A long time ago Max had a vision that one day he would be a leader in a village called Canaan in Haiti. His heart hurts for the people there, because of his role with HandUp Global Goods—he gets to do his part to bring relief to the fatherless children there.
He and two others (pictured below) from our program, are providing shelter, nannies and discipleship to 16 children. Max is in the center.
THIS is what happens when you think BIG about tackling problems like extreme poverty and orphan care.
Our formula, Job Creation + Spiritual Discipleship = Orphan Prevention comes ALIVE through the hands of young men like Max. He believes in the power of our formula and he invites you to become part of this story of redemption.
He wants you to know he believes in this revolutionary way of thinking—your investment in HandUp provides Max with essential training and tools to be able to guide his people in a more impactful way.
He personally wants to make a piece of jewelry for every donor that donates to HandUp.
Donate today and let’s help them become the spiritual leaders God created them to be.
“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” But what if I told you that together, we can revolutionize the fishing industry?
Have you ever wondered how much of a difference your donation makes in the lives of the people to whom you donate? Efficiently run organizations maximize your dollars to create deep impact for the people they serve. But often, good intentions fail to stimulate economic growth for the people in need of a handUp.
The irony is that most of the time it is the lack of economic stimulation in communities that keeps people relying on handouts. Although your donation helps for a day, months or even years—
Does it revolutionize entire communities & promote lasting change?
Up to 80% of children in Haiti are poverty orphans. Many of them have parents that love them but can’t scratch out enough of an existence to meet the basic needs of their sons and daughters. The lucky ones end up in institutions.
But many of these poverty orphans end up on the streets, sold as slaves, trafficked, exploited, the list goes on and on.
And who is doing most of the exploiting?
The broken men raised in these impoverished communities.
At HandUp, we believe we can equip former street boys to radically change their trajectories from broken men and future orphan makers to leaders and future hope makers. We do this through one powerful formula:
Women love to shop. Even those of us who rather get our leg hairs lasered than go shopping admit it feels good to wear something fresh off the rack. It makes us feel prettier, confident and more put together.
It’s even better if that said rack has some sort of discount sign affixed to it. That much sought after shopper’s high ignites when you see the “sale” sign on THAT dress. You peek inside the back of the neck scoop and see that magic little (of course its little) number that marks your size. You look over that sweet drape of cotton/rayon goodness in approval.
Who cares if it doesn’t fit JUST RIGHT, you pretty much stole it at that price and it feels SO GOOD that you go celebrate at the Cinnabon next door. (You buy the small ones of course)!
So that Cinnabon might make the dress fit a little less than “just right” but who cares? It was only $17.99 marked down from $30, marked down from $58. Well done faithful shopper!
This shopper’s high is experienced by millions of frugal mom shoppers who LIVE for these kind of finds. It feels good to save money AND look awesome doing it. Aside from, you know, clothing our bodies and the bodies of the littles in our homes—finding great deals make us feel like good stewards of the resources we have.
It’s the “I got it at Ross” feeling when people compliment you on your outfit and you proudly declare that you got 116 pieces for only $29. Good job mama who is trying to stretch a dollar so she can save up for that summer vacay!
But I want to ask a question.
What if you learned that the person who made that “great find” dress doesn’t make enough money to feed her three children? She leaves her 9-year-old daughter to take care of the younger two all day in her tiny makeshift home.
What if the hang tag shared this young mom’s photo and explained how close she was to giving up all three to a local orphanage hoping that her children have a chance to thrive?
Would you refrain from buying the dress?
Would you call the brand and demand they pay her more for her 10-hour shifts?
What would you do?
I know. You hate me for bringing this up. I don’t want to step in the way of your savvy shopping. I really don’t. But every garment, accessory, pair of shoes we buy has a story and chances are, it’s not one you want to hear. Because it would break your heart.
I know your intentions are good. You search for that bottom line deal because you want to save and perhaps use those savings to do meaningful things.
But is there a better way to shop?
As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of our money and we often equate that with tithing and saving. But what if we looked at shopping as a way to bless others, too?
Yes! We get things for ourselves but what if we knew that this mother of three was able to send her littles to school and keep her family together because the company she works for believes in more than just the bottom line?
Would you buy that dress and pay the full $58. Sure—you wouldn’t be able to have 29 dresses hanging in your closet but you’d have a handful that you would be proud to wear because you KNEW your purchasing power was literally saving lives FAMILIES.
I don’t know about you, but I think this sort of ethical shopping is more in line with my Christian principles.
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. Proverbs 14:31
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:9
Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy…. Deuteronomy 24:14
I’m not asking you to go “radical” and blow the dust off your grandmother’s sewing machine. Homemade pillowcase dresses can only take you so far people!
I’m asking you to take a look at some alternatives. You’ll be surprised to learn how many companies are rethinking the bottom line and incorporating fair trade principles that are more socially and ecologically sustainable. I know these words don’t really mean a lot to most of us, but thinking about that single mom struggling to keep her kids should mean SOMETHING.
There is SOMETHING that all of us could do.
A million small pushes is better than ONE giant shove by one person. Let’s do this together!
