Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Burn

::: 10 Sustainable Innovations
I personally loved:
#1 - gravity-powered irrigation
#3 - Advantix’s air conditioning system uses saltwater which means it needs 40% less energy than normal systems.
#6 - The Solar Suitcase provides solar electricity for medical lighting, mobile communication and essential medical devices for rural areas and humanitarian settings.
#9 - solar-powered school boats

::: Buying Business as a strategy for Christian community development
We are part intentional community, part church plant, part transitional housing, and part community development based in the inner-city of Hollywood, California. My community members are all bi-vocational ministry workers and do not raise outside support and may never do so. We are not against outside funding; we are just afraid to create a dependency on it.

::: 2014 Global Cities Index and Emerging Cities Outlook
Link via Justin

::: 3 Church Planting Myths Debunked
Myth: Church planting is only for young people.

::: “The better the villain, the better the movie.” -Alfred Hitchcock via StoryChicago

Photo: Ember spawn 1, sorting blinds. Second Chance, Baltimore, October 2014.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ember Balt4

One of the things Ember is privileged to do is to help facilitate community impact projects with emerging global leaders that we know and trust. This past weekend was one such project and like each one in the past, it was a fabulous day of serving and learning about an intriguing local nonprofit, connecting with some great college students and interacting with some good old friends.

Our day was spent at Second Chance, which is a nonprofit located in Baltimore near the football stadium. Situated in a 200,000 square foot warehouse, they deconstruct buildings and homes, salvage usable materials and make those available to the public, and provide job training through that revenue. We got a tour of the facility as well as a big picture idea of how they work as well as spending a few hours assisting them in some organizing and cleanup. The Millennials I run into are always hard workers.

This was part of Serve the City Baltimore's fall service day. Ember has tapped STCB for a few opportunities in the past few years, including a few of these service days as well as helping with one of their summer hosted teams. Erin Preshoot, who you might remember from 2008Hungary, has been on staff with STCB for a few years, also splitting her time with Christian Associates.

I'm thrilled to tell you that DK, who was an Ember intern in 2013 is thriving at Towson. She is well connected with a campus ministry, involved with a local church and she brought about 30 students from Towson to join us on Saturday. You should take notice when an emerging leader has the ability to influence a crowd of more than a few people.

We met Wendy Usher four years ago this Fall when we helped with an idea at Salisbury. Since then, she's been one of the bravest people we know, as she pursued sight unseen opportunities we had suggested to her. And she did this two summers in a row. Wendy brought a team from Salisbury and of course, we did some more missional imagination while at Second Chance. Love to tell you about that later.

All the teams had dinner at my house and then we did a short decompression discussion around the topics of:
Blessed to be a blessing
Self -> Serve -> Systems
Asset based development

As always, steal what you want but let me know if you do. But let me implore you as well - if you are involved in this kind of thing, please please do some kind of debriefing or decompression. It is so vitally important that you help students process this. They can certainly talk about these kinds of things on their own, but in most situations, they need someone to initiate it and to see it be modeled. That is part of our role as guides and catalysts - once they see it, they might own it next time.

More photos here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Burn

::: More Cities are Making It Illegal to Hand Out Food to the Homeless

::: A 10-Year-Old Entrepreneur Is Behind This Philanthropic Crowdfunding Platform

::: Rear Adm. R. Timothy Ziemer, The Malaria Fighter
Since he took the job in 2006, worldwide malaria deaths have dropped 40 percent, to about 600,000 a year from one million.

::: The Summit Church has a goal to plant 1000 churches in this generation

::: In China, they say every believer is a church planter & every church is a churchplanting church. @AlanHirsch

Photo: DK, Ember intern 2013, joins us this coming weekend for Ember Balt4 with a group from her university. NYC, Jan 2013.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ember, STC Baltimore and Second Chance

Ember is excited to work with Serve the City Baltimore and Second Chance this coming Saturday to facilitate a service day for some college kids that have been connected to our tribe. I'm excited to see Second Chance up close and to understand their context and story. It seems like they have a great system for helping the less fortunate build skills for employment and providing a service to the community.

I'm also excited for the great group of students we have coming. 2013 intern DK and guide Wendy return to us with some of the college compatriots. Erin Preshoot, who long time readers would remember from Hungary2008, serves as one of our hosts this weekend and one of the best parts will be getting the same kind of missional, passionate, changing-the-world students in the same room.

Thanks for your prayers for a fantastic day that catalyzes many.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Breakfast with Glenn

In 2005, as the result of exploring what existing international connections our church already had, I ended up leading a student team to serve and work with Glenn McMahan who lived in Londrina Brasil with his family, there to serve and connect with university students. It was a fantastic experience based on the idea of a culture exchange - two cultures sharing around common cultural elements like film, games, food and such. Many elements of that experience are still paramount to us today including the culture exchange [which we just used this summer], persons of peace and hearing about the result of a decades long friendship [who later gave her life to Jesus], and how people can care about their communities despite differences in cultural context.

Glenn and I have kept in touch over the years and I would jump at the chance to work with him again. He's recently engaged in a new leadership role, helping to engage in both medical initiatives as well as business as mission for a global missions organization. I was thrilled to be able to interact with him this past weekend as well as have him meet two of our three current ProtoGuides. Our conversation included ideas such as:

- shipping containers used as medical clinics, like what we saw in Coney Island
- As an American, Glenn won't be the point person for anything but will be helping resource and support local leaders who are. The indigenous who know best are in charge.
- microbusinesses have a good amount of need for people that can come in and help with business plans, strategy and execution.
- Ebola and how that may change things. Liberia has a ratio of 1 doctor for 77000 people right now.
- We grow your kids to love the world and then we are surprised when they want to leave home...

