Saturday evening, I ventured over to my alma mater Dordt College.
The occasion was an event called Dea-ncing with the Stars -- no, that's not a type-o.
Featuring six individuals paired with six dancers, the night raised nearly $17,000 for Dea Lieu, a Dordt alum in need of a kidney transplant.
Though I knew Lieu's story, the event gave me a chance to meet the man who has been ministering and helping others for at least as long as I've been alive.
Lieu and his wife Charlotte have been working and ministering in their home country of Ivory Coast since the late 80s. Their work there included establishing a demonstration farm and training center to teach hundreds of farmers new farming practices and business skills.
However, when civil war broke out in the western Africa country in 2002, the farm was destroyed, forcing the Lieus to flee and prompting Dea to study in America so he could better assist his people in their recovery.
In 2007, Lieu returned to Ivory Coast to form the Association of Christians Fighting Against Poverty, also known by its French acronym ACLCP.
The organization has been working to rebuild the demonstration farm and training center, at which individuals can enter a loan program for farming or small business. Just as the center teaches Ivorians to be self-sustaining, it has goals of being self-sustaining itself. Raising grasscutters -- a large rodent considered a delicacy in western Africa -- is already helping reach that goal, with production of eggs, broilers and escargot; beekeeping; and a feed mill operation also planned.
Unfortunately, while visiting the U.S. last fall, he was told he will need a kidney transplant. Surgery for Lieu and a donor is expected to cost about $300,000.
That's where events like Dea-ncing with the Stars come in. Dancers were encouraged to raise $1,000 apiece; collectively, they raised more than $10,000. Admission, additional donations and orders for DVDs of the event made up the rest of the balance.
Lieu spoke at the event, thanking the crowd for their support and sharing a passage from Matthew 25, which concerns caring for those in need.
"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me," he read from the 40th verse.
Saturday wasn't the first time I've thought of that verse with Lieu in mind.
Three of my roommates ran the Sioux City marathon to raise money for him in 2008. They organized more than 20 runners to participate in the marathon, half marathon and marathon relay -- which I participated in -- the following year.
Due to construction projects, the marathon and related fundraising efforts did not happen last year.
The hope is to once again run to raise funds and awareness for Lieu this October.
If you or an organization you are involved in would like to get involved or otherwise raise funds for Lieu, please contact Ron Rynders at email@example.com or 712-722-0475.
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.firstcrc.com/DeaLieuACLCP.cfm.