the BLOG of stuart mcdonald


Transforming Communities: An Interview with Joshua Yarbrough: Part 1
November 3, 2009, 8:33 am
Filed under: Ministry | Tags: , , , ,

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Joshua sharing the Gospel in Rwanda

For those of you who don’t know, my friend Joshua Yarbrough is a great friend of mine and a very cool guy. He’s also committed to transforming communities for the glory of God and making a tangible and positive impact there. As some of you may have heard, he and his wife, Monique, are hosting an event on Saturday, November 7th. From what I’ve heard, this is going to be an incredible event with live jazz, food (which you know I love), and plenty of cool people. There’s been a lot of talk circulating about it that I thought it would be a good idea to have Joshua share with us what this event is all about, so, I have asked him to do three posts over the next three days.  I’ll be asking him some questions that I thought people would be curious about.

Having said that, Josh, what can you tell us about the purpose of this event on November 7th?

JOSHUA: First, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share with your readers what we are doing.  My wife and I have been working hard since March of this year preparing to launch a global initiative for an organization called e3 Partners (www.e3partners.org).  They are a church planting organization that is currently operating in 44 countries and in hundreds of cities.  I will be serving as their Director of Community Development Strategies which means its my job to build this new division that will empower thousands of churches to address issues such as poverty, education, healthcare, justice, and reconciliation.  The event on November 7th is a celebration of this new initiative to transform communities all over the world for God’s glory.  And, as you can imagine, a vision this large will require an army of people doing all kinds of things to get this moving forward.  We will share a little how people can get involved as well.

That sounds like an incredible idea and I cant wait to hear more about how you plan to make this vision a reality. But, before we talk about that there is a specific question I wanted to ask you today: Out of all the things you could be doing with your life, why did you decide to devote your life to rebuilding communities?

JOSHUA: Well, I would have to say it began in 1991.  My mom and I went on a trip to visit some friends in Belize.  As you know, Belize is in Central America and is very poor.  I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta and was never exposed to poverty like this.  But, my trip to Belize exposed me to poverty in a very unexpected way.

We stayed in a nice home while in Belize.  And, as is common practice in countries like these a guard is usually stationed at the front gate to prevent theft.  The family we stayed with had hired a boy named Eckerd to guard their gate and we quickly became good friends.  We would play outside in front of the house during the day.  I imagine he was a young teenager at that time and I must have been about fourteen years old.

My mom told me not to wander from the house because it wasn’t safe for me to go walking around by myself.  However, one day Eckerd asked me to come see his new home.  He was very excited about this and in my mind I imagined a house similar to the one I lived in back home.  Because I was never one to turn down a great adventure Eckerd and I planned our escape and we left unnoticed.

The way to Eckerd’s home took through a maze of dirt roads and paths that I imagine are rarely seen by tourists.  As we continued our journey I saw the conditions people were living in and was totally blown away.  We eventually came to a muddy hillside full of little shacks that were made up of all kinds of miscellaneous items like tin, rocks, cardboard, and whatever else that could be found to create a shelter.  I saw children running around with no clothes on, I smelled horrible smells, and trash was everywhere.  We finally arrived at his home and he welcomed me inside.  It was large enough to have a hammock tied up from one corner of the shelter to the other.  He had no personal belongings, no drawer full of clothes, no CD’s or radio, no parents around to take care of him, none of the things I thought every boy on earth my age possessed.  He was prouder than ever, and my worldview was profoundly altered that day.

After returning home from Belize it wasn’t long after that my life began taking a turn for the worse.  By fourteen I had already experimented with drugs and alcohol and by the time I was sixteen years old most of my life revolved around getting high.  I lived this way until I met Christ at the age of 21.  However, as I threw myself into drugs and alcohol I would always remember Eckerd.  It was almost as if God was calling to me through it all and whispering, “I have more for you to do than this.  There are people suffering and I have created you for a great purpose.”  When I came to Christ this experience in Belize all made sense to me.  I knew almost immediately what God had called me to do.  When I look back at it, I think maybe I always knew it.

I would say Eckerd was the first of several experiences that shaped me into who I am today.  However, there was another experience that I think built upon this first one.  It helped me to further realize how critical of a state our world is in.

Love it. I can definitely see how that kind of an experience would impact your life in such a deep way, as it clearly has. I think I’ll conclude today’s post on that note, but stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog because I’m by no means done talking about the things that Josh and his wife, Monique, are doing.

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