Changing Third World Communities: Do MORE with Mondays with Vapor Ministries

8:47 AMHeather

Exactly this time a year ago, I was on a flight to Calgary to visit my extended family.  I don't know about you, but air travel wears me out.  The shoes on and off, the three ounce rule, the pat downs, the lines, and so forth and so on.  Based on how people tend to treat each other, I think air travel pretty much brings the depravity of man to the surface.  So by the time I sunk into my seat that day, I was a little leery.  I'm afraid I originally greeted the man who took the seat next to me with a less-than-enthusiastic response.  He was friendly and conversational.  I was distant and not particularly warm.  

But, as he pulled out his lap top and set to work, I realized the error of my ways.  I was smacked in the head with the fact that this was a man I needed to talk with as much as possible.  Ever had one of those divine appointments?  You KNOW you need to pay attention.  

The gentleman was sorting through photos that I couldn't help but see.  Of little African children in remote villages and white men and women smiling along side them.  It was obvious that he was part of something big.  And I was more than curious.  I had to know what this was about. 

Turns out he is on the board of an organization called Vapor Sports.   As in:

You do not know what will happen tomorrow,
for what is your life?
It is even a vapor that appears for a little time
and then vanishes away.
James 4:14

And, y'all--I was fascinated by what he told me about the trip he'd just taken.  Vapor Sports asks, "Life is a vapor.  Don't spend yours on the sideline"--learn more here.  The gentleman had just gone to Africa to be part of building another "self-sustaining center for humanitarian aid and disciple making in third world countries."  These centers are sports complexes where local children are coached to play soccer--or the local sport of choiceInitially, a small number of staff get the center up and running.  Then indigenous people are trained to take leadership.  The children come for practices and games and not only do they learn the sport they love, but they also learn about Jesus as part of the program.  They play on teams and participate in leagues and their little lives are touched as the center leaders invest in them.  The adults in the community are given job training so that they can provide for their families.  And be part of sustaining the center once the initial development and upstart have occurred.  The centers also include wells that offer fresh and safe drinking water to the community.  

"We establish our centers, intentionally, in the heart of intrinsically poor environments. They are the bases from which we systematically fight poverty. From them we provide access to clean water, combat illiteracy, support disease prevention training, fight hunger, facilitate economic development and offer basic assistance through various means at our disposal.

Disciples make other disciples. They take the initiative for spiritual formation in their own lives and become leaders for others. At our centers, we intentionally form disciples with multiplication in mind. We utilize the local sport of choice to introduce the hope of Christ, teach the truths of His Word, equip participants for missional living and empower local people to carry out the cause of Christ."

I cannot tell you how intrigued I was and continue to be by this model for ministry.  Looking at the cycle of poverty and need and finding a creative way to connect with the local people, give them practical assistance, and then give them the necessary tools to take the ball and run with it (pun intended) so that the community is empowered to move past poverty.  Not only with physical needs met, but also spiritual needs and emotional needs and educational needs and financial needs.  It's a full on attack to eradicate poverty, one community at a time.  

And it works.  

How my little social worker mind was BLOWN.  In awe.  I couldn't get enough of the pictures and the stories behind these incredible faces of people half-way around the world whose lives are being changed because of the vision and tenacity and creativity of a small group of believersWho live here, as rich Americans, living the American dream.  And then realizing there had to be more.

PLEASE, PLEASE watch this 4 minute video.  You'll be as in awe as I am. I think you'll ask the same question I did.

Where do I sign up?

Um, yeah--except I was so gung-ho, I did nothing initially.  Yep.  I came home after a lovely visit to Calgary and got right back into my little comfortable suburban life.  Ever since then, I've been staring at this man's card hanging in my craft roomI have not been able to shake this.  When I completed David Platt's Radical study last fall, all I could think of was Vapor Sports.  (Oh--by the way, yes--the man sitting next to me who left a successful Fortune 500 company job to be part of Vapor--he happens to be a member of David Platt's Birmingham church).  As I was reading Jen Hatmaker's 7, I thought of Vapor Sports and how those people get it.  Same thing as I read Kisses from Katie--about another effort to reach the needy in another country.  People are doing such big things.  One little person can make a difference.  How on earth do I jump out of my comfort zone into the ocean of need and find my way to create a change? 

When I decided to use my blog as a platform to raise awareness (and hopefully support and donations) for various efforts to reach others, I knew that Vapor Sports would be at the top of my list.  I'm so excited to share their vision with you here today.  I think your resources and their effective efforts are a perfect combination.  Here's what my challenge to you this week is.

1.  Match sports fees.  Look at the latest registration fee for your child to join a sport.  Match that and make a donation to Vapor Sports here, online.  You can even do it through Pay Pal.  So easy!  

Don't tell me you can't afford it.  You found the $60 or $70 or $80 for your own child who has food in their belly and a roof over their heads to go play a sport.  Give a hungry impoverished child the same chance. (Yep, that was a guilt tactic.  I'm a mom, I come by this approach honestly).   

2.  Coffee at home.  One of the things Vapor Sports humanitarian aid centers does is provide clean drinking water for the community.  We're not talking a latte.  Just some safe water to drink.  SO--from my research, the average American spends $14.40 a week on coffee shops.  Just your skinny vanilla latte, no whip.  Not even basic water here, people.  

So, I double dog dare you to drink your coffee at home for ONE MONTH.  And donate the $57.60 in savings to Vapor, at the above links.  Or, how about you just round it up to $60?  

There you have it.  My challenge to you for the week.  Partner with this incredible ministry making a generational difference around the globe to break the chains of poverty.   

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Psalm 82:3

Not a suggestion, bloggy friends.  That's a command.  Not from me--from our Heavenly Father.  I'm just here, pointing the way to do so. Our lives are, indeed, but a vapor.  How about we make an eternal impact with the time and resources we have?        

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