I work as the U.S. Regional Facilitator for Partners Worldwide (i.e. glorifying God through job creation in under-served U.S. communities that brings transformation for the individual, the business, and the community). Privately, I run a consulting business called Two Forty Group. It can be tough to choose the name of your business. I few of my friends have been mulling over names for their businesses for months. The name Two Forty Group is a reference to a bible verse, Luke 2:40, which reads, “The child grew and became strong; he was full of wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” My purpose as a business is to resource ministries and churches seeking to develop people and communities in urban and under-served areas. The purpose is something I’ve been doing for years, doing in my sleep, with paying customers. The verse gives a vision for development: For people to become strong and live into their God-created capacity; people in need are not supposed to always be in need, but to develop. It’s important for people, in their development, to be education broadly and technically but also to become wise, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; biblical teaching and training is vital to human development. The grace of God is a reference to the fact that no development can occur without God’s general grace (“he causes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust” say the proverbs). What tipped me about the business name is that a friend has for years had a consulting business that references a different bible verse. So! Word to the wise.
I was in Pasadena on Thursday. On July 4, 2009, my wife Kafi and I boarded a plane at LAX and flew to Michigan to begin a new phase of our family’s life after two decades in incarnational ministry at Harambee Christian Family Center. Three and a half years later, here are some observations about Pasadena, in no particular order:
- The freeway is really loud. I lodged about 1/2 a mile from the 210 freeway. From inside the house I heard nothing. But when I stepped outside in the dewy morning, the collective noise of the traffic was like a hum, a loud hum, that absolutely filled any quiet spaces one would normally encounter. It didn’t stop life from happening, it’s just that there weren’t silent spaces anywhere. I know people get used to it – I did. But I guess where I’m living now must be really quiet.
- At a 1-on-1 meeting with a potential funder, the program officer wore flip-flop sandals. Can you say February in SoCal. I was still wearing my Grand Rapids light winter jacket.
- Road traffic is the crushing burden I remember. Not missing it.
- As in Grand Rapids, there are charter schools popping up all over the place
- The Starbucks in NW Pasadena was packed, PACKED, at both times of the day when I visited.
- The El Pollo Loco in South Pasadena was thronged – they must have been giving away the chicken. Or maybe it was Thursday night Happy Hour. They ran out of white meat chicken.
- There is something to be said for population density and job and business opportunities. In LA, because the place is so big, you can eventually find a job. I didn’t say it would be an optimal job. It might not pay what you need, then you have to spend way too much money on transportation to get there, and the commute takes up too much time out of your day – but you’ll have a job. In Grand Rapids, if there are no jobs, there are no jobs. 10 million people makes for more job opportunities than 700,000 (the population figure for greater GR). And business opportunities and finding new customers: Lots of people, huge markets of people, lots of opportunity. But also crushing regulations coming from national, state, country, and civic authorities. Someone should create an Office of Eliminating Unnecessary and Excessively Burdensome Regulations.
- I did not look up once to the mountains to admire their beauty. I just noticed that I didn’t.