Past, Present, Future

July 24, 2008

Beth tagged me to do one of these, and this will be my last access to the internet for two weeks, so here goes.

20 years ago I…
1. was two years old.
2. did not have a clue about what was going on in the world.
3. lived in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

10 years ago I…
1. repented of my sin and put my faith in Christ
2. watched my oldest brother go off to college
3. spent my days chillin in Mr. Armstrong’s class at Believer’s Academy

5 years ago I…
1. was working as a telemarketer.
2. was fired from being a telemarketer.
3. attended Survival Camp for the first time!

3 years ago I…
1. graduated as Valedictorian of my graduating class of six.
2. attended the Rehrer’s memorial service.
3. moved into HOTCHKISS! (still one of the most legit moments of my life)

1 year ago I…
1. returned from a semester of studying in Israel–possibly the happiest 3 1/2 months of my life.
2. listened to lots of John Piper while I worked as a street sweeper.
3. won The Master’s Cup for the second year in a row.

So far this year I…
1. saw Wicked with Team 20 Seconds.
2. served as the RA of Hotchkiss Upper Front.
3. went to Uganda on a TMC Missions Trip.

Yesterday I…
1. learned about how to be committed to expository teaching from Pastor Mike at the CBC staff meeting.
2. practiced with the band for Junior High Revival ’08.
3. attended True North Beach Night at Salt Creek Beach.

Today I…
1. went shopping to get some things for Revival.
2. ate lunch at In-N-Out Burger.
3. helped load two Budget trucks for Revival.

Tomorrow I will…*
1. be at Compass by 4:30am.
2. ride up to Lake Isabella.
3. help set up camp for Revival ’08.

In the next year I will…*
1. be Head RA in Hotchkiss and love every second of my senior year at TMC.
2. win The Master’s Cup for the third straight year.
3. start/continue figuring out what I will do with my life.

Who’s next? Ona, Phil, Kelly

*Lord willing

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Today I turned in a 7-page report on my recent missions trip to Uganda. This was one of the questions:

What person or event has impacted your life the most during this time? Please explain.

This was a hard question to answer, but I answered it with a journal entry I wrote on our last day of ministry in Uganda. I thought those that read this blog might enjoy this window into my brain on the trip. This is what I wrote:

6/27/08 Friday

“I just had the most heart-breaking conversation of the trip. We visited two nearby schools today with our program. They both felt like business as usual.

“After the second school, we were talking with kids. My group dispersed, and I was waiting for everyone else to finish up. To pass the time, I sat down on the edge of the building to be available if anyone else wanted to talk.

“Eventually, one boy came up to me with a very soft, high voice. He told me his name was Merry. He began asking me the standard Islam questions. Are the Bible/Quran the same? Is Allah God? So I gave him my standard 2-point answer:
1) the Bible says Jesus is God and our Savior, and
2) the Bible says we get to heaven through faith, not works.
At the end, I began to question him about what he believed.

“This is where the conversation took a new tone of intensity. This talk was no longer normal. He told me he believed in Allah. I then proceeded to remind him that Allah is not God. Jesus is the only way. If he wants to go to heaven, he must believe in Jesus.

“Merry sat there in silence as I found myself hating the cultural barrier once again. What was going on inside his head? Where was he coming from? Where was he going?

“I began to notice a sadness in his eyes. He remained silent as his eyes began to tear up. The tears began to form on his eye lashes, and they slowly dropped down his face.

“I did not know what to feel or think. What was going on with this boy? What kind of persecution will he face if he believes? Who will remain there to help him? Who will teach him more about Jesus? Who will be there for him if he believes?

“All these questions began to tear me apart. Our conversation was fairly silent til the finish. He asked another question about whether Moslems go to heaven. I again explained that Jesus is the only way, and I tried to say that as many ways as I could.

“Merry never came to the point where he said he wanted to be born again, but I pleaded with him to believe in Jesus. I encouraged him to find others who are born again to help explain more to him.

“Our group began to leave, so I prayed for Merry and said good-bye. As I left, I could not feel right. Something about that conversation broke my heart, and I knew something was wrong. Just like the feeling I had when I broke my collar bone, something is not right, and I want to wrestle with God now until I know what it is.

