Playing for a Larger Vision: Gary Schneider

As much as we’d all hope otherwise, even ministries with the best of objectives all too often get sucked into the same empire building, intramural competitiveness, and turf wars as other organizations.  So it’s a refreshing breeze when a Christian nonprofit makes decisions that only make sense if their leaders are playing for a vision larger than their own organization alone.

Orphan Sunday 2009 carried many examples of this kind of action—organizations working  to build the Christian orphan movement, even with limited immediate benefit to themselves.  One that particularly struck me came from Gary Schneider.  Years ago, Gary encountered the sacrificial giving of local Christians in Zambia on behalf of orphans in a local church’s Orphan Sunday.  Impressed by what he saw, he helped spread the vision for “Orphan Sunday” throughout Zambia, and then brought the idea to America.  Gary put a massive amount of effort into growing the idea in the U.S., developing materials, Web content, and seeking to spread the idea among American churches through his ministry, Every Orphan’s Hope.

This year, when the Christian Alliance for Orphans decided to make the concept of “Orphan Sunday” a major national initiative to rouse the Church to care for the fatherless, Gary could have tried to protect “his” territory.  He owned the web address www.orphansunday.org, and had expended significant resources to copyright the term “Orphan Sunday.”   But instead of making big demands in exchange for the rights he had acquired, he offered them to the Alliance gladly, with minimal conditions at no cost.  Gary explained to me, “I was entrusted the Orphan Sunday vision for a season, but it’s not mine—it’s God’s.  I believe the Alliance will be able to do more with it now than I could, so I’m pleased to hand all this to you.”

May all Christian ministries take a similar stance toward the resources and roles God entrusts to us.