Sunday, April 30, 2006

Overheard at the Warehouse

SM [our high school pastor, teaching from the stage] - "Every rabbi had a yoke - the way he interpreted the Torah, how he taught it. In fact, one particular rabbi said that his yoke was... anyone remember what he said about his yoke?"

Student in the crowd - "It was white as snow?!?"


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Mentorship End

A major responsibility of leadership is the selection and development of potential leaders. Mature leaders should openly and deliberately challenge potential leaders about specific needs and ministry opportunities. A danger sign indicating a plateaued leader is a lack of enthusiasm for challenging and recruiting potential leaders. A growing leader, on the other hand, stimulates the emergence of potential leaders. - J. Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader

Well, next week is the official end of the first SPACE mentorship and it was a pretty awesome experience. This was the very first experience like this that I have ever done so I didn't know what quite to expect. But all in all, a lot of fun. Here are some of my thoughts as this comes to an end.

Related posts - post about original idea, and a post detailing the reading list.

- Emilie approached me about doing an internship with SPACE sometime during the middle of her junior year. I was kind of surprised at the idea, I didn't think anyone could do that, but was instantly excited about it. She works for SPACE for 28 hours a month and records her time in all the varied things that we do, from a day service project, to legwork activities to weekends away. In turn, her mentorship counts for credit, allowing her to not take as many classes this year and I give her a grade every quarter. She also attends a special class with all the other kids doing internships. For those of us in some kind of leadership [if I can qualify for that,] this represents the best scenario - when someone comes to you and wants to learn from you. "I am your sponge." As a leader, this should absolutely exhilarate you.

- Having experienced a very well defined, graduated, discipleship "program", I am leery of anything we leaders put together that is canned, out of the box, and easy to implement. I know my view on this isn't very fair. But I've seen far too many leaders that have been molded to be lazy because we give them something that allows them to 'lead' but doesn't require any effort - in fact, we shouldn't even call them leaders, we should call them chaperones. So, all the material and ideas in this mentorship, and some of it is very good, was tailored to Emilie, based on what I knew of her background, family [because she comes from a very unique family,] and ministry experience. Additionally, at the start of the mentorship, I focused a lot on the idea of giving her the right kind of information. Towards the end, I realized that she knew all the right stuff, and it was time for her to put it into practice. Something like this in the future needs to be focused more on releasing, catalyzing and empowering students to go out and do it, rather than just read and write about it. In the end, I believe it was too focused on information and not enough on action.

- As you can see from the writeup, one of the original intentions was to have Emilie work with a few different people in vocational ministry - all of them in different contexts [college campus ministry, college/young adult pastor in a mega church, street evangelist] but none of those details ever worked out. Too bad, because I think they could have been great experiences, and all of them are great friends and supporters of SPACE. In reality, some of this was due to my limited availability - which I will talk a bit more about later.

- She was definitely involved in a few firsts for SPACE including:
- first winter expedition - where we took a group of kids away during the winter for a missional weekend
- first cohort for summer team planning
For the first time, I had a cohort with me when I went to 'sell' the idea of a summer mission team to potential leaders. She went to every meeting that I had with summer team leaders, which was way more than I expected both personally for me and for her via the internship. It was really good though - those meetings are great opportunities where I get a chance to talk all about SPACE, why its important and then try to recruit people to investing in it. So it was a big investment in time, but good for her to see the way we get people involved in it, hopefully.

- Logistically, we never a set time for us to meet although on average we probably met once every two weeks. There were some times where we didn't meet for a few weeks and some weeks where we had three meetings on three consecutive days [summer team leaders.] And, of course lots of email, text messages and IM. In actuality, probably 25% of our conversation was centered around being subversive, risk and innovation and different expressions of church. Although we didn't implement any of those ideas per se, I won't be surprised if she does something in the next few years on her own.

- Once again, I am a finite person. I work a more-than-full-time career, have a family, and try to do SPACE as a hobby. Some of the extra project stuff didn't get done because I could not make time for it. It is too bad, but thats just the way things go. Maybe the next time it could be different. In past years we have made the time to meet with what we call the SPACEcrew, a group of students that we get involved in the planning and brainstorming for SPACE stuff. This year, we didn't do hardly any of those meetings, and much of that was due to my time being dedicated to the intern stuff instead. In hindsight, that was a mistake. Meeting with those students should be a priority - and I've got some ideas about that for next school year. These students are the ones that are going to extend and lead this thing and draw their friends into it - we can't ignore them.

- Two big things that impacted her the most was:
. Reading the book Waking the Dead
. Listening to some messages by Mike Frost [Shaping of Things to Come]

- It would be fun to have two interns in the future. That way, one could send them off together to work on projects. The time investment would remain more or less the same, while having two to work together could be more fun and interactive for both of them.

