storytelling

It is enthralling how one experience…one moment of just fifteen minutes…could change your entire perspective on how you see the world and how everything fits in it. I tend to sit in those moments and soak them up for months afterward. It is such an intimate God moment that sometimes I wonder if it actually happened, and then realize God has sunk me deeper into his Kingdom and given me a clearer vision of what he needs me to be within his world to help bring restoration and reconciliation.

That, or, maybe I’m just over caffeinated this week, it could go either way.

What I do know is that God has brought clarity of the importance in telling his stories while he has had me living in Haiti. I remember sitting with our staff in the office during my week of training before I moved to Haiti. They were telling incredible stories that were busting open my worldviews. One of our staff said to me, ‘You will have your own stories to tell soon enough.’ Though I didn’t take him completely seriously…he was 100% accurate.

Somewhere along this journey of healing and calling I became a storyteller. Each of the stories we tell chaotically yet perfectly merge into The Story, it is just a matter of actually making the effort to see where it connects to God and his heart. It’s there, I promise. The stories we tell point to the first Storyteller, and Jesus spoke those stories to include all – believer and nonbeliever. You could claim to be atheist your entire life, but you will have a hard time ever convincing me God did not use a piece of your story to build his Story. As we are gifted with the opportunity to be storytellers like Jesus and point to the Kingdom of God, we get to actively point to the one who owns all our stories.

“Another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years, it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests into it.’ Another story. ‘God’s kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread – and waits while the dough rises.’ All Jesus did that day was tell stories – a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world’s first day.” [Matthew 13:31-35 MSG]

In that spirit of storytelling, I am compelled to share a story that I could have told months ago, but there was just something so precious about it that I didn’t want to let it loose yet as well as things I still needed to learn from the experience. Hindsight being 20/20, I’m glad I waited, because last summer the story was only beginning…

IMG_3651At the end of the summer of 2015 in Haiti, church had just finished at our local church partner we were attending with our visitors that were in country, and the kids were running to hug their friends they had met the day before. I was standing off to the side when I saw one of the first year Global Orphan Project Pathways students with a woman that was crying. It’s not uncommon for us to see the students of the trade and discipleship program at the local church partners, since that is where they come from before moving into the Pathways building or their Pastor from home guides them to that church for Sundays while they live here for two years.

I remember praying in that moment for whatever was happening. Was it his mom? His aunt? Older sister? Congregation member he was praying with? But even within that prayer and those questions, I had no need to know what was happening, because I am an outsider to their culture and country.

Then he walked over, ‘Can I talk with you?’

‘Of course.’

‘We need Jonas to translate.’

‘I can understand you. It’s ok.’

‘No,’ he adamantly said. ‘We need Jonas.’

‘It’s ok! I can understand a little.’

‘No. We need Jonas.’

‘Really?’

‘We need Jonas.’

I had been trying to avoid pulling Jonas away from helping our visitors communicate, but the young man standing in front of me was insistent and I had no choice but to ask Jonas to help.

As Jonas and I walked to the back of the church with the young man, he took us to where the woman was standing with tear streaked cheeks glistening in the sunlight.

Immediately, my mind starts raising red flags. What is he going to ask me for? What does he think I can provide? How do I gracefully and kindly tell him I can’t give him anything?

It is constantly a balancing act in Haiti between helping and hurting, and being an ambassador of sustainability in a culture that looks to someone like me as having everything: money, food, candy, soccer balls, etc. It’s not false in comparison, but as the random white person living here, I never want to elevate myself to being the one who can ‘save’ them from their circumstance or look at them in pity from posture of superiority. Whether it be perceived or unperceived. There is so much value in Haiti, but in action and vernacular, the world tells them they are nothing, even from something as simple as calling them ‘third world’ and the States ‘first world.’ In many ways, Haiti should be elevated above Stateside cultural norms, but in so many ways our government, actions and people make them feel inferior. Just as another government will not solve their problems, I will never be the answer to any Haitian struggle and my actions cannot make them rely on me…God is so present in their lives and he is their answer. Every time. Not me. God has given me permission to not feel guilty about saying no, and that it is sometimes the best word to use while in this culture and space. My mind settles on when he asks for what he needs, I will send him to the pastor. The local church will be what he needs no matter what the ask.

