Monday, November 23, 2009

God's Missionfield

One of the excersises that we were asked to do at the Vounteer in Missions training in New York was to work on our theology of mission. With what basic aproach do we enter into the mission field? I will talk about mine below and Liz will hopefully post her's soon as well. The one clarification I should probably make is that this is my view of Christians working for God in the world whether in the "mission field" or here at home.

Micah 6:8 and Isaiah 58 - great passages, check them out.

God's mission started with his covenant to Abram for Abram to be the head of a nation that was to bless other nations. God's mission is to redeem the world and for peace, justice, and life to reign. We can do this everyday through little acts of great love that leave the world a brighter place even if only for an instant. We can also do this through years of work identifying the powers and principalities (evil and institutions) of this world and challenging their darkness with light.

In the end we, as a global church both past and present, can move God's kingdom a little closer and the darkness a little further away. How I plan to do this in the next year has been laid out. In January Liz and I go to take care of 37 children who are vunerable in ways I doubt I have been familiar with in my lifetime. I hope that they gain peace from Liz and my presence. I also hope that their future hopes become brighter, that they are able to continue in life to do little acts of great love for others. I dream of taking the orphanage one step closer to having a school on site. A school that can provide education for the orphans as well as others in the villiage that can't afford school right now. In this way I hope to break the cycle of poverty, a power of the world that should no longer exist in children's lives. If we can do this for the orphans and villiage kids, maybe poverty won't exist in their children's or even grandchildren's lives. This would be a great way to fulfill God's mission for the church. What is your way?

Friday, November 13, 2009

New York Mission Training - The Church That Is

This is really just to update people following our preperation to head to Africa. Though hopefully some of what got to us at the training will also touch you in reading about it.

Liz and I took a crazy circle of a trip around several parts of the United States. We left Tennessee on a Sunday afternoon and headed to New Carlise, Ohio just north of Dayton. We stayed with Donn and Linda Hellinger who head up the board of directors for the Angel House Orphanage. We also got to meet Holly who is recently back from 6 months at Angel House and will be going back at the same time we are going for the first time. We spent some time with the board and learned a lot about life at the orphanage and the long term goal of building a school on site at the new location. Next stop was New York City for training as Individual Volunteers in Missions (VIM). This was the reason for the trip. We also stopped in Durham, NC to vist old friends and hopefully some new ones. We then returned home. We drove 40 hours, 2,400 miles and through 11 states. It was amazing and I could write about several different things that happened. However, lets focus on the training.

At training we learned about visas, personal health care in developing nations, insurance, travel safety, and cross cultural interaction. We also talked about and discussed our theology of mission which I will talk about in greater detail in another post. This was all great and helpful information. However what we really experienced was the community of other Christians passionate about helping people in other cultures.

We would have a Bible study every morning that was rich in depth and diversity. We never all came away with the same thing, but we all came closer to God. We all contributed to discussion from a wide array of experiences in Christian missions and travel. Our experiences were all different, but all involved having seen God's work in the world. We are all going to different cultural locations with different needs and different goals, but we are all going to take part in work God is already doing and will continue to do through us.

There were people at the training younger than Liz and I...and older. There were people there that had traveled more than we had...and less. There were people there that hadn't started their careers...and people that were retired. There were people who want to transition into full time misison work...and people who were just changing focus on their lives, but planning on returning when they are done. Some are going to Latin America, Africa, France, Hatti, places in America...and some don't even know yet. The diversity of personality, experience, thought, goal, age, and gifts was so rich yet we were all united in God. It was a true church experience that we all had around one table.

I think the biggest thing I will keep from that time of training is not the facts and forms. The biggest thing I will keep is the feeling that, in the midst of wondering where the church had lost focus, I had found a church that I would love to be a part of and more importantly that I already am a part of. I experienced the universal church as it is and I think was meant to be. Nothing else could have prepared me better to head across an ocean to experience more of the universal church that is.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Choose to Be Replanted

The following is prompted by a night at youth spent talking about the story of Adam and Eve giving into the desire to have the knowledge of God and subsequently being kicked out the Garden of Eden.

