On Christmas 2004, a quarter of a million people died in a Tsunami in South Asia. Just a few months later in Kashmir and earthquake killed another 80,500 people. And just a few months after that, Hurricane Katrina would kill 1836 people right here in the United States. Along with the death was a swath of destruction and suffering that would last long after for the “lucky” survivors.
I didn’t really do much because.. well.. I didn’t give a damn.
Actually that’s not entirely accurate. It wasn’t so much about giving one, as it was building one. I had built a dam.
In the book of John Jesus said that rivers of living water would flow from with in us. A river. When water is flowing, moving, it creates oxygen in the water. Oxygen, the most basic requirement of life. A river full of life.
I had inadvertently reduced my Christianity to a set of policies, programs and procedures. If you were an unbiased third party looking in on my life you would have concluded that Jesus had become man, lived a sinless life, died a brutal death, resurrected on the 3rd day just as the scriptures foretold so that I could go to church and build a successful company. My entire identity as a believer was wrapped up in my career and church programs.
I had a company. I had clients. I had youth ministry. I had used these things as building blocks to contain the Spirit as opposed to outlets for Him.
The key evidence that the Holy Spirit is present isn’t tongues or prophecy, it’s Love. Paul makes this clear when He says that Love is the Fruit of the Spirit. Jesus told us in John 15 that He had called and ordained us to bear much fruit. My lack of response for those around me going through suffering that I couldn’t imagine, was a lack of love, a lack of fruit, and a lack of the Spirit.
I dammed what God wanted to do through me.. and I had dammed it with? Me.
I lived behind the seeming safety of a dam that I had slowly built up over the years. Don’t get me wrong, behind every great dam is an awesome lake. Great for entertainment, fishing, boats, and fun. If you live near the lake or come to the lake you can enjoy it. If you live downstream, you’re dammed.
But I started having this nagging feeling. Is this it? Is this what Jesus came for? I’m at church almost every time the doors are open, I even sit in the front row and underline stuff in my bible. I was clearly missing something.
In 2007, while watching Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie on CNN talking about the work they were doing in Burma, India and other places on behalf of people in abject poverty. I sat there thinking.. man If I were rich I’d totally do what they’re doing. Maybe when, some day if, something I had said to myself before. But for some reason, that night, that time.. it was different. I realized, what kind of a jerk do I have to be to see and know what’s going on in our world, and do nothing. Jesus at that moment awoke a possibility in me.
Holocaust Survivor and Author Elie Weisel said “the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.” And there I sat there in a stagnant pond of my own indifference. But that night, something changed in me. I didn’t know what I would do, I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that “nothing” wasn’t the right answer.
From that moment Conduit was born in me. And over the next few weeks I began to ask myself a lot of questions. What if we could provide a simple pipeline to transfer resources from people with plenty to people in need. A pipe, it’s simple, no moving parts, yet serves a profound purpose. Could it be that simple?
That same year, Conduit became it’s own 501c3. We were about to find out.
We didn’t realize it but what we had done was open the floodgates ; the ones the Lord spoke of in Malachi. The floodgates, speaking of water.. so much that we couldn’t contain it. We’re not designed to be a reservoir, we’re designed to let it flow on through us. The idea being conveyed isn’t so that it pours over the sides and makes a mess all around. Rather that it will be plenty for us as we turn on the faucet for those downstream. All these years, I had read Malachi and connected the floodgates in Malachi with financial blessing. But water is never a picture of money in Scriptures. On the other hand it is very often a picture of the Holy Spirit.
In 2007 we saw just over $12,000 flow through Conduit. The next year it was over $30,000. In 2009 It was over $60,000 and then it came rushing over $260,000 in 2010 and as of December $243,000 so far this year. To date $611,000 in cash donations have gone through Conduit. This doesn’t include the value/ cost of in kind donations of airplanes, fuel, supplies, medical equipment, etc that has gone through.
And soon, it wasn’t just our money it was our talents, our abilities, our time, all flowing through the Conduit. It was the Holy Spirit that was moving like a rushing river and the financial gifts were just part of the flow. We were using our talents, our gifts, our creativity, our lives. All flowing from places with plenty to places in desperate need.
