How taking a few steps can protect an innocent child

In a little over a week, on Saturday, May 8, World Concern will have its annual fundraiser focused on protecting children, called the Free Them 5k.  Many of you reading this have signed up, either to run, jog, or walk, or have agreed to sponsor someone – thank you!

But what is protection?  What does it mean, in practice?  The idea of protection has gained real momentum in recent years, as people in general become more socially aware in an inter-connected world.  But is that all it is, an idea whose time has come, in a world that has the capability for better social reflection?  I think not…

Those of you who are familiar with the bible will know that the broad issue of ‘justice’ is a constant throughout scripture.  It is not new.  It actually reflects who God is at the core of His being.  Ancient Hebrew law talks about not extracting everything from your field or vineyard, in order to leave something for the poor and the widow, and even the ‘foreigner’ in society.  The prophet Isaiah berates his community, Israel, for being super-religious, but neglecting the fundamentals of being a caring society, and reflecting the nature of God in how they cared for the needy.  In Jesus, we see His care often in those He ministered to.  And in the early church we see it in how they sold their belongings to help one another and shared everything.

As we lead up to the World Concern Free Them 5k, I think about where this money we raise will go. One of my favorite projects World Concern does that illustrates what ‘protection’ looks like is the work we do to keep young girls in school.  So many young girls are taken out of school, or never even get to go, because their parents have no money to pay basic school fees. Some can’t afford to feed their daughters, so they sell them off in an arranged marriage. 

World Concern works in Bangladesh to provide girls with scholarships so they can stay and school and not have to be married off.

These practices lead to so many other things, such as abuse, neglect, early pregnancy, and in the end, a continued life of poverty. Keeping them in school dramatically alters their trajectory, often preventing early marriage, and launching them into society at a productive level, where their income earning potential is radically different to what it would have been otherwise.  And they are unlikely to experience a life of grinding poverty.  These are all relatively small investments.

So, whether you run or jog or walk in your neighborhood on May 8th, support someone who is running the 5k, or are perhaps exploring the idea of child ‘protection’ for the first time, know that your involvement is vital and changes the trajectory of a child’s life.

There’s still time to join the Free Them 5k. Sign up for free today, or donate here: www.freethem5k.org

A female student takes notes in class in rural Bangladesh.

Reflections on Lent

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

As a child, the beginning of Lent was really all about Shrove Tuesday – Ash Wednesday never entered into the picture! Pancakes (crepes) were what it was all about.

But Ash Wednesday is the true beginning of Lent. Lent is really one of the key Christian traditions, a period in the calendar where followers of Christ prepare themselves for Easter, and all that it represents. 

Most of us are more familiar with Advent. Advent is celebration of anticipation. That’s easy in the 21st Century with the thick layer of commercialism that overlays it. We look forward, expectant, for the coming Christ, but also the presents under the tree!

Lent has no such drivers.  Neither is it commercially marketable.

But Lent is core to our Christian journey – because of what Christ accomplished; it’s core to every one of us.

Advent is outward anticipation; Lent, though, is about inward reflection, an honest reflection of who I am in the light of God. This is not something we should fear, but rather something we should embrace.  We embrace it because it is the doorway to grace in our lives, increasing grace, growing grace.  We look toward the cross – but we then look beyond it.

Modern life does not deal well with despair and sadness, which is an element in Lent, but it does not stop there – it points to the hope in the resurrection.

During the Lent season, we come to terms, or at least we grapple with, the human condition, my human condition.

The Cross is where our faith stands when all other faiths fail. Christ’s sacrifice and his subsequent resurrection are the true “cruxes” of the Christian faith. Without one there would be no salvation, without the other, no hope.

The Cross is, in many ways, the ultimate “reality check.” It confirms that sin really has a consequence. And reminds us that Adam and Eve’s ‘fall’ was unbelievably costly.

What does all this mean for us?  What is Lent really all about for me?  In a nutshell, it is about opening our hearts to God’s refining. It gives us an opportunity to be honest with ourselves—a focused opportunity for personal reflection. We can do this any time of the year, and day of the year, any hour of the day.  But Lent gives us a focal time, a hook, a timeframe, a shared journey with the community of Christian brothers and sisters.

But it’s not about dredging up things for which we can berate ourselves. This is about putting ourselves at the feet of Jesus, putting ourselves into a listening, penitential mode, that invites the Lord to walk with us as He chooses, as we open ourselves and make ourselves vulnerable to him.

