Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time marches on...

They say home is where the heart is. The longer I am away from home and everything that I am sure of, the less I agree with the idea behind this saying. I suppose it is supposed to mean where your heart is, that is your physical heart, but I am more convinced every day that my heart is where it has always been, at home with my family. My heart of hearts is at home where even when things are terrible, they are wonderful. Where when things are tough, they are enjoyable. Where Jeopardy and The Today Show are comfortable. This is where my heart of hearts is. With my people. With those that understand little things like daily courtesies and why we say things like “I’m fixin’ to go to the store.” This is where I will always fit in. Where I will always know the cultural norms and daily ins and outs of everyday life. If living abroad has taught me anything thus far it is not that God has called me to move my heart, but rather I feel as though he is growing another. Almost as if instead of the Grinch growing a bigger heart, I have grown a completely separate heart. A heart unsure of most everything in life, but open and accepting of a the existence of this second heart.

My new heart is here. Breaking for these that surround me every day with their rosaries and mass. Their statues and ritualistic prayers. Their parades and festivals worshipping a Jesus they haven’t fully known. Yes, they know the answers to all of my questions. They know the Easter story better than I do. But have they sat at the feet of my Jesus and talked with him? Have they encountered the God of David whom he spoke of in the 73rd Psalm when he said, “Nevertheless I am continually with you; You have taken hold of my right hand. With your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in Heaven but you? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Have they met this God. This guide. This leader. This friend. This stronghold. The provider. The one to be desired, not ritualized. To be comforted by not worked for. The best friend, not unreachable idol. Have they heard of this God.

My new heart has even received a new language. My new language brings challenges daily. Even in simple things like “Did I just say I will wash my clothes yesterday? Or I lost my shoes while swimming in a quilt instead of cave? Will the hotel have lawyers, not pillows?” You have to laugh the mistakes away and learn from them. But more than that, how do you begin to comprehend the challenge of introducing God Almighty in a language you can barely use? I feel more and more every day like Moses when he spoke to God about difficulties that I am relating to more than I ever thought possible. Until now my southern accent has been my closest relation to this conversation. Ha! The conversation goes like this in Exodus 4, “Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please Lord I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in the past, nor since you have spoken to your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, The Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say.”” – Could I be so bold to trust the one who made my mouth, who has ordained my path, and has given the land into my hands, as in the time of Joshua? Could I trust that I would be leading them to the rock that is higher than I?

On a side note: I have less than 40 days left here in Guatemala. I am still in the middle of processing my visa for Colombia and will hopefully be meeting with the Colombian consulate within the next week or so. My family is coming to visit this weekend and I am more excited than you could know to see them. I got a kitten since I last blogged. Her name is Misha which means kitten in my indigenous language here in my village. I will not be taking her to Colombia with me, but she brings small joys to my life every day. It’s amazing to me what a blessing a pet can be when you are away from home. I have been sick a few times since my surgery, but have been able to battle them off with antibiotics successfully. I am still always concerned about sickness here, but I am learning to be more than thankful for every healthy day that I am given. I have changed teachers because we are required to change every four weeks. It took me more than a week to get used to this teacher. I was pretty miserable for a good week, but we are beginning to get along better and my Spanish seems to be coming along pretty well, with daily comical mistakes. We have traveled a bit within Guatemala and hope to travel and bit more before our time here is done. Guatemala is a beautiful place and I could be here for a year and I think eventually see all of the things that I would like to see here. My family and I are really feeling more and more like a family every day. I cannot believe I am going to have to leave them in a just a few weeks! As excited as I am to finally reach Colombia after all of this time, I will be equally sad to say goodbye to my family here. I have become quite a hoarder of the movies they sell at the market and today even sat down and watched the Hannah Montana movie which was very entertaining. I also purchased a Colombian-made movie that was completely in Spanish, but had English subtitles and I caught myself preferring to listen rather than read the English and I was very excited! That has to be a good sign, right? It seems like every time I check facebook, which is not very often at all, people are having babies, getting engaged, starting school, moving to college, getting married, graduating, and on and on. As much as I would like it to stop, it seems as though life is going on without me in the states, and quite successfully it seems. Life is certainly moving along here in Guatemala. My tan difference in my arms and my legs is growing more distinct every day as my arms are receiving more and more sun and my legs and still quite pasty with it being more culturally accepted to have everything above the ankle covered here. I’ll definitely be working on that in Colombia. Haha! Other than that, there’s not much to say.

