TEAM MEMBER HIGHLIGHT:
SOZO board chair
Brad has known about SOZO for many years because of the involvement of his friends in the work of the organization. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that he got involved personally. In his first year of involvement, Brad traveled to Kabul on a short-term team. That’s when his appreciation for SOZO began and the love for Afghans was planted in his heart. Since then he has returned back multiple times.
Brad joined the SOZO Board of Directors in 2016.
Q: brad, What drew you to Sozo’s work/mission?
B: My interest in SOZO was born out of a general interest in what was happening in that part of the world. In 2015 on my first trip to Kabul, while meeting so many Afghans, I learned their stories, which were forged through hardship. I desired to be part of God’s plan to bring peace into their lives. There is much work to be done in Afghanistan to overcome years of war and oppression. SOZO plays an important role in the lives of so many families. Even though there are many challenges to the work there, I believe in SOZO’s mission of strengthening communities through transformational development. Because Afghanistan has on-going challenges of safety and stability many people have turned their focus to other parts of the world. I believe now more than ever we have to come alongside the people of Afghanistan. The needs there are great, our resolve to tackle those needs must be greater. That’s the spirit of SOZO. I’m honored to be part of an organization that has great courage and tenacity.
Q. Has your involvement with Sozo impacted you in a way you never expected?
B: My involvement with SOZO has greatly expanded my worldview. I’ve travelled to other countries, but none has captured my heart the way Afghanistan has. SOZO is the catalyst for this meaningful connection. When I first got involved with SOZO I didn’t expect it to have a life-changing impact on me. I sure am grateful for that change.
Q. What is the biggest challenge Sozo faces?
B: SOZO loves Afghans and has a desire to meet the deepest needs of the greatest number of people. Unfortunately, resources are limited. The biggest challenge is deciding where and how to invest for the greatest benefit. Choosing what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to is hard. Behind every decision are families that are impacted by those decisions. Everyone that has been on a SOZO trip to Afghanistan knows the people that are served by the organization. So many Afghans have a special place in our hearts. When you care for someone and know they desire your help, it’s challenging to know how best to do that.
Q. What do you wish people knew about Afghanistan or Afghans?
B: I wish people knew and understood the stories of Afghans. Although the context of life in Afghanistan is different from other countries, nevertheless, at our core, we’re all human. We share a desire for the same things. Every Afghan mom or dad I’ve met wants for their children what my wife and I want for mine, a better future. We want our kids to grow up in a place of peace and opportunity. Learning that Afghans have the same core needs and desires I have reinforces what I know to be true… we’re all created by God.
Q. What would you tell a potential supporter (could be donor, short-term team member, etc.) about WHY this cause is so important?
B: Right now, the amount of global support for Afghanistan is diminishing. Because of the protracted war and associated hardship, many organizations and countries have backed down from supporting Afghans. Yet the need for support in Afghanistan remains very high. SOZO feels responsible to remain engaged in the lives of Afghans. We believe this is especially important over the long term. It takes time to build trust with Afghans. Our desire is to deepen that trust so that we can more effectively meet needs. I would ask a potential supporter to join us in this work knowing that what is really needed is a long-term commitment to partnership to meet the real needs of Afghans.
Q. What is your biggest goal for Sozo in your term as Chair?
B: My biggest goal for SOZO is to expand our base of support. We need more partners to join us in the work God has given us to do in Afghanistan.
Q. Tell us about yourself!
B: I’m a follower of Jesus. I believe Jesus modeled great love for the world and I want to follow His example. Not only do I want this for myself, but I want to see it lived out in my family and my church. Someday, I hope to bring my family to Afghanistan. I’ve been married more than 20 years and have four children. My family and I enjoy hiking and kayaking.
Q. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you and why?
B: I’d want to have my Bible, my wife and a guitar. (I don’t know how to play the guitar, but I figure I’d have time to learn on a deserted island, that’d be cool!)
Q. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
B: The person who had the greatest impact on my life was Ken Ellis. When Ken was alive he ran a youth organization that took me and many other teenagers to various places on the globe on short-term trips. My involvement in that organization changed me in so many ways… my faith, my worldview, my identity.