Monday, May 21, 2007

Jim Dalton's Innovative - Putting Frequent Flyer Miles to Work for Good

My friend, Jim Dalton, recently made me aware of an initiative he has undertaken to use donated surplus frequent flyer miles to allow volunteers from Jim’s home church to travel to Romania to work on a short-term missions project.

With Jim’s permission, I have chosen to share the letter that he sent explaining the concept. I share the letter for several reasons. Some readers of the White Rhino Report may wish to contribute directly to the Romanian project by donating surplus miles. Others may be inspired by the idea and use the idea to support projects initiated by their own congregations or non-profit organizations. Others may be inspired to consider participating in a short-term missions project or a non-sectarian humanitarian outreach.

Over the course of many years, my family and I have benefited from our involvement in a variety of projects – internationally and in the U.S. – including projects in Yugoslavia and Romania and a Habit for Humanity project in Chicago. I would ask you to read Jim’s letter while asking yourself the question: “How should I respond to this idea?”

The purpose of this letter is to introduce you to an important project of mine and to personally ask for your support. I believe that the most impactful changes in the world come not from policy, laws, popular demand, or from intellect…but from a change in a person’s heart. I believe this because I have experienced it in my own life.

I have been developing a plan to better equip missionaries to reach the world. Since you can live on a handful of dollars per day in some parts of the world, it’s really no surprise that one of the largest expenses for a missionary is airline tickets. Therefore, as a first step in this effort, I am facilitating donations of airline frequent flyer miles to be used for specific missions. This will enable more missionaries to travel and will allow more money to go directly to the missionary projects instead of the airlines.

The initial effort is at the local level. I am working with a friend in my

church, Pastor Jamie Booth, who is currently overseeing missions activities for our church and is coordinating a trip to Romania in May or June of 2008. There are currently 12 people who have expressed interest in going on this trip. These individuals will be working closely with Touched Romania (, a ministry that helps children who have been abandoned in Bucharest, the capital city. On this trip, those traveling to Bucharest will be working with the “Bucharest Baby Rescue Project.” Each day they will be touching the lives of dozens of neglected babies throughout the city by providing the proper care and nurture for these

children. The team will also be completing some renovation and clean-up projects in the different orphanages they will be visiting.

While I have not yet been on one of these trips, many of my friends and family members have. I regularly hear stories of what bringing hope and love to downcast lives and communities means, and how helping to transform lives within a needy community changes a missionary’s worldly perspective forever.

I expect that we will be able to hear and see front-line reports back from the individuals on the impact of this trip. My intent is to roll this out at a regional and national level and to expand the scope to provide other needed resources for international mission teams.

Depending on the final dates of travel and the airline used, the number of miles needed for each roundtrip from Boston to Bucharest are:

40K for low season (10/15 - 5/15)

60K for high season (other dates)

Please let me know if you would like to participate. I am not asking for a firm commitment at this time. If you have a rough idea of how many miles you are willing to offer, please let me know. Also, if you have a particular airline you fly and have a lot of surplus miles, please indicate which airline that is. Or if you are like me, you fly a number of different airlines and have enough miles for one or more tickets on any airline. The plan is to coordinate this so all of the members of a particular team can travel together on the same flight.

As with most of my goals, I would like to exceed the number of miles

estimated to be needed at this point. I want to demonstrate a clear

commitment of support and a viability of this important effort. In this regard, I would like to set a minimum goal of collecting 900,000 miles by the end of June. This is the equivalent of 15 travelers X 60,000 miles. Why don’t we just shoot for a million miles! Imagine what would be possible if we could collect 1 million frequent flyer miles in only 45 days.

I don’t expect you to deplete your frequent flyer accounts or to forgo a long-awaited trip to Disney World. I simply ask that you consider donating some “extra” miles for this trial and check with your friends who might be interested in participating (or have more miles than they know what to do with them or that are due to expire).

I am thankful that my church, Calvary Christian Church in Lynnfield,

Massachusetts is so supportive of domestic and international missions through prayer, financial support and time.

I am also thankful that God has given me a passion to change the world through the work of missionaries that have responded to His calling. I welcome any questions or suggestions you have about this effort and appreciate your consideration.


Jim Dalton


A few days ago, Jim shared with me an interesting update on the project.

“One of my friends in Israel shared that his parents suffered a lot before and during World II for being Jewish and that his grandfather and uncle were killed by Romanians. Regardless, he's offered his miles (on El Al) as he realizes that this is a way to break the cycle of cruelty and indifference that his family has experienced.”

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