Q: In your book, Passion to Action, you discuss how a trip to Africa changed the direction of your life. Why did you decide to go on a mission trip to Africa and how did that trip affect you?
Something had been stirring in our hearts for some time before we decided to go on the mission trip to Africa. We got away for a weekend to talk about the direction of our lives, and we decided that going on a mission trip together would be a powerful thing to do as a family. When Jay was in college, he traveled overseas extensively for two summers. Being exposed to the struggles and poverty of those outside of the U.S. made a profound impact on him, and he desired that our family experience what life was like in another culture. We knew from Jayís experience that the trip would impact our lives, but we had no idea how much it would affect each of us. We were blown away by the poverty and conditions in Africa. Itís one thing to see images of people in distress on a television screen, but to see and smell the poverty in person was overwhelming. While the images we saw there will stay with us forever, the African people made the biggest impression on us. In the middle of dire and desperate conditions they had such resilient spirits, coupled with an amazing sense of community and joy. We came home with the realization that while we were rich in comparison to them materially, we were poor in comparison to the community and joy they possessed.
Q: Upon returning from Africa, you made the decision to sell your home and travel the country in an RV. Had you ever envisioned yourself living in an RV before that time?
Since we were first married, we dreamed that one day we would travel as a couple. We couldnít imagine that would happen until after the kids were grown. As a boy Jay had traveled for weeks at a time across the U.S. with his parents and grandparents. He had many fond memories from these trips, and we imagined how amazing it would be to do this with our family. We just didnít see how it would ever be possible, so we stuffed our dream down and never pursued it.
Q: What were your biggest fears about uprooting your family and following your dream? Were your family and friends supportive of your decision?
Jayís biggest fear was what this decision would mean to our family financially. We were concerned that buying a motor home meant we were throwing our money away as RVís depreciate quickly over time. He also wondered how difficult it would be to continue his career as a mortgage broker while traveling from city to city. We had concerns about the friendships our children would leave behind. We wondered how they would adapt and if they would be able to make friendships as we traveled. Our families at first questioned the financial wisdom of our decision, but in time they became supportive while many of our friends in Atlanta thought we were nuts. They had a hard time understanding why anyone in their right mind would want to trade a 4,500 square foot house with four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms to live in a 340 square foot home on wheels with two rooms and one toilet.
Q: In Passion to Action, you discuss how you not only sold your home and began traveling in an RV, but you also decided to live your life serving others. How do you decide where you will go and who you will help?
When we first got on the road, the decision of who and where we served happened organically. We would stay in a place for a week or two. Over time our schedule left us fatigued and worn out. When we started the non-profit, we developed a strategic plan that we believed would be more sustainable for the ministry and our family. We decided it was best for us to spend one to two months at a time in each city where we work in order to develop relationships. Because of this strategy we try to plan in advance and book ourselves out as far in advance as possible. In regards to who we will help, we have always subscribed to the belief that it is better to work with existing non-profits or ministries that are already serving those in need versus trying to re-create the wheel. As a result of this belief, when we work with a group or church we learn what organizations or people they are working with in their communities, and we join forces to work with them. We specifically try to work with organizations that implement community development principles and who are committed to treating those they serve with dignity and respect.
Q: You have now formed an organization based on your experience. What is your mission for Passion to Action and how do you hope it will impact the lives of others?
Our mission for Passion to Action is to inspire, empower, and mobilize people to put their faith in action. We believe that inspiration is the fuel for change. In order to step out itís critical that we first be inspired to act on our dream and passion. Our desire is that our story would serve as a catalyst to inspire people to action. We are all called to serve and that looks different for each of us. While we believe itís important THAT we serve, we also believe that itís significant HOW we serve. We hope to equip people by teaching them community development principles which empower them to serve others with dignity through developing relationships, avoiding the trap of dependency, and making a long term commitment to serve their communities. Lastly, we hope to mobilize people into action to serve others. Our desire is that when people step out of their comfort zones and break past fear, that this will create a heart change in them and help to catapult them into a lifetime of service.