- Finally, the SPACE Senior weekend is Emilie's final project. I put her in charge of most everything about it, from the initial brainstorming of ideas, concepts and locations; to recruiting leaders; to logistics with our host. I am certain it will be a great time, and I know some Seniors are going to have their worldview significantly changed.

Photo - Mentor Street, Philly, by Emilie

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Illness is in da House

Well, all of us around the Sheng house are sick. I've still got this runny nose thing - I think most of it is allergies. It hasn't gone away since Easter. D has some kind of weird infection maybe. K just got a slight fever last night and this morning. Em still has a cough left over from Easter and before too.

D said to me today, "I know the reason we are all sick." Because of SPACE. Well, maybe sick in the head. But really, every Spring, some kind of major drama happens around here. The past few years had to do with work. This year, work is manageable (even though someone from my team is on every weekend that there isn't a holiday through November). In the grand scheme of things, someone might not be that interested that we are working hard to get some awesome kids to live a life bigger than themselves, to impact some people they have never met, to risk for a grand adventure.

So to the father of lies, we fling more Tylenol Cold and Cough at him.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Had a great time meeting up with the Cam team last night. We met at Wendy’s [the fast food place] since they were open until 11. This was after Gospel Night Training - so it was getting a bit late. What I didn’t realize was that they were cranking loud 80s and 90s music - kind of cool, kind of distracting. So we prayed while Breathless by the Coors was in the background. And while we called LB on the speakerphone for her to pray with us. It worked fine though and was fun.

Much to my disappointment, I double-booked myself last night and had to miss International Night at K's school. [Post about last year's Intl Night.] It is such a fun night, where all these people set up little tables from their countries - so cool to see the diversity in our area. Next year, we are going to take a bunch of SPACE students to it. It's an ideal venue to expose students to other cultures, and in this case, the school does all the legwork for it.

I’m also getting ready for the Senior weekend. It’s coming fast but we’ll be a lot of fun.

Photo Class

A few weeks ago, I signed up to be a part of an online photography class that one of our friends is doing. I've only done the first assignment, but it seems like it will be pretty cool. The blurb about the class goes like this, "A photo class for the people who are silly enough to want to go back to having assignments just like when they were in school."

Silly enough is right. Terah's Photo Class.

PS - Have you noticed how every page you browse through in Flickr has an associated RSS feed to it?

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Gospel Training Night

"I don't use the word 'evangelism' because if you're not a Christian, it sounds like a disease...and if you are a Christian, it is one." - Rob Bell

The Cameroon team and I are going to Gospel Training Night tonight. Even though it sounds incredibly hokey, I still think it is important. In the context of our post-Christian, postmodern, unchurched culture, I believe students still need a bit of guidance on how to share the good news with the people that ask. Tonight will involve the basics of how and what to share, as well as giving kids some opportunities to practice on each other - both the listening and the sharing - via some roleplay time. And as I write this, I'm reminded about that important other side as well - the listening, concentrating and focusing on the other person. Not only what they are saying they believe, but also their context and their worldview. Maybe if I get the chance, I will speak up about those ideas. [Related post - the last time we did something like this at CpR, January of 2004.]

After Gospel Training Night, we are going to go over support letter basics and then pray for our team and the trip. From my perspective, the first order of business right after the team gets assembled is getting support letters out.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

SPACE April Prayer Update

"If your church is full of members, you get an occasional missionary. If your church is full of missionaries, the rest is geography." - Erwin McManus, Seizing Your Divine Moment

Hi SPACE friends,

Thank you again for partnering with us - thinking and serving and praying - and our ministry with students.  We cherish the friendships that we have with you all, and are excited to continue to imagine all the very cool contexts and projects that haven't even been conceived yet with some of you, both locally and all around the globe.  Thanks for inspiring us as you live as the light of the world.

We've had a busy Spring making plans for some summer teams.  Although it's been quite the mass of logistics, recruiting leaders and gathering groups, we give God the praise with us for the following:

**  5 sets of team leaders placed.  Each team has a great mix of leaders that all have initiative, hearts of service and experience.  It's a honor to work with such talented and sacrificial leaders.

**  Some great work all year from our SPACEintern, Emilie.

** A finalized 10th grade team that will be serving in DC this summer.

Here are a few more items that we would love for you to be praying with us for:

** A Senior mission weekend in the middle of May [you might remember us doing the same kind of thing for last year's Seniors as well.]  This weekend will also serve as a final project for Emilie and her internship, and is a great opportunity to release her to inspire, serve and lead.

