Tag Archives: church

Dear Someone, Thank You!

Lifelong Christians aren’t supposed to get frustrated, or discouraged, or wonder if they’ve made enough errors to be abandoned. Seeing miracles from time to time is supposed to shelter the faithful ones from all forms of doubt. Or, that’s what we tell ourselves…or perhaps tell each other.

Well, this lifelong Christian, called missionary, and observer of miracles has been having a rough go of it. Few know how discouraged I’ve been getting, how many times I’ve wondered if I’d have served better by staying in my former life. A six-figure life, complete with modest mortgage, two cats, and a fair bit of affirmation from coworkers, church leadership, and my beloved youth group. But I was under a call to another realm – the place of seeking deaf people and introducing them to Jesus. So I packed up my gear and headed north to focus on relearning American Sign Language (ASL).

The plan to become an interpreter for income fell through, leaving a lot of dust, doubt, and debt in its wake. I was at a point of nearly despairing, considering the need to return home and admit defeat. Then came a period of two weeks where I was placed in a home and assigned to a ministry. Not only was I not forgotten, not abandoned, but I was on track once again in a place of service to reach the most invisible and spiritually isolated people all over the world – deaf children. I’ve since moved steadily south to get closer to ministry headquarters, living in four different guest rooms so far.

I confidently agreed to accept whatever funding I could raise, counting on being a scheduled speaker at monthly missionary services. I looked forward to telling about my target group and receiving support to devote myself to the mission. A few of us discussed how a team of people would surround me to encourage, pray, and help me with building a network and a speaking schedule. That whole plan didn’t fall through — it crumbled, slowly and agonizingly… Memories of school fundraiser failures and dishonest televangelists mingled with impossible numeric goals and the already busy life rhythms of those I thought to lean on. It looks like I need to take on all aspects of fundraising, and I just don’t have it in me to treat people like walking wallets.

This is the burden that’s grown to unbearable proportions over the past several weeks. Reminding myself that God is faithful and His resources are unlimited doesn’t effectively counter the idea that I’ve failed too much to imagine continuing forward. It seems time to take on a second job for income, knowing that it will reduce the hours and energy I can give to this ministry. If I’m not in ministry, I’ve wasted the last eight years and the sacrifices of several loved ones. My standing prayer request at the moment is for clarity and against discouragement.

That brings us to the title statement: “Dear Someone, thank you.”

Two weeks ago I visited my friends up north. Not only was it a refreshing encouragement to be with my deaf friends, but they were willing to provide taxi service, lunch, and a love gift of $100 from “Someone.” I decided to put that toward a women’s retreat happening soon in the same area.

Yesterday, I noticed that a local pastor (and friend) intended to speak on John 14, and I could use a little “I’ve gone to prepare a place for you…” right about now. Still exploring church options near my new home, I chose to go there. The radio message was Dr. Paul Nyquist’s “Heirs with Christ,” on being adopted by God. I was warmly greeted by several people at the church and had some discussion with the Lord about perhaps serving with this body, then the pastor gave his message on the Fatherhood of God. His focus was verses 13-14, “ask in My name, and it will be done.” Then, being prompted, he asked the congregation if someone would give $20 to the visiting missionary. I was overwhelmed with more greetings, encouragement, a couple of contacts, a prayer, and a total of $386.

Afterward, I had a text from my friends up north. The cost of the women’s retreat is covered. Another unexpected blessing.

To all the Someones who have given of themselves to pray, encourage, affirm, and provide — especially recently — THANK YOU! I am overwhelmed.

Heaven Train Facebook Challenge

If you’ve seen some of my Facebook status updates recently, you’re aware that I’m trying to raise money for a project called Heaven Train, a mobile children’s Bible school in Columbus, Ohio.  Here’s the scoop:

Heaven Train is a repurposed school bus, festively painted and with a train whistle.  It once cruised the neighborhoods of Cleveland, OH, and has for the past year been making rounds in Columbus, OH.  Volunteers are on hand every Saturday as the ‘train’ rolls into its 4-5 established stops in neighborhoods where kids abound.  These children, for whatever circumstances, are generally unaware of the tradition known as Sunday School, but they have become very familiar with the Heaven Train, and by it, familiar with the love of Jesus and some of His followers.  There is a time and place (outside) for running and games, and inside there are songs, stories, puppets, and object lessons.  Upon leaving, there is some kind of healthy treat, like the fruit & produce that coordinators were able to negotiate with local vendors.

The group of sponsoring churches in Columbus now has an opportunity to purchase this bus that they’ve been leasing for the past year.  The price tag is a fabulous deal, especially given the positive impact on the kids and their communities.  Any price, however, still requires a gathering of funds, and that’s the phase the project is in at this time.  They’re hoping to have necessary funds gathered by Thanksgiving of this year, just a couple of weeks away.

I’ve been aware of Heaven Train for a while, then I had an extended conversation with a long time friend.  Turns out, he’s one of the key people in this ministry, and they’re trying to take advantage of this opportunity.  I had recently, from a variety of sources, been getting the repeated message “if you would see your goals met, help someone else reach theirs“.  I tend to take the hint when that happens, and so, I asked the dangerous question….how much for one seat aboard the Heaven Train?  His answer, about $444.

Now, I can’t just stroke a check for that amount, and neither can most of the people I know – but I do know a lot of people who can contribute a little.  Facebook says that I have more than 300 friends.  If less than half of you, 111 to be exact, kick in just $4, we can buy one seat on the Heaven Train.  With the price of one fast food meal, one upscale coffee, a couple of 20-ounce drinks, or a few candy bars, you can not only improve your physical health, but you can contribute to the spiritual health of 5 kids every Saturday.  One gift, an eternal investment in 5 lives week after week after week.

