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Steve Spear: Re-purposed Pastor Begins Trek April 8

March 28, 2013

Chicago Pastor Leaves Santa Monica in About a Week

Plans to Run Five Marathons a Week for Five Months — Starts Monday, April 8

Quits Job to Help Kids in Africa Get Clean Water With international Christian Relief Group World Vision


Forty-nine-year-old Steve Spear hates to run.

But Spear is now in the final stages of training for the run of his life. The Chicago-area pastor recently quit his job as a Willow Creek pastor after 15 years, to focus on raising $1.5 million to provide clean water for 30,000 people living in Kenya.

Spear, who only took up long-distance running five years ago, has completed numerous marathons and ultra-marathons but none like this. He plans to start a coast-to-coast run on April 8 in Southern California, and finish five months later in New York City. Spear says his former senior pastor at Willow Creek Church, Bill Hybels plans to run with Steve on the final leg of the cross-country odyssey into New York in August.

Willow Creek pastor Steve Spear.

Last summer, Spear traveled to Kenya to see how World Vision’s water projects are literally saving lives. Right now, he is training extensively in Chicago, building his tolerance. He’s also fundraising. Currently he’s raised more than $75,000, some checks coming in as large as $10,000; but the majority come in $10 and under.

Once the run begins, Spear says he’ll petition churches along the way for funds. “I’ve never done anything like this before in my life.”

For donations:

Twitter: @SteveSpear30

Rare Feat: Since 1909 when it was first attempted, only 260 people have tried to cross the continental United States, from coast to coast on foot. How rare is that? Imagine The Empire State Building. Now take a grain of sand and lay it at the base of the New York City landmark. Now lay another grain on top of that. Eventually, you’ll have enough of them stacked up to equal the height to that skyscraper. Now take one grain away. Notice how small it is. That’s how rare it is for someone to succeed at what Steve Spears is trying to do. He plans to average more than 170 miles a week or a marathon a day for five months.

Training schedule: Steve runs Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays taking Thursdays and Sundays off.

Important dates: April 8, 2013 (start date); planned arrival mid-August in New York City.

Multi-media content:

Extra notes:

  • Spear will run 3,200 miles, averaging a marathon a day for 5 months.
  • Spear will consume 6,100 calories/day & go through 10 pairs of running shoes.
  • 900 million people lack access to safe water.
  • 6,000 children die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water.

More teens embracing social media to fight hunger

March 26, 2013

World Vision 30 Hour Famine Facebook page reports big jump in friends and April sign-ups

World Vision U.S. Facebook page reaches 1 million fans

100,000 Teens to Give up Food, Go Mobile — 30 Hour Famine April 26-27

2013-02-23 14.17.53

With the 30 Hour Famine (30HF) national event less than 40 days away, World Vision is encouraged by new numbers showing a big jump in the number of teens signing up to participate in the April 26-27 event. Last April, 30HF reported more than 3,200* groups signing up to do the famine.


This year, more than 3,500 have signed up, an almost eight (7.8) percent jump. This year, almost a quarter million teens will fast to fight global hunger. 30HF is the world’s largest teen hunger awareness campaign. Since 30HF began in 1992, teens have raised more than $150 million to fight global hunger. The United Nations says in 1992, 40,000 children died from hunger and preventable causes each day. Today that number is down to 19,000 — still too high, but proof that efforts like 30HF are helping.

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According to World Vision, the number of 30HF Facebook likes (31,701) has also jumped 8 percent from last year (26,599). “Our research says teens are more inclined to act on social justice issues when they hear about these causes from social media,” says Leah Swindon, 30HF national director. According to a new study, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of World Vision, more than half of teens (56%) say social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) have made them more aware of the needs of others, a big jump from 2011, when just over 4 in 10 (44%) said their use of social media made them more aware.

Trinity Cardboard Village

April 26-27, at their national headquarters in the Seattle area, World Vision  will give control of the 30HF website to teens across America so they can use social media to fight world hunger. While many do the 30HF in February, others participate in April. Teens go without food for 30 hours to get a taste of what the world’s poorest children face. Prior to the event, teens raise funds by explaining that $1 can help feed and care for a child a day. Teens consume only water and juice as they participate in local community service projects at food banks and homeless shelters. In some major U.S. cities 30HF volunteers will work in World Vision Storehouses. Last year, 30HF raised $9.8 million to fight hunger. This year’s goal: $10.5 million.

Tonight, 870 million people worldwide will go to bed hungry. Funds raised this year for 30HF will be sent to 10 countries including Haiti and Burundi … and this year, for the first time, 30HF funds will help fight hunger here in the U.S.

For more info: or or call 800-7-FAMINE toll-free.


Downwardly Mobile

January 31, 2013

Portland couple discovers something more satisfying than owning a dream home.


Portland area couple reads inspirational book … downsizes, simplifies, finds elusive measure of happiness.

Background: (from James Addis, World Vision Magazine)

The house was beautiful.  It was located in the upscale neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, and for months its owners, Jeff and Kari Patterson, had studied the plans and pored over every detail of its construction.  Once building commenced, they visited the site almost every day, fantasizing about what it would be like to live in the house they had always dreamed of owning.  After they moved in, they finalized the color scheme and completed the landscaping. The icing on the cake was an enormous outdoor playhouse for their two children — Dutch, 6, and Heidi, 4. It did not seem to matter that their mortgage payments were through the roof.

Then the Patterson’s read The Hole in Our Gospel  by World Vision president Richard Stearns. Like tens of thousands of other readers, the Pattersons were broken by the plight of impoverished children around the world.

In some ways the book’s message was not new for them.  Apart from the house, the couple had always lived modestly in order that they could give more to organizations such as World Vision to bring practical and spiritual help to the destitute.  But the more Kari meditated on the book, the more convinced she was that it was not enough. “Our current giving costs us nothing,” she reflected. “The bottom line is our current giving does not require us to live by faith.”

In the book, Rich refers to Moses. God asks Moses to throw down his staff and it instantly becomes a snake. What is in your hand? Rich asks. What is God asking you to lay down for his glory?* For Kari, there was no doubt about the answer.  Much of the couple’s income was tied up in mortgage payments to pay off their home — money, Kari reasoned, that might more profitably be diverted toward people who might not even have enough to eat.

Coincidentally, her husband Jeff — the assistant pastor of a local church — was thinking along the same lines. One week after finishing The Hole in Our Gospel, the couple put their home on the market.  The idea was to move into more modest accommodation and, over time, allow the couple to donate as much as $500,000 to those in need rather than invest it in a house.

More details:

Rich Stearns is currently at work on his latest book, Unfinished, schedule to be published later this year.

It took exactly a year for the house to sell. (The house showed 90 times in that year.) The Pattersons first moved into a rental property and more recently bought a more modest home in a poorer neighborhood. Slashing their mortgage payments by 75 percent has allowed the couple to give away a fourth of their income. They hope one day to up that to half their income.

Kari considers it is the best decision the couple ever made. She says it as though someone had turned on a faucet to receive more from God: “I just felt like in prayer I could hear him more clearly,” she says.

Even more importantly, Jeff felt God prompting him to establish a new church in a low-income neighborhood. It meant the couple’s income dropped by two-thirds. But without the pressure of maintaining high mortgage payments, it wasn’t a problem for them. Pastor Jeff heeded the call and became the founding pastor of Renew Church in Oregon City.

Even so, the reaction from fellow Christians has not always been favorable. Some said the couple was making a negative judgment about people who live in nice houses. Kari disagrees. She stresses that just because God told her to give up her dream home does not mean he is asking the same thing of everybody.

*The Hole in Our Gospel, p. 91. Kari roughly paraphrases the text.

Notes from Kari: We put our house on the market Oct. 8, 2010 (a week after finishing The Hole in our Gospel). We moved out October 8, 2011. Yes, exactly a year. We had decided ahead of time, because of the poor market, that we’d try to sell it for a year, and if it didn’t sell we’d keep it.

Human Trafficking: Waking up to the Truth

January 7, 2013

For Federal Way’s Brenda Oliver it’s personal.

Danica Childs

Danica Childs

She first got involved with the human trafficking issue December 21, 2007, the day her friend’s daughter, Danica Childs, disappeared. The 17-year-old was on her way to go Christmas shopping with her family. Her mother, Dianne Zoro, says, “I talked to her between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m. and she said she was coming home to meet up with her sisters and a couple of friends.” Danica never arrived.

Five years later, her friends and family are still waiting.

Her mom says unopened voice messages on Danica’s cell phone that day indicate she was involved in prostitution and most likely forced into a prostitution ring, another victim of human trafficking. Each year more than 293,000 children nationwide are susceptible to becoming victims of human trafficking.

Federal Way-based World Vision advocates on behalf of women and children around the world each year. But for most of us that’s where we leave the issue — on the other side of the world. But Brenda Oliver says it’s something happening here. “People are waking up to the truth of this,” she says. “Finally, we’re now starting to look at these young women (and sometimes young men) as victims rather than criminals.”

Brenda Oliver Women of Vision

Brenda Oliver
Women of Vision

Today, Oliver leads the Federal Way Coalition Against Trafficking. She’s also Advocacy Chair for Women of Vision – South Puget Sound. She’ll be at Federal Way City Hall Wednesday night, January 9 when the city will present a proclamation addressing the city’s commitment to enforcing anti-human trafficking laws. Between 150 and 200 are expected.

Brenda and Women of Vision are also promoting a day-long training session at World Vision U.S. Headquarters in Federal Way on Friday, January 25. She hopes to recruit potential trainers and educators to get the Deceptions Awareness program into more schools. To register:

Until then, Brenda Oliver and Danica Childs’ friends and family wait for the day a teenager comes home as they work for a day when the traffic will stop.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults age 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of “labor or services,” such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm-workers forced to labor against their will. The factors that each of these situations have in common are elements of force, fraud, or coercion that are used to control people.  Then, that control is tied to inducing someone into commercial sex acts, or labor or services.

Because human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries, the U.S. Government and academic researchers are currently working on an up-to-date estimate of the total number of persons trafficked annually in the United States. With 100,000 children estimated to be in the sex trade in the U.S. each year, it is clear that the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.

For more details:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7 – 9 p.m.
End the Demand — All City Forum, Federal Way City Hall

Guest Speakers:

Peter Qualliotine, Co-Founder of Organization for Prostitution Survivors
Brian J. Wilson, Chief of Police, Federal Way Police Department
Nick Lembo, Board Member for Defenders, Shared Hope International

John Kangara Mucheru: Finding purpose in the “madhouse”

December 4, 2012

Life is cheap where hope is scarce. And here in Nairobi’s Huruma slum you have to look hard to find any hope. So much is discarded here — bottles, cans, tires, plastic … but mostly people.

John Kangara, Project Manager, Zakale Creations

John Kangara, Project Manager, Zakale Creations

Forty-two-year-old John Kangara Mucheru knows this. He’s lived in Huruma all his life. But Mucheru looks for use in everything. The word Zakale means “re-use” in Swahili, the cultural language of Kenya. And that’s exactly what he’s done with bottles, cans, tires, plastic … but mostly people.

People like 28-year-old Milton Obote. Ten years ago, Milton was playing pick-up soccer, smoking marijuana and burglarizing homes. Until he met John Mucheru. While watching a Humura pick-up soccer game Milton and his friends were playing, Mucheru noticed the artistry with which Milton played the game. “Futbol (soccer) is what I eat,” says Obote. But John Mucheru didn’t like the company Obote kept. He saw something special in the teenager that everyone else had overlooked … if they even looked at all.

Milton Obote, Zakale Creations

Milton Obote, Zakale Creations

The two started talking. John challenged Milton to do something with that artistic side. He gave the teen a piece of wire and asked him to “design something.” Obote brought back a beautifully created hand. Soon, John invited Milton to work for him at Zakale Creations, based right here in Huruma. He knew Milton and didn’t like to see boys like him waste their lives. Perhaps he saw a little bit of himself.

Huruma, Nairobi

Huruma, Nairobi

John used to be involved in gangs, petty theft, some robbery. “It wasn’t my wish,” says Mucheru. “I had no alternative.” In a place like Huruma you do anything to survive. Something happens to a person when you’re packed into a place of extreme poverty with 60,000 others. The word Huruma in Swahili (one of Kenya’s official languages) means “sympathy.” Some who live here think Huruma is just another word for “madhouse.”

