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Jesus

Switchback

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

Sometimes you feel like you’re taking a step backward.  Other times 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  Other times, just chasing your tail in circles.  Today is a switchback.


 

A switchback takes the long way to go a short distance.

But because the grade is steep, it’s too difficult or dangerous to tackle head on.


 

A switchback is a road where it’s hard to see around the bend.


 

Spiritually speaking, a switchback is a process for us to keep moving forward and put our trust in God.

He knows the reasons even when we don’t.

He sees the destination even when we can’t.

He puts value in the process despite our desire to avoid it.

He uses the switchback to help refine character, develop patience and perseverance, increase humility and dependence – all while keeping us safe in the palm of His hand.


Today is a switchback because Lovekin didn’t get to go see the specialists, we don’t have a treatment plan, we don’t know anything more than we did yesterday.  Another day of nothing.  My heart is restless, but I know He is present.  As present for her as He is for me.  God doesn’t ask me to like it.  It is.


 

Keep praying; stay faithful.  Keep your eyes on Him, all the way around the bend.


 

Photo credit: Chris Harnish

Small Steps

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

We had Lovekin retested this week and got the results today – it was confirmed that she’s HIV positive.  So far, only our team in Haiti knows (and all of you around the world.)  Her village and her grandmother don’t know yet.  Until there is a plan in place, we believe it is likely that they will discard Lovekin if they find out she has HIV.  There is the sad possibility that as we keep helping this little one, her community will see value in her despite her condition.

Many people are praying for her.  Some are offering advice for next steps, recommending referrals, donating to her fundThank you all.  We’re following up as quickly as possible.

Lovekin is still ill and malnourished so we are trying to keep her on a daily care regimen to help restore her most basic health.  But her grandmother is very frail and limited.  We’ve raised enough money to take care of the immediate financial needs so we don’t have that obstacle right now.

This Friday, two of our Haitian team members are taking Lovekin to a special clinic at the Gheskio Center in Port au Prince.  I’m hoping that we can walk out with medication, a treatment plan and some tracks to run on, but sometimes that’s a lot to hope for in a single day in Haiti.

Keep those prayers coming…

Heartache

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

Lovekin was born in August 2015. Her mother died a few weeks afterward due to complications from childbirth, and most likely from AIDS.  Her father was not involved in her life and her grandmother is struggling to care for her and cannot afford to feed her.  When we met her she was malnourished and had a fever and a variety of minor medical ailments.  To avert her grandmother deserting her, the Chanje Movement engaged in her life and took care of her immediate needs, including baby formula and medication.

We were in the intake process for Lovekin at Chanje Lakay in hopes of saving her life when we discovered she is HIV positive.  Our shelter is not equipped to deal with the care for her, so we are actively trying to find her a home where she will have the best care.  She is a delicate bundle of joy despite the circumstances of her early life. She has a sweet, contemplative demeanor and loves to be held!

We have created a designated fund for Lovekin to provide for her needs in the weeks, months and (prayerfully) years to come.  In the event that the generosity of donors outlasts her life, the remaining funds will be used to care for other Haitian babies and children who are HIV positive.

We will be posting actively as her story unfolds…

The Beauty of “No”

By | Blog, Envision, Equip

Three things happen when you say no to an opportunity, invitation or appointment.

First, you create margin in your life.  When we say yes to too many things – even good things – we fill our schedules and lives beyond our capacity.  You’ve probably heard the expression, “the good is the enemy of the best.”  One has to say no to appointments, invitations and other opportunities to leave margin in life.  For the person living within appropriate margins, when something excellent comes along, he or she can say YES.  For the person juggling all the balls in the air, adding another thing simply means something else must fall.  Wouldn’t you rather be ready for the best than under a pile with the rest?

Second, when you say no, you make room for God’s peace and leadership in your life.  Remember the scripture that begins God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble? Just a few verses later, the psalmist prescribes how to find your rest in His fortress: Be still and know that I am God.  The visual of the peaceful, empty park bench also communicates that quietness; He offers us communion with Him when we cease striving.  When we say yes too often, we don’t have time to pray, to connect with the Lord, to discern His path for our lives and relationships.