God is good. All the Time.

Hasta Luego,
Psalm 73

Prayer Requests:
1. Language learning
2. Continued Health concerns
3. Ortunities to share with my current teacher the truth of the cross.
4. That God would continue to prepare hearts and friends there for me in Colombia.
5. That God would strengthen my team in Colombia.
6. That God would bless my future roommates in Colombia, Heather and Kendall.
7. That God’s provision would be over my visa process and that I would receive my visa quickly and easily.
8. That God would make my transition to leave Guatemala a great and happy time despite crazy mixed emotions.
9. That God would bless my time spent with my real family as they come to visit me here and that it would be a time completely filled with joy despite having to say goodbye at the end of their trip.
10. That God would continue to be with all of my friends from Orientation who are around the world serving Him.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The loss of a not-so-vital organ....

Searing pain every 30 minutes. I laid in my bedroom alone trying to convince myself that the fan blowing on my was just like air conditioner as I sweated out the little bit of liquid that I had been able to hold down since Friday afternoon when the pain had first begun. It was Sunday morning. I hadn’t been able to keep down a drop of any food or drink in 2 days. I decided to call the missionaries here to see what they recommended, embarrassed to report that I was, once again, sick. I lay in bed in disbelief that I was still sick. I’ve only been here 3 weeks. How could I have been sick this entire time? I’m even using bottled water to brush my teeth. Embarrassed, but fairly desperate, I called. They were in Honduras, but advised that I visit the private hospital in Antigua in case of dehydration and for some blood work. I waited for Amber to come over and asked her if she would go along. It’s now around 9:30 on Sunday morning. We always take the bus into town, but today I decided to call a taxi. I didn’t think I could deal with searing pain AND a bus load of crowded, hot people. The taxi didn’t answer. Great! Could this get any better? I would have to take the bus. We slowly walked to the bus after I had managed to slip on some sweatpants and a t-shirt and throw my bed head into a ponytail. The bus was PACKED! We were also told that it had been sitting for over 40 minutes (they usually leave every 10-15 minutes). Something was obviously wrong, but I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what was to come.
Luckily, the bus departed after just a few short minutes as a struggled to stay on the edge of a seat. Things were looking up. I was on the way to the doctor. Just as I thought “I think I might make it through this day.” The bus stopped. Completely stopped. In the middle of the main road. I looked up to see a huge traffic jam and thought, “Great! What a great day for a major wreck! Someone better be dead or someone in this bus will be dead soon and by someone I mean me!” We sat. and we sat. And then slowly people started exiting the bus. “Great. I’m going to die. Right here in this bus. On the Sabbath nonetheless.” I looked back at Amber and said, “We’re going to have to get off this bus and see if we can find someone that can get through the traffic. I can’t sit here anymore.” We exited the bus. After we had already paid and slowly began making our way up the road. We were too far from Antigua to walk and way too far from home to return. We made our way past people sitting on the curbs and motorcycles now completely turned off and at a standstill. A wreck? No. A marathon. They had completely shut down the entire main road for a marathon. Just as I thought about death again, a 70 something Guatemalan man jogged by wearing nothing but pink hot shorts that could have fit a small 12 year old girl and I was certain that would be my last mental image. A sweaty old man in pink mini shorts. The sun was draining me of any energy I had left. We sat on the curb as I tried not to cry. Amber finally found a policeman who informed us that at the end of the runners there would be an ambulance, but that he would try to find someone to help me. I knew I wouldn’t last long in the near noon heat. I stood up to throw up on the side of the road as another round of pain came over me and I hit the pavement. I came to in the ambulance as they banged on my collar bone and tried to ask me my name. I couldn’t focus my eyes. I was totally spent. I just closed my eyes and tried to keep breathing.
