A boy died in his father’s arms, and another was buried by his father after dying in combat. A girl escaped from one tormenter, only to encounter those that live inside her. A man broke a woman’s spirit with his fists, and a neighborhood was destroyed by hatred. A girl had a baby so she would have someone who loves her. Walls have been built to keep people apart, causing pain that will last generations. These experiences have each brought lessons into my life that guide me in my ministry. I am privileged to be present in these places, where the grass suffers because there is no rain, the locusts come, or the elephants fight. I have learned that being a companion and witness to suffering offers dignity, respect, and pursues justice—and builds hope one relationship at a time. My father’s anger taught me oppression and fear—and I knew that no one should have to live that way. I also learned that I was never alone, that God’s presence is my companion. That presence is always with me.

This essay and portrait is part of a community-art and leadership project called “wdydwyd?” Tony Deifell (KNLP-16) invited his colleagues in the Kellogg Fellowship to reflect on what motivates them to follow their personal and professional paths by answering the question, “Why do you do what you do?”

“wdydwyd?” has reached over 1.5 million people worldwide and it has been used for team-building at Google, Twitter, many colleges and universities, nonprofits and K-12 classrooms. And, according to Wired Magazine, “In Silicon Valley, that question has been the hottest team-building meme since Outward Bound – and it’s spreading.” For more information: http://wdydwyd.com/leadership.

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