Andy Stanley - Be Rich 2023
From the beginning, our church decided to partner with nonprofit organizations that were making the biggest difference in their local communities and around the world. These organizations are run by the best of the best. They're marked by clear vision and integrity, and truly make a difference in addressing important needs such as food insecurities, foster care, medical care, housing, education, human trafficking and disaster relief, things we all care about. Each year we ask these fabulous organizations two questions, what would make a big difference for you, and what would help you make a big difference? And then during Be Rich, we all come together and give a little to help these organizations go further, faster, and do even more for those they serve. These are the days to give, serve and love. To be rich.
So I wanna welcome those of you who are joining us online, all of our Atlanta area churches, those of you who are in churches all around the country and in some places, different parts of the world. It's so much fun to gather with Jesus followers who are learning more and more what it means to actually follow Jesus. We believe that doing is what makes the difference. And believing is a good start, but doing is what makes the difference. That's what Jesus taught. And this season for us as a network of churches is all about doing. For the past 17 years, we have been able to partner with some of the most amazing organizations in our communities, local communities and all around the world during this season that we call, Be Rich.
And today I have the opportunity to get to introduce you to the CEO and the founder of one of those incredible organizations. We're fortunate to have Hal Donaldson with us today. He's the founder and CEO of Convoy of Hope. Convoy has been a Be Rich partner for five years. They provide disaster relief in the US and all around the world. And the thing I love, or one of the things I love about Convoy, is they show up quick and they don't leave until they are no longer needed. In the past few years, they've launched an international women's empowerment program that's amazing. Sandra and I are involved in. They have feeding centers and they have feeding programs for children in different countries of the world. They do agricultural initiatives. They do it all. And they have been a partner with us in a very strategic way because when there's a disaster, especially in the United States, or even internationally, and people in our churches are like, "We wanna do something, how do we give"?
In the old days, we would collect funds and then send the funds to organizations. But now, we channel those monies directly to Convoy of Hope because we trust them, they're an extraordinary partner, they're led by an extraordinary individual, and you are about to hear his story. But be before Hal comes, I wanted to show you just a quick video to show you the scope and the scale of this incredible organization that many of you have been investing in and partnering with for some time and maybe didn't even know it. And for those of you who are about to begin, just wanted you to know what an amazing organization they are. So, take a look at this...
So would you please welcome Hal Donaldson.
Hal Donaldson: Good to be with you. Thank you, thank you.
Andy Stanley: So, a lot of people, a lot of us are not familiar with Convoy of Hope. So just a little context. It's one of the largest, even though you've may not have heard of it, it's one of the largest and most highly rated non-profits in our nation. Forbes always has it in the top 50 best charities in the United States with a 95% efficiency rating, which means they're looking at how much of the money that comes through an organization actually goes into serving people. 95% is amazing. Charity Navigator gives you a 99% rating, a four star rating. But because I know the story, it's big and it's amazing, but it started off with a tragedy. And your story is what makes, in some ways, the story, your personal story, makes the story of Convoy so compelling. And I just wanted our church to hear a little bit about your personal story before we talk about Convoy.
Hal Donaldson: Well, first, thank you for the invitation and thank you, North Point for just your generosity and kindness to Convoy of Hope through the years. We're just really indebted to you. It really starts when I was 12 years of age. My parents were scheduled to attend a business meeting, and my two younger brothers and younger sister and I were supposed to stay home with a babysitter. But the babysitter was late, and so my dad said, "You'll have to hop in the car with us and go to the business meeting". My father was halfway down the road when he glanced at his rear view mirror and he spotted the babysitter pulling into our driveway. And so my dad made a U-turn, dropped the four of us kids off, and we would spend the night with the babysitter after all. So about an hour and a half later, there was a knock at our door. And I ran to the door, and there standing in front of me were two uniform police officers. And they had come to deliver the news that my parents had been hit by a drunken driver. My father had been killed instantly and my mother was seriously injured, fighting for her life in the hospital. But, Andy, I'll never forget that night because a number of friends and neighbors began to gather in our front yard. And the police officer pulled me up on the porch, put his arm on my shoulder, and he addressed the crowd. He said, "Are there any family members or friends here who are willing to take the children home with them? If not, we'll take them downtown to the station". And that night, I'm sure it was just a matter of moments before someone responded, but for a kid, it felt like minutes. And finally one young couple raised their hands, and their names are Bill and Laveda Davis. And they said, "We'll take them". Now, to be fair, I think they thought that they were signing up for like a one or two night sleepover.
