Tag Archives: Develop CENTS

Filled With Awesome Wonder (And Excitement)

It’s 3am on January 1st, 2013. I just spent over 1 & 1/2 hours writing this blog post. I was planning on spending part of the night (after New Year’s celebrations) working on configuring a new a new server (yes, I’m a geek 24/7). I won’t go into all the details, but if you’re also a geek and curious, then here’s the summary: I’m building a new Postfix + Dovecot server. Postfix is done and working, but I’m still working out a few bugs with Dovecot. I’ll get around to (finishing) the configuration of this Dovecot server, but this blog post isn’t supposed to be geek-related at all.

This will be more personal. This post originally started out as a short Facebook status, and then it turned into a Facebook note. But now as I’ve continued to write, it has turned into this blog post of over 1,000 words!

I was listening to some worship music (specifically the CD Songs 4 Worship Ultimate) and thinking about all of the different interests and passions that seem to pull me in (what I feel are) completely different directions and feeling a bit confused, as I’ve felt for a while, in a number of areas.

As the CD was playing on my iPhone, I pulled out the devotional “Daily Light” and the first verse for January 1 is  also one of my longtime favorite verses, and was exactly what I needed to read tonight (morning now): Philippines 3:13-14, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Each time a new song came on this CD, I’ve been renewed this evening (morning, now) a little bit more. I’ve also been closely following the Tweets that people are tweeting from the triennial Urbana (Student Missions) conference for the last few days, and as it has wrapped up tonight in St. Louis. (Urbana is an international missions conference, made up primarily of students, that meets every 3 years the week between Christmas and New Year’s, in St. Louis, MO. I’ve never been to the conference, but heard about it from a good friend of mine when she and I worked together in Boston in 2009-2010).

Sometimes, I feel that I have two incompatible interests (technology and community development). On the one hand, I’m a geek, I know server administration,  I know Linux, and I find myself in front of a computer more often than not. On the other hand, I love to travel, I love different cultures (and the study of different cultures and cross-cultural communication). I strongly desire to build long-term relationships with residents AND those who “doing” development and missions in developing countries.

As many of my readers know, I am working very, very hard to launch my own business. Develop CENTS will very soon be launched into a full time venture.  2013 is going to be a very interesting and exciting year. As some of my close friends know, I will be shortly leaving my current full-time employment to attempt this launch into a full time venture. Develop CENTS exists to provide affordable technology consulting services to nonprofit organizations transforming underdeveloped communities worldwide, and to provide technology education and jobs to members of communities in which these NGOs work. The mission and vision of Develop CENTS meshes with the interests I have, which I outlined earlier.

However, sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. One of my biggest fears in launching Develop CENTS has been that I would “get stuck” behind a computer 8 hours a day. While computers and technology are a big passion of mine, they are not my deepest passion, nor can they fulfill me. My deepest desire is to help people all over the world, both in developing countries and in developed countries, in two areas:

  1. The first desire I have is to help people meet the same Lord & Savior that I have been given the grace to know. I believe in the God described in the Bible. I believe that he is a loving and everlasting God. I believe that I – and everyone else in this world – are messed up (“sinners”). I believe that one day, by God’s grace, through faith and not through any other works of my own, I will spend eternity with my Creator. And I firmly believe that anyone’s decision to make that faith their own is the most important decision that person can ever make. The alternative is not pleasant. However, while I believe God is sovereign over all, I also believe that God has given us free will and will not force this decision on anyone.
  2. The second desire I have is to help people become empowered so that they can support themselves. I firmly believe that there are ways we can help people (the materially poor), but I also firmly believe that there are ways that Outsiders try to help “Insiders” (the “poor”) that actually do more harm than good. I believe that anyone who seek to do “missions” or “community development” work have a responsibility not to do more harm than good. (I studied “Community Development” for my B.A. in college at Covenant College. Two of my professors, who also work for the Chalmers Center have written a book called When Helping Hurts. If what I’m writing resonates with you, and you haven’t read this book, then go read it).

But I know that it is not true I will sit behind a computer 100% of my time, and become a recluse. I have a vision to partner with Community Development and Missions organizations worldwide, and build lasting relationships. I have a vision to work with people. I firmly believe that technology is a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself.

