Wednesday, August 03, 2011

An Encouraging Voice

It has been a tough year so far in Denmark in terms of my bereavement ministry. In a few hours I'll officiate at my 9th for the year. A church member asked me if I was ok yesterday after running into me at Wal-Mart. I told her, that I was sad because I've been dealing with a lot of sadness lately. A lot of pastors deal with pettiness, divisions, etc. in their churches, but that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about grieving people, people struggling with real issues of health, family struggles, etc.

I have faith in Christ that through His Spirit He is with us; that heaven waits for those who've trusted Him, that He'll provide whatever I need to minister and witness to others. Still, I am SO glad that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write in Romans 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. I'm glad that most of the psalms are songs of consolation or grief. I'm glad the Scriptures tell us that being sad is appropriate at times. I am just a bit weary of the intensity of sadness over the past many months (sleeping in a church with 300 World Changers on a mission project last week didn't help.).

Father has been faithful, however, to sustain me during this season of grief. He does that in a variety of ways. One way has been through three guys who continue to encourage me as they have since I've known them, usually in ways that they are completely unaware of. I'm talking about the three sons of my friends, Randy and Kittie Trail, Ben, Patrick and Thomas. Randy, Kittie and I were in seminary together long ago. I was best man at their wedding. My friendship with them and their boys is one of the most important gifts Father has ever given me.

Randy and Kittie have spent their lives as career missionaries. Their boys love Christ...I mean they really love Christ in a way that is obvious to anyone who knows them. They love Christ in a way that is so well-integrated into their lives. I have to get to work on my funeral message, so I can't write all I'd want right now about how Christ in them "looks," but as an example, read Thomas' (the youngest son, a rising junior at the University of Richmond) last blog post from Malawi, Africa where he has spent the summer on a physical therapy (his major) internship. He was brought up primarily in Mauritius and Botswana. I think his folks were serving in Rwanda when he was born. He and his brothers have an expanded world view when compared with a lot of American kids.

He has been reporting about his work in Africa this summer, and his reports have encouraged me in many ways. What has encouraged me a lot is his passion and love for the people of Malawi and Africa and his faith in Christ. I could write similar stories about his brothers, but am running out of time. Thomas returns home today and I look forward to seeing him soon to hear of his journey. Click here to read his last post. How I wish we all had such a passion for the things that matter...and the "things" that matter the most aren't things at all, but Christ and people.

Last week I was encouraged as I heard other stories of believers at World Changers, probably more than I ever had been before. Have you shared your story lately? It might be more encouraging than you know! Here's the link to Thomas' blog post:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My World Changers Crew - The Sore Thumbs

One of the best features of World Changers is to throw together adults and youth from various churches into crews. The first night we knew nothing about each other, but by the end of the week, it was pretty amazing how well we worked together. I had an excellent team...see for yourself! (Don't forget to click on the full screen control at the bottom right of the screen.)

Our World Changers Mission Trip to Chattanooga, TN

Just spent a week in Chattanooga with our World Changers mission team. Here's what happened...(remember to click the FULL SCREEN thingy in the bottom right corner!) This is the video of my church's youth/college group.