Why We Moved

In October of 2010, my wife and I partnered with a core team of people in the Coachella Valley in Southern California to begin Desert Foursquare Church. This is the first time in my life that I’ve lived further than 10 miles from the hospital where I was born. It’s the first time we have uprooted our children from their cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and the school they’ve attended since they were three and five years old. It doesn’t take an expert to do what we’re doing; it takes a calling.

II Timothy verse 2: “To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord”. Grace, mercy and peace. You’ll need those in abundance, regardless of the path God chooses for you. Here’s how God is choosing me.

In the summer of 2009, I was working for Cascade Christian Schools as the Director of Development. A wonderful, secure, comfortable job with phenomenal people (that I miss terribly). That summer I had a $250,000 construction project that I was overseeing. The sports fields improvements were entirely donated, and I had a responsibility to our donors to ensure that things went according to plan. When my window for a vacation came up, my wife and I booked our trip and hoped on a plane two days later. It was a high of 116 degrees for each of the seven days we were in Palm Desert. It cooled down to 100 degrees at night.

At the end of our stay, I was really looking forward to coming home. We didn’t know anyone in the desert, and I can’t say that I have a natural affinity for the area. I like cool weather, rain and the rich green of the Northwest. Driving towards the airport, my wife began to cry. “It feels like we’re leaving home!” was all that she could say. I couldn’t understand that at all.

Over the course of the next several months, we began to pray about whether or not the Lord was calling us to something new. By October, we took our second trip down to the Coachella Valley. Several friends came with us, and we met up with some friends that had just moved down to Palm Desert. After several days of seeking the Lord, fasting and praying in the Spirit, we knew that we knew. We flew back on Saturday and I submitted my resignation on Monday (one of the toughest things I’ve ever done).

Because of my involvement in several sensitive areas of work, we chose not to announce my departure until January. Even my children weren’t aware of our decision until after Christmas. Of all the things I’ve ever achieved in work, leaving CCS under the best of circumstances, with the best possible hand-off to an incredibly anointed successor was my greatest career highlight.

There was never a single moment where I felt a call to “do” something in the desert. I had a lot of ideas… ways to make a living, things to accomplish, etc. The best way I can sum up our journey to La Quinta was that I was searching for who God wants me to “be”. This radical expression of our faith in God’s leading has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. We could not have scripted what this would look like when we started, but now that we’re here, I wouldn’t trade the adventure for anything. My purpose, meaning and identity are more complete in my weaknesses, which Christ is using for HIS purpose. That’s who Christ wants me to be. More dependent upon him and less on myself.

The story is just beginning, but the thing I am most grateful to God for are the relationships he’s orchestrated in ways we never could have anticipated. My closest friends are people I either didn’t know or barely knew just two years ago. Cheryl and I are much more dependent upon one another; more connected than ever. My children have a greatly increased appreciation for their family relationships, especially for their grandparents. Our lives are greatly enriched through our church relationships. We need lots of grace, mercy and peace, and we are increasing in our ability to be who God desires us to be.

I am burdened for the people of the Coachella Valley. Watching people come to our church and seeing them grow closer to God gives me an incredible sense of belonging. I wouldn’t trade my experiences with Rooftop 519 for anything. Thank you Jesus for your divine leading. May I continue to be your willing servant.

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Vivid Description

A friend of mine is the president for a large design/build company. To average Joe, they are a construction company. To those who know, they are a community-driven people-first company. He is helping me to write our Rooftop 519 “Vivid Description”. The Vivid Description is a brief narrative of what our organization will look like when we achieve our strategic plan while living the values our culture agrees upon. Here is my first stab:

Long-Term Vivid Description

The Rooftop 519 movement connects millions of people in relationships that are deeply meaningful and help to complete their identity in Christ, and catalyzes them to fulfill the cause of Christ. We will help hundreds of thousands of children to be physically transformed from brokenness to wholeness. Our ability to tell the story of injured and ill children is the best in the world. Nearly everyone who hears our stories will be compelled to help. The name Rooftop 519 will become a household staple in the U.S. that represents the very best in Christian service. The worldwide perception of our organization will elicit feelings of compassion, respect and love.

Interim Vivid Description

Rooftop 519 is a social movement that engages millions of people in the cause of Christ through healing injured and ill children in his name. By 2012 we have healed over 100 children and engaged one million people to help kids reach healing. We set the industry standards for using media to tell their stories.

Our GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) adherence and best practices exceed the standards for excellence as identified by Guidestar, Charity Navigator and ECFA.

Our team of employees and volunteers live and breathe their purpose in life through the culture identified in our guiding principles.