** That four of our teams get finalized in the next three to four weeks, including:
- a 9th grade team going to the Merge conference on the campus of Johns Hopkins
- an 11th grade team serving in Los Angeles with Harambee Ministries.
- My team going to Cameroon - that some final invitations for team members get accepted by this weekend.
- A middle school team serving again this summer with Christian Missionary Technical Services.

** For the logistics and preparation work for a missions prep weekend at the end of June, where all teams will travel away for the weekend to focus on culture, team building and why we strive to engage our students to be more than just members.

Thanks again and God's blessings on you all this Spring.  As always, for more real time updates, point your browser to
- tony

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How I Work

There is this meme going around the web called How I Work, via Jordon. I thought I would add some thoughts to it too, and if you want to, do it and add the Technorati tags.

I carry with me a Thinkpad T40, issued through my company. Apparently the T40s have system board issues after a few years. Mine failed in the summer of 2005 right after a vacation. At home, there is also an HP Pavilion laptop, usually in the kitchen and a HP desktop upstairs. I use a Seagate 5G portable drive for almost all personal work, which allows me to work on any computer through the house. It's easier than having a shared drive on my home network, since I can also take the drive with me wherever I go. I backup this drive almost once a week.

At work, I also use two monitors - one desktop monitor and my laptop screen. The desktop monitor is driven via my laptop too and I use the Windows-desktop-on-two-screens thing - so I actually have a virtual desktop that is two monitors wide. I just started doing this about a month ago and really like it. I can be working on one thing on the desktop monitor, and do whatever on the second monitor. The addition of more screen real estate is very useful. I actually got the idea from an article about how Bill Gates works.

For a browser, I use Firefox, of course. I use a delicious plugin for saving bookmarks and I have greasemonkey installed and run a greasemonkey script to add Technorati tags for blogger posts. I customized it to do 85% size and double colon, just because I can.

Gmail for personal email - I get about 5-10 emails per day. I'm a big fan of gmail labels. Lotus Notes for corporate email. I get about 150 emails per day, most of it is noise. I use Notes Agents since some of my email are automated messages that help monitor some systems - those emails are automatically moved from my Inbox to designated folders. Our Notes retention is 60 days. Mostly, even though I know GTD says not to do this, I just work out of my Inbox. Also, when I am not near a computer, I check Gmail over my phone [I just got a Motorola E815 today - not a Razor, but I like it a lot already and it's a company phone] a lot. Do I need therapy?

Lotus Sametime and Gaim for Instant Messaging. There is also a Sametime plug in for Gaim, so that you can use AIM, MSN, Sametime and YahooMessenger in all one software platform. I tried it a few months ago and had some issues, which might have been due to a Sametime server at work. And Google Chat sometimes.

Windows Explorer2 for file management. It's nicer because it allows three window panes - one for folders, and then two for the actual files/content.

GIMP for graphics work - but I'm no expert. To just view images I use Irfanview. It is a very lightweight graphics viewer and has some extra tools, like thumbnail images for long file recursive file paths and a fully customizable slideshow viewer.

MS Office - I've been a long time lover of Excel - think 3-d charts.

Skype for VOIP - and am interested in getting a webcam to try the video.

Flickr for photos - I almost always upload via email.

Bloglines - for anything RSS related. I have about 200 feeds. Sometimes I add feeds of comment threads for posts that I want to follow. I have folders in Bloglines too.

Palm Desktop for contacts and calendar. I would like to move to Google Calendar, but I'm not sure anyone has figured out exporting from a Palm file into Google Calendar. I also used to carry around a PalmPilot (IIIx and then a Vx) but then decided all that info wasn't that important to have at any moment's notice. Although, if I traveled more, I would start carrying one again. A Treo or something would be nice too, since I just typed in 171 contacts into my phone today. [And I can't figure out who Sam is...]

Putty for unix terminals. The only thing is you can't print very well from Putty, but otherwise, it's great. [I'm required to be a geek sometimes.]

VIM for any text files on my Windows machine. vi on UNIX, - like, of course.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

First Logistics

Tomorrow, I pay a deposit for our airline tickets to Cameroon. This is that moment where the trip becomes real. Unlike last year, we got more of a jump on time, so instead of having to pay for the whole thing, I only need to pay a deposit tomorrow.

Along those lines, logistically compared to last year, we are a bit further along than last year. Our support letters didn't go out until late May and I didn't purchase anything dealing with airfare until early June.

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Email updates via FeedBlitz

I've added the option of getting posts of this blog through email - via FeedBlitz. All you have to do is enter your email in the subscribe form on the sidebar at the right. And don't worry, your email will never be sold or any of that kind of stuff. I'm going to try it for a few weeks or so to see how I like it. Of course, if there are a bunch of subscribers via the email feed, I certainly won't remove it.

