Saturday, August 25, 2007

See you in September

I'm taking a little blog break until sometime in September. Even though the blog will be quiet, here is a list of things below that are still cooking around the international office:

:: Youth Leader Retreat - This is an annual thing and it continues to impress me that we have a ministry that invests in leaders of students. I'm only going up for the day on Saturday with some of our SPACE peeps - my goal is to plan a bit of the fall as well as do some development with them [aka Erwin McManus videos]
- I'm speaking at Light Company [our middle school gathering] on Sunday, doing the post Missions thing. Big church is also doing it. If I can snag the video and audio, I will upload it later. [Video and audio from last summer's post mission Sunday.]
- Cameroon team reunion with the Nens on Sunday afternoon. They are in the States for furlough and are living in MD for a few weeks.
- School starts on Monday for the girlies.
- I'm running a workshop for GCC's leadership development program - one evening in September and one evening in February. The LDP is Grace's attempt at growing and training leaders. My session is entitled, "Leading In The Global Matrix." Catchy, eh?
- And of course, the most important project is jotting down quotes you could use on mission trips from the film Ice Age 2.

See you in a few weeks.

Hungary Images

Placeholder post for images.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hungary and Me

Like the past summer SPACE teams I have led, this experience was majorly impactful as well. I feel like I'm continuing to learn about myself, leadership and the world that God has called us to help serve. This summer was no different - I'm a different person because I went. And like every summer, what a privilege.

Here are some personal highlights:
:: The Fam
Having my family on the team was definitely a different dynamic. Most apparent was just needing to give some attention and time to D and the girls - not a bad thing at all. We did a stellar job in the selection and identification phase for this leader team and they were awesome, especially when I needed to bail a little bit - like the evening in Munich. And each one of the team members really just loved my family so much during the week, which was awesome for me to see. My fam was truly a part of the team, not just along for the ride.

There were certainly times I did feel the pressure between leading the team and being a husband and father, but that pressure was worth it. We all fell in love with Europe [what's not to love?], K continued to exercise her heart for others, and Em's first missional experience was in the context of serving those who serve. And of course, D was a glue that held both our family and the team together in so many ways. I believe, like we hoped when we planned this, that this experience was a milestone in our girls' lives.

:: Europe and CAI
I continue to be astounded at Europe's need and continue to have the highest admiration for families that leave everything behind to see humanity rescued. Like previous years, connecting with these kinds of families has been a great experience. CAI seems like a great community and many of their values resonate with me, most specifically - empowerment, experimentation and the development of leadership. If Europe is on your mind, you should check CAI out. And all the families made a huge impact on us. We know we were there to serve them, but their hospitality, openness, honesty and willingness to share their experiences with us was a profound blessing.

:: Sending
I think this team of students may do it. It's always hard to compare teams and trips, but I see a glimmer in the eyes of these students that I have not seen in others. A glimmer and shine that reflects both the world in need and the light inside. Only time and their resolve will tell, but when they depart - in order to restore, renew and rescue humanity - I will be sad in the moment and ecstatic in the future.

And that is why we - you and I - do this.

Related: - D's post about the team and my photos


I think I mentioned before we left that our whole piece of the children's program was created by our students. Theme, craft rotations, teachings via the short dramas, all of it was their creation. Some of the actual craft assemblies were the adults but overall, it was really our students. I've never seen a team put it all together like this one.

