Monday, December 31, 2007
BBC News Article
Monday, December 17, 2007
The great part about all this is that by the time I get to Kenya full-time there is a high possibility that Dennis Omondi will be pastoring a church and need me to do a lot of work within that church. God is good and He has a definite purpose for me working with Denton Community Church. I am going to find out all the things that Dennis would like me to have more experience in and then attempt to get as much experience in those areas at Denton Community Church.
I'm very excited about this next year.
Thank you for praying!
Saturday, December 1, 2007
The above diagram comes from a highly respected man with 30 years of missions/ministry experience. When asked in our Missions Training class, what he feels the most important thing to tell us as we prepare for the field, he gave us this.
Why is it that we so often seek to find the specific country God wants us to go to first? Have we gotten into the habit of doing things a little backward? Here, he says that the vision is the first priority, the vehicle the next, and then the venue can be addressed. As you make these choices in your journey towards the mission field, the question of where is actually narrowed by the answers of the first two. If you know why you are going (vision) and you know how you are going (vehicle), where you will go simply takes care of itself.
This has been my experience: Vision (discipleship and evangelism); Vehicle (Denton Bible, MTI, and Serve); Venue: Kenya. Why Kenya? It just got narrowed down and I feel that Kenya is the place and the team that God wants me to join above all the others that DBC has on the field. God's will became much more obvious as I narrowed down the choices.
Something to think about if you are currently on this journey.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Life Update (pt. 1 of 2)
This is my first update in a long while, but I will begin sending these out more frequently. I just want everyone to know of all the big changes that have been occurring in my life recently.
This last semester has been a big transition for me. I quit my full time job as an Assistant Hall Director at Kerr Hall, moved out of the dorms at UNT and into a lower-income neighborhood consisting of a lot of apartments and very little grass (thus dubbed “Cement City”). I began my first semester of the Missionary Training Institute (MTI) at Denton Bible Church (DBC), and made my decision of where I will serve after the training is over: Mombasa, Kenya. This first part of the “Life Update” will consist of the missions side of things, while part 2, coming soon, will be on the ministry side of things.
The training I have received at MTI has been phenomenal. It was a difficult transition at first, but God has given me grace in learning new ways to manage my time and devote myself to my studies. The missions staff of DBC are incredibly gifted and educated men with great devotion to Jesus Christ and His church. I have learned so much about the life of Christ, details of Christian Doctrine, and the intricacies of how to deliver a sermon effectively. I have also been meeting with Dennis Omondi, the field director of Serve Kenya every Tuesday morning to talk about life and ministry in Mombasa, Kenya. When I started meeting with Dennis I was fairly certain I wanted to serve in Kenya, not so much because I feel a specific calling to Kenya or even East Africa, but simply because I feel like I have a place there. I fit in with the team and the ministry work of pastor training, college ministry, leadership development, and possibilities for Muslim evangelism. I can see no better place for me to build a foundation of mission work for my life. After a few weeks of meeting with Dennis, I saw we had very similar hearts, visions, and ministry desires. We are both fairly convinced that Kenya is the place that God would have me commit to for at least one term (four years). This summer I plan on spending two months in Kenya along with my friend Josh Smith; during those two months we will be able to work under Dennis and experience life, ministry, and culture in Kenya in a deeper way as well as lead/host the College Life summer mission team coming to Kenya in July. I will be meeting with this team as their leader starting in February or March.
I thank you for all your prayers, encouragement, guidance, advice, love, support, and friendships. I am very blessed by the Lord to be surrounded by such great groups of people so devoted to God and His purposes. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you.
Life Update: Ministry (pt. 2 of 2) – 11/26/07
We are not very balanced people; we like to see-saw between extremes rather than stand in the middle, balanced & steady. I have found it difficult to balance ministry with my studies. I could easily spend all my time just working (20 hrs a week for UNT Housing), but I know that God desires faithfulness in ministry during my time of training. This semester, most of my ministry has taken place in the context of my neighborhood, “Cement City”, a mostly Hispanic, lower income neighborhood right next to the UNT campus. I joined a group of friends from College Life who intentionally moved into a lower-income neighborhood in order to build relationships, meet physical needs, and meet spiritual needs by sharing the gospel and serving the community. It has been slow and at times frustrating, but there are moments where I am affirmed why God has raised up this team of people to pray and serve this community. Just this month, Carlos, one of the kids across the street accepted Christ as his Savior and his siblings, Roberto & Stephanie, are being prepared day by day for the same! We’ve also been able to incorporate a system of telling stories of Jesus’ life every time our neighborhood kids ask to borrow our bike pump! Most of our time is invested in the kids and we pray that our love for the kids will earn respect and an ear open to the gospel from both the kids and their parents. We need lots of prayer because we are constantly evaluating what should be changed about our focus and our actions in this community.
Starting at the turn of the year, I plan on working for Lifeline Bible Fellowship, a church plant of DBC focused on reaching out to the urban & hip/hop cultures. In this, I hope to learn some areas of church ministry and administration that will help me as I prepare for the mission field; I also have a great respect for this church, their vision, and their strong emphasis upon discipleship. After 3 ½ years, I will be quitting my job with the Department of Housing. This semester I have only worked enough to pay my bills and plan on raising monthly support in order to meet those needs since Lifeline is a volunteer position. I am looking for monthly commitments from people who are interested in partnering with me both now as I prepare and train for the mission field and in the future work God is calling me towards in Kenya. If you are interested in setting up a meeting in regards to this, please send me an email so I can share more with you about the ministry. Otherwise, I will begin by contacting certain people that have already expressed interest in my support raising endeavors.
