it’s a new year!
I love the new year: fresh start, new beginnings, new potential. As I think about the past year, I’m amazed at how God has led me to today – preparing to go to Southeast Asia in 2011!
I want to update you on what I’ll be doing there and my fund raising progress. In addition I want to share some recent happenings and prayer requests.
what i’ll be doing
I will be working with people who have already established a Christian school. Among other things, the school focuses on the power of the creativity God has placed in each of us. This lines up very well with my vision of creativity.
I will be working with those already there at the school in whatever ways I am needed most. This means I may be teaching at the school or assisting in other ways. I will be working directly with nationals, developing relationships and living out this vision I have for creativity in the context of education. While some of the details of what I will be doing day to day are still being worked out, one thing I do know for certain is that this is exactly where God has called me to serve Him next. I’m excited to follow God on this adventure He calls life!
I’ve recently learned a lot about how God has chosen to use us (His church) in His world. Much of my growth has come through a recent read: When Helping Hurts (Corbett & Fikkert). I highly recommend it! Read more about my vision, or find answers to frequently asked questions on my website.
happenings & progress
Thank you for your prayers. The month of December has been encouraging! One of the fun things I did was put out a series of podcasts reflecting on my time in Camden. If you missed them, make sure to check them out on my website!
Another huge encouragement was a grant I received from my university (Azusa Pacific University). This puts my monthly pledges at about 50%, and my departure cost at almost 20%. I still have a long way to go, but I trust God’s provision and His timing! If you haven’t had a chance to donate and you feel led to, you can give directly through Pioneers (acct #111497), or learn more about ways you can give on my support page.
I have been encouraged this month through many of you. Please pray for the next few months as it will be a key period in the continuation of my fund raising progress. This month I will be starting my EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training as I continue to prepare for departure in 2011.
Also, please continue to pray for spiritual protection as I know I am a target!
Thanks for all the prayers and support! I am blessed by each of you.
Last night I was at a concert for the band “Ok Go”. Known for their creative yet simple music videos, Ok Go embodies some of my favorite things about creativity. Even though their lyrics aren’t always eternally focused, they strive to make incredible things out of little. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today put it as, “OK Go is the polymath band who – with only five bucks and a camcorder – did what none of the giant record labels could, inventing a new way for a band to connect with fans and changing the way people think about music and the Internet.”
This inspires me. How can we, as Christians, change the way people think about God and Christianity, with “only five bucks and a camcorder”? I think God has already equipped us–with the creative brain He’s given each of us.
Speaking of five bucks and a camcorder, with the help of my Dad I recently put together some of my thoughts about creativity on video. Check it out, and look forward to more audio and video snippets about what God is teaching me in the near future.
I have been encouraged this month through many of you. While I still have quite a ways to go on my fund raising, I have been blessed and encouraged as many have recently come to me with unique and creative ways they are able to contribute.
Please continue to pray for my support raising, that this process would be able to uplift and encourage all who participate. Also, I ask, if any of you have any connections or know of anyone who would be interested in hearing more about my vision, please let me know.
Thanks for all the prayers and support!
Jonny was a rambunctious, high energy 5th grader on my 5th and 6th grade boys basketball team this past summer in Camden, NJ. It was a hot summer day, and I had considered practice to be mostly unsuccessful as I had broken up several fights and felt that not much had been accomplished. I finally conceded to allowing them to scrimmage for the rest of the practice. I began splitting up the teams, Tyric on team one, Jonny on team two. Immediately, Jonny reacted.
“Jonny,” I said, “I haven’t put anyone else on your team yet. You’re calling yourself butt!”
“Whatever,” Jonny responded, “You’re gonna give me a butt team anyways.”
For a moment, I was discouraged. No matter what I did, Jonny was not going to be content. He didn’t trust me as his coach to put him on a team that would grow him and support him. I really did want to do what was best for him, but he wasn’t even open to it.
I do this to God a lot. I think I know what is best for me, and I don’t allow Him to work and put people in my life that will grow and support me. I get angry or disappointed when things don’t go the way I want them to, and I don’t even give God a chance to be faithful. I try to pawn my poor results off on God, when the reality is that many times my poor results came from my unwillingness to allow my Coach to put other able people on my team.
