“Sometimes the thing you never know to ask turns out to be the biggest blessing of all.” Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore, The Weight of Mercy
We are in Greenville now. But a big piece of our heart is still in Allendale, so we will go back. There are football games to attend, and kids to see.
And memories to re-live and keep fresh.
Our Start in Allendale
I started working for the Boys & Girls Club in Allendale County on January 17, 2011, and the club opened two weeks later. That’s 3.5 years ago. Living and working in Allendale since then was such an amazing experience. And surprising.
As we transitioned to Allendale in that season, we were told by some of our initial friends in the community that Allendale residents were wary of outsiders. And for good reasons. Over the decades, many folks have come to the county with big promises. Most departed with full pockets and/or satisfied souls, but left a wake of chaos and brokenness.
So we came in with more caution than expectancy, and more humility than authority. We came to serve and to learn. And hopefully (we reasoned), we would earn their trust over time.
Nothing has surprised us more than this reason that Allendale has been such a wonderful place to live:
“The community of Allendale welcomes you with love and acceptance.”
For almost a year, we have been communicating that we would be leaving Allendale. Many people have asked us, “Is anyone going to come and take your place?” The short answer is, “No.”
We have been praying for someone to move to Allendale, particularly someone from Grace Church. One of the biggest ways that we got to support Grace Church’s work in Allendale is by being “feet on the ground.” The biggest impact we had here isn’t what we’ve done ourselves, but how we were able to connect and support others.
While we would have loved someone to have moved here this summer (and we did talk with a few individuals), I think it could be a good thing that no one else is coming here immediately. Some of the benefits of not having someone move here as we transition are:
It was the end of the last day of the final week of STEAM Camp. My daughter was sitting on the stage, and she told me, “It’s kinda’ sad that some of these kids we might not see again.”
I told her that she was right, and that I try to not think about it. I gave a half-hearted smile and big hug, and walked away with those thoughts.
This blog, 7 Worst International Aid Ideas, is from a couple of years ago, but I just came across it recently. It will be a great read and reminder for all of us who want to help.
I am not against charity and donations for emergency help, but there is a lot to learn about the difference between relief, rehabilitation, and development.
The first example outlines three basic questions we should consider when giving to any kind of poverty-related cause:
- Is there a real need for this?
- Is there a more efficient (though not as easy) method?
- Are you undermining local, long-term efforts with your distant, short-term aid?
Keeping that in mind, here are the candidates for “the worst attempts at helping others since colonialism”:
- T-shirts for Africa
- TOMS Buy-One-Give-One
- Machine Gun Preachers
- Ransoming Children in Africa (Extortion)
- Donor Fund Restrictions
- Food Aid and Munitions Confusion
- Making Aid a Foreign Policy Tool
Be sure to read the full article.
- Toxic Charity
- De-Toxifying Charity
- How Would You Define (and Solve) Poverty?
- Poverty Cure
- Stop Serving the Poor?
It was last day of working at the Boys and Girls Club, a program that I helped re-launch at the beginning of 2011. Just weeks earlier, I made a decision to leave that job, even without knowing what I would do next. (PS — God did come through for me with these four jobs.) But I did know that my wife and I were committed to the well-being of children in Allendale County.
On this final Club day of the semester, the children led a special Christmas-themed program, in which we invited parents and organization leaders. The children did a fantastic job, of course.
Near the end of the evening, one of the organization leaders spoke to the audience. She thanked me for my work that year, and wished me the best. But what she said next infuriated me, and it was only by the grace of the Holy Spirit that I did not react immediately.
She said, “Mr. Joey is moving on to bigger and better things.”
I’m always recommending books and articles, based on what has helped me the most. If I had to go back 3.5 years and start over again (which is sort of what we’ll be doing next), I would be sure to start with these.
If you are thinking of moving to Allendale (you should), or doing something similar to what we’ve done, these resources may help you.
I will either link to the books on Amazon, or to a review I’ve done.
A Slave of Circumstance (James Brewton). Though specifically written about Allendale, it may help provide insight to other similar communities.
Teaching with Poverty in Mind (Eric Jensen). The number one book I recommend for teachers, and for anyone who works with children who are growing up in poverty. I’ve referenced this book over and over and over and . . . .
A Framework for Understanding Poverty (Ruby Payne). More well-known than Jensen’s book. Payne’s book is not as good, in my opinion, but it has given us exactly what the title promises, a basic framework.
Fatherless Generation (John Sowers). If you read this and are not motivated to get involved in the lives of children and youth, you’re either heartless or gutless. Period.
Here we are. After months and months of questions, we finally know what we’ll be doing next.
Actually, we’ve known for a few weeks, but finally the timing is right for us to communicate.
Are you ready for this?
But before I say more, I want to just say “Thank you” again for all your support, prayers, and encouragements. We have had an amazing adventure over the past 3.5 years, and we could not have done this with the people that have gone ahead of us, walked alongside us, and spurred us on.