Dear Partners and Friends,
When it comes to programs, we’ve got em! EAPE supports literacy programs in Haiti preparing thousands of children and adults for a better life; a school and training center for oppressed children in Zimbabwe; summer camp programs in scores of neighborhoods in four different cities across North America; three alternative schools that are offering quality education to hundreds of urban teenagers and kids; after-school tutoring programs at numerous sites in some of the most "at risk" neighborhoods in America; a camping program in the Pacific Northwest that serves children with AIDS; and a team of speakers who are challenging young people around the world to commit themselves to Christian service.
But, when all is said and done, those programs are not what EAPE is really all about. The heart and soul of our ministry is and always has been all about RELATIONSHIPS! Our people’s primary commitments are to connect person-to-person with as many needy kids and adults as possible. The best work done by our EAPE missionaries takes place when, either within or apart from programs, they are able to talk one-on-one with those we seek to serve.
In Haiti an intern sits and listens to a mother whose son has fled to America in an oversized rowboat, and prays with her that God will protect him on the high seas.
In Zimbabwe, a youthworker tries to comfort a street child who has lost both parents to poverty and her innocence to the sex trade.
In Cincinnati, my son, Bart, and an impoverished single mother work together to figure out how to provide some security and hope for her four children.
In the state of Washington, faced with a weak and frightened child who is near death because of AIDS, a REACH volunteer from Seattle Pacific University opens his arms and offers a long, strong hug.
In Camden, NJ, Bruce Main smiles with satisfaction as a homeless father and his boys move into an renovated house he’s arranged for them, and which they can call home from now on.
In Australia, after speaking to a crowd of thousands, Shane Claiborne sits backstage with one particularly promising young man, personally challenging him to live a simple life of sacrificial service to the poor.
The list of such encounters goes on and on. Only God can tell how many lives have been brought into His kingdom through the loving concern of our incredible young volunteers and staff workers.
This much I do know: On that day when our ministries will be judged for eternity, Jesus will not mention how many programs we ran or the combined attendance at all of our various meetings and activities. All He will care about are the relationships we built with the precious people He called us to love in His name. My joyful suspicion is that He will say, "Well done!" to many who have served with us over the years, and to those of you who prayed and gave to make those relationships possible.
Thank you for helping EAPE! In the midst of so much trouble in the world, we depend on your support to keep going strong.
ABOUT TONY + OCTOBER 2007