The children who are treated through Rooftop 519 are meticulously monitored for progress before, during and post-treatment. Our team of experts establishes the best system for identifying children for treatment and connecting the resources they need for healing.

We partner with hundreds of nonprofit organizations worldwide. Our goal is to help other nonprofits fulfill their mission while simultaneously fulfilling ours.

Our relational mapping systems allow us to segment constituencies that allow us to engage people where they are and move them to where God wants them to be.

We envision a better solution to mobilizing resources and passions during Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (CHE’s). We will build the system that governments, NGO’s and other leaders look to when children are best served by coming to the U.S. for treatment after a CHE.

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I would love your feedback.

Mending Kids International

In this new wave of technology, you can’t do it all yourself, you have to form alliances. Carlos Slim Helu

A lot of people talk about partners, but what they really mean is that they want more people to get on board with their program. Partnership is not about convincing someone or a group of people that they should help you with your mission. It is about helping another person or organization achieve their mission in alignment with your own. The win-wins that ensue are inevitable.

I recently met with the leader of Mending Kids International (MKI), an organization that focuses on providing surgeries for children outside of the U.S. who cannot get help on their own. Marchelle Sellers began leading MKI 18 months ago, and she graciously gave me and one of our Rooftop 519 board members some of her time.

When the three of us entered the conference room at MKI, Marchelle was quick to open by telling us how much they rely on and look for partners. Churches, hospitals, clinics, and more… people and organizations that MKI is able to serve. The mission of Cure International is a great example. Cure International builds hospitals oversees, in underserved communities. MKI helps to find kids and get them to CI. MKI even raises money to offset the costs associated with these surgeries.

Maverick organizations are dying. In the for-profit world, organizations that isolate themselves from “outside” forces are struggling to keep up with nimble companies who find ways to help other organization while serving their own. Case in point: Google vs. Microsoft. Microsoft is a very good maverick organization. Only the U.S. Justice Department seems to have any influence with Uncle Bill and all of those that have “gone blue”.

Google is taking a different approach, and in just a few years they have built an organization that has almost half the total assets of Microsoft ($40 billion vs. Bill’s empire of $86 billion). Where Microsoft has tried to create or buy-out everything they retail, Google partners with AOL/Time Warner, NASA, Sun Microsystems and more to create better products. They have bought a few subsidiaries along the way, but their best successes come with help from partners through shared experiences.

At MKI (which doesn’t have assets in the billions, but does have the potential to serve millions of hurting and dying children), I heard Marchelle list off at least 10 partners and a potential partner during our meeting. This doesn’t water down their brand or effectiveness. On the contrary; I believe MKI is building a recognizable and sustainable brand that will influence people all over the globe. I hope I can help them to reach those kids.

Larry & Devi Titus

Larry and Devi Titus are the leaders of Kingdom Global Ministries. They are incredible leaders, influencers and mentors to pastors and leaders of the faith. And for a few powerful hours last night, this wonderful couple agreed to share their wisdom and insights with a few close friends and me.

It can be tough keeping up intellectually with really sharp people. The Titus’s are no exception, but they have a well-practiced gift of listening carefully and genuinely engaging in the experience of conversation.

Devi writes and talks extensively about the experiences of the home. She wrote a book titled “The Home Experience”, which challenges women to fulfill the role of creating a loving & nurturing environment within the home. She also wrote “The Table Experience”, a how-to for families that lack the dinner experience. I love the premises for both topics, and I believe the content is truthfully and effectively communicated.

One of the things I leaned from these leaders of leaders is how important focus and purpose are. They are both very intentional, with clear goals and clearer consciences. Granted, they’ve had 47 years of ministry practice to hone their skills, but the me of this moment is challenged by the them of today.

I’m gleaning a lot from Larry and Devi… Probably more than they know. Ryan Hart is a young successful businessman I’ve been privileged to pour into over the last couple of years. He thinks I’m mentoring him, but the truth is that I learn about as much from him as I give to him. It helps that I really like his company. He was with us last night and it meant something different to him.

Ryan and I are working through his personal core purpose and mission. Because of Ryan’s unique ability to conceptualize and create businesses, his mind is constantly looking for business opportunities. He’s already started over a half-dozen businesses with several other concepts in production. Because he sees opportunity around every corner, he is attempting to only look in corners that are within his niche.

Larry and Devi know their purpose. They understand their mission and have a clear vision. So many ministries are hindered by their poor representation online. Not KGM. When I looked up their ministry’s website, it demonstrated excellent design and content. When your guiding principles are in place, your implementation is so much better. There is little wasted energy, no brand wander, and aligned content. Larry and Devi represent the gold standard of Christian ministry, and I greatly appreciate the few hours they shared with us.