Here’s a good place to start to learn about companies daring to go against fast fashion……
I remember, back in my late teens, when well-meaning people counseled me on improving my circumstances. I’d sift through their kind words looking for applicable wisdom but their advice was often oversimplified and unadaptable. Before me stood towering obstacles built over years of living in poverty under the rule of an abusive father. I’d wonder, “What would they say if I told them the uncut version of my story?” Most of the time, I didn’t dare and I’d just smile and nod my head. Little did they know that their clean and simple formulas were foreign to my daily struggles.
But I wasn’t going to tell THEM that. Why bother spoiling their good efforts?
I think about these experiences in my work today. I try to resist giving well-meaning advice to young men who have experienced more horrors than my heart could handle. Sometimes I wonder if the words I choose to share with them is like a blind person trying to give physical directions to someone who is lost. How will I know when to tell them to turn left or right if I’m unaware of the pylons and potholes in the road?
Instill a Them a Moral Compass
Yet, as former street children, it is clear they need guidance. They need someone to help them find their way just as I did 20 years ago. So if you’re in a position of serving the marginilized, acknowledge that you will NOT get their whole, explicit story and therefore can’t apply blanket statements to cover their problems. Give them the means to discover their own truth and empower them to create their own map towards success. No one knows the pylons and potholes better than they—
If you want to build solidarity with the people you are serving; you MUST be relevant–not in some dorky poser way–but a connection must be pursued on a deep and meaningful level. Below are FIVE THINGS I’ve learned over the years of working with marginalized people.
Don’t be afraid to ask for details if you are not understanding a person’s predicament. You need to make it clear that the details are important to you. If they don’t want to share, that’s okay. But try to set your preconceived ideas aside and listen to them as if you were living in their home or community. Try to see life through their perspective.
Emphasize the Process.
Often, the boys in our program think that money will solve their problems. If Jesus had intended for money to be the fixer of all things, he would have nailed hundred dollar bills to the cross. Instead He gave us His life. There are no quick fixes to most problems because He intended for us to learn through the process of following Him. Whether it is to cultivate faith, learn problem-solving skills, attain wisdom, live out experiences or give opportunities —God works His good through all circumstances, but we must be open to allowing the circumstances to teach us.
It may sound naïve to say this—but I have been in situations that made NO sense outside of clinging to the process for the sake of spiritual growth. I always try to stay open to what God is trying to teach me, but it’s hard to say this to others who are suffering. Instead, I ask questions that might lead them to understanding the “whys” and “hows” of their circumstances.
Be Vulnerable. Be Real.
I don’t have all the answers and don’t pretend that I do. Sometimes I just listen and lament alongside the stories I hear. Sometimes I am reminded of a story that I lived through that could possibly be of encouragement to the listener. There is a solidarity built among leaders and the people they serve when we allow our humanity to show.
Paul Woodward, from Impact Houston, an inner-city missions church, was the first to teach me the beauty in vulnerability. I had always seen my vulnerability as a weakness but he taught me how to use it as a tool for ministry. I was on staff with him for a few years and was struck by the way he empowered the people he helped. He mitigated their “neediness” by punctuating his efforts with an “you would do the same for me if I needed it.” Such simple words but significant for people needing a handup.
Search God’s Word for Applicable Wisdom.
Someone recently told me that they wished there was a third biblical testament to address so many issues that we have in modern times. While I understood the sentiment, the relevance of God’s word never ceases to surprise me. Your search engine is great for looking for applicable verses if you put in the key words. Take some time and research relevant scripture and set up a follow up conversation to share the insights gleaned. For example, this past week at HandUp Haiti, we learned about the importance of planning and prayer before launching new ministries.
Several of our young men want to give back but I realize that they haven’t been given the tools to minister effectively. In the midst of explaining this concept, one of them stood up and read Ecclesiastes 7:8. This verse alone opened up conversations in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. It impacted them deeply as they realized, some for the first time, that a ministry mustn’t be started if there are no steps in place to see it through.
Take a Risk
I realize you can’t take a risk for everyone if you are in a leadership position in ministry, but you CAN let people know you care by doing one thing apart from praying and encouraging. There is so much TRUTH to the cliché; “Actions are louder than words.” My life changed radically the moment a ministry leader jumped into my messy life and helped me with specific obstacles that I couldn’t fight alone. That single “yes” on his part, opened up doors that allowed me to heal and grow.
I think about the measured risks that I can take for these young men not because I have something to prove, but because God’s love has already been proven to all.
The last thing I want is for these young men to smile and nod and politely wait for me to finish giving them the “wealth of my knowledge”. Perhaps I’ve done a little of this and they walk away wondering what in the world I just said. So sorry!!!!
It’s only when they see the relevance of ministry in their lives that they will become DOERS. They are the ones who will fill the potholes and tear down the pylons that stand in the way of progress. Your job is to help them etch out the road map.
How do you make your ministry effective and meaningful to the people you are serving?
Natul writes about running a non-profit, social justice, orphan care and prevention, faith in the works, and reaching out to local and global neighbors.