about five years ago, a pack of world vision staff came down from seattle and sat with a handful of us in our conference room at ys. they wanted to know if we would partner with them on something, like the 30 hour famine. we’ve had a wonderful, long relationship with compassion, so we weren’t initially interested in anything. until we started talking about AIDS and orphans and widows and the american church’s response, or lack thereof (at the time, american evangelicals were the least likely segment of american culture to be willing to give a few bucks to help an AIDS orphan in africa — much has change in those years, as the church has really stepped up). that meeting birthed the one life revolution (named, btw, when we were talking about some milquetoasty name suggestions, and mike yaconelli said something like, “this is all so wimpy! it’s crap! we need to convey the sense of urgency this carries. i mean, we need to say to kids, ‘you have one life, do something!'”. i responded, “yeah, it needs to be a revolution!” and mike summed it up, “let’s call it the One Life Revolution!”).
fast forward to about three years ago. one life had been going for a couple years, or maybe three, and had seem some good success. we had another mtg of world vision peeps and ys peeps, this time at an uber-hip ad agency in downtown san diego. world vision pitched an idea to us about re-doing the one life “booth” at the national youth workers convention. it was interesting, but really busy and noisy sounding. toben heim, ys’s vp of special projects, said, “if it smells like a booth and looks like a booth and tastes like a booth, it’s a booth.” then he lauched into a vision: “picture this…” he started, and described a museum experience — interactive like the holocaust museum. it wasn’t exactly what became the One Life Experience, but it was the nexus. that fall, at our conventions, thanks to toben’s ideation, world vision’s willingness and funding, and the brilliant design of jonathan green (who also designs our stages for nywc), we launched the one life experience, truly a museum quality interactive experience, highlighting life as an AIDS orphan in africa. thousands have gone through the OLE at our conventions over the past few years. the success has been so great that world vision moved my friend mike yoder into a new position there, director of experiential marketing. they got the OLE installed for a week in grand central station in NYC. and many other places. and they’ve created two smaller (more portable) versions.
this week i received an email from a friend at world vision, forwarding a message from new zealand, who have built an OLE of their own, and just exhibited it at the parachute festival (the largest christian festival in new zealand). this is just so freakin’ cool, that the little idea birthed here at ys is — completely unconnected to us — re-orienting peoples’ worldviews on the other side of the world, and raising that much money for africa. praise-a-luia: that’s what i say. here’s the email…
Thought I’d just pass on some feedback on how the NZ One Life Experience debut at Parachute Music Festival went.
The results!! Big for NZ… I know not so big against US figures.
888 Children sponsored.
A massive $65000+ at the offering for our work with HIV and AIDS (the Tsunami was over $50000 2 years ago)
5451 people through OneLife (we thought maybe 3500 before we started).
Over 80 staff and volunteers working in OneLife from 8am to 3am (YES 17hrs/day!) with cues constantly in excess of 45 minutes to get in!
People came out of the experience moved in many different ways and many are still processing it. The response has been greater awareness and for some they have sponsored. Others I am sure will be one step closer to Gods call on their lives.
Having One Life has changed the dynamic of our relationships with major partners like Parachute. They are ecstatic over what has been achieved. Our vision of giving to the church is up and running and we had many significant discussions with leaders both political and within the church (NZ and Australia).
Marketing guests from WVAustralia and WV Singapore looked at One Life for their country.
One Life is now going to tour the country so will have ongoing impact.
Thanks for sharing with us.