Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kickstarter # 2 - "Friends and Partners"

            In his blog, inventor and writer Dan Provost writes about the process of creating and marketing his invention, the Glif, [i] a tripod mount for the iPod that doubles as a stand.  Provost tells how he and his friend Tom first designed the simple gizmo on paper, improved the design through a computer program, and got it printed on a 3D printer, working out the bugs along the way. To fund the mass production and sale of their invention, they turned to Kickstarter[ii], an online agency that matches inventors with investors.  Unlike big corporate deals, these investors are generally average people like you and me.  By pledging to purchase an item once it reaches production, they enable the inventors to sell the product based on the idea, rather than having to mass produce the merchandise and sell it post-production.  The investors are actually buyers, purchasing the product ahead of production schedule.  For most inventors, the concept is the easy part.  Finding partners to help create a prototype and fund production—that’s something else entirely.  Kickstarter bridges that gap by crowdfunding, finding partners to help amateur inventors break into a difficult business.

Last week I pointed out that, “God still works through visionaries, Christ-followers who see the problems in our world and have enough faith to fix them.”[iii]  Perhaps, like the Old Testament character Joseph, God has given you a vision of a brighter future.  Or maybe, like another Joseph in the New Testament, you have dreamed of a solution to a problem you seen in our world.  It all begins with dreams and ideas.  For example, the church on your corner or the one you attend was established by someone who had a dream of a place where people could worship, learn, and grow in their relationship with God.  But it took more than an idea.  It took friends and partners to make that dream a reality.  About partnership and friendship, The Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes says:

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.[iv]

Throughout the Bible, we read of great heroes of the faith who succeed not on the own, but because they partner with others to make dreams a reality.  In a time of danger, Moredecai relied on his niece Esther to carry out the plan to save their people.  Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, knowing the strength in friendship and partnership.  Paul never did his missionary work alone, but always together with companions like Silas, Timothy, and Barnabas.  These champions of faith knew the secret we find in the book of Ecclesiastes: that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

What does this mean?  While one strand may be strong, and two twisted together may be stronger, a braided cord is strongest of all.  Two twisted strands represent friends who work toward a common goal, but the third strand in a braid is a picture of God’s partnership with them.  As God binds friends together, great things can be accomplished. 

Today I wonder, what vision has God given you, and how can you partner with others to make that dream a reality?  Maybe, like Esther, God has brought you to your church or your community “for such a time as this,”[v] so that you can communicate your ideas for new ministries or outreaches with others who can help make them happen. 

In my town of South Boston, Virginia, Bonita Nelson is one such visionary who has partnered with others to make miracles happen.  She told me, “I have been dealing with homeless people probably ten years. About two years ago, God spoke to me and said, ‘You're going open a home for these people.’ I said, ‘No, I'm not. I don't have the resources or the education. I'm old.’ But [God’s voice] kept coming back, ‘You're going to open a shelter.’"  Inspired by the Matthew West song, “Do Something”[vi], she began a ministry of the same name.  That song says:

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How’d we ever get so far down, and
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, yeah, I created you” (now listen)
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something

As of December, Do Something has opened a house called the Passage Place, located at 1332 Moore St in South Boston, to serve as transitional housing and an education center for people in need.  In the beginning, a different building was donated for the cause.  Because it required too much renovation, it was sold and the proceeds went into The Passage Place.  Generous donations from other sources including churches, individuals, and organizations, have brought The Passage place to the point of recent opening. 

At the Passage Place, applicants who are approved will receive counseling, Christian teaching, aid for getting clean and sober, classes on budgeting, life-skills, and help being productive citizens.  They will also receive assistance getting jobs and new places to live.  Room and board will be provided free of charge to those receiving care, but will be funded by donations.  Nelson explains that The Passage Place is not a homeless shelter, but a transition ministry.  There, struggling people will move from a “can’t do it” mindset to a “can-do” attitude.  If you would like to contribute, you can make a check out to “Do Something” and send your tax-deductible donation to:

Do Something
P.O. Box 144
South Boston VA 24592

            Just like Kickstarter inventors need partners to get their businesses off the ground, ministries like Do Something need friends to come alongside and give their financial and practical support.  Maybe you’ve got some time or money you can donate to help see a charity like this get started.  Or, maybe like Bonita Nelson, you also have a dream.  I challenge you not to keep it inside—but talk with friends, pastors, and others who can make that dream possible, who can help you to “do something.”

[i] Provost, Dan.  “Idea to Market in 5 Moths: Making the Glif.”  The Russians Used a Pencil: A Blog about Simplicity.  http://therussiansusedapencil.com/post/2794775825/idea-to-market-in-5-months-making-the-glif.  November 22, 2017.
[iii] Smith, Greg.  Spirit and Truth # 553.  Kickstarter: “I Have a Dream.”  2017.
[iv] Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV
[v] Esther 4:14 NV
[vi]Matthew West.  “Do Something.” Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. Released 2012.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8.  November 22, 2017.

No comments: