I have the opportunity to return to Ethiopia next month with Bethany Christian Services. I’m going to explore ways Watermark can partner with an Ethiopian church to begin a foster care program for orphans. I’ll also be looking into other ways we can serve widows and orphans in this remarkable, but poverty stricken area.
My wife, Vicki, and I sponsor a child through an amazing ministry named, “Yezelalem Minch.” Their name means, “Everlasting Spring.” This tremendous ministry has a wide range of social services and the best part is that they are Ethiopian started and led.
Above is a picture of me with Meron, the girl we sponsor. I look forward to connecting with her again when I travel. I’ve seen first hand the impact sponsorship makes for a girl like Meron. For only $30 a month she receives food, medical and educational support. If you are interested in helping a child through sponsorship you can do this through Bethany’s website.
Right now I’m sitting in a “Third Place” – Starbucks. The basic concept of a “Third Place” is that these are spaces that people gather outside of their first space (home) and second space (work).
Recently, as I sat in Starbucks, I chatted with Tom. Tom works from home and travels a lot for work, but he starts every day by driving into Starbucks to get a cup of coffee and to meet up with other regulars. They typically talk about the day’s big stories. This is Tom’s “Third Place” and it connects him to a community that laughs and learns together.
I remember learning about this social concept years ago. The first instinct for a church leader is to figure out how to leverage this insight into connecting more people into a faith community. The temptation may be to simply redesign church facilities to create “Third Places” for people to come to. I think that making space more effective to create connection is a great idea. However, there are already “Third Places” in most of our towns and cities.
What if we became “Third Place People?” What if we went to already existing “Third Places” and belonged to the tribe or group associated with that space? What if we crossed cultural and social boundaries (missionary posture) instead of merely insisting on others to cross those same boundaries to participate in our community of faith? Kinda sounds like Jesus, who moved into our neighborhood.
So as I sit in Starbucks I am asking myself and God, “How do you want me to be a blessing with those here?” How can I be a “Third Place” person?