By Tricia and Elly
To the tune of Do-Re-Mi

We are here to watch your kids
And we are really excited
We have come from Baltimore Maryland
A long long way to fly
So sit back and relax
And enjoy your time here
We are here to serve you
All fifteen of us

Deanna, the mother of Katie and Emily
Kt, she's young but mature
Em, she's bubbly and outgoing
Sven, he's lived in lots of places
Emilie, she goes to college on the west coast
Michelle, she likes to play field hockey
Lindsey, she likes to rock climb
And Trevin's really good at soccer

Tricia, at home she is a lifeguard
Elly, it's her summer job as well
Greg, he is a high school math teacher
Robyn, she takes really good pictures
Erin, she works at our church
Leslie, she's training for a marathon
Tony, the leader of us all
And we are the Hungary team!
A snippet from one of the skits, all written by RobynB.
Sven: *looks around* Okay….now that I’ve forgiven Lindsey… how do I find this treasure. *looks at kids* Do you know where the treasure is? *improvise here, going off of their reactions, just don’t find it right away. Eventually, you find the cross first, not the treasure* Hey, a cross! This is to remind me about forgiveness! *looks back at kids* What? The treasure’s over here? *finds it..* X marks the spot….*ponders* Hey! Cross marks the spot! *opens the chest….and just stares at it for a few moments* It’s not gold at all! *looks at kids* Look! *pulls things from chest, the key heart, the patch, the compass, the cross* Love…Kindness…Patience! A new compass! …And forgiveness! *holds them up, shows them to the kids, finds something else in the chest, a paper and he reads it: * Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… *realizing* For where your treasure is…*looks up* there your heart will be also! I…I think I get it! Love, kindness, patience, forgiveness…these treasures are way better than gold!

*Everyone comes out that he’s met on his journey.*

Tricia: Hey, Pirate Sven. Did you find your treasure?

Sven: *turns excitedly* Yeah, Tricia, I did! Look! *shows her* Love!

Tricia: *laughs*

Sven: *to Elly* And, Elly, look! Kindness! Like the Good Samaritan!!

Elly: That’s great, Pirate Sven!

Sven: *to Michelle* Michelle! Patience! And Lindsey, I got a new compass! And, *holds up cross* Forgiveness! These are the real treasures, not gold!

*All four girls smile excitedly and congratulate him…*

Parrot: RAWK! Well done, Pirate Sven! You realized the treasures God wants you to have!

Sven: Polly Parrot! Thank you for all your help! This is awesome! *turns to kids* Look, mateys! I found me treasure!! Now you should search for yours! Love, kindness, patience, forgiveness! God will give you all these things! And you can give them to others! Arrrrrr, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also! *looks back at everyone else* Come on, guys! Let’s share the treasures! *they…all…go off stage happily?*

Hungary Brain Dump

absolutely no rhyme or reason to this deluge of information - except to motivate you...

:: For a global missions org like CAI, even the kids ministry team needs to be at the top of their game.
identification/selection and preparation in both ministry skills and the big picture of affecting humanity

:: Debriefing in Munich
should have listened to D
ended up at a hotel too far in the suburbs
too much travel time to get into the city and landed too late in the day
team [minus Shengri-Las] still went into downtown Munich but it was a long day
and I left my wallet on an unattended cafe table for 20 minutes in the Munich airport.

:: CAI
organic, experimental, low-hierarchy, almost solely church planting, lots of tattoos
cool, young, hip missionaries, emerging culture

:: CAI internships - Brussels
either for post high school or post college
post high school - spend 3 months in Bible college in Europe - good time to acclimate to European culture
focused on action, experimental, etc. very well thought out
team leaders were youth pastors in the US and then in Europe before CAI
about Brussels - mix of French and Flemish
150,000 people, a third are immigrants
hq of the EU

:: Worship
in the sessions brought tears to my eyes every time - i have no idea why

:: CAI process
If you are not already living intentionally, being on staff won't make a difference.

:: Europe
.05% in France are evangelical
Most people that come from Perspectives are very focused on the 10/40 window and Europe gets lost.
You have made it through your first year on the field, describe it. "Brutal." - Megan

:: Leadership
Everyone can be a leader - everyone can have influence over at least one more person.
Fuller's MA in Global Leadership sounds great if you are in your twenties or thirties

:: Say What?
There was a missions org in the conference center ending their conference as ours was beginning. They were your parents missionaries... and their conference [nor any of their conferences] did not accommodate any children. Not everything that falls under the label of "Missions" is inherently good or right.

