Twenty Cow Dinner

Recently I was honored to join a group of over 100 world leaders in Hong Kong for a bi-annual meeting with our dear friends Reach Global. During the week I was invited to join different groups representing regions of the world for discussions on life issues and evangelism.

One evening I was invited to join a group of about 15 people for dinner in a restaurant overlooking the beautiful Hong Kong harbor at night. I was sitting next to a good friend from Kenya, Bramuel Musya, and across the table from another good friend, Tim Addington, the leader of Reach Global.

During dinner the topic of marriage came up and Tim mentioned to Bramuel that he heard that he was getting married and asked how are the wedding plans going? Bramuel responded by saying, “Not very well. I will get married when I have twenty cows”.

That was a response we were not anticipating so Tim just went with the most logical next question, “How many cows do you have”? “Three” he responded. Tim asked “How much is a cow”? “One hundred dollars” Bramuel responded. Tim pulled out a hundred dollar bill and said, “Now you have four”.

Of course now I’m feeling a prompting to get involved, not only personally but also to more aggressively help Bramuel reach his goal. So, after a few moments of contemplation, I looked at Bramuel and Tim and said, “I’m in for five cows”.

Now the rest of the table is paying close attention to the unfolding drama. Bramuel now has nine cows with eleven needed to reach his goal. People sensing the opportunity to be part of this story began to jump in. A friend from one end of the table said, “I’m good for one cow.” and directly following another friend from the opposite end of the table said, “Count me in for one cow as well!”

Now I was looking at Tim thinking, ‘you can do better than one cow!’ He sensed the prompting and said, “OK, I’m in for five cows. Bramuel, how many do you have now”? Bramuel said, “I need three more”.

I thought, let me text a friend back in the US and see if he’s good for three. Not really knowing what time it was back in the US I texted my friend with the question. Within minutes I got a response back. He said, ” I’m in for three cows.”

I leaned over and told Bramuel, you have your twenty cows. Then the celebration broke out as Bramuel texted his future wife.

When we came together for a meal that evening we never anticipated the twenty cow experience. But it became clear that when a goal or vision is clearly articulated, and you have a group of interested people who want to be part of something God is doing, given the opportunity they will respond and the goal will be reached.

Of course the price of one cow was within reach for everyone at the table. For some, five cows was really not a problem. Everyone gave what they were able to do and together we reached the goal together. This was so gratifying and it changed the whole atmosphere of the evening. All of us left with an anticipation of a great wedding that will now happen in the near future and we had a part in it actually becoming a reality.

There are principles of fundraising that we can learn from this event:

1. A relaxed atmosphere with like-minded people is ripe for opportunity.

2. A clear need presented will get a clear response.

3. A clear goal on how to reach that need leads to a clarified opportunity.

4. Real time monitoring of the progress towards the goal observed re-enforces the opportunity.

5. Opportunity to participate at different levels offered allows all to participate.

6. A celebration when the goal is reached creates a positive memory for future reference.

These are just a few observations that occurred that evening that may apply to other fundraising initiatives in the future. Of course the atmosphere that was created was full of life and the discussion itself was life-giving, not only to Bramuel but to all of us participating. That always is a great goal when coming together with others.

Somewhere along this process I was asked by Bramuel to officiate his wedding later this year. but, before setting the date I learned we need to meet with his future father in law and complete the final negotiations for the marriage. We need to negotiate the twenty cows. This will be a first for me!

Welcome to the adventure of life. I will never forget the twenty cow dinner.

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