The summer series God has been challenging me to go deeper in doing what I can to make a difference to the helpless. One of those ways is to use my influence to make people aware of the needs around the world. If you have fa desire to make a difference let me share with you one of the organizations our family supports. The Mocha Club is dedicated to redefining the typical coffee break. We support the Mocha Club Darfur Project. Darfur has been entangled in a deadly conflict for over three years. At least 400,000 people have been killed. More than 2 million innocent civilians have been forced to flee their homes and now live in internally displaced-persons (IDP) camps in Sudan.By supporting “Sudan Regrowth,” you will be sustaining two projects:
The first is in the village of Nyamlel, where you will help fund an orphanage for 400 children that have fled as orphans, as well as provide care and rehabilitation for former sex slaves. This work provides all the necessities, including medical care and education.
The second is the relief efforts for those who have fled to the wild with no shelter. You will provide mosquito nets to prevent malaria, wells for clean water, tarps that serve as shelter from the elements, food, and desperately needed medication.
Two Rebel Groups have the political aim of compelling the government of Sudan to address underdevelopment and the political marginalization of the region of Darfur. In response, since early 2003, the Sudanese government’s regular armed forces and the Janjaweed (gov’t backed militia) have targeted civilian populations and ethnic groups from which the rebels primarily draw their support. Please become an active part of the solution. If you are looking to make a difference let me recommend the Mocha Club Project. You can join our team by clicking on the link below or you can choose another project that Mocha Club offers. You can see who has decided to be a part of the team. Our family does not receive anything for having you join our team. However, it is powerful to see the people that decide to participate in our spheres of influence. We would love to see at least 100 people join and support Mocha Club. Please click on the link below if you are interested.
I have a confession…as a speaker I have always struggled with the applause of people. That sounds pretty bad but its the truth. If I’m not careful I can find myself fishing for a compliment and then other times not knowing how to accept a compliment knowing that God was the one due the credit. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with knowing that people enjoyed hearing you speak. I think everyone enjoys receiving an atta boy every now and again. The problem is can you still get the applause of man if you are saying all that God wants to say through you? This past year God has been convicting me from Luke 6 that if I truly say all that God wants me to say than the applause meter will rapidly lower. This summer I feel that I have preached harder and more direct than I ever have in my life and while I still receive the thank-you for the challenge pat on the back the applause meter has drastically lowered. However the satisfaction of knowing that I said all that I was supposed to say has been overwhelming. I have found myself walking out to my car alone the past several Sundays in a conversation with God. I’ve found myself saying God thank-you for giving me the courage to say all that you wanted me to say and no matter the reaction I know that I am loved by you, my family, and my close friends. When I read Galatians 6 I can hear the Apostle Paul saying because of the cross my interest in the crowd died long ago. So for those who have the challenge of speaking and explaining God’s Word may we be unpopular.
As I am preparing to preach this Sunday on the Holy Spirit, I can’t help but think about how most people are in desperate need of a downpour of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Hosea 6:3 Says “He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” We are a people that have become dry to the things of God and the intimacy He offers us on a daily basis. This dryness is never intended but through our normal average daily grind we become so comfortable that we do not feel a need to stay close to our Father. In fact if we are not careful we can become so accustomed to our lives that we can look back and see no significant spiritual growth in our lives. In fact for some the depth of their spiritual growth has been stagnant for years. My prayer is that as I preach tomorrow that God would soak us with His presence. Father, I am calling for a flood.
Three houses, two pits, and two foundations later we have returned from Harmons, Jamaica. Coming back home from Jamaica is not as easy as it may sound. The transition happens so quick that it is difficult for one to process. To go from complete poverty to gross abundance within a three hour span is overwhelming. As I try to get a handle on all that I have learned the thought that continues to rise to top is that the world I live in, in South Charlotte is not the real world. I am so thankful for the people of Harmons and what they have taught me and our group about how to love God by serving the poor. I truely believe that I received more than I could have ever of given. Time to start the difficult transition back and figure out how to make sure that I do not buy into the myth that where I live is the real world.
Again, as Josh promised us, today was better than the previous day. We are all becoming so attached to Harmons. Today we had the same work sites and everyone worked very hard. The work became a little more difficult as a turrential downpour of rain came and blew the roof off a few of the houses we were working on. All in all, the rain was MUCH needed here and ironically we brought rain with us last year as well. Harmons has not had more than a spurt of 15 min of rain, for more than a month until today. It’s amazing to be so thankful for something, that we often take forgranted when we have a focet with running water whenever we want. Tonight was also a special night as our students had the opportunity to eat dinner in a Jamaican’s home (Meals on Wheels.) I can’t wait for you to talk with your student about their impressions about being in a Jamaican’s home. Our students love this community and love being in community with the people of Harmons. Tomorrow we will finish off the three houses and present them to their new owners.
