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How outreach ministry Hand of Hope partners and risks to reach the unreached
For as long as I can remember, my mom and dad (Joyce and Dave Meyer) have always looked for ways to help those in need. I’ve watched them cry with compassion for the homeless, hungry and mistreated—and then do something about it.
From the very beginning, using our resources to reach out to others has been extremely important to them. Our commitment initially started as a tithe—allocating 10 percent of our income to help the hurting through missions efforts. Over the years, that percentage has increased incrementally.
As CEO of Hand of Hope (the missions arm for Joyce Meyer Ministries), helping others is my calling. It’s what God created me to do. But witnessing my parents’ love for hurting people has influenced the course of my life. Through the years, their lifestyle of radical generosity has transformed the hearts of millions—including mine—and set the groundwork for everything we do through Hand of Hope.
The Bible tells us that “to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). God never designed people, churches or other organizations to be the end of the giving cycle. As we look back, we strongly believe our commitment in this area is one reason why our ministry has continued to grow and reach even more people.
Together We Are Better
In many ways, the phrase “Together we are better” has become my motto. Throughout my life and in my role with Hand of Hope, I have consistently seen how collaboration affords us opportunities to reach previously unreached people. Our partnerships with other organizations have allowed us to accomplish otherwise impossible feats. Sure, we can do a lot by ourselves. But together, our success multiplies exponentially!
One of my first real lessons in this took place years ago. At that time, our ministry had a serious interest in doing more to help the nation of India, where, according to The World Bank, more than 852 million people live on less than $2 a day. Over the course of a few years, we managed to establish a few smaller outreaches which, at the time, seemed like a big step for us. What I didn’t know was that God was preparing us for a divine connection that would open up opportunities beyond our imagination.
In the course of ministry work in India, I met a man named Scott Norling, an American who, at that time, had lived in India close to 20 years and had tremendous influence with people we didn’t even know. As our relationship with Scott developed, we realized just how much we could accomplish together if we pooled our resources and connections. Fast-forward to 2012.
Because of this partnership with Scott, today my mom’s TV program is broadcast in 17 languages across India. In addition, we daily feed more than 8,800 children, operate a state-of-the-art hospital for those who can’t afford medical care, run a children’s home for those infected with HIV and oversee an anti-human trafficking rehabilitation center. And this isn’t even all of it!
I cringe to think what wouldn’t have been done if our ministry had insisted on doing it by ourselves.
Scott Norling currently serves as the director of our Asia office. And along the way, we have established key relationships with people like him in many other areas of the world. In total, Joyce Meyer Ministries now partners with more than 50 other organizations worldwide.
No matter how great a ministry or company is or how much influence it has, no organization can specialize in every area. That’s why we all need each other. When we all pool our talents, God not only gets in the middle of our efforts, He also gets the credit for the outcome.
“If At First You Don’t Succeed...”
Over the years, I’ve learned another important lesson: Not everything will go as planned. But the truth is that loving people requires effort and a lot of hard work. It requires coming up with solutions and getting creative. And often those solutions and creativity will be inconvenient. While it’s fun and satisfying to look at the results of a groundbreaking outreach, the behind-the-scenes reality is that someone did the hard work of breaking up that ground!
We’ve had our fair share of needing to get creative and more than a bit radical. But we’ve learned that going the proverbial extra mile can produce tremendous good. When I talk about “pushing through,” it’s impossible for me not to think of Hope Cambodia: 30 Days of Hope.
In summer 2007, we teamed up with several other organizations and an army of volunteers to pull off a multifaceted outreach in Cambodia. You may remember that more than 2 million people were brutally murdered during the genocide in the 1970s, leaving the country fearful and devastated. God really put it on all of our hearts to step out in faith and do whatever we could to help these precious people move forward with rebuilding their country.
During these 30 days, our ministry and the people who joined us held three outdoor festivals, leadership conferences and multiple medical clinics, ministered to prisoners, and dedicated some of the first “Hope Centers”—orphanages and community centers for children at risk.