We made it to the hospital. Thankful for the lack of energy so I wouldn’t notice the cobblestone streets, I laid on a cot that was probably 1 foot wide. I was moved to a room and an IV was started. No relief from the pain so I just lay there writhing. Finally, some fellow IMB missionaries showed up to check on me. I was so relieved to be able to speak in English and have help translating “I NEED PAIN MEDICATION NOW!” that’s really all I was trying to say! Later that evening, the missionaries returned from Honduras and decided to transfer me to the hospital in the capital city. The hospital I was already familiar with. We headed there around 8 and began the worst week of my life.
Once admitted I struggled again to find someone to relieve my pain to no avail. They had given me enemas in the emergency room after finding out that I hadn’t used the bathroom in 2 weeks. We were sure that was the problem. They took me to a semi-private room and I was put in the bed farthest from the bathroom. They realized in 2 seconds the dilemma. I was moved to a private room. I spent the first night in horrible pain, but at least I wasn’t dragging my IV across the room of a sick Guatemalan to get to the restroom every five seconds. I slept for 15 minutes at a time.
The next day the insurance sent a letter and I was moved again. Back to a semiprivate room. Once there I was scheduled for an Ultrasound and CAT scan. Nothing. Healthy. Still in unbearable pain. Healthy? “I’m dying! Someone is going to die if I don’t get some pain medication.” Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling very missionary-like as nurse after nurse announced that she was giving me medicine for dolor (pain) when I knew it was probably an anti-inflammatory or something! I was so discouraged and beyond exhausted from the half hour writhing sessions.
The next morning an Endoscopy was scheduled and I was so thankful to have a good 15 minutes of Anesthesia! Painless sleep! I hadn’t experienced that in days! Small tears were found in my stomach, but Dr Garcia, the G.I. didn’t think this was the cause of my pain. Finally after days of pain I was offered a narcotic. A Demerol injection every 6 hours. I was finally able to sleep. Although I could still feel the pain, it was bearable. Still, no diagnosis. I was beginning to imagine that only Dr. House could solve my problems. Even still, God was faithful to provide the pleasures of having a TV with some channels in English. I was even able to watch some shows like Dr. Phil and Jeopardy that made me feel at home in a very foreign environment. It seemed just as I would get so discouraged, God would send a simple thing like Dr. Phil to remind me that although my mother wasn’t with me, He was with me through it all and He knew I needed to feel my mother’s presence so I watched Jeopardy and smiled and thanked a very personal God.
Without a diagnosis a surgeon was sent to test for Appendicitis. No luck. I could bend my legs at every angle and the pain remained the same. By Tuesday afternoon my IV hand had tripled in size and it was obvious that the IV was leaking. I couldn’t even bend my fingers. It looked like I had blown into a plastic glove and tied it off like a balloon. The IV had to be moved on Wednesday morning. I was scheduled for a nuclear contrast test of my intestinal system at 10. At 9 they came to change the IV. An hour and a half later, 11 puncture wounds later, 5 different DOCTORS later, my IV had been not-so-successfully moved to the fold of my right arm. It was now 10:30 and I had to be taken by ambulance to the testing center. We had missed my appointment. At 4:30 pm after laying on a cot in a waiting room for hours they were finally ready for the test. The doctor injected the contrast only to discover that the IV had of course broken in my arm. It would have to be moved. I knew the debacle that lay ahead. He opted to inject the contrast straight into my veins and within 10 more minutes the test was finally underway. 30 minutes later it was very clear that my gallbladder was not functioning at all. Praise the Lord for a diagnosis. I returned IV-less and dreading the torture of another round of punctures, but so thankful to have found the problem.