“Why did that conversation break my heart so much, and what difference will this make in my life?

“For starters, it put a crying face to all the ministry we have done this week. When I think of this week, I will not think of crazy questions and laughing kids; I will picture Merry’s tears. How many more are there like him? I can never, ever take ministry lightly. Souls hang in the balance. People are really going to heaven or hell.

“Again, this conversation challenged my faith. I am so frustrated by the fact that I am leaving tomorrow. I have planted a seed, but what will become of it? Do I really believe that God is mighty to save? Do I believe God can work here when I am gone? There is so much tendency to doubt, but I must live in faith that God will bring the increase and produce fruit from this ministry.

“I have often said that God does not call us to success; he calls us to faithfulness. Ultimately, I cannot be successful. It is God who works. God is the one who changes hearts. God is the one who brings people to repentance. And God will be faithful to complete what he started.

“BUT he calls us to be a part of the process. He calls us to go and make disciples. He calls us to be his ambassadors. This conversation with Merry has only increased by desire to be faithful. It has given me a whole new sense of urgency. The battle is real, and it is the most important thing in the world. Every comfort, every song, and every sporting event (that I might think is important) looks like rubbish when I think of Merry’s crying face. Nothing is more important than the work of Christ and the ministry of the gospel.

“And that ministry is more than just evangelism. God calls us to make disciples. I have so much opportunity to do this in the States. I have ministry in front of me at Compass. I have a year as Head RA of Hotchkiss in front of me. And I have a whole new sense of urgency about it.

“But I pray this conversation does not quench my desire for evangelism. I don’t want to pass up any opportunity to share the good news. Again, I must have faith in God. He will continue to work even when I can’t.

“At the end of the day, to live is Christ. My life must be about kingdom work. I pray for Merry, but I will most likely never see his face again. I pray that God saves him and uses him to bring others to Christ. But I must be radically faithful to the work of Christ. I must have a whole new passion about the phrase ‘to live is Christ.’

“This will look like a commitment to discipleship—whether reaching out to unbelievers or nurturing younger Christians. I have plenty of opportunities to that over the next year. This will look like commitment to the church. The church is Christ’s body, and it is where discipleship happens. This will also look like a commitment to missions. I cannot help but think of the Hurleys and the Conovers. They are working to make disciples who will make other disciples. I want to give my life to ministries like that.

“I thank God for my encounter with Merry. I pray that his life is forever and eternally because of it. And I pray that mine is, too.

“GOD, HELP ME!”

Out of Africa

July 3, 2008

Team Uganda at the Source of the Nile

Team Uganda at the Source of the Nile

Yes. Contrary to popular opinion, I am alive and back from Africa.

God was very good (as he ALWAYS is) and blessed Team Uganda’s time. I can’t really rehash the whole trip here and now. I blogged (along with Amanda) for the team at Master’s website, so I would encourage you to check that out for more details about the trip.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to go on this trip! The ministry opportunities we had were very exciting, and I know that the Lord taught me many lessons on this trip. Here a few of them:

-From the missionaries: Discipleship is SO important. And that includes everything from evangelism to training pastors to hanging out with high school students! That makes me excited about the rest of the summer and this next school year.

-From my teammates: Consider others more important than yourself. When I am in an uncomfortable situation, it is so easy for me to think about myself. But my teammates constantly set and convicting example of selflessness. When the going got tough, my team got going in serving others.

-From traveling: When in Africa, one is more concerned about contracting some deadly illness or getting dismembered in a car accident (or by a lion). However, it does not take long to realize that those same things can happen in America (maybe not as much the lion, but watch out for tigers in San Francisco). The reality is we have no control over our lives. If God wants us to die today, there are about 1001 ways that can happen. The lesson learned: Life is fleeting; live every moment for God.

I will spend the rest of my summer as a youth intern at Compass Bible Church. Three of these weeks will spent camping with junior high and high school students. I am psyched out of my mind for this opportunity to serve and disciple here! Hopefully I’ll be bouncing in and out of the blogosphere over the next few weeks.

Peace.

Hugh, Adam, Julius, me, Charles, and Steve outside a church where we put on a conference

From left: Hugh, Adam, Julius, me, Charles, and Steve outside a church where we put on a conference