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Jul 14, 2018

Three years ago, I read two life-changing books that completely transformed the way that I think about my own purpose and meaning in life, and whether I'm truly making a difference in the world or whether I'm simply engaged in a relentless pursuit of "fitnessing" without actually making an impact in anyone's life.

The books - titled "Unfinished" and "Hole In The Gospel" - were written by author Rich Stearns, the president of a company called World Vision - a global Christian humanitarian organization that partners with children, families, and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Within just a few weeks of reading the books, my children and I had "adopted" a little girl from Ethiopia, who we send gifts and financial support to each month.

We'd also begun volunteering more in our local community and doing a better job teaching others about the importance of purpose and passion in life, love and relationships, and belief in a higher power. These are all values I highlight in my article: "Five Quotes I Live By, Three Keys To Happiness, Two Questions To Ask Yourself & One Must-Do Thought Experiment." Now, when it comes to helping care for and support others and equipping others on this planet to experience a more fulfilling life,  I'm about to take things to the next level. How? By supporting World Vision's bold initiative called the "THRIVE" Economic Empowerment program.

THRIVE is based on the fact that millions of people in the most impoverished parts of the world are smallholder farmers who lack access to the knowledge, capital, markets, technology, and information they need to build thriving businesses. World Vision’s fully integrated, proven approach to economic empowerment is designed to equip these hardworking men and women to move from surviving to - you guessed it - thriving. Ultimately, this helps hardworking families break the cycle of extreme poverty for good. My guest on today's podcast, Christopher Shore, is the Chief Development Officer of this entire "THRIVE" Economic Empowerment program.

Now in his 20th year with World Vision, Chris works on issues which contribute to the work of THRIVE – specifically building improved and resilient livelihoods for smallholder farmers. Chris began partnering with World Vision on microfinance issues while working for the Mennonite Economic Development Associates. He joined World Vision as National Director in Romania in 1997. He moved to California to lead World Vision’s microfinance and economic development work starting in 2001, and was largely focused on microfinance.

Chris founded VisionFund International in 2003 and handed leadership to Scott Brown in 2006. That same year Chris turned his attention to the non-microfinance aspects of economic development, and began World Vision’s Natural Environment and Climate Issues group, which he led full-time starting in 2008.

In 2011 Chris became one of the architects of Securing Africa’s Future in Tanzania – now THRIVE. In 2013 he led that work for East and West Africa, and in 2015 moved to World Vision USA. Chris is Canadian, lives in Southern California, is married to Dr. Susan Shore, and is father to Andrew and Katrina. He enjoys cycling, gardening, and woodworking.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-The shocking concept of generational poverty and how a vicious cycle persists from generation to generation in many countries in Africa, from Tanzania to Rwanda and beyond...18:15

-How THRIVE shifts mindsets to an understanding that every person has great value, and possesses the power and responsibility to move from dependency to dignity...27:30

-The "bank" that THRIVE then helps each farmer to create in their local community to create end-to-end business of farming...31:45

-The importance of natural resource management and how THRIVE helps farmers manage their on-farm soil, vegetation, and water management, and to manage and rehabilitate forests, watersheds, and grasslands...41:40

-How THRIVE teaches emergency and situational awareness and teaches the farmers how to manage investments and risks and needs information to deal with shocks, emergencies, and change around them...52:00

-The way that hardworking farmers finally have the ability to consistently feed their children nutritious food; send them to school; cover bills for basic healthcare; build a house made of brick with a metal roof instead of mud, sticks, and straw; and reinvest in their businesses...57:00

-How you can support this entire program and even visit Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and see the THRIVE initiative in action...1:04:30

-And much more!

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Resources from this episode:

-The THRIVE Economic Empowerment program at World Vision

-The Christian Gratitude Journal

-The documentary Icarus 

-My interview with Joel Salatin, author of "Pigness of Pigs"

-Hole in the Gospel


Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Chris or me? Leave your comments at and one of us will reply!