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Charity's Founder Loses Moral Bearings

After the publication of his bestselling book, Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson became an instant celebrity. The mountain climber turned champion for the underprivileged brought the plight of central Asia's children to the global stage. The charity he started creates educational opportunities for children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly girls.

Unfortunately, Mortenson's story had some major holes. For instance, at one point Mortenson writes grippingly about being held hostage by the Taliban. He even had a photo to prove it. But it turns out the men in the photo, his alleged "captors," were not the Taliban. One of the "captors" was an esteemed research director named Mansur Khan Mahsud. Mahsud said that Mortenson was a guest not a hostage.

Mortenson, who admits to some exaggeration in his story, could argue that he had to stretch the truth to help those in need. But even little steps as simple as embellishing a story for dramatic effect lead to places you never thought you would go.

The media community put Mortenson on trial. Reporter Jon Krakauer claims that Mortenson was using the organization as a "private ATM machine" to buy things like personal jets. An expose on 60 Minutes revealed that of thirty schools in Mortenson's organization that they visited, about half were either no longer being funded or had been abandoned. Some were even used "to store spinach, or hay for livestock; others had not received any money from Mortenson's charity in years." Mortenson started with noble intentions and a great idea, but after launching his organization he lost his moral bearings and betrayed the trust of many people.

Possible Preaching Angles: The same thing could happen to any of us: we can start out with such noble intentions (in business, in our marriage, in ministry, in church) and then veer off course. The same thing happened often in the stories of the Old Testament. The people of God lost their "moral bearings" and their God-given mission.

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