Today’s interview is with Shelene Bryan, author of the new book, Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes. Bryan is an energetic speaker and passionate advocate for helping needy children across the globe. After a spontaneous trip to East Africa , Bryan founded Skip1.org, a charity dedicated to providing food and clean water to children in America and around the world. Her first book, Love, Skip, Jump, tells her incredible story of abandoning her comfort zone and saying yes to the inspirational journey God planned for her. Her book will show you how to love your creator, skip comfort and safety, and jump into the grand adventure of life. Download Love, Skip, Jump today!
1. Tell us about the inspiration behind Love, Skip, Jump.
At a party at my house one night, a woman I’d never met before pointed to my refrigerator. On the door hung pictures of the two kids we sponsor in Africa: a little Ugandan girl named Omega for our daughter, Brooke, and an adorable Ugandan boy named Alonis for our son, Blake—all to teach our kids how blessed they are living in America.
Boldly, the woman said, “You fell for that?”
“How do you know that those kids on your refrigerator are real?” she continued. “They might be 40 years old, and they are just taking your money.”
Shocked, I said, “I don’t. I guess I’m just having faith that the money’s getting there.”
She proceeded to boast, “Yeah, well, I never fall for those things.”
That night, after all the party guests were gone, I was left with a nagging, unsettled feeling. I couldn’t get that woman’s words out of my head. What if what she said was true? What if we were being scammed?
When I got into bed, I shook my husband, Brice, awake. He groggily glared at me with a “This better be important” look. I told him about our nameless guest and her comments about 40-year-olds in Africa stealing our kids’ money and said, “So honey, I want to go to Africa and see where our 25 bucks a month is going.”
He said, “Cool. Let’s spend three thousand dollars so you can see where our 25 bucks a month is going.”
In the next few days we decided to take a trip to meet our two sponsored children, but the night before we were supposed to leave Brice got very sick. He’s rarely sick, but about 3:00 a.m., he looked at me with reddened, fever-glazed eyes and said, “Honey, I can’t go. I have no strength to get out of bed.”
“Brice, you’ve just got to suck it up. We have to make it to Heathrow.”
“Honey, there’s no way I can go.”
“It’s a sign,” I declared. “We were going to die on the plane and leave our two kids orphaned while we try and find these kids in Uganda who are probably forty.”
Brice said, “Shelene, you are so dramatic, and you’re not sick.”
“What are you saying?” I asked.
“I’m saying you’re not sick. You need to go.”
“Brice,” I whined, “you are going to send your only wife alone to the other side of the world? Who’s gonna carry my luggage?”
He got very quiet. Then he said, “Honey, you don’t like to go anywhere but the day spa. The fact you want to go to east Africa is astonishing. You need to go.”
As I sat on the edge of our bed, touching my husband’s feverish forehead repeatedly with the quickly diminishing hope that the raging fever would break, I knew I had a decision to make. What was I going to do? All my dreams and plans about this trip had always included my husband—my rock and my protector. But now it was painfully obvious he would not be going.
It was at that moment, sitting on the edge of our bed, that I (with the help of my husband’s quiet, calm confidence) said yes to God and made the decision to jump! I would get out of my comfort zone and jump.
What I found on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda changed my life.
I found my little girl, Omega, dressed in her little school uniform, in her mud hut with a sheet for a front door. I bent down and gave her a huge hug. And as I was hugging her, my eye caught the Christmas-card photo of our family embedded in her mud wall. She had been getting my mail! $25 per month was keeping her fed, in school, and providing her basic needs.
That was the inception of Love, Skip, Jump.
2. How did your organization, Skip1.org, get started?
At Skip1.org, we challenge people to give out of their own excess. We want everyone to skip one thing—a lunch, a manicure, a latte, a new outfit—and take what they would have spent on that item and donate it to care for the poor and needy. It’s really that simple: skip it for the sake of someone else.
People always ask me “Do I really have to ‘skip it’ to donate? What if I want to just donate?” My answer to that is no you don’t have to skip something, but I encourage you to try. There’s a connection in the brain when you deliberately forego something for the sake of someone who can never repay you. If you skip your dinner one night and feel a pang of hunger for a few hours, you get a tiny taste of how some kids feel every night. It might just change your perspective.
3. Why is “jumping” so important?
Some people aren’t living life to their fullest potential because they’re afraid to JUMP. The idea of jumping begins with the story of Peter and Jesus (Matthew 14:23-33). In the midst of a terrible storm, the 12 disciples were all on a small boat and saw Jesus walking on the water:
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
What I love about this passage is that Peter actually jumped out of the boat. And by jumping, he had the amazing opportunity to walk on water. Eleven didn’t jump, but Peter took that leap right out of the comfort and safety of the boat to go be with his Lord. It’s not that the other disciples weren’t followers of Jesus. Indeed, they were passionate followers, and most would soon lose their lives as a consequence of their true devotion to Peter. But Peter was willing to do something that no one else was—jump.
For those of us who’ve lived our lives way too long in a self-centered “me world,” this passage is very instructive. Just like the 11 disciples who did not jump, we each have our own personal “boats” of comfort and safety that keep us from jumping into the exciting waters God has prepared for us. The question is, what’s holding you back from being like Peter and making the jump?
4. You refer to “wannabe jumpers” as “sideline sitters, constant consumers, and casual clappers”—what do you mean by this?
If you look at your life and can’t identify how you’re helping others, you should ask yourself if you need to make changes.
A sideline-sitter is someone who’s willing to watch but not get involved. A constant consumer is someone who goes to church and sucks up all kinds of great information but never does anything. A casual clapper is someone who’s willing to cheerlead but refuses to get involved.
My question to those who are on the fence is: what’s holding you back from really jumping in with your creator? Your job?, A relationship? An addiction? Laziness? Comfort?
For me it was success in business and the admiration from others that came with it. I craved the accolades that accompanied being a successful businesswoman. For many years, I fought God on the direction he wanted to take my life because I liked the praise that tickled my ears, and I loved the comfort of luxury.
5. What are the biggest challenges facing Skip1?
When we started Skip1, I made a commitment to use 100 percent of our public donations for food, clean water, and the building of our projects. It’s important to people to have a trust like that. It was important to me. I also made a commitment to never ask anyone for a donation. We leave it to God to put it on people’s hearts to give.
Due to these commitments, sometimes I wonder if our hard costs, like office supplies and website costs, are going to be covered. These expenses have to be covered by people who make special private donations specifically for those expenses. Sometimes I wonder where these funds will come from, but God has always come through, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
6. What are some ways people can tangibly help people abroad?
Skip it. By skipping something and donating that money you can make a real difference. If you want to go deeper, take a trip. It doesn’t even need to be to another country. Go bring some socks, a lunch, some water or chapstick to a homeless person on a street corner. Engage somebody and say “I see you and I care.”
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Discover how saying “yes” to God will transform your life: download Love, Skip, Jump today!