I loved catching up with Glenn as well as having our ProtoGuides in the conversation. Ember thrives on setting up conversations and connections like these - a well experienced, Gospel centered cross cultural leader sharing some wisdom with passionate, interested emerging global student leaders. Sadly, we forgot a picture with Glenn.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Dear World, Let's Stop Giving Our Crap to the Poor
Link [lots of people posting this lately]

::: What Plug Goes Where

::: Yes, Our Pastors Get Paid to Pray and Rest

::: "The West is not a secular society. It is a pagan society. Here is the most challenging missionary frontier of our time." L. Newbigin via JD Greear

Photo: Baltimore, Fall 2013. Ember partners with Wendy again later this month.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Instagram in Bathrooms

I've been having fun with Instagram for a few weeks now - it was birthed by someone who suggested an idea for Creative Revenue as well as me being intrigued with the platform after reading this presentation on the emerging global web. [And... yes you should check out the deck, right now.]

I'm always looking for someone who has gone from the transition from self->service->systems, an idea we talk a lot about with Ember people based on the book Toxic Charity. It's a helpful progression when we visit the ideas of better ways to help people in poverty, how to make our charity sustainable and giving dignity to those we serve. In essence, I'm on the lookout for someone who has created systems that have helped those less fortunate. And I have no doubt that someone is already doing this with a platform like Instagram.

It's another example of how easy it is to connect with others today [like Firn Howard County or this kid from the high school who sells shoes on it to over 25K followers.] Starting something from nothing is difficult work, but never been easier. Even better when someone builds a system to help others. Let me know if you know of something like this.

Photo: Brent Lutz, GCC middle school pastor, in one of my bathrooms.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mosaic LA - Hope in a Desperate Time

One of the best talks I've seen dealing with despair and depression and how to help yourself or your friends. As someone who grew up with mental illness in their household, lots of the stuff in this talk is extremely valuable. Your future is better than your present and it is not as bad as it seems.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Burn

::: Architects Propose Converting World Cup Stadiums into Affordable Housing

::: The Newest Mission Field
How would you like to lead a team on mission to Mars?
In the mid 2030s the orbits of the planet Mars and our Earth will be so close that a voyage that could last years might be made in months.
Classic McManus. Link

::: What It Costs to be a Tourist Across the US

::: McDonalds has the fastest public WiFi in the US.

::: I'd rather be an effective imitator than a stupid innovator. - @RickWarren

Photo: Ember 2014-2015 ProtoGuides [2 of the 3] and spawn. Dream Year Pitch Night, Leesburg, VA. August 2014.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Learn Another Language Or Two

Almost exactly 30 days after we returned home from Ember 14X, we gathered our team to do a little decompression. I am huge on wanting to walk students and teams through their experiences in order to help them process it but it never easy - after the experience, people get busy, you can't always get everyone and human nature tends to drift.

Our time together was great and we even skyped in our peeps from Austin and San Fran. Although we probably should have talked more about 'what are you going to do this school year?' we did talk a lot about our favorite memories and what experiences marked us and if anything about us will change. Sometimes 30 days in enough and sometimes not. And sometimes people will have great thoughts and other times, not so much.

I specifically loved what one of our team said though. She told the group that she was going to pick up a language in college because she understood the idea of being multilingual and how that could be really strategic for a cross cultural future. This is the kind of thing that we thrive on - expose a high school student to the way the world really looks and they can make significant decisions for their future. That is marking human history.

Monday, October 06, 2014

YCombinator and Missional Imagination

I absolutely love this list from YCombinator [one of the top startup incubators] called Request for Startups. It represents an amazing smattering of possible ventures all with a potential that could impact the future of humanity. Just like most global missions initiatives today, there is room for all kind of career possibilities with each one of these. And we love to tell students that you could find yourself involved in cross cultural service with almost any field of study today.

Some of my favorites include:
At some point, we are going to have problems with food and water availability.
If we can fix education, we can eventually do everything else on this list.
We want to fund companies that have the potential to create a million jobs.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world are getting their first computing experience (a smart phone) and entering the middle class.

This is some serious missional imagination.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Friday Burn

::: How to Say Hello in 21 Different Languages
Link via Dennis

::: Teaching Overseas - Loving Italy's Poor Little Rich Kids
For cultural reasons, this class of people tends to be separated and entirely cut off from any other gospel “movements” happening in the city amongst the other classes. They are an unreached people group that is unreachable by current trends in mission strategy.

::: Housing First
Utah, though, embraced a different strategy, called Housing First: it started by just giving the homeless homes.

::: More people are learning to speak English today in China than all the English speakers in N America. Gospel opportunity. - @JDGreear

Photo: ProtoGuides, pizza truck. Aix, July 2014.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

What Pavillion Vendome Means to Me

This might look like a dead end. At least to me, in the summer of 2013, my first time in Aix-en-Provence, it did.

We were told to meet at a little park at the end of this street. I saw this from this vantage point and decided that we had gone the wrong way. Being a little directionally challenged, I take lots of U-turns and I thought this was just another one. Instead, Katie and I traversed all around the outside of this park for about an hour. She thought it was an adventure and I was annoyed. Alas, we should have gone all the way to the end of the road.

I'm reminding myself mostly, take the opportunities all the way to their end.