Power of Philanthropy

Mobilizing to Make a Difference

Beth Johnson smiling for a group photo in Rwanda

There are times when fundraising has taken me out of my comfort zone and placed me in situations where I’m forced to choose between shrinking back from the unknown or pressing ahead, even when things are uncertain.

Fortunately, I’ve found that the more I press forward, the easier it is to do it the next time. I’ve also discovered that I feel more alive afterward, and I’m always thankful for the new experiences and knowledge that comes with the challenge.

I had just such an opportunity to step out in faith during a mission trip to Rwanda. I knew everything about this trip would challenge me to my core. It would be a completely unfamiliar setting working with orphan care, meeting new people and hearing very difficult stories, including acts of genocide in that country. Yet, I was astonished and challenged by Rwanda’s determination to choose healing over hate, resilience over retribution and good over evil.

As I listened to Rwandan President Paul Kagame speak about choosing joy, I was even more determined to never miss out on transformative opportunities when they came my way. No matter how uneasy I might feel at first, I always want to choose to put one foot in front of the other and walk into the challenge.

Our team went to Rwanda to serve. We sought to serve joyfully, but the experience accomplished more than we could have anticipated: We were humbled in our serving. No one left thinking, “Boy, did we help out!” We flew home with an understanding of what we had been given and what we had gained. The heart of philanthropy reveals itself when we work hands-on, together.

I am so grateful for the protection, guidance and nurturing we were able to offer during our training and the transformative relationships we made with individuals who do the important work of orphan care through Saddleback’s Peace Plan. It certainly was a journey I’ll never forget. As an adopted child myself, and as a mom of adopted children, this experience will always be very close to my heart.

Whether serving as a donor, fundraiser or volunteer, we can mobilize to make a difference and unleash our own, unique power of philanthropy.

Beth Johnson, Ph.D.(c), M.Phil.

Executive Vice President

Chicago / Los Angeles


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