Why Gift For Good?

I am an avid reader and have been for as long as I can remember.  I make trips to our local Barnes & Noble at least weekly; it’s probably a $100 per week habit.  I began my career in 1988 when I graduated with a law degree from SMU in Dallas.  I enjoyed practicing law but wasn’t passionate about it.  Almost a decade later I made a career shift into financial planning and it was there that passion and career met for me.

Last summer I was browsing in the business books section of B & N when I saw a book title which intrigued me.  The book was called The International Bank of Bob.  The author is a man named Bob Harris who had been hired several years ago by ForbesTraveler.com to travel to and review some of the most luxurious hotels in the world.  He enjoyed the assignment immensely until he observed a group of poor construction workers building a similarly opulent building in the heat of midday in Dubai.  Bob’s sense of excitement over the opportunity to get paid to stay in five-star resort hotels was replaced by an overwhelming sense of guilt over the plight of those workers and the millions like them in the world.

Once the trip was over Bob discovered Kiva.org and decided to use the money he earned on the hotel assignment to make a difference in the lives of poor people around the world.  Kiva is a non-profit organization which allows individuals to make micro-loans to impoverished entrepreneurs all over the globe.  The borrowers are usually given a year to pay back the loans and they almost always do so—about 98% of the loans made through Kiva are paid back.

I was so encouraged by the stories of the entrepreneurs I read about when I viewed the website that in August of 2013 I also opened a Kiva account and made loans to several people.  A few weeks later, on Sept. 15th, my church (Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, OK) had a big “reveal” weekend in which the leaders unveiled a new vision for the church which included a huge emphasis on international missions.  Our pastor, Dennis Newkirk, delivered an inspired sermon combining Jesus’ Great Commandment (love your neighbor as yourself) with His Great Commission (go and make disciples of all nations…).  As I sat and listened to the sermon, I thought that it would be great if someone would come up with a website similar to Kiva but instead of loans people could make tax-deductible donations to individuals who were willing to actually go and make disciples of all nations.  My next thought immediately was a clear sense that God was telling me that that website should be created and that I should be the one to do so.

Over the next several weeks I put together a board of committed Christians and formed the non-profit corporation Gift For Good.  On May 15, 2014, we launched the website you see here.  It is my prayer, and the prayer of all of our board members, supporters, and missionaries, that God will use this site to further His kingdom on earth and that it will be a tool for us to help fulfill the great commission.  As I shared with the board during our first official meeting, I have had a vision from Day 1 that one day we will be in heaven and we will meet people who are there because of funds raised through this website.

To God be the glory!

Melinda Olbert

Executive Director