What Happens When You Let Go (by September Team Member Jack Chapman)
August 27th, 2015 by Steph Whitacre
On August 31, SERV has a team of six traveling to Kenya to meet up with our Kenyan partner in Nairobi. From there, the team will go to Nakuru to produce a supply of SERV FOOD. They will then head to Lodwar to visit our House of Hope, bring home 5 new kids to the orphanage, distribute food, and see a well that has been built since our last visit. They also plan to spend time encouraging a team of new pastors who are sharing Christ with their neighbors.
SERV loves our team trips because participants come from all over the map and from various walks of life to join in one common goal. Jack Chapman, one of our September team members, wants to tell you how he came to be a part of SERV’s mission:
I have my mother to thank. Last December, she invited me as her guest to the SERV Ball, a fundraiser for the Canton, Georgia-based non-profit, SERV International (SERV). SERV, which was founded in 2000 by Steve Kasha, is doing remarkable work in Kenya. As seen on wristbands worn by their staff and volunteers, SERV strives to improve the quality of communities via four pillars: food, water, shelter, and life.
In front of a crowded hotel ballroom, the event’s host for the evening Tom Sullivan (who has traveled with SERV to Kenya), held up a transparent bucket of water. However, this water was not filtrated by Fulton County, and it looked less like the water running out of my faucet at home and more like it had been tampered with mud. When Tom informed the crowd that men, women, and children from remote villages walk as many as eight miles per day to drink this water, my heart sank. Here I was, angry over the frustrations of having recently moved across the country, and all of a sudden at that moment I stopped thinking about myself. It felt wonderful. Acting on this emotion, I quickly made a donation to SERV, but my efforts were not yet finished. I knew I had to go on a trip to Kenya. For a man who struggles with making decisions, this decision was crystal clear.
A week or two after the SERV Ball, I called Tom Sullivan and we met for lunch. Tom, who devotedly volunteers his time and energy for SERV, convinced me of a mission trip’s impact by his continual use of the word “we.” It was as if Tom was speaking about his family, his business, or his non-profit organization running an orphanage in Lodwar, Kenya. Needless to say, I was intrigued. Tom helped me arrange a time to visit the SERV headquarters in Canton, with the hope that I could meet Steve Kasha.
It is funny what happens when you let go. Personally, I am a control freak. If it had been up to me, I would have become passionately involved with a non-profit serving Hispanic youth (I lived in Texas for eight years and enjoy speaking Spanish). But here I was in the office of a man who stood up to the challenge he was called to and under God’s direction has successfully built an orphanage and school in a remote part of a third world country. I was floored by how approachable and personable Steve was. After meeting Steve and sharing my story with him, I hit the road back to Brookhaven with Tom and eagerly waited for SERV’s application process to begin.
I don’t exactly remember what day of the week it was, but I got an email. I knew this was it. The message, which came from Shelby Thayer at SERV, had an application attached that included the usual personal biographical information, in addition to questions about your relationship with Christ. Taking the time to fill out a mission trip application was so refreshing compared to creating a work-related email or report. I seriously had fun completing my application! After hitting send it was only a week or two later until our first group meeting where we met our fellow team members and leaders, and discussed fundraising.
Since turning my life over to Jesus Christ in 2012, I continue to see how God constantly calls us outside of our comfort zones. As a human being, I can confidently confess my appreciation for a nice comfort zone. It is a pleasant place that carries minimal surprises. However, growing closer to God often requires that we leave our comfort zone. So when the subject of asking people to donate money to my trip came up, I was uncomfortable. I was happy to speak with friends, family, and strangers about this mission trip, but I was too prideful to humble myself and ask for their financial support. Unfortunately, God continually pressed on my heart and showed me that this strategy of “do nothing” was not going to work. After procrastinating for over a month, I took 30 minutes to write a detailed email explaining SERV’s mission and the goals of our trip, and requesting the prayer and financial support of my friends, family, and later my coworkers. As soon as I clicked send, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Basically, I realized at that moment the entire matter of my fundraising campaign was now in God’s hands. It felt amazing to hand that over to God.
Then the fun started to begin. I received phone calls, emails, and text messages filled with words of encouragement and questions about the trip. Anne Rex, our team leader, sent me weekly updates on my fundraising efforts, and due to the generous help of over 30 donors, not only was the $4,000 goal surpassed, but God raised up over $8,000 towards my mission trip to Kenya! The fundraising process was tangible evidence of God blessing me with a network of friends, colleagues, and family that I love. Furthermore, it served as evidence of the benefits that can occur when you leave your comfort zone to glorify God. Long story short, SERV’s Kenya mission trip has been one of the coolest experiences I have ever participated in and I have not even arrived at the airport yet!
As I eagerly await next Monday, August, 31, 2015, when I will join my team at the Atlanta airport to fly to Kenya, I continue to be reminded how blessed I am to have the chance to even go on a mission trip. I am single. I have been given 20 days of paid time off by my company and am able to use them. I was able to move out of my apartment last Thursday and into a house. Additionally, I have been blessed with an amazing network of friends, mentors, contacts, cousins, and family members who have lovingly showed their support for me in this endeavor.
Reflecting on how I got from the 2014 SERV Ball to typing up this blog post, I can see how it took small steps, persistence, and focus along the way. However, nothing would have happened had God not encouraged my mother to introduce me to SERV. So if I come back from this experience with a life transforming perspective, I will have my thoughtful mother to thank. I love you, Mom!
Thank you for sharing your story, Jack! We’re so excited to have you be a part of the SERV family.