Relieved I informed the missionary who had been staying in the hospital and the surgeon came in shortly after I returned to my hospital room and eagerly reported that removal of my gallbladder was the cure! “Great! Let’s get this thing out of here now!” I thought. And then suddenly the news came that I may have to return to the states for the surgery and that would mean the end of my service. I would lose my job. After a year of application, 9 weeks of training, and 3 weeks of language it would all be over. All I could do was pray. No words came to mind except “You are still on your throne. You are not surprised by this. Praise the One who is never caught off guard. If it be your will that I would have come all the way to the top of the mountain with my son Isaac and then you send me home, so be it.” I could only praise the One who sits on the throne. I wouldn’t have an answer from the board until in the morning. It would be a long restless night of wondering until I would hear something. News came early and I would be allowed to stay. Still parentless to face my first major surgery alone, but I would be able to stay and continue with my call to the nations. Surgery was scheduled for 2pm on Thursday.
By the time 2pm came I was a nervous wreck. They came right on time and wheeled me away. We reached the surgery hall and I started crying. God had provided me with the most amazing anesthetist and surgeon and they both came out and as soon as they saw my tears my surgeon grabbed my hand and told me not to be worried that God was with me and that he would hold my hand until I fell asleep. And he did. They wheeled me into a crowded room (not at all sterile like in Grey’s anatomy which made me even more nervous) and Dr. Abed, my surgeon, held my hand and made jokes about Americans until I fell asleep. I fell asleep with Dr. Abed holding one hand and my Father holding the other with a smile on my face laughing about how they put all the American organs in a museum somewhere in Guatemala City. Talk about a personal God. Little did I know, or did Dr. Abed who is a strong believer and follower of our king know, that my mom was praying that the Lord would send someone to hold my hand. A simple prayer. A sincere, heartfelt prayer from a mother thousands of miles away from her baby girl having major surgery and He heard her plea. He heard her and provided. Not in a metaphorical way of protection and care. No, he literally provided a 6ft 4in Palestinian man named Fredy Abed to hold my hand and tell me not to be afraid. My father provided someone to hold my hand and distract me with smiles and jokes. What a mighty God we serve. What a faithful God we serve.
I woke up in the worst pain of my life, 3 days of a Demerol drip and lots of TV later I left the hospital minus one organ. I started school 2 days later and have been building back an appetite all week. Once staples are removed I will only have time to allow the small incisions to heal completely and my eating habits to get back to normal.
I learned lots of things while in the hospital. I learned that God will provide brothers and sisters in Christ when we need them the most. I learned that pain medication is truly a gift from above, as is medication in general. I learned a tiny bit about how difficult it must have been for God to watch Jesus suffer and not be able to go to him and help, as my parents were thousands of miles away, knowing I was suffering and were unable to get to me and help. How horrible it must have been for god to watch his precious son suffer because of my sins. How badly he must have wanted to rush down and stop the entire thing. I learned loads of Spanish medical vocabulary. I learned that God will even provide cute doctors just to brighten my day in the midst of tough situations. I learned that watching House is kind of creepy when you are in the hospital. I learned that we serve a God who hears our prayers. He understands our silent, heartfelt wishes and that He is faithful in the midst of our unbelief. I learned that when we can do nothing but cry out of fear and anxiety, God will provide a Fredy Abed to remind us that we are not alone and God will provide someone to hold our hand until the storm passes by.
Life is no different without a Gallbladder, but life is very different after that week. The power of prayer is real. The faithfulness of my Father is real. And the blessings of modern medicine are appreciated more than ever.
Thank you for your prayers and for your kind emails and thoughtful words to my family during this time. Know that I felt every prayer even in small ways that you cannot imagine. Thank you for your support and for your love. I hope in the future I can return the blessings of your friendship.
Because He first loved me,