Andy Stanley: Right.
Hal Donaldson: But we ended up living with them for about a year. And all they owned was a small trailer, and so all 10 of us, they had kids of their own, and so we lived in that trailer for about a year.
Andy Stanley: Wow. There weren't enough beds, and so we took turns sleeping on the floor. But the Davis', they drained their savings account, they sacrificed their privacy so four kids could have a home.
Hal Donaldson: Wow. Well, their generosity was amazing, but the story didn't necessarily get better from there. 'Cause your mom was in the hospital.
Andy Stanley: Yeah.
Hal Donaldson: Severely... I mean, you talk about that. That's part of the story.
Andy Stanley: Yeah, my mom, because of the shards of glass from the windshield, her face was terribly scarred and scabbed. And so they wouldn't allow me to see my mother. Weeks past, finally, they let me go to the hospital. And, Andy, actually, I passed out when I looked at her because I couldn't believe that was my mother. Her hip was crushed, her ankle was crushed, and so she would limp, had a terrible limp the rest of her life. But those were some tough days. She recovered. She was able to get two part-time jobs, and so we were able to get a place of our own. But as a 12-year-old boy, I struggled. I just couldn't understand how a loving God could allow a father to be taken from four small children. And I couldn't comprehend how the man who hit them could walk out of jail 48 hours later, meanwhile, our family was sentenced to a life of poverty. It just didn't seem fair to me. But one day, Bill Davis, who he had been living with in the trailer, he saw that I was struggling and he came and he threw his arms over my shoulder and he spoke these words. He said, "Hal, listen to me, don't allow the tragedy of your youth to become a lifelong excuse because where you start in life doesn't have to dictate where you end". And those words were life-giving.
— Gave me hope. My parents didn't have insurance, and the man who hit them didn't have insurance. And so our family was forced to survive on welfare and food stamps. And there were many times that the cupboards were bare. And so we had to go to school without a sack lunch and days we had to go to school with holes in our shoes and holes in our jeans. And, friends, that's before it was cool to have holes in your jeans, you know? Yeah. But, yeah, some very, very difficult days. And so, Andy, I know the shame of poverty. I lived it. But I also know the power of kindness, because people at our church, they wrap their arms around my family and they would come to our door week after week with bags of groceries. And people ask me all the time, "Well, what difference can a bag of groceries make or a plate of food"? Trust me, for a hungry kid, it makes all the difference in the world.
Andy Stanley: Wow.
— Every time those bags would come to our door, it was like Christmas all over again. One time, a woman saw that I had holes in my shoes at church. And so she went to my mom and she asked permission to take me to Kinney's Shoe Store. Now, Kinney's, some of you'll remember this, back then they had three pairs of sneakers. One for 2.99, one for 3.99, and for 4.99, right? I'm not talking about $299. $2.99. And so all I'd ever known are the 2.99 pair. And so when we walked in Kinney's, I made a beeline to those shoes. But this particular day, this woman waived me over to the 4.99 pair. And she said, "Today, Jesus wants you to have the best that they have".
— Oh, goodness.
— So their kindness, the power of kindness kept me from becoming bitter. And I truly believe that in God's grand scheme of things, that he took my father's mangled automobile. And one day he would transform it into a fleet of Convoy of Hope trucks that would crisscross our country, offering help and hope to millions of people. Only God could do that. Amen. To God be the glory.
