Some people live lives which appear so much bigger after they die. You know the sort I mean. You find yourself sitting in a pew listening respectfully as others eulogize the newly deceased and all the while you are feeling like you stumbled into the wrong service. You leave shaking your head, wondering how, given the numbers of years you knew that person, that you never saw any of that.
But then there are others whose live in such a manner you really can glimpse the glory of heaven by taking a seat next to them. These people aren’t waiting for death to be ushered into the presence of Jesus. They are already practicing Kingdom Living right here, right now. I know several people like that. I bet if you sit down and think about it, you probably do too. You might even be one of those people.
To be clear, I’m not talking about people who simply have a charismatic or dynamic personality. I’m talking about that person whose love for Jesus and for others leaks out all over the place. They are like a well-placed irrigation pipe in fertile soil — good things are bound to grow up around them.
Bob Goff is such a man.
I met Bob a few short months ago during a trip to Portland. My friend Penny was the first to tell me about him. Then Don Miller stood before hundreds and talked about Bob. He referred to him as a mentor. I don’t care how old you are or how big your pants have gotten, we can all benefit from having mentors in our lives. They don’t even have to be older than us. My sister is younger than me but I consider her a spiritual mentor. My friend JennyLynn is young enough to be my daughter and I still consider her to be a mentor. Both these women leak Jesus.
Remember those hot summer days when you were a kid and you didn’t live anywhere near a pool or a creek? Your mama would buy one of those twirly-gigs and twist it onto the end of the sprinkler hose? Water would shoot out of the clown head or the brightly-colored ball everywhichaway?
That’s the way some people leak Jesus. It’s the way Bob Goff does. He soaks everyone he meets with the love of Christ. Brandon Heath used to be a barista boy at Starbucks until he got a good dousing of Jesus love from Bob. Bob’s an attorney who likes to ask probing questions. The one he asked Brandon was — how come you don’t have a recording contract? And that’s part of the story of how Brandon ended up becoming a Dove-Award winning artist. His newest release, Leaving Eden, will be out in January.
Usually Bob asks people a much more personal question: “What do you dream of?”
You should try that at those holiday cocktail parties this year. Just walk up to somebody, doesn’t matter if you know them or not and ask, “What do you dream of?”
Bob doesn’t just talk about dreams; he’s in the fairy-dust business. Bob believes that Kingdom Living is about making dreams come true. He’s doing that for a group of kids in Uganda through an organization he founded — Restore International. Bob is helping kids rediscover the art of dreaming. When you’ve lived your whole life waking up to the nightmarish reality of war, when war has robbed you of your parents, your siblings and your childhood, survival becomes your focus. Dreaming is something you do after you die.
Did you know that Uganda is the youngest nation in the world? By youngest, I mean the median age of its 33 million people is 15. Ponder that for a moment. Imagine letting your 15 year old run your household, much less your country.
Brandon Heath has been to Uganda with Bob. He’s seen first-hand the work that Restore International is doing and Heath said that what he loves is the way Restore is helping these kids make good memories. New memories won’t replace the bad ones these Uganda boys and girls have, because as Tim O’ Brien so aptly noted in his book on war The Things They Carried: “That’s the thing about remembering – you can’t forget.” But if we add enough good memories to the lives of these kids, the bad memories they carry daily actually begin to weigh less.
So Bob and friends help these kids rediscover their silly, adventuresome side through things like tarp surfing.
Looks like fun, doesn’t it?
Bob believes that as long as we are sprinting about leaking Jesus there ought to be a lot of laughing and random shrieks of joy. Bob takes his fun seriously. A lot of us have forgotten how to be joyful. We’re too busy being adults.
Referring back to that childhood scavenger hunt game where kids were handed a dime and told to come back with something bigger and better, Bob asked the crowd at Tacoma’s Rialto Theatre one more probing question: “What can we take in terms of imagination and whimsy and trade up to with God?”
This year 16 students graduated from Restore’s school. Those students didn’t just meet the standards established by the school. They graduated meeting all the standards required by the state. But Restore is about more than just the business of book learning. They operate under the guidance of the idea that while education transforms the mind, discipleship transforms the entire body.
Bob Goff has a dream of building a spanking new school for the kids at Restore. No matter how little money you have, you can help make this dream come true. A mosquito net for these kids costs $4. A basketball hoop costs a $100. While you’re online shopping for Christmas gifts, bop on over to Restore International’s school shopping list and check it out. Of course, they could always use some more blue tarp.