Is That All It Takes?

by Bobby Marko
NASHVILLE, TN

I had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Got to sleep in a little bit, hang out with my wife and daughter, more this weekend than I have in the last few months! Got to see some family, be together and have some great food, got stuffed! I even did a little yard work, wow, where did I get the time??? And as the weekend started to come to a close, I reflected a little more on what it means to be thankful.

My wife, Susan, myself and Emily only were able to stay in Guatemala a week so we were able to spend Thanksgiving here at home with family and friends. But I found myself spending allot of time reflecting back on the week before while we were in Guatemala. One of the last days we were there, Amelia, Matt and myself were able to go into Guatemala City and have a chance to visit some ex-gang members who escaped the gangs in order to have a better life for them and their family. Our friends Joel and Ignacio picked us up that Friday afternoon and we went on our way.

While in the car, on our way to the first stop, Ignacio explained some of the challenges of getting these guys and their families on the right track. One of them being the discrimination from employers against people who have tattoos. Since tattoos are significant amongst gang members, employers do not hire people with them, fearing this would bring an unwanted presence into their company. But in most cases, that fear is unwarranted. For example, the first guy we met was gracious, humbled and you could tell he just had a desire to provide for his family. We sat down and spoke to him about what he does to make money. We’ll call him Jose (since these guys are still sought after by current gang members, we don’t want to publish his real name), Jose sells shoes. But because he doesn’t have a store, he has to sell them on the streets. Jose sets up his work area in a small hallway between his one bedroom apartment (which is about a 10×10 foot room where he and his wife, 2 year old little girl and 4 month old newborn all sleep) and the bathroom. He makes 60 pairs of shoes, on average, a day! Jose was gracious enough to allow us to watch some of his processes that go into making a shoe. He has very little tools, applies glue to the shoes with his fingers and works very fast! We were amazed by his speed and quality.

The next visit we made was a small inside shop where we saw 8 sewing desks with consumer grade sewing machines on top. In the room that was about 12X8 foot sat about 5 workers, all ex-gang members. The man in charge, we’ll call him Freddy, again, not his real name, him and his wife ran the shop. The shop had no windows and also served as his home residence for him and his wife. They lived and slept in a back room not much larger than a typical walk-in closet! However, as we spoke about their work and what their desires were, they lit up! They were so eager to just make quality clothing they could sell and be able to provide for themselves and the other people that were working with them. The problem was they spent so much time and money getting the machines, getting the materials, they didn’t know how to calibrate the sewing machines for the different types of material. I asked Freddy, how much would it cost to the machines calibrated. He told me it would be about $100 to have someone come out, calibrate the machines and show the workers how to do the calibration so they could do it themselves. I thought… $100… is that all it takes? Who do I make the check out to???

I was amazed that $100 is the only thing holding these people back from getting their feet off the ground. It also made me stop and think that in most situations, just a little nudge is all these people need. They are eager, willing to learn, wanting to work but they just need that extra little help to make it happen. Listening to these stories moved me, it got me thinking how easily $100 is easy to come by in the U.S. How most of us could sell something we own and get $100 easily. But for many people in Guatemala, who are trying to overcome their past, it’ so much! These are the stories that need to be heard.

I’m so thankful that we live in a country where opportunity is abundant, that I have the ability to travel to places like Guatemala and hear these stories, to have the freedom and the opportunities to do what I love for a living. I’m also thankful we can do so much for so many people if all we do is listen.

A 99% God!

Certainly it was going to take a good year, 18 months for momentum for the film began picking up. This was my sentiments as we wrapped up the film a few months ago. I was hoping to be able to concentrate on my other projects and jobs I had lined up waiting for me to finish up so I totally assumed I had some time to chillax when it came to ground events for the film.

I wasn’t able to attend the premiers in Grand Rapids but I got a bird’s eye view of the entire week through texts, posts, and images Scott and Cesar were sending back to the Athentikos team. As I watched everything unfold, it dawned on me that my earlier sentiments were not only way off base, but making such assumptions was limiting God’s faithfulness, power and His ability to use our limited resources and create something so much more grandiose!

As Scott and Cesar returned from Michigan and we began a last minute campaign surrounding the Nashville premier, it was evident by the report of online ticket sales that Nashville would not generate the buzz and attention that Grand Rapids accomplished. But I had to stop and think, “here I go again,” thinking that God wasn’t good enough, knowledgeable enough, skilled enough, to pull something great out of this event! I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, “No! It’s going to be awesome! We’re going have such a great night and God will bring amazing results because of it! It may not be in the number of seats we sell but God will do amazing things!” The following is an email I sent to the team:

This is awesome, it’s exceeding my expectations! I feel bad that I sometimes put God in a box and think he can’t do amazing things using anything we create but I’ve been reading and listening to allot of stuff that is getting me inspired, energized and excited about what’s to come. This news fuels that inspiration!  If we are 100% about seeing this film to fruition then lets not pray to God as if he is a 99% God! Of course there will be setbacks, things won’t go our way (when in this process has everything gone our way???) but God always reveals that his plan is better… we’re getting a small glimpse of that now with the news from this past week. Great job guys! As always, it’s been an amazing experience that I hope will continue on!

