Preparing college students to build businesses for good

We’re talking about business for good today.  It’s no longer enough to simply build a profitable business.  People are increasingly demanding that the companies they buy from provide great products and services while also making a positive impact on society.  As a result, companies are focusing on things like corporate social responsibility, fair trade, and conscious capitalism.  Just as important, our universities are now teaching their students how to build businesses that create social value.  Today, we’re joined by Lisa Gring-Pemble, an Associate Professor of Business and Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Global Impact at George Mason University (Mason); and Vijay Venkateswaran, CEO of Viventum - a local strategy and management consulting firm - and Mason alum who is assisting the university with industry engagement.  We’ll be talking about how Mason prepares its students for this new world of business and the things that make Mason a truly unique school. 

Unimaginable forgiveness in the face of murder

“This man’s grandson killed this man’s son.”  This is how our guest, Azim Khamisa, is often introduced when he appears before groups gathered to hear him speak.  His story begins back in 1995 when his only son, Tariq – a 20-year-old student – was shot and killed while delivering pizzas in San Diego. His killer, Tony Hicks, became the first 14-year-old to stand trial as an adult in the state of California.  Tony received a 25-year-to-life prison sentence.  Not long after his son’s death, Azim founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation – an organization committed to stopping children from killing children.  He also invited Tony’s grandfather and guardian, Ples Felix, to join him in this cause, and the two of them have since been sitting side-by-side on stages across the country sharing the power of forgiveness.  Azim has also forgiven Tony, lobbied for his release from prison, and plans to hire him at the Tariq Khamisa Foundation when he is freed. 

Cancer and the biology of hope and forgiveness

Tonight we’re talking about hope in the face of cancer.  According to the latest statistics from the American Cancer Society, the risk of developing cancer in women is over 37%, and in men it’s over 42%.  Cancer has been called one of the most significant challenges in human history and will affect everyone one of us at one time or another.  The good news is that we’re on a path towards more rational treatments, including a better understanding of the importance of a more holistic approach that acknowledges the role of spirituality, hope, and forgiveness in healing.  Today, we’re joined by Reverend Dr. Michael Barry, the former Director of Pastoral Care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, and the author of four books, including A Reason for Hope and The Forgiveness Project, all of which attempt to address the spiritual needs of cancer patients at a time when their faith is both challenged and critically important.  Michael joins us to talk about his experiences and what’s truly important at such a difficult time in someone’s life. 

A black man befriends KKK members in his quest to tear down racial barriers

Tonight we return to the topic of racial reconciliation.  Our guest is Daryl Davis, a local musician, author, and black man who is on a mission to tear down some of the most extreme barriers between whites and blacks in our country.  For the past 30 years, Daryl has been seeking out and befriending members of the KKK, and watching them radically transform when they came to know him.  Some of these transformations have been so remarkable that a number of Klan members have rescinded their beliefs and given their hoods and robes to Daryl for a museum he plans to create.  Daryl joins us to talk about the power of crossing the divide, truly listening to people who are radically different from us, and building relationships.  He’ll also talk about what he learned performing with people like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Bo Diddley. 

Remembering and honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country

Tonight we continue with military month on Grace in 30 by hosting Ethan Morse, a former Tomb Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, and filmmaker who recently produced a documentary about the Tomb and its guards.  Ethan joins us to talk about how he was drawn to serve as a Tomb Guard, the demands and privileges of doing so, and his higher calling to work as a filmmaker. 

Providing housing solutions to disabled American Veterans

Tonight we continue military month on Grace in 30 with Purple Heart Homes, founded by disabled veterans John Gallina and Dale Beatty.  After being injured together in Iraq in 2004, they returned to their communities where they received both appreciation for their service and help adjusting to life with their injuries.  They began to question why all Veterans didn’t get the same levels of support and assistance from society.  Dale and John decided do something about this and started Purple Heart Homes to provide housing solutions for service connected disabled veterans. 

A Purple Heart recipient, mom, and Marine reservist works to provide housing for veterans wounded in action

Tonight we continue military month on Grace in 30 with a focus on moms in the military and a special organization that helps provide housing to veterans who were disabled while serving our country.  Samantha Christopher served two tours of duty in Afghanistan at the same time as her future husband, Benjamin.  Both of them were injured in IED attacks and awarded Purple Hearts.  After returning home, marrying, and starting a family, they came across Purple Heart Homes as they searched for a place of their own.  The help that Purple Heart Homes provided to them made such an impact that Sam joined them as a Board member and is committed to the work of “veterans helping veterans.”  Sam joins us to talk about her experiences in Afghanistan, being a mom in the Marines, and her work with Purple Heart Homes. 

