MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, July 23rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: effective compassion.
Every year, WORLD sponsors the Hope Awards for Effective Compassion.
It’s an annual competition designed to showcase organizations that tend to the poor and needy.
This year is Year 14 for the Hope Awards. And this time, we decided to do something a little different.
REICHARD: WORLD reporter Anna Johansen is here now to tell us about it. Good morning, Anna.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Good morning!
REICHARD: For Hope Awards coverage, we usually pull together reports from across the country. Talk about what you did this time.
JOHANSEN: This was my first time doing Hope Awards coverage, so I met up with my fellow reporter Charissa Crotts—well, that was her name at the time. She just got married, so she’s Charissa Koh now!
JOHANSEN: Yeah, congratulations to her. But we went road-tripping together: Nineteen days, eleven states, 3,420 miles…and eight different non-profit ministries.
REICHARD: That’s a lot of travel…
JOHANSEN: Yeah, we found out pretty quickly that life on the road is not all that it’s cracked up to be. We would get up in the morning, head to a location, and interview five or six hours. Then we’d drive to the next state, maybe get some sleep, and repeat.
I kept forgetting what state we were in, so I decided to make a big deal about it every time we crossed a state line. Here’s an example.
ANNA: We are about to cross from Texas into Oklahoma!
CHARISSA: It’s not really that exciting.
ANNA: It’s a thrilling moment, don’t listen to Charissa. It’s the biggest moment of the trip so far.
CHARISSA: It’s OK.
ANNA: And…and…aaaaaaaaaaaand we are in Oklahoma! [cheering]
REICHARD: You sound very energetic…
JOHANSEN: Hey, you may as well have fun with life, right?
The trip was great, but it was exhausting. Reporting for that many hours takes a lot of brain power. And we heard a lot of tough stories, so it was emotionally draining too.
So by the end of the day, this is what I would sound like.
ANNA: It is…
CHARISSA: Nine o’clock.
ANNA: Nine o’clock.
ANNA: P.M. I don’t know what day it is.
ANNA: I don’t know where we are.
ANNA: I don’t know…anything. [laughing]
Charissa and I kept each other mostly sane.
REICHARD: The ministries you visited were nominated by WORLD readers and listeners and there are specific criteria each one has to fit. Tell us about that.
JOHANSEN: Right. To be considered for a Hope Award, the ministry first has to be challenging. It can’t just give handouts to people, because that doesn’t initiate real change. People don’t change, the cycle of poverty or homelessness or drug abuse doesn’t change.
REICHARD: So the ministry has to challenge the people they want to help. What else?
JOHANSEN: It also has to be personal, not a one-size-fits-all approach. The ministry needs to build genuine relationships.
And last but not least, it needs to have a spiritual component. It’s great to want to help people and provide for their physical needs, but Jesus is the only one who can change lives from the inside out. So challenging, personal, spiritual: Those are the three things we’re looking for.
REICHARD: Out of all the ministries you visited, only five become regional winners. Which ones didn’t make the cut—and why not?
JOHANSEN: All of the ministries we visited were doing really great work. But a lot of the time, they were missing one or two of the criteria. Typically it was the spiritual aspect. It just wasn’t evident in practice.
One ministry Charissa and I visited talked about being faith based and providing spiritual mentoring, but when we asked if they actually shared the gospel with their clients, they said no. And without Jesus, you’re not going to see true life transformation, which is really what the Hope Awards are all about.
REICHARD: Aside from the perils of road-tripping, what was your biggest takeaway from the trip?
JOHANSEN: There was one thing that really stood out to me. We were in Indianapolis in the City Market, which is basically a giant indoor farmers’ market with a bunch of vendors all around.
CHARISSA: We should definitely get dessert here
There was this ice cream booth with two guys working there. One was older, really skinny, missing a couple of teeth. His name was Steve. As he was scooping our ice cream, we struck up a conversation with the other guy, Mike.
CHARISSA: So you do real estate and you also work here sometimes?
MIKE: Yeah, actually, I own this place.
Turns out, Mike met Steve about 13 years ago. Steve is homeless. Mike started building a relationship with him and really felt like God was calling him to hire Steve to come work at this ice cream stand. So he did. He doesn’t have a massive budget, he doesn’t have a board of directors. He’s just helping one guy.
That really stuck with me, because homelessness and poverty are such huge problems. But that doesn’t mean we need huge solutions. Anyone can help. Charissa and I saw a lot of that in the ministries we visited. They’re not massive organizations. They’re helping 15, 20, 40 people. But they’re making a difference in those people’s lives.
REICHARD: That’s so inspiring and encouraging, Anna. That’s what this is about. So, there are five winners you’ll hear about over the next three weeks. Each will receive at least some money. And which one receives the $10,000 grand prize is up to you. You can cast your ballot at wng.org/compassion.
Right now we head to the Central Plains to visit the first Hope Awards finalist. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has the highest incarceration rate in the country. And that has a ripple effect on society—especially the family. Today Anna Johansen and Charissa Koh introduce us to a small Christian school that is reaching out to help these children.