The specific story is fictitious but the situations and dynamics are very real.

There once was a family…

“Family” might not be the best word, but it’s all we have. Husband will be the focus of our attention. He has no job; neither does Wife. They live in a primitive shack in a sprawling slum on the outskirts of a large city. No water, irregular electricity pirated from the local lines, and open sewage at the front door. Rats and gangs infest the place.

We won’t give names to our subjects, to avoid national or ethnic labels. They could live almost anywhere in the developing world.

Husband is a wreck. A psychologist might say his behavior comes from anger and hopelessness – no job, no future, powerless to provide for his family. Husband has spiraled down to where he spends his idle time (all day) at the local tavern, swapping stories with his buddies and “self medicating.” Once in a while he gets a menial job for a morning or keeps watch for the local drug dealer. He spends any money he earns on alcohol, his friends, and a part-time mistress.

When Wife nags him enough, he tosses a little money her way. What she mostly receives, though, is abuse when tempers flair and they scream back and forth. Their Kids scatter. The cacophony of noise outside drowns out Parents. Kids spend their lives in the street and feel better there, usually.

Now, let’s try to change things.

A Good Result

A good thing happens. A humanitarian organization enters the slum and sets up child sponsorships. Kids get registered and sponsors “adopt” them. Suddenly, Kids can go to school, where they get a nutritious meal and can learn to read and write. Much less time is spent on the streets. A ray of hope lights up their lives. But, it’s hard to focus at school and do homework with the yelling at home and no schedule or boundaries. The street stills calls them each afternoon and evening. Mother tries but can hardly cope with day to day life, much less nurturing Kids. But, they now have a lifeline if they can grab onto it.

A Better Result

Something better happens. A group of business people start a light manufacturing operation next to the slum. Husband sees an opportunity, applies for a job, and gets hired! He seems less angry and the yelling lessens. More money finds it’s way home, lowering Kids’ dependence on unseen sponsors. Husband feels pretty good about that. But, habits die hard and Husband’s grip on his job is sketchy because he misses work, hung over from the night before. The majority of his pay still gets consumed at the tavern and he can now afford his mistress full-time. Still, Kids, Wife, and Family are doing better.

The Best Result

The best happens! You see, the business owners are passionate followers of Jesus. They run a lean and mean business with integrity. They treat those around them with fairness, with just a touch of grace. Husband notices and starts talking with the owners about their faith. Eventually, he decides to follow Jesus. He starts hanging out with other guys on the same spiritual journey. Inexplicably, he starts changing from the inside out. He wants to be a real Husband and Father. He dumps the mistress. He spends much more time at home, bringing most of his pay with him. The screaming stops. Kids start relaxing in a safe and nurturing home. Family integrates into a local church community.

Husband has a job, self respect, and a new heart! A job without a new heart brings very real benefit, with limits. A new heart without regular income would solve some significant problems but not all of them.

This is the best of all worlds, focused on one Family. Kids’ future now looks very bright, since Family is becoming a firm foundation for launching them into life. Real Power and Change.

Our strategy for transforming lives does not just expect new social groups and norms to influence Husband. We count on a very real and personal God who cares intensely about Husband and Family. We believe this God doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. When Husband permits, we count on God to grab a hold of Husband and change him in ways that can only be described as supernatural. We believe in that level of spiritual impact and have seen it happen over and over.

When economic, spiritual, and social solutions coincide, Family and Kids are deeply transformed. That’s when our smiles at Transformational Ventures get the biggest.