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            Still Need Your Help

            After I posted last week that I needed money for my upcoming trip to Kenya. a generous donor called to  say they would match every dollar you give up to $3,000. What a blessing that is! The deadline to give is next Sunday night, May 19, because I depart the next day. You can give through my Facebook link if we are friends there, or you can give through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. 

            What we raise from this campaign will empower me to conduct leadership training like I did in 2016 and 2018 (the church's leadership team is pictured here) and also support our other partners in the good work they are doing. It enables me to cover all my expenses as I go and that is a great relief. As I write, I have received $1,186 so if we are going to reach the $3,000 goal, I need your help. Please give today and make the investment to double your blessing through this matching grant. Thank you and God bless you!


            I Need Your Help - Again

            I am heading over to Kenya in two weeks to conduct some leadership training and to connect with our partners. My first visit will be to Bomet where I will conduct two more leadership two-day seminars, which will make my fifth and sixth seminars in the area. We usually have around 100 to 150 at each so that means we are approaching 1,000 leaders trained in the times I have been there. I am raising $3,000 for those events, which include a video projector, seminar notes, and books. You can give through my website for donations or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. You can also give through my Facebook page.

            In the last several weeks, I have sent money for our little Mary, who is in her second year of secondary school, so she is not so little any more. Pastor Francis reports that she is doing well and her performance bodes well for her chances of going on to university. I also sent money for the Upako teachers, who attended a professional seminar over the Easter break. We are blessed to have teachers who serve the Dr. Stanko Academy on a full-time basis.

            Pastor Peter wrote to announce that he opened his seventh area library recently. Here is his report:

            We are well on course to empower Kenya through Education and now we have our seventh library in Ruaka. It's a combination of kids' exclusive library, movie room, and larger library. Thanks for being a faithful partner along with all our supporters. May God bless you in abundance.

            Pastor Peter

            I sent $300 toward our library expenses.

            Then we got this report from Belver concerning the WEEP Project that provides sanitary supplies for young women in various schools. April was the first month that PurposeQuest began supporting WEEP with $650 per month:

            We successfully managed to distribute sanitary towels to 534 students in the month of April 2019. Thank you for stepping in, in such a time and may your cup never run dry. God bless! Kindly find some of the girls pictures and receipts attached. Belver
             
            There were other requests and expenses that we met in April. I need your help not only for the monthly expenses but for my trip that commences on May 20. Thank You, Lord, for your faithful provision and thank you for your generous support. I look forward to hearing from you in the next two weeks.

            Exciting News: Merger between PurposeQuest and WEEP

            In 2015, my son, John III, visited Kenya and heard that many young ladies missed a week of school every month because they lacked the necessary sanitary products to accommodate their monthly needs. He found this situation unacceptable, so he began his own nonprofit organization named the Women's Equal Education Project (WEEP). He engaged a team of ladies in Kenya to assist and began sending money every month so the supplies could be purchased. The ladies then went into certain schools, conducted a training session (I include pictures of John III in the class as the WEEP team trains), the young ladies registered to receive product every month, and then they could be assured of their sanitary supplies. The result: young women were properly using appropriate sanitary products and could attend school every month without interruption. What a blessing.

            The program started in St. Theresa Secondary School with 100 girls, no small beginning, and today services almost 300 young ladies every month in that school. In addition, the program has expanded to include the following schools with the number of young ladies registered following:

            • Riruta Satellite Secondary School - 60
            • Riruta Israel Primary School - 50
            • Kids Empowerment Primary School - 36
            • Bethany Primary School - 70
            • Zeal Covenant Primary School - 22
            • Light Christian Primary School - 38
            That's a total of 570 women every month who are provided their sanitary products, and 352 women have "graduated" from the program.  All this takes place for a cost of $650 every month.
             
            After prayer and discussion, we felt it best if we merged WEEP's operation into my nonprofit, PurposeQuest International, so we could assure the team in Kenya that resources would continue to be available and that the program can and will grow as PurposeQuest's donors embrace this important project.
             
            Therefore, as of April 1, 2019, PurposeQuest will officially become the ministry source for WEEP's ministry team in Kenya. 
             
