David Sacks’ connection with Covenant Mercies began in January 2003, when he providentially visited my home church (and CM’s founding church, Covenant Fellowship) on the Sunday I was introducing our Orphan Sponsorship Program for the very first time. David and I had been friends since we were schoolboys, but he was living in New York at the time and I was surprised to see him that Sunday morning. He approached me after the service, signed up to sponsor a child, and told me he wanted to travel to Uganda with me (at his own expense) to give us the quality photos we needed to promote our cause. David was already a world class photographer by then, and I’m no dummy. Within three months we were on a plane bound for Uganda together.
As we’d talk in the evenings on that April 2003 trip, I can vividly recall David’s excitement about the images he was capturing. Though we couldn’t see them yet (this was still a year prior to his conversion to digital equipment), David believed he was capturing something unique. Perhaps exhibit-worthy. Perhaps of value beyond the brochure and web applications we’d originally had in mind. As we talked and imagined what might lie ahead, the seed was planted for an event that would ultimately become a treasured fundraising tradition in Covenant Mercies, Portraits of Hope.
In all, David’s five trips to Africa would lead to six Portraits of Hope exhibits and more than $300,000 raised toward our mission, ultimately culminating in the 2012 publication of True Africa, a photo book comprised exclusively of our Portraits of Hope images. We were hoping to return to Africa together later this year, but it was not to be. On Friday evening, April 12th, David went home to be with the Lord after a 1 ½ year battle with cancer. He was two months shy of his 45th birthday.
David is survived by his beloved wife Angie and their four young children, and I’d like to ask everyone who loves Covenant Mercies to pray for this dear family. They are surrounded by an abundance of love and support, but no amount of support can take away the sorrow they feel right now. Less than an hour before David took his last breath on this earth, I had the unspeakable privilege of telling him that in addition to his own children, his legacy includes the thousands of children whose lives he has touched through his generosity toward Covenant Mercies. Whatever the Lord does through the lives of those children will accrue toward his reward. Though he has left us too soon, how sweet it is to know that he’s receiving that reward now.
For several years David and I had a running joke about his desire to be given an African name. I told him I couldn’t allow it because I’d worked hard for mine, performing numerous feats of African-ness like eating bugs, taking an authentic African bath, etc. Though David was never averse to performing such feats himself, I insisted that it would take him more than a couple of trips to earn his name. On our fifth trip in 2009, I finally relented and informed him that he had earned his name. After polling our friends in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Zambia for their suggestions, I finally settled on the name that fit him best. We decided to call him Mapalo, which means “blessing.”
David Sacks was indeed a blessing. And though he is no longer with us, the blessing of his life lives on and will never be forgotten.
'Covenant' was taken in Zambia by David Sacks. The photo is of Victoria Falls; a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Of all the Portraits of Hope exhibits Covenant Mercies has ever hosted, I am probably more excited about this year’s show (our sixth) than any one before. Before I explain what makes this year’s event so special, here’s a bit of history for those who aren’t familiar…
Portraits of Hope is a photo art exhibit and silent auction benefiting the work of Covenant Mercies, and featuring the stunning African photography of David Sacks. It’s a tradition that began in 2003, when my good friend David offered to travel to Uganda with me to provide Covenant Mercies (then a brand new nonprofit organization) with the photographs we needed to tell our story and raise funds toward our mission. The images he captured led to our first Portraits of Hope event in 2004, and we haven’t looked back since.
Subsequent exhibits have traced the growth of our ministry through the years, spotlighting Ethiopia when we began working there in 2008, and Zambia in our most recent 2010 show. Cumulatively, these events have raised more than a quarter of a million dollars toward the mission of Covenant Mercies and created a treasured tradition for our ever-expanding army of compassion.
Now, what makes this year’s show so special?
If you have never before attended a Portraits of Hope event, this is the perfect year to come and find out what it’s all about! If you have attended before, you already know it’s an event you don’t want to miss! Fabulous artwork, amazing food, great live music… and all for a wonderful cause.
Hope to see you there on May 18th!