Saturday, May 21, 2011

On The Road Again

"On The Road Again" -- these famous words from Willie Nelson have described much of our life these past 3+ months. It seems that we are always driving to or from the airport.

Since our last update Debbie and I have been on the road to:
  • Homes of Hope in Fiji to see what God is doing in this ministry that serve women and their children who have been victims of abuse, incest and trafficking. It was a great trip. One of the things we talked about with the leadership is a possible partnership between Homes of Hope and Somebody Cares Malawi. We are praying about an exploratory trip with key Homes of Hope leaders to Malawi this fall -- hoping to discover if the models and principles of ministry employed in Fiji can be adapted to Malawi. Interestingly, Fijians believe that their islands were settled by East Africans about 3,500 years ago -- and many Fijian Christians believe that they have a call to go back to their roots and bless Africa. Could we be part of this? That is our prayer.
  • Warehouse 727 -- a Visionledd partner church in St. Petersburgh, Florida. We had a wonderful time sharing about what God is doing in Malawi.
  • Orlando, Florida where we represented Visionledd at the Orlando 2010 meetings hosted by the Mission America Coalition and the Lausanne Movement. Over 700 Christian Leaders from across the USA came together for 3 days. This was also a follow-up to the Capetown 2010 Congress on World Evangelization that Karl was able to participate in last year.
  • Guatemala to reconnect with Dr. Hugo Gomez of Global CHE Enterprises. Karl is on the Board of Directors of Global CHE Enterprises -- but we went to help assess a possible partnership between Mission Community Church in Gilbert, AZ and Global CHE Enterprises. We hadn't been in Guatemala for 7 years -- and it was great to see what God is doing through this ministry.
Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit

From May 10-14 we were in Louisville, Kentucky for this gathering of about 1,500 Christians from across the USA. Theresa Malila of Somebody Cares Malawi and Karl spoke a couple of times and Visionledd had a booth in the exhibit hall. We literally talked to hundreds of people concerned for orphans and vulnerable children.
Journeys of Faith

The Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit also afforded the opportunity to debut Journeys of Faith: A Resource Guide for Orphan Care Ministries Helping Children in Africa & Beyond. This 60 page publication features the partnership between Mission Community Church in Gilbert, AZ, Someb
ody Cares Malawi and Visionledd. Karl and Steve Bowler also contributed material to the articles on Short-Term Missions and wrote much of the article on Principles of Partnership. You can check out the publication online by clicking on the picture below.

We have worked on this publication for almost two years, so it is wonderful to finally see it in print. Pray that the Lord will use it to connect North American churches to ministries in Africa doing community-based orphan care.

Malawi - Youth Leaders/Pastors Conference & Short-Term Teams

Karl is actually writing this blog from Detroit -- he is on his way to Lilongwe, Malawi. It's "a long way to Lilongwe". He is going to participate in a large youth leaders/pastors conference that is hosted by Somebody Cares. From May 25-27 over 1,500 leaders will be gathering to be challenged by Jim Cantelon (Founder of Visionledd), DJ McPhail (Liberty Church in Johannesburg, South Africa), Brian Campbell (Calvary Church, Atlanta), and several Christian leaders from Malawi. In the past 3 years these conferences have proven catalytic to the expansion of the work of Somebody Cares. Pray that will happen this year as well.

After the conference Karl will be visiting some of the communities that Visionledd and our partner churches are walking alongside. He gets home on June 3.

On June 10, Debbie leaves for 5+ weeks for Malawi. She will be helping to facilitate a large team of youth from Mission Community Church and then leading a Visionledd/Mission Community Church short-term team.

Pray for us as we spend much of the next two months in Africa.

Thank you for your friendship, prayer and support.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Was Eisenhower Right?

The link below is an interesting article reflecting the beliefs of President Dwight Eisenhower about the military-industrial-congressional complex. It gives some food for thought.

Ike was right all along: The danger of the military-industrial complex

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cape Town 2010 -- God Is On The Move

It’s the song of the redeemed Rising from the African plain
It’s the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain The song of Asian believers
Filled with God’s holy fire
It’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns It’s all God’s children singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Let it rise about the four winds Caught up in the heavenly sound
Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
To the faithful gathered underground
Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
Some were meant to persist
Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
None rings truer than this

And all the powers of darkness Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word

When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God’s people singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

In so many ways the words of this song by the Newsboys sums up Cape Town 2010. What an amazing experience! 4,500 people from 198 countries worshiping God, listening to the voice of God, being the Church and praying together about what God is doing in the world. It was an amazing privilege to be part of this, the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization.

Over the past 3 weeks, since the end of the Congress I have been processing what I learned and experienced. I know, that in the weeks to come, there will be more that I will be able to say, but for now, here are my thoughts.

God Is On The Move - I walked away with a greater sense of the fact that God is doing amazing things around the world. There are 1 million believers in Iran. An Imam in West Africa became a Christian about 10 years ago. Since then he has led about 1,000 other Muslim clerics to the Lord and churches are springing up across that part of the world as a result of his ministry. Palestinian believers and Jewish believers are being reconciled and are working together for peace. As the old song says "what a mighty God we serve"!

