A local businessman who's been serving Sri Lankans since the 2004 tsunami

In 2004, the 3rd largest earthquake ever recorded struck the Indian Ocean triggering a series of tsunamis that killed at least 230,000 people in 14 countries.  The earthquake caused the entire planet to vibrate and triggered additional earthquakes as far away as Alaska.  In Sir Lanka, at least 36,000 people were killed.  Watching events unfold halfway around the world, local businessman Jack Schwab felt compelled to go to Sri Lanka and help.  He quickly formed a team that was on the ground within weeks of the disaster and has been serving the people of Sri Lanka ever since.  Jack joins us to talk about those dark days when he first arrived, the love he has developed for the people he has served, and how anyone can respond to the promptings of their heart and make a difference, no matter how busy they are.   

Millennials walk across America promoting a Culture of Life

Back in 1993 on World Youth Day, Saint Pope John Paul II challenged young people to hit the road and get out on the highways and byways to spread the Gospel of Life.  A young man named Steve Sanborn heard that call and decided to do something.  In the summer of 1995, Steve and some of his fellow students at Franciscan University of Steubenville organized a pro-life walk across America covering 3,200 miles in 11 weeks.  Seeing the overwhelming support they received on their mission, Steve founded a non-profit – Crossroads – which has been organizing walks each summer ever since.  As of today, over 1,000 young people have witnessed to millions of Americans as they crossed the country in dedication to this cause.  Tonight, we’re joined by two walkers who finished their cross-country trek today.  Emily Ouillette and Cliff Hearn join us to talk about their experiences this summer, the people they encountered, and the mood of the country towards this issue.   

A blind man’s vision of advocating for the disabled

Two years ago, tonight’s guest, Brandon Charles, packed all his stuff in a duffle bag, boarded a Greyhound bus on a snowy evening, and traveled overnight from Pittsburgh to DC.  When he arrived, he hopped on the metro – something he had never done before – and then took a cab to his temporary new home.  What makes this story compelling is that Brandon was born blind, and his bold move followed a string of challenges he had experienced over several years.  The move turned out to be a major turning point in his life and a great thing for Arlington residents.  Brandon has since begun producing and hosting the Breaking Boundaries program on WERA-LP, an advocacy program for the disabled.  The show airs on Mondays at 4:00 p.m. on 96.7 FM and is in its second year.  Brandon joins us to share his story of self-discovery and higher purpose, and to challenge us in how we see, interact with, and serve the disabled. 

A non-partisan organization operating across faith, racial, and economic boundaries fights for social justice

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a non-partisan organization that operates across faith, racial, and economic boundaries while fighting for social justice in Northern Virginia?  The sort of organization that works its way into government official's offices and the CEO suites of Fortune 50 companies to fight for things like affordable housing, criminal justice reform, school equality, and immigrant rights.  Well today we’re joined by just such a group.  Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is a “citizens power organization” that has been fighting for the rights of low and medium income residents in Northern Virginia for nearly a decade.  We’ll be talking to Robert Buckman, a leader with VOICE since its formation in 2008.  Robert will be telling us about a number of VOICE’s social justice initiatives and the importance of civic involvement to the health of our communities and country.   

Distributing nearly a million pounds of food each year to our food insecure neighbors in Northern VA

Nearly 20 thousand people in Arlington County are “food insecure,” meaning they often don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  That’s nearly 10% of the population of a county that is consistently ranked among the best places to live in America.  That number skyrockets to almost a quarter-million people when you consider the 21-county area covered by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.  Thankfully, Catholic Charities and their Saint Lucy Food Project are on the case, offering help to anyone who needs it and flexible volunteer programs to anyone who wants to serve – both regardless of beliefs.  Today’s guest, Vince Cannava, is the Program Director and Food Source Developer at Saint Lucy.  Vince is here to share his experiences distributing food to 53 parishes across the Diocese and how you can join in on your own terms and help your neighbors in need. 

Why all people and societies should care deeply about religious freedom

A number of recent studies indicate that religious freedom improves economies, undermines religious-related terrorism, and promotes the long-term stability and civility of society, among other things.  Regarding the first point, one recent article estimated the contribution of religion to the US economy to be $2.1 trillion per year.  Sadly, though, there has been a dramatic downturn in these freedoms globally; and even in the United States – founded largely on such freedoms – we have seen an erosion of them.  Since 84% of people worldwide follow a religion, and three-quarters of the world’s population – 5.1 billion people – live in countries with significant religious hostilities or restrictions, it’s important to consider this issue.

Today we’ll be examining the benefits of religious freedom and challenge our listeners to seriously consider supporting it.  We’ll be talking about this with Tom Farr, the President of the Religious Freedom Institute.  Tom also directs Georgetown University's Religious Freedom Research Project, and is an Associate Professor at Georgetown's Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service. 

Life’s central purpose and the state of Christianity in America

Today we’re joined by Os Guinness, a well-known Christian scholar and social philosopher, and descendant of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer.  Os was born in China in 1941, the son of medical missionaries.  While there his family lived through a period of great turbulence and famine during which two of his brothers died and the Chinese revolution reached its climax.  He returned to England at age nine while his parents remained under house arrest in China, and went on to study at the Universities of London and Oxford.  Os has written extensively about religious faith and its role in society, having authored over 25 books, and has served in a number of roles including Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Os joins us to talk about higher calling and the current state of Christianity in America. 

Why so many people are unhappy at work, and what we can do about it

According to Gallup, a “staggering” 87% of employees worldwide are unhappy with their work.  In America, the number is 70% – which, although better, is still bad.  Even worse, these numbers have remained fairly steady over the past 16 years that Gallup has measured them, leading Gallup to call the situation “an employee engagement crisis.”  So what’s wrong, and is it possible for employees to gain a sense of higher purpose and genuine satisfaction from their work, regardless of circumstances?  Tonight we’re joined by Hugh Whelchel, a former high-tech executive; current Executive Director at The Institute of Faith, Work, and Economics; and author of the book How Then Should We Work?  Hugh joins us to talk about how focusing on the true meaning of our work, and working to contribute to the flourishing of society, leads to genuine fulfillment and satisfaction.

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.