Photos: Pirate Sven and EllyK, some of the girls and TriciaB and RobynB's VBS group.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vienna Day

Vienna Day was a pretty cool experience. Kudos to the leadership team of CAI for dreaming huge. The overall idea was to send the whole conference - kids and all - into Vienna to work with on-the-ground, local outreach and service projects.

Some of the projects included:
- taking the elderly on a stroll around the zoo [this one is my favorite]
- ad hoc soccer and basketball games in the city
- street outreach with drama and music
- cleaning up a youth center
- refurbishing an old home for the elderly
[I'm sure there are more projects, I couldn't find my list.]

From a logistics point of view, think Mission Advance*400. [MPM, you would haved loved this.] 300 people, kids care at a local church [families had the option of taking their kids on projects or leaving them at a church], team leaders all with detailed directions, public transit tickets, bag lunches for everyone, 6 coach buses, BBQ dinner at a park when it's all done, and then getting everyone back home.

Our team's original plan was for all of us to hang at the church. About a month before the conference, one of our contacts had the brilliant idea of sending us out with specific families on their projects to help with their kids - a sort of babysitter for the day. Of course, we thought it was a fantastic idea. As Vienna Day got closer, the idea got nixed. But then at the last minute, our contact pulled some strings and each one of our students go to go out.

If you gathered a group of your most intentional and missional friends for a week long party, most of them wouldn't be content to just sit around the whole time, would they? That is the essence of Vienna Day.

Photostream from the day here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Leading with a 3 year old

TS: I'm a really good team player when I am in charge.
ES: I'm a really good team player too when you are in charge.
Our biggest issue from the Hungary experience was difficulty working with another team. Two issues were very different styles of leadership from the point leaders and differing expectations of capacity and skill between teams. Both of these aspects could only have been worked out when the teams were brought together.

The quoted exchange above is a true one, I actually said that. Realizing that teams take on the persona of their leader [no matter what kind of team], I know that some of the difficulty in working with another team could have been something that I projected. And I know that if I'm a good team player only when I'm in charge, working with me could be like working with a 3 year old. It's something I need to be keenly aware of.

In the end though, once everyone got into their groove and over their jet lag, a lot of grace was given on both sides. We also experienced the 'cause creates community' idea, since our team had a bit more to concentrate on than just trying to get along with each other and this team was one of the most cohesive that I've helped lead, probably for that very reason. All of us together - the CalifTeam, us and the two fabulous ladies from Boston - shaped and molded a fantastic environment for the kids of CAI.

Photo: A photo of some StrengthsFinder scribble. [More on this later, but CAI has a team of missional consultants from LeadershipVision that come to every conference as well as visiting specific projects to work with their teams.]

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hungary Overall Schedule

Thursday am - land in Vienna, check into Hotel Delta, meet CalifTeam, walk the promenade down the street from our hotel - need to remember to buy the girls flat water.
Thursday aft and eve - bus tour of Vienna - amazing - dinner in First District, around the corner from the opera house - girls go to opera with CalifTeam.
Friday am - our team minus the Sheng women go to Belvedere Palace before it is open, take shuttle from Vienna into Sopron, new passport stamp.
Friday pm - first kids club - spur of the moment, no real program
Sat am - kids club - same ad hoc make it up as you go
Sat aft - kids club - I snuck into one of the sessions
Sat eve - dinner with LeadershipVision guy - what the heck. If I could have a dinner like this once a year, I would be set.
Sun am - worship with preconference, and then kids club
Sun pm - first kids club with whole conference
Mon - Vienna day - amazing
Tues - Sopron with our team in the morning, kids club aft and first pirate sven in the evening.
Wed - kids all day morning aft night
Thurs - breakfast with missions pastor from CT, kids morning and after, dinner with team leaders from Brussels to talk about internship process and strucutre with CAI
Fri - kids morning, clean in aft, last sven in evening
Sat - departure in the am - land in Munich mid afternoon, team dinner in Erding and rest of the team goes into downtown Munich
Sun - home