From Everywhere to Everywhere - The task of world evangelization is no longer from the north to the south -- it is now the task of the whole global church. That means missionaries are being sent from every nation to every nation. Latin Americans are going to the Middle East and Africa. Asians are going to Asia, Africa and Latin America. Africans are going to Europe. It is the whole body of Christ working together for Kingdom Purposes.

Partnership - The time for lone wolves is over. God is working in partnerships and networks where everyone has something to contribute and where everyone -- no matter the color of one's skin, one's gender, wealth or power -- has the opportunity to lead and fulfill God's call and vision for their lives and ministries. This new paradigm is a challenge for those of us who are in the West -- we are used to leading the charge. The call of God for us is now to partner as equals, to contribute to the vision of others, to listen, to learn, and to serve.

It Is About the Whole Church - It is not about the American Church, or the African Church, or the Asian Church or the Latin Church -- it is about the Global Church. It is about releasing the gifts of each church, of every culture, every language, of men and of women to use their spiritual gifts, natural abilities and skills. It about children, youth, men, women and those who are "old" being empowered to contribute to God's global redemptive purposes.

It is About Integrity, Humility and Service - One of the things I appreciated so much about the Congress was the fact that everyone -- whether famous or unknown, whether leading a large organization or a small one -- was identified only by their name and country of ministry. No titles. No lofty introductions. No celebrities. The focus was on humility. The call was for leaders to be people of integrity in every aspect of their life. The challenge was to serve. Perhaps Paul Borthwick of Development Associates International summed it up the best when he said the following:

As I looked across the 4000+ persons in the assembly hall, I could see Anglican Bishops from Uganda, Australia, Rwanda, and Nigeria. The Presidents of World Vision USA and World Vision Canada were there. The Presidents of Biola University, Gordon College, Asbury Seminary, Asbury College, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary sat at various tables with associates they were just meeting. Best-selling authors and well-known Bible teachers, hugely successful business people and heads of mission agencies were all sitting with people who knew or cared little of their accomplishments. Seated at these same tables, there were village pastors from India, an unknown pioneer planting churches from Laos, campus workers from Colombia, Bible teachers from the Sudan, and church leaders from Albania. It was an amazing image of that statement, "At the foot of the Cross, the ground is level."

There is much more I could say -- and I'm sure you'll eventually hear more from me about the Congress in the days ahead. What I do ask, is that you pray for me and the team I am leading as we leave for Burkina Faso on November 19 to work alongside Pastor Kouliga Nikiema and Vigilance Ministries.

Thank you so much for all your prayer and support.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Christian Politicians Should Start Acting Christian

A good article from Richard T. Hughes is Distinguished Professor of Religion at Messiah College and author of Christian America and the Kingdom of God.

You can read it HERE.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Income Gap Between the Richest and Poorest in America Rises

To see the latest report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities regarding the gap between the richest and poorest people in the USA, click HERE.

Does this bother anyone else, or is it just me?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Health Insurance Company Profits Increase 31% in 1st Quarter

In the 1st quarter of 2010, the 5 largest health insurance companies made a profit of $3.2 billion. That's an increase of 31% over the same quarter in 2009.

Read the full report here.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Is There No Room For Dialogue in America?

Over the past 3-4 weeks I've had several experiences that make me wonder about the future of the USA.

Politically, I am a registered independent. I hold some views that are normally considered to the right of the political spectrum (eg. I am pro-life, I think vouchers are a good idea for our public school system), and some views that are generally considered to the left of the political spectrum (I am a firm believer in gun control, I would favour a single payer healthcare system). I also believe that it is possible to have intelligent discussions on political issues without resorting to name-calling, inflammatory language, labeling, etc. I think if we actually listened to each other with humility and "with our hearts" we could actually work together to make positive changes on those issues that our country is grappling with.

However, my experiences of the last few weeks makes it hard for me to believe that our politicians or many of those engaged in politics on the "grass roots" level actually listen to each other -- or want to listen to each other. Instead, each side appears to prefer lecturing each other -- and if the object of the lecture doesn't agree - simple to talk longer, louder and with increasingly more inflammatory language.

A friend of mine and I both had experiences on Facebook recently that illustrate this. He happened to mention that he recently met a well known Republican politician. Immediately he was assailed by what can only be described as "diatribes" by people on the right wing of the Republican party who disagree with this particular politician. The comments were so egregious, that he had to remove them from the post and defriend those involved.

I posted a survey on what people in various countries thought about their respective healthcare systems. This led to a number of individuals attacking me because the US ranked #7 on the survey. Name calling and vilifying resulted. One individual suggested that I leave the USA. When I contacted a particular individual privately, they continued their "lecture". Conversation was impossible. I deleted the entire post and comments & made a public commitment to never say anything remotely political on Facebook again.

Today I received a phone call from a political party asking for my opinion on some issues. When I disagreed with the content of the phone call I was immediately cut off. It was clear that the only people they wanted to talk to were those that agreed with them. Apparently, it is important for me to hear their perspective -- but totally unimportant for them to hear mine.

I know that these are not isolated incidents as a result of contact with a few "crazy" people. As I look over the political landscape of the USA -- I find this kind of behaviour is increasingly becoming the norm.

We don't listen to each other. We demonize those we disagree with. We label people and resort to name calling.

If we continue along this road -- then there is little hope for the positive change in this country.

It makes me sad.