I thank you all for the joy of being partners in the work of Christ and for your support and prayers while God continues to take me on this journey towards Kenya.
Your fellow servant in the Lord,
Saturday, October 6, 2007
This blog entry by my friend Mackenzie sent me into an whirlwind of a huge idea. By the way, it seems as if the most impactful ideas and times of understanding of God, humans, myself, the world always begin within some context of community and fellowship. Just hanging out with people, fellowshipping, talking about life and then BAM I realize how important and overarching the idea is that we are talking about and it stays with me for at least a week. These are probably moments when the Holy Spirit really wants to teach me something, but I find it interesting that it comes out in this context of other people – this supports my point exactly.
Read this paragraph from Mackenzie talking about words, God, and tangible feelings:
this all got me to thinking of how words from tangible people impact me deeply and immediately. written. spoken. unspoken. if coming from a tangible person, i am impacted. but from our invisible god? its much more difficult for me to trust the depth of those words. for them to impact me in the same way. i am, and have been, wrestling with wanting to be touched and changed by them much more deeply than by tangible mouths. its not that i don’t believe what he says. it just takes much more of an effort for them to sink in than do those coming from tangible bodies. will it always take this effort? i’m not sure. but today, i was also struck by how the lord uses tangible people to speak to us. to encourage. rebuke. wrap in love. even, and especially, on funky stationery or in a steamy bosnian bakery.
The words of God takes more effort to sink in than those coming from tangible bodies with tangible mouths. The effort for the word of God to sink in to our hearts into tangible feelings is the effort of faith, but God also uses these tangible mouths and words to reveal Himself
God is invisible, yet still tangible. Just because I don’t touch Him directly doesn’t mean that He is not clear or definite in that since of tangibility. Tangibility can mean the ability to touch something or the ability to discern something as clear or definite. Moses saw the back of God’s glory and came down from the mountain with his face radiating from that glory of God (Ex. 34). We cannot touch Him, yet He touches us. We cannot see Him, yet He sees us. We can talk to Him, yet He talks to us. Ben, are you saying God speaks words to you? Yes I am. Is it audible? No. Is it tangible? Yes. The communication of God to us is not the way in which we communicate to each other, but that has no effect on its tangibility or clarity.
God is invisible yet reveals Himself through tangible means. A good question to start off with is, “What do you know of God that has not been expressed, revealed, or communicated within tangible or natural means?” I cannot think of a single thing. Creation is an act of God’s words and hands in revealing who He is by the complexity of life around you every day (Rom. 1). Every time you see birds, crunching nut hats, or a soft breeze hits you, isn’t God speaking to you, “I love you.” When you see a smile on a child’s face or their energy build up into a visible and bodily earthquake, isn’t God saying, “I love you?”
God also has revealed a major part of Himself within Scripture. When you read the words of God which came to you by natural means of God inspiring men to write His words, you learn of His wisdom, character, fervent and longsuffering love for us, He is saying to you daily, “I love you.”
We can reflect upon Jesus Christ, the ultimate manifestation and revelation of God to men and He bids us to come to Him, touch the wounds of His side and hands and ask us, “Do you love me?” God Himself came to us and ate with us, laughed with us, mourned with us, taught us, disciplined us, rebuked us, worshiped and prayed to the Father with us, and died for us to bring us to the Father. “Do you love me?” Jesus Christ is the most tangible form of God this world has ever known and all of these tangible revelations give us a peace and assurance of God telling us, “I love you.”
If that wasn’t enough, and it usually isn’t for untrusting people such as ourselves, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us when He left to comfort, guide, and impart the wisdom of God to us. Through the Spirit we can reflect Christ to others as a tangible influence of God in others’ lives. We become a part of the tangibility of God. We touch others; we love others; we comfort others; we bear hug others and write letters to others to show the grace and love of Jesus Christ, the grace and love of God intangible in tangible ways. We the church, the bride of Jesus Christ show the light of God to those who cannot see nor feel because of lack of knowledge or lack of faith.
God is invisible yet reveals Himself in visible ways. God is intangible yet reveals Himself in tangible ways.
When you desire to see, hear, and know God in a tangible way, know He is intangible, but has revealed Himself in creation, the Bible, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the church…us. Know that through these means He touches us and speaks to us 10,000 times a day, “I love you.” The question is, will you listen? Will I listen?
(feel free to email or comment on anything you agreed or disagreed with)
Sunday, September 2, 2007
The Oasis Apartments:
Zach, Doug, and their guests Dustin, Cody, and Josh Ward are all staying in a first floor apartment. Dana and Ale are living above them on the 2nd floor.
Woodvine II Apartments:
Myself, Steven, Justin, and our guest Paul our staying in #9 on the first floor. Directly above us is Lauren and Kana.
We are a team of missionaries. Students, Workers, “in transition”. These are the titles that could be applied to us, but we are all missionaries. Let’s talk about this word missionary for a little bit. Missio is a Latin word that means ‘sending’ or ‘to send’. A Mission is defined as “an important assignment carried out for political, religious, or commercial purposes, typically involving travel.” Missionary is the “person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.”
We all lived in houses and apartments spread out through the city of Denton and all collectively decided to move into this poorer neighborhood with the intention of seeking God’s leading in how we might be integrated into the community, meet their needs, shine the light of Christ through our actions, and by divine appointment share the message of Jesus Christ to those we encounter. Now it is not a foreign country, but it is a lot closer to a foreign country than where we were to begin with. Everything else applies though for us to be missionaries. We live, we work, we continue our lives as usual except with the goal and intention of perhaps making a difference in the lives of the people we meet in this particular community, our home.