Pre Conference Session Notes

Church Planting and Movement Making
Martin Robinson
[Notes from the one session I snuck in to]

- Tear Fund research in the UK
important not to talk ourselves into insignificance
53% of UK claim to be Christians - all is not lost in Europe
- unusual situation in London [or all capital cities in Europe] - immigration
more than 50% of population is ethnic
minorities are not going away
- Christian vs. secular - not very much overlap
- Spirituality yes, church no
- consumer challenge
- challenge of youth
- churches are not connected with local communities
although ethnic churches seem to do a better job at this
- reinvention of the workplace
industrialization is coming to an end
- church plant
renewal of the church
redefinition of mainstream

- reproducing old models of church
- rearranging the kingdom - transfer growth is not going to do it
- movement creation - plant churches vs. plant a movement
- creation of intentional missionary movement
cultural exegesis
spiritual direction
most church planters are isolated and lonely

- Fresh expressions of church or mission
- mission is very hard work
- act quickly in relation to youth
- initiatives are no substitute for long term
- we've lost the skills to create viable communities of disciples [vs. members]

Key Issues
- cultural exegesis
- thought tribes [Driscoll]
- value tribes
- experience tribes
- high and popular culture - philosophy/thought and pop cultural are now deeply connected - think The Matrix and deep philosophy

- Listening
- Interpret
- Doing missional theology
- Reshaping
- Receptivity is a function of God conversations
Based on prayer and the miraculous
- Europe - there is an absence of a God-consciousness
- people of peace - Luke 10

Org Capacities
- constant relationship building - we keep people too busy
- evangelistic structures - build open communities
- discipleship capacity
- rapid mobilization
- sit light to buildings but remember sacred spaces - important to Europeans
- leadership development of the non-professional

I asked the speaker the following questions [with the answers following them.]
- What is the most successful movement off the top of your head, religious or not?
The underground church in China.
- You spoke about the short window for youth in the UK. What would you do about that?
Partner with existing churches that have influence in the local, public schools. Public schools are asking for people to come in to the schools for service projects, etc.

Travel Logistics

Here is a glimpse into our travel logistics for the Hungary team. Thankfully, not all of this was something I had to plan and confirm.

private cars : Columbia to Dulles airport
air : Dulles to Vienna Austria
shuttle bus : Vienna Austria airport to Vienna Austria hotel
shuttle bus : Vienna Austria airport to Sopron Hungary
shuttle bus : Sopron Hungary to Vienna church for Vienna day
public tram, subway, bus : teams travel in Vienna Austria during Vienna day
shuttle bus : Vienna Austria to Sopron Hungary
shuttle bus : Sopron Hungary to Vienna Austria airport
air : Vienna Austria to Munich Germany
shuttle bus : Munich Germany airport to Erdin Germany hotel
public bus : Erdin Germany hotel to train station
public train : train station to downtown Munich
taxi : train station to hotel
shuttle bus : hotel to Munich airport
air : Munich Germany to Dulles
private cars : Dulles to Columbia

The Gospel moves...

Photo: Our team either arriving or leaving...Hotel Delta, Vienna, Austria.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ah Home

Fantastic trip. Will tell you more about it this week. Thanks to those of you that were following along and praying via the blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Conference Over

The conference officially ended tonight. Like any last night on a mission trip, emotions are high and the team is proud of the work they did here. They and you, certainly have a right to be proud - they went out of their way to serve and bless.

Tomorrow is a quick hop to Munich, debriefing there and spending the night. Sunday we fly home to the US. All in all, it's been a very positive experience. Probably no updates until we get home and then I have a lot of processing to do.

Friday morning

One full day left. We depart for Vienna Saturday morning at 9. Kids VBS this morning, clean up pack this afternoon, and one more Pirate Sven this evening. The team is still doing amazingly well. Michelle is totally back in the groove.