— So, moving forward, that didn't happen quickly, and it wasn't even your intention. You weren't a little boy that suddenly had a vision for compassion for others, you're a little boy who's poor and like, you know, it wasn't unusual, you decided never again. And that sort of shaped the trajectory of your life, the poverty more than compassion. Talk a little bit about how that transition happened.
— For sure. When you're raised poor, you begin a quest not to be poor anymore. And that was certainly the journey I was on. And I thought the best way to escape poverty was through education. And so I worked my way through college, earned several degrees, and I found myself in my twenties working as a writer. I have a journalism degree, and I was writing books. And one of those book projects took me to Calcutta, India to write a book for some missionaries. And when I arrived, they said, "Well, we want you to interview someone for our book". And they took me to interview Mother Theresa, of all people.
— And you were how old?
— 29, okay.
— And in the course of the interview, she turned the tables on me. She said, "Young man, let me ask you a question. What are you doing to help the poor and the suffering"? And I figured it was probably not a good idea to lie to Mother Theresa. Yeah. I told her the truth. I just said, "I'm really not doing much of anything". And she kindly said, "Well, everyone can do something. Just do the next kind thing that God puts in front of you". And as you can imagine, those words were haunting for me. And I remember going back to my hotel, which was a very nice hotel. Surrounded by poverty, but a nice hotel. And just in my hotel room, just crying before God and saying, "God, priorities have to change in my life. Something has to change". And I was confronted that night with a question, "Am I happy and am I fulfilled"? And Andy, the answer was, no, I wasn't, because I was only living for myself. I'd forgotten what my father had taught me, that the key to happiness and fulfillment is serving others. Be rich, serving others. And, you know, so that night I just really said, "God, you need to do a work in my life". And I came back to the States and I just continued to pray, God make some changes in me. And I felt one day compelled to do something quite unusual, to travel to eight cities and to live in the streets for three days and three nights.
Andy Stanley: And before you tell more of the story, you were already married.
Andy Stanley: Yes, yes.
— Amazing woman.
Andy Stanley: So tell us about that conversation. Honey, I feel compelled. Yeah.
— I did. And I haven't shared this a lot, but she can validate it. She said, "Are you sure? You look like you belong on 'Mayberry R.F.D.'"
Andy Stanley: And you're gonna go live on the streets.
— You're gonna go live on the streets. And I said, "I'm just so confident that I'm supposed to do it, that I believe that God is going to supernaturally provide the resources to do it". And he did. I was sitting down with a man, I was discipling, and he just asked me, a new Christian. He just asked me, he said, "How is God telling you to do something"? Again, brand new Christian. I said, "Yeah, he is". He said, "Well, I'm supposed to pay for it". And right then and there, he took out his checkbook and he wrote out a check to cover all the expenses.
— And which cities did you go to?
— I went to Atlanta, Miami, D.C., New York, Chicago, Detroit, major cities, and lived in the streets for three days and three nights along with friends. I didn't go alone. And I had a hidden tape recorder. So I had interviews with drug addicts and gang members, prostitutes, runaways, and the homeless. I went places I never thought I would go. I went to crack houses and jail cells and city bars and et cetera, et cetera. And all I can tell you is that, as I saw the underbelly of America, God truly broke my heart. He broke my heart. And I like to say that I believe God had to do a work in my heart before he could do a work through my hands. And I came back from one of those trips and I just, I had to do something. And so we took $300 and we bought groceries and we loaded up a pickup truck. And we went into the migrant farm workers part of Northern California and we began passing out groceries to the migrant farm workers, telling 'em Jesus loved them, we love them, and there was a church right down the street that loved them too. And that really was the start of Convoy of Hope 29 years ago. And since that time, we've now been able to serve and share the love of Jesus with over 200 million people around the world.
— To God be the glory. Thank you, thank you. Thank you.
— That was 29 years ago.
— It is. And another thing I'll add is that I really felt compelled to also start the feeding program because I really felt like we were supposed to be feeding a million children every day so they could wake up every morning knowing they have access to food and clean drinking water, and no longer scavenging off of garbage heaps and no longer begging in the streets and sniffing glue to take away their hunger. And God bless that as well. That's grown from just hundreds to now, every single day, we're feeding 530,000 children around the world. Yeah, to God be the glory. Thank you. Thank you.