Lent is a wonderful opportunity to enter into the journey Christ took to the cross. It’s a journey through suffering to hope. And it ends with the wonder and freedom of Easter.

Celebrating Water in a Dry, Thirsty Land

A celebration took place on the banks of a riverbed in the barren region of Samburu, Kenya, a few weeks ago. Just beyond the blessing ceremony was a rare and precious sight—something previously very difficult to find in this part of the world: water. Lots of water.

The pounding seasonal rains that normally create rivers of muddy water and flood the hardened soil gushed over a newly constructed sand dam and filled a huge reservoir that now holds enough water to provide a reliable, year-round supply of clean water for nearby villages.

This is indeed something to celebrate in Samburu, and here’s why…

The plight of women in this drought-prone part of the world, who walk for miles every day to collect water for their families, is evident in the life of a mom named Lolmodooni. We joined her on her journey through prickly brush where cheetahs hunt their prey in the blazing desert heat.

When Lolmodooni reached the dry riverbed, she began to dig into the sand, smelling the wet soil for animal and human feces. Once she hit water, about two feet down, she began to scoop the grey, milky water into her 20-liter water jug. This water is not safe to drink, and likely made her children sick, but she had no choice… until now.

See Lolmodooni’s walk for water through the lens of filmmaker Doug Irvine, who shares his experience visiting this remote part of the world in this video.

With the support of World Concern, the new sand dam was constructed with local community members doing much of the work. It not only provides natural filtration of the water through the sand, and a hand pump for easy access, it dramatically reduces the distance women have to walk to get water.  

“We thank God for this sand dam because before we used to walk tens of kilometers in search of water and then walk back home,” said Narikuni, a 30-year-old mother of four. “It is tedious and time consuming [collecting water]. Our children were forced to stay at home and miss school because of water shortage, but now that the sand dam is less than a kilometer from our home, we will be able to get enough water and have time for other errands.”

Clean water means better health. A water source near home means safety for moms and their kids, more time in their day to do the things that matter, like work and go to school. And abundant water also means more food, a healthier diet, and income.

Sand dams raise the water table, so they are an effective way to regenerate soil, enabling vegetation to grow. With this, the communities can be trained to grow vegetables which will improve nutrition and lower food costs. Vegetables can also be sold at the local market, generating income for families in the village.

So, why not just dig a well in the village? In an area like Samburu, digging wells is not always possible. The water table may be too low, and the water is often brackish, making it not fit for human consumption.

World Concern uses innovative approaches to provide clean water, depending on the context, location, and needs. In areas where it rains very little and wells are not possible or cost prohibitive, sand dams offer a possible solution.

A sand dam consists of a concrete wall built on a seasonal riverbed. With time, sand builds up on the dam. Beneath the sand, water is stored and protected from evaporation. It also filters the water and makes it clean. A well installed with a handpump is usually constructed on the banks of the same river since the water table is raised by the sand dam, and a storage tank retains clean water for quick access. Watch this animated video to see how sand dams work.

Abundant, clean water in a place like Samburu is indeed reason to celebrate. You can be a part of making clean water a reality in a remote village. To learn more, visit www.worldconcern.org/water.

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground…” Isaiah 44:3

How We See ‘The Other’

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the challenges of racism in the context of World Concern’s work globally.  Here in the US, the issue of race dominates our headlines almost daily. We also bring our own background and experiences to the story.  But as is clear from scripture, Christ calls His followers to an entirely different standard—the standard of how we ‘see’ those different to us.

But race is part of a wider issue. At its heart, it is about how we see ‘the other’ – neighbor, passer-by, enemy.

At World Concern, how we see ‘the other’ is core to our transformational work.

This last weekend I was challenged by something I read in the Bible, in the Book of John, chapter 9.  It’s the story of the encounter with the man who was blind from birth.  In brief, Jesus and his disciples saw this individual, but the narrative has a blunt beginning—the disciples remark, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?”  No soft entry, no introduction; rather “whose fault is this?”  Don’t we do this all the time?  We see someone, perhaps of different nationality, perhaps with a disability, perhaps homeless, and we immediately categorize the person.  “They are like this because…” We put them in a category to define them, to perhaps stigmatize, perhaps blame. 

I am indebted to Paul Miller for his insight into this passage from his book Love Walked Among Us:

“The disciples see a blind man; Jesus sees a man who happens to be blind.  The disciples see an item for debate; Jesus sees a person, a human being like himself. They see a sin, the effect of man’s work; Jesus sees need, the potential for God’s work.  The disciples see a completed tragedy and wonder who the villain was; Jesus sees a story half-told, with the best yet to come.”