Seems like kind of a cool way for readers to get updates if they aren't interested in a newsreader. And other compelling reasons - from the FeedBlitz FAQ:
Not everyone understands RSS, Atom and XML. Only a fraction of US Internet users knowingly use RSS subscriptions and know what it is. If you don't provide an alternative mechanism for users to subscribe to your content, you're missing out on reaching over 80% of your potential audience.
RSS aggregation requires a feed-aware browser or a custom aggregator (either on your desktop or a web service). . . .
Email is ubiquitous. Everyone has it. It is the Internet's killer app. Phones, PDAs, almost any connected device can send and receive email. Email is a way to get your content to users on platforms without an RSS aggregator, or to products where getting RSS requires paying for a custom application and excessive airtime charges.
Email is great for fast moving feeds. If you're offline, your email server holds the feed updates until you're ready. For busy feeds, which may drop posts after a day or a week, email becomes the only way to read articles published and dropped while you're not able to use an aggregator, such as when you're away traveling, on vacation or during a lengthy power outage.
Email is searchable. . . .
Email is local. . . .
Most importantly - users want it. Email subscriptions. Simple concept. Huge demand. Why not?!

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Student Teams and Parties

As I was inviting a student to our team, I got the chance to sit down and talk about the trip with him and his parents. Like I wrote about in a previous post, I have found it really is the ideal situation when making these sort of invitations. One action I have learned this year - for each invitation, a face to face conversation is something I need to make the effort for.

Our main ministry tasks will revolve around building and catalyzing relationships with Cameroonian high school kids - if you think it sounds very similiar to our Brasil trip last summer, you are right. Somehow, I think I might be getting a reputation of planning party-centric mission trips. Last summer a Fusion team spent 4 weeks digging rock for a basketball court in Guatamala while our Brasil team went to the mall and movies, hosted a karoke night, went bowling and had a party with the Pizza Man.

Our hosts this summer are involved in building local, indigenous youth workers in Cameroon. Much of their long term success will lie in relationships with high schoolers and calling these high schoolers into some kind of ministry leadership. And part of the excitement for them this summer is having a team of American students come visit them. We aren't all that, but it is a draw for them.

During the conversation last night, as we were talking about what this trip really is about, it hit me: This type of trip is perfect. Ministry to other students, in another country, with the long term goal of discpleship, serving and engaging other students, takes total advantage of the gifts, talents and natural context for our high schoolers. Traditional building projects, childrens Bible clubs and street evangelism are all valid depending on their context. But I can't help but love what we did last summer and what we are going to do this summer.

Party on.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Just Two More

We invited two more guys to be on the Cameroon team today. I think both love the idea. I got the opportunity to sit down and talk with the parents of one of them too, which is probably the best way to do this kind of inviting. Maybe I should have made that extra effort with some of the other invitations.

Typically, we don't plan anything for students that just graduate high school. Once they graduate, they are no longer under SPACE's charge. This summer, for Cameroon, I'm okay with us extending invitations to graduating seniors. I'm starting to think that each year is going to require us to be flexible in our approach to kids that just graduate and that this deliniation is not so firm.

These two guys are great - just like all the kids we have invited. These two specifically have been through some of the mission progression we are striving for - one of them was on a NYC team I led in 2004, and then both of them went on the Trinidad team last summer in 2005 - another team that specifically partnered with a GCC supported family.

I hope they both say yes. They both would add some incredible talent, experience and heart to the team.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Language - Retreat

"(leaders don’t retreat, that’s why we call it our “Leadership Advance” rather than retreat)."
Comment by Eric Bryant, one of the Mosaic staff. Hmm, I think they are on to something.

In the meantime, D is having a great time on her Womens Retreat.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Homebound Kids

I just put the girls to bed a little bit ago. D is away on a womens retreat this weekend and I'm still a bit sick, like I have been all week. And I have to work Saturday night - which is probably most of the reason why I am sick,

The girls decided they wanted to sleep together tonight and they decided that they wanted to sleep on the floor together in Em's room. My personal preference, if I were them - after being away for around 12 days on and off, and sleeping in three different houses in those 12 days, spending close to 30 hours in a car off and on, one of them being sick half of the time - would be to sleep in my own bed, in my own room, with no one to bother me. Instead, they are absolutely thrilled to share a round, short cushion from one of those pampasan chairs, while half of their bodies flop onto the floor.

I love this about my kids. That they can sleep anywhere. That they can adjust and feel at home in most places. That they can be mobile and usually it's not a big deal. I hope this pattern for both of them continues into their adult lives. If God's call on their lives is what I hope it is, they will dream as the Spirit guides and moves them. Home will not be a fixed place that is far away, but will be a place they bring with them everywhere the Wind moves them and something they give to the lost and destitute.