TriciaB is looking over my shoulder and says hi.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pirate Sven #1 - video

First Pirate Sven.
Making legends that will last for the next 500 years.

Thursday am

Ministry is still going well. Our students are falling in love with these kids, its pretty cool. We are encouraging them to get as much time as they can with some real live missionaries. Last night, curfew was 11.00pm unless you were talking to someone that lived in another country - then you get an extra 45 minutes. The room scattered.

Michelle is doing much better. Got her a doctor and some antibiotics. The doctor cost 10,000 forints - about $52 - for him to drive from town and make a house call. Thanks for praying.

Had breakfast with a missions pastor funded via CA at The Well in Groton, CT.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wed am

One of our students is a tad under the weather. The onsite nurse has checked on them and we are in the midst of setting up a doctor to check on them as well. She could use your prayers.

Our involvement here at this conference is taking SPACE to a new level of mobilization.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tues update

Our team went into Sopron this morning for a little break. It was nice just to be out of the conference for a little bit. Very cool village.

Big day of kids programs today - Waterworks VBS in the afternoon and our first run at Pirates and Treasures this evening. Our evening piece was great, mostly went well except for some momentum lost during the music piece, but not a big deal.

We have a team debrief every night where we collate ideas for adjustment. It's usually a fun time and provides a constant feedback loop [like this blog...]

Like I also expected, our students are getting a lot out of hearing some of the stories from CA staffers, as am I.

Pray for MichelleK and K. Michelle has a bit of a cold and chills. K threw up earlier this night but seems better. D gave her Pepto and you know what those pink pills do to people on SPACE experiences.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mon Recap

Today was pretty wild. The whole conference went from Sopron into Vienna for a "serve the city" day, multiple, local, service projects set up for the conference attendees. Think Mission Advance * 400. Our students got to go out with families were serving as kind of a kid helper for a day. In other words, they got to pick the brain of a missionary family.

Huge logistical ambition.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sun pm

Yesterday was all pre-conference - kids stuff with a small mass of kids. I heard one of the sessions with Martin Robinson, really good stuff, will upload notes later. Had dinner with a guy from Leadership Vision Consulting. That was crazy. As you can tell, not much time for posting. The team is doing great, doing a lot of really creative, on the fly, experiment-and-see-how-it-goes stuff. They would make you proud.

Official conference starts tonight.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sat am

We are here in Sopron, Hungary. Pre conference started last night with 25 or so kids. The team is doing great. Thursday was an all day run in Vienna, doing the sights, including a bus tour and the big huge palace. [I will find the name.] We didn't remember much due to jet lag. Friday was coming here from Vienna. The team is doing well.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Ok.. one more post right before we leave. Team should be arriving in twenty minutes. I got word last night from mpm of our new total support raised. $58,847 and some odd change. Based on estimated spending, we are now in the black. Of course, once NYC and Hungary return, the balance gets adjusted. But still....

81 students this summer. Almost $60K. I recognize, and you should to if you are connected with SPACE, that we are doing something that isn't very normal.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Departure in 24

So this is probably the last post at least until we get to Sopron, Hungary on Friday. Thanks for praying for our travels. For all the stress of traveling with fourteen other people [2 of them being my own little kids], I'm looking forward to:

- flying with our team and feeling that buzz when you send kids onward to serve a world in need
- watching their faces at the first sight of Vienna
- seeing them engage some kids that we have thought and prayed about for months

See you over the pond.

2007 NYC team update

The team is doing great, I just got off the phone with JBourq. Yesterday was a day in a West African neighborhood and last evening was them helping out with a free English class there. Of course, I knew it was going to go great... ;-) Take an average suburban high school kid, have them teach a free English class for an evening and their view of the world - in impact, influence and responsibility - becomes very different.

How About Chinese Food?

