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YouTube is a great resource for ideas about backyard do-it-yourself projects: brick pizza oven, fire pit, wave pool, foam pit, putting green, mini metal foundry, mini ice rink, chicken coop, pig pen, and—the most audacious—a personal fountain of youth.
Our annual Hope Awards for Effective Compassion stories can also be a great resource. Stunt videos often come with a warning: “Kids, don’t try this in your own backyards.” Our Hope Awards stories come with a welcome: Local Christians can and do emulate the compassion we bring to their attention.
Most of the 105 groups (from 39 states and nine countries) we’ve honored over the past 13 years have programs others can replicate. Last year, for example, our national winner—Delta Streets Academy in Greenwood, Miss.—emerged from the vision and God-blessed work of one young man, T. Mac Howard.
Delta Streets was the first school to receive our national award. Other winners have emphasized job training, help for small children, legal aid for the poor, and paths out of prostitution. The 13 top winners have come from 12 states: Arkansas, North Carolina, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Illinois, Washington, Michigan, Alaska, Mississippi, and Tennessee twice.
We’d like WORLD readers to respond to our reporters’ research in four ways. First, read in this issue their profiles of Christians who tutor and educate students in Connecticut and South Dakota, help ex-convicts start a productive life in South Carolina, and aid refugees in Colorado. If you want to go and do likewise, you don’t need a graduate degree or a big bank account. The backyard approach doesn’t quite apply to our international winner—an anti-addiction program in Vietnam—but there as well the crucial need is a big heart.
Second, please go to wng.org/compassion and vote for whichever of the Final Five moves you the most. All are worthy. The ministry garnering the most votes will receive a $10,000 grand prize. Regional winners receive $2,000 each, plus lots of publicity and increased credibility that they use in their own areas to multiply those dollars. I’m pleased to say that 16,000 readers voted last year. This year voting ends on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Third, please email Charissa Crotts (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your nomination of an existing Christian poverty-fighting group in your own backyard that offers challenging, personal, and spiritual help and does not depend on government financing. Please include a brief description of why it impresses you, and include its address and website.
Fourth, if you’re looking for ideas about something you could start in your own backyard, please go to wng.org/hope_directory and see our listing of the 100 organizations we profiled from 2006 to 2017, with their major focuses: Addiction, Babies, Community, Disabilities, Education, Family, Gardening, Homelessness, Immigration, Jobs, Legal needs, Medical, Prison, Repair work, Sex (anti-prostitution), Transportation, Youth.
The listing also shows what it takes to start a poverty-fighting ministry: A License, a Specific skill (such as auto repair), Experience (such as that a mother gains), or Neighborliness (a simple desire to invest time in helping others).
Please read on: First in this series on the 2018 Hope Awards is Southwest Region winner Colorado Burma Roundtable Network