Bolivia Bound

Today I’m headed to Bolivia with some wonderful people led by a great team from Food for the Hungry.

We’ll spend this week seeing the work they’re doing in this South American country.

Yes, Bolivia is in South America in case you were wondering.  I’m be honest, my 4th grade geography failed me on this one.  I had to look it up.

I’m looking forward to this trip for a number of reasons:

1) It’s my first trip to South America.  Another area of the world to explore!

2) A long flight.  Call me crazy but I kind of like them.  Hours of space to read, think, write, dream.

3) Good people.  I’m traveling with some wonderful friends – Lindsey Nobles, Jennie Allen, Karen Yates – and getting to know several more.

4) Being a part of ministry that is not my job.  When you work in full-time ministry it’s easy for all the ministry you do to be part of your job.  There is no performance being measured on this trip.  I simply get to love and serve.

and probably my favorite reason of all…

5) I’m not in charge!  I don’t have to lead anything.  I get to follow.  I get to be a part of the team.  Another refreshing experience that we as leaders must immerse ourselves in from time to time.  I’ll probably have more reflections on that as the week progresses.

Please be praying for our team as we go.  Prayer for safety and health.  Apparently Bolivia has some high elevations so there is some concern of altitude sickness.

I’ll be sharing via twitter, instagram and here on the blog as I’m able, so I hope you’ll follow along!

Here’s a video of the work Food for the Hungry is doing in Bolivia:

50th Anniversary

You can’t truly understand freedom until you’ve lived without it.

You can’t fully comprehend segregation until you’ve been the marginalized.

DrKing

May we as leaders never be lulled by our personal comfort. 

May we always be willing to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

 

Photo HT

END IT: Shine A Light On Slavery Day

27 million people live in slavery today.

That number is incomprehensible.

It’s a part of our world that most of us don’t see.  The idea that we can carry on our lives completely disconnected from this horrific reality disturbs me.  How can such an intricately connected world still be so disconnected in some ways?

Tomorrow, April 9th is being called Shine a Light on Slavery Day.

Will you join us in bringing attention to a tragedy that collectively we can bring change to?

When leaders engage for a purpose, history can be changed for forever.  Let’s change it for the good!

Learn more at enditmovement.com

AIDS Documentary 2012

Leaders engage.

Leaders learn.

Leaders take responsibility.

Leaders identify a problem and are compelled to find a solution.

Leaders love.

Leaders care.

Leaders commit.

This documentary is an example of some great leaders in action.  So grateful for the work that Kay Warren is doing with the HIV/AIDS Initiative and proud of Pete and these other pastors who are engaging the issue.

FH Bloggers in Bangladesh

bangladesh

My dear friend Lindsey Nobles and an amazing team of bloggers are in Bangladesh right now with Food for the Hungry.   If you haven’t had a chance to check out the work that they are doing, you gotta take a few minutes…

Meet the team.

See all of their posts here.

 

They have just a few days left of their trip and I know that they could use your prayers and encouragement to finish well.  Pray for health, safety, strength, good rest, emotional endurance and perspective to help them process all that they have experienced.

 

Water Sunday

Hey guys, my friends at Water Missions International have a big event early next year.  If you’re a church leader, this could be a great thing to consider having your church participate in!

What would happen if the American Church came together and said ‘We want to end the global water crisis?’

Water Sunday is an initiative of Water Missions International, inspiring a movement within the Church to respond to the global water crisis. Together, we can be the solution. Water Sunday is the start.

Water Missions International is asking churches across the country to give one Sunday between January and April 2013 to transform lives through safe water. All the resources are available to make sure your church is fully equipped for a Sunday that is as transformational and hassle-free as possible. (You’re going to LOVE the resources – check them out here!) Our desire is that the members of your church would move from being ‘transactional givers’ to passionate people who have been transformed through engaging in the call to care for the thirsty (Isaiah 58).

By combining the efforts of many churches, we are able to make a HUGE impact around the world. In the months that follow Water Sunday, everyone will celebrate together, as photos and stories of transformation pour in from the projects funded through Water Sunday. Your church community will be able to see the faces of those impacted, and the JOY made possible through their efforts.

Water Missions International’s goal is to see lives changed through the transformative power of safe water and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

By partnering through Water Sunday, your church will be part of the active body of Christ responding to urgent physical needs with safe water that will flow forever. In addition, your church will be part of providing the Living Water Jesus talks about in John 4:14 for those who thirst spiritually. Engage your church to join the Body and end the global water crisis.

If you’re a Pastor/Church Staff:  Fill out the “Interested?” Form to receive  your FREE LEADER’S GUIDE.

The vision is for more than 100 churches to participate in Water Sunday this year and provide access to safe water to more than 33,000 people.

Join Water Sunday. Be The Solution.

It Could Have Been Me… or It Could Have Been You

Last week I had the privilege of joining Pete and a few of our staff and volunteers on a trip to the LA Dream Center.  We were simply blown away by the ministry and life-change that is happening at this place.

The Dream Center, a volunteer driven organization that finds and fills the needs of individuals and families alike, was founded in 1994 and currently serves over 40,000 people each month.

Services and programs offered include residential rehabilitation programs for teens and adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, a transitional shelter for homeless families, mobile hunger relief and medical programs, and a foster care intervention outreach that works closely with Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to keep families intact by delivering the required furnishings, clothing and food to assure that their homes meet DCFS standards. Programs such as adult basic education, job skills training, and life skills counseling are also to homeless families and individuals continue to establish The Dream Center as a vital community development resource.

