Possible
Podcast #61 — Aired May 21, 2015

Do you believe it’s Possible to change the world? Author Stephan Bauman does, and he explains how in his book, Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World. Bauman is our guest this week on BetterWorldians Radio. He’ll share the experiences that changed the way he looks at the world and how he believes everyone is called to help make a difference.

 

Donate $5 to Support our Podcast!

Sign Up for New Shows & Updates!

Stephan Bauman
Author, Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World President & CEO, World Relief

Stephan Bauman is the President and CEO of World Relief, an international relief and development organization that serves more five million vulnerable people each year through more than 100,000 church-based volunteers. Stephan’s pursuit of justice led him to transition from a successful career in the Fortune 100 sector to Africa where he directed relief and development programs for nearly a decade before returning to the United States to lead World Relief’s global operations. Stephan lives to see people everywhere rise to the call of justice and give their lives in ways that empower the poor towards real change, a journey he continues to pursue.

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
This week on BetterWorldians Radio we're speaking with Stephan Bauman, author of Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World. Stephan Bauman is the president and CEO of World Relief, an international relief and development organization that serves more than 5 million vulnerable people each year through more than 100,000 church-based volunteers. Stephan's pursuit of justice led him to transition from a successful career in the Fortune 100 sector to Africa where he directed relief and development programs for nearly a decade before returning to the United States to lead World Relief's global operations. Stephan lives to see people everywhere rise to the call of justice and give their lives in ways that empower the poor towards real change, a journey he continues to pursue. Hi, Stephan, welcome to BetterWorldians Radio.

Stephan Bauman
Thank you so much, Ray. It's great to be with you all.

Raymond Hansell
It's great to have you on board. So let me start for our listeners, tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write your book Possible.

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. I often get the question when I'm travelling and speaking and meeting people, I get the question what can I do when I talk about mothers around the world even as close to us as Haiti that have to choose which child to feed or fathers who really can't find any work at all to put food on the table for their family or to provide an education for their kids. These stories, even the story like Nepal and what we're hearing about there in the terms of the disaster and the plight of the people there, or some of the chronic wars around the world, it's natural for all of us to feel overwhelmed or even desperate and certainly wanting to help in some way, so I get the question most often what can I do. It's hard to answer that question in two minutes or less so this book really was birthed out of that question what can I do. There are so many things that people can do, all of us can do, whether we're a professional in the relief and development world or we're an artist or an entrepreneur or a mother or a student, and there are practical things that all of us can do, so the book is really an answer to that question. I set out to write a book that was meant to be helpful to people, and the response I'm getting so far is that it is helpful, so I'm encouraged by that.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm. M-hmm. Well it's a great book. I really encourage people to read it. You'll find a lot of inspiration there. Now you write in your book that you're convinced that people really want to help end suffering in the world but they're just not sure how. Can you tell us a little bit more about why you say that?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. The people I meet every day, I meet a lot of people who care. I think sometimes when we see the news or we hear about things and we don't see the action or giving like we had hoped, I think it's a mistake to assume that people don't care. I just meet a lot of people who really do care and empathize with people who are suffering around the world. I think the greater problem is vision and understanding on how and what we can tangibly practically do.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
I think a part of that vision and part of that knowledge and understanding is how complex things are and that it is not a quick fix. If it were easy, a lot of folks throughout history and today would have figured it out a long time ago.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
I believe a lot of people care and they are looking for some tangible things in terms of what we can do. Part of that is who we must become and how we see the world. It's a bit of your mission at BetterWorldian is to actually help educate and help people to appreciate the world so that we can change who we are a bit and so that we can become more relevant as we seek to do things.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah. We see people on a weekly basis, we've had probably 60 or 70 episodes, and we can testify and provide strong evidence that people do care, and we talk to those people on a regular basis about what they're doing to channel that care in ways that are unusual, amazing, and very, very inspiring. We concur that people do want to do something for the most part. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and what they do to really sort of unravel the complexity of getting water to people and getting actual infrastructure to people and that type of thing, you really understand just how difficult sometimes making it happen on a bigger scale it really is. We concur 100%. Talk to us a little bit about your wife, what you and your wife got involved in - when you started, you really were looking to just spend six months in Africa, and that turned into a six year stay. So can you tell how that all came about?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. I'd love to. You mentioned your wife is your life partner. My wife, same, and has been a mentor to me and still is. We grew up in Wisconsin and really hadn't had much exposure internationally. I was working in business and thriving there. My wife was a teacher. She said, Stephan, why don't we volunteer and just take a leave of absence - this was before we had kids - and do some volunteer work? I said sure, maybe we'll get more involved in our local church in Madison. She said, no, I had something more in mind like Africa. I said, wow. I said, I thought Africa was for - don't you have to be a missionary, or particularly a bible translator I was thinking, or a medical doctor? So I didn't really see a need for a teacher and a business person like myself. Well she asked for three years in a row and I said no three times and the fourth time I said, okay, let's - maybe we should consider this. This was a couple years later. I said there is a break in my career here. I was up for promotion and I could put it on hold and take six months out and go abroad. I knew she was passionate about this. She had done some short-term missions work actually with our local church down in Central America. So we went abroad to Africa and we started in Ghana, West Africa, which is one of the most amazing countries in the world. Incredible people. Friendliest people in the world. Everything changed for us there. Everything changed for me. I began to see sort of this incredible juxtaposition paradox really of people who were on the whole happier than me and more resilient and I would also say had a deeper level of faith than me. At the same time, many people in Ghana, especially then, were in desperate need and living in poverty. There were diseases and all sorts of things. So that was a major sort of conversion. I call it my second conversion - the first to God, the second to His people, and particularly his people who suffer that I really was unaware of. And then, thirdly, I went through this transition of understanding the needs in Ghana, and later across much of the world, and recognized that it's not just medical doctors and bible translators but strategists and thinkers and all sorts of gifts and strengths. So we found ourselves reconsidering our calling, our careers. And at that juncture, having built some relationships and learned from some Africans and some friends that we were working with and seeing the needs, it was a pretty easy decision to say, hey, let's throw our lives towards this and become students and learn along the way and see if there's something we can help on some of these great issues of our day.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. So we stayed for six years. We went for six months and stayed for six years and everything changed. We stayed in it for the last 20 or so.

