We're on Day Twenty without a day off and I count twenty one more days before another one arrives...and by day off I mean a day where I don't have to go to school/placement/a conference/ or go on an outreach...but just sit home in my pyjama's and do homework.
I've started thinking about life in ministry.. and things I like...and things I dislike. I'm also aware of the person I don't want to be and the implications of burnout and stress. So I've set some goals for this year...
-exercise regularly (Lord help us all)
-regular devotion time
-no insane sleep patterns
.... I'm not gonna set my self up for failure...just some things to keep in mind to work on.
Yay..for a healthy year!
This is one of the many people I've met along my journey that I think about often. This is Nicole (my room mate from Victoria) and Sundance. Sundance is a heroin addict who lives on the downtown East Side of Vancouver. Last March Nicole and I took a group of youth through the hi-ways and bi-ways of the rat infested, drug addicted world that is home to so many of Canada's broken. Sundance is an aborinigal man and because of his native spirituality was very open and receptive to Jesus. When we met Sundance he was he the process of applying for funding to get on a methodone treatment program. He asked to return to find him in four weeks. He was optimistic that his funding would come through and that he would be on the road to recovery by April but was certain that with the lifestyle he lived he would be dead within a month.
In March, Sundance's addiction was costing him $300 a day. With an addiction that strong Sundance would go to any means to collect the cash to get his fix for the day. Sundance's home was one of the more elaborate of homeless men I've met in the last year. He'd hung sheets up around a cubby hole to claim his territory and had somehow acquired a foam mattress to sleep on and several blankets. He was dirty and emanciated from years of drug use and street life. Another face on the journey. Here's to Sundance. Dance free my friend, dance free.
I posted a blog earlier in the week asking some questions about "Self promotion" and "Are you a controlling person?" Although my reflections were completley honest, I've deleted them until I can edit them into a more "sensitive" format. I think we as the Church sometimes neglect asking ourselves the harder questions. It hurts to sometimes find out who we really are. Thankfully there's grace and we're all on a journey. Anyways this isn't the point of this blog. That's just a little background information. I've been reflecting on "Self promotion" and "control" for a few months now asking myself questions...recognizing that when I'm free of the need
to be accredited for my good deeds I can be a way more effective person for the Kingdom.
A verse that is probably familiar to many (especially if you go to Taylor College) is "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists
, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
" (Ephesians 4:11-12...my emphasis added)
So a definition from these verses of evangelist (and in this case apostle and prophet) is "one who prepares God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up."
The requirement of an evangelist is basically to get other people ready and encourage them to go out.
See if you can follow me..Scene 1
Evan the Evangelist- Hey Deb. You should come on an outreach that we're doing.
Doubting Deb- What kind of an outreach?
Evan the Evangelist- We're going to go into the park uptown and feed some of the homeless. We might give away blankets and dry socks. You should really come.
Doubting Deb- Noo.. I don't think I would be good at that. I'm always messing up when I talk to people and I wouldn't know what to say.
Evan the Evangelist- You don't even have to say a thing.
Doubting Deb- Well...
Evan the Evangelist- You can stay with me the whole time. I'll bring the baskets of food. Meet you at 4?
Doubting Deb- Sounds good.Scene 2
Passionate Pete- Hey Cory I heard that on Saturday mornings you have a bible study going on for street youth. I was wondering if maybe I could come along sometime and you could introduce me to some of your friends.
Controlling Cory- Wellll...my bible study is only for street youth.
Passionate Pete- I wouldn't get the way. Maybe I could bring pizza or something?
Controlling Cory- My mother makes homemade soup for us each week. We probably won't be needing anymore food.
Controlling Cory- Have you ever led a bible study?
Passionate Pete- No. I'd really like to learn how. Maybe you could show me how you do it?
Controlling Cory- The last person I let lead with no experience made a lot of mistakes. They really weren't adequate.
Passionate Pete-Well maybe I could just hang out with the kids. Call me if you ever change your mind.True Evangelists are people who yes share the good news of Jesus but are people who also sit on the sidelines and cheer you on, "Yes! you can do it.. you can suceed! I will be praying for you. Even when you make a mistake I will be there to help you get up again." "So that the body of Christ may be built up"....not down.