Third, saying no develops your character.  My friend Don recently shared a quote with me from a Sunday sermon he heard years ago: “The rejection of adversity is the mark of an immature soul.”  Think about it… aside from the unrealistic dream of vast lottery winnings, there really is no “something for nothing” of true value in this world.  Victory in virtually everything with high value is accomplished through adversity.  Even in salvation, we receive Christ by grace alone through faith alone, but remember the price Jesus paid on our behalf.  My character needs me to say no to easy but meaningless ventures and to say yes to challenges with depth and worth.  Too often we shy away.  When we say yes to the boring, the mundane and the mediocre, we reject healthy growth and maturity.

Reject the lie that being over-capacity honors God or is useful.  Good stewardship of my life isn’t visible in a hectic and frenetic schedule.  My decision to say no clears away the detritus and pollution of my life, and frees me up to be the person God wants me to be.

No can actually be very beautiful.  When free to choose, take your margin, peace of mind and maturity into consideration, and ask the Lord for guidance.  He always leads faithfully.

Hold Your Ground

By | Blog, Envision, Headfirst, Media, Personal

Don’t give in to the Grinch this holiday season.  He’s all over social media telling you how bad things are, then topping the last story with a new video or meme.  Tis the season to pile on, right?  I’m not suggesting this world is good; it’s not.  It’s corrupted by sin, death and disease.  But in God, we have a Father who gives His children good gifts.  We have a Savior who redeems us and brings reconciliation between men and God.  We have the Spirit who fills and empowers us to live righteously for His purposes.  Hold your ground: choose faith, hope and love!

Identify the blessings in your life and celebrate them.  If you can’t find enough, celebrate with a brother or sister who will share them with you.

Here’s my own Thanksgiving offering for you – the video overview from our recent Men’s Mission to Haiti.  Stay till the end – it’s worth every (free) penny.

httpvh://vimeo.com/112757027

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

Grinch = bad.  God = good!

Through New Eyes

By | Blog, Envision, Involve

LaurenThis guest post is from Lauren Anderson, a young mother of two who participated in the August 2014 Haiti Mission Team with our humanitarian outreach, the Chanje Movement.  We are thrilled to be able to share her observations and experience:

There is so much I’ve learned this last year with my involvement in Chanje. One of the greatest lessons I learned is that sometimes when God calls you, it starts as a whisper. The whisper calling me to go to Haiti was gentle at first, so much so that I even ignored it. But overtime it began to grow to a point where it was so loud and so clear that if I were to have said no it would have felt like direct disobedience to God’s plan for me. When I finally agreed, I didn’t even know where Haiti was on a map! I thought it was in Africa!

Before long I found myself with 28 other people who answered “Yes!” to the call and we were on our way together to a small island that’s a two hour plane ride away from Miami airport. After just the first day in Haiti, a different level of understanding swept over me like a heaviness. To be honest, I was rather surprised by it’s weight. I thought over the past several years that I knew all about what was to come. I had seen the pictures that our missionaries shared in church, I had watched the footage on the news, I had listened to the stories, I had even been moved to tears… But nothing can prepare you for what it is to physically step in and experience this other world that exists outside of your daily reality. For me, it was all about the connection. It was about making a connection to the people. A connection to their suffering. A connection to their struggles. A connection to their pain. A connection to their endurance. And most importantly – a connection to their hope.

In seven days, there were times that I felt overwhelmed. There were moments where the ability to keep a brave face breaks down and the tears stream out of even the biggest, burliest, toughest males of the group. There were times I would turn to the veterans for assurance that we were making a difference, and with a brutal explanation of what [Haiti had been like] before, I would be calmed by their confidence in God’s work being done. Nonetheless, my heart was broken in places that had never been touched. A sense of panic started to form within me throughout the trip… “There’s so much to be done!” “We’ll never be able to help everyone!” “We can’t go home yet – we need to do more!” Every thought of concern felt like a needle in my heart stitching me to this country, it’s people, the children, their suffering. My panic grew to a search for answers to questions I couldn’t quell.

Thankfully, a very patient leader who was experienced in these thoughts and fears simplified a connection to the bigger picture. Dave Brodsky made it so beautifully clear to me and to all of us: we are not here to simply help provide food, water, clothes and shelter… for if that were all we brought with us – how hopeless would we feel once we left? It is not our main goal to build up lives here on earth; it is our great mission to build up lives in eternity. If we were simply focused on making everyone’s lives on earth more comfortable, we would certainly lose hope. But our hope is in the Lord and His promises. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 it says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (NKJV) 

Keeping the focus on this main mission purpose gave me instant relief and a great peace came over me.  Yes, we are going to do our best to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, love the suffering – but it is all in the name of Jesus Christ, being the hands and feet of the Savior of the world, showing the love of our Heavenly Father through acts of service. These beautiful people of Haiti will better understand God’s love by the love He is showing though His missionaries that answer that call and step into their world to make connections that last for eternity.