Raymond Hansell
Oh my goodness. Now a big message in your book is that anyone can make a difference, even the most unlikely heroes. Can you talk a little bit about that with us?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. Two thoughts there. First is that - and anybody who has lived a chunk of life, even a handful of years, when you look at your classmates in college or high school and you go through a bit of life and then you look back, often it's a bit surprising as to who has done what. There is a narrative in the bible, which is my faith tradition based in the bible, but there's a narrative even in history of people like Abraham Lincoln, the least likely person to be a lawyer let alone a President, let alone someone who really saved our country from ruin and overturned slavery. In the bible, you've got characters like Beza, the least likely of the brothers, and so there's a narrative. Even in the movies. We love the story of the Sam Gamgee or the Frodo that saves the day. So there is something there that we all should take note of, and that is if we feel inadequate, if we feel like we have nothing to offer, I would say to you and say to myself, hey, wait, shake yourself, grab your shoulders and say look at all of history, look at how the God of the universe works. He loves the humble person that says, look, I'll give you my five loaves and two fish - the story from the bible - and if you can make something good out of that, I'm game. I'm not ready to say yes. So that's one level. Another way to tackle this would be simply this, and that is we tend to think like I did which is, well, if you're going to change the world, you've got to be a doctor or a bible translator or a radio talk show host or a relief and development expert like myself, but that's not true either. But the better question to ask is what do I have in my set of experiences? How have I been educated? Here's a great question - what do I love to do? I've got friends who love to cycle. They love bike riding and they've taken that passion and they've ridden bikes and raised money and travelled to the Congo and done extraordinary things. So that intersection of passion and I call it wisdom, our experience, whether that comes through universities and training or whether it's more informal through the arts or through trades, intersecting our wisdom and our passion together with our network of friends, boy, it's amazing what emerges there, and then intersecting that with some of the great causes of the day, there is something that everyone can do. It's an exciting time to be alive because no-one really needs to be left out when it comes to changing the world. You guys know that because you're preaching this every day on your radio show and the work that you do so it's inspiring.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah. We have seen a lot of it. I just read just recently a book that highlighted a story with Mother Teresa where he mentioned the doctor that we all want to be or the minister or somebody that's really built for this particular challenge went over to India, completely trained in the medical profession, brought a team of people with him and then excitingly and approached Mother Teresa and said what do you want me to do? So different people were assigned different responsibilities and then he was ushered through various rooms, one of which had serious problems with really ill, leprosy, people with leprosy, and then also another room where the dying were in a very, very bad state these people were in. Each of these rooms he thought this is where I'm going to bring my skills to the table. And then finally he was ushered through the kitchen and he said are they going to put me to work in the kitchen? And at the very end there was a door and behind the kitchen was a dump and they said if you'll just take these two buckets and fill them regularly and go down about a block and a half and get rid of this garbage, and it was horrible, it had been sitting there for a long time, but he saw that the message was we can all contribute but maybe not the way that we thought we were going to contribute. So they had to be open to that. As he saw that, he brought even more people back with the caveat that, look, don't be surprised what you're going to be asked to do and be willing to do whatever it takes to do because that may be the contribution that you're asked to do at that moment and that's what you're bringing to the table. So it was an amazing story that I had never heard before. We're going to take a short break right now. But before we go, I want to take a moment to update you on change coming to BetterWorldians Radio. Beginning in June, you can go to BetterWorldiansRadio.com to hear new episodes. You can also browse our dozens of past shows featuring many inspiring BetterWorldians. MarySue will talk more with Possible author Stephan Bauman when we come back in just a moment.

