Ten for Congo - Congo Journal 2
What an Amazing Team!
On my desk, a candle burns.
Years ago, I read a book by St. John of the Cross called Flame of the Spirit. Ever since, I light a candle when I need to be reminded that I am not alone, that prayer matters, that my spirit is touched by the Spirit. I bought this miniature votive years ago in a dusty little shop in Edinburgh. I touch a match to a tiny tea light most every morning, because most every morning I need to be reminded of the great spiritual truths.
This morning I lit my candle and prayed for the Ten for Congo team. Now I sit here in awe of the grace that drew this team together. Months ago, Don Golden, director of church relations for World Relief, asked me to return with him to Congo to visit the dear Congolese men and women he’d introduced me to in 2009. He wanted to take a particular young Christian leader to Congo and he was sure she would go if I agreed to join her. I agreed. She didn’t. So, there I was with dates cleared on my calendar, a dream taking shape, and no team. And frankly, there aren’t a lot of people hanging around waiting for an invitation to Congo.
But then “stuff” just started to happen. I made a new friend. Crossed paths with an old one. Received an intriguing email. Had a random conversation that started with Bosnia, meandered through the Middle East, and ended with Congo.
And voila . . . a team! Ten for Congo!
Here are four of us in my backyard at our first team meeting. You may already have met Christine Anderson (upper left) because she’s traveled extensively with me—to Congo, Egypt, Lebanon, West Bank, Israel. We met when she edited my book, Nice Girls Don’t Change the World, and became friends immediately. As a freelance editor and writer, Christine still makes everything I write better. She’s also an extraordinary photographer; many of the photos you’ll see in our Congo Journal will be Christine’s. And she’ll be posting lots of photos on Twitter http://twitter.com/IonaGirl and Instagram: i0nagirl. Christine is so excited to be going back to Congo.
Lili-Ann Eldeiry (lower right) just finished a long graduate school career, with degrees in both international development and social work. Lili’s passion is for women and children at risk—with a special concern for refugees. After years in classrooms, this trip is literally “a dream come true” for her. Lili’s husband, Fady, has volunteered his time as director of Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit in Cairo. I’ve travelled to the Middle East several times with Fady and the Egypt team; I’m delighted that I now get to travel with Lili. Lili will be writing about her time in the DRC on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lili_eldeiry
Sherri Meyer (lower left) is a freelance experience producer and project manager, working with clients in both for-profit and non-profit arenas, locally and globally. She just returned from her second trip to Bosnia. We met because she wanted to talk about my experiences in the Middle East. I suspect she’ll travel with me there some day, but in the meantime she got sidetracked for Congo. Sherri has discovered she has a unique passion for people living in conflict situations. Read about her experience on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/sherrimeyer or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sherrimeyer
For those of you who are new to my blog, that’s me in the turquoise scarf. And here are three other members of the Ten for Congo team who participated in our first team meeting via conference call.
Belinda Bauman is a teacher and advocate, speaker and writer, wife and mother, and a former gymnast who is currently training for a half-marathon. I met Belinda this year at The Justice Conference, where I was assigned to interview her husband, Stephan, the president and CEO of World Relief. I was extremely impressed with Stephan—but I fell in love with Belinda. Committed to bringing light to the dark corners of our world, Belinda is currently writing a series of children’s books on justice. (Tragically, Stephan’s sister died suddenly this week, leaving a husband, two young children, and a shocked and grieving extended family. Please pray for Belinda as she navigates her own grief, gives of herself to family members, and prepares for Congo.) You can follow Belinda’s journey on her blog: www.belindabauman.com, Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/belindajbauman, or Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/belindajbauman
I met Erin Lytle in February 2011 at The Justice Conference in Bend, Oregon. As the director of the conference, Erin planned an event that drew 600 people—including me—to the middle of nowhere to be challenged to fight injustice in the name of Jesus. The second annual Justice Conference moved to Portland, Oregon, and drew 4,000 people! As the only full-time staff member, Erin leads an extraordinarily committed and creative team of volunteers to produce one of the premier conferences (in my opinion!) in the world. In 2013, The Justice Conference moves to Philadelphia and you should put it on your calendar now! In her “previous life,” Erin played tour volleyball in Europe and directed events and marketing at high-end golf communities. I’m so glad a major life change brought her to The Justice Conference—and now to the Congo. Erin will be spreading news about the Congo at http://www.facebook.com/elytle3.
Marianne Clyde has been a licensed marriage and family therapist for twenty-two years, with a private practice in Warrenton, Virginia. As a mom/stepmom to eight kids and a grandma to ten, Marianne puts theory into practice on a daily basis. Her focus on trauma recovery has led her to twenty developing countries to serve traumatized populations. She’ll be returning from a trip to Honduras just in time to pack for Congo. Marianne is the only member of the team I’ve never met face-to-face; we’ll have that pleasure when our flights connect in Amsterdam! Marianne will be writing about the Congo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Marianne-Clyde-LMFT/130667580330744, Twitter https://twitter.com/marianneclyde or http://twitter.com/mommy_zen and updating her blog at www.marianneclyde.com/blog
Those are the seven Ten for Congo team members who will travel by plane to Congo. Yesterday, I mentioned that three women will travel with us in spirit, praying, reading and blogging along with us. I’m so grateful for them!
Sarah Carter is a mother, an artist who teaches creativity workshops, and an advocate for trafficked children. She and her husband, Steve, are in the slow and sometimes agonizing process of adopting a child from Ghana. I met Sarah years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she was in a house church with my daughter. Now Sarah and her family live in Southern California, but our paths crossed recently when she visited Chicago. Not only did Sarah agree to join the Ten For Congo team, she also designed the Ten for Congo banner you see at the top of this post. Thank you Sarah! You can follow Sarah’s blog at www.cartersgroundswell.com. (Also www.facebook.com/cartersgroundswell, twitter.com/heysarahcarter, and instagram: heysarahcarter)
I first met Allison Schroeder at the 2010 Justice Conference when I attended her workshop on women’s rights. During her eight years as a leader in World Relief’s church partnership program, Allison has travelled extensively, but the Congo holds a special place in her heart. She is compelled by the suffering of women and girls in the Congo, but even more so by their hope and resilience. With a Master’s degree in public policy from Johns Hopkins University, Allison is currently studying couple and family therapy and pursuing a PhD in family science. For fun, she and her husband hang out with their son, Ian, who is three. Allison will be adding her voice to the Ten for Congo team at http://worldreliefresponds.com/http://worldreliefresponds.com/.
I’ve known Shauna Niequist since before she was born—back when I felt her heart beating inside me. Now she is a wife, the mother of my grandchildren, a gifted writer and speaker, and my favorite woman to spend an afternoon with. (We’re both looking forward to a long and leisurely visit over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.) Shauna has traveled with me in spirit wherever I’ve gone—and always will—but she’ll be doing so differently this time, lending her voice to the Congo cause in reflections along the way. Follow Shauna at www.shaunaniequist.com, http://www.twitter.com/sniequist or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shauna-Niequist/429038580446663
Do you see now why I’m in awe of this amazing team God has put together?
Fill our minds with wisdom and our hearts with love. May we create in our community of ten a space expansive enough to hold both the pain and the hope of Congo. Amen.