More Frost Audio

Bob Hyatt has graciously posted links for three of Michael Frost's [The Shaping of Things to Come] talks. I haven't listened to them yet, but am looking forward to it.

2006 Senior Weekend

SPACE [Students Prepared to Act for Christ’s Empire], the service/mission components of GCC's student ministries, invites you - graduating Senior - to a senior weekend mission experience. This weekend is an exercise in missionally living, engaging with different cultural contexts and serving alongside your peers with impact. A surprise destination is one of the key aspects of this weekend.
Thurs 5/11 - 3:00pm Meet at Grace Community Church
- 3:30pm Leave in private cars and church van all driven by leaders
- 9:00pm Arrive in ***
- 9:30pm Go to ***
Fri 5/12 - 10:00am Various ministry projects at ***
- 3:00pm Help out at after school program hosted by ***
- 7:00pm Attend a *** youth group
Sat 5/13 - 9:00am Visit the *** (possibly)
- 3:00pm Return to *** to help set up for a ***
- 6:00pm Attend the ***
- 9:00pm Leave *** for home
Sun 5/14 - 2:30am Return to Grace Community Church

More info very soon, including when and where your parents can pick up the information sheet and permission form.

Related: The 2005 Senior Black Hole Experience

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rejected Invitations

I'm a little perplexed at this point. For the Cam team, we have had 3 invitations respectfully declined. Now, I'm okay with getting declined. At least I tell myself that.

We are trying to fill the male spots on this team, and those 3 were our good hopes of some quality male guys being on the team. Not that I have anything against girls - you know the contrary. But we have to get some male mix on this team, for the benefit of not only myself and GMur, but for everyone else - the rest of the team, our in-country hosts, the students we will be building relationships with.

At the start of this process, I worried that we would get the 'mission tourists' - those people that want to go on a missions trip because the destination was rad cool. "Africa!" they would say. That group of people was precisely one of the reasons we started SPACE, because a connection with a culture, family and locality was far more important than going somewhere because it was cool, exotic or glamorous. Instead, now I'm worried that we won't be able to get any more guys on the team and that it would really dismay the one guy student signed up already. It appears that some people have no difficulty turning down what I would think as the opportunity of a lifetime - traveling to a country very close to the 10/40 window, to build relationships with other peers from another culture, working to encourage and bless a family supported by our church, led by a team of local church student ministry leaders.

Am I missing something obvious?

Nonetheless, the team will be fine if it is all girls. We will manage. It will be a great adventure regardless of who declines, worth every ounce of energy and risk, because there are families living in Cameroon intentionally and they would love us to come, hang with them, get to know some high school students and show them that this kind of investment is just a tad of what God did when He sent Jesus.

That post was written kind of late. There *is* something obvious I am missing and I do need to at least jot it down here. This trip might be too risky for some families and as leaders, we have to be fair to them as they determine God's leading for what is right for them. Leaders must be sensitive to students and their families as they work through how God is calling them. After reading my post, I hope I didn't come across as too insensitive in that regard.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lucky Me

My cab driver from last night turned in my cell phone.... Kind of pathetic how we are tied to those things huh...

Home Again

Flew home last night in a bit of a fog - I think I have a touch of the flu.... Then I think I left my cell phone in my cab... That stinks.

I did gather the Cameroon leaders late last night just to talk a bit, see each other face to face and pray.  I really loved it and am really looking forward to working with this group of people.  They will sacrifice and lead - it is within their DNA.  To you that were there last night, I hope I wasn't too scattered...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter fun

We are having a great time here in Savannah for Easter, except Em is a bit sick.  We went to the beach last night and everyone except for Em and D went to church this morning at Rivers Community Church, one of the congregations of a church planting network called The Sycamore Network.  Rivers is where my sister-in-law's family goes and they have taken good good care of them.  Good experience for my kids to see church like this.  Maybe more beach on Monday or the walk in health clinic for Em.  I fly home Monday evening, while the girls and the Madre stay a few more days.

When telling my sister-in-law about the summer's team to Cameroon and our host family, she asked, "Where do people like that come from?" 

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Georgia ...

We are in Savannah for Easter weekend.  Be back at home late Monday night. 

- The tomb was not enshrined
Since Jesus' tomb was not recognized as a shrine of worship, this also indicates that it was empty. It was common in that day for the tombs of holy men to be enshrined. In Palestine at that time, the tombs of at least fifty prophets or other religious figures were enshrined as places of worship and veneration. Yet, according to James G. Dunn, there is "absolutely no trace" of any veneration at Jesus' tomb. The obvious reason for this lack of veneration is that Jesus was not buried but instead resurrected.

