Saturday, April 6, 2013

Finding Joy in the Journey to TEOTE!

So maybe you’ve secretly been wondering, “Are they ever moving to Kyrgyzstan?”
After 7 intentional years of moving in that direction some of you are surely beginning to wonder. Did this trip help move us any closer to understanding better the time frame that God has for us? The answer to that question is a big resounding YES! But when? We still really don't know, but we'll share what we do know.
I remember sitting in the youth room in Atlanta in the spring of 2004 and feeling the first earth shaking realities of Mike Taylor's talk on missions and the bowl of names of peoples that had no Bible written in their language yet from the presentation by Wycliffe and wondering why I even cared. I had a wonderful family, a beautiful house, a great youth ministry, an amazing senior pastor and a network of friends that was amazing. I remember Marghie and I asking Mike if it was normal to feel this way. He paused for a moment and then said, "No, it's really not. If I were you I would take some time to seriously consider what God is doing in your heart."
Nine years later our family has certainly looked pretty weird to most folks. The decisions we've made regarding kids, training, relationships, focus, investments, everything really has been affected by this realization that God was doing something new in our hearts. At the time I couldn't really put it into words except that I knew God was calling us to something new and that we had to be willing to lay down everything we knew and just follow him. By the spring of 2005 it was actually physically uncomfortable for us to stay in Atlanta. We had this growing sense that if we stayed any longer we might grow a callous heart towards what God was calling us into and so we did the most horrifying thing as a family we’ve ever done – we announced that we were moving back to Ohio to be with family, finish my schooling and spend time asking, seeking and knocking. Everyone was shocked, but probably no one was more shocked than us.
For more than nine months I went through what I refer to as a dark knight of the soul. In general I felt like a slug. The evil one kept trying to convince me that I had just made a terrible decision and that I wasn’t really follow God but my own selfish desires. It was confirmed it seemed over and over as we poured our hearts out to God and heard nothing. It was if God had turned his back, closed his ears and walked away.
It was like a void, barren wasteland.
[this is the first in a series of posts about: Finding Joy in the Journey to TEOTE!. Following the Lord to the ends of the earth is a joy! At the same time I must state that at times it does not feel like a bed of roses and skipping hand in hand with God. In fact, there’s been an amazing amount of sacrifice, tears, surrender, repentance, rebuke, correction, hardship and frustration. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last 9 years it’s that joy is not primarily an emotion but a character trait and a choice. We hope that these posts will help spur you on towards deeper abandonment to God’s story of love for all nations and stronger resilience to walk in the good deeds of God that he prepared for YOU before the foundations of the world.]

Thursday, April 4, 2013

JC & Marghie are back from Kyrgystan

Okay so this probably won't come out right. Honestly my head is a little overwhelmed by this trip. But I have to share and ask all of you to join me in asking for wisdom and direction. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a better handle on this. One of the things that WOWed me this trip was that this world is more unjust and unfair than I previously thought possible. I'm sure there's a part of each of us that tends to think that in general you get out of life what you put into it. And that trying harder and being given opportunity to succeed is basically all that is needed in the equation for helping others in poor economic situations.
However, we met so many this last weekend who definitely didn't deserve the lot they had been handed in life... these were some of the hardest working, most compassionate, humble, self sacrificing, and dedicated people I have ever met, eeking out an existence in a climate that most wouldn't think possible to live in. Here's to you people of Chung Alai.
At 10,000 feet above sea level you have more joy, community, love and happiness than I believe I've ever seen demonstrated before. You've leveraged resources and opportunities given to you. You've maximized the surrounding tools and resources that you have. You've engaged and blessed so many strangers that have come along thinking they had an answer when really they didn't even know the questions.
For you life is a relentlessly double dose of H.A.R.D. How is it that you can wake up each morning with a smile on your face, a love in your heart, and a hand stretched out to serve and care for your fellow neighbor?
The mountains are an amazing site but the view of the people... WOW, I'm in awe! I left asking myself what did I really have to offer these people. In the three days that we were there I walked away wondering what if anything did I really have to offer these people. Dear Lord, teach us to number our days. Teach us to make the days count - somehow my soul forgot. How in such a beautiful country can daily life be so hard and daunting. What does your redemption look like there among the people of Chung Alai Lord? What new thing are you doing in their midst? Show them the way that they may walk in it, and teach me your ways that I can walk in your truth.