Speak Lord, You have my attention

Please click on this link to read firsthand the heartbreak and resolve from our friend and missionary to Haiti – Click Here.

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Another baby dies

In yesterday’s blog I spoke about a baby that our missionary friend found in Haiti.  You can read it here.  Our friend just posted:

I just got word that last night Mianna passed away. Ashleigh and I are completely heartbroken. She was such a little fighter but her body was just to far gone. She’ll be buried along side her mother who also died from starvation. It’s so hard to make sense of a situation like this, but we’re still trusting the Lord and letting him direct our path. Please keep my family in your prayers while we deal with all the funeral arrangements.

I’m still processing this.  I can’t imagine how Carrie and Ashleigh are feeling.  I should wait to blog today because this is rushed as I have to go somewhere.  But I think the first thought of many people are, “God, why would you let this happen?”  And I think part of the answer is found in the Matthew West song, Do Something.  In the song West says he turns to God and says, “Why don’t you do something?”  and God replies, “I did. I created you.”  And I’m not saying it’s directly your fault or mine, but I know God put me in the position I’m in, in the country I’m in, in order for me to do something.  And without a doubt, part of the reason God let Carrie and Ashleigh find Mianna was for me and you who are reading this.

Mianna has to be with Jesus right now.  There is no possibility she is not.  Her suffering is over.  It’s sad that Carrie and Ashleigh have to experience this and they don’t need this wake-up call.  They are already on the front line in Haiti.  But God will bring good out of this and it will be through me and you.

As a result of Mianna’s short life on this earth, two young women that I know are going to sponsor a child through Compassion International.  As a result of Mianna’s brief period here, I am going to have a personal “go-to story” to relay to those who complain about international mission work.  As a result of her life, God is going to be pouring more money into Ashleigh and Carrie’s efforts in Haiti.

I have to run.  I’m sure you and I will be hearing more:  from Carrie and Ashleigh and from God.

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Why do you send money over there? We have hungry kids here

In a conversation the other day I said to my wife Diane, “You like to know things.  I don’t like to know things.”  It drives her nuts that she has seen me go to bed with 15-20 minutes left in a movie we’ve been watching.  My philosophy is, “I know how it’s going to end and if it ends differently than that, then I don’t want to see it.”

carriefoundbabyThere’s a picture that one of our missionary friends, Carrie, posted from Haiti yesterday.  It’s one that I don’t really want to look at, but perhaps need to see.  She and her friend Ashleigh found an infant yesterday.  The infant weighs 3 pounds.  She had been left for dead.  In a modern day “Good Samaritan” moment, Carrie and Ashleigh took the baby to the hospital.  And the Good Samaritan says, “Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.

It is a grim reminder to me that I must keep battling and doing what is right when I hear church people have uttered the occasional, “Why do you want to send money over there – we have hungry kids here.”  Or “Why do you want to go on mission trips, we have people here who need help.”

I’m aware that there are hungry kids in our area.  Our church sends food home with 50 of them every weekend through the local schools.  We serve families every month through our food pantry.  But the truth is, there aren’t many starving kids here.  There aren’t too many that die from unsafe drinking water.

And when followers of Jesus in the USA believe that the hungry kids here should be our priority above the starving kids ‘over there’, they miss the point.  Jesus loves them all and commands us to love and care for them here AND there.  One day He might just ask us about it.

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Doing whatever it takes to spread the Gospel

I only made one blog post last week.  Diane and I spent most of the week on Long Island, NY with Adam and Michael hanging drywall in a home that is being built by Samaritan’s Purse.  It’s a new home that’s replacing one destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012.  It was our fourth trip with Samaritan’s Purse.  We have taken 13 different people with us on SP trips.  Assuming they have the space, our son Adam (who has been on three with SP) was the official leader of this last trip and he plans to take a group Jan. 5-9 and I probably won’t be going with them.

Samaritan’s Purse sent a group of us to tarp a roof on Friday afternoon.  Some people from the neighborhood came by.  As others in my group were tarping the roof, I was doing the most important work.  I was talking to people about Jesus.  The primary reason Samaritan’s Purse does what they do is so that the Good News of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed.

While some churches and denominations send people on missions that seem to apologize for the Gospel or to bow to other religions as if they are all the same, SP goes places to proclaim the Name of Jesus – unashamed of the name of Jesus.  SP proclaims that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that without Him, people are destined for an eternity apart from God.  If another religion also results in you being with God when you die, what kind of sense does it make that God would send His Son to die as one of many ways?

