Session 1: Tyler Wigg-Stevenson
Mr. Stevenson is founder of the Two Futures Project that is a movement of Christians against nuclear weapons. He believes that this is a crisis that demands and needs a change in leadership. He discussed how nuclear weapons were a threat to public health; it contaminates the ground and health of humans. At first I thought the lab was more about loving others, I felt like he went on and on the nuclear weapons issues a little too long and I thought he just did not grab my attention right away. Towards the end though he talked about how we can’t be good leaders if we do not love. We as American Christians need to be united. Mr. Stevenson brought up a good point on how to love the community, as it is first, then seeks the community for what it can become. If you are on the outside of a community and suddenly come into it and say that they have to change everything. No, Christian leaders need to know and be in the community so when they suggest a change more people are apt to listen. If we love the community, respect its traditions, and integrity, and then we can lead more efficiently. We must embody the creative tension that comes from overlapping but not identical values. Another important reminder is that we as leaders need to seek the victory that the community not the leader can claim. I think this is very important because even if you have the best intentions sometimes pride, boasting, and other selfish feelings we sometimes get when people put trust in us. To be an effective leader one must be intentional in that community, seeking for its best for itself and not for the leaders, and always trying to do God’s will for that community. Towards the end of the lab, Mr. Stevenson brought up the fact that, “God does not need our big plans or dreams, He has called us to become like little Christs. The world is not Yours to save or to damn; only to serve the One whose it is.” This is such a powerful statement and good reminder. It is still good to have dreams and plans, but in the end it is God’s will and call for you. Also, sometimes I feel like I have to save the world, which is a pretty scary, impossible task alone. We need to seek God and serve Him. After all, He did create the world, all the ins and outs of every little corner of this world, who else’s better to serve? In doing so, we are saving the world.
Session 2: Scott Harrison & Jamie Twoekowski
I loved these guys. I think because they are a little closer to my age and the fact that they started small and God made it explode. Scott Harrison is founder of Charity water. When he found out that 80% of disease comes from unclean water he set out to do something about it. Charity water goes to countries that lack clean water and build wells so they can. One of the cool things about the project is that 100% of donations go straight to the well, which he laughed saying he wouldn’t recommend that because they had difficulties in paying staff. He had a vision that started out small. He said that he had to learn how to reach out to people who had a similar heart for those without clean water and they were untied in their goal of bringing clean water to all peoples. Lots of people told him no, but he never lost sight of the vision. Jamie Twoekowski is founder of To Write Love on Her Arms. His story was definitely God’s will. He and a group of friends had a friend who was struggling with depression and they wanted to do something about it and spread awareness. It started as a MySpace group, which had on it his friend’s story. Soon, they were getting messages from other people about their own struggle and stories. Now To Write Love on Her Arms is an organization that raises awareness, fundraise to send people to places where they can heal and get the help that otherwise might not be easily available or affordable. There is even a day where people wear the t-shirts and actually write love up and down their arms to spread more awareness. Struggling from depression myself, I think this is one of those things the world really is in need of right now. Lots people especially youth are struggling with depression, self-injury, suicidal, etc. Having a place where they can seek help is such a light into the darkness. Both speakers discussed sustainability in their organizations. Don’t lose the excitement, keep ground, and find ways to stay accountable. Step out of where you are in the process and look back to see the progress. Interact with others and talking about goals, visions, and plans. They also suggested that if you wanted to start your own organization that not to go too far outside of your idea, lean on people who know about what you are passionate about, and communicate well. Doing these will help the leader from being burnt out and able to remain focused on their goals.
Session 4: Christine Cain
Hands down the best session ever. What she had to say was so motivating and powerful I wanted to get on a plan and rescue slaves around the world until everyone was freed. Her life story is amazing. She was dropped off on a set of stairs when she was born; she went through the foster care system where about four men abused her. She started a youth center and learned a lot about evangelism especially in the local community. She worked with at-risk youth and learned how the local church team and the community can work together. When Cain learned about sex trafficking she was determined to set those salves free. A21 helps victims of human trafficking, they investigate people and help them also transition back home. I did not even realize that sex trafficking was a problem here in the states; I thought it was just overseas, but now that I know I feel motivated to help. Cain’s advice to leaders is bringing change; seek out places that want to change because you can’t change something that does not want to be changed. This was a shocking lesson for me because I figured every thing had to change whether it wants to or not. We are the church, we must own it, we are all looking to transform. In order to transform she says that we must get rid of the junk in our own hearts, do some “spiritual heart surgery.” We must get out minds and hearts settled on God’s Word. Keep the heart, mind, and soul, strong. Work from the inside out and when we do so we are more able to help those in need. Sometimes, God opens doors no man can shut and we must be obedient.