Wednesday, October 20, 2010

House upon the Rock & Explaining Friendly Planet Missiology

The push this month has been to get the ground leveled and the foundations properly poured before the American team arrives in Lusaka. So, I’ve been catching myself humming the old VBS song “The wise man built his house upon the rock…” and this got me thinking about a better way to explain the function of Friendly Planet Missiology

People state-side love financing tangible development projects.  We love knowing that our money bought a bicycle, a mosquito net, a cow, a clinic or a water-well. Like a house, all of these things are intrinsically good. The issue, though, is whether these projects are built on a firm foundation or whether we are being fools building on the sand. When we talk about Friendly Planet making leadership development its #1 priority, what we mean is that we spend time and resources making sure the local leadership has the desire and capacity to support a project before we start pouring money into it. Yes, the projects on the ground that we advertise may sound similar to what other organizations are doing, but the projects we ask you to finance are unlikely to collapse because they are being managed by inspiring local leaders whom we know well.

Building strong foundations can be expensive.  It requires site visits, salaries, training, and follow-up. This is what we mean when we talk about calculating the total cost of a project. Advertisements that promise that “100% of your donation goes directly to purchase an X” may sound appealing, but stop and ask yourself “Where is the money coming from to make sure the X that I donate gets from point A to point B and that it works once it gets there?”  

Friendly Planet cannot and will not make you “no admin costs” promises. Instead, we promise you that the funds you donate will be used to develop strong local leadership and to finance the projects of these leaders. We are very excited about the projects of the Congolese and Zambian leaders whom we have the privilege to call colleagues, and we hope that you will help spread the word about this ministry.  

The Countdown is On

The countdown is on here in the Lusaka district.  The SIFAT execs are arriving this Friday and a large delegation from Trinity United Methodist Church of Birmingham, AL arrives next week.  They’ve come to assist in the building of a United Methodist/SIFAT training and conference center just north of town. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, this project is a big deal and has required a large team effort:

With the blessing and remote supervision of Bishop Katembo (based in Lubumbashi, DR Congo), Lusaka United Methodists have dealt with the headaches of purchasing land, getting permits, researching logistical questions, supervising work, guarding the property, etc.  SIFAT is taking on the fundraising for the construction expenses (including obtaining significant donations from B.L. Harbert construction). Students in University of Alabama’s Engineers Without Borders chapter have drafted building plans and plan to return each year for a work-week (the university gives them academic credits for this).  Trinity United Methodist Church is joining the effort both in fundraising and visits.  And me—I find myself serving as the “middle-woman,” passing messages back and forth across the globe and doing the legwork that others cannot due to barriers such as language/distance/transportation/contacts/lack of internet/etc.    

Keep the countdown in your prayers; I’ll be blogging about how the visit goes!