            I have agreed to send the team two $325 payments every month to continue their important work. Will you help? You can make a contribution toward WEEP's work through the PurposeQuest website (just mark WEEP in the memo) or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. My thanks to John Stanko III and his team in Kenya for their vision and commitment to this ministry. It is touching hundreds of lives and making the difference between academic success and failure for many women. I am trusting the Lord and the PurposeQuest donors to help continue building on the foundation that has been established.
             
            Over the years, schools have asked me many times to provide sanitary products and I have been able to help sporadically. This merger will allow me to help our partners more consistently. I am delighted to do what I can to assist the young women of Kenya, and I hope you share my enthusiasm and will support this program with your prayers and finances. Thank you and God bless you!

            Be Careful Who You Tell

            Old Testament Joseph had two dreams and immediately told his family, but they were not too happy to hear they would all be bowing down to him in the near future. Joseph's eagerness to share with those who would and could not understand God's choice of their brother and son as the family ruler cost him more than a decade of his life in Egypt as a slave and administrator before God brought the dreams to fruition.

            Contrast Joseph with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who didn't have a dream but rather an angelic visitation followed by divine appointments with the shepherds and then Simeon and Anna in the Temple when she took Jesus there to be dedicated.

            After Gabriel announced she was pregnant, Mary did not tell anyone as far as we know, except Elizabeth her cousin, who was also with child in her old age. Mary was wise enough to know not to share what God had revealed to her to anyone except a person who could understand, and that person was Elizabeth--who had her own experience with a miraculous conception. Joseph was not as wise and paid a price.

            After her visit from the shepherds and to the Temple, we are told that "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19), and "then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

            The point is this: Be careful with whom you share your purpose and ideas for creative expressions. Not everyone is going to understand or be able to nurture and support the dreams and God ideas you have. Don't share them with just anyone unless you are looking for someone to talk you out of what you think you have heard. Then it should not be too hard to find people who will tell you "you're crazy" and who will remind you of your limitations and past failures.

            Who is in your circle of confidants? People who will stimulate and challenge you to be more than you are today, or those who have a vested interest in you staying right where you are? The choice is yours and it may make the difference between years of wandering and days of living the life God has assigned you to live.

            Choose wisely.


            We Measure What We Value

            I have written lately that we need to change the way we do church, which is the title of a book I am revising to re-release this year. Part of the change is to stop measuring what we normally measure, which has been attendance and the offering total. I had an associate write and ask for clarification on this, and this is what I wrote him today:

            *****

            You had made a comment about more writing about what we should measure if not money and attendance. Here are today's thoughts from Seth Godin:

            Don’t steal metrics

            A thoughtful friend has a new project, and decided to integrate a podcast into it.

            Talking to a producer, he said that his goal was to make it a “top 10 podcast on iTunes.”

            Why is that the goal?

            That’s a common goal, a popular goal, someone else’s goal.

            The compromises necessary to make it that popular (in dumbing down the content, sensationalizing it, hunting down sort-of-famous guests and doing a ton of promo) all fly in the face of what the project is for.

            It’s your project.

            It’s worth finding your metrics.

            A church will measure what is important to it, so the key is first to identify what is important and then find a way to measure it such as kids returning a second week after visiting once, number of "Amens" during a message (a form of feedback; the Cleveland Orchestra measures standing ovations), the number of givers instead of the offering amount, how many more people gave to missions this year over last year, etc. This is hard work, and sometimes almost impossible to measure, but we must try and then allow our metrics to shift and morph over time.

            The old standard of behinds in the seats and dollars in the offering tells us something about what we value. When we change our values, God will then help us find ways to measure what is important to us instead of spinning results to convince ourselves things are not as bad as they really are. We need to change the way we do church!


            One Final Thank You

            Here is one final thank you from our year-end efforts to help our orphans, this time with their school fees. Here is a note from our friend and caregiver Alice (along with a picture of four of our orphans while on Christmas break at home with Alice):

            Dear John,

            A quick one to thank you very much on behalf of the children for school fees received.
             
            A total of Kshs 278,229 was received in the following batches: 69,601 × 3 and 69,426.
             
            Do pass our sincere appreciation to all those who have come together to see these children in school.
             
            May the hands that have opened to give receive plenty of blessings.
             
            Warm regards.
             
