People who don’t know me think I’m crazy when I say I turned down an anchor job in one of my favorite cities to pursue a calling as a youth minister. But friends and family have all had the same response: “Finally!”
You know, pastors and journalists actually have a lot in common. Both speak up for the rights of those who don’t have a voice (Proverbs 31:8), both devote themselves to serving their communities (Mark 10:35-45) and both are motivated by something greater than themselves (Galatians 2:20) – at least the ones I’ve had the pleasure to work beside.
The same question continues to pop up though. Why?
In the bush of Northern Uganda, clean drinking water comes in bottles not sinks, the nearest hospital is a 45-minute drive and evidence of the 20-year war against Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army remains everywhere.
3 years ago, the Acholi people had no concept of joy, forgiveness was too risky and the word, grace, didn't even exist in their language.
No smiles. No playgrounds. No hope.
Why would you go to Africa when there are needs here in America? Was it life-changing? Are you glad to be back?
I never thought describing a 6-day visit would be so difficult. But the more I explore outside my comfortable air-conditioned apartment the more I yearn to learn from my neighbors abroad.
Six months ago, I landed back in Birmingham, Alabama. Yet, even now when the Africa trip is brought up the same question unfolds: Did the trip help you see how blessed we are here? My answer doesn’t always get the best reception.
It started last April. My small group and I traveled to Haiti with Mission of Hope. Enthusiastic about what I saw, learned and experienced, I wrote a blog post about the trip to share with family and friends.
Jesus explained in the Parable of the Talents: the only way to misuse your talents is by not using them at all (Matthew 25:14-30). I felt I had missed a great opportunity to share what Christ was doing in Haiti. Even though I don't work full-time at a church or for a nonprofit, as a follower of Christ I am called to live on mission (Matthew 28:18-20)--and that means using my gifts to bring God glory.
I didn't volunteer to coach U12/U14 soccer because I love the sport. I never played in college or high school--and I'm pretty sure I was the bench warmer for the one season I played in middle school. But there's something special about sports ministry.
Through challenging practices and close-games, a team becomes a family. It's in those moments that a coach can have an impact bigger than the sport itself.
Ready: "For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;" -1 Corinthians 1:26-27
“And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” –Luke 9:23
I was recently able to go on a mission trip to Haiti (April 13-20th, 2013). My friends and family supported me as I prepared to work with Mission of Hope Haiti for a week, so I wanted to share with them here how the trip went.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."