Thank you Mr. President (& my sister)

A few months ago, with our Convoy of Hope interns, I spent time in the home of a woman who sold her daughter to gypsies in order to pay for food for her younger children. The team and I were profoundly affected.

Human slavery.

Slumdog Millionaire helped bring the issue to the attention of millions of people.  The movie won the Oscar for Best Picture last year.  In the film, beautiful children were enslaved by evil men.  In portions of the movie, their enslavement meant they begged on the streets for money they couldn’t keep. At other times, it meant allowing others to gain pleasure at the expense of the innocent. 

freedom

Kids should be free and safe and nutured…they should fly kites and enjoy life. And of course, no adult should be subjected to slavery of any form.

But slavery exists today all over the world…sexual slavery, slave labor and more.  It exists in my country and on every continent.

Today, our President proclaimed January 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Thank you Mr. President. Seriously. Great job on this proclamation.

I used to think that slavery and human trafficking were confined to the largest cities in lands far away. Unfortunately, it’s everywhere. A few months ago, I was in the midwest sharing about various things including human trafficking.  A woman spoke up about the trafficking she was beginning to witness in a town down the road from her…here in the United States. As she got to know the poverty stricken area better and better, she saw it more and more clearly.

I’m thankful for organizations like Project Rescue. Their Homes of Hope around the world provide a place of hope for women and their children who’ve been victims of sexual slavery.  They also have other places that reach out to those who’ve escaped slavery. 

I’m thankful for f.r.e.e. international where Michael and the gang are helping victims here in the USA. 

I’m thankful for Elizabeth.  Her compassionate heart, combined with various connections combined with a visit to Project Rescue as part of our Convoy of Hope Internship program.  She now helps with the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition. She’s passionate about the cause and has done a ton to raise awareness where she lives in Columbia, Mo.  I love that.

What a great awareness raising proclamation. May we realize a bit of what’s happening. May we do something about it!

My sister is doing something about it.  She wrote and produced a kid’s worship CD/DVD.  It’s called “One Life.”  The kids at her church, Hammond (IN) First Assembly sing with her.  What’s cool is that 25% of the proceeds will go to help Project Rescue.  She and these kids (and those who purchase the project) are a part of helping victims of human trafficking. I think that’s pretty cool.

onelife

May God help the victims of human trafficking and slavery tonight…

Thankful…

Here’s my official “Things I’m thankful for” post. 

Most nights as the day ends, I say to my wife, “Life is good.”  It is.  I’m a blessed man.  Here are some reasons why…

A God who sent His Son

A Son who gave His life and loves

A fabulous family…wife, little girl, parents, sibling, niece, nephews, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, in-laws, and even my sister’s in-laws.  Wonderful people.

Some really, really good and faithful friends I get to see regularly, and fabulous friends I’ve made around the world.   I miss them!

An army of prayer and financial supporters who partner with this opportunity with Convoy of Hope.

A church I love with a pastor who leads well.

Opportunities to serve at Mt. Sinai, Park Crest, OneHope, and now Convoy of Hope

Coffee…my wife just gave me some from Alterra Coffee Roasters, my favorite.

Music.  Johnny Cash & more.

cash

Health.

Nachos and other great food.

Slippers on a cool day.

The opportunity to mobilize people through the Convoy of Hope Internship.

Technology.  The internet is fun.

Freedom.

Billy Graham.

A sabbath day every now and then.

My life.

 

It’s not a complete list, but these are some things for which I’m thankful. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s making history?

rushmoreI’m in Rapid City, SD, for the Calibrate Conference, a conference for leaders and volunteers across the state.  It’s my first time here.  Today I saw Mt. Rushmore for the first time. 

Mt. Rushmore

In the gift shop, Nick Clifford was signing his book, Mt. Rushmore Q & A

 

He “thinks” he’s the last remaining worker from the crew that carved the mountain.  On the back of the book, James Popovich says,

“…to the workers, carving the memorial was ‘just a job.’  (They) did not realize  at the time that their work would become an icon, recognized around the world.” 

Mt. Rushmore don cliffordI wonder what we’re doing that will make history?  I have a hunch my church planting, teaching, coaching, parenting, convoy of hope interning, etc. friends and family are making history and don’t even realize it.

Back in the gym

Not that gym…

I did the math the other night, and figured that I’d been to about 500 youth services over the years at Park Crest A/G.  About 1/2 of them as a teenager and the other 1/2 as a youth leader then youth pastor.  It was fun to be back sharing on Wednesday…my first time in 7 years.

