The Most Important Word for an Aspiring Changemaker

On top of the Zagros Mountains, Iraqi Kurdistan

It isn’t hope.

It isn’t strategy. 

And no, it isn’t even love.

The most important word for a person who wants to actually make change is risk.

When I say “risk,” I’m talking about personal vulnerability—social, financial, physical, relational, spiritual, and otherwise. Putting yourself into a situation where you may experience loss, but you choose to take the risk because the potential reward—benefitting others, challenging norms, changing perspectives—is worth it.

Life can be scary as hell, but love anyway. Take the risk! 

You’re gambling what you already have to give them more, but you have to ask yourself this question: are people worth it?

save lives on the frontlines of war

In Iraq, we’ve taken some pretty dramatic risks. We took taxis to Fallujah—an extremist hub in Iraq—because we believe 22 children are worth saving. We get on plane after plane to visit Libya despite the civil war and to Baghdad despite the sectarian tensions.

We travel to the front-line fighting with ISIS to serve families fleeing Ramadi because their lives, possessions, and well-being are no less valuable than our own.

We’ve experienced death threats, betrayals, kidnappings, imprisonment, bombings, and even the murder of friends, but we refuse to stop because these people….you get the picture.

But this is all so dramatic, and the last thing we want you to think is that we weren’t afraid. There are times where we were paralyzed by fear! Sometimes, we chose to play it safe at wrong time, when we should have risked.

Often the most important risks are taken in the small, quiet moments. Choosing to forgive or ask forgiveness, reaching out to other ethnic or religious groups in your community, taking time to consider opposing political positions.

However small they may seem, these are risky things.

Forgiveness can be rejected. Other groups in the community could stonewall, even ostracize you. Considering the political stance of others could weaken your own resolve.

Choose bravery. Be vulnerable. Risk your own loss for the sake of their gain.

As someone who is daily battling fear, reaching for courage, I promise it’s worth it.