· Pray for continued health and a quick recovery as I incorporate foods back into my diet.
· Pray for language learning and that I would be able to use my language for His glory daily.
· Pray for friends that I have made here that I would be able to begin to share the gospel with them and that God would do amazing works in their lives.
· Pray that God would break down the walls of cultural Christianity found in Catholicism here among the indigenous peoples.
· Pray that God would be preparing hearts in Colombia.
· Pray for my team in Colombia, that they would grow together and that their ministries would be fruitful even now before my arrival.
· Pray that I would be a “Barnabus” to everyone I meet along the way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It has begun...

Eleven days later the Lord has been faithful. Spanish. New Family. 4 new siblings. A new set of parents. Spanish. Completely new foods. New school. New teachers. Spanish. New methods of transportation. New methods of shopping. New climate. Spanish. New city. New faces. New clothing. Spanish.

He is still sitting on His throne. When I landed in Guatemala city and no one was at the airport to pick me up He was still sitting on His throne. When I got to my new house and realized that no one in my new family spoke a word of English He was still sitting on His throne and he whispered “I am the God of your tongue. Who gave you that mouth if it was not I?” When I began to get sick only 24 hours into my new life He was still sitting on His throne and He was speaking “I am the great healer. Fear Not for I am with you.” When we attended the Iglesia bautista in Jocotenango and I could not understand a word of my fellow Christians worship and I began to worry that my spirit would not be fed through corporate worship for weeks He was still sitting on His throne reminding me “I am the God of the nations. Watch and be amazed as the nations worship me.”

As I began to get sicker and eventually was taken to the hospital with a stomach virus and dehydration He blessed me through your prayers and after only two days I returned back to school. Thank you for your prayers and praise the Lord that we serve the great healer.

The small church I have attended now 2 times after this morning has around 7 adults and about 20 children. They are a small Baptist church, but they are very mission minded. They have taken the gospel to a village further outside of town that is relatively large but with no Christian ministry or church. On Saturday I went with them where they lead a “church plant service” for mainly children and their mothers. I was expecting something small because of the size of the church and as the children and their mother poured into the small crowded room with child-sied chairs, a dirt floor, no windows, and a tin roof my jaw hit the floor. The room was probably the size of a large American garage and as I looked around there was more than 100 children who had come to sing songs to our King and to hear stories from the bible. As I made friends with the children around me I learned that they look forward to this service every week. It is the “funnest part of our week. We love it when the church comes to visit us on Saturdays. All the children in our village know that it is the best part of the week and they are sure to remind their mothers to bring them.” As I chatted with the children about their names and their ages and what they had eaten for lunch (as my Spanish would allow haha)

I watched as a young girl, about 9 or 10 years old, aided a younger boy in and sat him beside me. I spoke to him with simply words and received only blank stares. In a few minutes I was obviously frustrated to not have been able to make him smile and the little girl spoke quietly. No puede oir. What? I asked? She pointed to her ear. He can’t hear I finally asked. She nodded. He was born with a fever she explained. He can’t walk either. He’s 7. I help him walk here on Saturdays. After a few minutes I got out my camera which was a huge hit with the children and I let them take pictures of each other which made them elated that I would let them use it by themselves. A picture was taken of the little boy and I held it to where he could see and I pointed to the screen and then pointed at him. Slowly but surely the biggest and sweetest smile I have seen in 11 days crept across his face. He was beaming. His sister responded with a huge smile and soon all of the children were pointing at the screen and pointing at him and smiling… He loved it.

It was a small feat for him to see himself and recognize himself on a screen as he is mentally challenged severely, but it was a large accomplishment for me and bonded his sister to me for the rest of the day. These are the children whom Jesus spoke of when he said “Let the little children come to me.” This young boy didn’t understand a word of the bible story nor did he know how to clap when we sang Glory a Dios, but he felt my love and all of the other children’s love through the simple reflection on a screen and time spent together in a hot crowded room.
Needless to say I am thankful to serve a God who is still sitting on His throne, who knows my days and each step I take. I am thankful to serve the God of the nations and that 7 adults in a small village could minister to over one hundred children in another village and I am blessed to be a part of it. I am thankful to serve the God of languages and feel his blessings when I open my mouth and am able to talk with my family at the dinner table. (Trying to tell them that my Cat Sampson likes to wear clothes and take bathes was a pretty difficult story to tell and although it may seem insignificant it is the blessing that I am already able to share with my family that has caused us to be able to have a bond already. Praise the Lord we serve a personal God)

This week I am going to speak with several other ministries in the city to see if I can be a part of their ministries during the week. One of them is a nutritional clinic that is an inpatient clinic for malnourished children that can be left there until they reach a certain nourishment level, but many times their parents leave false information and never return for them. The other ministry is an orphanage for abandoned street girls who have been abused and now live in a home for girls. I am hope to start volunteering by the end of the week.

I go to school from 8-12am. I ride a bus everywhere I go. I am learning to make authentic tamales from my mom. My younger sisters and I have enjoyed watching The Devil Wears Prada in Spanish on my laptop. We have a german shepherd named butch. I miss my family very much. I miss the comforts of America sometimes, but God has given me a peace that truly passes understanding about living in the center of His will and for now that is in a small Guatemalan Village named after John the Baptist.