The Dream Center’s record of success has led to the launch of over 100 independent Dream Centers nationally, as well as internationally.

The purpose of our trip was to see the breadth and depth of the possibilities for replicating a Dream Center here in Nashville.  We’re currently renovating a building that will be our first Nashville Dream Center.

We met dozens of people – men, women, families, single moms with their sweet children – who are in recovery at the Dream Center.  But my heart was ripped to shreds when we met the teenagers who are in the program.  As we listened to several of them share their testimony, it all became so real to me.  One precious 17-year-old shared the details of her early life and the choices that she made that ultimately landed her in a situation where she was in desperate need for help.  As I looked at her, I saw myself.  The circumstances that occurred in her early life were very similar to some of my early experiences.  I became overwhelmed by the thought that “it could have been me.”

I don’t know why my situation turned out different than hers.  All I know is that up until a certain point, our stories were similar and then something happened that changed our trajectories.  Perhaps it was that I had more people in my life that spoke wisdom to me in the midst of pain and helped guide me from making bad choices.  Perhaps it was that God gave me an extra dose of the ability to discern right and wrong and understand the consequences.  Maybe there were a few more people whispering hope in my ear rather than despair.

I don’t know.

I really don’t and I don’t know why I was saved from that path and she wasn’t.

But I do know that being rocked by that reality gives me a responsibility.  I can see how close I was to being in her shoes.

Every person that finds themselves in need of hope, healing and recovery is not all that different from me and you.  We’re all one decision or one key relationship away from finding ourselves on a completely different path.

You or I could have been any one of the people that I met in the Dream Center last week.

Now you or I can be the one person that intervenes and helps change the course for others.

I’m so excited about Cross Point’s Dream Center that will be opening later this year and the opportunities we have to change lives in a powerful way!

Do you have a Dream Center in your city or another organization that you’re a part of that restores and redeems lives?  Tell us about it!

 

All the Difference in the World – Guest Post by Lindsey Nobles

Today my dear friend Lindsey Nobles is guest posting about her newest adventure.  I’m so excited about what she’s up to but even more excited that it brought her back to Nashville! :)

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A month ago I moved back to Nashville to take a position on the Artist Relations team for Food for the Hungry {FH}, an organization goes to the hard places – places darkened by poverty, war and injustice – to bring hope and help to children, families and communities in the most impoverished countries around the world. During the interview process, I asked a lot of questions about the work that FH does in the field but I knew that to do my job well I’d have to see it firsthand. Last week I set off for Ethiopia with a team of FH staff members and several popular bloggers. I was blown away. Blown. Away.

Here are 4 things I appreciated about the way FH does development work:

FH’s work is child-focused. FH has a Child Focused Community Transformation model meaning that it assesses the health of a community by looking at the health of the community’s children. While FH works throughout a community, the organization’s introduction and key interfaces is through the children.

FH believes in relationships. This is Abraham. He is an FH social worker who serves 200 children and their families. But he loves each one of them like they are his family. How do I know this? Because I heard one of the 200 children he serves {and their mother} say he was like a father and mother to them. A father and a mother to 200 kids. Now that is an important job. But it speaks to the level of intimacy FH has with the communities it works.

FH assesses the assets and needs of a community and implements programs to best meet their needs and maximize their strengths. Child sponsorship funding allows FH to be more holistic in their approach. Your sponsorship helps lift up an entire community. I learned about FH’s Reforestation, Agriculture, Advocacy, Education, Hygiene, Malaria & HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention, and Food Security Programs. Programs that help serve the needs of children in the communities in which it works. This is a school library that FH was instrumental in helping rebuild so children would have access to books.

And most importantly, FH empowers those in need. We met 13-year old Teresa that merits her FH sponsorship with giving her hope for the future. One day, after she finishes school, she wants to be a doctor. When asked why others should sponsor kids through FH, she said because there are tons of kids in her community that deserve to have an education. And Teresa is right.

Consider sponsoring a child through FH. It can make all the difference in the world not only for a child, but for its family, and its community.

And if you let it, it will make all the difference in the world for you. 

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You can read more from Lindsey on her blog or follow her on twitter (You should really do both)

 

International Women’s Day

WARNING: This is a rambling post of me processing out loud.  Please read it as such & join the conversation with that perspective in mind.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day.

I kind of stumbled upon that information.  I wasn’t even aware the day existed.

According to Wikipedia “The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty.”

I appreciate the heart of acknowledging and honoring women, and the theme is an important one.

But I’ll be honest… I have trouble with these kinds of days.

I guess I’m trying to unpack why that makes me uncomfortable.  There are some good things that have come as a result of a day like this but on the flip side I feel like in some cases it turns into reverse discrimination.  Somehow it feels like it gives us a right to elevate ourselves over the opposite gender for a day.  That doesn’t seem like a journey towards equality and respect.  It feels like we’re trying to flip the tables.

Of course I am horribly concerned about the oppression of women in some parts of the world.  I guess my fear is that days like this give women like me an opportunity toward arrogance and pride rather than a passion to be fighting for the women who don’t have a voice.

What do you think?

Don’t get me wrong.  I know there is good that has come from this day.  I guess I just wish it was International Injustice Day or something like that.  I wish it was more about fighting the injustice than elevating a gender.

Tell us your stories… what are some good things that have happened as a result of International Women’s Day?