My time in Aliquippa is quickly drawing to a close. I'm excited to return to school and to another year of equipping and preparation. I look back at this last year and a half out on placement and I'm kind of overwhelmed at the change I see in my life: I have a new level of respect for people on self-support who after many years of discouragment and plundering still plug away because they are confident that they are walking in the vision God has for them. I think I've developed a firmer backbone. I've discovered that if you don't speak up you will get walked over. I am more confident in confrontation, saying what needs to be said and initiating difficult conversations. I've also learned some hard things...I've learned that ministry isn't all fluffy bunny rabbits and kitty cats. People will talk about you, they will manipulate your story and your intentions and sometimes you will get hurt. I'm learning this unfortunatley is just part of life and definitley am learning to set firmer boundaries in every relationship.
Enough about the hard stuff...I've had really valuable opportunities the last year and I'm really fortunate and thankful for the things I've gotten to experience and learn...things that could never be taught in a classroom.
Running Running, I can't look back,
I've made mistakes
that's a fact.
I'll keep looking forward
and trust in your grace
you and me, we'll finish this race.
You've straighten out my back,
and putten confidence to my walk,
You've taken me across the country,
never a moment was I in lack.
Take my heart of stone...
and make it one of flesh,
Breathe on these dry bones,
Jesus, only you know best.
Gonnnnnnnnnnnna keep rollin' on.
One Natural Distaser.
One Tetanus Shot.
One Throat Infection.
One Trip to Nashville.
One Ford Explorer...
...And Never Enough Gas.
Sixteen Shopping Trips.
Three Drive-in Movies.
Fifty Three daycamp kids.
One Professional baseball game.
One Hundred and Fifty Three Panini's.
Two trips to the beach.
And One Unchanging All-powerful God.
Just Walk Across The Room
I've been reading this book called Just Walk Across the Room
... By, Bill Hybels.
My assigned summer reading book was by the same author and I pretty much hated it so I was reluctant to start this one. HOWEVER... this book is friggin awesome. I think it's totally revolutionizing the way I think about evangelism. I'm HOPING that these thoughts/reflections= action.
Anyways...so far the book has just been a culmination of "witnessing" stories from Bill Hybels life. He talked about how throughout his life there has been dozens of "evangelism fads." The Tract Fad. The Televangelist Era. The Bus Ministry Era etc. And then there have been eras focused on saving professionals, saving the rich, saving movie stars, saving the homeless, saving woman etc. I'm sure there will be many more fads..and I'm sure many of them will be fruitful.
However these are the thoughts Bill Hybels has on evangelism: "These days, I'm more convinced than ever that the absolute highest value in personal evangelism is staying attuned to and cooperative with the Holy Spirit." -Bill Hybels.
I'm sure Bill recognizes that any of the above "fads" would be a decent vechicle for evangelism if a person were in tune and being "co-operative" with the Holy Spirit.
So far this is pretty simple and if you've been to church longer then six minutes this probably makes sense and would probably be your primary understanding/approach for evangelism (responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit).
However what I'm really taking from this book and what really amazes me is the simplicity of it all. So far Bill Hybels has recounted about three or four stories where people have come to faith because he walked across a room (hence the name of the book). Bill Hybels' son Todd played soccer with many of the kids from their church. Usually after the game the parents would "fellowship" (is that what they're calling it these days?) chat etc. After a couple weeks, Bill noticed that the coach would lug heavy bags of gear to the car and pick up all the pylons. So one week he walked over and helped the coach load everything into his car. He made a routine of it from that week on. They started to make small chat...and then an odd series of events landed the coach in one of Bill's baptism preparation classes. The guy came to faith and is active part of the church.
Another story..not a personal one of Bill Hybels.. but one he told in the book.. talks about a American, Muslim business man. He often found himself in awkward social settings. At functions he would often be by himself, alone in the corner, plotting his escape. One particular evening a group of associates were talking at the other end of the room when one of them noticed this man akwardly by himself. He came over and introduced himself. Faith came up- one man being muslim and one being a Christian. The Christian man asked the muslim if he would mind getting together for coffee. The Christian man sincerly wanted to learn about the Muslim man's faith. They met regardly over a period of month's. After six months the tables turned and the muslim man asked the Christian man to teach him about his faith. He came to know Jesus.
