Rooftop Revelations: Can a government that helped create a culture of dependency reverse the damage?

on Feb10
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One question facing nonprofit organizations like Project H.O.O.D. is whether to accept government funding or to raise funds solely through private donors. The danger of relying on government funding is that it puts nonprofits at the mercy of fickle politicians with the power to ax funding as well as the mercy of unforeseeable crises like the 2008 financial collapse.

That is part of the reason why Project H.O.O.D. opted to pursue the far more difficult path of raising private funds. If successful, their footing will be stable for the years to come. Another part of the reason why Project H.O.O.D. opted out of government funding was because they did not believe that the very same government that contributed heavily to the deplorable conditions in their neighborhood could be counted on to help reverse the damage. 

On the 82nd day of his 100-day rooftop vigil to raise funds to build a home for his Project H.O.O.D. community center, Pastor Corey Brooks invited Jim Bakke, the CEO of Barnabas Foundation, to the roof to discuss this crucial issue. Bakke knows this world very well because, since 1976, his foundation has guided thousands of generous Christians on how to give effectively to ministries they believe in. 

“The first question I want to ask you is … why are you here on the South Side of Chicago on a roof, in the cold, on this very night?” the pastor began.

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Our staff was “talking about trying to do something that would honor Dr. Martin Luther King on Dr. Martin Luther King Day. And as we were talking about it, we were asking, what are some ministries that are really doing a great job in the city of Chicago?” Bakke said. “And one of our staff mentioned that you did this rooftop and you allowed CEOs to come and stay up here. So in a lark, I just said, ‘Hey, I’ll do it.’”

“We’re glad you’re here,” the pastor said. “What are your thoughts about Project H.O.O.D. from what you know and after spending some time up here today?”

“I love what I hear, and I love what I see happening here because in this world, if we just watched the news, we can hear all the problems in Chicago. And all the concerns about gun violence but who’s really coming up with solutions and attacking that problem?” Bakke said. “I see results and I see the right focus of ministry.”

“Can you tell us a little bit about what Barnabas does and why they do it?” the pastor asked. 

“Barnabas helps generous Christians transfer their wealth and make gifts of the resources God has entrusted to them in ways that honor God,” Bakke answered. “We’re basically helping people make tax advantage giving to organizations close to their heart.”

“How does that help organizations like Project H.O.O.D.?”

“Well your supporters need to figure out how they can support you and how they can maximize the resources they want to give to you,” Bakke said. “We help them give more in a more tax advantaged way so they can give you more resources. And so we’ve partnered with a number of your donors, and it’s a privilege for us to work with them to decide what to give and then get those assets ready to go and then cut the checks to you.”

“Partnerships like that are really important,” the pastor said. “We believe that building this center is so important because it’s going to help us to 10 X everything that we do, to maximize it so that our carpentry classes are resourced, so that our trades courses are resourced, so that our entrepreneurial things are resourced, our trauma counseling and all of that is resourced.”

“We really believe that what Jesus said about who’s faithful with little will be entrusted with much,” Bakke said. “What we love about what we see at Project H.O.O.D. and New Beginnings [Church] is that you’ve been faithful and you’ve had results.”

“That’s a principle that we teach, that if God has given you something, you have to be accountable of it. You have to nurture it, develop it,” the pastor said. “Tell us about some of the other organizations that you are a blessing to?”

“We are partnered with about 200 ministries, everything from Christian grade schools, Christian high schools, colleges and universities, seminaries, evangelism ministries, relief and development ministries, Bible distribution, social service type ministries,” Bakke said. “All of them are distinctively Christian, Christ-centered, understanding that everything we have is God’s and we are just stewards of his resources. And so then we just be faithful and allow God to flow through us into the lives of others for His glory.”

“Absolutely,” the pastor said. “Do you think that organizations like Barnabas are able to do the work that government cannot do or is not doing?”

“This is the argument: should we have public funding for all these things? Or should we have private funding?” Bakke said. “I think there’s a place for each but we really believe that Christ-centered, values-focused ministries are probably more efficient and can do a more effective job than government intervention. That’s why I’ve dedicated my life to the not-for-profit sector and, in particular, the Christian community, because I really believe that is how we can most effectively help people. And partnering with businesses because we know that business and learning how to do business well brings people out of poverty. Government intervention often is very inefficient.”

“I agree wholeheartedly,” the pastor said. “That’s one of the reasons why Project H.O.O.D. is so focused because we believe that government intervention or government is not that good at pulling people out of poverty and helping them to transform their lives. [We believe] that we are far better at that than any government organization.”

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“There are some essential services that have to be done by government. And I know that there are people who have dedicated their lives to government work in a variety of ways, who are fully dedicated and trying to do their best. So I don’t want to disparage anyone who’s in the social service world, in a government setting,” Bakke said. 

“Absolutely.”

“But I do believe that the private sector and the not-for-profit sector can be more efficient.”

Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.

For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.

Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.

Camera by Terrell Allen.



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