Read more from Mark Driscoll's post about Circumstantial Evidence for the Resurrection .
Have a great Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2006

In the light of Good Friday

At six o'clock on an April evening in 2001, five-year old Arjun Janki Dass died in New Delhi from an accidental electrocution.
His parents took him to a medical clinic where they worked on his body for two hours - without success.  The doctor charged them 5,000 rupees (about $110) and told them to call a mortician.
Instead they called Rodrick at the nearby Deliverance Church.  He then called upon Savitri, one of his staff members.
Savitri brought two other Christians to Arjun's home, and the five of them began praying over the dead body about 10:00pm.  They prayed their hearts out for six hours.  Then at 4:00am the next morning, Arjun snapped back to life - no brain damage, no problems.
Today, he's a normal eight-year-old kid.  I met with Savitri, Arjun and his mother, Mina and the boy is A-OK except for a nasty scar behind his left ear where the wire hit.
Savitri is a 60-year-old widow, a Dalit from the lowly Dom caste.  She spent her life as a street sweeper, which made her, in the caste system, the lowest of the low.  The broom was her livelihood, and she remains today a fine, humble lady, a former Hindu turned to Christ.
As we were parting, I asked Savitri through an interpreter, "How many resurrections have you been involved with in the six years that you've been doing ministry?"
She answered quietly, "Sixteen."
For a moment, my brain froze.  Then I began to re-evaluate my life.  
I would give you Savitri's e-mail address so you could check her out for yourself, but she doesn't have one.  She can't read.
- MegaShift

posted via email

Thursday, April 13, 2006

So you want to be a missionary?

Some great tips summarized from Nuno Barreto , "I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly of foreign missionaries to Portugal, and it's time to speak out. This is for everyone that want's to know how it feels to have missionaries sent to him."

Technorati tags:: missions

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cameroon Leader Reading - #1

Hi Cameroon team leaders,

Here is some light reading for you...

** The Road to Hell is Unpaved

** NationMaster info on Cameroon

** Joshua Project [the best resource on unreached people groups] info on Cameroon

** Baptist General Conf missionary report

** Young Urban Kenyans

** Shona Burial Traditions

See you Monday night. If my flight is delayed, make yourself at home.

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I thought I loved the back row

Every believer was expected to worship God every day, both in private and in the company of other believers. This did not require a 'worship service;' it only necessitated a commitment to feel the awe of God's magnificence, to express gratitude for His love and authority, to acknowledge His control and power, to follow Him with dedication, and to enjoy the miracle of His relationship with us.- George Barna on Intimate Worship as one of the Seven Passions of Revolutionaries, Revolution

When I was in high school, it was like pulling teeth to get me and my group of friends to sing in youth group, much less 'worship.' Week after week, we were consistently in the back row. Worship was, unfortunately, not even on our radar. I was even from an unchurched family - you would think I would be somewhat grateful for God and what He had done for me. Negative.

We got Em this Hillsong kids CD for Christmas. A few nights ago, we put it in for the girls right after their bath and before bed. We put on the track that has the words at the bottom so you sing along. While Em just jumped around to the music, K used the 15 minutes as her 'reading homework" and sang to it. [And yes indeed I signed her homework paper for it.]

When I first showed up at the Warehouse in the fall of 1997, things were cozy. The group of kids there seemed like one medium sized family compared to today. That first night there was full of games, food and a talk. When the evening was winding down, these two high school girls grabbed two mics, and put in a worship karoke dvd, cranked up the volume and sang at the top of their lungs. I noticed it right then and there, and continue to notice it even today. It isn't singing that they are doing. It is worship. And these kids love it. You cannot stop them.

This generation of students is not interested in sitting in the back row.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Star Wars, Forrest Gump and Perspectives

I went to Perspectives last night [yeah again, but probably the last time this semester.] There were two speakers and both were exceptional again. The topic was Pioneer Church Planting, and I was reminded of a few important topics including:
- indigenous [originating in and typical of a region or country]
- contextualization [presenting the Gospel in ways which consider the world view of the respondent culture]
- redemptive analogy [a story, legend, etc. embedded in a culture that can be used to demonstrated the Gospel]

I was also reminded that not only are these concepts vital for cross cultural ministry, they are just as important to grow people in our own culture that live on mission and purpose. Students should own the ministry. Let them do whatever they can themselves. Listen and learn from them about their culture.

