SOZO TEAM MEMBER HIGHLIGHT:
Ron Barnes, Board Member
Q: Ron, how long have you been involved with Sozo International?
R: I have been involved with Sozo since 2003. At that time I was part of the Missions staff team at Southeast Christian Church. I first visited Afghanistan in 2004 and got to know much more about the people who live there and who would become friends over time. In 2007, I was invited to and joined the Sozo board and I have been serving in that capacity until now.
Q. What drew you to Sozo’s work/mission? What need do you see that existed then or now that Sozo met and/or continues to fulfill?
R: Overall I would have to say getting to know people who live in Afghanistan, learning about the culture there and trying to understand it. It is a fascinating place with a rich culture and people who extend hospitality like no other place I know.
Q. Has your involvement with Sozo impacted you in a way you never expected?
R: Yes. The first time I went I had no idea what to expect. Honestly I had some fear about what it would be like with all the conflict, etc. Over time, I have grown to love the place and the people and I look forward to returning to see Afghanistan and the friends I have there. There is still the reality of conflict and violence that is not to be taken lightly, but that is overshadowed for me by the knowledge that my life is in God’s hands, regardless of where I am or who I am with.
Q. What is the biggest challenge Sozo faces?
R: Security continues to be a challenge for Sozo staff working in Afghanistan as well as for visitors.
Q. What do you wish people knew about Afghanistan or Afghans?
R: I wish more people knew an actual person from Afghanistan.
Q. What would you tell a potential supporter about WHY this cause is so important?
R: There are many good causes in the world. I think Sozo is making a tangible difference in the lives of hundreds of families who are recovering from war and who are seeking education and other opportunities to make their lives and the lives of their families better.
Q. As part of your role on Sozo's board, what is your biggest goal for Sozo?
R: That, as an organization, we would figure out how to better help people make longer lasting changes in their lives.
Q. Tell us about yourself!
R: I grew up in a very small mountain town in Colorado. After high school I went to college at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, where I learned a ton. I learned how truly big and diverse is the world we live in. I learned about other cultures and how challenging and interesting it is to learn about other people. But, most importantly, I learned about how big God is and how great it is to know that He loves me and cares for me, as He does for all people.
Q. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you and why?
R: Bible, pictures of my family, boat with sail and oars.
Q. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
R: Jesus. He left the awesome wonder of the presence of God and came to a part of the world that was occupied by an oppressive military and government. He came into the world as a member of the oppressed community and he lived and spoke in ways to set people free from all sorts of things. Finally, he became the way we can all be re-connected to God.