— So behind all that is an amazing organization, and we've had an opportunity to see some of that organization and meet some of the most amazing people. And in all that growth from a pickup truck to, that's why I wanted y'all to see the video, the 18 wheelers roaring up and down the highway from Springfield, Missouri, just distributing stuff, you know, the Gulf Coast during hurricanes, and then all over the world. You experienced, you discover something about momentum. And every business owner, and everybody in business marketplace leaders, a momentum is really our best friend. When you have momentum, you look way smarter than you actually are, right?
— Right, it's true.
— It may just be the economy or luck, but it feels great. But in your case, you discovered something in terms of momentum that sort of dovetailed or synced up with the way that God works. And I think it's so interesting because I do think there's transferred our personal life. Just talk a little bit about what you discovered.
— Certainly in the early days, probably the first decade, I thought that we could create momentum by simply tweaking the organization. And with minor changes, we could create it. But the longer I've been at it, the more I realize is that you don't create momentum as much as you invite momentum. You invite it. And at Convoy, about 12 years ago, we invited momentum into the organization. We repositioned it, if you will, underneath God's spigot of blessing. And when we repositioned it, everything seemed to change. And sometimes I think we have to reposition our businesses, our ministries, even our personal lives, to really get into the flow of God's blessing. We did that 12 years ago, and we've been growing at 20% a year for 12 consecutive years.
— That's amazing. And specifically, what did that entail? Because I think that's fascinating.
— I think, really, the main point is that we aligned our expectations with God's plan. We really began to seek, "What is it you wanna do God"? rather than what we wanna do. And we changed the question. The question was, for years, "Oh, how do we grow Convoy of Hope"? The question changed to now, "God, how much can we give away? Who can we bless"? Be rich. Who can we bless? And so instead of building another charity, it's how do we empower the church and become a channel of blessing to the church? And we recommitted ourselves to linking up with the local church. Everything Convoy of Hope does in the United States and around the world is in partnership with local churches.
— The thing that has been so motivating to me as a leader and as a pastor is, so organizations mature, there's a shift that happens. I mean, when you had a pick up truck full of groceries, there wasn't much to protect, right? There wasn't a lot of risk. You weren't trying to protect anything. There was nothing to protect. Now that you're an international organization, a huge organization, the temptation that's always, "Oh, we have to protect our asset. We have to protect, protect". And then people begin to close their hands around this. And that decision those years ago, you know, as I've heard you tell this story, was really kind of your way of saying, "No, we're not here to protect anything".
Hal Donaldson: Right, that's right.
Andy Stanley: And consequently, it really, you know, the wider our hands are open, the more God can put in our hands. And I just, even as a leader, that's so motivating to me. Now, that kind of dovetails into what I think is one of the most fascinating things, and I'm gonna get this a little bit out of order. But being involved as I have in and tracking along with you, one of the things that always amazes me, and I ask you this the last time I had an opportunity to to interview you, was, you are... Convoy responds quickly to emergencies and natural disasters. You can predict a hurricane, natural disaster, but there's a lot of natural disasters, you just wake up and look at the news, and oh my goodness. You're always so quick. So my question was always, how do you budget for a natural disaster? How do you budget for an emergency? And so my thought was, "Well, they must just hoard millions of dollars waiting for the next earthquake," like what's happening in Morocco. We'll talk about that in a minute. But that's not the way you do it. And the context for the question I asked you originally was, you guys, your team was in Ukraine so quickly and spent, I'll let you talk about the numbers of dollars with resources moving into Ukraine. In fact, NBC did a presentation, or actually, NBC embedded one of their reporters with one of your trucks crossing the border from Poland into Ukraine. And watching that, it was amazing. But I was thinking, you responded so quickly, how do you budget for something unpredictable like that? That's a long question, but...
