Our 10-year-old son, Michael, hit us with a whammy just before Christmas.
“I want to build a school,” he said. Specifically, he wanted to build a school in Africa.
Michael said he prayed and God put the project on his heart. But he was sad.
The amount of money needed for the school — $22,000 — far exceeded what he could rationalize in his mind. (And, frankly, it far exceeded what his mom or I could rationalize too!)
“It’ll take forever. I can’t do it,” he said.
We can’t do it either, we told him, but God can. We reminded him how God helped a little boy with a few fish and some bread fed more than 5,000 people. (But, in all honesty, I was thinking: “This is huge.”)
We didn’t know then that the project would actually grow before we started!
The original plan was to fund a school through World Vision. But World Vision didn’t have the mechanism in place to collect and pool the money for a long period of time. We felt stuck. We’re not lawyers and we don’t run a nonprofit, so we needed guidance.
I couldn’t sleep one night because I was thinking of ways to keep the promise I made to my son. So I prayed. And that’s when God gave me an answer.
“Call Bob Goff.”
I laughed at the message. Bob Goff is the best-selling author of Love Does. I had heard him speak at the Global Leadership Summit in August and Corinn and I had attended his Love Does Austin event in October. Bob is an internationally known rock star for social justice. He runs an incredible organization, Restore International. He’s the consul to Uganda. He’s a renowned Christian speaker. Everybody wants his time.
But he’s a lawyer and runs a nonprofit. And he’s humble enough to put his phone number in the back of his book.
So I obeyed God’s command. I called Bob Goff.
And he answered.
“This is Bob.”
“Hey, Bob, this is Eric from Temple, Texas.”
“My wife and I saw you at Love Does Austin.”
“Wasn’t that fun!”
“Yes, it was really great. I don’t want to bother you and take up too much of your time, but you answering your phone is an answer to prayer. I have a challenge and, believe it or not, God told me to call you.”
To my surprise, Bob didn’t hang up. He listened to our challenge and I asked him the question: Since I don’t run a nonprofit, how do I collect the money and pool it until we have the $22,000 to donate?
Bob talked a bit about laws in Texas, California and Washington, and finally answered: “I don’t know.”
My shoulders sank.
Then, thinking out loud, he told me that if someone was working through his nonprofit, he’d simply create an account called “Michael’s School” and pool the money in that account until it was all there.
I felt God working again.
I said: “Bob, is there a way Michael can partner with you and help you with one of your projects?”
“Yes!” he said. “Michael could build a classroom in Gulu. And, more than just raising the money, you and he could go over and build it! It’s not about raising money; it’s about swinging the hammer and building memories with your dad.”
He told me it wasn’t about business. It was about friends getting together to do stuff.
I was dumbfounded and amazed and excited by his response. So was Corinn.
Did our 10-year-old son just partner with Bob Goff?
And the project grew, as well.
A classroom in Gulu, Uganda costs $30,000.
Bob put us in touch with Deborah Eriksson at Restore International and she worked to develop a mechanism to help us raise the money and track the funding in real time.
So, on March 7, we launched a page on Pure Charity to raise money to build a classroom for the kids in Gulu.
This project is HUGE. We’re stepping out in faith that God will honor the project He put on Michael’s heart.
Will you help Michael build a classroom?