasilia today. I flew here this morning, and something curious happened. Last week I scheduled a meeting with the President of the corporation that supports our automotive courses to discuss the situation at Hope Mountain. Unfortunately I was late because of a traffic accident, and met only with the Superintendent, who was not able to resolve our situation.
This morning I boarded the flight to Brasilia and got stuck in a middle seat. (I always ask for an aisle seat but the flight was full.) After I sat down, a lady came to occupy the window seat on my right. When I stood to let her in, I noticed she was wearing a button identifying her as a corporate staff member from the company. I started thinking about how to broach the subject of Hope Mountain.
A few minutes later a gentleman came and occupied the aisle seat to my left. It was the President of the company.
The conclusion of the story: I had a 1 hour 30 minute meeting without interruptions, and was able to tell them all about Hope Mountain … and … he promised to maintain our auto body courses.
And the lady with him was the Executive Assistant to the President. We have already communicated by e-mail, and she will accompany the process.
It was still early in the morning and already my whole day was made.
Do I still find stories like this hard to believe? Not anymore!