Jake Balentine is a Traffic Designer at Sain. [...]
“I met Chris Bond when we worked together on the Engineering Advisory Board for the engineering academy at Trussville High School. I admire Chris’s choice to use his engineering skills to meet his calling. I trust his story and the work he is doing will move you as it has me.” – Jim Meads
My name is Chris Bond and I work for an engineering non-profit ministry called Designs For Hope. The mission of Designs For Hope is to provide sustainable electricity, clean water, and other innovative designs to Christian disciple makers in developing countries. Our goal is to use our gifts and talents to serve the world’s poorest people groups by meeting their most basic human needs, both physically and spiritually. Our goal is to equip local leaders with resources not only for improving their lives, but for improving the lives of those in their communities.
I am often asked the question, “What is an engineer”? My response is always, “An engineer is someone who uses math, science, engineering principles, and technology to solve problems.” In my former life as a research and development engineer, I solved technical problems for a large automotive company. I used these principles to find creative solutions to problems that could potentially affect every driver in the United States. Most of the problems, however, were driven by the company’s bottom line. I would hear something like, “Can you make it cheaper?” or “Could you add this feature?”
Then in 2007, God called me to become a missionary. At first, I didn’t know what that looked like. I was willing to walk away from engineering, but I enjoyed the work and felt like I was good at it. I struggled with leaving behind a skill that I had honed for the past 15 years. Regardless, I enrolled in a local Bible college and started taking classes in the evenings after work. It was a few years later that God revealed the purpose of my life’s call to use engineering as a missional ministry. It was a call to serve Him by serving the world in tangible ways. Now, my current engineering job focuses on solving issues involving meeting the basic human needs of individuals and communities in the developing world. Problems I solve now sound something like this: “Can you design a product to remove arsenic from our ground drinking water because people are dying from cardiovascular disease?” or, “Can you design a way for our orphanage in Sudan to get access to water as our current way has run dry?” I still use the same tools, solving problems using math, science, engineering principles, and technology… the end goal is what has now changed.
The team at Designs For Hope has spent the last six years developing relationships with churches and other ministries overseas in order to use engineered solutions to not only meet our partners’ needs, but to aid in helping them meet the needs of their communities. As of now, Designs For Hope has partners in five countries: Uganda, Kenya, Sri Lanka, India, and Nicaragua.
It’s often hard for someone living in the United States to imagine what clean water, sustainable electricity, or other basic needs mean to a person…so I wanted to put you in the shoes of Rashmi. This is her story:
It’s 6:30 AM. It doesn’t matter what day, they are all the same. Rashmi heads out the door for a grueling day in the Sri Lankan tea plantation that she’s been working in for most of her life. She knows that her daily quota is 18 Kilos (40 pounds) of the freshest tea leaves on the plantation. She does this to earn roughly $3 for her labor. If her quota isn’t met…then Rashmi’s wages are halved. The goal is to make enough money to eat.
Home life isn’t much better. The two-room home she resides in is the same one the British built for the first of her people who were brought over many years ago. There is no running water or electricity, so the wood burning stove is the only source of heat and light. The fumes will choke her as she tries to sleep due to poor ventilation in her home, but it’s the price to pay for a bit of warmth and light on this cold night.
This is the reality for Rashmi and those around her. The question I want to ask you now is, “What do you do with this knowledge?”
What can you do? I often struggle with these very same questions every day. It’s safe to hear a story like Rashmi’s and move on with life. It’s easier to forget the plight of others…but that isn’t right. Every one of us has been given talents, gifts, and strengths. What will you do with them? I want you to consider this your call to an ‘other-centered’ mindset. Consider that the world’s people groups aren’t all on equal footing. Find an outlet that allows you to do good in this world with your talents or your finances. The need is so great! What do you do with this knowledge? Act. Be the change for someone like Rashmi who is struggling through life. That’s what I chose to do. I hope you will too.
Are you interested in hearing more about the work of Designs For Hope? Find us on the web at www.designsforhope.org. Interested in connecting with us on a project by using your talents to solve problems or by financial contribution? We’d love to hear from you.