May 292015
 

Everything happens for a reason.

I’ve never had a tremendous amount of peace with the sentiment. I think it gives the terrible stuff too much power, too much poetry; as if there must be nobility and purpose within the brutal devastation we may find ourselves sitting in. In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into.

via Why Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason | john pavlovitz.

Feb 072015
 

And this, my friends, is how it should be, if it can be…….

She said, “YES.”

We took in a new little love at HOPE House yesterday.  Her name is Nayika.  You can tell by the look in her eyes that she doesn’t feel good.  And likely never has.  Since she was two months old her mother has called us needing money to take her to the hospital, money for food, and for a place to live.  She is now seventeen months old and her situation wasn’t getting any better. Earlier this week her mother called to say she couldn’t keep caring Nayika any longer, and she was going to place her in an orphanage.

We asked her to come to Port-au-Prince so we could help her find a better solution.  Yesterday evening she arrived at HOPE House and we asked her, “If you had a job and a place to live, do you want to raise this baby?  Do you WANT to keep her?”  With tears swelling in her eyes and a smile across her face, she held Nayika, a bit tighter and said, “YES.”

Read the rest here……..

Jan 082015
 

When I was in banking, the world was pretty much a black and white world.

Either you met the requirements laid out in the 566 page Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guideline and got the loan or you didn’t.    Rarely was there a gray area where you could/would be able to dispute things with the underwriter.    It was a pretty comfortable world from that standpoint.

The world of caring – caring for orphans, caring for foster kids, caring for the marginalized, caring for those on the edge, caring about social justice is rarely clean cut.   It’s very rarely easy to judge what works and what doesn’t.   It’s hard to see and predict the long term implications of short term actions.

That’s why there are books  called, “When Helping Hurts.”  

That’s why many people outside of the international development community like UNICEF and many inside the community consider UNICEF to be a four letter word.   

There are so many issues and so many layers and so many misconceptions.    So many things that look one way but then end up resulting in a different thing.

Like the time when a short term volunteer bought a neighbor boy a bike.    Sounds like a good thing right?

  • Until the kid got mugged two days later, beaten up and his bike and all of his school supplies stolen.
  • So, not only did that little boy go from the high of getting a gift that was totally beyond the realm of possibility to seeing it taken from him.
  • But he also went through the trauma of being attacked and beaten up.
  • And losing his school supplies.
  • School supplies that cost his parents a couple of months worth of income to pay for.

There are a lot of misconceptions, a lot of “layers” of understanding and misunderstanding.

Many things look one way on the surface – but then when you look under the hood, you see that things aren’t the way they first seem.

We’re going to be talking about a lot of those type of issues here.

Issues with no easy answers.

Issues that matter.   

I hope you’ll join us.

Tom

Sep 172014
 

We are an impatient society.   I don’t want to check Facebook when I get home, I want to check it now.   Or at the next stop light or while waiting at McDonalds.

I don’t want to plan and wait and organize and think.   I want to come up with an idea and do it now.

I don’t want to save up money, I want to buy it now……

But then it comes to the big issues:

  • Why is there cancer?
  • Why is there poverty?
  • Why is there evil?
  • Why is there malnutrition?
  • Why does greed sneak its way into places it shouldn’t be?

And why are there no easy or quick answers to those questions?

And those are just some of the places where we ask, we wonder and we don’t know.

And then David, in Psalm 62:5, gives us a possible answer to that.

He says, “ God, the one and only—I’ll wait as long as he says.”   (The Message)

God is the one and only.   Not our work, not our organizations, not our mission trips.   God is the one and only.

It’s not us who are going to solve the poverty problem.   God, the one and only, will use man to solve the poverty problem.

It’s not us who are going to bring justice to all of the oppressed.   It’s God, the one and only, who will use man to bring justice to the world.

It’s not us who are going to combat evil, malnutrition, greed and corruption.   It’s God, the one and only, who will solve those problems and will most likely use his people to do so.