I dragged LB with me to class. I was pretty sure she was going to like it, but not totally confident. That changed when first, I realized that she had been typing notes into her laptop for just about the whole duration of the class and secondly, when she got out her 'laptop pen' and drew the graphic the speaker had on the board into her high-tech touch screen/notetaking software thingy.

One of my favorite redemptive analogies from our culture is the movie The Shawshank Redemption. The main character Andy lives with such a hope that all around him are curious and intrigued. Last night, the speaker mentioned Star Wars and then asked for more examples from our culture. One of the students mentioned Forrest Gump. Hmm, I'm going to have to think about that second one a little bit.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The greatest traveler of all time

#1 - Captain James Cook
Captain Cook discovered more of the earth's surface than any other man and excelled as a scientist, cartographer and surveyor.
Places visited: He circumnavigated the globe twice, visited all seven continents and crossed the Arctic and Antarctic circles.
Hardships suffered: Sailed with Captain Bligh, recovered from biliary colic by eating stew made from a ship's dog; was clubbed to death in Hawaii.
Changed-the-world rating: By finding Australia and mapping New Zealand, Captain Cook essentially created the map of the Pacific we know today. He also anticipated ethnology and anthropology - and, arguably, independent travel. His aim to go "farther than any man has been before me but only as far as I think it possible for a man to go" is an inspiration to every traveler.
Read more from this article in the Independent - The 10 greatest travelers of all time via Gadling

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Invites - Cameroon team

I think we are almost done with inviting specific students for our Cameroon team for this summer. This past week, two students that were invited have made commitments - very exciting. These two bring some serious energy, fun and servant hearts. There are three more outstanding invitations. We'll see about those. I will tell you more about the team as a whole later.

This trip has also brought out some other interesting issues with SPACE, and I think student ministry in general. First, there are going to be kids that you will seek out for a team and they will not be interested. There are bound to be lots of logsitical reasons including academics, athletics [lots of students getting ready for fall sports in the summer time,] and having to get jobs to make money. It is a list of many of the same conflicts with kids and student ministries in general. These kids lead busy lives. What is easy to miss [and I missed it at first - D didn't] is that because of the risk and fear - some students might find it easier to say no because of the unknown. I found that a helpful nudge to not be so quick to judge. I'm a bit scared too.

Secondly, parents might have issue with the team mix. Honesty and openness is the ruling set of principles here, but in the end, parents have to make the decision on their own. It's a balance of judgment about your team, their trust and desires for their student. And in school, sports teams, after school jobs, and yes, even youth groups, there will be kids we don't want our kids spending time with.

Thirdly, lest you think SPACE is all that, I can't give too many details but there are kids that have been part of our experiences that have dropped the Jesus thing. It pains me. Maybe we have not given them an experience where they have met God first hand and found Him worthy.

See a related post about some characteristics we look for specific for the SPACE team [learner, servant, leader.]

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Hollywood Around

Some current posts about Hollywood and such...

Brian Russell posts about some principles when using movies as teaching tools. Brian is a professor at the Orlando campus of Asbury. Ah, Orlando....

A few from Barbara Nicolosi :
- "Screwtape on DVC".
- What are the worst misconceptions Christians have about Hollywood and visa versa?

Scot McNight, scholar and prof at North Park University posts about the Gospel of Judas. Well worth a read.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Attention - Grace CpR Seniors

#1 - Have a great last CpR retreat this weekend.

#2 - You are invited...
SPACE [Students Prepared to Act for Christ’s Empire], the service/mission components of GCC’s student ministries, invites YOU to a senior weekend mission experience. This weekend is an exercise in missionally living, engaging with different cultural contexts and serving alongside their peers with impact.

Authority and Interventions

Rebellion against authority means that a person is not subjecting himself to God, though it may appear that the person is rejecting some impure manifestation of God's authority through a human channel. - J. Robert Clinton, The Making of a Leader

I can remember some intense conversations on mission experiences and they all deal with the appearance of rejecting an "impure manifestation of God's authority." I like to call them 'interventions.' I know I'm being a bit overly dramatic, but in many mission experiences, these types of conversations are painful, important and a little too close for our comfort.

I can remember having these types of conversations with whole teams [my whole team of 5 in 1994 were irate at me], small groups [two students upset at one leader], and one on one [me and one student]. It all varies and every time, it is difficult.

Sometimes it is inevitable. Mission experiences are pressure-cookers full of ranges of new and intense cultural, logistical and emotional situations. Adolescent emotions swing within a wide range. And of course, living 24x7 with the same people can also be difficult.

But the biggest cause of these conversations is authority. A leader saying something a student didn't appreciate. A leader not showing enough touchy feely love to a student. A student not getting enough respect. It seems to always be related to a leader and a student and always about the leader's level of authority over the student.