Sometimes we can be very open and bold in meeting people or setting up times to hang out with others, and other times it simply takes stepping out of our shell, resisting the urge to look through the blinds and peepholes, and walk outside to see what kind of interactions might take place with our neighbors. But every time requires us to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to not resist the ideas that God gives us that works so steadily against our comforts or preferences.
Sometimes we feel like we aren’t doing anything at all, and other times God orchestrates so many ‘chance’ encounters and ‘random’ interactions that we cannot help but fall on our faces in worship and rejoicing in the privilege of being used by God in the subtlest of ways.
I write this to tell you what is happening in my life, but I pray I do not write this out of a desire to boast. If I boast, I boast in the joy of serving Christ and not in my own works. But most of all I write this out of a belief that the most radical movement and revival of the American church can and will occur if only everyone sitting in the seats of churches every Sunday would begin shaping an identity for themselves as ministers and missionaries. No, they do not need to leave their homes or jobs or quit doing the things that they feel God has gifted them so abundantly to do. Our group has only switched homes but maintained everything else in our lives. What you must do is simply consider yourself as a missionary right where you are, as one called by God and sent to your workplace and neighborhood in order to carry out the most important assignment and orders of our Lord Jesus Christ to, “make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things,” Jesus has commanded you to observe. If only we all could take this vision as our own and shape our identity as missionaries.
Would you please pray for us, for yourselves, and for the American church to act out the love of God and calling of Jesus Christ in whatever ways the Holy Spirit might lead us all to do?
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Confirmation from A.W. Tozer:
“To believe actively that our Heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to the soul a veritable benediction. Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart.
There is a better way. It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God. Our insistence upon seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stands ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him. Here is His promise: ‘And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.’
Let Him lead thee blindfold onwards,
Love needs not to know;
Children whom the Father leadeth
Ask not where they go.
Though the path be all unknown,
Over moors and mountains lone.
God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark. ‘I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.’”
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
1) Hard not Heavy
Jesus says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:30). Christ’s burden that He carries is easy and light meaning He has plenty of strength to help us and carry our burdens in our place. When the Christian life becomes heavy – stressful, anxious, worried, controlling, burdensome – this is due to your own control and your lack of surrender unto Christ who will carry your burdens for you. We like to hold on to the reigns of our lives (even though we all know the final result of doing so ends in disaster) and control our lives making “bootstrap” accomplishments that we can pat ourselves on the back with and say to ourselves, “Well done good and faithful Ben. You had a problem and you took care of it yourself without even having to ask God for any help at all!” This is what the world praises right? Self-sufficiency. Individual accomplishments. Awards. Cinderella sports teams. Hear me now my family in Christ! If the entire weight of the world lay on your shoulders, it would not begin to describe the burden that is upon you without Christ! Jesus Christ is stronger than you are and He calls all people to lay down this burden that you cannot even stand under and give it to Him so He may free you from this stress, this anxiety, these desires. Jesus frees people from their own contradictory and self-destructive selves. If only I could just submit to God and let go of my control over my life, things would be so much simpler. Letting go is the hardest aspect of the Christian life.
So it is meant to be hard? Yes, the Christian life is meant to be hard, but it is not meant to be heavy. Does that make sense? Heaviness is you carrying an impossible burden on your shoulders. Hard is dying to yourself and letting go of your control over life trusting in God’s sovereign and loving nature to lead you through. Heavy is the pressure that is placed upon yourself to do and not just be.
2) The Spirit and the spiritual: the only way to learn, the only way to change
The Holy Spirit’s movement is the only way I can ever understand anything; it is the only way I can ever change or learn anything about God or about myself. Without it I stay the same man year after year, I read the same scriptures over and over having no ears to hear the words and no eyes to see the truth that lies within it. I said above that what needs to happen in the Christian life is a dying to yourself, a release of control. How can I give up control of myself, how can I die to myself?? The first lesson is recognizing that you don’t know how to do it nor do you have the ability to do it. I’ve been praying for God’s Spirit to work in me because without it, without Christ the vine, I can do nothing (John 15). Abiding in Christ simply means to remain as you are – don’t break yourself off from the tree. It is only by the Spirit that I can learn these truths. It is only by the Spirit that it becomes spiritual knowledge and not just information stored in my brain. It is only by the Spirit that these truths will actually stay with me long enough to have any effecting change. It is only by the Spirit that truth finds its way to action in my life. Yes I want to be more than do, but as you are being, doing will occur naturally and led by the Spirit of God rather than by your determination, drive, discipline, or boldness to change yourself (James 1).
It is good to feel God’s Spirit working in my life after a month of distance and distraction.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Here's a little guide to keep you from getting confused: when I say Moses, I am referring to the Moses of the Bible, and when I say Moses A., I am referring to Moses Abele my Kenyan ministry partner pictured above.
Every now and then in life you come across an incredibly vivid and powerful analogy of Christian living drawn from an everyday life circumstance. Moses A. experienced something like that the first Sunday we were at the Word of Life camp. I was able to hear of his experience when we met together the day after for our first official discipleship time.
