Friday, March 27, 2009

Like Water in the Hands of God

For the past two years, I've been part of a really cool endeavor in northwest China. We weave hand knotted Tibetan rugs and other handmade products and change lives as we do it. At our Yushu facility, we purchase recently-sheared sheep wool from nomadic herders and turn it into the yarn we need to make great rugs. With just 11 employees, we're the largest private employer in a city of close to 100,000 people. This part of the Tibetan Plateau is severely impoverished, so what we're doing is making a difference. Looking ahead, we hope to employ several hundred people in Yushu. I've been working to understand how we can help achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Yushu.

The global financial crisis has severely impacted the home furnishings industry, and, like many companies, we've been struggling. Recently, our Board of Managers opted to sell our primary manufacturing facility (not the Yushu facility) and return to an almost all volunteer model of staffing. So ... I won't be with the company after April 30. There's this concept of earning an income to provide for our family's needs that's rather important to me!

So I have some time to reflect on the past two years and the experiences I've had in working with great people and tackling ambitious projects. The people who are (or were) on our team in China are some of my greatest heroes. It's not the easiest or warmest place to live on Planet Earth, and the culture and languages are complex. Nonetheless, these people have excelled. I'm proud to have worked with them. I'm also proud of what we've accomplished in the past two years: moving to a new factory in Xining, purchasing and opening the Yushu facility, and greatly expanding our sales/distribution channels in the US. We even recently received a reference from the godmother of the hand knotted rug industry. We've come a long way in two years.

Lest I appear boastful, let me quickly confess that only by the grace of God and the guidance of His Spirit has any of this happened. I have no misconception that it was my wisdom or strength that produced this for our company. [Deuteronomy 8 is a regular must-read!]

Last week I was in Portland, having dinner with a good friend and discussing the deep things of life. I commented to him that, "We desire to be like water in the hands of the Living God, poured out freely as and where He desires." This isn't mere spiritual talk; this accurately reflects the passion of our family. We pray daily that God will use us to serve those who are poor, oppressed, orphaned, widowed, without ... anywhere in the world. So, stay tuned for the next chapter in The Adventure of Life!

[For further reading: The Bible, Deuteronomy 8 and Isaiah 58]