Here are a few ideas that I think may help, even before we get into the authority scenarios - and when its too late.

1 - As the lead leader, believe in your leaders.
Encourage them, uphold them, have a good dialogue with them once something like this happens. And tell them that it is okay. Give them permission to have students dislike or not agree with them. They are *your* leaders. You picked them. They sacrificed a huge amount to serve with you. And you know how capable they are, what kind of character quality they have and how they would lay down their lives for these kids.

2 - As the lead leader, believe in your students, just a little less.
I know there are kids reading this. And I will tell you - face to face as well as in a post - that I put more trust in the leaders than you. Not a lot more...but the balance swings in their favor. Not that I don't believe you, because I do. Since I picked these leaders, I know them. I know how they see you. And I can tell you that they adore you. You have easily won their hearts. They would, and as a matter of fact, have, sacrificed enormous amounts for you - to give you this experience - so that you can do something with it.

3 - As a leader, be gentle with your students. Keep sarcasm in check. Respect them, listen to them, love them within this awesome opportunity you have sacrificed for to get them here.

4 - As a student, respect your leaders. They know more details, have a bigger picture and are committed to your growth and well-being. They are wholly, 100% on your side.

5 - If there is an issue, talk about it. Get it out in the open. Appreciate honesty from all sides. Most of the time, just talking about it helps immensely.

And let's remember that authority is a big issue in life, not just on mission trips. It affects a whole lifetime, including my teachers, my boss, my kids, and ultimately, how I view and obey God.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Informal Team Prep

There is a lot of formal mission prep that we hope to do this summer. What is just as important is the informal, that includes time the kids and leaders hang together, time they spend together involved in other things and the individual growth and maturity [spiritually and other] that each person pursues on their own.

Tonight, I had an opportunity to hang with our DC team as they served at a local elementary school. I got a request a few months ago for some students to come and help out with a sort of open gym night at a local school, while some adults from GCC were running some kind of parenting seminar. On one hand, it looked a lot like free day care. But on the other hand, it fit in perfectly with this idea of informal preparation, so I signed up. Where else could some students get a first hand look at working with kids, with no advance preparation. Luckily, a bunch of the team showed up. Otherwise, it would have been me, my girls, 30 screaming elementary kids, 20 hula-hoops, and 25 basketballs.

Park and children's ministry is always fun, easy and is a great way to build relationships. Students have a great time, the kids love new people and parents are usually pretty appreciative which can lead to receptivity. Hopefully tonight was a good primer for these students to get a feel for some hang out time with kids. I think they might be doing a lot of that in DC.

Formatting Issues

Sorry everyone. I had a bunch of formatting errors - you could only see it in IE though. Remember to look at your blog every once in a while in IE instead of just Firefox. Hopefully will be fixed soon.

If you read from RSS, sorry for all the dups.

Is My Lunch Still Saved?

I stepped out at lunch today for a quick bite. As I was line at a grocery store, I saw an old acquaintance. Many years ago, his two sons were students in a youth ministry parachurch program I was involved with. We said hello and he asked me,

"Are you still saved?"

I mumbled something, since I was a little surprised at that question. Then he gave me a tract. He was going to give me one with an Islamic symbol on it, but then muttered, "I need that one, I have a Muslim coming on board." He then gave me one titled The Long Trip.

I just can't believe that this is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote about being prepared to give an answer. Yuck.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Why Again?

It's been a bit crazy around here - been one of those times when it's easy to think about packing it all up.... But tell me again why we do this?

Psalm 67:1-7

Psalm 67
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song.
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah
2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
3 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah
5 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
6 Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.
7 God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

SPACE virtual meetings

We have IM meetings all the time at work. I hardly ever have them outside of work, but it actually is kind of cool.

Last week, we had one with the Cameroon leader team. Here is a small glimpse into the characters that I am working with...
ts (10:03:29 PM): ok everyone is here
gregm (10:03:33 PM): i kinda actually feel like we are all at a meeting
ts (10:03:34 PM): everyone type something so we know its all working
nlind (10:03:43 PM): something
lb (10:03:49 PM): i heart somethings
spaceintern (10:03:50 PM): something
gregm (10:03:52 PM): the average weight of a golfball is 2.3 ounces
lb (10:03:55 PM): wow
lb (10:03:57 PM): impressive
ts (10:04:03 PM): yeah and everyone is a comedian
gregm (10:04:07 PM): hahaha
lb (10:04:11 PM): we learned from the best, tony

Saturday, April 01, 2006

BR - Saturday

Luke 5:12-28
"12While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.'
13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' And immediately the leprosy left him.
14Then Jesus ordered him, 'Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.'
15Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
The man didn't tell anyone and news still spread.

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