Max makes me talk

By Kari Costanza. The third of four posts about traveling with Max Lucado.

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Kari keeps going with Ethiopian coffee. (Jon Warren/WV)

In my job for World Vision, I sometimes plan trips for people, particularly Rich Stearns, World Vision U.S. president. We’ve traveled to Zambia, Malawi, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and most recently to Ethiopia, with Max Lucado. Photographer Jon Warren captures the images Rich uses in his speeches and communications with our supporters.

I play two roles on these trips—getting us around (with much help from our national staff) and finding stories that represent World Vision’s work on the ground. I like working with Rich. He’s a good reporter. He carries a reporter’s notebook and asks questions that make me think, Why didn’t I ask that?

This job fuels my passions. I love to ask people questions. I love to find out what motivates their behavior—why they do the things they do. But on this trip, I ended up on the other side of the reporter’s notebook—because of Max.

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Shimelis Habte, a pastor who was persecuted for his faith. (Jon Warren/WV)

It happened toward the end of the trip. We’d seen so much. Irrigation projects that support hundreds of families. How sponsorship answered a woman’s prayers when she was on the verge of suicide. A pastor who suffered persecution—in taking a public stand for his faith, he ended up in a lice-infested prison.

We were talking through these experiences when suddenly, somehow, I found myself talking about myself—telling Max about my family, my husband and children, my brother and sister, my parents, even about our dog. Why am I talking so much? I thought. And why can’t I stop? I’m the reporter here! I should be asking the questions! Max and his wife, Denalyn, are good listeners and really good conversation prompters, and I found my words tumbling out.

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Max listens to Wosene, a once-dispairing widow and mother. (Jon Warren/WV)

And you know what I learned? Telling stories is cathartic. Revealing oneself creates bonds. This is something my brain knows, but in talking about myself to Max and Denalyn, I felt it in my heart.

When we go out and gather stories, everyone benefits. When World Vision shares stories of people with needs, those families benefit from the prayers and support of donors who respond. Our donors benefit with a closer connection to the poor, the brokenhearted.

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Max and Denalyn with Mimi, their sponsored child. (Jon Warren/WV)

But there’s a benefit that goes beyond how a story is spread and heard—the feeling of “I matter” that you get when you share your soul with someone who cares.

And that’s what Max and Denalyn helped me understand.

Next Memorable Max Moment: Months later, Max gives Kari a boost.

Related posts: Max and the camel (Oct. 27, 2009); Judge of character (Oct. 26, 2009)

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Filed under Behind the Scenes, Memorable Max Lucado Moments

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