"Too many youth groups are holding tanks with pizza..." - Ed Stetzer. The Church Dropout Study full report and USA Today article.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Essential 3 ::: Cameroon - 2006

In 2006, building on the streak we started with 2005, I helped lead a team of 12 students and leaders to Cameroon. Cameroon was also the home of one of GCC's families and they jumped at the idea to host a team of American students. Months of their preparation culminated in our arrival and a short youth camp three hours outside of the capital city. Two days after camp, our team was witness to the first ever student small groups in the capital city started by this missions agency. On to the 3 essential questions:

1. Am I planning to have an impact that lasts for 500 years?
Local, Cameroonian youth workers that are being trained. A host mission family that already has a well thought out exit strategy. Cameroonian students that will be the foundation of politics, science, industry, and the Christ movement when they get older. Three elements that meant our trip was more than a short term mission trip - it was the beginning of centuries of impact.

2. Can both host and teams trust each other because we are partners?
Once again, having a host that was part of GCC's network of families around the world was vital. The experience was built from both sides, balancing need, talent, context and impact.
The crux of this trust was displayed via our trip to the Pygmy village, during our camp. G had decided to stay home since one of our students was down with a stomach bug. Instead, one of his indigenous youth ministry leaders would be the point person. It all worked according to plan, except when she asked me to explain the Gospel to our Pygmy Indian friends. Well, someone's plan anyway.

3. How will I engage the culture?
Host homes. Pygmy indians. Living with Cameroonians in a beach camp. Our students experienced Cameroonian culture first hand. They still remember and they still know - both in their hearts and in their heads - that the Gospel moves relevantly from culture to culture.

Photo: me and ND and Wlson, two local, Cameroonian youth workers in it for the long haul.
Related: 2006 - Cameroon

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Weekend Update

Our fourth out of five teams departed this morning - a team of 19 serving in NYC with Urban Impact. For those of you keeping score at home, we are up to 81.48% of our summer teams having departed. The final 21 odd percent is my team and we depart on Wednesday.

In other weekend news, we got Em's passport. Out of the four times calling the passport office, we consistently got inconsistent updates. We are just happy that we have it, finally.

Our team packing went well. Here is a picture of the chaos during the packing party. Like last year, each person on the team [except the little kids] are checking in an extra bag filled with team stuff or stuff to give away to the families we meet - little fun things from the States that they maybe can't get in Europe.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Bible and Life

Jeremy tagged me with this meme, about living out Scripture, so here it goes.

:: John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The summer after I decided to follow Jesus, I met a guy who embodied life. To him, and then to me, Christianity wasn't an affair for those who didn't want to have any fun. In fact, he became my first real example of someone who lived a full, no regret and fun life. Since then, I can tell you that my life has been much richer because I have decided to follow Jesus, and not just on the fun scale.

:: Genesis 12:2-3
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
Somehow, God is reliant upon us make the world a better place. And the charge for us is to bless because we have been blessed. And no doubt, I have been richly blessed and because of that, I have a responsibility.

:: Joel 2:28
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
I want to be an old man that dreams God sized dreams.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cool People Decorate Sidewalks

The other day, I drove into my driveway after work and saw something like this. Someone had come by and decorated our whole driveway and it was really funny. And fun. And on my porch, it said "Cool people live here." I have no idea who it was but I suspect they were cool.

SPACE summer 2007 update

Hi Dear friends of SPACE,

Thanks so very much for your investment in SPACE [Students Prepared to Act for Christ's Empire] - Grace Church's student ministry's mission and service facet. We are thankful for you and your support for us. Already we find ourselves in early August and we've had a very busy but exhilarating summer.

We are thankful for three trips have gone out and come home safely with stunning feedback. Even more exciting, we know that students have been marked by these experiences:
- A team to England working with YWAM Marine Reach in and out of Liverpool, where they had a chance to give boat tours, serve the crew with energy and encouragement and bless our extended network of Grace families around the world. [Right before the bomb scares too...]
- A team to downtown Baltimore serving with Chain Reaction, blessing and serving downtown neighborhoods via a partnership with a local church. Best story - our team helped clean up the grounds of a local police station and no one had ever done that for them before.
- A small group of middle schoolers who assisted locally with the Howard County food bank and prayer walked through a downtown Baltimore city block, the sight of an inner city Adopt A Block movement someone from GCC is assisting with.
- All three teams have come back with awesome feedback from their hosts. We seek to send the best prepared, most engaged student teams.