As evidence of my multitasking skills, all of this is going on in my head while I am still listening to this young man’s story, with interjections by the woman every now and then:

The woman is his mother. They lost everything in the earthquake 5 and half years ago, but walked away with their lives. She has not been able to get a job since they lost everything. That was when he started being care for by the local church Pastor that Global partners with in Haiti. His mother comes to church here about once a month to see him, but it’s hard for her to get here across the city. He has three older sisters, and all of them are married. His mother lives with one of his sisters, but this morning she came to church crying. His brother-in-law has been physically and emotionally abusing his mom, but she has nowhere else to go. He feels sad, because he has no way to help her. He has no way to rescue her from that situation, but she is his mother and his desire is to see her taken care of and safe. He feels hopeless.

As they wrapped up, I looked at Jonas, ‘What did they ask for?’

‘Steph, they didn’t ask for anything.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, I am sure.’

As I looked to the young man, I put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Why did you want to share this with me?’

‘You saw my mother crying, and I wanted you to know why she was crying,’ he shared as the innocence in his eyes catapulted me into the deep depths of shame for thinking every thought I had been thinking while this young man and his mother poured their hearts out to me.

‘Could you please pray for your mother and I will pray with you? I would pray, but I want her to hear Creole words instead of my prayer being translated through Jonas,’ I asked him, unwilling to break the air of intimacy through garbled language.

As his prayers flowed over his mother, we stood there with our arms around each other in one of the most intimate God moments I have ever experienced, or probably will ever experience. Simultaneously, I had never felt so accepted and valued as a foreigner in Haiti, further exploding my view of God’s Kingdom with no borders, language or culture barriers in my soul. We were united, with God’s presence through the Holy Spirit at the very core of our small circle.

I hugged him and his mother as I thanked him for sharing with me, and promised them I would continue praying for their family.

As I walked away, my shame washed over me in torrents. ‘I am such as asshole,’ kept running through my head on repeat. Quickly followed by, ‘I am so ashamed.’

By the time Jonas and I had walked through the church and out the side door, I had to stop by the outside wall of the church. Jonas stopped and turned back to find tears running down my face and panic in my eyes.

‘What happened?’

‘Jonas, I am so ashamed. The whole time he was sharing his story I kept trying to figure out what they were going to ask for. I am such an asshole. I am so ashamed.’

‘Steph, I was waiting for the same thing. I was waiting for them to ask us for something.’

‘What? Really?’

‘Yes, it’s not unusual for congregation members to come with needs on Sunday mornings and ask people to help them.’

‘But they didn’t ask for anything…’

‘I know. I was surprised, too.’

‘He only shared, because I saw his mother crying.’

‘He shared, because you are his friend.’

Within that shame I struggled with was also a realization that the Pathways program is not simply for these students to gain employment and have the means to provide for their future families after being raised as orphans in the care of a pastor. The Pathways program is a way for them to take care of their existing families. My friend was hopeless, because he had no means to take his mother out of a really shitty situation. He had put his hope in God that leads, and had placed him in the Pathways program. But my realization also came with the one truth that…he still had a year to go before graduation.

I’ve prayed so often over the last several months that God would protect his mother as he finishes the Pathways program, and that God would bring him peace, not hopelessness. I have been given a deep love for this young man, my friend, and the God moment he led us into last summer. I guarantee you I will ball like a baby when he graduates in August of 2016, and that comes from someone who rarely cries. Oh, man, get the tissues ready.

Each time I see him, I ask about his mother and how she is doing, always reinforcing that I am praying for them. In October, I saw him at the Pathways building, and asked again. Joy lit up his eyes to a level of sparkling I’d never seen, and his mannerisms exploded, lifting his hands to the air.

