Tuesday morning of this past week I had a meeting with Phil Atter, Bob Kleuppel, and Jim Selzer. Phil, as you probably know, is my Father-in-law and has been very involved with All Things New since the beginning. Bob is a friend of ours that we met through Christ’s Church and he is beginning the daunting task of writing grant proposals for All Things New. If you have ever been involved in nonprofit work before, you know these proposals can be daunting and we are very appreciative of Bob’s willingness to help out in this way (also if you are connected or know someone who is connected to a foundation or other grant giving entity please contact us). Tuesday morning was the first time I had met Jim and we were meeting to try to learn from some of his experience in the nonprofit world. Meeting with people who have experience working in ministry and specifically in nonprofits like All Things New is something I always jump at the chance to do. I have learned so much from people like Jim Henry, Edsel Redden, Lorraine Jacobs, and Tony Smid (please forgive me if I did not list your name) and I hope to always be able to meet with people like this who have more wisdom and knowledge in their right thumb about fundraising and nonprofit leadership than I have ever known. I want to share one specific thing that I learned from Jim at this meeting even though there were many other things as well.
When we sat down together for breakfast the first thing we did was just share a little about ourselves. Jim shared with me some of his experience and what he has done in the nonprofit/ministry world and I shared with him about All Things New and where we find ourselves as an organization right now. One of the first things he said about ATN is that he was very impressed with what we have been able to accomplish in our short existence. It was very encouraging to hear that from someone who had been exactly where we are right now. This is not exactly the specific thing that I wanted to share, but I did want to encourage each of you who are reading this and who support All Things New because when he said that to me, he was actually saying that to all of us. My hope and prayer is that each of us feel encouraged together, that each of us go through the struggles of ministry together, and that each of us worship GOD together for what He is doing through this ministry. It truly is a team effort.
A short time after Jim encouraged us in this way, I made a statement that I know I have made in blogs and maybe even in person to some of you. I said something along the lines of, “If we only take care of our children for 18 years and then send them out into a non-existent job market where they cannot take care of themselves or their families then we have not done much.” Jim, very graciously but very quickly, pointed out to me that this statement is not true at all. He (and I am sure each of you do as well) understood my point that we need to continue to improve and to do whatever we can to help our kids and our community in the future. But what he made perfectly clear as well is that we should celebrate what we have already done. He said that even if our ministry ended today we have done more than we probably could ever know by loving our children, giving them hope, and showing them that there is more to life that they can aspire to. And the truth is, he was right. Each of you have made a huge difference in these kids’ lives already and it is truly immeasurable. The fact that they have known love, been physically nourished, had a roof over their head, and were given hope that their future could be more than what they imagined 4 years ago (before ATN existed) is something that nobody could ever take away. That is GOD using each of you to change the lives of children in a completely different country and we are so thankful and grateful that He has put you in our lives and in turn the lives of our children.
As you know, we are in the process of moving All Things New forward and trying to be an agent of change for our children and for our community. We believe that GOD is calling us into new areas of ministry that will help give our kids a brighter future and that we hope will change our area of Haiti for the better. As we do this, however, we do not want to ever forget or look past what you have done for these kids and what we hope in turn these kids have done for you. I hope, in our planning and pushing toward the future, that we never discount what GOD has already done. The truth is GOD has accomplished things in and through All Things New that I would have never imagined when we first started. He has changed our vision, changed how we do ministry, and through it all has changed the lives of our kids and our employees for the better. At the same time, we have seen numerous teams and churches come down to do ministry here and we believe that GOD has used those trips to change lives and to bring people closer to Himself. The bottom line is that over the past 4 years GOD has worked and we are so thankful that each of you have been a part of this ministry. We look forward to the future, but we also want to celebrate the present and I hope you will join us in that because each of you are a part of what GOD has done!