They meet in the gym.  As I told the students, it’s the same gym where I…

  • broke my foot
  • got my first job (scorekeeper at basketball)
  • preached my first sermon (March, 1991)
  • have my first memory of April
  • Set up/tore down, set up/tore down, (repeat a few thousand times)
  • watched the Rams win the Superbowl
  • about 1000 more memories

Now, my best friend from growing up, Jason, is youth pastor there.  He’s leading the group now…”Altered Reality”.  I shared there last Wednesday.  It was a special night.  He’s got a good thing going on.  The group is growing, they were passionate during worship, and committed a lot to Him at the end of it all.  I’m excited for their future.  They’ve also decorated the gym in ways I wish I would’ve imagined and tried to pull off…it looks great.

It was good to be in a place that seems like home as much as anywhere I’ve ever been  but a real home…

It’s important to have those places that mark times of growth in our lives.  Sometimes they’re physical places, and sometimes they’re just mental/emotional places.  Being able to go back can put the present and life’s direction in a good context.   200gym

I was once a soccer player

Yesterday, the team and I were in the room with Jorel who’s a soccer (futbol for my Spanish speaking friends) freak. Since he leaves with the team tomorrow for Haiti, and since he’ll have very little opportunity to view his game of choice, we watched some of the Manchester United game against Blackburn. Manchester United won. Great.

I’m not much of a soccer guy, but back in the day I was one scary, intimidating monster on the field.

It was 1980 just after Mt. St. Helen’s erupted. We were the volcanoes. Other than on playgrounds around the world, as an outmatched older guy against elementary kids, I’ve not played since.

dad

Communicating in 2009…crazy

So last night, while playing checkers and watching Little House on the Prarie (there are never any episodes surrounding Carrie…I’ve always wondered why), I sent a text to my twitter account, which automatically updates my facebook status, “I hear Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s are coming to Springfield.” Literally, this was true…I did in fact hear that.

Some people replied with joy and praises.
Some with skepticism.
Some with other comments.
Nate even claimed to have helped start the rumor. I’m pretty sure he’s telling the truth too…love that guy.

Then, a guy from P.F. Chang’s office contacts me today via twitter and is checking out the rumor. I haven’t yet heard for sure either way (but I’m thinking it’s not true…but I do enjoy Kung Pao Chicken).

In the olden days (like 2-3 years ago) it would’ve taken either waiting on hold for a long time or sending a letter/email with little chance of response. Now, you don’t even have to hunt something down, they’re trolling the web for references to them about which they can respond.

Anyways…a few thoughts. I’ll share the response I get from the P.F. Chang folk…

Detained at the inauguration…reminiscing

We now have a new President. What a historic day. I’m reminiscing…in both ’01 and again in ’05 just for fun I went to the inaugurations. Not boring.

In ’05, on the day before the ceremony, snow was falling in DC. Crews were setting up for the big event, and there were fences, chairs, platforms, giant tv screens, etc. everywhere.

We were on one side of the capital hoping to get to one of the Smithsonian museums. We were given directions that included the instruction to “follow the fence.” We did. The problem is that it was snowing, it was early (not a lot of people were out yet), and a large opening was created in the fence for some large machinery. We followed the fence…through the unintended opening and on the wrong side of the fence and couldn’t get out.

Oops. We asked a worker how to get out and he got a scary look on his face. Police were summoned. They asked a lot of questions. They walked with us to a warmer area and asked a lot more questions. They called in our license numbers/etc. They asked, “Do you realize that there’s a large scale event that will be held here tomorrow and the security is tight?” We did indeed realize this.

Anyways…I could be on a watch list somewhere. We were detained (a dramatic word) for about 30 minutes or so total. They let us go. That’s my inauguration story…

Dear Mr. President

The other day, I wrote an email to President Bush. The crazy thing is, he’ll actually get it. Will he read it? Who knows… Karl Rove had a deal set up where if you emailed his assistant, they would print it out, and hand deliver it to the former President. They’re going to give it to him sometime today. That email is between him and me, but I wanted to share some thoughts I’d share with President Obama if we could sit down for coffee or something…

  • Congrats…
  • I will pray for you…for wisdom, wise counsel, supernatural insights, and that you’ll walk in integrity. (The same types of things I prayed for Bush.)
  • We’re at a very exciting season in our country, and you have the respect and love of a vast majority of Americans. I join them in my hopes for a stronger, more respected, America.
  • I’m excited to see the impact you’ll have internationally. I look forward to seeing open doors, a deepending respect for America, and new opportunities for people from the USA to help others abroad.
  • Remember the poor! Please reach out to the fatherless and the widow…with respect, new opportunities and a belief that with resources in their community, they can escape poverty.
  • Thank you for your service to our country. I’m sure these will be a very exciting four years, but I know they’ll come at a sacrifice to your family and your personal freedom. Thanks for being willing to make this sacrifice for our country.
  • I’m gonna be praying for you!