As you remember, please pray for the two remaining teams this summer:
- A team serving in NYC with Urban Impact [8/5 - 8/10] - ministry focused on immigrants from the 10/40 window living in the city. They will be helping teach free English classes and also visiting an Islamic mosque. The world is indeed coming to our doors.
- A team traveling to Austria and Hungary, [8/8 - 8/19] serving with at the Christian Associates staff conference, running pieces of children's ministry for the conference. And actually... the whole Sheng family is taking part in this trip, so pray for D and I - for leadership, discernment and sending these students and our own
kids in the right trajectory for the nations.

As always to you friends near and far, blessings to you as you live out the Kingdom.
- tony
some links you might enjoy
The Blog -
Join M, a missional online social network -

The Essential 3 ::: Brasil - 2005

In the summer of 2005, 12 years after the last time I led a student team out of the country, I traveled with a team of 10 students and leaders to serve and assist one of GCC's mission families. The McMs were living in Londrina, Brasil building relationships with university students. Our team came to town to help them catalyze relationships in the medium of a culture exchange between American and Brasilian high school students. The 10 days centered around average teenage life together including meals, music, movies, and bowling with the periodic deep life discussion talks thrown in there for good measure. On to the 3 essential questions.

1. Am I planning to have an impact that lasts for 500 years?
Absolutely, even without knowing it. We had invested in two local connections, two investments that could go on to make significant strides in leadership, relationship and movement. The first, J, was a high school student at the top of his class in academics and athletics, who the McM's had nurtured and catalyzed. J epitomized a local, indigenous leader: a high school student who could reach more high school students than any adult, and a Brasilian who could reach more Brasilians than any American. J was committed to impacting his peers for the Kingdom, and has continued to go on to university, still involved in investing in others. The second was F, a lovely mother and housewife who wasn't a believer at the time but was certainly a connector. F and her family had a deep reach into the community via her husband's job relationships, her friendships with other moms and the group of kids their two sons hung out with. Although F, person of peace and connector, still isn't a believer to my knowledge, she is still deeply connected to the McMs and is still impacting others for Jesus whether she knows it or not.

2. Can both host and teams trust each other because we are partners?
Absolutely. I could [and would, and did...] trust our hosts with our students. Our team was well prepared and lived up to expectations and reputations. Based on the McM's recommendation, we had students live with host families that were not connected to a church. When one of our students there got a stomach bug, I knew he was in the right place when the host mom [F from above] made him soup.

3. How will I engage the culture?
Like mentioned above, we utilized host families and had no regrets. Engagement of the culture via a culture exchange was one of our primary ministry tasks and almost all of our team got to see Brasilian culture up close. This ranged from seemingly innocuous contexts like the mall to Brasilian barbeque [oh my word] to the extreme of Brasilian culture watching - seeing a local soccer game.

Photo: Some of our team at local soccer game.
Related:2005 - Brasil.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hungary off the top of my head

We are down to less than a week. Here is some ramblings...

