Friday, December 12, 2008

Partnership Drive

Ok, as I see it, there are three major blights on modern society; here they are in increasing order of irksomeness: third – people who talk in the theater, second – those who start honking the instant the light turns green, and first and most terrible – Telemarketers (need I say more).
In light of this, can you imagine how I felt when I got the details on what “partnership drive” actually is? I’m not one of the technologically savvy members of the information generation, no, I’m a face-to-face sort of guy. I don’t spend much time on the phone with friends and family so the thought of calling a complete stranger at home…not a fun thought!
I do, however, love this ministry more than I loath the phoning prospect, therefore I decided to tackle this project with zeal and a “good attitude”. Before we started the calling process Joe (VanderArk that is, development director) told us, regarding negative calls, “Don’t take it personal, they don’t know you, so it can’t be personal.” This became my mantra. I geared myself up, grabbed a calling list, and sat down to make my first call. I got a machine: second, third, etc… all machines or no answers for the first page. I sort of fell into a groove until I got a real live person on the other end of the line (bum bum buhhhmmm). Awkwardly I stumbled through the script as best I could; obviously I was not charming nor charismatic enough and they declined my offer to partner with us in the coming year.
Then followed a string of what I perceived as failures. Answering machines, no answers, exasperated sighs followed by hang ups or begrudging half-hearted participation in the first bit of the conversation only to end in “I’m not interested.” Then there is this countries current economic whatever it is which has a good percentage of our supporters out of work or “just scrapping by” and I felt horribly insensitive for even mentioning money in most of the calls I made.
There was, however, a second and far more admirable portion to our calls, we were taking prayer requests, and even praying for people right on the spot. No matter how bad it got with the partnership spiel there was always prayer, and I love praying. I would trudge through the bits with which I was uncomfortable then with joy and genuine concern ask if they had any specific prayer requests. This seemed to change people’s attitudes toward me; some people were touched, some were indifferent yet nicer, but some (and this I just don’t get) got annoyed! Sort of a “how dare you presume to pray for me!” Then they would hang up angry and I would sit there slightly confused, and (don’t tell them) pray for them anyway. But redemption did come in spite of all the indifference and apparent anger.
There were those calls that had some sort of divine purpose. For instance, a man I talked to; He seem a bit overwhelmed and I could hear his kids in the background. He said he was unable to support us this year (which is no problem) and started to hang up when I asked if there was anything I could pray for him and his family about. His tone softened, “actually yeah there is” he said and went on to tell me they just found out his daughter has a brain tumor. He did not go into any detail , but I could hear the pain and love and concern for his daughter in his voice. I felt a lump in my throat and the heat of tears welling behind my eyes as I asked if I could pray for him right then. I finished praying and said amen; there was no whaling or gnashing of teeth (sorry to be anti-climatic) he just said thanks and hung up the phone. But I got the privilege of being in his life for a moment and I got to share my life with him; I hope he felt how much I care about him and his family and I want him to know that his daughter is in my prayers every day.
After that conversation I started looking at the moments in every conversation where we (the supporter and I) were real and honest. I had more genuine moments with people, I was even asked if I had any prayer requests and then prayed for on the phone by this man who was just straight up nice all around. He was interested in the ministry and what we were doing, and wanted to know about the whole team; he asked if he could pray for me and for the team, and I’m not going to say no to that!
It was because of willingness like his to engage in conversation or prayer that we all persevered and pushed through the negative calls. It’s basically a willingness to share life with one another that helped this bothersome, draining task transcend obligatory duty into a legitimately enjoyable ministry opportunity.
Essentially we (the supporters and the ministry at large) are one community, one body, and by reaching out through this phone drive are offering part of our community, part of our life, part of who we are. Those who accept our extension of life were and are, hopefully, blessed, because I know they blessed me. Well, that’s all I have to say about that. Okbye.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

a break from touring.

hey guys! on the second of december we drove into willmar from madison wisconsin. this marked the end of our fall tour, which lasted one month. many great times were had and countless memories were made. we got to experience canada (for many of us, it was our first) and all of the wonders that canada entails. now that we are back in our "home town", we will be hanging out here for the first couple weeks of this month contributing in cti's annual campaign drive. this means we call people (many of them), and chat with them about maybe donating to cti. my favorite part about this whole thing is that we take prayer requests from the folks that we call and then before we beginning calling the next day we lift all of those requests up to God. it really is an awesome experience being able to get a glimpse into the lives of people from all over the world and being able to pray for them. these next two weeks will be long and hard, so i ask that you keep all of us in your prayers. ask that God would grant us the energy to be on the phone for four hours at a time and that we could truly minister to these people that we are calling.

thank you guys all for your support and caring enough to read our blog posts!
it means a lot, really really really.