Mr. Rogers
Hi, neighbor.

Oral Lee Brown
People said Miss Brown, you can't do everything. I said, no, but we need to do more.

Raymond Hansell
You're listening to BetterWorldians Radio. We're speaking with Stephan Bauman, author of Possible. And now let me welcome back Stephan and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi, Stephan.

Stephan Bauman
Hi, MarySue. Great to be with you.

MarySue Hansell
Great to chat with you. Now you write in your book about complaint. What do you mean by complaint and how do complaints help actually initiate change?

Stephan Bauman
You've heard me talk a lot about passion today and what are you passionate about, what lights your heart or your heart on fire. If you ask people about things that they've done, leaders, we were talking about Mother Teresa before and what really drove her, and more often than not it begins with a complaint or a lament and it's something that we look at and we understand and we stare at and it's often through personal experience whether it's a person that's dying on the streets of India or whether it's somebody who is hungry or maybe it's a newspaper article or something you read or somebody a friend told you about and you just look at this and you think this just cannot be. How can it be that a mother doesn't have enough food to feed her child? Or how can it be that a father is so desperate for money he sells his daughter for $50, thinking that he's selling her - it's an advance payment on her to be a nanny across the world? You get into those situations and I think we're confronted with something, particularly as Americans or as Westerners, and that is we can sort of turn and look away and say, ah, that can't be true. I can't busy myself or bother myself with that sort of tragedy. We can walk away or we can take a hard, cold look at it and ask that question. How can this be? How can this exist in my world today? That can lead down a path of despair, and a dangerous path of despair, there's nothing I can do and become cynical, or it can become a - I use the word complaint - but it comes from an old, ancient idea of a lament. A lament is actually to get in there to feel the pain, sort of to feel that empathy, that pathos. But as you do, commit to doing something about it. Offering a prayer to God to begin with. God, this can't be, this has to change, and saying yes even before you know exactly what to do. And that is saying yes to do something about it. So that passion is often lit with a match of complaint, of lament. And like most things today, if we don't have a passion that really drives us, especially in some of these complicated issues, we'll run out of energy and we'll give up. So I like to say what's your complaint? What is it in the world that you just can't live with? What is it in your backyard, in your neighborhood, that you just cannot put up with?

MarySue Hansell
Yeah. Really. It really acts like a catalyst from what you're saying. You feel the pain and then you say what can I do about that?

Stephan Bauman
It does. It motivates the heart and it calls other people to help join you in the effort to make some change.