The Army’s first Chief Technology Officer boldly walks by faith

Rick Pina was the first US-born member of his Dominican Republic family.  He grew up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, a place characterized by poverty, drugs and violence, and he joined the Army partly to escape this environment.  In August of 1995, he heard the gospel in a military chapel in Kuwait and asked God to reveal His truth to him and save him – and his life changed forever.  Rick taught his first Bible study just five months after giving his life to Christ, preached his first sermon before the end of his Kuwait deployment, and has been preaching ever since including thousands of Web devotionals.  Rick’s identity as a man of God never wavered as he rose to become the Army’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO).  Rick joins us to talk about how he unabashedly walked by faith throughout his 25-year military career and his post-retirement ministry with his wife, Isabella. 

Providing free medical care to those who desperately need it in remote and low income areas

Back in 1985, Stan Brock, the original “crocodile hunter,” founded Remote Area Medical (RAM) after suffering an injury in an isolated area of South America and also seeing the devastating impact that easy-to-treat illnesses and injuries can cause to people in hard-to-reach locations.  More than 30 years later, RAM has provided over $112M in free healthcare services to over 700,000 people around the globe.  Over time, RAM has increasingly focused on providing services in poor and rural areas of the United States, and today this work makes up more than 90% of their services.  Tonight we’re joined by Dr. Vicki Weiss, an Optometrist, serial volunteer, and President of the Board of Directors for RAM Virginia.  This year, RAM Virginia will run eight mobile clinics in locations of great need like Smyth, Warsaw, and Emporia Virginia, and they plan to expand to 12 clinics next year.  In 2016, 4,850 RAM volunteers provided free care to 5,134 Virginians valued at over $3M dollars.  Vicki joins us to talk about her experiences working with RAM and other volunteer groups, and some of the people she has served over the past 25+ years.

Building an effective partnership between a church and public schools

Can a church build an effective relationship with public schools – one based on mutual trust, serving the community, and satisfying the school’s needs?  Sharon Hoover joins us to talk about how her church, Centreville Presbyterian Church (CPC), has done just that with three Fairfax County public schools in their community.  Sharon discusses how CPC has come alongside these schools and worked with them to address a number of challenges including helping at-risk teens, supporting teachers, and even holding a prayer/support vigil in the face of tragedy.  Sharon also discusses her work with the Redbud Writer’s Guild (a collection of Christian women from North America and Canada who are working to influence faith and culture through writing and speaking) and her current and forthcoming books.

Vanishing Grace - An interview with Philip Yancey

About 20 years ago, I (Ed) was adrift in my Christian faith.  I had stopped attending the legalistic church I had been part of for many years, I was chasing the big payday in the high-tech startup world, and I had recently become a father.  All the while, though, something kept gnawing at me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  As I wandered through Barnes and Noble, as I often did in those days, I kept passing a book entitled What’s So Amazing About Grace?  At first I thought, that’s a catchy title.  Then I started to think more and more deeply about the question until I finally said to myself, “What is so amazing about grace?!” So I purchased the book and read it, and it changed my life.  Today, we’re joined by Philip Yancey, the author of that book and 20 others (four written with Dr. Paul Brand), many of them award winning.  Philip’s most recent book is entitled Vanishing Grace, Whatever Happened to the Good News?  In it, he revisits the topic of grace noting that his original question has only grown more urgent in recent years.

Working at the intersection of faith, farming, and feeding the poor

It's a challenge to eat healthy, especially for people with limited income.  Unhealthy food is far more readily available and less expensive than nutritious food.  Today’s guest is working to address this challenge.  Sebastian Wilbern is the founder of Brickwater Abbey, a self-described “green think tank” that is working to make healthy foods available to the poor, and do so in a way that combines faith and farming.  In its first year, his Chantilly garden produced 750 pounds of food that provided hundreds of meals for people at New Hope Fellowship, a church serving the poor and homeless in Fairfax, VA.  Sebastian joins us to talk about how he arrived at the intersection of faith, farming, and serving the less fortunate, and his plans for the future. 

A Christian lawyer defends a Somali Muslim accused of piracy

When is a pirate not a pirate?  That’s the question posed in a November 2013 article in the LA Times about the arrest and trial of Ali Mohamed Ali, an accused Somali pirate.  Mr. Ali, as he’s known, was recruited by Somali pirates to negotiate the payment of a ransom and the release of hostages when the cargo vessel CEC Future was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden in 2008.  After successfully serving as a mediator, Mr. Ali was lured into the US by US authorities with a bogus invitation to attend an education conference, and arrested and detained for 30 months leading up to his 2013 trial.   What makes the case even more fascinating is that Mr. Ali, a Muslim, was represented pro bono by Matt Peed, a Christian attorney from Clinton Brook & Peed in Washington, DC.  Matt joins us to talk about the case and share insights he gained over three years defending Mr. Ali.

