Then the LORD replied, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”  Habakkuk 2:2

Back in the spring of 2008, I was at a retreat with the leaders of Detroit’s United Way and we came up a “big, hairy audacious goal” to make Detroit one of the Top 5 cities to work and live by 2030. 
After the retreat, we wrote that goal on a poster and hung it on the wall of our conference room.  A few months after that, a financial meltdown led to the bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM, and ultimately to the City of Detroit.  Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs.  Looking for a bailout from Congress, the leaders of the Big 3 auto companies got a humiliating smackdown instead, and then the culmination—a cover story on Time Magazine making a mockery of our vision. 

Time’s special report on Detroit from 2009

It was an awful year.  We didn’t talk much about our big, hairy, audacious goal given the economic devastation all around us, but we never took down the poster declaring it in our conference room either.
Everything changed, however, when Bill Ford, Jr. walked into that conference room for the very first time.  The great-grandson of Henry Ford and chairman of Ford Motor Company, Bill sat down with our CEO, Mike Brennan, to talk about our work.  Halfway through the meeting, Bill looked at that poster and said, “I’ve never really been a big supporter of United Way, but if you’re serious about making Detroit one of the top five cities to work and live, I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
With his encouragement, we leaned into that vision, and Bill and his wife, Lisa, made good on his word, energizing a new base of generous supporters, who have been augmented by countless other people, efforts, and prayers focused on the city’s turnaround.  In 2022, Time Magazine took note of the impact they have made.

Time Magazine had a new view in 2022

There is power in writing down your goals.
Last year at this time, our board of trustees met for our annual retreat, and the first goal we wrote down was simple: Fresh Water.  We had seen the transformative power of bringing fresh water to the Kore community in Ethiopia and set a goal to do it for another one of our partner communities, despite not having the money in our budget to get it done last year.  Because of more than 1,000 people like you who ran in or supported others in the great IntSam Global 5K, we are in the midst of building a water system to bring fresh water to 2,000 people in 400 homes in the Buen Samaritano community of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
I’m sharing these stories with you to encourage you to write down your goals for 2023.  Hang them on your refrigerator or near your desk at work, ask your friends to pray for them, work hard, and watch what happens over the year—and don’t be surprised if something that feels like a miracle happens in your life.

Volunteers digging the plumbing channels in Tegucigalpa

Mike Tenbusch, IntSam President

Mike joined International Samaritan in 2018 after two decades of leading social change efforts in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan.  He is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and author of The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty.  He and his wife, Maritza, have three children who keep them young.

What Should IntSam’s Goals Be in 2023?

This upcoming Thursday, our board will be setting goals for 2023 at our annual retreat.  Our vision is a world in which the garbage dumps of developing nations are no longer home to human beings struggling to survive, and our challenge is to discern the three or four most important goals we should set for this year to get closer to that vision.  Please let me know of any ideas you have for goals for us to consider on our retreat by emailing Mike Tenbusch at

Attention IntSam Scholars!

We want to hear from our scholarship students too.  Starting this week, Weekend Reflections will be sent to our high school and college scholars in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and Nicaragua in Spanish and Amharic, below, to get their thoughts as well.

Scholars, please email me your thoughts!  You can email me directly by replying to this email.  I look forward to hearing from you.  And please pray for discernment for our board in its retreat this Thursday too.

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