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For the First Time


Written by Corbyn Small on March 6, 2013 in General

Experiencing something for the first time seems to bring energy, excitement, and fresh perspectives. Whether it is you doing something for the first time, or being a part of someone else’s first monumental leap, we’re drawn in.

I think back to just a year ago, when I was able to sit across from my 1-year-old nephew as he took some of his first steps. At this point in his life, he was able to crawl faster than I could and was reaching those second and third shelves that had not quite required ‘baby proofing.’ As I sat on the floor in my brother’s home, I watched as he (my nephew, not by brother) slowly put one foot in front of the other, hold his arms outstretched, and teeter his way across the carpet and into my arms. We cheered and his face burst with delight as he began his journey into the world of walking and running (which looked a lot like a perpetual fall forward at first).

Two weeks ago, a few of my friends and I took some of our own first steps in a new direction and I couldn’t be more excited to have been a part of it.

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Every year, international nonprofit organizations take individuals, church leaders, and other passionate partners abroad to see how their partnerships are transforming lives. Plant With Purpose calls these visits Vision Trips. The impact comes from relationships built and testimonies shared in firsthand experiences. There’s no substitute for standing across from a mother as she describes how difficult life used to be just to get by and then hearing how her family’s life has changed as she can now provide nutritious veggies and an education for her kids all because someone believed in her. Witnessing transformation in the lives of others changes the way you see the world.

This recent trip wasn’t a typical Vision Trip. In cooperation with HOPE International, Edify, and Plant With Purpose, a group of us traveled to the Dominican Republic to see where God was at work…through each other’s organizations. It was a trip designed with collaboration in mind. The three organizations each invited young leaders who had partnered with our nonprofits independently to come to the Dominican Republic and to see what God is doing throughout the country.

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You see, the bottom line is, it’s not all about us. Each of these organizations recognizes that the best we can do is to come along side work that Christ is already doing in communities. HOPE International, Edify, and Plant With Purpose are committed to Christ centered community development that believes and tells a different story. Rather than telling families in developing countries that they are poor and that they can’t do things for themselves, we’re telling the story that is rooted in the Gospel, that they are valuable, loved, and completely capable of bringing positive change in their individual life, their family’s lives, and their communities. It is the story of a loving God who has made us in His image and in His likeness.

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This month I’m celebrating 4 years of working at Plant With Purpose. Over those years I’ve learned that one of the beautiful parts of working for a Christian nonprofit organization is that we aren’t just selling gadgets or competing against other organizations with the greatest market ploy. We serve a God of abundance who has called us to love Him and to love our neighbor. Each of these organizations acknowledges that we live in a broken world, but that we serve a God who has invited us into the reconciliation and renewing of all things. HOPE International, Edify, and Plant With Purpose are just a few of the Christian organizations who are committed to sharing a better story that is filled with renewed hope and restored dignity while seeking God’s Kingdom here on earth. And that was our hope for this trip, that we could invite young leaders to see how God is transforming lives, to let Him shape each of us, and to return from this trip with a new perspective on our roles as children of God.

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We’ve taken our first steps. We’ve liked what we’ve seen.  And we’re beyond blessed to have witnessed God at work all throughout the Dominican Republic.

To read further reflections on this unique trip, visit HOPE International’s Chris Horst’s blog.


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