It really was a perfect picture of the life that Jesus had called us to. Streams, creeks and tributaries of His Spirit; Mostly young singles, college kids, and married couples coming together and giving the gifts, talents, financial rivers joining together to create a larger, more capable river.
Those streams bring life all along the path that they cross. Life beside the stream, life inside the stream flowing until it encounters another stream, and then another river, and soon the streams have created a much larger more capable river.
When disaster struck Haiti, we were flowing with what would ultimately be over $200,000 in financial aid, and tens of thousands of dollars more in medical, food, and other in kind donations.
When a Tsunami struck in Japan we were flowing with almost $10,000 in supplies sent through Samaritan’s Purse.
When a flood destroyed much of Nashville, we were flowing with work crews, with tens of thousands of dollars, with weeks of rebuilding.
When tornadoes struck the southeast we were flowing with truck loads of supplies and aid for the victims in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee
The Conduit has flowed to Togo, Africa. It has flowed to Uganda, Africa. It flowed with Ben Holeton spending months in Haiti overseeing our building projects there. It is flowing to India with Eric and Tisra Fadely and their 4 children who are leaving in the very near future to oversee the work of Sarah’s Covenant Homes in India. (working with special needs orphans)
The Mississippi River starts not far from where Shannon’s dad lives in MN. And it’s a small, tiny little river. But the further it goes, the more rivers, creeks, join up, and by the time it reaches the gulf it’s a massive force of carrying life to the people all along it’s banks and far beyond.
Which describes what conduit is becoming. Conduit flow has quite literally been an agent of change here and around the world. In Mon Orge, Haiti. Voodoo priests shutting down their businesses. Single moms finding hope in Christ and not in the next man to come along. Dozens of weddings as marriage is not only taught but celebrated.. In short, the entire community is changed from the inside out. And then those new streams, creeks and tributaries are joining to make the river even more capable.
When you build a reservoir. You’re building a lake. You can have all kinds of fun on the lake. But no matter how far you go, you end up where you started. Jesus offer was to follow Him. A lake denotes recreation. A river on the other hand; that’s for adventure, for discovery, for.. LIFE!
He told the woman at the well that she would never thirst again. It’s not a promise of everything going smoothly, that there would be no suffering, that there would be no risk or no danger. But it was a promise that we could, like Paul, say we’re content. we’re fulfilled
My hope is that you’ll join in with us. In assuring your life is fulfilled. That you never have to experience the dryness that I did.
And why consider bringing your abundant life with ours? With conduit?
Why Conduit? We’re nimble. We ramp up quickly. When disaster strikes we can and do move very quickly. When the Tornado’s struck the Southeast our first truck was on the ground in 24 hours. When the floods hit Nashville we were out in waist deep water rescuing people and their valuables while the rain was still falling. 95% of the money that has come in the past 4 years has gone straight to the projects on the front lines.
I’m excited to tell you one more reason .
Historically our ability to raise large sums of money has come from our relationships with the Millennial generation through social networking. Research has shown that this generation will give on average only less than a hundred dollars a year, and that they are significantly more likely to donate if there is a matching donation involved.
That’s why tonight we are very excited to announce the launch of www.doubledonations.com
We are providing an opportunity for their smaller streams of revenue to join with larger revenue streams through doubledonations.com Your gift tonight will be doubled through our $10 army over the next year.
Our goal is much larger than $50,000. We want to awaken the possibility in the hearts of the millennial generation to the power of giving,
And this is what we hope to awaken tonight in you.
So tonight I’m asking you to not give a dam, but to consider removing your dam if you’ve built one up. And if you’re already someone who has experienced this abundant life, to consider joining your stream, creek, tributary or river with our river. As you bring life to those in front of you already, and then joining with ours bringing life to many more down stream.
My challenge is to have conduit born in you. To have this dream come alive in you like it did me.
So tonight my hope is that your rivers, your tributaries, will connect with Conduit. That the rivers in your heart will be opened up. And together we can bring life to a world in need.