Those are some of the thoughts I’d share over coffee with President Obama if given the chance.

And today…what a special day for our country, regardless of political persuasion. God bless America and God bless President Obama.

Lost…we watch it now

We’ve been watching Lost. Never saw an episode (except for one that was playing in an airport one time, but that doesn’t count.) Last fall, we watched one. Then another. Then another. Yep…we’re in the middle of season 4. We won’t be ready for the season premiere Wednesday night, but I suppose that’s ok. We’ll DVR it and then watch it when we’re ready.

Until Lost, The Office was the only show we followed. It’s a good show. Well written. I see the draw.

I fly a lot. I usually don’t get too scared (although that flight where I touched down in a storm and then we took back off again due to “wind shear” did spook me a bit), but I do wonder who’s around me. For me, the stories of each of the people are the most meaningful elements of the show. Everyone has a story…and Lost does a good job of telling them.

Hopefully, there aren’t such a high percentage of fugitives, criminals, etc. on my flights, but you never know. I have enjoyed traveling with some interesting people. Some of them about whom I know:

  • Terrorists being flown from S. America to the U.S. Two of them. The flight attendant told me about how they got on in hoods while handcuffed before anyone else. She said there were numerous armed marshalls surrounding them. She even told me where they were sitting. She could probably lose her job over that, but I thought it was interesting. I don’t think she was lying.
  • I sat next to Bill O’Reilly’s radio boss one time. In fact, it was 4 years ago tomorrow (on my way home from the inaguration). It’s my favorite flight conversation.
  • The lady I blogged about who spoke no English…or French…or any other major language (the flight attendant drew a chicken and a cow to get her choice at meal time. She’s from the middle of the bush in Mali, Africa.
  • A well traveled, lovely Christian woman (like my aunt’s age) named Amelie. W e still keep in touch on occasion.
  • A Seattle protester type lesbian. She was very kind, but I’m pretty sure she’s done a lot of protesting… I think she probably (unverified) threw stones during the WTO meetings in Seattle a few years ago. We had a fascinating conversation on much of the flight. She respected what I do and who I am, and I really enjoyed conversing with her. Quite informed and intelligent.
  • A TV producer from New Mexico. We had an amazing conversation. I told him I work with a Christian Disaster Relief organization, but when I mentioned the word “missionary” toward the end of the flight, it kind of spooked him (I think it’s because he used lots of bad words…but they really didn’t bother me…I really enjoyed our conversation). We’ve kept in touch some since then.
  • Some guy I didn’t recognize, but he was in first class (saw him as I was departing), wore boots to his knees, a big fluffy fur coat, lots and lots and lots of bling, sunglasses and had his shirt unbuttoned nearly towards his naval. The japanese tourists were getting photos with him…not sure who he was though…
  • Lots and lots and lots of other really cool people.

If I ever get stranded, these are some of the types with whom I’ll battle the “Others.”

Like I said, everyone has their story…and when I’m not ready for a nap, and when they’re not ready for a nap, I enjoy hearing the stories of the people around me. May God use me in those conversations to reflect Him well…

As a random bonus…in airports I’ve run into people like Karl Rove, Johnny Knoxville (does some show called Jackxxx), Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, and a really nice Christian singer named Al Denson. My friends Steve and Melissa met President (still elect) Obama…that would’ve really been cool. And I’m a bit of a nerd for recognizing Matt Drudge…I know.

 

lost

Starting early on my New Year’s resolution…

So…you saw my on-line New Year’s resolution…it’s to blog more. As I said, I wanted to be a bit more thoughtful (but not always long like this…wanna still be random at times too). This will perhaps approach that goal…

I head on Monday to the World Missions Summit in Cincinnati, OH. (BTW: I keep not spelling Cinicinnati correctly.) I’m excited. There will be many Convoy of Hopers there, but also some Book of Hope friends from the olden days. I’m even going to try and reconnect with some old roommates (Jason…Steve?) from those years for some Settlers of Catan (and prayer for the nations). Should be fun.

Our Convoy of Hope theme is “See it, sense it, live it.” I’ve been on a lot of missions trips. On most, people will say something like, “Man…I’ve never seen this type of poverty before…we have so much.” They’re seeing/hearing/smelling/tasting and feeling a need. I want to get beyond that. I pray they do too.
I want to really sense in my heart what God wants to do about it. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t hope we’ll pity those in need. There must be something more, but what is it? I think that answer depends on what God wants from us…our time, our money, our prayers, our minds, our words. What do I sense He wants from me? I suppose that’s a question I hope all on those trips ask. Then…I want to move to the actually doing something stage. I wanna live it. I want the people on those trips to live it too…not just in whatever country/city they serve but at home too. Life is a missions trip, you know.

Here’s a video. Our latest.