‘My mother has a job!’

As his friend, I celebrated with him that victory. I know what a victory that is in this economy. I have seen that weight on him, and then was relieved with her employment. I also celebrated that she will be okay until he can graduates and is able to take care of them both.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw him at Life, SA, the GOEX sewing production plant in Haiti, as I was giving a tour. Surprised at seeing a student there, I said, ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I am here two days a week to learn new things!’ he said with a big smile on his face.

A week later, I was there again and introduced some visitors to him. He graciously shook hands, as is Haitian custom, then putting his arm around me, telling them, ‘This is my friend!’

Choking back liquid ready to pour from my eyes at the compliment, I couldn’t even translate what he had said until later that night when I was sharing his story with them.

Because his story carries so much value in Kingdom currency.

Friends, these are the stories we get to tell. These are the stories that point back to God in such a way I would never be able to articulate on my own. These are Kingdom stories, and it is our responsibility as believers to share those stories as Kingdom storytellers, as well as all the times our story and God’s story has intersected.

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elysée

Pastor Elysee & MoiseMany times in Haiti, pastors set aside their ideal of safe areas when they embrace the courage to follow God wherever he may lead them. God led Pastor Elysée to Biggarouse while many of the local community was rapidly leaving the area due to an increased level of crime, voodoo and lack of good that comes with a community of people who love Jesus.

“It is a miracle how God made me start the village. It was a really difficult community. People didn’t want to live there anymore. But when God put on my heart to start the church here, I started with a crusade in the community. During the crusade in February 2002, many people came to Jesus. When people saw that the Gospel was being preached again, they came back to the community because they believed there would be some changes. The first thing we had was the church and we started in a tent, then we started a school. After the school, we started the orphanage,” Pastor shared.

When it came to finding the land for the village after Pastor started preaching to the community, it was a dream from long ago that materialized in front of him while walking down the road outside what would become his village to house kids and where many come to school.

“I can say that I was sent by God to this community. I had a dream. When I had the dream, I saw that I began a ministry in a place like where we are now. I kept looking, but all the other places I looked they were not right. What I saw in my dream is exactly the same, there is a corner then a divide in the road right where the place was in my dream, and that corner and divide in the road is the one right outside where the village is now. That is how I knew God wanted me to start the ministry here. I always live by faith, and I knew that God was going to make my dream come to pass,” Pastor said.

One of the difficulties while leading in a community in need of help is when parents need jobs. Pastor shared with me the story of a family in the community, “After the boy’s mom talked to me and explained the situation, I was really sad about her story. I said, what I can do for you is I can give you a job here and you can have a possibility to help your son. Then the boys’ mom came back with her son to talk about the job I wanted to give her. I was sitting with her under that avocado tree there, and she said, ‘I forgot my bag in the road.’ I said, ‘How could that happen that you forgot your bag? Go get it!’ She walked out the gate to get her bag, and after that I never saw her again, and she has not come back for her son. I have called her many times and she never picks up the phone. The boy is 4 years old and in preschool now. He has been living here for 2 years, and the mamas love him and all the other kids like him and help take care of him. He is a very good boy. Because of this, we call him Moise [Moses in English], because he shares his story with Moise from the Bible.”

Pastor’s leadership is deeply rooted in prayer. As he shares with those willing to listen while sitting under a larger than life mango tree, prayers of several women are heard in the church simultaneously mixed with the voices of teachers in nearby classrooms. Just as this chorus floats into the air, pastor shares, “Everything is done by faith. I pray to God and God shows us the way. This church changes kids’ lives. They didn’t know anything about school or God, and because of our presence in the community, they learn about Jesus and are educated. As an example, some of the young girls, if we didn’t have the village to help them they would have a really bad life, maybe they would have babies without fathers or be in prostitution or other things. In the same way, if it was not for the village, the boys would have a bad life and be stealers or other things to have money to survive. But because of the village, they have a new life.”