            Alice
             
            The children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. I need you to join the ranks of the faithful supporters that make possible how we bless these children. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

            A New Year for Our Orphans

            Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good ones and that you found time to relax and enjoy God's goodness at this time of year. Now it is time to resume our normal rhythm and routine of life, and the same is true for the orphans we help care for in Kenya. I will be going over with a group of 21 people in February and will show them firsthand what we are doing there, but here is a report from Alice, who tends for the children (who are becoming young adults) at Each One Touch One Orphanage (the picture is of Phyllis and Gladwell as they head off to school this term). The reason the children look so good is because of Alice's tender care, and we shudder to think where the children would be without her:

            Dear brother John,

            We wish to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy New Year.
             
            We want to thank you for being there for us when we needed someone to uplift us. You have provided for us with a smile. You have striven to make our lives better and easier than you found us. You have wisely used the talents God gave to you to ensure that EOTOO children have eaten, are well clothed  and attend better schools in the hope of giving them a better tomorrow. The lives of our children turned around for the better when you showed up in their lives. Those that have matured through your care have seen Nuru now working as a sales lady, Tobias is ready to join a technical college this year to do a course in electrical engineering. Gaudencia has just completed her fourth form and the majority of the other children are in high school. It was the will of God that this change in the children come through you. It is not a mean feat and yet John, you still have a smile on your face
             
            We take this opportunity together with the EOTOO children to wish you and your family God given health, love, peace and tranquility in the new year and and in all the days to come. We do extent the same wishes for our many friends whom we have met through you and wish all of them God's blessings.
             
            This message comes to you from Alice,  the EOTOO team and all the children with lots of love.  With specific love from Phyllis, Gladwell, Elizabeth, Deborah and Obed who are here with me waiting to start a new term in their various schools on the 3rd of Jan.
             
            I sent over money for school fees for the children mentioned above, as well as a gift for their Christmas celebration. The problem is that the children have ongoing needs. They are growing so they need clothes. As all children, they need to eat every day. Soon their school fees will be due again. While my name is mentioned above, I have always made it known that I cannot do and have not done alone what Alice describes above. I have had the help of many faithful givers, but I need you to join their ranks. Can you give toward their needs either through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882? Thank you and may God bless the children as they start another school term.

            Achieving Greatness

            Someone just wrote me to ask, What  must I do to achieve greatness? Here was my response:

            develop yourself to be able to handle what you will need to do to achieve it = effective time management; find a message and learn how to deliver it; don't be limited to only Christian mentors/teachers; determine that your greatness will be to serve the needs of others and not your own.

            Then he wrote back: Kindly explain this "develop yourself to be able to handle what you will need to do to achieve it"

            I wrote back:

            education/self-discipline/ongoing learning/grow in your capacity to handle more responsibility
             
            never rely on your title or what you have done in the past; don't insist that people honor or recognize you; be content to influence and not control people
             
            I finished with the passage from Philippians 2:19-23 in which Paul described what made Timothy great:

            But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

            I asked the writer,  "Paul only saw one who did in his lifetime; can you be the one that others discover in theirs?"
             
            The same question applies to you

             

             

             

             


            My 2019 Writing Goals

            I share all my writing goals below so you understand how I structure my goals and work to be fruitful and productive; what can you add to help our readers set their own goals and be more fruitful?

            1. New Year's morning, the first thing I did was edit my daily devotional (today from my book A Daily Taste of Proverbs); then I copied and pasted it to Facebook; then I posted it to LinkedIn and Twitter; I do that Monday through Friday and draw material from five of my daily devotionals. It helps me to jump start my writing day and keeps me in touch with my followers all over the world.
            2. On New Year's Eve, I set up my manuscript for my Corinthians commentary (written and 115k words); I will edit that in January and have it ready to publish in March (It would be February, but I am going to Kenya in February).
            3. On New Year's, I began editing my next book (my 'Go and' series from the Monday Memo) titled 'Go and Obey'; my goal is to have it finished in January for publication in March/April.
            4. This week, I will sketch out my revisions for my 2009 book "Changing the Way We Do Church" I will start to edit and write new material in January, but most probably won't get much into that until late Feb/early March.
            5. After I finish Corinthians, I have three more volumes of my New Testament commentaries (written but need to be edited), which will be done, with God's help, by Dec 31, 2019; here is the link for the commentaries that are complete (Romans is done but in final stages of publishing).
            6. Someone gave me the idea this past week for a book I will title "Put Me in, Coach!" That is on the horizon for 2019.

            What are your goals this year that will enable you to activate, stimulate, and rejuvenate your creativity?


