Tag Archives: Hosean International Ministries

A Tale of Two Churches

Port-au-Prince streetThis hit me. It hit me hard. To my core. You see, I have experienced these two churches, just in the past three weeks collectively I have experienced both of the churches that Rich speaks of. And it is life changing. I am so thankful of the experience, of the conviction, of the piercing to my soul.

As always, Rich opens up with something that doesn’t allow me to get past the first two sentences. Where was the church of Jesus Christ? What he kept asking himself as he took in the suffering of orphans in Rakai, Uganda. The Church in terms of the big-C church – all who claim, worldwide to follow Jesus. And little-c churches, our local congregations.

Being in Haiti and observing the school of College de la Grace in Pignon, Haiti the differences were stark. And not because of the buildings (although of course there are differences). In a world in the US filled with kindergartners who have iPads, the fact that Caleb is building a computer lab is huge. This same difference came to mind with respect to our churches as I organized Caleb’s personal library according to the Dewey Decimal system (which he had to school me on after an entire day and a half of doing it wrong – it’s been awhile since elementary school!) But I looked at just the book resources and was so grateful that Caleb had these, and the donations from church libraries all around. I wondered how often I took it for granted that resources like this were at my fingertips whenever I wanted or chose to make a small investment. The answer? A lot.

I underlined almost the entire chapter of Rich’s but two things really stuck out to me here: We are so blessed. And “We have been given much, and much is now expected.” Are we ready for part two? Have we realized it as a reality?

But the Church in America must confront the uncomfortable challenge of being endowed with an abundance of blessings in an extremely poor world.

The tale of the two churches rocked me. I love, love love love, my church here. We too have grown substantially into the thousands. We too have 3 services on Sunday (plus one on Saturday). We too have been able to reach the community. We too have been able to hire an awesome and amazing staff that 1. has a heart for Jesus and 2 is able to focus on their gifts, praise and worship, stewardship, etc… The difference (I hope) is that our pastors feel free to discuss money and the need to give, the commandment to give. I love that it is addressed and frankly love those sermons/series.

I also literally visited the Church of the Suffering Servant. Seven days ago. I was in tears reading through this story, remembering my experiences.

There is great joy in their worship as these people cry out to the Lord and feel His comfort in the midst of their need… There is pain in this church, born of illness and hardship; they are well acquainted with grief… A school is available… But it is Sunday, and this small community comes together to worship and to celebrate the gospel. Such good news, such amazing news- that God loves them and has actually sent His Son to die for their sins, save them in their brokenness, and grant them eternal life with Him!

The joy, oh the joy. It’s not a word. It’s not a concept. It is the reality of their worship. Both in Pignon and in Port-au-Prince, they cried out loud to the Lord. They felt his comfort. This was apparent. Through the language barrier. Through the culture barrier. He was their comforter. Comforter. Not an adjective. It’s a verb. They know suffering. Both just because they live and survive in Haiti, but also because of the earthquake. It touched more than just those in Port-au-Prince of course, but in driving to the church that Caleb preached at on Sunday, we drove past the fallen church on down the road to the one they have built (a temporary structure) post-earthquake. And looked out onto the new school, the first one Caleb built in Port-au-Prince after the earthquake. Oh yes. This community knows suffering. And because of this, they sang, they worshiped.

I was humbled. Completely. Totally. 100% humbled. And just so you have a heads up, when visiting a church in Haiti you may be asked to address the congregation. I was a bit taken off guard and had nothing to say. If, however, I would have had my wits about me. I would have thanked them. Thanked this amazing church body for allowing me to worship with them, in their house. To experience the love they have for our God. To experience the realness of God in that place. It reminded me that there is a time coming when people from all tribes, all tongues, all nations will gather together to worship our Lord. It will indeed be an exciting time. And, I’ll know what everyone is saying then 🙂

In Rich’s book he symbolically merges the pastor from the Church of the Suffering Saint to our church. To my church. To his dismay as he tries to move toward the podium at the end of the service people are leaving. He wants to tell the story of his church, of their need. That they/we must be their saving grace. By the end he is following people to the parking log, begging them to stop. Hoping they will turn around.

It wasn’t that they wouldn’t help the African congregation; they were just so preoccupied with their own programs and people that they failed to see the bigger picture; the reality of the church across the world… Sins of omission are sometimes the most difficult ones to address. To do so requires intentional and relentless self-examination, a commitment to serve those in greatest need, and a keen awareness of the broader world in which God has placed us. Only then can we become consistent and effective in using our considerable resources for the benefit of the church worldwide. (emphasis TA).

I agree with Rich and am in no way putting down the Church or my church. I love what God is doing at Christ’s Place. I see that we have people in leadership with hearts for the broken. And I am not on the board, nor am I even on a missions committee. And I have multiple times made my church my own “spiritual cocoon, to retreat from a hostile world.” I am guilty. A church is more than it’s leaders. If the Church is to do it’s part in leading a revolution, it takes all. It takes me. I am not exempt.

Morgan Chilulu, an African pastor of a small and humble church in the midst of the AIDS pandemic, once told me, “A church that lives within its four walls is no church at all.” ~Rich Stearns

This trip to Haiti, this plane ticket, one of the things that it did was force me out of my four walls. Force me to see a reality other than my own. It forced me to ask myself some pretty tough questions. The question now becomes, will I take that visit outside of my own four walls and make it a lifestyle? I sure hope so. That’s the goal. And to teach my children that it is imperative. That is is natural. I hope they one day know “no walls.” That would be an amazing legacy to live and to leave.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under The Hole In Our Gospel

Chapter 10 What’s Wrong With This Picture

I’m struggling with this one a little bit this morning. In a few ways really. Rich did a fantastic job setting the stage and discussing his love/hate relationship with statistics and how statistics really begins to obscure the humanity, the dignity, and worth of children. Statistics take away their names and stories and cheapens the value of each individual child. He was so right. They do. I don’t know that I can do just a quick review and what I have taken away from this chapter justice. I was convicted on many aspects and to try to summarize them all may seem really disconnected and not get across the point of what we can learn through this amazing chapter. But, I will try.