Sometimes I forget that this Christian life is a team effort. What God has called me to do is so far beyond my own life (a vapor), and it is just a part of what He is doing globally, amongst Christians all over the world. Am I going to trust Him as my Coach to do what is best for His kingdom, not just for myself?
Right now, God has called me to full time ministry in Southeast Asia, but I need teammates! Bringing His good news is not an individual responsibility, rather it is something that I believe the Church is called to do as a community. As I continue this journey, would you consider how you can join? Many of you have already pledged your support, whether it be financially or in prayer, and I cannot tell you how encouraged and grateful I am.
By the end of the summer, Jonny had really come around. Our team had won the championship, and had learned a lot about the value of teammates and working together. Someone would make a comment to me, and Jonny would look at them and say with a giant smile on his face, “Coach Faith? Yeeeeah. That’s my coach!” Amidst my successes and failures as a coach, Jonny had grown to trust me. I hope and pray that I continue to grow in trusting my Coach, who NEVER fails.
Before I began my summer in Camden, NJ, a friend of mine mentioned in passing, “The secret to changing the world is that you can’t. You can only change yourself.” As I reflect back on not only this summer but the past several years, I cannot help but admit this to be true.
People often ask me, now that I have graduated, “So what do you want to do with your life?” Deep down inside I just think to myself, I want to change the world. The truth is, I’m actually saying, I want to change myself. Being in Camden for the past two months proved this harsh reality to be true.
Coaching 5th and 6th grade boys basketball was one of my greatest challenges. Nothing in the world could have prepared me to coach a group of boys that age who grew up on the streets (click here to learn more about the city of Camden and the environment these kids grew up in). There were countless instances where a kid would snap at me with a bad attitude, stomp off the court, spew a harsh comment to one of his peers, or even throw a shove or a punch at one of his teammates. In those moments I just wanted, with every fiber within me, to change that kid. If only he knew how far treating people with respect could take him. But I had to stop for a moment. I knew I had no ability to actually change that kid, where he came from, his society, or what caused him to react the way he did. Rather, I realized that the only real change I could make was how I responded to him. Would I show frustration, or the level of respect I wanted and expected him to show to others?
This lesson is challenging, yet rewarding. As I continue to prepare for Southeast Asia I must continue to remind myself, it must be God who changes people, it cannot be me. My responsibility is to then to be an imitator of God, and to love others as He has loved me. Paul reminds us of this in the book of Ephesians: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
As stated in my previous post, the journey has begun as I pursue God’s direction for the next phase of my life. As of right now, however, God has placed me in the city of Camden, NJ, and what a transformational experience it has been already. The city of Camden has suffered over the last several years as a large number of jobs have been removed. This in turn has caused extreme poverty, creating a difficult environment for children to grow up in.
This summer is an opportunity for me to minister to these children and hopefully demonstrate to them that they are indeed worth something, and that they can be the transformation in their communities. While I have been here for just a short time, I have been amazed and appalled at the conditions others are forced to live in even here within this country. I am encouraged, however, by the hearts of the children.
Personally, my time here has grown me as I have had to wrestle with the social issues presented, as well as learn to interact with and love children who come from a very different background than I have. Many of these kids come from abusive homes, and for them coming to camp may be the only food they see in a day and the only love they experience. Ultimately, it is an honor and a privilege to be here at all, and I am excited as to the ways in which God is moving.
Please pray for the children and the people of Camden.
I believe God is calling me to the field. It’s been a truly incredible journey, but when I take the time to stop and remember what God has already done, I can’t deny the call and desire to follow that call He has placed within me. As I stand amazed at the ways God has already worked in my life, I can’t help but be excited for what He has planned next, in the coming days as well as the coming years. I can’t tell you I know for sure what this next year of preparing and raising support holds, but I can say that I know God has called me and asked me to begin this journey, to take the next step of faith.
You see, I never thought I would be a “m!ss!onary”. But aren’t we all? As is expressed in my vision page, I believe God has called me to take my ministry to another region in the world. Today I begin the process of raising support, preparing to go. I am excited and thrilled for how I know God is going to provide. Let this crazy, incredible adventure we call life continue, and let the next chapter begin!