As a traveling military wife and now a mom of three, Audra Meyer has had the unique opportunity to dabble in various opportunities, including teaching, interior design, and nonprofit ministry. Her most recent family move to the Chicago area gave her the chance to work for the Global Leadership Network (GLN) where her role on the international team introduced her to thousands of leaders from around the world who care deeply about their communities. One of those leaders is a pastor, nonprofit leader, and Global Leadership Summit (GLS) champion in Ghana, Philip Tutu.
What Audra didn’t know when she met Philip was how her connection would flip her world upside down and give her an opportunity to follow her passions to serve kids through books. But the fullness of this opportunity didn’t come first without her making some difficult decisions.
“I turned 34 in 2018 and felt a midlife crisis hit,” said Audra. “On one hand, I never thought I could do something big, yet doing these international events with the GLN was way larger than life. Seeing its success was empowering. But on a personal side, I was floundering, and I don’t think anybody knew it. I was struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, and trying to handle it alone. With no other family around, my husband and I were strapped for energy as we were torn between both working full time and parenting three kids ages four and under.
“As I was challenged by the word authenticity, I wore two hats. The children’s book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesky has a line in it that says, ‘I am enough as I am.’ Publicly, I was a powerhouse of efficiency and effectiveness, nailing it as a mom hauling my troops promptly in the snowy Chicago winters before conquering global events by day. I was honestly in my most successful year ever. But internally, I was not ok. I tend to go faster and do more when I really need to stop and breathe. I went to a counselor who suggested that I quit my job to take care of myself. So, I was asking myself, do I want to be the working mom, or do I want to be the stay-at-home mom? I didn’t want either! I felt this darkness of being alone and exhausted. It was in this transition that I said, now what?
“‘Where are you called?’ is a question people use somewhat flippantly. It’s an intense question. I taught a course called, ‘C.A.L.D: Christ-Appointed Leadership Development’ back in ministry when my husband was in the military and I believed every word. Yet, I cannot seem to know my own calling now? What if I’m called to change diapers of these little twins today without any adult interaction? What if I’m called to lead events that impact 120 countries around the world? Is one better than the other? We need to reframe our brains from thinking we must do this grandiose thing to make a difference in our calling.
“‘Simplify to Glorify’—is a slogan I came up with in college. Seasons change. I can lead a Beth Moore intensive study on James or give myself grace to simply say I’m grateful I put on matching socks today. I needed to realize it was ok to slow down, simplify, and refocus on the priorities of this season of my life.
“Before dealing with our deep internal questions, we need to ask what the issue under the issue is. The opportunity to make a difference could be obvious to the world or we might be called to a season of perseverance. Between COVID and quitting my job, turning into a stay-at-home mom still is a daily struggle to not let the challenges of life squash my joy.”
While the pieces of Audra’s life felt more like an unfinished puzzle when she met Philip, she wrestled through and discovered how the connections she was making were leading her down a path toward her passion. “This same year, I met Phillip Tutu, the GLS leader in Ghana,” said Audra. “I asked him, if you could do anything outside of all these amazing things you do for the GLS, what would you do? And he said, get books for children back home.
“This very humble, peaceful, joyful presence was going around gathering books for children who don’t have even one book of their own. He believes education is the most powerful weapon in which you can change the world. And here I am at home with a book nook for my children, and libraries galore. I was really struck by what he said.”
Pieces Come Together
When she reflected on her past, she remembered what books meant to her as a child, and her passion grew. “As a little girl, I was in a reading program for kids who struggled to read,” said Audra. “Since I was little, I’ve loved kids. That’s why I went to school to be a teacher. When I became a teacher, I loved to teach reading. The only thing I kept after my teaching job were all the children’s books. The imagination sparks, opportunity grows, and even a few books speak of potential.
“The pieces were coming together—my passions aligned with what Philip was doing back in Ghana. How can I use the specific season in front of me as well as the sparks that I’ve been passionate about? I love helping others and have always thrived in that, and now I’m finally recognizing it as part of who I am. So, I began to ask how I could help.”
Changing Mindset at The Global Leadership Summit
Not only did Audra meet Philip in 2018, but she was also deeply inspired by Liz Bohannon, one of the featured faculty at The Global Leadership Summit in 2019. Liz inspired leaders with her popular talk about the idea of dreaming small—if you want to change the world, start with one thing, one friend, one connection. “Liz Bohannon was my jumpstart,” said Audra. “She talked about helping just one person, and I thought, I can do that! I don’t have to do something lofty and grand; I can start with getting one book!”