My fundraising mentor found in this a teachable moment as he reached for his wallet.  “You’re asking too low”, he said; “You should ask 45 people for $10”.  I don’t disagree, it’s fewer people, and ten is a cleaner number, since currency conveniently comes in that size.  The point is, some can give more than others, and that’s ok for everyone.  I appreciate everyone doing what they can.

My objective is simply that I get a little positive practice making requests, and that I help a friend meet a worthy goal.  I’d like to say I instigated the purchase of one seat – that people from all corners of my world pooled a little of their resources to reach the children of Columbus with the gospel of Jesus.  Part of our conversation, and I’d really (REALLY) love to see it happen, is the idea of getting an ASL interpreter on the bus, to make the adventure accessible to deaf kids in the community.  We could even let the Heaven Train kids know about Dr Wonder’s Workshop – after all, the real goal is getting kids introduced to Jesus while they have their best chance to “come to Him like a little child” (Mark 10:15).

Can I make the case for 111 of my 300 Facebook and/or blog and/or Twitter friends to give up $4 one time?  Will you be one of 45 who proves my mentor’s point by giving $10, one time?  Please help me get the word out and the contributions in so we can buy at least one seat by Thanksgiving,  there are only a couple of weeks to go.

Your contribution should go to:
Shepherd Church of the Nazarene
re: Heaven Train Facebook Challenge
425 S Hamilton Rd
Gahanna, OH  43230

Thanks!!

Obey, or Be (oy!)

The following is a tangent from the article “Computer, I want…“.  It explores the Babel story as recorded in Genesis 11:1-9 where God said, …  “nothing they plan to do will be impossible.”

Having one language and a small community of people who knew each other (they started with 4 couples emerging from Noah’s ark), the people of the world decided they would build a tower to reach Heaven and make a name for themselves.

Could they have actually built a tower that reached Heaven itself?  No – science has shown us that the atmosphere gets way too thin for our oxygen requirements.  They would have continued giving it their best effort, futility aside, and sacrificed many of their brothers pushing them to stack the next layer until they passed out & fell to the ground from whatever height they had achieved.  This concentration was in direct opposition to the command God had given – He had told them to spread out to explore and fill all the Earth that He had created for us.

We are still in the habit of sacrificing our brothers to focus on some futile effort that will make us famous for a little while, while God is still interested in sending us to all the world to speak of Him.  And so, in Genesis, He reset their language centers to a variety of languages, and groups who understood one another clustered together and wandered toward different areas.

Then, many generations later, He gave them a taste of unified understanding on the day of Pentecost.  The fledgling church grew, but remained in place, until God allowed (orchestrated?) persecution to scatter them abroad.  After all, there were people in other lands who had not yet heard that the Creator loves everyone, and He had specifically given the church the task of going to those people.

He has not rescinded that order (He doesn’t change), yet we as the body of Christ still cluster in like-minded groups and spend our resources building attractive places to draw people together.  This isn’t necessarily bad, as together is how we learn and share and polish character.  Yet, are we still somewhat guilty of futile focus?  Have we obeyed the command to go out?

I really enjoy word play…and it occurred to me while bouncing the idea of ‘obey God’ against pride’s assertion to ‘be God’, that the two opposite verbs have a core in common.  O BE Y… BE… the letters left over form a negative expression, ‘OY’.  So, the next time you’re toying with the question of whether to obey God, remember that the alternative is to attempt to ‘be’ God, followed by ‘oy!’ and a face-palm (unless you prefer a ‘Gibbs’).

 

Computer, I want…

Ahh, Star Trek… one of my favorites for several reasons.  What fun it would be to schedule holographic vacations where you could take trips to anywhere and dance with computer-generated figures of just the right build and character…  Then you could sit down to an actual meal of generated lobster with perfectly grilled asparagus…  What I’d really like to have, honestly, is a domestic android (ala Bicentennial Man) who not only dances well, but also enjoys removing spiders & dustbunnies and washing dishes.

That’s why we enjoy TV & movies, they feed our imaginations (which so often are starving these days because we’ve lost the art of exercising and feeding them ourselves).

It turns out, according to an article I just tripped over (and some overheard conversations), that we’ve made long strides toward making this fantasy a reality.  We have arrived at the place where, if you can imagine it, the computer can build it.  There are no food replicators yet, but as we continue converting to soy substitutes and making advances in 3D printing, it moves closer to the realm of possible.

We shouldn’t be surprised, because the Babel story in Genesis 11:1-9 records God as saying “nothing they plan to do will be impossible.”  (tangent available)

As with all creative efforts, we can applaud that science is making progress toward better prosthetics (reference my overheard conversation) and the ability to recreate outdated machine components (as opposed to storing them, just in case).  Someday, perhaps, everyone will be able to enjoy the flavor of lobster at the price of soy.

There’s always, unfortunately, a flip-side…a corruption of creativity that has existed since before Genesis…an exploitation of the possible in order to promote or keep a few people in the position of power, the image of God warped to the devil’s glee.  The ultimate illustration has been written down for a long time, in Revelation.  A careful reading of the article will show you that we’re closer than we may realize. When we get there, somehow, even dry bread will be an expensive delicacy.

Keep your eyes open, folks…even in the fantasy world of Star Trek, there are bad guys.

Engage!

It was a few months before my graduation, a little over a year ago now.  I had just finished another one of those Mother-Daughter conversations that daughters can recite with astounding accuracy  – it’s practically scripted.  Truth be told, it has been for generations, but some mothers & daughters get an early escape from it.  We didn’t.

“If you were married, I wouldn’t worry so much.” Continue reading Engage!