We can listen and find so many different opportunities to be a faithful servant whether it’s a loud call or a gentle whisper. For some of us it may be a path of action, for some of us it may be by means of financial ability, for some of us it may be by using the gifts God blessed us with to bring glory to His kingdom. Perhaps it can be all of the above and even more… Giving our contributions to those who need it the most. Today I am changed by the connection I have to the people I got to know in Haiti. Today when I pray, I don’t just pray for faces without names – I pray for my friends, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, I pray for them like I pray for my family. I can’t wait to return to Haiti, but I also find great peace in knowing that even if I don’t get the chance to see each and every Haitian friend once more, we are forever connected in the love of Christ. I will surely see them again in eternity where we will be servants together forever side by side.

To learn more about the Chanje Movement, the humanitarian outreach of The Global Mission, and how you can be involved, please visit www.chanje.org.

 

A Fertile Soil

By | Envision

Jesus taught the parable of the soils on multiple occasions (also known as the parable of the sower) as recorded three times in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.  (Yes, if you read the context, they’re not simply synoptic reprints – they are different events.)  He concludes the teaching by inviting those with a thirst for God to pay heed by saying “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  While this saying may be familiar to many, the intent is overlooked.  Certainly all those in the audience physically had the appendage known as an ear.  In fact, a pair of them.  But Jesus points out that many who have ears don’t use them to listen to truth – they don’t listen to what is important.  Are their hearts available or are they closed off?  He asks his audience to pay attention, because their part in the Kingdom is at stake.

So what is so important to know?  What is it that Jesus wants us to pay attention to, above the noise and distraction of the world?

First, God loves everyone, whether they love Him back or not, whether they even pay attention to Him.  He’s bringing His Word to them and He is extravagant with His generosity.  The sower scatters seed everywhere.  Not just on this spot or that; these regions but not those areas.  Every type of soil receives seed.  Is that wasteful of God to preach His Gospel everywhere?  Is it wasteful if Jesus died for the sins of people who would reject Him?  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16.)  But while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8.)

Jesus wants us to know that He loves us regardless of whether we love Him back.  Pure grace.  An unqualified gift.

Second, people respond differently to God, and there are rewards and consequences of how we respond.  The beautiful part of God’s love is that we must receive Christ’s sacrifice for us through grace, by faith.  It’s not forced upon us, nor is obedience imprinted in our souls.  There is only one type of soil that the Word will thrive in and bear fruit.  So you actually play a part in determining what type of soil you are.

Jesus wants people to know that He loves them, He is available to them, and they need to respond to Him.  Some won’t listen, some won’t respond.  Some will receive Him and become mature and bear great fruit.  Are you open to that?  Do you have ears to hear?

 

Finding Jesus in the Chaos

By | Blog, Equip, Headfirst, Personal

You may have seen the jokes posted with the tag #FirstWorldProblems.  They ridicule the frustrations of our lives in contrast to the life struggles of the 3rd World.  Some are mean-spirited, but many raise awareness that sometimes our “big problems” are insignificant when held up to the “big picture.”  I’d like to offer one contrast of my own: Too busy for God.  This applies to Christ-followers and unbelievers, but my comments here are intended for the believers who are drowning in this conflict every day.

This isn’t a book, so let’s skip the chapter where I try to convince you that there is chaos in your life and you’ve allowed it to distance you from God.  If you don’t have this problem, move along.  I do, so I’ll just write for myself and you’re welcome to read along as an observer.  (Yeah, I just said that I have chaos in my life, and even the calling to lead a missions ministry has not made me immune.  Actually, it contributes, just like any other occupation.  It just has it’s own unique twists.)

So let’s embrace reality: my work, recreation, health, family, iPhone, friends, hobbies, travel, responsibilities and to-do lists…  they’re all part of a noisy, clanging, distracting battle where focusing on God and my relationship with Him gets obscured and lost.  Not because they are bad things, but because they aren’t Him.  They don’t simply dovetail into a beautiful symphony.  Some people recognize this, begin to re-prioritize, and re-launch the search for the elusive “balance.” (Surely if all my choices are honoring to the Lord, then everything will supernaturally sync.  Right?)