From the start of our time there, the enemy opposed us. Before and during the outreach, it was one thing after another. The weather (we were there during the rainy season) just added to the challenges.
Then, toward the end of the 30 days, we faced the greatest adversity yet.
On the final day of the outreach, Mom was scheduled to speak in the Chenla Theater in the heart of Phnom Penh. All the documents had been signed and procedures had been followed. Hillsong’s Darlene Zschech and the band Delirious? were getting ready to start when the authorities arrived and cut the power to the building.
Then, unannounced, they locked the gates to the courtyard outside—no one could enter or leave the premises. I had never seen anything like it, and we had no precedent to know how to respond. What do we do now?
Minutes later, Zschech and Delirious? came outside and began to sing. The huge crowd outside the gates joined right in.
Then, before I knew it, my mom and dad—full of determination and the “never give up” spirit they have shown for many years—were climbing over the gate to get inside the courtyard! After worship, my mom preached one of her greatest messages using a bullhorn in the black of night.
No matter how awesome the event would have been inside, it could have never compared to what took place in that courtyard in Phnom Penh that evening.
Challenging times like that night have taught us to never give up. Be radical. Be creative. Some of the projects posing the greatest challenges and risks are the ones I’m most glad I pursued.
The Greatest Message We Will Preach
Through the years, I’ve seen just about every approach to try and reach people with the gospel—from mass crusades and church services to leadership seminars and all types of humanitarian efforts. Each one can bring a degree of success. But whether it’s in America, Latin America, Asia or Africa, people are ultimately reached because they believe you love and care about them. It’s a timeless principle we all need to remember as we start to reach out to people and engage them
So many of our outreaches are aimed at relieving suffering—and that’s a great thing. But they’re also about daily showing people we really care about them as people and that they are not forgotten. We want them to know we’re thinking about and praying for them. And if you do that for people long enough, then they eventually want to know what’s different about you, what’s compelling you to do this for them.
I’ll never forget a report I received from one of our original outreaches in India, partially focused on ministering to people with leprosy. In this region, lepers are complete outcasts, shunned from the community. The only interaction they have with the “outside world” is when someone throws a piece of food to them.
Our teams regularly met with them to not only pray for and with them, but also to help alleviate their physical suffering. One common issue was the incredibly painful sores they developed on the bottoms of their feet. One day, a member of our team began to take the bandages off one man’s foot and carefully wash the infected areas. Overwhelmed at such an act of love, the man asked, “Why are you touching my feet?” I’m so proud of our team member’s response. He replied, “Because there’s a God in heaven who wants to touch your heart.”
We want every single person we encounter to say that all-important prayer of salvation. But getting them to that point may take a lot of love in action. So many people are in so much physical or emotional pain that they can’t even process the “message” until their needs have been met.
I think about Acts 10:38: “He [Jesus] went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil” (NIV). How simple! The One with the greatest ministry in history drew people to Himself over and over in one major way: He loved them. And He is our example. Simply put, loving and caring for others is the greatest message we will ever preach.
One Step at a Time
We see images everywhere we go of suffering people around the world. It can be so overwhelming that we’re tempted to think, No matter what I do, it’s not going to make a difference. I felt this way years ago, and the Lord clearly spoke to me and said, “I am not asking you to solve all of the issues in the world. But I am asking you to help those I place in front of you.”
Bottom line: We’re only responsible to do our part. As we take these steps of obedience, then God adds His part and, together, we make a huge difference in the world.
Doing our part won’t always be easy. Love requires that we give up our rights and be inconvenienced. It requires us to occasionally take bold steps of obedience and do things we normally wouldn’t.
Trust me, I’ve experienced countless times when I thought, God, are You sure? But later on—down the road when we could see the big picture—we realized He was simply setting us up for a greater blessing and helping us do something we would have never thought to do on our own.
Today, we continue to approach world missions one step at a time—boldly, radically and with a lot of help from others. And we thank God for every single person He allows us in His name.
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