When you face obstacles in your efforts to serve God, you know you are on the right track.
This was my mantra on this journey as we faced one obstacle after another. However, there was great reward in the end. Here is the story…
Winter of 2014: “Let’s invite people to a dinner called Generate Hope to raise funds for a new prevention program in Angola.” We set the date for May 3rd. We reserved the venue in Melrose. We publicized the event. We waited. Will anyone come? Will people want to hear about Hope for Our Sisters, the women and girls we serve, and our desire to eradicate fistula? Will people show up?
Yes! People from all circles of my life (family, donors, mentors, team members, friends both old and new) signed up! We hoped for 50 people and we sold out the event at 75! Amazed!
January 2015: For the fundraising portion of the event, I suggested a Paddle Up Auction. This was new to our team but they went with it…trusting my judgment. This is risky. Would people participate? Would they engage with this approach and help us fund this prevention program? Our goal was $4,000. Would we even come close? We would have to wait and see.
May 1st (two days before the event): We received a call that the venue needed to close temporarily. Really? Oh my! We felt shock, sadness, and dismay. However, that quickly turned to courage and action to find another date and find it soon. May 31st at the same venue was secured. We notified all guests. Would this keep guests from being able to attend? Would they still want to attend?
Yes! Although we lost a few of our most consistent and generous supporters, 97% of our original guests could make the new date! YEA!
May 16th (two weeks before the event): We received a call that the original venue would not be ready. No dismay, shock or sadness this time. I knew we were onto something that was going to be very special and we were not going to let anything get in the way. God was behind it all. After many prayers, calls and emails, a new venue was secured. Better yet, this venue was enabling us to provide our guests with a more upscale and pleasant evening at the same cost. I believe this is where we were to be all along. Again, all guests were notified. Would our guests still come? Would they stick with us after yet another change?
Yes, and better yet, we had more guests sign up. 90 people registered!
We are not done yet. God was still on the move…I could feel it throughout this journey.
May 31st (the night of the event): We decided to start the Paddle Up bidding at $400 and work down from there. However, this changed suddenly. A donor came in the door and shared with a team member that God led her to give us a large sum. After I learned this sum was $1,000, I knew God wanted us to start the bidding there. With tears in my eyes and goose bumps over my body, I told her we would start the bidding at her bid. This felt REALLY RISKY. $1,000 is a lot of money but we felt it was what we were to do. We thought about quickly moving the bidding down to lower numbers, but our MC suggested that someone might want to give $900. With a big gulp and a prayer, we went with it.
My prayer leading up to Generate Hope was to simply expect God. I have learned that if I expect specific outcomes from our events, I can focus on those and not see the larger picture or the other fruit that is being produced. So I prayed to expect God. Well, He showed up in a big way…
At the end of the evening, our guests had pledged not $4,000 but over $10,000!
Looking back, we could have decided not to take any risks. 1. Not held the event for fear that no one would show up, 2. Not held the Paddle Up Auction for fear of it not working, 3. Not started the bidding at $1,000 for fear of it paralyzing our guests. However, we took the risks because He gave us the courage to do so. Yes, I had moments of anxiety and fear, but they were quickly washed over by His peace.
We were certainly onto something special and how fun it was to share such a momentous evening with family, donors, mentors, team members, and friends both old and new.
After this journey together, I believe every guest left changed. I know I did.
© 2015 by Brooke F Sulahian