MarySue Hansell
You know, Stephan, you say, and we also say here at BetterWorldians Radio, that when you help people, you're happy, it makes you happier than people who don't do anything. Can you speak to that a bit?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. There has been some great research coming out in recent years in the psychology field.

MarySue Hansell
Yes. Yes.

Stephan Bauman
And it's fantastic because they are studying - I mean, for so many years they were studying depression and despair and neuroses and so on, but there's been as of late more studies on happiness, what makes us happy. And one of those conclusions in those studies is that people who are giving towards others are doing something, whether it's philanthropy or charity or social engagement or justice issues, as a whole, other things the same, those people are happier people. So maybe it shouldn't surprise us that when we sort of lay down our lives and give it to someone else, which Jesus said, that therein you find your own life, you find your own happiness. So I think there's something really profound there.

MarySue Hansell
M-hmm. I guess that's why we're all a bunch of happy people here and in your organization. You know, you're right that all people are called to make a difference, even those that are poor and suffering themselves. How can those in need help others and help themselves as well?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. I think that's probably one of the most important themes of the book, and that is we tend to look upon the victim as someone who is helpless. I would say there are very rare situations or instances when a victim is completely helpless. Maybe in an emergency situation, but very few situations are emergencies. When you look at someone who is in poverty - first of all, I don't think we should call them poor because they're really not. They have a ton of resources, whether it's their faith or their resilience, their social network, the capacity to work, the human capital, and so on. So one of the purposes of the book is to help reframe poverty away from those who can help and those who must receive, and we all have to do this together, and those who are trapped in poverty are the ones that have the greatest potential to change their own situation. You know, very simple things like in Malawi for example in Africa, we're working with mothers there who struggled for a long time with malnutrition for their kids. Just some basic training and capacity-building to help them see how they can grow what they call ground nuts, what we call peanuts, which is super high in protein and it's something that grows very well in Malawi and it's not expensive, just bringing in protein into the diet of the kids changes - is a game changer when it comes to malnutrition. Now the best thing about this is it's not somebody from the United States that got on a plane and brought a jar of peanut butter or a bag of peanuts. Absolutely not. It's actually, hey, you've got solutions right here and you can do this as a mom, as a dad, and you can help your kids become healthy. So simple things like that that begin with seeing people differently. Not seeing people as poor and rich but actually seeing us all as people, all of us with potential, all of us with resources and how we bring those resources together to lift one another up out of dire situations.

MarySue Hansell
That's a great point. Most people don't view it that way. I think that we all have to change our point of view in realizing people can really help themselves. How can we make doing good a habit as you say in your book? What steps can we take?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. It's tempting for us to think about the one-off experience, whether you travel abroad or into your neighborhood or the one-off financial gift, but the call and the challenge I think for all of us is how do we live this out every day?

MarySue Hansell
Yes.

Stephan Bauman
There are a number of things we can do there. But I think there's something very simple actually and it's maybe refreshing, it was refreshing for me a number of years ago when somebody said to me, I was working in business, and he said pick one thing that may bother you a little bit - back to that conversation about complaint - and just pray about it for 30 days and just focus on the one thing and set aside the latest earthquake or the newspaper article about trafficking or food security in sub-Saharan Africa or whatever it is and just pick the one thing that really concerns you. At the time, this was years ago, there was a war happening in the Balkans and I said I'm going to pick that one thing. I'm having a hard time getting my mind around dads just like me that have to go to bed at night fearful that their house is going to be bombed. It really got to me and it became a complaint, and I just started praying about that for 30 days and my world changed. Surprisingly, I started thinking about this all the time. I started reading different - I started talking about it, I met people sort of serendipitously that were Bosnian and Serbian. Long story, we ended up going over to Bosnia and then later Serbia during the war and doing some stuff with - bringing in some aid and so on. But my point is simply this, if we pick just one thing and start thinking about it and giving some intellectual availability to that, you know, how many things do I think about in a given day on my downtime? If I just took five minutes and just thought about the one thing and started to understand it. And, secondly, maybe give some of my own emotional availability to it. Maybe I pray about it. Maybe I'll try and meet someone. It becomes more of a habit. I'm going to work on this one thing for the next few years rather than flitting from one thing to the next and then it becomes quickly overwhelming and then I end up not doing anything at all. So whether it's a prayer, whether it's just a simple magazine article, or maybe a Google search, or maybe trying to find somebody locally that comes from that country, or just spending more time in the coffee shop in the city, whatever it is, pick that one thing, stick with it and make it a habit, and then let your situation surprise you. Maybe it's God that shows up in a very tangible way through people, through relationships, and you find yourself being involved in ways that you never dreamed.