I have posted lots of pictures on facebook. I have internet a couple times a week when we ride the bus into town
  • Pray for Continued ministry doors to be opened.
  • Pray that I would begin to make a small group of friends in my village and that the Lord may open doors for me to begin a bible study here in San Juan as there is no Christian church or bible study in my entire village.
  • Pray for good health as I begin to reincorporate foods back into my daily diet.
  • Pray that I would have opportunities to find out whether my family are believers (They are catholic, but I haven’t had any opportunities to find out whether they know Chirst personally.)
  • Pray for the church in Jocotenango and that their congregation would begin to grow in numbers and that their ministry in Alotenango, the other village, would begin to move toward an actual church plant.
  • Pray that God would continue preparing hearts in Colombia.
  • Pray that God would bless my language learning and that I would be able to learn quickly, absorb rapidly, and apply what I learn.

Thank you for your help through prayer in sharing God’s love with the people of Guatemala.

Habakkuk 1:5
Katie Trent

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ending of a Chapter...

It's like the book when you take a week to read the last 4 pages because you don't want it to end. You get to the end and although you know there will be other books, as interesting, as enticing, and as inspiring, somehow you cannot help but sigh when you turn the last page.

And so it goes. I've come to the end of a chapter. The end of book 1. There will most certainly be a sequal. It will most certainly be filled with His blessings and His adventures. He has already written every word. The heartaches and trials are not only inevitable, they are promised. They are already written. The hours of laughter are sure to come. The days of uncertainty are held in His hand. He has written the sequal and I will begin reading the preface tomorrow morning.

This has been the best ending. If ever there were an ending to a book that I would love to read it is this ending to this book in my life. I have laughed and soaked in every word. I have taken mental notes of every precious word and note. The warm smiles and heartfelt hugs are the things that make this the saddest ending and the happiest ever after all in one book. But isn't that how God intended?

He has promised he has the plans for our lives, plans to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future. Did you catch that future part? He has written these great adventures. He delights in the closing of this book knowing the joys and growth that is to come. How great it is to be sitting in the hands of the one who wrote the sequal.

Am I scared? Most assuredly. Am I nervous? More than ever. Am I sad? I would be lying if I said no. We are always sad to see the things we love pass away and know that they will never be the same as today. Will I come home in a few years and still have a wonderful church family, an amazing group of friends, and the best family in the entire world? Yes. But we will meet again differently. There will be wrinkles in my mother's brow that are not there yet. There will have been weddings, and funerals, and births that I will have missed. I will have learned another language and lived without driving a car for 2 entire years. Will we meet again? Lord willing. Will we be the same? It would be a shame if the answer we yes. Progress demands change. And my friend, if there was anything I long for more is a life wrought with progress.

I've packed my physical life into suitcases, but my emotions could not be contained. I cannot control the fear, the sadness, the grief, the excitement, the uncertainties. I can only control my obedience. Little by little. One mile at a time. One minute at a time. And thank the Lord that the author demands nothing more than obedience to fulfill his novel masterpiece.

I will miss you all more than you know.
I will take you with me wherever I go.
I will pray that your life is filled with terrifying progress.
I will love you always.

Habakkuk 1:5

Pray for a good day of travel.
Pray for a great time with a new guatemalan family.
Pray that God would give me wisdom in choosing a church family and in choosing which ministries He has prepared for me.
Pray for language ability.
Pray that God would open my eyes to the needs of the world in a new and fresh way every day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sportscenter from the pulpit...