Moses A. is a great guy. I really enjoyed getting to know him while in Kenya, connecting with him, sharing struggles with him, and teaching him through my experiences. Moses A. has a natural leadership quality to him. No matter what I think people will always look to him in some way to lead, he cannot hide from it. Yet like all of us there is a reluctance to lead. Some have this reluctance from lack of self-confidence like the Moses of the Bible who five times gave excuses to God for the commission given to him by God (Exodus 3:11,3:13,4:1,4:10,4:13). Moses said, "I am not good enough," and God replied, "I will certainly be with you." Moses said, "The people won't know your name," and God replied, "I AM WHO I AM. They will know my name because they know my faithfulness to them in history." Moses said, "They won't believe that You have really appeared to me," and God replied, "I will give you signs and wonders as proof that I am with you." Moses said, "I cannot speak well," and God replied, "I made your mouth and will give you the words and ability to speak." Moses said, "Please send someone else," and God replied in ANGER yet mercy giving him Aaron for help but still giving His presence and power to Moses. Moses' reluctance to lead was based in his lack of self-confidence which adversely affected His trust in God's power; along with his self-confidence issues, he did not believe the people would even want to follow him - this is based in his thinking of himself as lowly and thinking of the people as un-trusting or unfaithful (not so far from the truth). The problem with both of these thoughts is that they are true by a strictly earthly view, but if you add God and His power into the equation, all things become possible. With God, you become a confident leader and the people become faithful followers. It is good to be lowly and humble in your own sight, but if it gets to the point where you stop trusting in Jesus, His power, and authority, it becomes a problem of unfaithfulness in God to use the lowly.
On that Sunday, Moses A. and the rest of the group had decided to go to the beach for an afternoon swim. The beach area right next to the Word of Life camp was not a good place to swim. Moses A. was the only person in the group at the time that had been there before and he knew of the perfect place to swim. So he was automatically placed as the leader of the group for a while. Moses A. began to lead the group on a 20-minute walk to the best swimming area. After about 10 minutes, some people in the group began to wonder how far this place was and asked Moses A., “Are we close yet?” The area they were walking through was very rocky and there also were a lot of sellers on the beach, which were causing some of the people in the group to get a little uncomfortable. As Moses A. continued leading, he began to doubt himself because the people were complaining, but he knew that where he led them was the perfect place to take them for swimming. He was the only person who had seen how good the place was, and so he pressed on because he knew what was best for the group.
This is exactly what we have been called by God to do every day. The commission that Moses received by God was to deliver His people from Egypt and the commission that we have received by God is to go and make disciples of all nations. We are called to lead people no matter how we feel of ourselves – we are to be humble but not doubt in God’s power to use us. We are to lead people into the glorious relationship with Jesus Christ and then teach people how to ground themselves into a loving and fruitful relationship with their Creator. This will cause some discomfort in the people we are leading, but we must stay focused and continue to lead them because we have seen it is good and it is the very best place for them to go. This is the essence of a shepherd, and exactly what Jesus does with us everyday as we follow Him towards the very best things that He is giving us. For Jesus, the Shepherd, to teach us and grow us, He will cause discomfort so we will walk closer to His side as He leads us. Leadership / Discipleship always begins by being led by Jesus, by being a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Claus, Anthony, Chris, & Ivan
Landon with Moses on the right.
Today, I want to tell you of a really neat situation that occurred during our discipleship - two situations actually. Meet Anthony, an 18 year old freshman from Dallas, Tx. Anthony has a dry sense of humor, a faithful and obedient heart, a love for God's word, and a really deep voice. Meet Ivan, Anthony's discipleship partner in Kenya. Ivan is a 30 year old Kenyan involved in FBC's college ministry at Mombasa Polytechnic. Ivan has a great smile, a servant's heart, and a passion for evangelism. Anthony was a little intimidated or confused when he, the youngest guy on our team, was paired up with Ivan, the oldest guy on the Kenyan team. "So Ivan's like 30," was Anthony's way of telling the American team that he was concerned about the situation. Throughout the course of the week we all found that the pairing couldn't have been a better fit. Ivan loves to act; he's a servant and evangelist after all. Anthony loves to study - he's becoming a man of the Word. With this, God had set up for Ivan exactly what he needed to learn the week we were with him. This was a direct answer to prayer of which I had asked all of you to pray - thank you for praying, God is good!
Anthony found his time with Ivan very focused when going through our curriculum, The Timothy Principle by Roy Robertson as Ivan was eager to learn. Out of the four hours we had each morning, Ivan and Anthony would be finished with the lesson in less than half the time. These two men decided that the best use of their time would be found in evangelism on the beach. By Wednesday of our week at the Word of Life camp, two men that had approached a couple of our girls the day before with spiritual questions came to know Christ as their personal Savior. Chris and Claus had entered the family of God through the power of His Spirit and the faithfulness of His servants. On the same day, Landon and Marto were able to share Christ with a Masai man named Moses who also accepted Christ. I found it so wonderful that on that day the lesson in the Timothy Principle was about follow up and the lesson before it was about evangelism (the Bridge illustration). Anthony, Ivan, Landon, and Marto were taking what they had just learned and immediately applied them in action. Not only that but God was blessing their action with immediate fruit - the very fruit that we began learning about that Monday. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." - John 15:16. "Go and bear fruit," "Go and make disciples," the fruit is new believers and their growth in discipleship. Throughout the rest of the week Ivan and Anthony continued to split their time - half in discipleship and learning, and half in evangelism and application (shouldn't our lives look so much like this daily? WOW!) We are hoping and praying that the Word of Life staff have continued to follow up with these men who really do not know the first thing about following God in a daily Christian walk, and you may pray with us as well. Conversion unto Christ is not the end, only the beginning of a long relationship with Christ. God has, we pray, chosen Chris, Claus, and Moses and appointed them that they may go (learn of Him and grow in Him) and bear fruit (of righteousness, faithfulness, and the Great Commission), and that their fruit should remain (meaning they themselves will one day share Christ with another Kenyan and disciple them as they were discipled).
