In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells a story about a wealthy landowner who was leaving on an extended journey and entrusted three servants with a share of his treasure. When he returned many years later, he was pleased that two of the servants had invested and multiplied their share of the treasure — but the third servant had only buried his share. The master was angry and gave his share to the servant who had invested most wisely, casting out the third servant for squandering the opportunity.
When designing OBI strategy, I often reflect on this parable and its timeless message that each of us is expected to multiply our God-given gifts, using them to help those around us. Our teams always look to invest in humanitarian efforts designed to best leverage the funds that our donors entrust us with. By utilizing the entrepreneurial principal of leverage, in other words using every resource to its maximum advantage, we multiply the products and services we deliver. We constantly search for new ways to stretch every dollar so that OBI can help more people in more places.
Here’s a few examples of OBI’s entrepreneurial strategy:Last month in Qaraqosh, Iraq, we purchased two huge cast iron valves. The valves only cost about $2,000, but they were the missing link in a multimillion-dollar water system that had been disabled by ISIS. The system pumps water through nearly 10 miles of pipeline from the Tigris River to Qaraqosh, the largest Christian community in Iraq. Thousands of displaced Christians were waiting for the municipal water system to resume working before they could return. OBI’s strategic investment in the valves was all it took to enable those beleaguered refugees to return home.
In OBI’s Hunger Strike Force, we invest in a fleet of trucks, trailers, drivers, warehouses, and staff. Our procurement staff solicits corporations every day for donations of food, beverages, and relief supplies. These efforts result in millions of pounds of donated food every month. Just last week we secured and delivered 52 tractor trailer loads of food, drinks, hygiene items, and relief supplies. We serve church supported groups that feed the poor for free. The value of each shipment is usually in excess of ten times our investment.
In OBI’s U.S. disaster relief department, we invest in equipment, tools, and a seasoned staff that deploys when hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes strike American communities. Our team can respond within 24 hours of any major domestic disaster. We partner with local ministries and manage thousands of volunteers that come from all over the country. We feed them, train them, manage them, and direct their energies. By focusing this energy, we provide services to thousands of families whose lives have been ravaged by disasters. Our investment is multiplied many times over by the volunteer labor that we harness.
In OBI’s global safe water program, we invest in equipment, training, and a staff of seasoned experts to turn contaminated water into safe drinking water — and in so doing, prevent immeasurable suffering and death caused by water-borne disease. By preventing disease, our investment in safe water reaps huge returns in the health of the poor.
In OBI’s global medical program, we invest in the shipping and distribution of millions of dollars’ worth of donated life-saving medicines that our in-country staff and partners distribute to clinics and hospitals serving the poor all over the world. Often times, we only spend a few thousand dollars to ship and distribute a container full of medicines worth several million.
In OBI’s livelihood program, we invest in the training and equipping of the poor, typically mothers in developing countries. We encourage and empower them to operate home-based micro-businesses that provide income for families so they can break the chains of generational poverty. These investments are truly “gifts that keep on giving.”
These are a few examples of ways that Operation Blessing implements the Parable of the Talents every day. As you give compassionately, we will continue to leverage your gifts to help more families in more places.