Monday, April 29, 2013

Ember's Examples of People of Peace

There are some core concepts that Ember tries to teach students every chance we get. Understanding these ideas goes a long way towards helping prepare students to have influence both in the highly-fragmented-micro-cultures within their own culture as well as when they travel to a wholly different culture. One of these important concepts is the person of peace.

Here's a few examples from our experiences:
+ Pen Lucy, Baltimore
When we there for one day working on a community impact project, there was a guy there who got out his push mower and mowed 5 or 6 of his neighbors lawns. He obviously knew all his neighbors and what was going on in the community.

+ Londrina, Brasil
One of our hosts' good friends was a lady that knew every set of parents in the local middle school. Through her connections, we worked on a community project to fix up and old park.

+ Darly Park, Baltimore
D was one of 5 residents who had lived in this neighborhood for many many years. She was our resident guide, helping us help her community.

+ Queen Creek, AZ
G knew everyone in her apartment village - and I mean everyone. She clearly had a great deal of influence, helping a local church be able to host a kids club in the apartment complex as well as knowing everyone's names. We saw that most evidently when the police showed up.

+ Coney Island, NY
We had lunch at Tom's Diner, one of the first businesses to get re-established after Hurricane Sandy. I think I could point out who Tom was - he was the one who greeted all the locals by name.

Person of peace is an important tool that students [even middle school students] can easily grasp. Teach it well and hopefully the people you shepherd are able to influence the influencers, not just followers.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Retired City Buses Being Converted to Showers for the Homeless
Link via Rudy

::: The 21st Century Missionary

::: Today's Unchurched

::: @philunderwood Disciples are made on the road, not in rows. @kimhammond #Exponential13
::: @mwbuckingham 'Follower' is not the opposite of 'leader.' The opposite of 'leader' is 'pessimist.'
::: @BenArment Don't get discouraged when others reject your ideas. That's how being a visionary is supposed to work

Photo: Emily Swinburne, Amadeo Church, Queen Creek, AZ, USA. July 2010.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More than Mobilizers

Some of the best missions mobilizers that I know. Except we call them catalysts.

The three of us [moi, Kristen and Trevin] are reviewing some cross cultural tools - some of the best ways we think to help students navigate culture. And when we say culture, we mean both the different cultures in another country some students will find themselves in this summer as well as the ultra pluralistic, always moving intersection of micro-cultures they live in here in the States. The training day we are helping to prepare also includes Amy [not shown] who has decades of experience working with teams. Think team initiatives like nobody's business. Incredibly thankful for this team.

If you are leading a team to travel to another culture this summer, you might think of yourself as a mobilizer. Prepare your team better than the average teams though... and you'll be a catalyst.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Creative Revenue Plan - Hand Painted Scarves

MK's creative revenue plan: Selling scarves that she has hand painted Bible verses on. Artistic, creative and a fun idea... and as she says, "Everyone wears scarves these days."

Word on the street says that she has sold about 15 of them so far and she told me they will look neater than the one in the picture. If you want to purchase some, get in touch.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ember X team mtg 4

+ extended sharing and prayer time
+ talent - who does good at what
+ person of peace - part of our core curriculum
+ finance and creative revenue plan updates
+ next team meetings
and... we have a team blog.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April Kindling

+ Ember X finances are at about 54%, which is huge. This team is seriously doing the work of raising support - both via personal letters as well as creative revenue plans [these are awesome by the way]. Put a deposit on lodging last week, buying airfare in the next few weeks.
+ This works out to about $305 on average per day.
+ The X team is full of introverts. Oh boy.
+ Some of the X team is hearing the typical argument against mission trips to Europe - is this a vacation, pretty rough experience, do they really need you, etc. My response is something along the lines of "if you know anything about cultures becoming post Christian, you would know to help the next generation learn to lead in that." Or something like that.
+ Support raising: I go from feeling incredibly humbled and grateful to sometimes feeling dirty.
+ The GCC AZ team spent all day this past Saturday serving with an inner city ministry in Baltimore this past weekend, a small part of a bigger initiative known as ServeFest. Service opportunities are great ways to gel a team.
+ Guides are continuing to work towards preparing for a student missions training day in May.
+ Caught up with an old friend from college who is going to Madagascar and riding motorcycles through the villages showing the Jesus film later this summer.
+ Great read about boards of directors, passed on to me by one of Ember's board members.
+ My friend Joshua Symonette is helping host City Fathers in DC in early June. If you love the DC area, you should be there.
+ If you work for GE, The Ember Cast just became qualified to receive matching gifts.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Blood analysis using a DVD player

::: How Post Christian is the US?

::: 15 Stats You Should Know About Millenials

::: @jack Orville Wright never had a pilot's license. via @BenArment

Photo: Ember spawn and intern, NYC, Jan 2013.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

May Mission Team Preparation

One of our strong convictions is that most short term mission teams are woefully under prepared. Despite all the energy around short term missions today, this is still painfully true. Ember exists partly to help fix this. Last week, we started some significant work to get ready for a student missions training day happening in a few weeks. It's one of the days that's going to be full of energy and potential - it will be a beautiful day in May.