Saturday, July 7, 2007
I'd like for you all to meet my Kenyan friend and brother, Jay Jay. Or as Jill Senechal likes to call him "Pepe". One of the things I feel like I learned the most about God is how much He delights in His servants who humbly and daily die to their own desires or needs in order to serve and love others. I feel I was able to learn the most through the example of JJ. JJ, an old friend of Dennis Omondi's, was asked to help Jill host our team in Kenya as well as organize and administrate the Kenyan team. With Dennis in the states, Jill needed someone to help her with the loads of work that comes with hosting a short term team; also, it was important to have a Kenyan with her during any business transactions as it is commonplace in Kenya for a mzungu (white person) to be overcharged if not ripped off. JJ gladly accepted this task and took 2 weeks vacation from work in order to work with us. From the very first day in Mombasa to the very last day in Nairobi, Jill and JJ were with my team guiding us every step of the way and freeing us up to do the ministry which we came to do - disciple and cast a vision of discipleship with the Kenyan college leaders.
But this is not nearly the half of what God has taught me about service through JJ. I feel like we are impacted the most and even shown our own failings the most when we see someone who is doing it right and well in front of our eyes. This is one of the many reasons why discipleship works and an older person's association with the younger is the most important part of discipleship.
First of all, whenever I see a need whether it occurs right in front of me like an elderly person who drops something or I hear about something or someone in need and I am not in their presence, there is often times a hesitation to serve them or meet that need. This hesitation will often come from a variety of places. Selfishness: "I just have more important things to do right now. I feel bad, but what help can I be to them anyway." Laziness: "It's finally my day off. I just want to stay in and watch movies." Self-Consciousness: "They really don't want my help," or "We would both be embarrassed if I tried to help them." I think the last one is best explained with the example of chivalry shown towards women. With the world telling us men over and over again that women are equally strong and equally capable of taking care of themselves, it is hard to remember chivalry as an act of service these days. What makes it so hard is that self-consciousness, thinking that the other person does not want my help or service. Kind of hard to explain, and I digress. The great thing about JJ is that he doesn't really hesitate to help the needy or a friend. As soon as he sees the need, he's off and running to meet it. This made me really admire JJ in the end.
There are tons of little stories that could help you understand JJ's character and service to others, but there is one that illustrates this point the best. We were eating together as a team on our last night in Mombasa. As we got up to leave, Jill gives JJ some money to tip our waiter. As I walked out with Jill, she grabbed me by the arm and whispered, "I think our waiter is trying to pay JJ!" I looked at her confused. Once we got out of the restaurant, JJ came running up with a huge grin on his face laughing at the situation. "They paid me! Can you believe it! They thought that I brought all of you and so they paid me! HA!," JJ exclaimed. You see, we were a big group of mzungus and JJ is Kenyan, therefore the logical conclusion of the waiter was that JJ brought all of the business in and the waiter wanted to 'thank' him so that JJ might bring more mzungus in the future. JJ, Jill, and I rode home in Jill's car laughing and joking about the situation. As we were navigating through the Kenyan roads, JJ tells Jill to pull over to the side of the road in a specific place. JJ gets out without explaining and Jill and I look at each other thinking we are experiencing a cultural moment. 5 minutes later, JJ gets in the car and Jill asks, "What was that all about?" JJ responds, "Just meeting some people." What had happened was JJ knew some people in need that were on the way home, and he set it up to give them the money that he had so unexpectedly received. He gave it all away. No hesitation. No thought of keeping it for his own needs or desires. Like I said, he's someone to be admired.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Luke 9:57-58 - "Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, 'Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
There are three men in this entire passage, but today I just want to talk about the first man. This man makes a very bold statement out of emotion, passion, and how he felt at the moment in which he said it, but he didn't count the cost of his promise to Jesus. What exactly was it that this man felt? It could have been love for Jesus and His ministry, excitement for the coming kingdom of the Messiah, or possibly even guilt for not joining Jesus' ministry earlier? We really don't know, but we do know that there was something that was not genuine about his statement because Jesus knew that this man did not have knowledge of the sacrifice that his promise required.
Following Jesus wherever He goes requires a great cost. Jesus' direct response mentioned the fact that He did not even have a home to rest His head which is something that even foxes and birds have. Jesus had no home and none of the basic and proper necessities of life. Following Jesus would require this man to give up all those necessities. Not only this, but Jesus was heading to Jerusalem (9:51) the place where He will be beaten, tortured, and crucified (Source: Bible Knowledge Commentary). Would this man follow Jesus to the cross as Jesus Himself taught just before the transfiguration (9:23-27). To all who wished to follow Him, there was a requirement to "deny himself, and take up his cross daily." All who followed Christ sought to lose their lives for His sake in order to truly save it.
Matthew Henry speaks about Jesus' self-title of "Son of Man". "[Jesus] glories in His condescension towards us, to testify His love to us, and to teach us a holy contempt of the world, and a continual regard to another world." The title of "Son of Man" identifies Jesus with mankind and causes all who hear that title to recall Jesus' great humbling of Himself descending from the throne of God to become, live as, and live with mankind (Philippians 2:5-11).