Hal Donaldson: Yeah. So, we really believe in the importance of humility and reliance on God. I mean, that's kind of one of our core values, we're going to rely on God. And so we don't budget for disasters. We don't. When we deploy our relief teams, they're told to go and meet as many needs as they possibly can. We wanna be driven by need, not money, okay? And so in the case of Ukraine, we sent the word out that we were on the ground, and people responded. More than $30 million was given. Think about that. $30 million was given...
Andy Stanley: Quick.
Hal Donaldson: Very quickly, yes. And Convoy of Hope has been able to take that $30 million and translate it into $60 million worth of aid that has reached Ukraine. We're working with 350 churches.
Andy Stanley: Yeah, in country.
Hal Donaldson: In country, yes. And so they're like compassion hubs and there are distribution points, if you will. And so we've been able to work with them to just make a difference in their communities. And when this war is over, people are going to be able to look to the church as their solution, if you will.
Andy Stanley: Wow. Yeah, watching the video and just the interview with the truck driver, and then unloading those crate after crate after crate of water and goods, it was amazing. You were in Maui quickly.
Hal Donaldson: Yeah.
Andy Stanley: I looked on the website yesterday. You're already... Somehow You're in Morocco already. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I asked you backstage, like, "Really"? I mean, this just happened, but it is almost like you anticipated this.
Hal Donaldson: Well, we've been working in Morocco for a number of years, and so we had the relationships on the ground. And by using air lifts, and we have containers that are...
Andy Stanley: On their way, yeah.
Hal Donaldson: On their way across the Atlantic. So... And, yeah, you know, you can pretty much assume that if there's a disaster in the United States and around the world of any medium magnitude, we're not asking, can we raise money? We're asking, can we meet needs? Can we lift up the name of Jesus and can we elevate the local church? So, really, that's our forte. And so, you know, these 20 some odd years, we just believe that if we're doing that, that God is going to pay the bill. And these 20 years, he has. He supplied.
Andy Stanley: Okay, so just the pragmatic side. Have you ever gotten in trouble doing that? It's like go, go, go, go, go. Where are we gonna get the money? I don't know, just go, go deliver. You ever gotten upside down?
Hal Donaldson: Yeah, a few times, but that's why you need a very forgiving board of directors. Yes.
Andy Stanley: That's amazing. I wanna jump to this last question 'cause I wanna give you as much time as you want. So one of the things that, Hal is, in some ways, he's an ambassador to the church because Convoy does so much through the church and has the trust of so many pastors, all different denominations. I mean, I've been with...
Hal Donaldson: Thank you.
Andy Stanley: I mean, it's amazing. And I feel like Hal has earned the right to speak to the local church, even though he's not a local church pastor because of the breadth of his experience with the church, both in the United States and all over the world. So I asked him permission to ask this kind of two-part question. So I just didn't want you to think this was a gotcha question. And I've asked him to, and one of the reasons we trust Convoy as an organization is because Hal in particular stays in his lane and keeps Convoy in his lane. And by that, I mean they know what they're good at and they do what they're good at and they stick with what they're good at and they let other people do the rest.
Hal Donaldson: Thank you.
— But because of that, sometimes Hal is a little bit shy about speaking outside of his lane. So I said, "Hal, I'm gonna ask you to leave your lane and speak into our lane as a local church or the church in general". And so my question is this, based on what you've seen, if you could wave a magic wand or push a button and tweak or change one thing about the local church, let's just say, in the United States, that you think if this one thing changed, it could change a lot of things. If it just this one thing changed, it could potentially change a lot of things, what would that one thing be?
— Thank you for preparing me for this question so I can really think about it. I wish the church was known more for their sweat and tears on behalf of their communities rather than perhaps even their political positions. You know, I'm not one that believes that we need to divorce ourselves from the political arena, but neither do I believe we should be sacrificing eternal impact for short-term political gains. I don't. I believe that God wants to work through the church to influence our communities, but also to influence the bastions of power in our nation.
— You think that's possible?
— I do. But that influence has to be earned. It has to be earned, and it's earned through the sweat and tears on behalf of our communities.