When we look at someone, do we see a problem, a category, or a person?  We put people in boxes to control our own discomfort, and almost certainly to set ourselves at a distance from them.

In our work, we have this problem, but we try to recognize and remedy it when it happens.  We often talk about “beneficiaries” “recipients” or “the poor.”  Worst, as the world becomes more data driven, we reduce people to a number.

But this innocuous encounter tells a different story.  The disciples saw a blind man; Jesus saw a man, who happened to be blind.  The difference is subtle but ultimately transformative; it humanizes the ‘other’ and opens up the door to compassion and kindness.

World Concern President, Nick Archer, listens to community members in a rural village in Chad. At World Concern, our work starts with listening and learning.

We work in communities of very diverse needs.  Are they poor?  Often, yes.  Are they non-literate? Maybe.  But fundamentally, who do we see, as in really see? It may be easier to categorize, maybe even an automatic reaction; but we try to see the individual who, regardless of what I think or what the world tells me, is made absolutely in the image of God.

Seeing ‘the other’ is core to what we, as the people of Christian faith, are called to. It is what we, as World Concern, are called to. In partnering with us and being part of our story, we invite you into this same journey.

How Practical Gifts Saved and Transformed Angelina’s Life

This article contains advertorial content provided by World Concern for promotional purposes.

When Angelina Agol gave birth to twin boys, she was overjoyed. But her joy turned to panic when she realized that her weakened, undernourished body couldn’t produce milk to feed her babies.

Angelina and her newborn twins were starving.

Angelina was worried about her children’s health, knowing she couldn’t feed them.

In South Sudan, where Angelina lives, the vast majority of families struggle to find food to eat. Some are so hungry, they resort to eating leaves off trees to survive.

“There was no food to eat,” she said. “Then, these babies were born and they were suffering. I was not able to breastfeed them… that’s when World Concern came in.”

Local staff assessed the babies’ weight, growth, and nutrition levels and immediately referred them to an emergency feeding program. Angelina and her babies spent 13 days in the hospital-based program, where they were treated for severe malnutrition.

When they were stabilized and returned home, the family received emergency food and financial support.

“We were given soup, milk, fish, tomatoes, and eggplant. I also received food and recovered. I was given eggs and goat’s milk,” she said.

Angelina’s life dramatically improved when she received goats, which provided much-needed nutritious milk and income for her family.

Things really began to improve in Angelina’s life when her family received goats and chickens through World Concern’s Global Gift Guide. In South Sudan, livestock are like having an instant bank account. Not only did Angelina’s family now have milk and eggs to eat and sell for income, seeds and agricultural training, helped them grow vegetables for a stable, nutritious diet.

Her kids and her garden are not the only thing growing in Angelina’s home—her goats and chickens are multiplying too. In fact, her original female goat has given birth to twins—three times! Over a two-year period, her flock grew to 21 goats.  

She started a small business making insulated containers to keep food hot or cold. And she has taught other women to do the same. Entrepreneurs like Angelina are empowered to grow their businesses and increase their income by joining a savings group.

Angelina was empowered to start a small business making insulated containers to keep food warm, and trained other women to do the same.

Through these practical, life-saving gifts Angelina received, she experienced God’s incredible love for her for the first time in her life. And when she was healthy enough to learn about His son Jesus, she opened her heart to Him.

“I have now become a Christian, and I go to church regularly,” she said.

“If World Concern had not intervened, my children would have died, just like other children in this village have died,” said this grateful mom. “I was helped by World Concern. That is why my children are now healthy, and they are living.”

To give practical, life-saving gifts like the ones that helped Angelina’s family, visit World Concern’s Global Gift Guide at www.globalgiftguide.org.  

Angelina’s twins are now growing strong and healthy, thanks to a stable, nutritious diet.

Now That’s Sustainability!

After 10 years, a community well gets an upgrade

Ten years ago, the community of Oltarakwai in rural Kenya, got their first taste of clean, clear drinking water from a new well, built in partnership with World Concern. Everything changed in the community.

Girl at well
A young girl pumps water from the well’s original hand pump.

“During the dry season, when the springs began to dry up, we had to wait overnight to get some water to take home,” recalls Namna Olorupa, a village elder, of what life was like before the well. “We also drew water from open pools which we shared with our livestock and wild animals like hyenas.”

The well was a Godsend, providing safe, accessible water to families for over a decade. “During the 2017 drought the [well] served us and up to 5 neighboring villages. They would carry their water with Donkeys and Motorbikes,” said Namna.

