Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review: Passion to Action


I am so thrilled to be participating in another great book tour. Passion to Action is a book that makes us understand that we are all just ordinary people. It is how God chooses to use us in extraordinary ways that makes us special, and I think it is amazing how many different ways everyone is used. We each have our own unique skill set that serves its own purpose. However, sometimes knowing what your gift is, isn't enough for your ability to become extraordinary. In so many things in life, the ingredient missing is PASSION. If you are passionate about something, and truly believe in it, then you will be so much more successful than if you are just going through the motions. This is true with everything from friendships and relationships, to business or evangelical missions. Reading books such as this one, that inspire the embers within us, are what helps us to ignite our flames and use the skills that God has given us to make a difference. I have included some information about the book, and a Q&A session with the authors Jay & Beth Loecken for your enjoyment. I hope they are able to inspire you as they did me!



How God Uses Ordinary People in Extraordinary Ways
Jay and Beth Loecken were an ordinary family searching for meaning in their lives. They seemed to have all they needed in life, yet something kept pulling at them—a stirring, a sense that they were being called to a greater purpose in life.
After coming home from a mission trip to Africa, the Loecken family returned to their comfortable lifestyle, but they all knew they wanted something more.  In April of 2008, the family made the daring decision to sell their home, purchase an RV, and begin traveling the country serving communities in need.
In Passion to Action, the Loeckens share the remarkable story of how their life was turned upside down and fulfilled them more than they ever thought possible.  It will inspire readers to discover their own passions and put them into action.

Visit http://passiontoaction.org for more information about the Loeckens and to watch videos from the road.
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Q&A with Jay & Beth Loecken,
Authors of Passion to Action
Q:  In your book, Passion to Action, you discuss how a trip to Africa changed the direction of your life.  Why did you decide to go on a mission trip to Africa and how did that trip affect you?
Something had been stirring in our hearts for some time before we decided to go on the mission trip to Africa.  We got away for a weekend to talk and pray about the direction of our lives, and we decided that going on a mission trip together would be a powerful thing to do as a family.  We wanted to teach our children that being a Christian involved more than just going to church; it required action.  When Jay was in college, he traveled overseas extensively for two summers.  Being exposed to the struggles and poverty of those outside of the U.S. made a profound impact on him, and he desired that our family experience what life was like in another culture.  We knew from Jay’s experience that the trip would impact our lives, but we had no idea how much it would affect each of us.  We were blown away by the poverty and conditions in Africa.  It’s one thing to see images of people in distress on a television screen, but to see and smell the poverty in person was overwhelming.  While the images we saw there will stay with us forever, the African people made the biggest impression on us.  In the middle of dire and desperate conditions they had such resilient spirits, coupled with an amazing sense of community and joy.  We came home with the realization that while we were rich in comparison to them materially, we were poor in comparison to the community and joy they possessed.
Q:  Upon returning from Africa, you made the decision to sell your home and travel the country in an RV.  Had you ever envisioned yourself living in an RV before that time?
Since we were first married, we dreamed that one day we would travel as a couple.  We couldn’t imagine that would happen until after the kids were grown.  As a boy Jay had traveled for weeks at a time across the U.S. with his parents and grandparents.  He had many fond memories from these trips, and we imagined how amazing it would be to do this with our family.  We just didn’t see how it would ever be possible, so we stuffed our dream down and never pursued it.
        Q:  What were your biggest fears about uprooting your family and following your dream?  Were your family and friends supportive of your decision?  
Jay’s biggest fear was what this decision would mean to our family financially.  We were concerned that buying a motor home meant we were throwing our money away as RV’s depreciate quickly over time.  He also wondered how difficult it would be to continue his career as a mortgage broker while traveling from city to city.  We had concerns about the friendships our children would leave behind.  We wondered how they would adapt and if they would be able to make friendships as we traveled.  Our families at first questioned the financial wisdom of our decision, but in time they became supportive while many of our friends in Atlanta thought we were nuts. They had a hard time understanding why anyone in their right mind would want to trade a 4,500 square foot house with four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms to live in a 340 square foot home on wheels with two rooms and one toilet.
Q:  How has your faith changed since you first began to follow your God-given dream?        
 
Our faith has grown tremendously since we began pursuing our dream as well as over the past three years we’ve been on the road.  As we’ve stepped out and broken past our fear, we have seen God show up in amazing ways.  We no longer question IF God will come through; we only wonder HOW He will come through for us.  Jay quit his job as a mortgage broker almost two years ago to pursue the non-profit we started, and while we haven’t had an official income we somehow miraculously always have enough to live.  This past September things were looking pretty bleak.  We only had about a month’s worth of income left in the bank, and we weren’t sure what to do.  We got on our knees and placed the situation in God’s hands, and then we waited to see how He would come through.  A couple of weeks later we met a couple from the church we were working with who were impacted by our ministry, and they generously donated $40,000 to our non-profit.  We were completely blown away by God’s faithfulness and His ability to meet all of our needs.  We have also seen our faith expand as we have gone into places and worked with people that we would have never even thought of going to or working with when we lived in Atlanta.
Q:  In Passion to Action, you discuss how you not only sold your home and began traveling in an RV, but you also decided to live your life serving others.  How do you decide where you will go and who you will help?
When we first got on the road, the decision of who and where we served happened organically.  We simply prayed and asked God to show us where we should go and who we should serve.  While it was invigorating to see God show up and serve in a variety of settings, it was also exhausting.  We would stay in a place for a week to three weeks at a time.  Over time our schedule left us fatigued and worn out.  When we started the non-profit, we developed a strategic plan that we believed would be more sustainable for the ministry and our family.  We decided it was best for us to spend two months at a time in each city where we work in order to develop relationships.  Because of this strategy we try to plan in advance and book ourselves out as far in advance as possible.  In regards to who we will help, we have always subscribed to the belief that it is better to work with existing non-profits or ministries that are already serving those in need versus trying to re-create the wheel.  As a result of this belief, when we work with a group or church we learn what organizations or people they are working with in their communities, and we join forces to work with them.  We specifically try to work with organizations that implement community development principles and who are committed to treating those they serve with dignity and respect.  We will go where we are invited, regardless of the size of the group, as long as we believe that God is working.  We try to be obedient to His leading and simply join Him in the work He is already doing.
Q:  You have now formed an organization based on your experience.  What is your mission for Passion to Action and how do you hope it will impact the lives of others?
Our mission for Passion to Action is to inspire, empower, and mobilize people to put their faith in action.  We believe that inspiration is the fuel for change.  In order to step out it’s critical that we first be inspired to act on our dream and passion.  Our desire is that our story would serve as a catalyst to inspire people to action.  We are all called to serve and that looks different for each of us.  While we believe it’s important THAT we serve, we also believe that it’s significant HOW we serve.  We hope to equip people by teaching them community development principles which empower them to serve others with dignity through developing relationships, avoiding the trap of dependency, and making a long term commitment to serve their communities.  Lastly, we hope to mobilize people into action to serve others.  Our desire is that when people step out of their comfort zones and break past fear, that this will create a heart change in them and help to catapult them into a lifetime of service.
Passion to Action by Jay and Beth Loecken
Guideposts Books/September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8249-4857-3/256 pages/hardcover/$19.99


***Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of Passion to Action to facilitate my review. No positive review was requested or required, and no monetary compensation was exchanged. All opinions expressed are solely mine and were not influenced in any manner.***

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