MarySue Hansell
Really interesting. You know, I liked the story that you mentioned in the book about you and your wife speaking with college students and asking them to use their field of study to help make a difference. Tell us more about that because that's really interesting. What kinds of fields were they in and how did they make a difference with them?

Stephan Bauman
That's a great question. We all are in different disciplines and that's because we're all passionate about different things. That's the best thing about being alive today is there's so much to choose from. We were in a university down in Texas and meeting with a group of students and we were talking about a number of different justice issues from poverty to trafficking to some environmental issues and climate change and how it affects the poor people in poverty more than others, and we took a little pause and just did a quick survey of who was in the room and what they were studying, what their majors were.

MarySue Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
It was great. It was a great sampling from nursing to hotel management to business, somebody in the science field, and then the last person said film, he was studying film.

MarySue Hansell
Yeah.

Stephan Bauman
And so then I asked them a question. I said well tell me what the justice issue is; give me an example of a justice issue in your discipline. The woman that said she was studying nursing said, well, you know, there's a whole bunch of them when it comes to healthcare and healthcare reform. This was back when it was a very big political issue and there was this justice issue. I mean, should people have access to healthcare and I'm really passionate about this and I want to work on it. Wow. We were all like this is amazing. And then the kid with the major in film said I just don't - I don't see how it connects. I said to his peers, I said what do you guys think? They said well I just watched a film last week or weeks ago called Born in a Brothel, it was about trafficking and the plight of women trapped in a total unjust system. And if it weren't for this filmmaker - and if I remember correctly, it was about using film with those very victims to help change their world and help them to reconsider the world. It was the medium of film that actually was the tool to help turn the story around for these women that were trapped in this situation. So in every discipline you can - I have not come across a discipline yet where you can't ask that question, what are the justice issues? Who is left out and why? And how can you use your discipline and your passion to turn it around for those very same people? It's a great question to ask. It's an important one because we often tend to think I've got to become something else, I've got to do something different, I've got to quit my job. When, in fact, I don't think that's the answer. I think if everybody quit their job and became a missionary in relief and development work, then I think everything would shut down and we would miss the point.

MarySue Hansell
Very eye-opening. Very eye-opening. You know, you write in your book about everyday heroes and I really like that story about Rose. Could you tell everybody about that?

Stephan Bauman
It's a great story. Rose is a woman from Kenya and she is a mother and a grandmother and businesswoman and she gathers with her 15 sisters once a week just outside of Nairobi. They pray together, they worship together, and when they're done they all pull out their savings and they put a box in the middle of their circle and each of them may pull out a dollar or two and save a little extra money and it goes into the box. They fill out a book, like a passbook, and stamp it official. There is a president of the group which is Rose, there is a secretary, there is a treasurer, and basically what it is is a savings group, some people call it a savings circle, and each week they save a little bit of money and they put it together in a pot in this lockbox, this safe box, and then anyone from the group can borrow from that box for a number of things. They can maybe pay school fees or if there's a sudden expense at the clinic, some medicine, or borrow $25-$30 to buy some inventory, or even to start a small business. It becomes a community but also a bank. It's their own bank. And the ones that borrow have to pay back a little bit of interest and that interest goes into the box and that interest is then shared amongst the whole group. So they become their own bank. The reason why I like that story so much is, when we see Rose, you meet a woman that's got a beautiful smile and dressed in wonderful colors. If you look at her statistics, how much money she makes in a year, how she's lived her life, her level of education, by those standards, we would say she's in poverty.

MarySue Hansell
Right.

Stephan Bauman
But you've got a woman here who leads 16 other women, started her own business, is helping other women start businesses, she leads them in song and often teaches from the bible, so she's a pastor or theologian of sorts.