You can imagine the strain on the well’s handpump with hundreds of families from multiple villages using it round the clock. Maintenance on the well became more frequent, and parts for the hand pump had to be replaced often.

New well pump
Joyful community members can now just turn a tap and fill up their water jugs.

But this year, the well in Oltarakwai got an exciting upgrade. With the help of World Concern and Nairobi water company Davis & Shirtliff, a solar pump, tap, and 3,000-liter water storage tank were installed at the well, drastically improving its output and efficiency, reducing maintenance, and saving precious time.

No more long lines of people waiting to fill up water containers at the pump. No more strenuous pumping water constantly, and no more replacing broken or worn out pump parts.

Just clean, safe water flowing from the simple turn of a tap!

women at the well
Mayiani and Noosiruai are thrilled with the new solar pump.

“This solar powered-water project is the best ever,” exclaimed Mayiani Meyagari, a joyful community member. “We no longer have to strain as we pump water like before. With the new tap, we now take less time fetching water. We are now utilizing the extra time in our kitchen gardens and making beaded artwork for sale.’’

‘’The water is very clean… there is now no scarcity even in the dry season,” said Kimanyisho Noolbariko, who also lives in the village.

“We are no longer worried about tomorrow; where our next source of water will come from.”

– Elder Namna

Elder Namna says he sees a brighter future for his village because of the well improvements. “There is so much water being pumped by the solar pump. I see a lot of potential. It can even be used to do small scale irrigation. We are no longer worried about tomorrow; where our next source of water will come from,” he said.

“God has used you to bring this project to us. Every kid that is born from this year will grow up testifying of the goodness of this water.”

– Elder Meyagari
happy elders
Elders Namna (left) and Meyagari praise God and give thanks to those who helped bring this sustainable source of clean water to their village.

Another village elder, Meyagari ole Salankat, credits God for this transformation. “God has used you to bring this project to us. Every kid that is born from this year will grow up testifying of the goodness of this water. This protected water will save us from water borne diseases like typhoid. My village was blessed to have the original hand pump. We prayed for you, and see, God has worked through you … we now have a better water project.”

On average, it costs just $20 to provide clean water to one person. To find out how you can help deliver safe drinking water to a village like Oltarakwai, visit www.worldconcern.org/water

The Vital Importance of Water

Animals drink from a water hole in South Sudan.

During my time living and working with World Concern in East Africa in the 1990s, I remember visiting a community in the Juba valley of Somalia. This village was hundreds of miles from any safe water source, so World Concern rehabilitated a well in the area. As I approached the massive area that surrounded the well, an astonishing sight came into view. Multitudes of people and animals crowded around the water source, trudging through mud to reach the water.

As I watched people drink from this well, it really hit me how critical this vital resource—water—is to human survival, and to any possibility of escaping the grip of extreme poverty, sickness, and hopelessness.

People and animals surround a water point.
People and animals surround a water point in Somalia during the 2011 Horn of Africa famine.

My thoughts shifted to the thousands of other communities who were (and still are) waiting for water. The impact of water-borne diseases on people—of parasitic infections on children—is staggering. Children’s bodies are depleted of nourishment, growth is stunted, and their systems weakened by intestinal worms that suck the nutrients from their food and cause constant pain. Young girls and women spend the better part of each day walking 5 to 10 kilometers carrying 20-liter jugs of water on their heads or backs…

And I asked myself, how can we change this story?

It’s hard to imagine living your entire life lacking water and under the threat of water-borne illness. I only had one experience in Somalia when I got sick from water—and it wasn’t even from drinking it! I had a rule: Never eat salad. As long as I ate cooked food, I knew the bacteria and parasites would be killed in the cooking process. But for whatever reason, I decided one time that the hotel I was staying at was nice enough that I would eat a salad there. Boy, was I wrong. I got so sick. I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say, I won’t ever forget that experience.

The fact is, the tiny droplets of water that had come in contact with the lettuce in the washing process contained microorganisms that I couldn’t see. The hidden danger in the water was invisible.

I learned my lesson, and thankfully recovered in a few days. But millions of people don’t. They live with constant sickness that ravages their health and traps them in a cycle of suffering.

A girl draws water from a pump well.

Their only chance at freedom from sickness and suffering is a sustainable source of clean, safe drinking water. And the good news is, that’s possible. I’ve witnessed the dramatic impact clean water has on lives and entire communities.