Zakale Creations Mucheru doesn’t remember anything good about Christmas as a child. No fond memories. “I never got a Christmas present. I was orphaned when both my parents died when I was three.” But John Mucheru is turning that around. Today, the ornaments his young men and women at Zakale Creations make are sold to a company called Heavenly Treasures. That company in turn, sells them to World Vision where they are offered in the charity’s Gift Catalog.

Now each Christmas, John Kangara Mucheru throws a big party for hundreds of his neighbors in Huruma. “Christmas is time for sharing what you have with those who have nothing,” says Mucheru. His young men and women welcome visitors with a ceremonial dance.

Ornament set from the World Vision Gift Catalog

Ornament set from the World Vision Gift Catalog.

They are energetic, happy and appear full of hope. And today, Milton Ndege is married with a young daughter and hopeful he can land more design work.

“Zakale Creations,” Mucheru says, “is about creating new life.” What better time of year to find that new life in the discarded bottles, can, tires, plastic but mostly people. Here in the maddening heart of despair, John Mucheru has found a way to deliver a tiny piece of hope.

World Vision Gift Catalog

Zakale Creations

Photos and video show Hurricane Sandy’s damage to emergency relief supplies at a World Vision warehouse in the Bronx

October 30, 2012

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View World Vision’s photo and video resources from New York, all together on a new Pinterest board.

Best-Selling Author Joins Live ‘Knit Mob’ in Chicago

October 25, 2012

Goat Fashion Show

Knitters Wrap Kids in Warm Winter Knits


NewYork Times Bestselling author Debbie Macomber, Vogue Knitting LIVE, World Vision’s Knit for Kids Bring Warm Knits to Kids at Local Elementary School


World Vision’s Knit for Kids and Vogue Knitting LIVE Host Live Knit Mob, Covering Local Kid Goats with repurposed, custom-designed sweaters, scarves, hats in fashion show on Goatwalk


Goat shows off knitted sweater in Chicago Knit Mob event.WHAT:  New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber teams up with World Vision’s Knit for Kids, a nationwide family of volunteer knitters who create clothing items and blankets for children in need. Macomber is also keynote speaker for Vogue Knitting LIVE show this weekend. Before the show on Friday, October 26, Debbie Macomber, VKL, World Vision and knitters gather to distribute sweaters, scarves and hats to young children at Alex Haley Elementary Academy in Chicago’s Southside.

After the knit distribution, World Vision’s Knit for Kids and VKL will host a Live Goat Knit Mob, as local yarn retailer Lorna’s Laces supplies custom, repurposed designs for a menagerie of local goats, who will walk the Goatwalk in a fashion show to engage local knitters to pick up their knitting needles to help kids in need in the US and around the globe.


WHEN: Thursday, October 25, 2012

WHAT: Winter Knits School Distribution 9-10 a.m.
Live Goat Knit Mob Fashion Show 10-11 a.m.


Alex Haley Elementary Academy
11411 S. Eggleston Ave. Chicago, IL


WHY:  The need is great. Many children around the world do not have the clothing they need for basic survival. World Vision field offices report that 900,000 children need sweaters; more than 1 million infant caps and blankets are needed to help the most vulnerable. Recently named International Spokesperson for Knit for Kids, Macomber hopes to mobilize thousands of knitters to share her love of knitting and her commitment to the poor to join the effort.  “These days there’s so much focus on doing activities to keep the mind active,” says Macomber. “But I believe we need to keep our hearts active.” World Vision distributes knitted clothing and blankets to children in over 11 countries and the U.S. as well as disaster responses like Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

WHO:  This winter knits distribution is a partnership of World Vision’s Knit for Kids, Vogue Knitting LIVE, and Debbie Macomber. The Live Goat Knit Mob Fashion Show is brought to you by World Vision’s Knit for Kids, Vogue Knitting Live, and Lorna’s Laces.


MEDIA CONTACTS: Photo Op and Interviews with Debbie Macomber

Kelli Day, World Vision Media Relations
(253) 227-3875

Gardi Wilks, Wilks PR
(708) 205-5020