One last unexpected for 2020… And a look ahead to 2021

 Unexpecteds defined 2020, from masks to toilet paper runs, canceled church to at-home school. Many of these unexpecteds carried loss, some of it beyond words. And yet, as always is the case, hidden alongside (and sometimes within) those losses came so many unexpected gifts as well. 

Unexpecteds defined 2020

I’d like to add one last unexpected for 2020, with much thanks to God and His people.

Back in March, I prepared a list of budget cuts for CAFO’s work, some immediate and others planned. With the stock market crash and the economy on a precipice, I anticipated we might be in for an intensely lean year. I wanted to move swiftly to prepare for the worst, including salary cuts for the leadership team. It seemed the only way to avoid sweeping layoffs and a significant pullback in mission was to start reductions ASAP.

Some of the things we feared did play out. This included the loss of the joy of gathering for an in-person CAFO2020 Summit. Other events, financial opportunities, and plans were lost as well.

But then… fast forward nine months. Right alongside slammed doors opened myriad new opportunities, from the expanded reach of an all-virtual Summit to the COVID response grants CAFO was able to offer organizations worldwide… and much more. Then, in the final stretch of 2020, an incredible array of individuals and families stepped forward to invest in CAFO’s work financially as well. In the end, what had seemed likely to be CAFO’s worst financial year ever ended in an outpouring of generosity beyond any year before.

Thank YOU to all who chose to be a part of this wonderfully unexpected end to the year.

Thank YOU to all who chose to walk alongside us through this unexpected year. Because of you, the entire CAFO community of 200+ organizations and 800+ churches, plus so many advocates and volunteers and other champions worldwide, will labor together more robustly than ever in 2021 – ultimately working to see every child experience God’s unfailing love through His people.

In this, you’ve also shown yet another evidence to me — and to all who pour themselves into this work — that God brings unexpected good amidst, and even through, unexpected struggle.

As we look to 2021, I’ve never felt more excited about the work ahead for CAFO.

As I contemplate all this and the plans laid for 2021, I would say – without any hyperbole – that I’ve never felt more excited about the work ahead. From the CAFO2021 Summit (Lord willing in September!) to the More than Enough campaign … from the Center on Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families to the 20th anniversary of Orphan Sunday … from investing in the global church to building up US church ministries … from student initiatives to helping child-serving organizations expand their fundraising … and so much besides … I have a deep-in-my-bones sense that God has marvelous things planned for 2021 as the CAFO community joins together in work larger than any of us could achieve alone.

To be sure, many things that lie ahead will be unexpected this year, too, some painfully so.

We can be sure that right alongside struggle and strain – and often within them – will be countless unexpected gifts as well.

 But we can be sure that right alongside struggle and strain – and often within them – will be countless unexpected gifts as well. After all, isn’t that the way God always works?

Thank you, CAFO community, for reminding me and all of us of this marvelous truth!