Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Unwavering Faith | The Rugged Altruists

With new opportunities brought toward me, new challenges, and decisions to be made, I spoke to a dear old friend about the road ahead; of course, gathering as much information as I could so as to make the "smartest and best decision" possible. "Unwavering faith," he said. "Unwavering faith."
.... How could I forget?

Sometimes, no matter how much we work, no matter how many facts we gather, no matter how much we pride our intelligence, we forget the great power of unwavering faith and trust. Whether it be in God, in life, or in us as human beings -- if unwavering faith is at the core of what we do and, most importantly, what we do for others, we can't go wrong. After all, we can't control everything.

We've worked with exhaustion researching projects to better our missions abroad, the price of food goes up, the price of food goes down, the soil could be fertile, the soil could be ruined... and on, and on, and on, and on... have FAITH. You can't control the world around you, but you can do your best to stay committed and grateful.

Today I read The Rugged Altruists, an article written by David Brooks of the New York Times. It highlights the unfortunate truth that not all large non-profits or volunteers can end up being helpful when serving abroad. But, it also highlights the percentage who become and remain useful through their virtues and their faith in what they do. It highlights truly brave and selfless individuals and I encourage you to read the full article. The rugged altruists, those who do not seek the spotlight, but rather experience much struggle, pain and difficulty, AND remain hopeful and faithful, committed to their work. The Rugged Altruists:

"Many Americans go to the developing world to serve others. A smaller percentage actually end up being useful. Those that do have often climbed a moral ladder."

"The first virtue they possess is courage, the willingness to go off to a strange place."
"The second virtue they develop is deference, the willingness to listen and learn from the moral and intellectual storehouses of the people you are trying to help."
"The greatest and most essential virtue is thanklessness, the ability to keep serving even when there are no evident rewards — no fame, no admiration, no gratitude."
"This final virtue is what makes service in the developing world not just an adventure, a spiritual experience or a cinematic moment. It represents a noncontingent commitment to a specific place and purpose."
A commitment to this work is not easy and I commend and thank every volunteer out there who has made such committed sacrifices for others. There are endless obstacles, I see them every day, but it is those small groups with unwavering faith in their mission who, in my opinion, can, and often do, make the biggest difference.

During my time in Nairobi, Kenya, I had the opportunity to speak in depth with an incredible Kenyan woman who has such COMMITMENT to helping her people. She goes on to tell me her great concerns in the large organizations who come in, making equally large decisions without involving the locals in some fashion. Grateful to live among them for some time, I could see and understand her point. But she also shared with me beautiful stories and photos of past volunteers who've worked with her, returning home to their native country with a personal and intimate COMMITMENT to bettering the lives of the Kenyan people. They work in small organizations, and they do it with care. These are the rugged altruists that Mr. Brooks speaks of, and I cannot thank them enough for all they do.

Committed volunteer work is not easy, but it is not meant to be. Global Empathy Now is up and running, and I'm thankful to have a partner (you're amazing, Randy) and a team who serve when there are no evident rewards. I'm thankful for the faith that keeps us going, even when obstacles knock us down. And, I am thankful we have created a non-profit valuing the importance of being hands on, personal, and intimate. How can the truth of this work not be, after all? I am proud of all who've been involved and I respect you greatly. To all you rugged altruists all over the world, those who risk their lives to help another, those who make major sacrifices, those with deep and genuine love for people, I thank you and love you to no end for your unwavering faith in all you do.


  1. I am amazed at your young age how you understand the power of commitment, perseverance, selflessness, unconditional love, family and above all.... FAITH. Most people don't, if ever, learn the significance of these attributes until they are much older or life has beaten them down. I am so proud of you! You are a gift to all who know you and love you as I do. I support you all the way!--- Mom.

  2. She had to have learned it from somewhere, & I think she was given a wonderful foundation from her family, especially you Paula. Britni is truly a gift from God :)

    -an old friend

  3. You continue to inspire me. Keep doing your thing, ladybird! You are loved! WWBTD?

  4. You are a light to the world, Britni, a real earth angel. God gave you a calling that not many have had. Even if we've heard God, do we listen and follow as you have?

    I admire you so much. I love you and your family. Being with you and/or your family is always a cherished moment in time... I've learned something, I've experienced something meaningful, I've been uplifted, I've laughed, I have something to look forward to, and so much more.

    Thank you for working so hard on your blog so those of us who will never travel to the places you are traveling to have a chance to experience what is so meaninful to you. It takes courage to let us in!

    You are making a difference. I love you very much.

    Aunt Mary

  5. Great Post Britni...I am just working on a similar post at the moment, about the need and imporatance of 'belief' or having something to believe in and to live for, especially for Africans. Thanks for sharing.