— So, I think it was last Sunday or Sunday before I made this point, and this isn't in the notes, that sometimes I hear people say, "Oh, it's not enough to love," "Love doesn't work" "It's not enough to be compassionate". "It's not enough". And, you know, turn the other cheek, I feel like sometimes they're quoting Jesus and saying, "That's not gonna work". I'm like, "Wait, we're Christians. What do you mean it doesn't work? It doesn't matter if it works. This is what we're commanded to do".
Hal Donaldson: Yeah. So, I'm sure you hear that. It's not enough just to be compassionate, it's not enough to love. I mean, does love work?
— I've traveled all over the world and I have to tell you, I've never seen love fail. Not once. I've never seen it happen. And I think when you look at the life of Jesus, a lot of people today, I think they are, they are pointing to Jesus and they say, "Well, he turned over the tables of the money changers". And he demonstrated some other compassionate activities, but he demonstrated, you know, just at times, holy anger. But if you look at the New Testament, every time that he demonstrated holy anger, it's followed by an act of compassion. Every time. And today what I see is some believers, it's rage upon rage upon rage. That's not how Jesus responded. Jesus, it was compassion followed by holy anger, justified, followed by compassion and holy anger. There was a rhythm to it. And so today I hope that the church has known more for it's compassion than it's rage.
— Wow. Well, you've certainly given the church an opportunity to channel their compassion in a significant and extraordinary way. Any last thoughts? Just...
— Well, I know we're very excited about coming to Atlanta and...
— Oh, yeah, we didn't talk about that.
— We didn't talk about that.
— Oh, yeah. Yeah, because one of the challenges is their distribution center, their hub is in Springfield. So Georgia, this is kind of cool. Companies in Georgia have been very generous in the past with gift cards and with actual product. So what happens is they send their trucks down, load 'em up, have to go back to Springfield. So you're gonna build a distribution center here in Atlanta.
— So that when there's stuff that happens in the gulf of the Gulf Coast, you're able to... Talk a little bit about it. That's kind of cool.
— Yeah, I mean the Home Depots, the Coca-Colas, the Clorox's of this community have been so generous to us. And so for a long time we thought, "Well, we are really benefiting from their generosity. What if we had a distribution here so that we're helping the people here, but also helping the people in the Southeast". It will enable us to respond to disasters so much more quickly. Whenever there's a hurricane, we actually stage right here in Atlanta are trucks. Dozen trucks will be staged right here in Atlanta. And then when we know when the hurricane, where it hits, we rush in, but from Atlanta. So it just seems to make a lot more sense for us to be here.
— And I was able to connect how, with a couple of gentlemen from our church, to help find some space and some warehouse space. So we're super excited about that. And, you know, if there's anybody here listening that'd like to make a significant contribution to help get that thing built, you can just bypass us and just go straight to Hal and let, because it's gonna be a big investment. But ultimately, it pays you back because you're not having to transport things unnecessarily.
— So we're opening up a distribution center on the west coast in two weeks, and we hope to make this happen within the next 12.
— Wow, wow.
— Anything else?
— I just wanna say thank you to you. Thank you for your friendship and your trust and how you've leveraged your platform to help us help more people. And I say that from above my heart. Thanks for your friendship and your trust. We don't take that for granted. And I wanna say thank you to North Point and your network of churches. Thank you so much for your generosity. When you invest in the Be Rich campaign, you're helping people like us and the millions of people that we're reaching out to every year. And so just a big thank you. Thank you so much. We're so grateful.
