I was having lunch with a friend awhile back. He asked me how Need Project was doing, and I started to tell him what we were up to. After I laid out everything we were trying to accomplish he shook his head and asked me a question, one that I’ve answered before but hadn’t had to respond to in quite some time. “You’re very passionate about Need Project,” he pointed out. “What made you start it in the first place?”
This moment stuck with me because of the book I have been reading lately, which deals with this very question. It is a business-based book, but its premise applies to ministry as well. Its thesis is that when businesses start out, they worry about the wrong things. Typically they focus on the what; what they do. With non-profits this takes the form of our programs, what we are doing to help people. The book, on the other hand, suggests that the most successful organizations start with the why. Why is it that we do what we do? According to this author, if we know the why it will motivate us even when times are tough. It will allow us to focus on our goals while others may get off track chasing things that don’t matter. The day-to-day evaluation of what we do is important, but when our actions are driven by an overriding why, this principle becomes the motivator that makes everything else happen.
This made me stop and spend some time in reflection as to why I started this ministry, and why, after eight years of ups and downs, I continue.
If you know my story, you know our first child was born two months premature. Over the next few years we slowly learned about his issues, and came to grips with his eventual diagnosis with cerebral palsy. As a young dad this upended my whole world. Call it foolishness, but I had just assumed everything would go according to plan, that everything would be easy. I was not prepared to raise a child with cerebral palsy. The years of surgery and recovery, the births of our other children, which were equally traumatic, all of this has worked to mature me. What I know now, twenty-three years later, is that even without a disability in our family I was foolish to think everything would go smoothly or according to some grand design of mine.
Though I have come a long way from where it all started, I have not arrived at any destination yet. Nor did I get here on my own. So many people have contributed to the blessings our family has received. Our move to Colorado alone, and my getting a job a Focus on the Family, was a moment of profound divine intervention and kindness from God’s people. When we met Dr. James Dobson and he interviewed our son on national radio, it allowed us to see that there are so many people out there who are hurting. The letters our son received, telling us how much he inspired and blessed others with disabilities, let me know that God was working in our lives, showing us in spite of disability how blessed we were.
This realization sparked a desire in me to help others who may be in similar situations. It can be so hard, while we are in the midst of the chaos of life, to feel we are blessed. More importantly, it can be hard to believe that it is possible to make it through our darkest times. Sometimes it can feel like you are drowning. My desire has always been, and will always be, to be an outstretched hand to those facing disability, to let them know that they are not alone, and that someone is here to help.
Everything we do, we do to that end, pointing people to resources in their town or creating our own; whatever means we undertake, this is always our goal.
As I was writing this, a song by Lewis Watson came on Pandora, one which I had never heard before but which encapsulates perfectly what I’m trying to say:
Maybe you’re lost
Maybe you’re scared
And maybe you’re lonely
Or you haven’t got there yet.
You’re falling apart
Come way at the seams
And even when you’re wide awake
You’re drowning in your dreams.
It’s a wonder you don’t know how wonderful you are.
So maybe I should show you now.
We at Need Project want you to know just how wonderful you are, and we exist to show you. We thank you all for your support, and wish you a Merry Christmas.