This new life is nurtured by a local church community that is active in the lives of the kids. Though unable to financially support the village due to the poverty in the community, whenever the village needs to do something, the members of the congregation are always available to help them do it. It is that investment in the kids and village that will benefit the kids’ future. According to Pastor, “The kids that we see today in a bad situation, tomorrow they will be someone that can help society move forward. If we don’t help them they will be bad for society, and if we do help them it will be a benefit for society. They will develop the community. The kids we see today are the ones that will be adults tomorrow. They could be president, prime minister, deputies, doctors and economists. This generation is the one that will help society move forward.”

Inspired by moving the next generation into a capable and sustainable adulthood is where Pastor points to the one that draws them together, “God never changes. He is the same one yesterday, the same one today and will be the same one tomorrow.”

The Lord has led GO Project to support the leadership of Pastor Elysée as he cares for economic and social orphans at his village in Biggarouse outside the city of Cayes. At GO Project, individuals or communities can contribute to life care and education costs of the orphans on a monthly basis or through long-term support of the pastors.

stories

I love stories! I love telling them, but more often I love hearing them. I have random stories that like to pop up in conversation, then I have the stories that are a bit deeper and are more likely to share when I am asked.

Stories of the places I have been in the world are one of those that I typically get asked questions. Several months ago, I had a student that asked about my last trip to Russia. She asked at a point in time where student ministry chaos was abounding, so my response to her was ‘I would love to tell you, let’s get together and talk about it!’

The next month I get a text from her: ‘I want to get coffee, and just sit and talk.’

First…I do that really well. Coffee and talking. Talking and coffee. Second, though, in the many years I’ve done student ministry…this is a loaded text. Let me assure you that those conversations can range anywhere from ‘I got a bad haircut and my life is ending.’ to struggles with suicide.

But this time, it was story time! We sit down and she says to me, ‘Tell me everything about your last Russia trip!’

Obviously, I could never pass up that invitation…and the conversation carried on for almost 3 hours. Get me started on the things I am passionate about and this is what happens! I would say one thing and she would ask five questions about it, I would head into a different story and she would again ask me several questions.

One of the things I love about students is their curiosity, and their ability soak so much in and work to digest it. They ache to see God’s at work. They desire to know what it feels like to have the Holy Spirit leading them. They are thirsty for God’s word to be real in their lives. They want truth, and if you try to BS them…they will call you out. They scream out at the injustices in the world. They are a passionate bunch, and they are seeking relationships around them that are loyal, trusting and PRESENT.

A few weeks later, I was walking into the Student Ministry Building and my friend jumped up off the floor and ran to be yelling, ‘Steph! Steph! I have to share something with you!’

She had led a group at school in a devotion, and had used my stories about orphans in Russia to open the eyes of other students to the ways God is at work in our world and how the Kingdom is alive around us. She was so excited that she was able to share the stories that I had shared with her in order to push the truth of the Gospel forward.

Jesus told stories. A lot of them actually. After his death…how did the Gospel spread? How was God’s truth carried forward? A ton of Holy Spirit…but by stories being told. Witnesses actually baring witness to what they saw.

Too often we contain the ways God is working in us so that it is only ours.

That makes me incredibly sad, because stories are still worth their weight in the Gospel. I see it every day, as well as the impact of a story being told.

Stories are a beautiful thing, but the beauty of a story cannot be realized unless someone is willing to give it a voice.

change their story

IMG_2187For the last ten years I have given a lot of my life and love to children in Russia that are cast off into orphanages. What started as a willingness to follow God’s pull to orphan ministry has become what is, and will be, a lifetime of fighting for orphans in our world…wherever God may lead me. 

Coming from someone who used to not like kids at all…this is an ironic calling. However, the truth is my passion for seeing educated orphans grow into healthy and mature citizens of their own countries, then have healthy families of their own that break the vicious orphan cycle…makes my soul sing.

I believe that the things our world finds worthless…our God sees worth. I believe that the people our world judges…our God wraps his arms around and whispers, ‘You are loved.’