MarySue Hansell
That's amazing.

Stephan Bauman
And there's another part of her story that's amazing. She uses some of her own money that she makes in her business to take in orphans because there are a lot of orphans in Kenya and all throughout Africa. So she's a caretaker of orphans and she's giving money to them. So in some ways she's a philanthropist. So a woman that on paper by the World Bank standards would be way below the poverty line, but when you meet her and see what she's doing, she's a philanthropist, she's a theologian, she's an entrepreneur, and she's a caretaker of orphans.

Raymond Hansell
That's amazing.

Stephan Bauman
She's the kind of person that is changing the world. I feel my calling is to give my life to create more Roses.

Raymond Hansell
M-hmm. More Roses.

MarySue Hansell
Wonderful.

Raymond Hansell
More Roses for the world. That's a great way of putting it. We're going to have to take a short break right now. But when we return, we'll talk more with Stephan Bauman, author of Possible. In the meantime for our listeners, if you're a fan of BetterWorldians Radio, then perhaps you might want to check out our social enterprise, A Better World. This is a social game on Facebook whose mission is to uplift and brighten the world. Our goal with everything we do there is do good, have fun, change the world. So we're committed to creating some really awesome digital products designed with that purpose in mind through optimism, altruism, and charity. So far, we have garnered 33 million good deeds that have been done in this social game by more than 2.9 million people. So please check us out at ABetterWorld.com. In the meantime, we'll be right back.

Oral Lee Brown
People said Miss Brown, you can't do everything. I said, no, but we need to do more.

Mr. Rogers
Hi, neighbor.

Raymond Hansell
We're back now with Stephan Bauman, author of Possible.

Gregory Hansell
Hi, Stephan. This is Greg.

Stephan Bauman
Great to be with you. Thank you.

Gregory Hansell
Thank you. You know, you write in your book you talk about how it's one thing to understand how change happens, it's another thing to make change happen. You talk about making that spark happen, you know, enacting change. I want to quote your book directly if you don't mind. You're talking about how people think that change can be a slow moving, gradual experience, and sometimes that's true you say. But, quote, more often change comes only after it's been set in motion by a collision, an act of outrageous compassion, a season of unforeseen suffering, or even a surprising offence. Could you talk about that a bit?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. I think we - I like to approach change as let me pick up a book and learn something maybe insightful and then apply that to my life. I would like to think that's the way I most often change but I think it's the least often.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
The times that I've changed the most in my life have been two primary ways. One is through hard times. I don't think anybody would refute that. Hard times change us. Seasons of unforeseen suffering. A shock. You know, my younger sister, she died three years ago now at age 41.

Gregory Hansell
I'm sorry.

Stephan Bauman
She was a close friend and she died suddenly and she was pregnant with her third child, and that led to a whole lot of reflection and thinking through about my life, more along the lines - interestingly enough it was her death - and I gave part of the eulogy, and a eulogy is very different than a resume. Somebody pointed this out. I think it was David Brooks in his latest book, his recent book. I just started to think about my life very differently as a result of that suffering. And the same is true in another way, and that is when someone is surprisingly compassionate. And it may be in a situation where somebody should give you what is due, maybe not treat you - maybe in situations where I have not been as kind as I should to my wife Belinda or I take her for granted and yet she responds with such grace and poise even in those moments. I see it in my kids all the time where they're expecting to be disciplined for something or to be sort of redirected in their behavior and instead Belinda will sit down with them and say, hey, tell me what's going on. What's going on in your heart? Are you okay? And she gives such a grace and compassion. I think those two things are sparks for change across the world in a very difficult country where it has low levels of freedom and lots of poverty and an expectation that when your child is sick, that's an omen from God that your child is probably going to die and you accept that. The big long word for that is fatalism. And when that woman met one of my colleagues and said, no, no, no, no. God wants your child to thrive and let's talk about nutrition - it was a therapeutic feeding program - well that so stunned that woman that, oh my gosh, really? You want my child to live and my baby can thrive and you're saying God cares about my child. It just turned her world upside down. It not only changed how she thinks about her child and began to hope again, but it also challenged how she thinks about the universe and fatalism and God and what does God think about her. So that was a collision of sorts. I call that a beautiful collision in the book. I think we experience them every day, especially if we slow down long enough to seek them and to find them and to listen to their message.

