Bludgeons.  Tear gas.  Water cannon.  Live ammunition.  Upheaval is rocking the Middle East.

We tracked the action on-line while on assignment in Southeast Asia.  A photo-journalist who’d covered our dreamers in Beirut was man-handled in Cairo’s alleys.  Our Egyptian friends dropped into a black hole with internet and phone service severed.  

And then, we suddenly got a line back into Cairo!  

“Pray for our home health caregivers,” one Egyptian dreamer appealed.  “Violent inmates escaped from a prison nearby.  It’s very dangerous, but our caregivers insist to go out and serve.  The values training we designed together really had impact.  They’re taking risks to love their clients.”  

Why? They share her dream of home health caregivers serving with dignity and hope.  Their challenge?   Faithfully living out their values of integrity and sacrificial love, day-in and day-out, crisis or no crisis.  

Pundits credit social media for the changes.  But we’re seeing a dynamic at work that is far deeper and more profound than cyberspace chatter.  A previous generation called it “true grit.”  Not blind zealotry, but a readiness to sacrifice for a calling. 

Malcolm Gladwell, author of the best-seller Tipping Point, agrees.  His New Yorker article, Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted, asserts “Activism that challenges the status quo—that attacks deeply rooted problems—is not for the faint of heart.  What makes people capable of this kind of activism?  High-risk activism…is a ‘strong-tie’ phenomenon.”  

Strong ties mean deep relationships – friendships that sacrifice.  We call it passion.  Dreams InDeed’s values model, Jesus, put it this way: Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  

That humble passion is what propels unsung Egyptian home health caregivers past violence to keep vigil with the bed-ridden in Cairo’s back streets.  But those dreamers are not alone.  So far this year, we’ve spotted three new dreamers laboring in dark corners every bit as desperate as those on your TV screen.  

Passion crops up time and again, with no fanfare.  It focuses on those at the bottom of the heap:  

A passion for aging orphans with mental disabilities.  In one Middle Eastern province, a high schooler lost his father to heart attack, and with him, his college hopes.  But loss sensitized his empathy for orphans.  Today, after seventeen years of investing every free hour on buses to mobilize volunteers, his 2000-strong network supports hundreds of families with mentally-challenged kids.  His dream?  Build exemplary residential communities to sustain the care and dignity of aging orphans. 

A passion for disenfranchised bondservants.   In the shadows of the Himalayas, another high schooler fled coerced child-soldier enlistment in his village, starting out sleeping under a tree in the city with street kids.  Now dean of students after boot-strapping his way through college, he survived beatings and death threats to build trust with a tribe of twenty-first century landless serfs.  His dream?  Enable this dispossessed tribe to create new lives and communities with holistic development.  

A passion for illiterate, marginalized tribal children.   In the neighboring Himalayan foothills, another high schooler learned the cost of a passion for integrity – deprived of meat since his father refused taking bribes.  Now an agriculturalist married to a public health educator, they befriend an oppressed minority tribe of illiterate farmers.  Their dream?  Creating a sustainable future for this tribe’s next generation with pre-schools and education dorms in a 100 tribal villages across their state.   

Emails and tweets may help, but frankly, they’re not nearly enough.  Real change demands deep roots and strong ties.  Face-time, not just Facebook.  On-the-ground, not just on-line.  

We’re committed to match our passion with theirs.  That’s what will turn dreams into deeds.  

So we fly long-haul red-eyes.  We slide on unpaved roads.  We drink their buffalo milk.  We sleep in their mud-dung homes.  

We’re amazed these dreamers invite us into their lives, to shoulder their burdens, to share their dreams.  And we’re excited to share that invitation with you.  Are you ready to take a stake in their dreams?  

They can’t go it alone.  And neither can we.  

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Dreams InDeed
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We’ve got some great news to share from the Haskells!  

 However, before we jump into that, allow us to introduce ourselves as the chairs of the US and Swiss boards of directors for Dreams InDeed. 

I am
Rick Williamson, US board chair.  As a clinical psychologist, I specialize in trauma recovery and strengthening individuals and communities against stress impact. I prepare humanitarians and responders worldwide to serve effectively in harm’s way.  Over my fifteen years in this field, I’ve recognized the essential role of those special persons in every community who embrace and build up their most affected neighbors. 

I serve with Dreams InDeed not only because we engage in the world’s hard places, but we also aim to strengthen the “insider” for the truly transformative impact that the world so desperately needs. I am honored to serve along with each of you in support of the Dreams InDeed mission.

And, I am
Joe Campbell, Swiss board chair.  As a mediator in civil and political disputes, I contributed to peaceful resolution of the troubles in my home country of Northern Ireland, leading to the Good Friday Agreement.  I also mediated in Nepal alongside politicians, community activists, and church leaders in the search for a just and lasting peace. In both, I supported Dreamers and have often been a Dreamer myself. 

 

I know what it means to be affirmed and encouraged by outsiders who make it their business to be informed enablers.  That sensitive participation fosters hope amidst despair.  It is my honour to join in the crucial work of Dreams InDeed.  Together with you, I will do all I can to nurture sparks of hope into lights of joy.

Now, here is the news we just received from David and Janice in the Middle East:

 

Dear Rick and Joe, 

 

Thank you for your faithful and effective servant leadership as our US and Swiss board chairs.  We were challenged by the wisdom and faith of both boards setting such ambitious goals this year.  As our fiscal year gets underway now in July, we’re excited that strategic doors of opportunity are swinging open on every aim we agreed together!  

 

Goal: equip exemplary dreamer cases in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and East Africa.  Progress: despite escalating violence, dreamers are persevering with six initiatives among the hardest countries of the worldwide Fragile States Index.  This year, we’ll sustain both Dreams InDeed’s unprecedented regional registration and our continuing Jordan residency to strengthen these dreamers, guided by Janice.

 

Goal: research parable communications to engage closed minds via both word and deed.  Progress: The University of Oxford has approved David for doctoral field research on The Pedagogy of Parable.  To develop this Dreams InDeed training curriculum, David will shuttle between research in Oxford and case work on the ground in the Middle East.

 

Goal: research publishable Middle East cases on the transformation of pluralist conflict.  Progress: an exemplary Lebanese visionary has volunteered his civil society, public service, and business networks for rigorous field research.  Plus two Oxford professors, experts in values education and intercultural dialogue, will supervise the fieldwork.  

 

Goal: engage next-generation prospects to serve dreamers in hard places worldwide.  Progress: Kellogg College, with Oxford’s greatest number and diversity of international graduate students, has granted David membership.  Adjacent to Kellogg, Dreams InDeed has secured an operating base in Oxford for us to host and befriend global candidates.

 

Goal: expand our thought leader networks for aligned advisors and European board members.  Progress: upon review of David’s Pedagogy of Parable research proposal, six professors immediately volunteered their expertise in international development, political science, public policy, economics, leadership science, and character cultivation.

 

 

On behalf of the boards of directors of Dreams InDeed, we thank you again for journeying with us on our mission to strengthen dreamers in hard places so the poor thrive as God intended. We look forward to your continuing participation as we accelerate toward our shared vision: “a light in every hard place in our generation.”