But alone…I am just one believer fighting against many social and political structures.

I am blessed to be a part of a community that wants to invest in some great kids in Russia through Children’s Hopechest. Together, as one community, we fight to see the kids embrace the hope of a future and see love as genuine and unconditionally given by not only us, but by the God that has loved them since the beginning of time.

Most Russians believe orphans do not have a story, but we believe these kids have been a part of God’s story since before they were born.

IMG_2444I am known in the orphanage as the one who always laughs and smiles. To me it is the easiest gift to give,  crossing language and cultural boundaries, to make someone feel included and loved. The greater gift, however, is being accepting as a part of their family. Someone they trust. Someone they ask advice from when they want to reach out. Do you know what an honor that is? To be asked for advice from kids that have been betrayed by family, with countless promises broken, and resulting in not trusting anyone?

These are the moments God works through. Where he shows himself and everything points backs to his heart for our world. This is one of the moments in my life that I have waited for…to be counted as a part of their family no matter how far away I am or what language I speak.

I will fight for these kids with everything I have in me. They deserve better. They deserve to know love. They deserve to know laughter and joy. They deserve the presence of people who will come alongside them, and walk with them through the tough things life throws at them. They deserve people surrounding them that will hear them say, ‘My dream is to be a good mother.’ Respond with, ‘I believe you will be. Let’s talk about what you need to learn and how you need to grow to make that dream come true.’ Then be invested long enough to see that dream realized.

This Christmas season I am creating an opportunity for others to fight for these kids, too. To make a different choice in how you approach the Christmas season of giving.

I am choosing to make it known that I do not want gifts, and asking my friends and family to make a donation to Children’s Hopechest and their campaign ‘Change Their Story.’ My team will be raising funds for tutors at Velikoretskoye Orphanage in Russia. Russian orphans are given a free education…as long as their grades are good enough and they continue passing exams. We have several students on the verge of graduating and heading to tech school next year, which means more tutors will play a large roll in helping the kids continue their education.

Here you will find a link to the team I have created for ‘Change Their Story.’ This is a way to set aside normal American standards of Christmas, and embrace a new way of celebrating the birth of our Savior. An invitation to help some great kids and perhaps choose to spend time with those you would normally give a gift to instead.

IMG_2245I write this post as a call to action. A call to belief in a God big enough to embrace the broken in this world. A call to be a part of something bigger than yourself. This is a call to be a part of God’s story and change the story of some incredible kids.

This year will you choose to worship the materialism of a holiday that was created for worshipping our Savior? Or might you choose a new way? A new opportunity to fight for the injustice in this world? It may be that you are not passionate about orphan care…perhaps you are about clean water, the hungry, the homeless or victims of sex trafficking. No matter what your passion, choose to change a story of someone that will draw others closer to God’s Kingdom and reflect God’s heart.

I am praying that others will join me and choose to fight for something this Christmas, while I choose to fight for some amazing kids who deserve to know people are fighting for them. This year, listen for the sound of heaven touching earth as your heart aligns with God’s heart for the orphan. It’s the best sound on earth.

light

There was once a girl named Sass.

Life was good and the only evil she found came from her mouth.

Her family took great vacations, and she continued to grow older.

A brother came and rocked her world, but more was better than alone.

She had no worldly cause for discontent.

But…she sensed…there must be more.

There were parties and friends.

Coming and going, life at a frantic pace.

Songs and prose, all pouring out.

Yet still no worldly cause for discontent.

But…she sensed…there must be more.

Feelings pushed aside. Nudges explained away.

Awards and honors won.

Convincing everyone she had a plan…but of a false future.

Decisions made.

Still no worldly cause for discontent.

And yet…she sensed…there must be more.

Sass talked a good game.

Sass hid behind walls, she could not trust.

Sass fought the wrong fights.

Sass knew nothing of love.

Sass grew weary.

Sass could see no real reason to be discontent.

But Sass knew there must be more…

Then came a day when light tore through the cracks,  stretched and wove.

