By Mike Tenbusch | February 12, 2021

Our international team and board discussing our mission over Zoom. Our team took this call from rooms in six different countries! Thank you, Tucker, for this photo.


When you have a really good mission statement, I’ve learned to tread gently before changing it—and we have a really good one at International Samaritan:

We walk hand-in-hand with people in garbage dump communities to help them break out of poverty.

But more and more over the last year, something seemed to be missing in it, and I’m writing today to ask for your thoughts.

The problem with the statement is not the fact that the pandemic has kept us from walking hand-in-hand.  To the contrary, our teams in each nation walked more closely than ever to help their communities survive the pandemic—and we in the US were able to be in better touch with them more consistently through Zoom calls at any time as opposed to our staff travelling once a month or a school travelling once a year.  I didn’t even know what a Google Meet was on March 11 last year, and now we do it all the time.

The gap in our mission statement is that it misses half the equation.  It speaks to the 816 students on scholarships in five other nations right now, but glosses over the 1,200 people who gave last year to help them get tablets for their education and food for their families to survive.  The more we all work—and walk–together, the more glaring this omission becomes.

Our board of trustees and team members from all six nations have had a series of conversations since October about whether we should tweak our mission statement to include our mission’s supporters in it.  There’s been consistent consensus that we should, and lots of ideas on how.  Trust me on that, lots of ideas.  🙂

However, the one that sticks the most with me since our last discussion is:

We walk hand-in-hand with people in garbage dump communities, and those with a calling to help, to break the chains of poverty and to improve our lives together.

I’d love to hear your reaction when you read that statement.  You’d be doing our mission a huge service if you could reply to this email and let me know what you think.