And you know what, I was right. God did show up… in a huge way! I saw people there I didn’t expect to see… as of that morning we had only sold 110 tickets after it had been on sale for just over a month. That night, we more than doubled it and ended up selling 240 tickets total! Which for the Belcourt theater is not far from full capacity. Afterwards, we had so many people come up to us, telling us how much the film impacted them. I heard feedback that I never expected like how the film got a married couple to talk about how they serve and how they give. How they look at their lives different now. Comments like a person not worrying about their life as much, giving them confidence which in just one day, felt like it was the attitude adjustment they needed to land a job. Amazing feedback that just surpassed my small minded expectations!

We’re all victims of this sad trait as Christians. We fall into the trap of thinking God isn’t smart enough or knows better than we do. So when we attempt something great, anything actually, our enthusiasm and optimism stops short of the finish line. As a creator, my visions are always large in scope and most of the time, in the end, the vision is scaled back… and thats ok. But it doesn’t mean I have to stop thinking large.

Marko

New Promotional Video featuring Joel Van Dyke

Joel Van Dyke came to Nashville to host our Vision to Respond event and also took some time to do a promo piece for the film.

Joel lives in Guatemala City with his wife Marilyn and two children, Joeito and Sofia. After 16 years as a pastor in North Philadelphia, he currently serves in Central America as the Director of the “Estrategia de Transformacion” (Strategy of Transformation) which is a grassroots training initiative with a mission “to equip the church in Latin America to reach high-risk youth and their families in hard places.”

Joel has been a key member of the Athentikos team as one of primary contacts in Guatemala and has been a vocal advocate for the project. Special thanks to him and his family for dedicating time and effort in the vision for the film.

Newsletter: Year End Update December 2009

2009 Tax- Deductible Donations

We know that many people desire to make donations towards the end of the year. Would you consider giving to Athentikos? All donations are tax-deductible.

Update on the Film Project

“We are currently focused on editing the documentary. Like any project, we’ve hit a few obstacles. The sheer amount of footage to comb through is a hurdle in itself, especially when this is not our “day-job.” We are a small team doing the work of a large production crew. There are times when it all seems impossible, like this will never be finished. But, I rewind and watch the stories again… and I am reminded why we work late into the night. I am reminded why we want to share these stories with others. People like Shorty and Tita remind us who God is. Their stories are not merely inspirational, but transformational as well. God is transforming us through this, drawing us closer to Him.” – Scott Moore

Joel Van Dkye of Estrategia de Transformacion was in town during November. He joined us for our last promotional event, Vision To Respond at Rocket Town. We also hosted several meetings with him, which included a Mission Trip Roundtable Discussion and other logistics meetings.

We have had several promotional opportunities this fall to get the word out about our project. Scott Moore and Amy Stroup were on the Brian Mason Show. Amy Stroup was on Better Nashville.

In addition to editing, we are currently working on details for the Mission Liaison and Business Plans. These plans will be completed in January so that we can start recruiting leaders for 2010-2011 mission teams; and continue to raise funds through local businesses. We will be hosting a team leader informational meeting in January for those interested in possibility leading a mission team. (More information will follow.)

Thank you for your commitment, investment and interest in this project. Your support and prayers are much appreciated. If you would like to volunteer your time towards this project, we have several needs. Contact us at info@athentikos.com if you are interested in learning more:

Volunteer Needs

Are you one of those people who have a passion for working for non-profits, seeing a task from start to finish, coming up with new ideas to complete a project, not getting paid…. then we want you!!!! Seriously, we are looking for some people to join our team in the following areas. We can’t promise you riches, but we can promise you’ll enjoy working with great people who all have a passionate vision for serving! Here’s what we need:

Funding Coordinator
Grant Writer
Copy Write
r (for newsletters, website, etc)

If you fit the bill, please, email, call, open a window and shout it out (if you live in Spring Hill, TN, we may actually hear you!) that you’d like to team up with us! Thanks!

View the latest trailer:

Athentikos: Guatemala Trailer 3 from Athentikos on Vimeo.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

We are still in need of financial support to complete our mission. You can partner with us by providing a tax-deductable donation online through paypal:

https://athentikos.com/support.php

Or you can write a check out to Hupomeno (our 501c3 Partner) and send it to:

Athentikos
p.o. box 1957
Spring Hill, TN 37174-1957

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