Jesus gave up His rights, and condescended Himself to become a man. Why? To save us (Luke 19:10), and to serve us (Matt. 20:28). How did Jesus do this? Was it out of boldness? Emotion? Passion? Love? Yes, all these are true, but the foundation of how or why the Son of God came to man as Jesus Christ lies in His OBEDIENCE to the Father. Jesus came because He was sent by the Father out of the Father’s LOVE and MERCY. Jesus came out of OBEDIENCE because the Father had sent Him. The Father commanded that He go, and so He went out of Obedience and Love towards the Father. The Father commanded that Jesus be sent to the cross, and Jesus prayed for another way yet remained faithful in attaching the clause, “not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:39).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16); “But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8); “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). It seems that here Love and Obedience are tied to one another. Some say Love is an emotion, others that it is a decision or commitment. Perhaps it is both. Jesus loved us, because the Father loved us and they are one in the same. But Jesus came because the Father commanded Him to come, and so He did because love and obedience are connected. That is to say, obedience is the effect, while love is the cause. The Bible talks about hearers and doers (James 1); to hear and not do is the same thing as loving and not obeying. If obedience is not there, then the love that is supposedly there is not trustworthy; if action is not there, then the hearing of the word of God must be called into question.
This passage has application in all of the Christian life; it is the cost of being a personal disciple / follower of Jesus Christ, but I want to talk about something that my team and I spoke about a lot during the trip, the call to missions.
So many young people have the same story. They went on a short term mission trip, and then they preach God’s calling of them to the mission field. Either that or they just woke up one morning and God spoke to them that they are to personally go do missions in a very specific country. Now, it is very possible that all these experiences or callings are really true and God is working on someone’s heart to go on the mission field. It would be wrong of me to deny their personal experience. However, when many people preach their calling to missions, go on the mission field for any extended period of time, and then suddenly come home without that calling, it makes me wonder what happened?
This, I think, is what happens. The calling of missions can be founded by emotions or obedience, by one’s personal feelings or by their commitment to the will of God in their lives. And as I was discussing with a friend, he helped me realize that if your commitment to missions is based on your passions, emotions, or romantic notions of serving God in a foreign context, you will fail and come home to America defeated. Why will you fail? Passions wane, emotions are fickle, and romance dies when trials come. These things are the chaff that is blown away by the wind (trials), and you are left with only the wheat (your commitment to the will of God) which turns out to be very little. But I don’t want to sound so stoic and unbalanced. Passion, emotion, romance are all great things and I think they are necessary for daily living, but if they are the reasons you are serving in a difficult and often times, lonely place, they are simply not enough.
The calling to missions is the same as the calling to be disciples of Christ. Both callings must be founded on obedience and commitment to the will of God while counting the cost of difficulty that lies ahead. If the calling is founded on how you felt at the moment when making that commitment it will not stand the test of difficulty. Not all people are called to the mission field, but we need more. Not all people that stay to do the work of ministry in America actually do the work, but they should. The problem lies in a faulty, fickle commitment to God’s will, God’s law, and God’s way. To say, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go,” must be said out of obedience. Anything else is a rash, emotional statement made without true commitment.
So I will make a bold statement which could be proven wrong by more experience and wisdom: stop asking if you are “called” to missions, and start praying about how far you are willing to follow your Lord and Savior. If it’s not very far, pray for a greater love for God, the type of authentic love that demands a greater obedience and commitment to God’s will for your life.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Now, the blessing of God's confirmation that our mistake was really His sovereignty came in the form of a stranded Frenchman named Jeff. Jeff was also stranded in New Jersey for the night, but because he didn't come in on Continental, they were unable to give him a hotel room. Shanda and I realized that we had 4 hotel rooms which allowed for me to share a room with Jeff so we quickly offered him a place to stay for the night. Jeff seemed very grateful and followed us around hanging out with the team until Shanda and I finished tying up all the loose ends for our flight in the morning. I ended up having a substantial amount of time with Jeff traveling to the Hotel Shuttle area and then waiting for our van to the Radisson to come. God obviously had His hand in the entire thing because my conversation with Jeff was one of great openness about Christ. I pray that after our conversation He was able to understand the gospel and message of Christianity with much more clarity and know exactly what he must to do be saved whenever the Lord would call him to that faith.
It was about 12:30 am by the time we got to the hotel and we needed to be back at the airport by 5 am. I couldn't sleep for the life of me because of all the thoughts of what I should have done differently rolling around in my head. It was 2:30 and I resolved to just soak in the bath if I wasn't asleep by 3. As I was wishing I had not made the mistake that I did and failed my team as I did, I remembered that God calls all of His servants to simply be AVAILABLE for His use but not because of our ABILITY. So I began to cry thanking God for His goodness and love for me. Then I began to laugh silently as not to wake Jeff. Then the thought of waking Jeff, a Frenchman who I shared the gospel with and Continental hooked up with a hotel room for the night in Newark, New Jersey at 2:30 in the morning, just made me laugh all the more. Why was I laughing? One because it was an experience I am sure to never have again, and two, because often times OUR MISTAKES SHOW GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY.
The blessings that came from our mistake are numerous. Jeff in New Jersey; our team being forced into flexibility on the front end of our trip; staying in two cramped hotel rooms in London (one bed, 5 girls; one bed, 3 guys) and having the team sneak into the hotel unsuspiciously so we wouldn't be forced to get more rooms at outrageous prices brought a great deal of humility to the team; Amadala, the girl I sat next to on the plane to Nairobi - a Kenyan living in London who found out that she has nothing holding her back from praying to receive Christ in her life and knows that she can pray to God at anytime to be cleansed of her sins.
God used this "mistake" to prepare my team greatly and to bless two to five different people's lives through our unique circumstances.