Sports are a huge part of my life. A very large portion of my childhood memories revolve around sports. Even now, when I am not actively participating in sports, my family enjoys watching the masters, college football, March madness, and any other big sporting event. It is an event at my house. We all settle in with food (of course) and get ready to enjoy the commentaries, action plays, and to watch history in the making. We have witnessed Tiger Woods at the top of his game. We saw Michael Jordan dominate the world of basketball. We’ve seen more than our fair share of college football upsets. We’ve seen hours of little league basketball.
Have you ever seen a basketball game? A college football game? Have you seen the game where the players all stand on the sidelines, completely trained, dressed, and able to play, but only the 2 coaches play the game? They play one on one basketball while the Lakers and the Celtics sit on the sidelines watching. Some of them cheer their coaches on. More often the players find themselves criticizing the moves and shots while their coaches are battling it out in this intense one-on-one game. Can you imagine it? You may be thinking that you’ve never seen this game. I’m convinced that this game is so popular and, sadly, widely known that you have no only seen it, but you have seen it every Sunday. It is the American church.
We sit in the pews. We are completely able. We are strengthened through the Holy Spirit and the bible promises that in Christ all things are possible. We are dressed for the game, equipped for the game, commanded to enter the game, and yet we are seated. We are believers so we have made it from the bleachers to the players’ bench, but here we sit. The game is evangelism. The winner gets a crown. We’re sitting here on the sidelines. Complacent. Sometimes we cheer our coach/pastor on. We participate in Pastor’s appreciation Sunday, we stop by the voice our approval after the sermon, we even send a friendly email with a clever scripture reference to let the pastor know we are on his side. But, I find, more often than I would like to admit that we sit on the bench criticizing his every play. What was he thinking with that play? That sermon? About tithing again? If he preaches about marriage one more time… We even get mad at his game decisions. We get mad when we’re sick and he doesn’t call. We get frustrated with his schedule.
He battles week after week to herald the gospel to the community, to minister to the needs of the body of believers, to disciple believers, to teach, to baptize, to lead, to guide, to counsel, and on and on the one man army battles.
The great commission was not written to pastors. It was not written to deacons. It was written to all believers. Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, “All authority have been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” –evangelism is every believer’s responsibility. Teaching and discipling believers are each believer’s command from Jesus.
But the church does not function from evangelism alone; there is work to be done. The game is going on and we are sitting on the sidelines. The Holy Spirit has given each of us gifts and talents when we were born again and we have been made ready for the service of the Lord. Not that we are saved by works or anything but the Holy and precious grace of God, but James would argue that a sincere faith produces works. James 1:22 “But prove yourself doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”
We will never win the game only playing one player at a time. Would you be willing to get off of the bench, get a little sweaty and dirty, and help win the game?

Habakkuk 1:5

Thursday we take a day long trip to Washington DC for evangelism and people group interaction. Pray that God would give us opportunities to share his gospel and that people would come to know christ as a result of these opportunities. Pray for good weather and pray for the safety of
families as they begin the world of evangelism with children.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

These are the days of our lives...

Another week has almost come and gone. These days are so filled that it is so easy to look up and another week has flown by. I think I'm learning more and more as I enjoy my "adult" life that this phenomenon has less to do with this hectic time of training and orientation and more to do with life. How quickly hours fly by, days seem to disappear, and weeks turn into months in the blink of an eye. Many authors and songwriters have tried to put this experience into words and lyrics. We watch television shows like grey's anatomy that attempt teach us to embrace every moment while we have them. We watch the news and learn that each day is a gift and that people all over the world didn't receive the gift of life this morning. And you know what strikes me most? That the knowledge and the words of time's relentless passing changes nothing.

It changes nothing. We eat. We sleep. We stand in lines. We wait at traffic lights. We exercise (or worry about exercising if you're like me). We worry. A lot. We worry about bills, dieting, education, marriages/relationships (or lack thereof), our families, our jobs (or lack thereof), our churches, our communities, the economy, and on and on. We talk. We watch tv. We surf the web. We shop. and when that doesn't fill your twenty-four hours, somehow you find people, whom you'd probably rather not be dealing with to fill the remaining hours of the day.

But it's not all work and no play. We have fun. We make memories. But i've realized if we're not careful, or if I'm not careful, the memory-making experiences come far less often than the mundane.

So did we miss anything? The bills are paid, the calories counted, the tests are studied for, the news has been watched, we even squeezed in Wednesday night choir practice, our children have been cared for, our relationships are surviving. That's it. We are surviving.

Is that what He intended? Did he bless us with family and friends to give us more people to worry over. Has our job become a burden rather than a way that God has provided for us? Has the blessing of technology become just another day I have to be on hold with dell waiting for someone who can speak english to tell me why my laptop is vommitting explorer windows? Is time merely passing us by?