I firmly believe that Develop CENTS can and will help nonprofits worldwide. I am very, very excited to see that happen, and to see my desires and passions flow through the business model. The road may be hard and possibly lonely at times.

But for now, my Lord is saying to me “This is the way: Walk in it.”

With excitement, I start 2013, and I greatly look forward to seeing the ways in which my passion for missions, community development, and technology will mesh.

Happy New Years!

Immediate Reflections on the Christian Community Development Association Conference 2011

The CCDA is comprised of thousands of Christians throughout the States and around the world. Founded by Dr. John Perkins, “the CCDA is a network of Christians committed to seeing people and communities wholistically restored. We believe that God wants to restore us not only to right relationship with Himself but also with our own true selves, our families and our communities. Not just spiritually, but emotionally, physically, economically, and socially. Not by offering mercy alone, but by undergirding mercy with justice.” (http://ccda.org/about).

Many of us work in broken, poor neighborhoods across America. We fight for social justice, for racial reconciliation, and for the poor. But most importantly, we love Jesus and seek to follow his command to love him, and to love others.

From Wednesday evening through Saturday Evening, approximately 3,000 people gathered in Indianapolis for the annual CCDA conference. The theme for this year was Innovate. When efforts are old or just aren’t cutting it, and when realities within the poor communities we work change, we must innovate with fresh solutions.

This was the third CCDA national conference I have attended. However, it was different for me in that during my first conference, I was a college student, and during my second conference, I was officially representing a nonprofit organization. During this conference, however, I was representing myself and came to learn without any ties to a school or organization.

Having traveled with several good friends from my church community in the Chattanooga area, I came away from Indianapolis greatly encouraged and inspired. Conversations during the 16 hours on the road were delightful (coming & going combined). I saw several friends from Boston. I met some people doing incredible work around the world. I sat under the teaching of community development warriors including Dr. John Perkins and Wayne Gordon. I learned. I fellowshipped.

There are many thoughts & reflections I am taking away from CCDA 2011. (I just got home today)! Here are just two of these reflections. I may add more to this blog post, or publish subsequent blog posts as I continue to reflect, but I wanted to get these two in writing now.

  1. “If we’re too busy to spend time with God, we’re simply too busy.” I am an avid Twitter user, and read this (unrelated-to-CCDA) tweet by @ourdailybread, followed by the tweet’s link (http://odb.org/2011/10/13/too-busy-to-know-god/) Thursday morning and was reminded what drives those of us who are members of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA): our utter dependence on God for everything we do.The CCDA is Christian first. So often, in our busyness, we get preoccupied trying to “do good” or “serve the poor” that we forget to spend time with our Creator. Throughout each annual CCDA national conference, Dr. Perkins preaches a “bible study” each morning before the conference kicks off for the day. On Friday morning, preaching from I Timothy, Perkins said that Jesus called his disciples to live with him, and that it is only after being his disciple, steeped in the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) that we can then go out into the world.What a great reminder and wake-up call this was for me!
  2. Urban American communities and the Christian nonprofits which work in these communities continue to need innovative technological improvements, in some areas that I have not thought of before. Moreover, there are ways I haven’t thought about before in which I could partner with nonprofits across America to help residents learn technology skills.I had some great discussions with folks in my car on the drive to and from the CCDA conference, and I learned more about several great organizations. I can see that God is continuing to shape my vision for the future, and that it is one that is constantly evolving. The more I talk about it, the better I am able to articulate it. And the better I’m able to articulate this vision, the more people God seems to put into my life to prod me on, and to help me think of even more ideas.As many of my readers know, I studied Community Development but have always been a self-taught computer & IT geek. My vision is to someday merge these two passions together so that I (and my business, Develop CENTS) can help nonprofits around the world with their technology needs. I hope to cultivate the ideas and relationships formed (and/or strengthened) over the past 4 days in following whatever he has in store for this business.

These are reflections that I take seriously, and I will work to put these into practice, even now.

To learn more about CCDA, you can visit http://www.ccda.org.
To learn more about my IT consulting business, Develop CENTS, you can visit https://www.developCENTS.com.

This was edited on Monday, Dec 17, 2012 to change the name of the business from Smooth Stone Services (old) to Develop CENTS (new).