We can change someone’s life by changing the quality and purity of the water they drink. I don’t know what else is quite so life-giving as when you give a community water. It actually makes me emotional to say that. When we connect with people at the point of human need, it’s profound.

Africa, in a lot of ways, shaped my theology. And I believe that water is a reflection of God’s goodness to us. The hope and opportunity clean water gives people is so powerful.

Water is life.

Nick Archer in Somalia.
World Concern President Nick Archer lived and served with World Concern in East Africa in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Around the World, Reconciliation with Our ‘Neighbor’ is What’s Needed

One of the most powerful and timeless parables that Jesus told was the parable of the good Samaritan.  The term Samaritan is recognizable in many languages and when used, people understand what it means, even if they’ve never read the bible for themselves.  We even have organizations named such!

But let’s recall the context.  Jesus tells the parable in response to a question by a man trying to justify himself, trying to set himself apart, superior, better. The question? “Who is my neighbor?” 

This itself was in response to the question ‘what is the greatest commandment?’ Love God with all your might, and your neighbor as yourself.  But the man was not satisfied with that.

Jesus tells a parable that utilized one of the most stark and entrenched divisions of his day.  We read this in the 21st century and often think of it as a ‘nice’ story, but in Jesus day, it was anything but nice.  It was pointed, provocative, and definitely insulting to a whole lot of people who thought themselves better.

Why do I mention this?  Because in this parable, we are faced ourselves, in our day, with issues that offend—some would say, insult—certain groups.  Right now, racism has come once more into the foreground, and the people of God are challenged as to how to respond—as they should be.  What will we do?  Will our own prejudice get in the way?

World Concern, in its work around the globe, faces these issues every day.  From the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar to the long-term conflicts between the Dinka and Nuer tribes of South Sudan.  Let’s be honest, the world has a global problem; we here in the US simply have our own variant, rooted in history, which so many of these issues are.

The reality is, the scourge of racism, tribalism, and clannism—systematic oppression of one people over another—is endemic in our world.  It is a virus far, far more damaging than COVID-19.  One of the things that World Concern has learned through our work, successes and failures, is that ultimately, it’s about power and dignity. Who has the power, and who doesn’t, and how do those in power wield that power?  In our Transformational Development work, exposing issues of power, and giving voice to the oppressed, is at the core of what we do.  Valuing the voice of ‘the other’ is central to what we do.

This is ultimately life-changing… people begin to have hope, they understand they have value and meaning, and that all powerful component… dignity. That’s a game changer! People, whether a tribe or an individual gradually realize that they don’t have to always see themselves as the left outs, the bottom of the pile, the worthless.  They have value and meaning.

Many of you who engage with what we do have a hand in these lifechanging encounters. Thank you. You are helping bridge divides that have been in existence for generations.

When Jesus told that parable, he was essentially saying to us, “The equation has to change.”  You no longer have the freedom to love God, yet discriminate against your neighbor due to history, race, color, or whatever other factor you want to add.  This is all our challenge; this is the world’s challenge.

Jesus ended by asking his questioner, “Who do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” To which the questioner replied, “The man who showed him mercy.”  The questioner could not even bring himself to use the word ‘Samaritan’!

And Jesus answered, “Go and do the same.”  May God give all of us the grace and courage to face those prejudices latent in our own hearts.  As you pray for, and give to, the work that World Concern does around the world, pray that our staff and teams continue in humility, wisdom, and the courage to reflect the Good News of God’s work of reconciliation for ALL of us.

“My children are crying for food…”

The Ripple Effect of COVID-19 on the Poorest

For Sokina Begum, a young mom in rural Bangladesh, it’s not the threat of a deadly virus that keeps her up at night – it’s the cries of her children and the hunger pains in her own stomach.

The government lockdown in Bangladesh means her family is crowded together inside their tiny shack that’s part of a slum for landless, poor beggars. It also means she’s forbidden to leave the house to work. Sokina’s husband is crippled and unable to work, and her two daughters, ages 11 and 6, are hungry.

Sokina's family
Sokina’s family had run out of food. With no way to work, she felt hopeless. Just in time, World Concern staff delivered emergency food to her door.

Before the pandemic, she was earning about $2.35 a day collecting fish, which was enough to feed her family and even send her eldest daughter to school. But now, there’s no way to work, and their food supply had run out.

“If I do not work a day, our food and other things are uncertain. It has been more than 25 days. I have no work and I don’t have any savings,” said Sokina. “I can’t go to work anywhere. I am living a helpless life in this situation. My children are crying for food.”