Building homes in the United States, bringing shoe boxes filled with gifts to Iraqi refugees, providing tarps in Haiti, buying goats and chickens for people in Africa, flying kids to the United States for life saving surgery, and all the rest serve one primary purpose.  They do all of this as an avenue to tell people about Jesus.  It also allows them to follow His command to help the least of these.  And when they allow us to go on mission with them, they are allowing us to participate in Kingdom building.

I pray that we have the same motives here at Wesley Chapel.  Everything we do at the schools, in the community, through the food pantry, with athletic teams, at the homeless shelter, in supporting missionaries, and all the other “good works” is for one primary purpose – to proclaim Jesus.  For those who already know Him as Lord, we and our good works can be an affirmation.  For those teetering on belief, we and our good works can be just what they need to finally turn their lives over to Him.  And to those in foreign lands who have never heard the Name – we and our good works can be the reason they believe.

(If you’re interested, the mission trips are free to all volunteers, paid for by donors who believe in the same mission.  I blogged about the free trips here.)

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Listening to old men complain about young people

Im 52, soon to be 53. If you consider me old, you’re very young. If you consider me young, you’re ….. lol, never mind. I’m listening to a bunch of old men who are here on the mission trip complaining about young people and cell phones and Facebook. I was sitting at a table near them on my cell phone. I’m doing the blog this week from our New York mission trip from my WordPress app.

This was immediately after the whole table of them finished their independent Bible readings. It seemed an awkward transition. It reminds me of a family story of a great aunt or uncle of mine (I can’t remember which) who said a prayer of thanks for a holiday dinner and when done, within a few minutes said, “I’d take some damn sweet potatoes if anyone would pass them”.

It’s a reminder to me that people are watching me. They are paying attention to what I say and do and my words and actions can be a witness for Jesus or a stumbling block.

It’s not that we’re going to be perfect, but if we use a little self-awareness and think about how we’re being perceived by others, we might be better witnesses.

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Important instructions

It’s the first day of our 5 days working in Long Island, NY with Samaritan’s Purse. On the morning of the first day there is an orientation and safety talk. Those of us who have been here before do not have to hear another orientation. Most of the people on this trip have been here before, but there are a few who haven’t.

This is so unlike our walk with Jesus. I constantly need reminded and am always learning more about Him. It’s also one of the things I’m always aware of about preaching – that people sitting in the pews are like me and need need instructed and reminded constantly.

And that’s part of the reason I blog. To help myself and to help you think about Jesus daily.

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A Great Journey

A few of us are leaving after church tomorrow for New York for a week long mission trip with Samaritan’s Purse.  They have been working in Long Island since Hurricane Sandy hit.  I found out that we get to be part of a home dedication on Friday – that’s where all the SP staff and volunteers turn the home over (or back over) to the homeowner.  This will be the 4th mission trip with SP for Diane and me, and we’ve wanted to be a part of a home dedication since we started.  We’ve only ever been with the homeowner as they eagerly await their home to be ready.  When people have a home destroyed and then rebuilt or repaired, it’s a journey from grief to exuberance while riding a roller coaster of emotion in between.  One thing’s for sure, the homeowner knows how it’s going to end.  SP is going to turn their home over to them, better than before and hand them a book that all the volunteers have written in as they’ve worked on it.

Most of the time we don’t know how the journey is going to end.  The Frankfort football team saw their journey end last night with a tough game on Wheeling Island.  It’s not that they played a bad game, but to be honest – Bridgeport was just too much, just as they had been for every other AA team in the state this year.  Stephan Buser’s ended as he stood with his surgically repaired (and still healing) ankle lifted in his cast, in the running back spot so he could be on the field in the championship game, as Gage Shaffer took a knee on the last play of the game.

The football team reminded me this year to appreciate the journey.  The journey has ups and downs.  I was there in Oak Glen to see one of the lowest points of the season when Stefan Buser suffered his horrific injury.  I was there to see the great highs of the double overtime against RCB and the goal line stand against Keyser in OT.  And what a great part of the journey when the Mineral Bowl trophy showed up in church and was the subject of the children’s message.  I was blessed to be able to be on the field with this wonderful team as they held their runner up trophy and bowed in prayer.  As I prayed with them, I thanked God for allowing them to experience the journey that was this football season.  And I thanked Him that because of them, there were kids in the stands who could not wait to be Frankfort Falcons.

I pray that today’s blog serves as a reminder to you to savor this journey of life.  We never know how or when it will end, but what’s important is that we appreciate the journey and never give up on it, always believing that the difficult times are temporary.

I want to end with this quote from missionary Jim Elliot, who was killed in the mid 1950’s in the mission field in Ecuador:  “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

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