 

And then the second part, the Why and the corresponding “When?”

Why, God?   Why do You allow these things?   And when are You going to make all things new?

We see so many things that aren’t right in this world.   So many things that hurt, that injure, that leave scars and we wonder, “Why God?”

And we acknowledge that God has a plan, He has a long term plan but we question the timing.

King David has an answer,  “God is the one and only, He’s everything I need, so I’ll wait as long as He says.”

I’ll wait as long as He says – even if that means a 50 year old father of 2 dies from cancer.

I’ll wait as long as He says – even if that means that children suffer longer than I’d like.

I’ll wait as long as He says – even if that means that corrupt people remain in positions of power.

I’ll wait as long as He says – even if I don’t want to.

 

But I’ll also realize that God intends to use His people to fulfill His purposes.

So I’ll say, “Here I am, use me.”

Use me – when you want.

Use me – how you want.

I’ll wait for You.

 

God’s plan is supreme because He’s the one and only.

We need to wait for Him.   And while we wait, we need to work for Him.

And only Him.

 

Because He’s the one and only.

 

TJV

Sep 152014
 

Jamie Grace recently released the song, “Do Life Big.”   Here’s the chorus of it:

Saying I came to give you life,
So spread your wings and fly,
I’ve got a secret to share,
You are enough to change the atmosphere,

So go and do life big, big
I wanna do life big, big

I like this song for a couple of reasons…….

I think we underestimate God.   I think our vision of what God can do and what God can use us to do is too small.

We’re too happy to do life small.    To do life comfortable.   To do life inside the nest.

That’s not what God wants.   He wants us to do life BIG.

He wants us spread our wings and fly.

He wants us to change the atmosphere.

That’s a pretty tall order.

But let’s do it.

Tom
tom@thevulnerableproject.org

Sep 102014
 

My dream has changed over the years.

I used to think that finding a new adoptive family for every child in an orphanage was the answer to all of the problems in the orphan crisis.    I was wrong.   That is part of the problem and part of the answer.   But not the complete answer to the complete problem.

Instead of that, I’d like to share with you the dreams that I have for the Vulnerable Project:

  1. The Elimination of the Poverty Orphan  Syndrome –  There are too many children all over the world who are not living with their biological family, not because their family didn’t want them but because their family couldn’t afford to feed them.    That must stop.    There must be systems in place so that families who want to and are able to care for their children, rather than having to give them up for adoption, are able to get the assistance they need to be able to make it through the tough times and keep their family together.
  2. Improved understanding and knowledge of all areas of adoption – so many of the problems in the adoption world stem from a deep rooted misunderstanding of many of the realities of adoption.    We aim to address and improve that.
  3. The proper way to help – there are many ways to “help” in the 3rd world.    Many of them do a lot of good.   Some of them do a little bit of good.   Some of them actually hurt more than they help.   Most people don’t realize it and would do things differently if they knew better.    We aim to pull back the curtain and talk about those issues and help people do “it” better.
  4. Jobs – “What the Whole World wants is a good job.”   Jim Clifton – CEO of the Gallup Organization.    Many of the problems in places like Ethiopia, Uganda and Haiti could be drastically reduced if there was a significant increase in the availability of jobs so that people could support their families.     See Elimination of the Poverty Orphan Syndrome above.
  5. Churches – The church in the first world could and must do so much more to battle the forces of evil.   We aim to expose those weaknesses, encourage those who want to pray and be involved to do it well and battle the forces of evil through the efforts of the brothers and sisters in Christ who live here in the comfort of the first world.

Through book sales (see #2), online sales (see #4) and speaking opportunities (#1, 2, 3 and 5), we also aim to very quickly eliminate the need for traditional fundraising.

I’ll be going into these in greater detail in the coming days and weeks but I wanted to share with you what The Vulnerable Project is and how we can work together to help the vulnerable children and families of the world.

Thanks for reading and thanks for caring.

Tom Vanderwell
tom@thevulnerableproject.org