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.