— Thank you, Hal. Thank you. Okay, so if you've been around, you know how this works. And if you haven't been around, I'm gonna tell you how this works. Every year we combine our energy with all of our Atlanta area churches and some churches outside the city of Atlanta to come together to do collectively and corporately what you do all year long, because you're generous people. When you see a need, you try to meet it. When people are raising money for something, you try to participate in that. So at Be Rich, we come together. And for two or three weeks, we ask the question, "What can we do collectively in a big way that would make a big difference"? Not just distributing money to individuals, but partnering with the amazing nonprofit organizations, some faith-based, but even many non-faith based organization, the ones that are making the biggest difference, that have the best staff, that are the most organized. And at the end of the day, if you just fund them and fuel it, they're just gonna make the world a better place. So the way we talk about it is that for the next few weeks, we're gonna give and serve and love. But not just give and serve and love, we're gonna give and serve and love in Jesus' name. And Be Rich is our opportunity to remind our communities, as we're constantly reminded here at church, remind our communities that everybody, right? Everybody matters to God. Everybody matters to God whether God matters to them or not. Now, the big question if you're new is, why do you call it Be Rich? That's almost offensive. And here's why. The Apostle Paul, who wrote about half the New Testament, wrote several letters, and a couple of those letters were actually written to individuals. And he wrote two letters to a young man named Timothy that he was mentoring. And in one of the letters, he instructs him. He says, "Hey, when you're talking to rich people, here's what I want you to tell the rich people". And here's what he says. He says, "Command those who are rich in this present world". And every year at this time, I remind you that chances are, you are rich in this present world, especially when you compare your situation to other people in other parts of the world. So Timothy, or Paul, rather, is talking to us. Anybody who has extra, anybody who's saving for the future, anybody that thinks one day I might have enough to retire. Within the context of the world economy, that makes most of us, if not all of us, rich. And so Paul says this, Timothy, "Tell those people who are rich in this present world to do good," because they're gonna be tempted to not do good because they don't have to do good. And here's our phrase. "And to be rich". "To be rich in good deeds and to be rich in terms of generosity and to be willing to share". So we just snag this little phrase and we call this our Be Rich campaign. We wanna be good at being rich because most of us, compared to a lot of people, are, in fact, rich. Now, the reason you don't feel rich is because you know people who are richer. And you live in the world of er. There's bigg-er and pretti-er and skinni-er and high-er and fast-er and shini-er, er, er, er, er, er. So none of us feel rich. And that's okay not to feel rich. You are, because you and I, we have extra. And this is our opportunity to bring some of our extra together to do something extraordinary in our community. So when it comes to Be Rich, we do not set a financial goal. We don't try to raise in a certain amount of money. We have a participation goal. And our participation goal is simple. It's 100% participation. We want everybody to participate. We're asking 100% of you to give, and then we are going to give 100% of it away. There's no shipping cost, there's no handling costs, there's no administrative costs. Our churches are large enough. We handle all those costs and expenses internally. And 100% of what is given to be rich, 100% of it is given away to these extraordinary organizations that we have vetted ahead of time. We went to these organizations and said, "What would help you to go further, faster? What would help you serve your people better? If you had a wishlist, just give us your wishlist. We're gonna do our best to raise enough money to help your dreams come true because you're the experts in what you do and we don't wanna replicate services that you're already doing well in our communities". And the good news is, in spite of inflation, the cost for Be Rich and the request for Be Rich has not gone up. We're still asking everybody to give the same amount we have since 2007, which is, and let's just say it all together, a onetime gift of.