Retired Congressman Frank Wolf’s fight for human rights and religious freedom around the world

Today we’re hosting former Congressman Frank Wolf, who left Congress in 2014 after serving 17 terms (34 years) to focus full-time on his passions of human rights and religious freedom.  Congressman Wolf currently serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative where their mission is to “create a world where religious freedom is recognized by nations across the globe as a fundamental human right.”  Congressman Wolf joins us to talk about his time in Congress, the work he’s doing today (including the development of a Congressional scorecard), and what keeps him driven after so many years of public service. 

A method to produce genuine and lasting racial, political, and religious reconciliation

We live in a country and world characterized by division.  We desperately need a method for reconciliation that tears down the racial, political, religious, and many other walls of division that separate us.  Today, we’re hosting John Slye, Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church in Arlington and Falls Church – a church for people who don’t go to church.  John joins us to talk about the keys to genuine/lasting reconciliation, including an honest assessment of ourselves, proximity to those who differ from us, intellectual effort, and prayer.  

Reconnecting homeless people with their loved ones via video messages and social media

Ask yourself, where would you be without family and friends?  The answer, too often, is homeless and possibly on the streets.  Miracle Messages helps people experiencing homelessness to record short videos for their long-lost relatives.  They use social media and volunteers to locate their loved ones and try to deliver the messages as a way of reuniting families.  Restoring those relationships at the beginning of a recovery process is the goal, and they hope to unite 1% of the world’s homeless population with their relatives by 2021.  How cool would it be to use our cell phones not only for texting and selfies but also as a tool to help end homelessness and help our neighbors in need.  Today we’re joined by Kevin Adler, the Founder and CEO of Miracle Messages.  Kevin joins us to share how this idea came about, some stories of family reunions, and how they plan to reach their audacious goal. 

Dramatically improving the lives of prisoners and their families - Part 2

Our criminal justice system is broken.  We lock up way too many people in awful conditions; we generally don’t help them rehabilitate and heal; our prisons seem to drain the life out of inmates and train them in new forms of criminal behavior; and the majority of those released commit more crimes and return to prison.  James Ackerman, the President and CEO of Prison Fellowship, joins us to continue our conversation about improving the lives and futures of prisoners, former prisoners, and their families.  Prison Fellowship is active in 449 U.S. prisons and jails, and offers intensive year-long programs in 76 of those facilities across 23 states.  The non-profit estimates that it serves 25,000 prisoners each month, and impacts 200,000 unique inmates per year.  Prison Fellowship also operates the Angel Tree program where volunteers purchase and deliver Christmas gifts on behalf of parents who are incarcerated, providing gifts to 291,000 children last year alone.

Dramatically improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their families

Our criminal justice system is broken.  We lock up way too many people in awful conditions; we generally don’t help them rehabilitate and heal; our prisons seem to drain the life out of inmates and train them in new forms of criminal behavior; and the majority of those released commit more crimes and return to prison.  Today we're joined by James Ackerman, the President and CEO of Prison Fellowship – the nation’s largest outreach working to improve the lives and futures of prisoners, former prisoners, and their families.  Prison Fellowship is active in 449 U.S. prisons and jails and offers intensive year-long programs in 76 of those facilities across 23 states.  The non-profit estimates that it serves 25,000 prisoners each month, and impacts 200,000 unique inmates per year.  Prison Fellowship also operates the Angel Tree program where volunteers purchase and deliver Christmas gifts on behalf of parents who are incarcerated, providing gifts to 291,000 children last year alone.

Committing a year to serving people in 11 countries and Syrian refugees in Greece

Imagine going on a mission trip for one month to a place like Thailand to work with young women rescued from sex trade, or to Honduras to work with children in an orphanage.  Now imagine doing that in 11 countries back-to-back for 11 months.  Today we’re hosting Jade Zaharoff, a young woman who felt called to do just that in 2014 as part of something called the World Race.  According to their Website, the World Race is a journey to serve “the least of these” while embedded in real and raw community.  It’s a unique mission trip that challenges young adults to abandon worldly possessions and a traditional lifestyle in exchange for an understanding that it's not about them; it's about the Kingdom.  Jade joins us to talk about her World Race experiences as well as work she did with Syrian refugees in 2016 after they landed on the shores of Greece. 

The story of an unforgettable child's battle with cancer

Cancer is a terrible thing to face, especially when it afflicts a child.  Ellen Blair watched her daughter battle neuroblastoma for four-and-a-half years, and eventually succumb to the disease at age eight.  Ellen joins us to talk about The Catherine Elizabeth Blair Memorial Foundation that she and her husband created in their daughter’s honor, which has raised $147,000 to-date to fund research to help children fighting the same disease.  She also reads stories from a book she and her husband wrote during Catherine’s final 15 months of life.  Ellen is joined by her son, John.