Monday, June 25, 2007
From here on out, my plan is to write small memories or stories to share with you all about what the team did, how it went, and the impact it has had on me, my team, and the Kenyans as well. I will try to publish / email these out once every other day.
As a whole, the trip was a great success and we accomplished the main purpose of our being there which was to teach, encourage, and spread the vision of discipleship to the Kenyan leaders of the college ministry of Mombasa Polytechnic.
Thank you for your support and prayers throughout this time. Continue to pray for me and my team over the next week or two in readjusting to normal life. For me especially, it is hard having so much work and leadership placed into this trip and then have it suddenly taken away. I experienced a little shock yesterday from being alone and without my team. It's hard to spend 3 weeks constantly around people and then to suddenly be alone, but today is already better. And luckily for me I have the next two months or so to rest and begin preparing and looking forward to my Missions training that will begin at the end of August! You will be hearing from me soon.
Monday, June 4, 2007
I feel that my team is prepared as we ever can be and now it is finally time to go. We are excited as we trust in God to do great things according to His will. Please join us in confident prayer for God's will to be done in
I should be able to communicate only twice while I'm in
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
We are resting as the branches of the vine of Christ. Apart from the vine, we can do NOTHING! Therefore, prayer, trust, and daily abiding in Christ is essential not only for trips like these but even for daily life. I highly encourage you to pray for us, because we are lost without it (John 15:5).
Please pray each day for our team:
- Humble attitudes and servant hearts
- Respect of culture
- Joyful spirit content in all things
- Submission to authority (Jill, Ben, Shanda, etc.)
- Grace in dealing with heat & insects
- That we could be true examples of the Christian walk – that the Kenyans may see our dedication and love for Christ, but also our faults and daily need of Him.
- HEALTH – big one.
- Flexibility – this trip is all planned out, but it could all change and turn on a dime as it already has once.
- Final team meeting on May 31 with Dennis (
field director) and Allison (Dennis’ fiancée). Kenya
- Kate, Carmie, Rachel, & Landon’s passports to come through. Possible trip to
– June 1st for re-application. Houston
- Our team’s Creativity & the Holy Spirit in preparing for the leading of devotionals, church times, and a chapel service.
- Small gifts to Kenyans will be chosen wisely and used to encourage, show love, and edify the college leaders we will be working with.
- Spiritual, physical, mental readiness for the team.
- Pray for Dennis & Allison as they prepare for their wedding in
June 5th – June 7th (morning)
- Safety in travels
- Patience with 4 planes & over 14 hrs of layover.
- Use the time wisely for team building and more prep. for the time in
- Pray for Moses – my Kenyan ministry partner. That I may teach him in Bible study, leadership, and what he needs most.
June 7th (afternoon) – 8th
· Become well-rested in
· Sharpness & Organization in planning and gathering of supplies before we go to the Word of Life camp
· Pray for Jill as she guides us in all the aspects and logistics of this trip.
· Pray for Landon meeting with Martin. That Martin might learn what he needs most from Landon.
Saturday June 9th
- Safety in traveling 30 miles to Ukunda (roads are really bad in
- First meeting of Kenyan College Leaders – pray for energy, joy, and excitement to build the relationships with our two teams
- For the Word of Life Staff – be a blessing to them and an example of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for Anthony meeting with Ivan. That Ivan might learn what he needs most from Anthony.
June 10th – 17th
- Every day, 9AM-1PM: Discipleship times with ministry partners. Pray for love, relationship building, use of curriculum, and discernment on the most important things to talk about
- Every day, : Ministry / work projects in the Word of Life camp or Ukunda village. Pray for servant hearts and strong role modeling of the Christian life as seen in service and giving.
- Every day: That the Holy Spirit would impart the vision of discipleship, evangelism, holiness, the reading and studying of the Word of God, prayer, fellowship, accountability, and service as essential parts of the Christian life to these Kenyan leaders and all the Word of Life staff and people of Ukunda as well as Mombasa.
Monday June 11th
- Work project at Word of Life – manual labor on the 11th, 12th, & 14th – pray for safety and to be a help to the camp
- Pray for Carmie meeting with Betty. That Betty might learn what she needs most from Carmie.
Tuesday June 12th
- Our team led devotionals for the Word of Life staff & Kenyan college leaders on the 12th, 13th, and 14th – to effectively encourage and edify those around us
- Pray for Laci meeting with Jackie. That Jackie might learn what she needs most from Laci.
Wednesday June 13th (Ben’s birthday)
- Visit of elementary school in Ukunda – the gospel could be shared with emphasis on growth in Christ and the personal relationship with God. Be an example of loving evangelism for our partners.
- Pray for Kate meeting with
. That Lynn might learn what she needs most from Kate. Lynn
Thursday June 14th
- Traditionally someone gets sick while in
– pray for health for my team members at this midway point. Kenya
- Pray for Rachel meeting with Sylvia. That Sylvia might learn what she needs most from Rachel.
Friday June 15th
- Morning Chapel service with 600 kids – the team will be doing some sort of skit or devotional
- Evening “Youth Worker’s Fellowship” – the team will also be leading in this time. Pray for preparedness and the Spirit’s leading to say or do what GOD wants to be said or done and not our own thoughts, words, or desires.
- Pray for Shanda meeting with Kenalyn. That Kenalyn might learn what she needs most from Shanda.
Saturday June 16th
- Visitation of Word of Life staff members living in Ukunda and evangelism in their neighborhoods. Encouragement, effective gospel presentations, and modeling evangelism to ministry partners.
Sunday June 17th
- Presentation at church service: skit, song, or devotional.