What will I say when I get to heaven? What will I say to my friend, the unbeliever, when they ask me why my faith matters when there's nothing different about my life? An old newsboys song use to say,
"shine make ´em wonder what you´ve got
make ´em wish that they were not
on the outside looking bored
shine let it shine before all men
let´em see good works, and then
let ´em glorify the Lord"

Shine? Who's got time to be joyful? I'll have time when I'm older. I'm just really in the thick of things right now. I'll have time when I graduate. I'll have time to enjoy life when my children leave home.

And that day never comes.

Today is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.

Take time to enjoy the people God has blessed you with. Make phone calls you've been meaning to make. Send people an email to let them know what they mean to you. Spend time listening to your children's funny stories when they get home from school. Spend time learning the things you've always wanted to learn but never had the time. Spend time sitting at the feet of Jesus who is our source of joy. When time passes you by, because it most certainly will, know that today you were ready and be able to smile as you watch it go by.

I am learning every day to live for today. To live for HIM today.


"God's voice is still and quiet and easily buried under an avalanche of clamour." ~ Charles Stanley

Pray for God to soften the hearts of his people, even now as I prepare to take his love to Colombia.
Pray that I would not be overtaken with the mundane, but that I would let God overtake me with his love and with his joy.
Pray for immunizations tomorrow. Round 2 of 3.
Pray that God would call out more laborers to the fields. (Every second, more than 1,000 Chinese people will die without ever knowing the saving grace of our Christ Jesus.)
Pray for opportunities for me, and for you, to share our faith, even tomorrow, and that we would be attentive to these opportunities.

"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work." - Oswald Chambers

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Can I tell you a story?

This story begins before there was anything. There was God alone. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. There was nothing on the earth. It was dark and empty. Then God said, "Let there be light." So the light appeared. And God saw that it was good and he seperated the light and the darkness. He called the light day and the darkness he called night. There was morning and then there was evening that first day. ......

I'm sure you know by now what I'm saying. But what if you had never heard this story. What if you were being told this story for the very first time. And when I was done speaking with you, you would only have my words to remember it by. Imagine you have no book with this story in it. And even if you did, you couldn't read the words. Is it worth me telling you the story?

2/3 of our world are oral peoples. They do not read, write, or learn through books or the internet. Their history is not recorded in textbooks. They are oral people. They tell stories. They sing songs, they have ceremonies, they learn dances and crafts that their grandparents taught them. This is how they learn their history, their culture, their religion. Through words. spoken words. Does God want them to know about his saving grace? Did he intend for only those who can read the bible to believe in him? I hope not.

There are 6,814 living languages. This means that these are languages that are being used and spoken every day by real people. And do you know how many languages have a bible in their language? All of them? 3,000? 1,000? no. 432 of them. 432 of the almost 7 thousand languages have a bible in their language! Are you understanding this? Am I understanding this?

If you haven't already realized, we learned about bible storying this week. How to evangelize through stories. How to disciple through stories. How to train new leaders and believers to evangelize through stories.

I have never learned about storying or was even aware that not everyone had the bible. Not only that, but i certainly never thought that the majority of the world had no access to scripture.
But how awesome it is to have a God who knows all and loves all in that He would send his perfect son Jesus and how did Jesus teach? You guessed it. Stories. I'd never even thought about it. Jesus taught in parables... which are stories! Can you believe it? God was thinking of his children even 2,000 years ago. He had not forgotten his children in the African Bush, or his peoples in the brazillian jungles. Oh that we would have a heart like his. That he would give our eyes are refreshing view of his children around the world waiting to hear the story of Jesus.

They are waiting to hear the greatest story of all. The story of Jesus. And who doesn't love a good story? And the best part is that we already know that it certainly does end with a "and they lived happily ever after..."

The End

Habakkuk 1:5

Pray that God would prepare ready hearts in Colombia.
Pray for another round of immunizations on Tues and Fri this week.
Pray that God would allow me to filter this overwhelming amount of information and be able to retain what I will need in the future.
Praise God that shots were not as painful as I had expected.
Praise God that I will be seeing my family this week.
Praise God that He is a God of stories and HE is the greatest story of all.

"Evangelism is going in and picking up the spoils after the battle has been won in prayer. " - Randy Sprinkles