Though the spark was lit, Audra realized she needed to slow down and take in what God was trying to show her. “I tend to second guess that I can have an influence,” said Audra. “It’s funny because here I was working the event that says everyone has influence, and yet at the same time I’m thinking I don’t have influence. So, I took that summer and fall to slow down, and I started digging deeper into the Summit content while focusing on my children; the next generation of influencers.”
In addition to Liz Bohannon, one of the other speakers that inspired Audra was Jo Saxton who said, “who were you before anyone told you who you were supposed to be?”
“Life happened to me while I was pretending to be the superhero,” said Audra. “And yet, I didn’t know who I was. We moved 11 times in 7 states in 15 years of marriage. None of that challenged me as much as it did when we had newborn twins and a 2.5-year-old. I met my match, so I thought.”
God’s Beautiful Orchestration
At the same time, God was orchestrating something beautiful in the connection between Philip and Audra. With a passion for education, Philip’s ideas began to burst at the GLS as well. “Philip says education is the most powerful weapon in which you can change the world,” said Audra. “He was inspired through GLS stories and so was I!”
Audra bought Liz Bohannon’s book, Beginner’s Pluck, and began to gain momentum. “While being immersed in the ‘mom’ phase of life, I turned to moms and asked for donations of books on social media while coming to terms with the idea of transitioning off staff at the GLN due to stress and not being able to afford to work with childcare costs,” Audra explained. “I asked, how do I heal and move toward my passion?
“At the end of the day, it’s about the children. It’s about education. It’s about empowering kids to dream and building a legacy in the next generation, including my own. Phillip reminded me that the next generation has influence. It’s when he said those words that I realized that I actually did need to quit my job. The next generation are the ones who are going to influence the world, and I 100% believe that. I had this moment of conviction, I realized I’m professing this idea and yet there are three little people, my kids—future influencers—right in front of me. Instead of being reluctant to quit my job, I needed to embrace the gift and opportunity to raise these blessings.”
Today, Philip Tutu has 20 learning communities across Ghana paired with the local church as a way both spread the Gospel and provide education opportunities. Audra continues to collect books to support Philip’s passion for education. Recently, Audra and her husband invested in their new nonprofit, 100Fold Harvest centered on this verse from Mark 4:20:
“The seed sown on good ground represents those who hear the word, embrace it, and produce a harvest beyond their wildest dreams; some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold.
“The fact that Philip and I met and now work together in this cause is so amazing!” Audra exclaimed. “I’m excited to spread the word! The more people I talk to about it the more excited everybody gets.”
By equipping the next generation of influencers with literacy and education, opportunities are unlocked 100 Fold, one book at a time.
As Audra connects with local educators, libraries, daycare centers and friends, 100Fold Harvest gains momentum. She welcomes any help to get the word out, find large storage facilities, fund shipping, acquire used English books to ship in a 40-foot container, and gain volunteers. “As I ‘Simplify to Glorify,’ word gets out and empty boxes and marketing materials have been donated, and several schools have held book drives,” said Audra. “It’s amazing!
“The ask has nothing to do with me. When I step aside and let God work, donations pile high in my ‘mom mini-van’ in between school drop-offs. While I pour into my own children, the awareness of 100Fold Harvest grows on its own. Within a few months we have gathered over 100+ boxes of books, and the list is exponential! Philip Tutu’s team does the hard work of teaching, distributing materials, and mentoring these passionate souls who might be the next person doing a global event.
Through this new endeavor, Audra can follow her passion to support kids through books and build into her own kids. “The opportunity to also teach my kids about generosity, that there’s somebody somewhere else—hearing them talking to their little friends about it and seeing them excited about donating books too—is so exciting,” said Audra. “I just love the fact that a little kid just like my little kid, could have the chance to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear. For kids to learn how to read and be able to go to school to learn…who knows what they might be?! They might be the next person doing a global event. Who knows? It’s not about getting glory or praise for whatever 100Fold Harvest becomes. It’s not about this lofty idea. God is saying, ‘You’re making a difference, and I see it, and that’s enough.’
“I simply am a tool to help you declutter and give little children, like my own, books. The vision will spread when it’s not your own. From years as a teacher to now figuring out how to be a parent to my own children, I melt when I see the joy in a child’s eyes when they first begin to read. The ability to read equips a child with opportunity, education, imagination…the list is 100 Fold. Opportunity awaits!”