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The Persecuted Church

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Brief thought of the night (after a few months off).

Tonight I taught my teens about the persecuted church. First we looked at Acts and how the early Christians lived. Secondly, we discussed what that looked like.

Thirdly, we watched some videos, such as the one included below:

My wife then posed an amazing question (which is why I married her, because she’s stinkin’ awesome.).

We watched about 6-8 videos of persecuted Christians. We were touched emotionally and encouraged by their faith. Her question was this:

How would the persecuted church react if they were to sit down and watch a video of our lives and testimony in one of their services?

Categories: Christianity, Church, Missions

Youth Ministry and Missions Trips

August 5, 2010 2 comments

It’s that thing that every kid loves to do: missions trips. At least in my brief experience with youth ministry, everyone wants to do a missions trip. Everyone wants to be involved in going somewhere else to work. In fact, I love missions trips.

My first was in 1996 at the age of 10, when my dead led the youth group to Mexico. I still remember those experiences. Seeing kids stricken with poverty. Praying for a Hispanic lady from our church who was having border issues every time we went in. The size of the roaches in our dorms. The lack of communication and the frustration I felt.

In 2000, I was able to go to Puerto Rico, experience things I would have never imagined experiencing, and again, being left in awe at poverty. In fact, while I was there, we canvassed an 18 story apartment building that was essentially the projects. While there, I saw three drug deals and a teenager waving a pistol around. I was 14 years old at the time, and the only adult in our group of 14, 17, 17 year old boys, was a 75 year old former missionary to Uruguay. Safety was of concern.

In 2001, I went to St. Croix, Virgin Islands and fell in love with the place. Yes, the tropical paradise was sweet, but the people – they impacted me. I felt touched by their desire to know us. I can remember returning after the trip, looking up at planes, and wishing I was a passenger headed back to the V.I. because it was such a great trip.

Then I entered college in 2004, and things were different. Not in a bad way, but instead, I was just busy. I was working full time my junior and senior year. I was poor, because I was a college student. From 2001 til 2007, I was uninvolved in missions. Not that I didn’t take notice or lack the desire to go, but I just didn’t have the finances or opportunity.

Then, in 2007, my life changed as I entered the country of Haiti for the first time. The love for the people quickly grew. In 28 days, I’ll go back for the 4th time, and now as the director of our children’s home for Mountain Faith Mission.

Needless to say, missions has played a big part of my life. Even in 2009, I was able to visit some FWB home missionaries to just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, and be greatly impacted by their service, dedication, and the excitement of new converts.

I have been fortunate.

But now that I am in the role of planning and executing trips, I have to question: are we always doing things right?

There are multiple articles out there that suggest maybe some things should change. What is the lasting impact on the students who attend missions trips? How does it increase giving? How many students who attend missions trips end up being missionaries? How many students who attend missions trips pay attention to missions the rest of their lives?

Now, this might be overthinking, but my wife and I are fortunate to know quite a few people on the mission field. When I look at them, I have to ask: Are groups really of great benefit to them?

I asked one friend if they had been having groups come up. He said yes. Then I asked if any ever came up and just didn’t do anything. He quickly said yes again. It broke my heart at that point. Have we lost the vision of missions even within our own church? What do missionaries think of groups that come in to “help?” What percentage of groups leave the missionaries with a sense of accomplishment? What percentage of groups leave missionaries with a sigh of relief when that church van goes over the horizon?

How should we go about planning trips? Should we go about it focused on how it will impact our students? Or should we go about it on how it will impact the missionaries and their work? Should we always have a trip planned, even when in the end, the money it costs to go will outweigh the lasting impact? Or is that even able to be quantified?

There are a lot of questions running through my mind, but the one thing I feel that I have going for me, is that maybe a lot of youth ministries go about it the wrong way.

Praise God when students go on missions trips and maybe a specific student is so impacted that he/she answers the call to full-time ministry. That’s awesome! But honestly, should we always be focused on what will impact our students? Because this is the way that it seems a lot of ministries focus on their missions trips. The focus and result is placed upon the student. How will it change them? How will it impact them? Whereas, I feel the better questions will be “How will we impact the world we are visiting with the message of Christ?” Now, I know that’s cliche and every youth group thinks that is what they are doing – but honestly, are we?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Input?

Categories: Missions, Youth Ministry

I’m so reflective…

April 14, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve just been thinking lately:  What does it take to reach people?

This is my short and sweet post…

Should churches that have been established for years, and years, be run any different than churches that are just being established?  It seems to me that people who plant churches are always doing the risky things, trying to bring people in, but there are very few established churches who get as far out in the community, and they begin to only minister to those who are in the local church…

Just a few thoughts.  But honestly, I am looking for answers on people’s opinions?  What does it take to reach people?  How do we build proper relationships to get people to come?  How do we make a difference in the lives of people that will get them involved in a local church and contribute to life change?  

