Saturday, May 26, 2012

Olive Branch Christian Church


YouthWorks.

For those of you who don’t know, I had the amazing privilege of working for an organization called YouthWorks (www.youthworks.com) the past two summers. The mission of YouthWorks is to provide life-changing, Christ-centered mission trips for middle and high school students. For those two summers, (the first in Niagara Falls, NY, and the second in Beckley, WV), I watched as teens and pre-teens were challenged to become more like Christ.

YouthWorks is a whirlwind experience as multiple churches descend upon you for five days and enter into an intense week of service and relationship-building. You would be amazed how much you can get to know people in just 5 days. The body of Christ extends so much farther than our particular churches or denominations, county or state lines, cultures or experiences.  

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you
were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is
over all and through all and in all.”   -Ephesians 4:4-5

As my journey to Africa began to unfold, I reached out to some of these churches to see if they would be interested in partnering in ministry with me. And this past weekend, I had the awesome opportunity to go to Williamsburg, VA, to a church that had brought their youth group to WV last summer.

As a first speaking engagement about Kenya, I have to admit, I was quite nervous. I wanted to be transparent and to inspire. I wanted to make new friendships while renewing previous ones. And most importantly, I wanted God, the God of Williamsburg and of Beckley and of Korr, Kenya, to be at the forefront.

I was graciously welcomed by many folks who likely had never even heard of Newark, DE, before I arrived. They listened with attentive ears and hearts, asking thoughtful questions and engaging me in dialogue about Kenya, which had now become important to them as well. And after I spoke, many came up to me with the most sincere expressions of encouragement. It cannot quickly be forgotten when someone looks you so genuinely in the eyes, giving their word that they will be in prayer.

When people come together with the intent of seeing God’s name be magnified, powerful things can happen.

May God’s name be praised.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Compelled by Love


I would like to use my first blog entry to explain why I chose those 3 words to name my blog. But, before I race ahead, let me share the most significant and beautiful truths that I know…truths that give joy and life:

Truth #1: Heaven is a free gift; there is nothing I can do to earn or deserve it
Truth #2: I am a sinner and cannot save myself
Truth #3: God is merciful (and doesn’t want to punish me), but he is also just (so he must punish sin)
Truth #4: Jesus, being both fully God and fully man, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for my sins
Truth #5: Faith is not mere intellectual assent or mere temporal faith, but is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life

Sidenote: For those of you who know those truths like the back of your hand, I challenge you to re-read them with fresh eyes. What beautiful truths they are. May they never become commonplace to us.
For those of you who have never understood these facts or haven’t personally accepted them into your life, we should talk sometime J

Now with these truths in mind, this verse means so much more.

 “For Christ’s love compels us…that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” -2 Corinthians 5:14-15  

 It’s easy to love someone who is loveable. It doesn’t take much effort or thought; it’s a natural response to them. Yet, I was God’s enemy. I was alienated from Him. There was nothing good in me to earn or merit His favor. And in this state of spitting Him in the face and telling Him I didn’t need Him, He sent His Son, Jesus to die for me. What kind of love is this?! Certainly unlike anything I have ever experienced! Without this love, I would be headed for the punishment that I rightly deserve. But out of His deep, deep love for me, He has pursued me and brought me back into a relationship with Him.

Wow! That certainly is a compelling love! Out of gratitude for Jesus’ love for me, I desire to no longer live for myself, but for Him. And I believe that the way He has presently called me to live for Him is to go and share this love, this oh-so-compelling-love, in Africa. I’ve partnered with Africa Inland Mission and will be headed to Korr, Kenya at the end of December to be a primary English and physical education teacher there. God himself placed the desire to go to Africa within me, and now I have the wonderful privilege and opportunity to pursue that desire. Compelled by His love for me.

I greatly covet your prayers in this process, and that end goal (prayer!) is a big reason for this blog. Would you begin praying now, even as you sit and read this? Pray for those in Africa who have never heard of this compelling love. Pray that they might hear. Pray also that I might keep God’s compelling love forever in the forefront of my mind as I go through logistics and details in preparing to leave.

If Christ is your Savior and Lord, then Christ’s love has compelled you, too. We are not all called to missions overseas, but we are all called to live for Him. So, may God give you the grace to live not for yourself today, but for Him. And may that grace reach us every day.

May we truly live in light of His compelling love.