Getting back to where petty is real

Spending a week or so out of the country can change your perspectives. Seeing hundreds of mothers and babies who are sick and desperate and have very little worries except how to stay fed and stay alive makes the things that we tend to worry about sort of dim.

It also makes feel like there are things that really need to be worried about and there are things that can just be ignored. When you spend a week with people who have fungus growing on their heads because they can’t access basic sanitation it sort of puts the whole “she was talking about me behind my back” thing into perspective.

So it has been hard to get back into the mindset of a youth pastor. As a youth pastor those things, those petty insignificant things have to matter because they matter to the people that I am ministering to. Everything in me wants to just smack a kid or two upside the head and say, “WAKE UP! Don’t you see what an amazing life you have and not because of what you have done but because you were born here instead of pretty much anywhere else in the world!”

But that won’t cause any real change. Guilt is not a very good motivator. It will change actions for a season, but it rarely changes the heart.

So I have been slowly getting my mind back to the place where the petty, the small, the insignificant is major, and big, and real. While in the global scheme of things it doesn’t really matter if that girl that you like talked to you or not, in the scheme of their life it is as important as finding food. So I smile and give advice and listen and offer to pray and try to remember that this is real, this is life for this teenager.

And so I pray for them, and as I pray I ask for God to help what is hurting them, and also for God to give them the opportunity to see maybe even just once, the amazing gifts that they have. I pray that God will give them perspective, because perspective is something that most people live a lifetime before they obtain.

To be honest, perspective is something I pray about for myself too.

Different Worlds

Tomorrow night we are talking about how as Christians in America we are also part of the Universal Church. As such we should care about the persecution and sufferings of Christians around the world. If we honestly believe that what 1 Corinthians 12:26 to be true when one part of the body suffers we should all suffer with them.

The bulk of the lesson tomorrow will be a prayer time for persecuted Christians. We will have 3 prayer stations, 1 discussion station, and 2 letter writing stations. One of these is for a prisoner in China and the other is for the child our church recently started sponsoring in Korah, Ethiopia.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that my Sister and her family recently moved to Ethiopia to work with the children there. At VBS this year we took up an offering to send one of the kids who live in abject poverty to boarding school for a year. My sister thought it would be perfect for us to sponsor the sixteen-year-old older brother of the child that she sponsors.

Tonight I was writing a sample letter for the students to follow tomorrow. I was thinking about the fact how different the lives will be of the teenagers who are writing the letters and the boy who will be receiving the letter. I wanted the students to put something personal in the letter, but how do you say to a guy who spent his day scrounging for food that your favorite thing to do is sit in front of a computer all day or play video games in your air conditioned house with a room full of food right down the hall. How do you explain to this guy that you have spent more on random toys, gadgets, clothes, and well junk than he will make in his lifetime.

It is almost too much to comprehend that the students that I minster to and this guy have anything in common. But they both have a need to know they are loved. They both have a need to know they matter in the world, and they both have a need to know their savior. So I am very excited that our students get to be a part of this young man’s life. I hope that his story inspires us to give of ourselves for others.

Proud Yet Crying

My sister is leaving for Africa in 4 days. She and her 3 little boys and her wonderful husband will all be going to live in Africa. I haven’t really talked about it on, so I wanted to mention it before she goes. I have to say that I am more proud of her and her husband than I have ever been in my life. Their dedication to take God’s call to “follow me” is something that amazes me.

At the same time I know that I will miss having them around. I haven’t written about it much here because thinking about them living on another continent hurts my heart. But I know that if they stay here they will be miserable so I am very glad that they are going. They are an inspiration to me and my whole church.


My Little Sister…

…spoke at my church tonight about her recent trip to Africa. She came home with the desire to take Jesus literally when he talked about reaching out to help the poor and a vision of sharing that desire with others. She spoke tonight with a passion that was challenging beyond words.

I couldn’t have been more proud.