Like most of these kinds of projects, I love both the way it has come together and the specific elements included. We've got a great team of guides running the show and our point person for the 'client' is someone we love working with. Our three big elements include:

Leaders only - discipleship and kairos moments [3DM]
Cross cultural tools of the trade [lots of this came right from Tradecraft]
Team building - team initiatives - we are toying with the theme of 'trust' for this

Very much looking forward to executing on this. If you are leading or on a missions team, please spend some time preparing. If you are looking for help, get in touch.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ember X Mtg #3

Our Ember X meeting #3 included:
+ Dinner
+ Hearing from Ember friend JMeeder about her background as a missionary in Argentina for 2 years and a new season of service working with Araminta Freedom Initiative, a collection of churches to combat human slavery.
+ The Myers Briggs test
+ A rough schedule for our time in X [plan a at least]
+ Support, fundraising and creative revenue plans [I can't wait to tell you about some of these...]

We almost always walk through the Myers Briggs test with our teams. It's a fantastic way to fast forward relationships. [If you are putting together a mission team and looking for this kind of insight, Ember has the opportunity for you...] Luckily for this extrovert, most of our team are introverts... And it was always fun hearing from JMeeder - one of Ember's sweet spots is the ability to connect students with slightly older people who have jumped into cross cultural service and then hearing from them. JMeeder is always doing cool stuff. I joke around that everyone wants to be a social justice missionary these days and although that might be partly true, Araminta seems to be unique in that it's a collection of Baltimore churches leading the charge on this. And... I can't wait to tell you more about the creative revenue plans that are being executed. Soon and very soon.

[Related: Ember 2012 AZ meeting #2,
2010 AZ meeting #3,
2008 Hungary meeting #3,
2007 Hungary meeting #3
2006 Cameroon meeting #3
2005 Brazil meeting #1]

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Friday Burn

::: Mastering the Email Intro
This is a pretty vital skill, me thinks...

::: Are New York City religions contributing to the city's booming start-up scene?
Good reading on the Entrepreneurship Initiative of Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

::: Global Trends from Floyd McClung

::: A "3d Printer" for vaccines

::: The Best Conference Hack
Sit in the front row

::: "The biggest lesson I learned in 30 years in Honduras is not to waste my time with the wrong people." - George Patterson via @ApostleFarm

Photo: Ember spawn #2, The Samaritans Women, Baltimore, MD, March 2013.

Mental Illness

I remember when my mom first came home and told my dad and I that people were talking about her in the grocery store. I was about 12 and it, of course, didn't make much sense. Even though these kinds of strange things continued to happen here and there, my family never sat down and talked about it - ever. Fast forward almost 30 years or so to 2010 when my dad was towards the end of his life. Now, people in the hospital cafeteria were talking about her, there were people on her roof late at night singing songs, people at the bank knew all of her financial details. As we dug into her medical records - deciding to address the facts for the first time ever, the official diagnosis was delusional disorder and she had suffered with it for decades. Now it all started to make sense - the sometimes talking to people who weren't there, the stories about strangers, and the suspicions about the ordinary. After my dad passed away, the stress made it even worse. I don't remember all the details now - I'm sure it's better that way.

3 years ago this week, I went to a local National Alliance of Mental Illness discussion group for family members of people suffering from mental illness. Deanna and I had talked about it for a while and eventually decided I should go to at least check it out. While there, I heard from other family members trying to help their parents or kids or siblings - many of the stories were heartbreaking. The facilitators stressed two things: we were not alone and I was not intended to be my mother's savior. That was enough.

I could tell you that I think a life of faith might help some of this. When we live a life larger than ourselves, maybe our anxieties are channeled into something healthier. I'm pretty sure that serving others gives you a proper perspective about how good or bad your life is. But instead I'll tell you that if you are having trouble with your thoughts or if things just seem really bad or if you feel overwhelmingly desperate, or if you have a family member who is talking about this kind of stuff, there is help and you are not alone.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A Front Row Seat

I spent about an hour on the phone yesterday with John Hawkins. John runs a nonprofit called Leadership Edge and I was introduced to him from two mutual Ember friends who have nothing but stunning things to say about him. They are right. John has spent the last 20 years mentoring college and young adults - around 10,000 students have been engaged in various leadership talks and sessions and about 200-300 have been personally mentored by him.

Our conversation included topics like the global recession, how nonprofits need to do more with less, university campuses as cross cultural missions environments and helping volunteers engage at their best. John prayed for me at the end of our conversation - that hour on the phone was a gift.

My favorite - "A front row seat into a life transformed," how John reflected on mentoring young people and then releasing them to do the work they were meant to do.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Ability to Execute

I would argue that our churches don't have missional leaders, but I'd take it a step further. I also think that most of our churches have next to no leaders. Sure we have leadership development programs. We have dinners, classes, meetings, and maybe some training. But leadership means that we've been given a vision from the Lord for ourselves and given the power and the authority to execute this vision. This isn't what is happening in our churches.
- Mike Breen, Multipliying Missional Leaders

Friday, April 05, 2013

Friday Burn

::: The World in 100 people

::: Finland's New Passport

::: 10 Challenges Facing us in the next decade

::: The World's Main Airports

Photo: MK and Katie, at The Samaritans Women, Baltimore, MD, March 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Easter 2013

+ In Florida.
+ It took us 3 planes to get our direct flight there.
+ Cocoa Beach was only in the 60s. [cold]
+ Disney's electric light parade and the fireworks were as good as you remember them.
+ I had the good fortune to connect with two of Ember's dear friends while in O-Town.
+ Seaworld sells some expensive dead fish. But they are worth it.