Light chased away the dark, and gave way to new life.

Mar 26 - lightLight flooded Sass’ life with brilliant colors all sparkling like diamonds in sunlight.

Light crumbled all the walls…save a few for protection.

Light attacked her heart with love.

Light wore down a fighter.

Light gifted perseverance.

Light broke her world open with new colors, new gifts, new hope and new purpose.

Light brought her life beauty and calling.

Light bought her freedom on a cross.

Light gave more.

Light changed a life and the old Sass was no more.

blessed

I thrive on relationships. I have a lot of friends, and the stories about how we became friends are pretty awesome. But today as I am reflecting on being blessed…I want to share one of those stories, so hang with me!

Fourteen years ago..whoa…fourteen years ago, I had just lost the friend that I’d written about in ‘water.’ Following that loss I went on my first mission trip. Three of those who happened to be going I’d been leaning on throughout my emotional turmoil. I felt safe, 3 people knew what was going on and knew I was intensely struggling, but they would help me when I needed it. I’d be ok.

Until one night while I was waiting to talk to one of the guys after his shower. I was sitting on the gym floor and one of our other teammates walked passed me.

She was funny, yet quiet and we’d found out on the drive out that when she slept, her eyes were creepishly open. It really freaked me out. No one really knew her, but looking back we were both on that trip for a reason.

As she passed me on the gym floor, she turned around and said, ‘Are you ok?’

I gave the customary, ‘Oh, yah. Just waiting for someone to get out of the shower.’

Then…she gave me this look. She is quite good at it, and still good at it because I just got it last week.

A head tilt, coupled with a long look squinting from the corner of her of her eye. ‘Are you sure?’ she said. She knew, just knew that I was definitely not ok and cared enough to push me on it. She has cared enough ever since, and now we always say to one another ‘What haven’t I asked that I should be asking?’

Somehow, I found it in me to trust her. It had to of been supernatural, because I was all trusted out at the moment…but my story flew out of my mouth. When my friend got out of the shower, he stopped and said, ‘Everything ok here?’ And when I confirmed it was good, he left us alone.

As I was gushing fountain of words and tears, she sat there…just listening and nodding and offering words of wisdom and encouragement.

Once all my words were gone, she quietly said, ‘I’m having a hard time right now, too, because it’s almost been a year since my mom died.’

My heart dropped. Partly because I knew my problems did not exceed the lost of a mother. And partly because she was the first one I’d run across at college who would know something of where I was coming from. Someone who could walk with me through the most trying time of my entire life. Someone who would be loyal and carry all of my secrets with her. Someone who would listen, and someone who would call me out in a productive way when I needed it.

For the duration of our college years it was a foundation built on a gym floor that blessed me with the most amazing friend who would drop anything if I called or showed up saying I needed to go for a car ride. Which was our code for I am completely emotionally unstable, and I need to get away from people or I’m going to lose it.

Her Ford Taurus saw a lot of tears, and a lot of happiness. I will never forget hearing when it came out on the radio, MercyMe’s song ‘I Can Only Imagine.’ We were in the car on the way back from volunteering with our church youth group. We both ended up bawling because we could imagine what it would be like to be with our friends and family members we’d lost, and wanted it more than anything. For a while when we were going on separate road trips, it was, ‘No car wrecks, and no dying because we have to be in the same car.’

We both had trust issues. We both were not your ‘normal’ girly girl. And we both were trying to do our best to walk in the path of Jesus. And still are…

We did a Bible Study one year that now results in our sharing a knowing look, and laugh when it comes up. It was on female roles in the Bible, and you could say we like to push the traditional boundaries. But we did it together, and whatever we did together we were able to make it through.

We road tripped to Montana one summer…middle of the night, screaming lyrics at the top of our lungs to stay awake.

That gym floor was holy ground. No one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. God created a friendship on that floor that has lasted 14 years, and will continue to go on and on.

image

The last several years have been hard, especially since I suck at talking on the phone. I live in Missouri, and she and her husband have lived in Florida and now Utah.