A research study in 2006 highlighted a fundamental flaw (my opinion, not Rich’s) in us as humans and how we process suffering, how we compartmentalize it and still be able to function with what is seemingly an overwhelming problem. Individuals were divided into three groups. One group was told the story of a little girl in Africa, the second was told about four million people in Africa who were homeless and suffering. The third group was told both. At the end they were asked to donate to the cause.

Who gave more?

The first group. The group who could identify the problem with a person. The third group gave only slightly above the second, who ultimately gave the least amount.

I think, this is why I so believe in child sponsorship. It takes this massive problem, and breaks it down into a soul. A soul I sponsored-kidscan love on and pray for and who’s story is now a part of mine. “They” are no longer a statistic to me. “They” are mine. Not technically, but they are the way I can make a difference. I think the other reason I believe so heavily in it is because it is much like the proverbial question, “How do you eat an elephant?” At a task that seems so overwhelming you feel like walking away, the answer is “One bite at a time.”

How do we even begin to make an impact on the 26,575 children who die each day from preventable causes?? One at a time. And it matters. Do something. It matters. The three over here on the right are “ours”. Our loveys we get the privilege  of praying for, of following through school, of letters and pictures (from the youngest), of meeting one day.

There is much much more I can and want to comment on. But I just come back to having to make it personal. What would I do as a Mom if our circumstances are not what they are now? Living in middle America in a time where my family as a multi-racial family is welcomed and accepted (by most people – by all the ones who matter). With the chance of an education and a chance to do something with it, with water that comes from the tap when I turn it on. What would I do? Anything. Everything. There is no limit to what I would do so that my children would survive, the hope they would one day thrive.

who-lives-on-what The other big take away is actually a stat. But beyond, it is what the stat  means. The average income in America is $38,611 per person. And that’s just the average. But it equates to $105 a day. This is what it means to the rest of the world. This is OUR country and how we compare just on average to the rest of the world.

The biggest take away to me is that as someone who takes my faith seriously. What will I do about this? God did not leave us with the option of doing nothing. Not if we are who we say we are. I really want to quote the entire passage from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 but it’s kind of long. Please go read it. If you allow it to, it will change your perspective and perhaps actions.

My favorite one-liners from the passage:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good word.

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

It’s action. Faith not through works, but accompanied with works. Works that make a difference. This is how the world will stand up and wonder, “Who’s this Jesus guy they speak of?” The talk without the walk will make no difference.

If you are curious about ways to help I did put a few options (just a few out of the many many out there) on my blog. You can access that here.

I think the main point as always is to not feel bad about what we have, our circumstances. We are just where we need to be and should never be made to feel guilty or convicted about what we have accomplished or been given. We do have an opportunity to help someone else however and ultimately we will be asked by the God of the universe what we did with what we were given. I don’t want to be nervous about that conversation.

2 Comments

Filed under The Hole In Our Gospel

Chapter Four – The Towering Pillars of Compassion and Justice

“God saw through their veneer of religiosity.”

Did it take you a bit longer to get through this chapter? It did me. It was one I stepped lightly through instead of one continual read. I kept having to stop and think, “how am I doing here?” Or I’d find myself lost in thought over a particular concept. I love this stuff.

A few things that really caught my attention (although there was a lot of underlining happening here). This concept of Action. Tangible Action. “Doing” – as I wrote beside quite a few scripture passages. And promises.

Doing – The Israelite nation who’s prayers were ignored by God at that time. Why? Because they were speaking, but not doing. But when we do God offers a promise. It’s a pattern that is consistent.

Do – “For this kind of kingdom community, a people whose actions demonstrate this level of authentic personal and social change…”

Promise – Isaiah 58: 10-11(ish) – “he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Being somewhere that has experienced a drought this hits home (none like other parts of the world, but we certainly got a taste).

Jesus encouraged he was the Messiah by pointing to tangible evidence. He was doing – and b/c of it that was his encouragement.

Two quotes that I have underlined and starred multiple time that for me offers a hope and a realistic expectation that I can certainly accomplish – along with one that offers conviction and the motivation to keep growing in this area.

Hope: “I only propose that a genuine concern ‘for the least of these’ that finds tangible expression must be woven into the pattern of their lives and faith.”

Motivation (altered Rich’s words to make it a personal question): “Will Christ find evidence of my genuine concern for His beloved poor when He looks at the fruit of my life on that day? Further, what might He be calling me to do today?”

Can I work into our budget another $35 to sponsor another kiddo from Hosean International Ministries (HIM)? Yeah. I can. B/c the 10 times I’m too lazy to cook and instead go out to eat junk? That’s meals for a MONTH plus school plus healthcare that a kiddo could have. I have been reminded over and over that what we give that seems so small God can multiply. I was looking through pictures of my good friend’s trip to Africa last year. He is the director of HIM. He was asked to travel through Africa to do some seminars and preaching/teaching/encouragement to pastors throughout the country. Giving a little to HIM and God multiplies it farther than we could even imagine.

Can one more pair of shoes from Target that I buy myself have the same impact? Not likely.

What are tangible ideas that you have?

And can someone please also start the discussion on the AMAZING story of the World Vision’s Children of War Center? B/c that gave me goosebumps.

 

2 Comments

Filed under The Hole In Our Gospel