- Goodbyes to our new Kenyan friends and ministry partners: Pray that both the Kenyans and Americans will remember one another by their mutual love for Christ and that there would be exponential impact that occurs in all our lives after having met, served, and learned from one another.
- Travel back to
after church Mombasa
June 18th – 21st
- Debrief time for team. This is still ministry time for Shanda and I; pray that we would effectively lead our team to think for themselves and to remember the things God has taught them through this trip.
- Pray for the lives of the team members to be forever changed having seen God acting in another part of the world
- Pray for direction and future involvement in foreign and local missions
- Pray that their hearts would be forever bound to Christ and their passion and vision would forever be grounded in evangelism and DISCIPLESHIP.
June 22nd – 24th
- Safety in travels home
- Patience with 4 planes and over 15 hours of layover.
- Pray for God to raise up full time missionaries for
Kenyato join the Denton Bible team in . Mombasa
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I’m glad you asked that question. I’m going to
Well, a lot has happened recently to change the nature of the trip this June. Dennis Omondi the Denton Bible Missionary whose hometown is
So, our plans now are to go to
In the afternoons we will be doing a service project for the Word of Life camp as well as visiting an elementary school to share Christ with the kids there one afternoon. The idea for these 8 days is to be with these key leaders of the college ministry ALL THE TIME! We will read with them, pray, hang out, eat, serve, work, play, sleep, everything. This is the discipleship that Jesus displayed with the apostles and I am excited to follow in that pattern at least for a few days. Perhaps it will urge me on to following His pattern much more closely and consistently?
After that, the Kenyans will go home and we will return to
Coming Soon: a Prayer Calendar with dates and suggested prayer topics.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
My good friend Levi came into town. He stayed with me for the week and we hung out with Brian Allgaier (who got married on Saturday) while watching some awesome Jazz music at the Greenhouse.Wednesday:
Drove to Dallas to celebrate my brother Peter's 30th birthday. Good time with mi familia. That night my other brother Andy and his wife checked into the hospital because their baby was ready to become a new Warren in the world.Thursday:
Sean Warren is born at 1:29PM!! Bachelor Party for Brian Allgaier in Ft. Worth, Texas. All was planned by me, the Best Man.Friday:
Rehearsal at the church and Rehearsal Dinner at Texas Land & Cattle (tasty). Brian gave me a French Press for the groomsmen gift!! Very exciting
Wake up early. Go to Dallas to see Sean Warren for the first time and hold my 2 day old nephew. Pick up Kenya team member. Buy supplies to decorate the wedding car. Practice Best Man speech. Go to wedding!Sunday - Monday:
Wake up early. Go to church. Pack up Kenya team in a suburban to drive 3 hrs. to the Wichita Mts. in Oklahoma. Stinking beautiful and fantastic camping.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I must say that I have never seen so much generosity so quickly. It is all God's doing whether the reason for it is simply to encourage and affirm myself and my future direction in missions and full-time ministry, and/or because God has blessed me with incredibly godly, generous, and loving friends and family who have God's heart for the world.
The body of Christ stands united as a team when we gather together with one purpose and one heart which is God's purpose and God's heart. This will of God is that ALL NATIONS see and know the glory of His Son Jesus Christ and put their faith in God's salvation through Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our desperately sinful hearts.
Friday, April 27, 2007
It has been two weeks and one day and God has brought in almost 90% of the amount I need to go to Kenya! I have NEVER seen money come in this fast. God is so good!!
I will keep updating where I am at in support and where my team is at in support amount. Any excess that comes in to team members will help other team members who are struggling in there support. Excess on top of that will go to Denton Bible Missions.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
We've got our team together for Kenya! The support letters are out and the finances have started to come in! It is very exciting. I get to spend my Saturday with my team and really start to get to know them this weekend.
In other news, it is officially official that I will be attending the Missionary Training Institute this Fall starting in late August. This is something that I've been wanting to do for over 2 years and I am overwhelmed with how blessed I am to be able to do it. GOD IS GOOD!!
MTI link: www.serve-international.com/home/mti.cfmof
Sunday, February 25, 2007
But before I get into the process of how this came about, I'd like to ask a different question, "Why missions?" Why is it that so many of us spend so much time deliberating over whether God has called us into the mission field or not? Has He not given us a command and commission? Has He not told us to take His gospel unto all the nations and to make disciples of all peoples?
Matt. 28:18-20 - The Great Commission: "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
There has been commands and commissions given to us. In asking if God has called you to missions, the answer will always be yes, but the next question will be, "Where Lord will you have me go?" That place may be exactly where you are right now, or it may be somewhere in the U.S., but it may also be a place that will strip you of your comfort and force you to rely upon His grace alone to complete the work He has charged you with.
I believe that God has called me to obey His Great Commission in the context of full-time ministry and possibly a long term career overseas. Whether or not that will ultimately be the case, I cannot say; all I know is that God has placed in my heart a desire to be trained for the mission field. So in asking the question, "Where, Lord, will you have me go," I came to realize that the place I go to is not as important as the reasons why I go. Missions is nothing more than light going into a place of lesser light in order to shine the light of the worship of God in darkness. If God has called you to missions, should you go to the place where there seems to be the most harvest, the least harvest, the least reached, the most need? No one can really say, but I believe that you should simply follow the leading of God through His Spirit and prayer and lay open your plans wishing only to serve and represent Christ as His ambassador in a place of darkness. This really could be anywhere.
I came to the decision of going to
That was a long description of the process of my choice. But in the long run, if it were any other place I would be just as excited about the upcoming possibilities for ministry, missions, and the work of the