Explore the new initiatives we've fostered.
Any organization is wise to ask, “In 50 or 100 years, what will be different about the world as a result of our work?” This question is simple enough for us to answer: we envision diseases eradicated for the glory of God.
But how do we get there?
Below is a list of the kinds of endeavors we’d like to see into existence. Following that, you’ll find a list of the firstfruits of our efforts, projects that are just getting off the ground.
Initiatives we’d like to catalyze:
1. Awareness Campaigns
An example of what we foresee is the ubiquitous U.S. anti-smoking campaign, thetruth.com, which seeks to drive a wedge between the tobacco industry's advertising and a youth audience, hopefully resulting in a decrease in tobacco-related cancer deaths. A better example may be the human trafficking movement that has captured the imagination of Christians all over the world. Prior to the late 1990s, anti-trafficking was an obscure issue that interested only a small group of labor activists. Today human trafficking has exploded into a high profile human rights issue, especially among Christians. How did this happen? What lessons can be applied in terms of disease eradication movements within the body of Christ?
2. Funding Campaigns
A little known fact is that Rotarians have been at the forefront of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since it began in 1988. Rotary clubs have contributed huge amounts of money and volunteer hours to immunize children against polio and to raise public awareness about the disease. In that time the number of polio cases worldwide has decreased by more than 99%.  Recently the Rotary Foundation raised $200 million in three years  to help tackle the last 1% of polio cases worldwide. They did this by challenging each of their 34,000 clubs to raise $2,000 per year, for three years. For comparison sake, there are about the same number of Methodist churches in the United States  and three times as many Baptist churches . If each of the roughly 314,000 Protestant churches in the United States  followed the Rotarian pattern, $1.8 billion would be generated in three years.
3. Prayer Movements
Prayer has always been a crucial element to missions. No one questions missionary Samuel Zwemer’s assertion that “the history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” In the future, we expect the same will be said of diseases that become eradicated. Peter Kreeft said it this way, “I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those prayers down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives."
4. Special Purpose Organizations
Obviously a whole host of additional organizations will be necessary, everything from scientific research to public health education and policy to vaccine delivery efforts and more. Organizations like the Carter Center and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provide patterns to follow. However, we see great wisdom in starting small, “for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” (Zec 4:10) We like the “little bets” approach - learning from little failures and from small but significant wins. As Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” We believe the time is short before a galaxy of innovators with profoundly important ideas springs up from the body of Christ to pursue challenging questions about the roots of disease, and we want to help them.
Thankfully God has already connected us with a handful of people who desire to partner with likeminded souls and experiment on the peripheries with solutions that more established institutions can’t or won’t consider. Below are three current projects we are helping to launch.
1. Researching the Origins of Disease
Ralph Winter long dreamed of establishing a research organization whose express goal would be to conduct scientific and social research about the origins of disease. In February 2014 we convened an all-day summit to brainstorm about the founding, funding and future of such an organization, including potential diseases on which to focus. The result was the launch of a postgraduate level research institute headed by biochemical geneticist Richard Gunasekera. The inaugural project of this institute is genetic and nutritional research on a disease called Kashin-Beck disease, which is a degenerative form of osteoarthritis that often affects children and teenagers in high lying areas of Tibet and China.
2. Horrifying Creation Book
Quoting C.S. Lewis, “All creatures cause pain by being born, and live by inflicting pain, and in pain they mostly die.” (The Problem of Pain) Is this the way God intended things? Or has Satan corrupted natural processes to produce things like malevolent parasites and carnivorous predators? The aim of this project is to produce a plausible and coherent narrative that integrates the best of science with the warfare worldview to argue that all violence in nature—especially disease—is the result of nature being corrupted by fallen powers who had been given authority over various aspects of creation.
3. Database on Human Suffering
There are a number of databases that track things like disease, corruption, poverty and other causes of human suffering. There are also databases—such as the Joshua Project—that give us detailed statistics about unreached people groups. Can these two types of databases be combined to determine the people groups in most need of both the light of the gospel and the alleviation of suffering? Similar to databases that highlight the “least-reached” people groups on earth, can a database be developed that identifies people groups that are suffering the most? What are their most dire felt needs? Would this knowledge stimulate more engagement from the body of Christ on their behalf? We think so. That’s why we’re trying to foster a feasibility study regarding this concept.
Interested in helping us develop these projects, or in catalyzing others like them? Are you willing to raise personal financial support, or can you volunteer on a project-by-project basis? If so, contact us and tell us a bit about yourself.