Let’s go after this from the other direction.  I want to find Jesus.  I want Him everywhere in my life.  I want to walk with Him but my life is full of chaos.  Not because I’m making horrible unbiblical decisions.  Rather, because I don’t live in the Garden, and I’m plagued by the consequences of sin and all its deformities.  Death and disease have come into this world, and I must work and sweat and battle.1  Jesus has won the war and I am victorious in Him, but every day until His Kingdom, I must battle.  One of those battles is against chaos.

There are two pillars I’ve learned that guard my soul in the fight against chaos so that I might walk closely with God.  Their names are Peace and Order.  We need to see that when we instill peace in our lives, we restrain chaos.  Peace means more than quiet (though silence is certainly peaceful.)  Quieting my heart means slowing, slowing, stopping.  My mind begins to drift to other thoughts that are not of Jesus…  stop.  Come back.  Slow.  Easy.  Nothing else, just Him.  Peace means surrender – of my soul.  Learning to be present in His presence.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”2  How could my heart be still then?  Only in my abandon to the Shepherd of my soul.

Order also restrains chaos.  It is more than structure – putting things in their places so that nothing distracts.  Order is intentionality.  Singularity of purpose.  I have no other agenda.  The Creator brought order out of chaos.  He can do the same in the depths of my heart.  “No weapon forged against you will prevail.”3  Purposefully give Him His rightful place and deny that which brings distraction and disharmony.

When I guard my heart and mind in Christ, when I let His peace and order reign over me, the chaos fades and I can find Jesus.  It’s not easy – surrender never is.  I must lay my will down and lift His cup.  “Not my will but yours be done.”4  It happens in His power or we fail every time.  I’ve been learning to invite God into moments and to ask Him to help me yield to Him.  To usher in His peace and His plan… and to let me come to a stop and purposefully surrender, that I might know Him.  More and more.

This week, the Lord brought to mind how much I need Him every moment.  A hymn came to mind and I decided it would help me build the pillars higher as I battle chaos.  I found this version on YouTube – the author (Sam Robson) seems to have created a number of these moving performances.  It was exactly what I needed to help me enter His presence.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3wSbLa2uGg

  1. Genesis 3:17-19
  2. Psalm 23:5
  3. Isaiah 54:16-17
  4. Luke 22:42

Build Your Kingdom Here

By | Envision, Involve, Media

Our November 2013 mission team of 16 men preached the Gospel in the prisons and in the public squares, reaching hundreds with the Gospel for the first time. Many adults and children children received Christ during our ministry outreach. In addition, hundreds of meals were provided to the hungry, needy and homeless, and the hope of salvation in Christ was presented to many more. This was the second team to visit the new Chanje Lakay shelter for children. Child Sponsorship is now a powerful tool of generational transformation, as we begin support for our third shelter of children.  Micro-Credit programs were advanced for community development.  Thank you for your support!

Enjoy and share!

httpvh://vimeo.com/80757787

Music written and performed by Rend Collective Experiment and available on iTunes, Amazon and wherever music is sold.
Video recorded and produced by Jacob Hart on behalf of The Global Mission
The Chanje Movement (chanje.org) is the humanitarian outreach of The Global Mission, a 501c3 nonprofit.
No photography or videography was allowed in the Haitian prisons.

What Love Can Do

By | Blog, Envision, Media

Having recently met worship leader Aaron Blanton at Crossline Church, and having heard him perform the song he wrote What Love Can Do as an acoustic piece, it was a joy to discover that our Creative Director, Jacob Hart, asked him for and received permission to use his song in the soundtrack to our most recent mission team’s video.  Aaron was a founding member of the band Sonicflood, and you might recognize this song from the call-to-action movie Not Today, in which recording artist Kari Jobe sings the arrangement that he and James Tealy put together.  The lead-in song is Audio Adrenaline‘s Kings & Queens.

The team we sent this month was part of The Chanje Movement, the humanitarian outreach of The Global Mission.

Enjoy and share!

httpvh://www.vimeo.com/73106653

Video recorded and produced by Jacob Hart on behalf of The Global Mission