Gregory Hansell
Yeah. Yeah. No, I think that's a profound point. These things can happen in life and sometimes they can feel really difficult and really challenging, but they do seem to be the things that spark us to move forward, that change the path that we're on, or make the path clearer. You also mentioned a really hopeful and compassionate theologian named Jürgen Moltmann. You quote him as saying the opposite of poverty is not wealth but community. I was wondering how that ties in here as well.

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. We live in a society here in the United States and much of the West where it's all about the economy and consumerism and materialism, and those things aren't necessarily bad, they're good, and, boy, I am grateful that I am an American, that's for sure.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
But it's easy to think about poverty and wealth in very myopic terms, or binary terms, which is about money. Those things are important. Economics are important. I don't want to discredit them. But when you think about poverty and its deeper sense, and when I meet people who are deeply entrenched in poverty and begin to ask the questions, it's not in the end just about they need more income. In the end, you have to ask the question why is it that they don't have more income. Why is it that this country has so fallen behind the rest of the world? And by and large, it's because they're detached, they're isolated, they're left out from the world economy, from civil society, from the government, it might be a certain ethnicity that's left behind, it might be gender, a woman is left behind, so all of those things are relational, right? So when you look at poverty through the lens of relationships, suddenly you think, oh my gosh, the answer to poverty, the opposite of poverty isn't necessarily wealth, that is a component of it, but it is relationships. It's a grid of relationships.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
And some it looks like community. The reason why I could never be really poor, or for that matter you, Greg, is because if we lost our job today, we would reach out to one of our friends or our broader network and we'd find a way forward. So there is a wealth in relationships there. We call is social capital. If we came across a tragedy like we were just talking about, my sister died, well I was immediately able to reach out to people who all have strong faith and draw upon my own faith. So there is something in community that really is the antidote to poverty. And you'll find that when a family or a mother or a father are so isolated or left out from society, often that's the deepest form of poverty, and therefore it's our task to reconnect them to community as the final solution.

Gregory Hansell
You also write that the first step toward creating change is hope. How does that work?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. Often people who are deeply entrenched in poverty and they don't find it within themselves to have any ideas or any wherewithal to take the very next step, they've lost hope, and despair is sort of the worst form of poverty.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
Often those people have a very low self-esteem. They believe they are second, third, or fourth class, they're not worth anything, they're not valuable, so it's just taken a deep toll on their human dignity. So by hope, it's simply coming and starting with - rather than dumping aid which we've done for so many years and we've just tried to quickly solve the solution with any sort of charitable approach - people mean well to just give a dollar to the person on the street - people mean well, but the first step really is to help create an environment of hope. What is it that this person should hope for and how can we see hope emerge in a person, in a community, in a neighborhood where hope is gone? That takes time, it takes a process, but there are a couple ideas and tools and ways that you can actually spark hope in a person, in a community, in a family, in a group, and it's phenomenal when you see that happen before your very eyes. People lift their eyes and see, wow, you mean there's something we can do together? You mean there's something we can do about the problem down at the end of the block, or there's something we can do about our kids who are getting sick, or there's a way that my children can be healthier than they are? That spark of hope and when that hope is owned by a person and a community, it is the beginning of something fantastic that can lead not only to overcoming poverty but can actually permanently fix it and can be sustainable change.

Gregory Hansell
Well we only have about five minutes left. So as much as I would love to keep talking about the book, I hope you don't mind if we switch to talk a little bit about World Relief and the great work you're doing in Nepal right now. So you're CEO of World Relief, a nonprofit that works to empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable people. Tell us a bit about what you do with World Relief.

Stephan Bauman
World Relief has been around a long time, 70 years, and it started in a church in Boston. The whole idea was how can churches - which is the social network, biggest in the world, 2 billion people strong - how can we help churches to help those who are most vulnerable?