Discuss.

Categories: Christianity, Church, Missions

Things I Learned In Haiti #4

September 12, 2008 Leave a comment

Here’s to the final post about Haiti.  My lifechanging experience last year oozes out of me.  These people have impacted me in ways they will never know.  The last thing I learned (that can at least be given in blog form) is that they know who they worship.

Sometimes I wonder how correct our theology is.  Not that they are exempt from seeing 

God in some of the ways we see God, but nonetheless, they know who they worship.  This has a lot of tie in to the post on prayer from three days ago.  When they worship, they let it all out.  Not saying that you have to be charismatic in order to worship God, but I am saying their worship of God is evident by observing them.  

When they pray, they pray to God.  They pray to God for needs like everyone else does, but it is so much more.  As I have said before, here we make God a God of convenience.  We only consult Him when we need something.  Not everyone fits this profile obviously, but the average Christian fits this profile to a tee.  I am very guilty of doing such things.  I talk to God when I need Him.  I trust Him when I need something – sometimes.  Our relationship is totally one sided.  Yet, as I mentioned, when my dad had surgery, the people were in the church all day, praying for SOMEONE else.  Why?  Because they know who they worship.

Read more…

Things I Learned in Haiti #3

September 11, 2008 2 comments

This is post number three of what will probably be four total things – unless for some reason in the next 24 hours I figure out something else I learned…anyways – here goes it. 

We neglect relationships.  I’m not really all that close to people here.  As mentioned in the other posts – we’re all too busy and distracted.  I have a cell phone, a laptop, a MySpace, a Facebook, a blog, a Twitter.  To communicate with people I call them, I text them, I message them, I comment them, or I update my status.  Where’s the face to face contact?  Where’s the time where I just sit, without a television, computer, movie, or some other distraction to just hang out?  

The Haitian people are close people.  They’re lucky that they’re not distracted.  I realized just how close the Haitians were.  It is absolutely amazing.  

Me and my Professor Shaylah

Me and my Professor Shaylah

They love to walk arm in arm, hand in hand with one another.  It’s a sign of close friendship.  On day one, when Elda, a five year old girl grabbed my hand, I knew I had her friendship.  On the other hand was her close friend (a little boy who’s name I have forgotten).

 

 Sure, I was an American young guy paying attention to these kids, but culturally I had achieved friendship.  It’s even more amazing to see two men or two women walk down the road holding hands, linking arms.  In America, we write that off as “different.”  Yes, culturally, but nonetheless, the genuine relationships that I viewed down there were truly amazing.  

Not just the physical touch with one another, but the fact that they truly enjoy spending time with one another.  I can’t think of how many times that I’ve ever been content just sitting and talking to someone without being distracted by a television, computer, etc.  Yes, it has happened many times, but the majority of the times, our fellowship is Read more…

Promo Video Rough Draft

September 10, 2008 Leave a comment

This is just a rough draft, probably to be discarded and changed up.  Nonetheless, here she is.  Tell me what you think, please.

Things I Learned in Haiti #2

September 10, 2008 Leave a comment

We’re a bunch of spoiled little brats.  No really, Americans are sissies.  The only way to look at this would be to make someone feel guilty.  But for the most part, it seems that is what is needed.  Here we are in America with three meals a day, (four meals if you eat at Taco Bell), when Haiti (as well as numerous countries around the world) is lucky to get ONE meal a day.  

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  The new church that is being built for the mission…the guys laying the concrete make two bucks a day.  I’m not a great mathematician, but that’s like $700 a year if someone works EVERY DAY.  I could make what they make in a year in ONE WEEK whenever I was in college.  And yet, I had the audacity to complain about a lot of my situations.

We don’t have a big enough house.  We don’t have a nice enough car.  Sometimes it seems that the average American won’t be happy unless they have something to complain about.  We’re a bunch of whiners.  In Haiti I saw people worried about food.  I saw people worried about having shoes to cover their feet.  I saw people worried about how to pay for medicine.  I saw people worry about necessary things for survival.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t enjoy life, it’s just many times it seems that we need to be aware of what it could be.  We need to be thankful for our blessings.  It could be worse.  God has blessed America financially.  We complain about the “economic crisis” which is a legitimate thing to be concerned about, but my question is whether or not some of the people who are concerned about their finances and complaining about them could have prevented it with being better stewards – but that’s another post.  

One thing completely stood out to me and it was the speech of Pastor Wilson one night in church.  Ti-Paul was translating for me and Pastor Wilson was talking about praying for the Americans and whatnot.  Then he said, “The Americans came here because Read more…