"Ten thousand steps.
Rougly, that's the distance you travel sunrise to sunset, each and every day of your life. It adds up to about 115,000 miles in a lifetime- or more then four times around this big blue planet of ours.
With that said, just one question: are you using your steps wisely? Assume the average distance across most rooms is twenty feet-- about ten steps. The question I hope to answer is this: What if ten steps- just one one thousandth of your daily average- could actually impact eternity?
If so, it might well change the way you walk." -Bill Hybels.
My laptop is back to health! I picked it up from staples this morning after pretty much having a complete summer with inconsistent usage and it seems to be working fairly well. I figured I should put the money into it to get it working for one more school year before I decide to buy a new one.
My summer in Aliquippa is almost complete. I have roughly nine days (...eight hours and nine minutes if you're counting...but who is?). I remember at the beginning of the summer laying on my bed with my calendar and counting backwards from 83 days. That's a long time. Fortunatley, it's been a good time, a growing time and hopefully a fruitful time. I remember distincly when John (our supervisor) asked me what I would like to do this summer, I responded, "I just don't want to serve coffee.." Although serving coffee is meaningful and someone has to do it, what I meant to imply was that I want to learn about people, relationships, and communicating properly. I guess I should be careful what I ask for. Never would I have expected or imagined to spend a month assisting business and home owners in flood recovery. This was the most practical "ministry" experience I've had in a long time. To be able to tell a person that they're worth it...that this community is worth rebuilding regardless of how dirty I look or how tired I am. Restoring hope to this city one individual at a time. Bringing the Kingdom to Aliquippa one flooded basement at a time.
God's up to something.
The Life of a billet
In the past two months we have stayed in six different places...with the potentil in the next month to stay in six more places. Everytime we go to visit a place we anticipate the list of "rules" we will recieve from our billets while we are guests in their home. Here is the conclusive list so far:
-Be in the house by 11 pm
-30 min. on the phone/day
-No eating on the leather couches
-No overnight guests (like we have friends anyway)
-No smoking in the house
-No guests period.
-Wipe down the bathtub after you use it each time
Thank-you Rick Sandberg
One thing I learned to ask myself in Victoria that is now ingrained in my head about evangelism and just about life in general:
Am I fulfilling my own needs?
Am I fulfilling the needs of others?
Basically forces me to do a self-evaluation and question my own motives...am I "doing" evangelism because it makes me feel good... or am I really fulfilling a need?
Jessie, Hilary and I had the opportunity to go to TheCall Nashville last weekend for a day of worship and prayer.
The cafe garden and the basement at the cafe.
The streets of Aliquippa
Volunteers cars from the Cafe
Inside the Cafe
The inside of the cafe one week ago today during the flood.
Cleaning out the cave
Yesterday we went to clean out a basement in a sandwich shop at a business down the street.
My conversation with one of the other volunteers went like this:
E- Is that the basement!?
M- I think so...
E- Oh my gosh I can't breathe...
M- There's no handrails...slide in on your bottom.
E- I can't see anything...where's the power switch?
E- I'm really suffocating..what's down here?
M- Rotting bodies?
E- Ew...the mud is up over our ankles...
M- K...we need to start cleaning this.
E- Please find the power switch- something is touching me.
Business owner pops head down basement stairwell*
Business owner- We had the utilities cut off when we closed the business. There's no electricity or water.
E- We have to clean a foot of mud out of here with no light and no water? You have got to be kidding me....seriously....
M- Let's climb out of here... maybe we can run an extension cord?
E- We can haul buckets of water from the cafe.
E- What a mess.
This was probably one of the grossest experiences of my life. I ended the day covered head to toe in mud (sewage)...it's hard to believe that I'm living this in an urban community right outside of Pittsburgh. Who needs to go to Mexico?
I spent the morning working on John's website... no making fun all you techies...http://www.stanleysusa.homestead.com/
click on Aliquippa Floods for some fun videos and such
Bringing the Blog Back
It's been awhile- so long in fact that I had to re-set my password because I had forgotten it.
Current Status- Alive