— 39.95, that's it. We want everybody to give a onetime gift of 39.95. And if everybody in the Atlanta area, in our Atlanta area churches, does this today, and I hope it's today, we're gonna raise about $1.4 million or one and a half million dollars. If everybody in our network of churches does that today and gives it that level, we'll raise almost two and a half million dollars. And this covers 58 really large projects for these amazing organizations. But we have vetted several million dollars more of projects just in case things get out of hand. Because every year when I ask for 39.95 and we're not gonna raise the request, many of you realize, "You know, 39.95, I won't even miss that," and you add a zero, and some of you add two zeros, and everybody, every once in a while, somebody adds three zeros. And here's why I would encourage you to consider that. Because we have already vetted these organizations. They are great organizations. We work with them all year long. Some of you volunteer in these organizations. So I hope this year's be Rich is gonna be bigger than ever. Here's what we're gonna do with some of that money. We're gonna help these partners with operating costs, program expenses, staffing costs, capital expenses, technology solutions and transportation. And here's why this is important. Any of you who, well, most of us who have jobs, you understand, it's the behind the scenes stuff that's so expensive at times, and your customers, if you're in sales, your customers don't see all the behind the scenes stuff but you gotta have that in order to have a product to sell. Well, the same is true in nonprofit world. Nonprofits love to help families and love to help children, love to create furniture and love to fix things and love to go into the communities and do things, but there's an office behind that, there's an organization behind that, there's administrative costs behind that. And because we're aware of that, we love to go in and help fund the things that the individuals who give to those organizations don't necessarily want to give to. So operating costs, program expenses. Program expenses are so important because these amazing nonprofits are creative and they're constantly coming up with new things to do. But if they're not in the budget, they're not funded, and we're able to come along and say, "You know what, you wanna do something new? Do it. We've already raised the money for you". Staffing costs. You know, organizations are like, "If only we had another, if only..." Hey, you start interviewing, we're gonna raise the money. Technology solutions are so expensive. Most nonprofits can't afford full-time IT people. But we come in along behind them and say, "We're gonna help you fund those IT solutions". So this is strategic giving. These are game changers. Honestly, game changers for these organizations. And ultimately, they're life changers for the people that they serve. So this is very, very strategic giving. That's why we're so excited about it. Jesus was clear about this and we talk about it at our churches all the time, right? "Devotion to God..." "Devotion to God is best demonstrated and authenticated through love for other people, not sermons and songs". Love for God or a devotion to God is best demonstrated and authenticated by the way we treat other people, especially the people that can't do anything for us in return. That extravagant generosity, if you think about it, if you're a Christian, extravagant generosity is actually the appropriate, it's kind of the natural response to God's extravagant generosity to you and to me. He send his son to pay for our sin. So, I hope that our generosity has the same effect in our communities, and ultimately, in the world. And again, I talk about this all the time, so I won't spend much time on it. But it's just amazing to me, and I hope we never lose the wonder of this, that once upon a time, once upon a time in the first century, the second century, the beginning of the third century and the fourth century, once upon a time, the idea of, compassion was considered a weakness. It wasn't a virtue. Generosity wasn't a virtue. Why in the world would you do something for someone who couldn't do something for you? Why would you do that? It wasn't considered a virtue. And then Jesus came along and introduced a whole different way of thinking about people. That everybody had dignity, that everybody deserved to be loved, that everybody was loved. And the church came along and took that teaching and organized around it and began doing for others what the government and what the empire had never considered doing for others. And it took hold and it changed an empire and it changed the world, and it continues to change the world. I love what Hal said. Does love work? Love always works. So I hope our generosity's gonna have the same effect in our local communities in this generation. So once again, let's show our communities that our faith, our faith isn't limited to sermons and songs. That God demonstrated his love in such a way that people could see it, and we are about to do the same thing. Now, we've made it easier than ever. Those of you who are watching online, pay attention, don't go anywhere. We want you right now to go to berich.org. Not this afternoon, not tomorrow, right now. Go to berich.org and go ahead and give. And if you can do more than 39.95, you do that. 39.95, if you're at home. If you're in the building or at any of one of our church locations, when you leave, you're gonna see some green balloons and some red balloons. The green balloons, if you have cash or check. Cash, it's about this big, it's green, okay? Checks, ask your grandparents. They know about those. Anyway, If you have cash or check, you go to the green balloon. Just kidding, I have checkbook somewhere. Anyway, credit or debit. The red balloon's probably more popular. We're gonna swipe your card. Just go up there and tell us how much you wanna swipe it for. We want you to do it today. Or if you sit tight, in just a minute, we're gonna blow up this QR code. It's gonna be large enough for you to use your phone from where you are seated and give before you leave the building. So go ahead if you want to get your phones out. Again, God has demonstrated his amazing love toward us. This is our opportunity to do it for our communities and to do it collectively. So, on your mark, get set, let's all be rich. And we'll see you next weekend.