Show Them Love First

A few weeks ago, my friend Amy shared on Facebook that her son Jonathan was planning to spend a year doing mission work in Cameroon, West Africa. With her permission, I’m sharing her post, with the hope that it touches you as much as it touched me.

When Jonathan started college two years ago he told his father and me: “I promise to spend two years filling up my mind if you then give me a year to empty my heart.”

With an attitude like that, you can tell this young man is full of love for others. I’d like to say that the first time Amy posted about Jonathan’s fundraising, I immediately thought of sharing about it here. It actually took me a few weeks to catch up. I can be a little slow sometimes. Jonathan is raising money for his trip and accepting donations of guitars for the orphans to learn to play. Information on how to help is at the bottom of the post.


Jonathan keeps a running tally on his chalkboard

Read about Jonathan’s motivation in his own words, then keep reading for information on how you can help.

“Most good things have already been said far too many times and just need to be lived.” – Shane Claiborne

This is where I am right now.

Let me explain. My generation is one that has been disillusioned by Western Christianity. We are disillusioned by the flashy mega churches. We are disillusioned by the fundamentalists holding “God Hates Fags” posters. We are disillusioned by the religious people who are quick to speak but slow to act. My generation groans when they hear the word “Christian,” and I can’t blame them. As it turns out, Christians have a lot of explaining to do. Author Donald Miller, preparing to make a public apology on his secular college campus with his friends, writes,

“We are going to confess that,
as followers of Jesus,
we have not been very loving;
we have been bitter,
and for that we are sorry.
We will apologize for the Crusades,
we will apologize for televangelists,
we will apologize for neglecting the poor and lonely,
we will ask them to forgive us,
and we will tell them that in our selfishness,
we have misrepresented Jesus on the campus.
We will tell people who come into the booth that Jesus loves them.”
– Blue Like Jazz

I think the world is tired of being told about a Jesus that they haven’t experienced. If a person has never been shown love, or peace, or mercy, but we say that Jesus is all those things, that person is left with no examples, no frame of reference to understand what that really means. Instead of just telling people that Jesus loves them, what if we showed them love first? Instead of just saying that Jesus is peace and mercy, what if we showed them what peace and mercy feels like? If we do that, then at last we can say the next part, the most important part: “Friend, the same way I have loved you, not only is that how Jesus loves you, but he loves you even more.”

Jonathan while on a mission trip to Honduras in 2011

This idea of being Jesus to everyone is perhaps what started me on this journey. It also meant I had to start taking the words of Jesus seriously. One day I began to wonder, what if when Jesus told us to serve the poor, he actually meant it? It was a question I asked myself over a year ago, and since then my life has been turned upside down. And the answer is yes, he was very serious.
So serious it hurts sometimes.

It has been my dream ever since I started college to travel the world and lend myself to a cause. I remember telling my parents one night a month or two into my first semester that I needed to get away and pour my heart into something other than a textbook for a while.

God didn’t allow me to travel the world right away, and the waiting period that followed resulted in seasons of depression and doubt. Looking back, I can see the lesson He was trying to teach me. Before I could go away, first I needed to learn to love the people around me. How was I going to serve the poor in another country if I wasn’t serving the poor in my own backyard? He didn’t want me to wait; I was supposed to be pouring out my heart right here at home. And I am still serving the poor in my own backyard.
Only now, the backyard is about to get a whole lot bigger.

So this is my project to make the words of Jesus jump off the page. Most good things have already been said. It is now time to live them. In three weeks I will be boarding the plane that will take me to Africa for a year to volunteer through construction, education, medical care, and outreach. This wouldn’t be possible without the gracious support of friends, family, and fellow followers of Jesus.

Thanks for loving the world with me,
Jonathan Hollingsworth

How you can help:

    • Make a donation for Jonathan’s expenses:
      If you would like to support him financially, please visit On the homepage, click “Donate” and enter an amount. IMPORTANT NOTE: After clicking “Review Donation and Continue,” there will be an option to add special instructions to the seller, where you will be able to indicate “Jonathan H.” in the memo portion. HOIM will need this information in order to apply the donation to his account.
      Total Cost of Trip: $5,200
      Amount Raised: $3,400
    • UPDATE: As of Sunday, April 22, Jonathan had surpassed his goals for both monetary donations and guitars. His travel and living expenses are now covered for the year, but they can still use more guitars and they are still looking for donations for the Bakery. (See more below.)

    • Donate a guitar: HOIM is accepting donations of new or used child or adult-sized acoustic guitars, which will be collected and shipped to Cameroon via cargo ship several times throughout this year. These donations are vital for the lessons he will be teaching. Please contact him at jonathanhollingsworth at yahoo dot com if you would like to make a donation.
      Guitar Goal: 20
      Guitars Donated: 10
    • Make a purchase from Buyer Topia book store:
      For every book purchased from, Buyer Topia Book Store will donate toward the trip.
    • Donate to the Bakery Project:
      HOIM is accepting financial donations for the HOTPEC Orphanage bakery project, a self-sustaining venture for the children to learn a trade and contribute positively to the local community. Currently, HOIM has raised enough funds to complete the foundation and walls. Further donations will bring the structure to a finish. If you wish to contribute, please indicate “Bakery” in the memo portion.
      Total Cost of Bakery: $30,000
      Amount Raised: $20,000
    • Share this post or Jonathan’s Tumblr, Here To Love, with all your social networks. You can easily share using the pretty buttons right below this post.
    • Find more information at Here To Love and follow for updates.