Tell me a little about how you first got involved with World Relief?
TIM: I haven’t always been this way. In fact, I first got involved with this work through colleagues. At the time, I worked with a few individuals whose hearts had been moved in very significant ways by serving the vulnerable around the world. Back then, I didn’t know that much about the issues of our world or the magnitude of the need, but I had a friend recommend the book The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. In the book, there was a foreword written by Bono and I remember being so inspired by how he used his celebrity status to help expose the needs of the vulnerable around the world. It was really then that I became acutely aware of the magnitude of need and wanted to help. So, I did some research and came across World Relief. Long story short, I got personally involved, and then six years ago I joined the board myself.
Tell me about your own decision making process when it came to charitable giving? Why do you give?
TIM: Our view of charitable giving has really evolved over the years. I think we’ve always been generous people but we weren’t always intentional with our giving. Today, that’s changed—we are very intentional. We truly believe that all we have has been given to us by God and that we’re responsible for stewarding it. So now, Terri and I sit down each year, before the beginning of the year, and we pledge out what our commitment back to God will be. We break it down by organization and we have conversations about each of them. We are always trying to think about how we can be great stewards of what God has given to us over our lifetime.
TERRI: I think, too, that something really changed for us when we stopped seeing ‘vulnerable people’ as a label and started understanding it as a circumstance. When we recognized that being vulnerable is not a fixed status, and that any one of us can and will be vulnerable at one point or another in our lives, that really created a strong sense of solidarity. You know you share a common humanity with the vulnerable when you stop seeing them as ‘less than’, knowing they are equal in God’s eyes and as human beings. When you see your suffering neighbor as your equal, it changes everything. It’s not about pity. It becomes about wanting to be a part of raising up humanity and honoring God.
What drew you to World Relief in particular?
TIM: We went on a vision trip and saw firsthand how World Relief is impacting and transforming lives around the world. It wasn’t until we experienced what World Relief does in a tangible way that our hearts were really moved. Before that, intellectually, we were certainly supportive of the organization but, to quote an old African proverb, “It was when our hearts were moved that our feet also moved.”
TERRI: Of course the fact that it was faith-based was important to us. But more than that, I think, was that as we began to learn more about humanitarian and development work, we both became aware that sustainability was key. We knew we didn’t want to support a hand-out organization but an organization that honors the dignity of the vulnerable and creates programs that are sustainable. We really witnessed that in reality with World Relief. When we saw the power of that, and the impact we could have, that’s what really moved our hearts.
What’s been the most exciting thing you’ve seen or heard about as a result of your giving?
TIM: That’s hard—there have been just so many moments that have really validated why we’re committed to World Relief. In any one of the Savings for Life sessions that we’ve witnessed, or in meeting with some of the bravest women we’ve ever met in Congo, or in hearing government officials in Rwanda affirm our work, or in seeing the strength of churches unified by World Relief in Malawi—the list goes on. Over and over and over we see stories of the fruit that has been born from the seeds that were planted.
TERRI: It’s true. And I think meeting with the women in Congo was really an amazing experience for me, personally. Here was this group of women who had gone through incredible amounts of suffering and distress in Congo, yet still standing tall, reclaiming their experiences and their narrative, realizing they’re not responsible for what happened to them, realizing they didn’t do anything wrong. And to watch them be moved to tears, exclaiming they still had joy in their hearts “because Jesus loves them,” that was just amazing. “He sees we are clean,” they said. And World Relief was the one who started that repair and healing in them.
What motivates you to continue giving today?
TIM: The Church Empowerment Zone model World Relief has implemented is really incredible. The return on investment is just amazing. You touch thousands, if not millions, of lives. It works with churches that really know their communities and are able to bring people of greatest need into the programs. And of course, it’s those church networks that will remain as long as we’re on this earth, and longer, and that really proves just how sustainable this model is.
TERRI: I think, too, we’ve seen how World Relief is teaching and equipping communities in such a tangible way. We really saw that when we were in Malawi and one of the program beneficiaries articulated the transformation curriculum to us. We understood it more through him than we did even through reading about it! And that was incredible. Here was this man, once so down and out—an abusive husband, absent father and alcoholic, articulating a transformation curriculum. It was incredible to see it really at work.
TIM: Yea, it was amazing. As an investment guy, I can tell you it’s a fabulous place to put your money. When you overlay that kind of impact and sustainability with the call from God to stand with and for the most vulnerable, it just meshes beautifully with our vision of how we want to use the resources God has blessed us with to steward.
How has your life been impacted or changed since you started giving to World Relief?
TIM: I think World Relief has had a tremendous impact on how we view the world and how we view our role in the world. We are so honored to be partners with World Relief and play a small part in impacting people’s lives—even if they’re people we’ll never meet here on earth. It’s hard to describe how much our relationship with World Relief has impacted us. It’s opened our eyes and matured our hearts to the vulnerable.
There’s another amazing story, too. I think in many ways World Relief helped open our eyes and hearts to pray and think on who God might be calling us to love. A few years ago, we’d been in prayer that God would reveal our ‘vulnerable neighbor’ to us. Well, God literally brought her to our driveway. She crashed into our mailbox! She was a refugee and single mother who lived in our neighborhood, yet we’d never met. Today, she’s one of our closest friends and her son is our Godson. It’s a very special relationship.
What would you say to other families that are thinking about giving to World Relief or another organization like World Relief? Do you have any advice or encouragement?
TIM: I would first just encourage you to do the research to learn. Whether, like me, it’s reading The End of Poverty, or something else—just become aware of the need. I think that’s incredibly important. There is so much great need out there. Secondly, I would say that I think if you prayerfully read the scriptures and ask God what he’s calling you to do around the vulnerable, he will reveal it, however unexpected. 10 years ago I never would have thought that I’d be giving to World Relief. But then I saw. And I understood.
There are so many great organizations from which you could choose. But make sure you do choose. Invest in them. Because when you do, you’re really investing in God’s kingdom. And as Christians, this is where we belong. This is what we should be doing. It’s an eternal and tremendous return-on-investment. It changes lives.
Francesca Albano currently serves as Director of Branded Content at World Relief. With a background in Cultural Anthropology and a graduate degree in Strategic Marketing Communications, she connects her interests in societal studies and global cultures with her training in brand strategy and storytelling. Francesca is especially passionate about grassroots community development and the treatment and advancement of women and girls around the world.