- Em's passport is the last one. The passport agency said I should call back on Saturday if we haven't gotten it then. Hmm...
- Our original return flights had us going through Frankfurt. After some team discussion, we realized we all could delay coming home by one day so we arranged for a one night layover in Munich, which is supposed to be a lot nicer than Frankfurt. It was a pretty minimal cost and the overarching idea is that a layover in an neutral location is going to help our team regroup, recover and come home different [related - Debriefing Resources.]
- I bought a Canon CP720 printer to take with us and the thing is pretty awesome. The surface idea behind this was being able to print pictures of the kids for their parents to see during conference. The deep idea was to shape and mold the environment where their families could take home some memories.
- We are doing a big craft/team pack on Saturday, at least those that are in town. Like every year, and anytime you have a big group of people, the team is going in a million directions right before we leave. We've said to most of them, "See you at the airport." [Not really though, we are meeting at my house to depart.]
- Budget wise for the whole summer, we are at about 91% give or take, meaning that we are down about $5K of about $58K. Goodness that is a lot of money.
- I mentioned before that our theme for the evening stuff is "Pirates and Treasures." What I didn't tell you is that this was wholly put together by our students and us adults had nothing with it.
- RobynB has put together some awesome skits to go along with our theme and EllyK and TriciaB wrote the "BEST SONG EVER" for the way we will introduce ourselves at the conference. I didn't make that quote up either.
- These are the kinds of students I have the privilege of traveling with.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

World Mission Must Read

Todd Johnson - uber mission geek. You would probably love him too. From World Christian Trends, Update 2007, in the August 2007 issue of Lausanne World Pulse:
[some of you should put the rss feed into your reader too]
- We estimate that over the entire history of Christianity, seventy million Christians have been killed for their faith. Over half of these were in the twentieth century alone...
- There is already enough evangelism in the world today for every person to hear a one-hour presentation of the gospel every other day all year long.
- Ninety percent of all Christian evangelism is aimed at other Christians and does not reach non-Christians.
- Our analysis in the World Christian Database reveals that of the top one hundred most responsive people groups over one million in size, twenty-two are Tribal (nine percent of the total by population), thirty-one are Hindu (forty-eight percent), thirty-one are Muslim (twenty-five percent) and four are Buddhist (nine percent). The five most responsive of these are the Jinyu of China (Buddhist), the Khandeshi of India (Tribal), the Southern Pathan of Afghanistan (Muslim), the Magadhi Bihari of India (Hindu) and the Maitili of India (Hindu). What this means is that God himself is inviting the world’s peoples into his family. Christians must be more alert to his initiative.
- In 2007, we find ourselves in an unprecedented position for the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

The Essential 3 ::: The Dominican Republic - 1993

In the summer of 1993, I led, along with a female co-leader, a team of 6 students and leaders to spend three and a half weeks working with an orphanage in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. The context for the trip was working with a missionary and his family supported via our local church. This trip was also 'phase 3' in an intentional progression of mission experiences much like SPACE. [In fact, this is where SPACE got the idea of progression from.] Every person on this team had traveled with me the summer before, on a 6 week buffet of mission experiences such as inner city summer camp, beach outreach and local vacation Bible schools in the coal mine communities in Kentucky. In light of the three questions:

1. Am I planning to have an impact that lasts for 500 years?
We were very short sighted and didn't think past that summer. Much of our time was spent working with orphans and local children - certainly an admirable task. We didn't, however, spend any time developing, catalyzing or equipping any local people to do any leading on their own. What we accomplished only lasted for that summer, if even that long. Yes, we certainly helped build energy and momentum for the teams that were there long term. But no, we didn't provide anything that was reproducible or replicable.

2. Can both host and teams trust each other because we are partners?
Both host and team had a high level of trust. The experience itself was built upon each other's needs and strengths - our team having lots of experience with kids ministry while the host team definitely needing a team to come in and do that ministry.
The crux of this trust was our team having to travel across the country to meet our host who had gone ahead of us by a day. Think haggling with taxis in broken Spanish over a three hour car ride.

3. How will I engage the culture?
Not very well. The majority of our time was spent in a compound on the host property. We lived with mostly Americans and while we had a few Dominicans staying with us, when they went dancing, we sat at home and played cards. Although that isn't meant to sound pious, it reflects our working paradigm - we hardly engaged the culture. Short of staying in a Dominican home, going dancing would have given us a huge exposure to Dominican culture, such as food, music, practicing Spanish and building relationships.

Although this was a fascinating experience, asking the 3 essential questions before we left would have given the experience a much different tone and level of effectiveness.

Photo: Some of our team at Christopher Columbus' grave site. [Yeah right...]