But every. single. time. Every time, we are together, it is as if we have been next door neighbors the whole year long. She is one of the few people who truly know me…from the whole Jesus start through the mission call to now.

We were sitting at breakfast on Saturday morning before I left and her husband said something about ‘Steph doesn’t ever get mad.’ She burst out laughing and said, ‘What? You’ve never seen her lose her temper? It’s ugly. She’s good until people keep pushing her, but once you’ve pushed her too far…watch out.’ And she is completely right about my temper, because she knows me.

It is an absolute blessing to know and be known. I thrive in being known, because I can be myself and know others can appreciate how far God has taken me. I consider all of our adventures treasured memories, knowing that we have so many more to tuck under our belts.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. [Proverbs 18:24]

I am blessed beyond imagine for a lot of things…and I’ve hit the jackpot multiple times in the friend department. And for that I am incredibly grateful to the Lord I serve.

go

‘With great power there must also come – great responsibility!’ Yes, I finally watched The Amazing Spiderman today…I know, it’s about time. And yes, I am a superhero movie geek.

But the message is the same for us…as a believer in the universal reign of King Jesus, you have been given great power.

‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ [Acts 1:8]

To sum up…go! Get your ass out there, and love someone for the Kingdom of God!

And I could stop there, but I’ve been off the mission soapbox for several blogs now because the Rethink Church words sent me down some personal rabbit holes…which means I’ve kept a lot pent up!

‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’ [Matthew 28:19-20]

A lot of people ‘do’ mission, which is not always a bad thing. But more important is that you ‘are’ mission. Mission should not just be limited to our human auto response if you love God…it should be an extension of who you are as a disciple of Jesus…making other disciples.

Ah! No! Not the ‘d’ word that makes all believers get antsy and uncomfortable because God is asking something of them!

Yes! It came straight from the lips of Jesus, folks.

And if all of the disciples had NOT taken those words of Jesus and literally ran with them to other communities…we would not be believers today. God’s message spread like wildfire because they took Jesus’ words seriously and took them to others.

So where have we gotten scared to go and make disciples? Where have we lost the excitement of BEING a disciple? Where have we lost the urgency of spreading the message and stories of Jesus? When did we confuse ‘going’ as the one thing you need to do a year?

Several people pointed out that my blog post yesterday was vunerable. My normal auto response is to hide behind my self-made fortress of steel, rock, brick, rebar and concrete enforced walls.

But when you engage in being a disciple of Jesus…and making disciples…you don’t get afforded the luxury of keeping walls up. God breaks them down.

You have to make the very real decision to pour your life into another, and invite others along in your journey. Speaking about what God is teaching, helping people discover their God given talents, being open with our imperfections along the way and looking with expectancy to God restoring His Kingdom.

It’s time consuming, but it does not require a seminary degree.

Paul spent the rest of his life preaching and creating disciples in community. But Paul also stopped using the word ‘disciple’ after Acts 21 where he starts using father/son/brother language.

Think about that for a second…he starts referring to those he is pouring his life into as family. No formal contract, or big speech about this is who I am discipling now. Just one disciple of Jesus pulling along another.

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A painting from Liberia that says, 'Truth needs no decoration.' In the tribal language of basa.

We need to stop being scared of the ‘go’ and want more than just ‘do.’ We need to care deeply about transforming lives. We need to stop being scared of letting our imperfections show, and embrace being vunerable with others. We must share what we are learning and share how God is using us. Discipleship is about telling the stories of how our story intersects and collides with God’s story. We need to take seriously living as Jesus lived…in community, discipling others and loving others unconditionally…and radically.

I pray that you see the beauty in that, and ultimately see God’s truth. I also pray you feel the power of the Holy Spirit and take the responsibility of sharing your life seriously.

To sum up…again…go! Get your ass out there, but do it as someone reflecting a life lived not only for, but WITH God…also known as the God who reigns over the entire universe.

*Warning…walls may be falling around you as you GO.*