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
So we've been doing that for years and tackled some of the greatest problems from poverty to hunger to HIV/AIDS to moms whose children were dying before age five, tragedies and disasters. And one of those right now is in Nepal. We've all heard about it in the news. And we have a local partner there in Nepal that's been working there for years, and so we're working with them and through them to serve communities and to serve people. So we're working in a district not too far from the capital city, Kathmandu.

Gregory Hansell
M-hmm.

Stephan Bauman
It's an area of about 300,000 people. In a relief situation like that, it is all about urgent food, access to water, and sanitation to prevent cholera. And then it's about shelter, temporary and long-term. So those are the activities we're doing for about 10% of that population, about 30,000 people in that district. We're really excited about it because we're just seeing a group of people come together and really reach out to the Nepalese during a very urgent and critical time.

Gregory Hansell
So how can our listeners support World Relief and specifically the efforts in Nepal right now?

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. Anybody who is interested can go online to WorldRelief.org and certainly you can give. I mean, it is one of the best ways to help. And whether that's $10 or $100 or $1,000, it does go straight to Nepal and helps those 30,000 people that we're talking about. And on our websites you can see a lot of different ways that you can help in some of those critical needs, whether it's Africa, Asia, or places like Nepal. There are ways to get involved as well. So take a look at our website. We would love to have you join in a number of things that we're doing and look at our social media as well. So we're privileged to have you explore our website at WorldRelief.org.

Gregory Hansell
Now I know that work you're doing is so important, but there are other great programs you have at World Relief as well. Can you tell our listeners about the Women Who Stand Program? If you wouldn't mind just keeping in mind, I have one more question I want to ask you at the very end, so we've got two minutes for this question.

Stephan Bauman
Yeah. Women Who Stand is just a great group of people we call an infinity group that's connected with World Relief. And there are several Women Who Stand groups around the country and they choose their own issue. A little bit like I was saying before, pick one issue and go deep, understand, you may travel there, you may give, you may get involved. And they've chosen two countries, Malawi and Cambodia, the Women Who Stand group here in Baltimore. There is so much that can be done and it just begins with taking that first step.

Gregory Hansell
So one question I ask every guest at the end of every show is, in your case, how do you hope the lessons learned in your book Possible can help make the world a better place?

Stephan Bauman
You know, if people read the book and they come away, first, inspired, that they're not alone, that they're not left out, there's something they can do, and they take one step towards saying yes to the person down the road, their college group, the neighborhood, a village across the world, and take one step with hope in their heart that there's something they can do, and that might just begin by telling a story, by sending a tweet or a post on Facebook, it might begin with a $5 gift, but if that is an outcome of reading the book, then that could redirect a life for years to come and could change the lives of - not only their own life but the lives of 5, 10, 15, 100 other people. And, look, if we all just focused on one or two lives and we believe we could really have an impact on one or two lives, boy, a couple billion people that choose to do something better, to be a BetterWorldian as you guys say, that can really change the world upside down. It is a great day to be alive. Everybody can do something. It really is possible.

Raymond Hansell
Well that's an amazing story and an amazing book. I urge our listeners to listen. It sounds as if one of the common themes that we heard over and over again in this particular program, a key word here is hope. Hope is really what sparks so many things to happen. It's I think where the collision starts to happen. It's where faith gets embedded and it's where action based on that belief and faith that really takes place and takes root. So I urge you to read Stephan's works, to also get onto the website World Relief, and to reach in and help these people in other parts of the world that so desperately need it. You can find out more about Stephan Bauman's work by going to StephanBauman.com, that's S-T-E-P-H-A-N B-A-U-M-A-N dot com. Stephan, once again, once again, thanks so much for joining us on BetterWorldians Radio.

Stephan Bauman
Thank you, Ray. It's been a pleasure to be with you for the last hour.

Raymond Hansell
Very much so. Very much appreciate it as well. Before we go, I want to remind our listeners that beginning in June you can hear new episodes of BetterWorldians Radio by going to BetterWorldiansRadio.com. As we end our show each week, we like to share our BetterWorldians mission. We strive to make the world a better place by encouraging the very best in everyone. We focus on positive thinking, positive values, and positive actions. In short, our vision is to bring out the BetterWorldians in everyone so that we can all make it a better world. Until next time, please be a BetterWorldian.