            Facebook Revival

            Last Friday, I began posting statements and sayings on Facebook I have used in my purpose coaching and teaching over the years. Immediately, I sensed something was up. The response was quick and enthusiastic, so I posted another and then another, and before I was finished, I had posted roughly 100 sayings that are still receiving feedback, likes, shares, and questions. I thought I would share some of the way forward now that this online revival of sorts has finished while the effects are felt for some time to come.

            1. The most popular post of all my quotes was this one: "Stop waiting for your church to recognize you; recognize yourself and then do what God wants you to do." Let me explain. I have found that many people are expecting their church to recognize their gifts and then find a way for those gifts to be expressed. This does happen but it's rare. There is only one pulpit and 52 Sundays every year to give a public platform to the gifts. What's more, often people's gifts are not consistent with a modern worship structure. One man I knew one time had a purpose to minister to the military. Most churches don't know what to do with that, so I advised him to start his own outreach ministry to the military, which he did.

            Rather than being angry at the church or going to another church, I advise you to pray and be creative to find ministry expressions that don't depend on your church's programs or leadership preferences. If you have a ministry to child, buy a rocking chair, take it with you, and go rock children in a hospital ward. I just counseled a woman who was gifted musically to schedule three concerts over the holiday season. She did and I think one of them was at a family gathering. Her assignment for January is to write a song, then record it on YouTube. My point is that you cannot and should not allow your purpose, creativity, or gift to languish if others don't see it for what it is or what it can be.

            2. The second most popular post was "By the authority vested in me, I give you permission to be a person of purpose in 2019. You may kiss your purpose." This is obviously a tongue-in-cheek adaptation from the standard wedding vows at a Christian wedding. I have found that I often have to give people permission to be who they are. Everyone wants to be normal but in reality, no one is "normal." Our purpose makes us abnormal, but we often hide who we are so we can act more like what we have been taught normal is. You don't need anyone's permission to be you, but when you are hiding who you are in fear, it sometimes helps for someone like me to say, "Go ahead, sing, dance, write, teach, build and do it the way you want it done. It's okay and it's God's will."

            3. The third most popular was "Be you - everyone else is already taken." This brings us back to the normal issue. When we see someone else serving the Lord, we can think that we should be more like that person. We admire their gifts and want them, even covet them. I urge you to be who God made you to be, and there has never been anyone like you in the world. Stop trying or pretending to be someone else. If you like pizza for breakfast, eat it (not particularly healthy, but you get my point). If you like the color purple, then decorate in purple (mine is orange, but men don't wear orange, but I started to wear orange). I may emulate what I admire in someone else, but I am going to assimilate that into my personality and gifts. I want to be me and God wants that too.

            4. The fourth post was "I no longer put my faith in my ability to hear the Lord; I put my faith in God's ability to speak to me." My experience has shown me that we have been taught not to "miss the Lord," so we agonize over the guidance process and wait for endless confirmations before we may then venture out. God is with us, not against us. He is not trying to trick us. I can honestly say I have never heard that the Lord wanted me to write any of my 40 books (perhaps that is reflected in the sales!). I had an idea and I trusted that I had the mind of Christ on the matter and proceeded. Now if you have written 41 books, I will listen to your advice of how to hear from the Lord, but if you have thought about writing for ten years, had three prophets confirm you were supposed to do it, and still haven't written anything, I won't be accepting your advice on how to hear and follow through any time soon. God is a great communicator and James was clear: If we ask for wisdom and don't doubt, we will receive it. We tell people to go for it, but be careful. That grooves fear into their mind, so they wait and tarry and delay.

            There is a lot more I could write, but I have probably already written or talked about it someplace. Check out my website, my Vimeo video channel, my Monday Memo blog, my personal blog, my Twitter account (@johnstanko) or my LinkedIn page and you will find a ton of stuff that relates to what I wrote about on Facebook this past weekend. As you approach 2019, I encourage you not to set your goal to go to the moon if you haven't been out of your home town, for you are just setting yourself up for failure. Don't set a goal to write a 900 page novel if you can't be consistent with your journal. Build your faith muscles in 2019 by going a bit farther than you have gone before. Share your testimony on Facebook when you do and then set a goal to go a little farther.

            If I can help you, let me know, but in the meantime, have a blessed, purposeful and Happy New Year! May this be the year of purpose for you.