Philanthropy is a word transliterated from a compound Greek word. Phil - meaning brotherly love (like Philadelphia, the "City of Brotherly Love") and Anthropos (meaning humanity). Literally, it is a love of mankind. To be completely transparent, the love of others does not come easily to me. It is something that I must be intentional about.
Some say there is a difference between charity and philanthropy - charity focusing on pain relief and philanthropy focusing on eliminating the root cause of the pain. Hogwash. There's nothing in the etymology of the word that would necessitate such distinctions. Others say that philanthropy deals primarily in money while charity deals in goods or service. Balderdash. You can't just throw money or goods at an issue, and service alone breeds dependence. Charity, philanthropy, or whatever you want to call it requires not only alleviating pain but also the root cause of the pain. You do that by whatever means are available - money, goods, and service.
In my view, there is one underlying cause of pain in the world: sin. As such, my lodestar in philanthropy is the one person who can alleviate that cause of pain: Jesus Christ. The boards I serve on and the charities to which I give money must point people to Christ. While a relationship with Christ does not automatically guarantee prosperity or an easy life, Jesus promised all who came to Him with their heavy burdens would find rest. My local church receives a good deal of my philanthropic efforts for this very reason, as do mission and other gospel advancing ministries.
There are other causes I'm passionate about, but all deal with the same root problem. Sin has torn apart families and resulted in traumatized, orphaned, and abused children. As such, I care deeply for these children and those who would sacrifice to take care of them, especially in the context of bringing them the message of hope found in the gospel. As such, I chair the Board of Directors of a new non-profit in Northwest Arkansas called Shared Beginnings. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes and Family Ministries, where I've served on the long range planning and development, personnel, and executive director search committees. Organizations such as these are worthy of whatever philanthropy we can pour on them.
I'm passionate about raising the quality of life for the Marshallese people - a South Pacific Islander ethnic group which the United States exposed to 67 nuclear bombs in the 1950s and 60s. My family has adopted two Marshallese children. We live just a few miles from the largest concentration of Marshallese people in the world outside of the Marshall Islands. They deserve reparations, not philanthropy. They don't get the former, so I work to give them the latter.
One of the Marshallese children I've adopted suffers from a yet unknown ailment. He eats primarily through a gastrostomy tub in his stomach. When he crashes, he crashes hard and spends weeks in the hospital. We got to experience Christmas of 2017 in the PICU with him on a ventilator. For no known reason, his lungs just stopped working. As my family has navigated the world of pediatric medicine in search of a diagnosis, treatment, cure, or miracle, we've developed a heart for the hurting children and parents in similar situations. Charities that fund research into rare pediatric disorders or provide services to the hurting families of these hurting children deserve support.
Music has been a part of me since before I was born. I love the musical arts and have since grown to love musical theater, plays, and other visual arts. Bach said, "the aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul." Mozart added, "music, in even the most terrible situations, must never offend the ear but always remain a source of pleasure." And lest we forget, Elton John said, "music has healing power." As a source of pleasure and relief from the stress of the world, I am a patron of the arts, especially musical ones.
Through each of these runs one demand on my philanthropy - accountability. Organizations with demonstrable salvations and evangelism equipping get the most from me. Musical arts with an end in and of themselves with no thought or desire to lift spirits aren't philanthropic - they're selfish and often commercial. Such organizations aren't for me. Other organizations that produce verifiable salvations and train new believers to be evangelists locally and globally should let me know they exist. I want to be involved.
Josh Bryant is an ever aspiring philanthropist. He serves on several non-profit boards and is learning the ins and outs of private foundations and other giving schemes. His passions include Christian missions, foster children, orphans, pediatric disorder research, musical arts, and the Marshallese people.