(Photo: Water Missions International/Facebook)
An interdenominational missions organization is looking for nominations of unsung heroes, those who are tackling the issues of poverty, sex trafficking, HIV/AIDS, the need for clean water, homelessness and other needs in today's society, for its second bi-annual Epoch Awards to be held later this year.
"We want to uncover every rock of people doing incredible work around the world, but with little to no recognition," said Jeff Shinabarger, founder of Plywood People and event organizer. "Everybody knows somebody giving their lives for others that could really use funding to continue their effort. We want to honor those people that no one knows about and give them a platform to keep doing good."
Epoch (pronounced "Epic") Awards was birthed out of the heart of Tim Abare, COO of Adventures in Missions, located north of Atlanta in Gainesville, in January of 2011. Organizers say anyone can nominate an unsung hero who is actively serving others and whose bravery is rather unknown by going online to http://epochawards.com/nominations/nominate/. The nominations close next Thursday (May 30).
The awards event is a bit like CNN's Heroes program, Abare told The Christian Post, "with the caveat that we are trying to recognize people who don't get a lot of attention, they are either across the street or around the world reaching the down-and-outers, the least-of-these, the homeless, the orphans, sex trafficked, HIV AIDS [or] poverty stricken … those kinds of people."
Abare said that at the first event in 2011, his organization had hoped for 250 nominations but "were blown away with over 450 nominations from 26 countries, 38 states [from the U.S.], and 6 continents."
A committee reads every nomination and then narrows the field to ten in different categories, he explained. Finalists in each category are then invited to Atlanta where the event is held at the historic Fox Theater on Oct. 28.
Awards totaling $50,000 will be given away during the evening. The awards include:
The Innovative Start-Up Award will go the person or organization taking risks to pioneer something new and revolutionary in their community.
The Collaborative Project Award will go to the person or organization who isn't concerned with ownership of their idea and instead is partnering with others in effective and powerful ways to further the greater good
The Global Missional Leader Award will go to the person exhibiting an ability to motivate and lead those they are working with in a courageous and winsome approach.
The Outstanding Service Award will go to the person who has shown a leadership rooted in loving others and whose heart for service is inspiring others and encouraging life transformation.
The Atlanta-Based Hero Award will go to an Atlanta hero is working within this innovative city to make things better locally.
The People's Choice Award will be chosen on Oct. 28 by those gathered at the Fox Theater from three nominated individuals or organizations.
Adventures in Missions is a 24-year-old organization that has globalized more than 100,000 people for long and short term missions, Abare told CP. People who are mobilized and sent from the group come across people in the 60 different countries served.
"We bump into people that are working in the bush or the barrio or in the slums, in the dumps, and we come alongside of them and we help them," Abare explained. "We work with them and we spend up to a month at a time with these people and it's just amazing that they have literally given up everything they have to go an reach these people that nobody else is reaching. So we thought what if there's a way if we can encourage these people and spur them on to continue doing what they are doing. The Bible says to spur one another on, to love and do good works. What if we could do something like that?"
He adds, "It's the kingdom of God that we are trying to serve here. It's not about Adventures in Missions, it's about the kingdom of God."
The term, "epoch," refers to a particular period of time or history marked by distinctive features or a memorable event or date, organizers stated. "The largely missional crowd will be treated to a night to remember, a celebration of impact and lavish gratitude."
Featured guests include Bob Goff, New York Times bestselling author and founder of Restore International, a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda and India, and Jon Acuff, author of Wall Street Journal bestseller, Quitter, and renowned blogger of StuffChristiansLike.net, which has more than 4.5 million readers.
Organizers say the event will be "full of excitement with the presentation of awards, notable guest speakers, upscale dinner, and live music from Worship-Acoustic-Folk duo, All Sons & Daughters." To read more information about 2013 Epoch Awards, visit http://epochawards.com.