But a ray of hope arrived at her door when World Concern staff delivered emergency food and hygiene supplies.

World Concern teams delivered emergency food packages to 480 families in Sokina’s neighborhood. Each family received 16 pounds of rice, 7 pounds of potatoes, 2 pounds of onions, plus lentils, oil, and salt.

“I believe this package came from God for our survival,” proclaimed Sokina, who believes the food came just in time. “Otherwise, we may have died.”

In addition to food packages, 4,000 masks and 3,000 bars of soap were distributed to families in need. Handwashing stations were also set up around villages, and important Coronavirus prevention information was broadcast over megaphones attached to rickshaws.

Father of four, Shajahan Bayati, also received emergency food and supplies for his family. Within a week of the lockdown, they had completely run out of food. Shajahan tried operating his rickshaw to earn some money, but was sent back home by the police.

Shajahan's family
Shajahan’s family was among nearly 500 families living in extreme poverty in rural Bangladesh who received emergency food and supplies during the country’s lockdown.

He was grateful to receive the desperately-needed food.

“It feels really good at that moment because I had nothing to eat,” he said. “Now we can have three full meals a day for a week and my children will be very happy.”

In Bangladesh, distributions are done house-to-house to avoid crowds, and staff and beneficiaries maintain safe distances and wear personal protection, such as masks and gloves.

Laos Rice DistributionIn countries like Laos, where rural farmers already struggle to earn sufficient income from the rice crops so many depend on for food, the COVID-19 crisis is making matters worse. Food supplies, market pricing, and distribution are all unstable.

To help ensure families have enough to eat, 270 farmers in 8 villages recently received 30 kilograms of rice seeds. Rice banks will be established in the villages, and these farmers will, in turn, 35 kilograms of their harvested seeds so that more farmers can borrow and benefit as well.

Farmer carrying rice seed.“We are thankful to World Concern for giving us this high-yield and quality variety of rice,” said one of the farmer, Mr. Bounkert.

A little girls eats a Nutripacket in Somalia.
Malnourished little ones, like this girl in Somalia, are receiving emergency nutrition to restore their weakened bodies to health.

As the pandemic worsens in developing countries, like Somalia, where COVID-19 comes on the heels of drought and locust infestations, food prices are skyrocketing and livestock herds diminishing. Hungry children received emergency nutrition packets that save lives and restore malnourished little ones to health.

As families and communities in the world’s poorest places do their best to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting social interactions and staying home, the very activities they depend on to survive are also limited, leading to hunger and despair.

With the critical support of donors, World Concern is working to assist families in greatest need and help them survive the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. To donate, please visit: https://www.worldconcern.org/urgent

Bangladesh staff spread message by megaphone
World Concern staff in Bangladesh broadcast vital information about staying healthy over megaphones in areas where there’s no TV, internet, or radio.

Giving Generously, Even in Times of Uncertainty

Though most businesses are being impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, one Northwest business is keeping morale high and not letting up their commitment to giving back and serving others.

Josh Bayles, branch manager at Capstone Home Loans in Lynnwood, Washington, says he’s grateful to be working during this time when so many have lost jobs and livelihoods, and that the mortgage industry is doing well right now.

“Our whole team is working overtime, lowering rates through refinances, and helping clients purchase homes,” he said.

In addition to supporting multiple local charities such as the Everett Gospel Mission and Olive Crest, through their employee-funded Community Chest Fund, Capstone is also a faithful annual sponsor and supporter of World Concern’s Free Them 5k.

Capstone Home Loans staff and their families have joined and supported World Concern’s Free Them 5k for years. This year’s virtual event is no different. They’ve set a goal to protect 100 children from trafficking!

“We have a special heart for World Concern and for this cause—helping rescue kids from trafficking,” said Josh. Capstone formed their own team for the 2020 Free Them 5k and set a goal to protect 100 children from trafficking, exploitation, and harm, through their team’s fundraising efforts.

This year, for the 2021 Free Them 5k, Capstone sponsored the first match, April 16-18, doubling the impact of every donation participants raised up to $2,500!

As some are pulling back from giving during this time of uncertainty, Josh says they’re committed to keeping the spirit of generosity and helping others going.

“My partners and I are men of faith and we trust God with our finances. We want to give our ‘first fruits’ back to Him from our business income and net profits,” he explains. “We have an extra responsibility and privilege to share what we’ve been given with those in need, and we’re grateful our business enables us to do that.”

To sign up for the 2021 Virtual Free Them 5k and join the fight against child trafficking, visit www.freethem5k.org.