A plant is a living organism. Even a potted plant can continue to live if given water and sunlight. It is not like a bouquet of flowers that will wilt eventually. But what would happen if you took a flower off of the plant and watched it for the next 24 hours? My guess is that it would die, cut off from its source of life.

All of us have things that support or add to our lives. Food, water, clothing, shelter - these are basics that add survival to our life. Family, friends, love - these add relationsips and stability to our lives. Hobbies, passions, goals - these add drive and enjoyment to our lives. When we are cut off from these thigns we dry up inside, we feel lost, and we die. When we, as people, were cut off from God we lost the guiding light to our world. We ended up in a darkness of conflicting ideas, conflicting passions, and conflicting drives to the point where we live in a world that is constantly experiencing strife. We live in a world that argues about life and death through topics like abortion, the death penalty, and hoarding-induced poverty. We live in a world that argues about life fulfillment through topics like same-sex marriage, over-scheduling, and anxiety induced depression. We live in a world that is confused.

I pray for a world that can be replanted and experience again the life giving source that we were meant to experience. I pray that the world be lead off of the sun bleached, concrete of conflict and allow itself to jump into the soil, soak up the sun, and be watered by the bessings of God.

Choose to be replanted.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Both Feet

My parents always said that I sometimes jump in with both feet without looking where I am going. And I have to admit they're right. I have a tendency to go after a good idea without considering whether or not I can actually accomplish it. This has led to some great successes that would have never been accomplished had I thought about my chances for success before hand. It has also led to incomplete projects and absolute failures on my part. I think this tendency has led me to expect a point in every project, idea, or venture where I start to ask if I can really do this.

That point in our trip to Africa happened this past week. We got an email from our contact in the states with a check list of things to do while at the orphanage in Tanzania. Keep in mind that we are not going with a team nor are there going to be any other missionaries there while we are, at least not after the first week or so. Parts of the list scare me, parts make me excited, parts make me laugh, and some parts do all three.

1) create a sports field - soccer (cool)
2) Have each child plant a tree at new location (awesome)
3) continue raising and teaching livestock and farming (who me?)
4) install water collection systems and strategic water solutions (this is someone's life)

(there are more this is just a sampling)

My thoughts on some of these were, they want city boy to do what? I wondered who they have me confused with. And then the shoe dropped that these were the reasons I am going. To bring an effort, knowledge (of some kind), and care to these kids and their world. It doesn't matter if I don't already know how to do this stuff because I can learn.

For once I am going to be jumping in with both feet and both knees as I let God and let go (and all those other cliches that are now holding more truth than I ever knew possible). I have wanted to give my life and its daily actions to God for a long time now and I think the challenges of this trip will help me do just that.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pass It On

I've been greedy with my blessings lately. I think this happens to us when we don't realize that we are experiencing blessings at all. We start to hoard the amazing things God has given us. It's like we are storing up all the good things in life against all of the bad (or in my case annoying) things that we are going through.

I am a life perfectionist, meaning I try to be perfect in how I run my life, how I balance priorities, and how I affect the people around me. Lately I haven't been balanced and I am not sure what affect, if any at all, that I have been having on the people I've been coming in contact with. I think because of this I have wanted to hoard my time with Liz, my "me" time, or even my time at work (spending it on what I think is important). When we do this we miss the greatest opportunities we can have, to love God and love others.

Today I have been reminded of that. I have been reminded of how blessed I am and how I am asked to thank God and promptly pass on those blessings to others. Maybe tomorrow will be a day to wake up and ask not what all I can get done today, but who all can I bless today?

Let's Pray.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why the title?

I always like to start out, no matter what I'm doing, with the purpose of what it is I'm trying to do. So...I wanted to let you know in this first post the purpose of this blog. Liz and I have for a while now been trying our hardest to find ways to live for God. For us this doesn't mean that we try to find ways to fit God into our lives. It means that we try to find ways to fit our lives into God's story in the world. This has led both of us to connect with people we would never otherwise connect with like Maurice on the streets of Nashville or Mustafa (sp?) in Sierra Leone, Africa. It has led us to question our roles in ministry and our fears that hold us back.

I am hoping that through this blog you can follow our journey first to Tanzania where we will hopefully be working in an orphanage, but also anywhere else that our journey in God's life takes us.

In Christ, In Life,