A Year in Review
September 8, 2017
I can't believe it's already been one year since The Cultivation Project became a non-profit organization. I admit, most of the time I've been focused on looking forward and forget to reflect on the past, but at the same time, it's hard to even fathom how much God has taught and grown me over the past year. With that being said, here are three things that I have learned over the past year:
1. You don't need to know everything.
Last summer, when I decided to work full time for The Cultivation Project, I knew that I would face a never-ending uphill battle of unknowns. I had just graduated as a film production student with very little experience in running a business, doing finances, fundraising, coding, and marketing, and had spent the majority of my working career as a freelance photographer and videographer. To be honest, it was hard to get the wheels rolling because I didn't know where to start. So many questions were flowing through my head and I spent most of the summer of 2016 researching and trying to plan out the smartest way to start a non-profit.
However, I realized that God had placed me into a very close and loving church community, filled with bright, creative, and faithful individuals who were ready to lend a helping hand. When I first started telling others that I wanted to start a non-profit, to my surprise, many people offered their help. God provided me with volunteers and board members who had much more experience in business, management, coding, fundraising, and arguably the most important, networking. Suddenly, I was being introduced to executive directors and leaders of non-profits who provided me with much needed wisdom and insight on how to get going. I had nothing to offer back to these people, but they felt the passion behind my vision and offered help to get TCP off the ground.
"7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. 8 To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.
- 1 Corinthians 12:7-11
Looking back, it's amazing how far The Cultivation Project has progressed on volunteer efforts alone. As of today, our team consists of 21 filmmakers, photographers, artists, web developers, businessmen, and digital marketing volunteers, all who share a deep love and personal faith in Christ, which enables them to do great things. As mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, the Holy Spirit gifts us and works through us in many unique ways. All of us are ordinary people, equipped with extraordinary and unfathomable powers from the Spirit, working as individual parts that make up the whole body. I will never be able to master everything when it comes to running a non-profit organization, however, God has, and will, continue to provide by sending others who are unique and special to fill in the gaps as needed.
2. Learn to let go and pray.
When participating in any group project, relying on people to get the job done is always difficult. I've always had bad experiences doing group projects because my team would never pull through or produce work that wasn't on par with my standards. I went into the Fall of 2016 with a similar anxiety that lingered in the back of my mind. I actually had many nights of no sleep because my brain wouldn't stop thinking of the endless problems, lack of help, and roadblocks that each project would bring forth. I wasn't sure how I would be able to do it all myself. However, during a meeting one night, Ricky reminded me that every hour I spent thinking through problems should be an hour spent praying. He was right.
The month leading up to Premiere Night in March 2017 (which was the official day we were going to publicly present our vision and projects), I decided to specifically pray each night for three big prayer requests:
1. That our whole event would go smoothly and that it would point back to the Gospel.
2. That at least 100 people would attend our event.
3. That we would be able to fundraise at least $50,000.
As time flew by, I had no choice but to delegate tasks out to volunteers. It was uncomfortable for me to do, but those nightly prayers built up my faith to the point where I knew everything would work out. As Premiere Night approached, all the pieces came together. Signs, posters, artwork, videos, presentations, refreshments, and the main speech all flowed together seamlessly through the efforts of about a dozen volunteers and family members. The main vision was presented, the Gospel was shared many times, and I genuinely felt love and support from the crowd that came out. My first prayer request was answered.
After Premiere Night concluded, I went home and checked out the attendance list of the night. To my surprise, exactly 100 people attended. My second prayer request was answered in style.
As of today, we have raised just over $38,000 since Premiere Night, which puts us at around 76% of our goal. Of course, that means we still haven't reached our goal of $50,000 yet, but I believe this is still a prayer request that is being answered. Every week we inch closer and closer towards that goal. I believe God is answering in a way that I didn't realize before. We have been approved as a 501(c)(3), which gave us access to free software and discounts, been blessed with more volunteers than I had ever expected in one year, and was given free office space for the rest of 2017 (thank you CEC-SD). God has been answering my third prayer request and will continue to answer in ways that I will never expect.
Photos from Premiere Night, March 4th, 2016.
3. Be prepared to sacrifice
One of the last lessons that I have learned from this past year is to be prepared to sacrifice. When starting a new organization, getting into a new relationship, or accepting a new position, sacrifices big and small must be made in order to fully put your heart into the new commitment.
In my case, I have had to sacrifice having a salary for an indefinite period of time and having a consistent amount of free time to spend with family and friends. As this past year progressed, my work week went from around 20 hours a week to an average of 60-70 hours a week, all with no pay. Of course, receiving any sort of salary for this amount of work is ideal, but at the same time, I've been totally content with the situation. Seeing the beauty of the Spirit working through our team and hearing responses of people who have already been inspired, moved, and excited by our services is already one of the biggest blessings and honors to receive.
"1 Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
5 The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
6 May you see your children's children!
Peace be upon Israel!"
- Psalms 128
This past year was definitely not perfect and our seeds are still sprouting, but one thing is certain: we are moving, we are growing, and we are one step closer to reaching our mission with every passing day. Thank you for your support and continual prayers for The Cultivation Project.
Founder & President