RICHLAND, Wash. -- Ten years is an eternity for bullfrogs and butterflies. It's even a long stretch for a cat.
For humans, with current life expectancies, a decade isn't what it used to be. But for a nonprofit organization in a domestic and global economic climate of financial angst and giving fatigue, 10 years looks like a miracle.
By God's grace, mercy, and justice -- and with the loving labor of committed volunteers -- Global Gateway Network (GGN) will celebrate its 10th birthday this July.
During the past 10 years, these volunteers have made a world of difference in the lives of families and children in some of the world's most remote and dangerous places. Through those years, I have been privileged to serve GGN as its founder and president.
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It reminds of the story in the book of Matthew, Chapter 14, of the young boy who handed his lunch to Jesus before a hungry crowd numbering thousands. For comparison, that would be like a child today saying, "OK, here's my Happy Meal so you can feed that brigade of soldiers." The place was remote, the need immense, and the resources ridiculously limited. In other words, just the right circumstances for Jesus to go to work.
Here are a few highlights from the first 10 years of GGN's life:
* Built the Center of Hope on the border of China and Vietnam, providing care for 75 children since 2003.
* Purchased a home for the House of Hope to house the first arrival of 26 Karen children from Burma.
* Installed 13 wells in remote villages in northwest India, providing fresh, clean water for hundreds of villagers.
* Set up water purification systems in Egypt and Vietnam.
* Sent eight medical teams treating thousands of adults and children in North Africa, Southeast Asia, and India. This includes utilizing more than 6 million dollars in donated medical supplies (with special thanks to Dr. Lorna Schumann and Dr. Karl Tracht).
* Filled more than 1,000 backpacks with school supplies and instituted a community feeding program for underprivileged families in Israel.
In all, more than 40 GGN humanitarian teams have left comfortable homes and jobs in America to invest days and weeks of their time to help hurting, needy men, women and children in more than 10 countries. For an organization with a full-time staff of one, that's packing a lot into one decade.
Years ago, we came up with the slogan "Making Life Better." I think that's truly been the case -- not only for the people we have helped, but also for all who have participated in these overseas trips to assist those in need. We've done it together, and though it has had its difficult and even dangerous moments, I think we can all say that we have received so much more than we have given.
I can't think of a better way to spend 10 years -- or however many years God in his wisdom and kindness may give to us.
* Rev. Micah Smith is president and founder of Global Gateway Network (www.globalgatewaynetwork.org) with offices in Richland.
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