Today, the students worked a half day in Harmons with one of the following projects: in a marl haul, digging a septic tank pit, throwing cement on a side of house, teaching in the school or helping ladies shop in the store. The other half of the day our students went to the Maypin Infirmary. Imagine the worst nursing home in the States and then multiple the conditions by at least a 100. If Jesus were literally walking in Jamaica I truly believe we would have seen Him today. Our students were taken outside of their comfort zone. You cannot truly put into words what your teenager witnessed today. Here is just one picture to try and catch so many healing moments. Our day was captured in the following qoute: “Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us love God better because of them.” – Mother Theresa
We have one more full day of work tomorrow and then our students will go to a Jamaican home to have dinner tomorrow night.
Today was great! Josh has promised that each day would be better than the previous and he was right. We all had great expereinces today, house sites, building foundations, hauling marl, and working in a school. One of the many blessings this year is watching the relationships develop between our students and the Jamaicans. The best part was watchig our students from last year walk right in and pick up cinversations from last summer. To say that this is the hardest work your student has ever done would be a gross understatement. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of your kids. We are having a hard time with the internet connection so posting apicture tonight didn’t work. We will try tom. night. Please pray for us as we work a half day and then go to the infirmary.
We have made it here safely and are having a wonderful time! We had a few snags getting here (passport left on plane . . . some car sickness . . . Keith Jones getting here today . . .) but we are now finally here and doing great.
Harmons is as we remember and it is so refreshing to come back to a place we all love. We know that our “first time students” are still taking it all in, but going to love it just the same.
Yesterday night we unloaded and sorted all of the donated items we brought down and we are SO excited to say that we have brought the MOST stuff down of all the groups this summer! (Last year, we did not have this same result. : )
Today, we worked on three house sites, two “pit digs”, a marl haul, and sorting the goods donated for the store. Tomorrow, we will continue these sites and some students will actually be able to teach in the local school. Know that we are all doing well and still covet your prayers.
– Student Staff
(And PS- there was a LOT of dancing going down tonight with all the people of Harmons. We are still a little sweaty, actually.)
I will be leading a group of 45 High School students and parents to Harmmons, Jamaica for a week on Monday. We will be spending most of our time building houses and preparing sites to make concrete for the houses. Translated that means hauling bags up and down a mountain. I can say without hesitation that this is one of the best trips and hardest trips I have done in my twelve years of student ministry. I will do my best to try and post periodically during the trip if the internet cooperates. Please keep us in your prayers as we head into the bush. You can also check for updates on their site Won By One. Please also be praying as the missions committee will be voting on my proposed trip to Africa.
Last night I felt led at the end of our church session to talk about the elephant that is in our student ministry. What led to that talk was how our students have connected with the song by Chris Tomlin called the “God of this City.” It is a song that talks about how God wants to use us to reach our city for His name sake and glory. They came into that meeting wanting to be One and reach our city for Christ.
I said the reality of our camp trip this year is that we are not One. In fact we actually have two churches represented at Carmel’s student camp one church of course being Carmel Baptist and the other Elevation church. Many of our students have chosen to attend Elevation Church on Sunday mornings for worship and then attend Carmel for the things that Elevation does not offer at this time, such as family events, student ministry, mission trips, camp etc. This has caused our student ministry to become fractured and off balanced.
My challenge to the students and to our families is for them to plug into one church and serve her with all their heart. The church is the bride of Christ and I firmly believe that God desires for us to invest in one local church body to make an impact in the lives of others. To me it is like being married but telling your wife that you would rather have dinner next door becasue your neighbors wife is a better cook in regards to a particular dish but that you plan to be back for desert. I’m afraid we are teaching our students to always move to the next best thing instead of making where you are at great. So my personal opinion is if God has led you to Elevation then do all you can to advance the vision and purpose of Elevation church. If God has led you to be at Carmel then serve her with all that you can.
I also told our students that I believe that where they worship should be a family decision and not just an individual decision. Parents I know this is not an easy issue for you to navigate with your teenagers but it is one that needs to be settled for the sake of your family and the church family as a whole. May God continue to bless both of our churches as we run hard after Jesus Christ. As you know I have a particular preference in regards to where our family will worship and serve but I also recognize that Elevation is doing the task that God has laid on their hearts. So my prayer is that God would continue to bless both of our churches as we run hard after Jesus Christ. That His people would not be divided on where they should serve. I would love to hear your comments and what you are experiencing as a family.