At 14 years old, Isaiah LaCombe learned that $50 could provide clean water for one person for the rest of their life. It was later that year that he chose fundraising as his extra-curricular activity, with his heart set on raising $25,000 for the children of Rwanda. He would not only meet that goal but three years later meet a mark of half a million dollars raised for World Vision programs.
Raising a Generous Heart
Isaiah’s generosity to others was inspired at an even earlier age by his grandmother, Debbie Macomber. Debbie, a fundholder with The Signatry, believes firmly in sharing the importance of outreach, service, and generosity with her family. She shares The Signatry’s values and loves seeing her future generations become involved with God’s ministry. Isaiah recalls being a young boy, his grandmother bringing out a catalog from World Vision and working with him to choose a gift for his sponsor child in place of a gift for himself on his birthday. “It taught me the value of giving, and I remember being so excited getting to give something special to my sponsor child,” Isaiah said.
As he got older, his grandmother challenged him to give away $50. After reading the book A Long Walk to Water and having grown up around World Vision, Isaiah knew that putting his $50 towards giving a person clean water for life was exactly what he wanted to do.
Isaiah shares with the World Vision conference about his Rwanda fundraiser.
Isaiah’s mother, Adele, recalls that after coming back from a World Vision conference, his generous heart had manifested beyond dollar giving. Isaiah found sacrifice and realized that selling his Star Wars collection and giving the proceeds was more valuable than holding onto it. The inspiration from the conference fueled more vision, and he set out to raise $25,000 for a water well in Rwanda.
During the campaign, Isaiah’s family took him on a trip to the place the campaign would affect in the country of Rwanda.
The thing that really stood out was going down to the point where they access their water, an unclean environment with cows drinking out of the same place. The girl turned to us and explained she had to drink that water, and how it was not right. — Isaiah LaCombe
That moment would drive him to pick up the phone, call donors, and change the lives of the girls walking an hour a day to collect dirty water. When the campaign ended, Isaiah had raised $75,000 for clean water in Rwanda — three times his original goal.
Understanding the Family Legacy
Last year, Isaiah’s parents and grandma Debbie took Isaiah to a family legacy event hosted by The Signatry with Bill High and David Green, where they were the first to have three generations of a family attend.
“I just remembered seeing how much time and effort the [Greens] put in their kids and grandkids and how they were going to continue this goal of generosity. It was cool to see how important that was to them, and for me, realizing I am the youngest generation, it was important for me to take up this legacy of generosity in my family,” Isaiah said.
A New Goal for Generosity
Realizing that his legacy could expand beyond a single water well project, Isaiah soon joined a group of next-generation leaders with bigger ambitions at age 17.
The group of young fundraisers looked at several options for projects in the country of Zambia. They chose to go beyond a $12,000 hand-pump station or a $25,000 water care program and sought instead to provide a $125,000 health care facility. It was a big undertaking for high school students, but Isaiah knew it was possible.
“God is going to fill in the gaps on this campaign, because we cannot do it all ourselves,” Isaiah said at the start of the campaign.
Commitment in the Younger Generation
Isaiah and his friends spoke to clubs, shared links on social media, made posters, and shared the cause again whenever they had a free second. “I got this constant response of people wanting to join; I just needed to ask and share the work,” Isaiah commented about the fundraiser. He found a unique tactic that encouraged others to understand the need and motivated them to be generous.
“This is providing 9,000 people access to health care, but what I liked was to focus on individuals. 9,000 people being affected is too much to comprehend, but it is easy to understand in terms of a single person. For me it was finding those stories of individuals and letting people connect with how they will change a person’s life,” Isaiah shared.
Isaiah’s mother comments that the commitment in some of the younger generation inspires not only their peers but also the older generation, seeing the passionate youth join together.
This dual effect with the fundraiser showed Isaiah how critical it is to engage young people to be generous and impactful. “There is urgency in my generation to make an impact, so I want to focus on sharing our goals and empowering others to become involved,” Isaiah said. “When we got the final tally, we realized God did not just fill in the gaps; He went above and beyond what we imagined. It was a reminder that if you step out of your comfort zone and release a little control to God, He makes it work out.”
Isaiah visits with the people who will receive clean water from his fundraising efforts.
Isaiah and his next generation group at World Vision eclipsed their $125,000 goal with an impressive $421,775 raised. Because each health care facility is $125,000, the group’s fundraiser provides the construction of 3 facilities, with additional funds going toward Zambia’s water, sanitation, and hygiene programs.
“My family definitely taught me the value of generosity, and I think what was important with these efforts was that this journey was my journey,” Isaiah said. “Some parents or grandparents may want their kids to be passionate about what they are passionate about, but mine encouraged me to find what I was passionate about and how I wanted to be generous.” Isaiah credits the inspiration and open door of his family, adding that if they had not let him choose his own path, he may not have been so motivated.
His grandmother Debbie is often heard saying, “I was called to be an answer to someone else’s prayer,” and now Isaiah has taken up that family aphorism, changing lives in villages on the other side of the globe.