Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update from New Staff Training

For the last 3 weeks I've been at New Staff Training, both taking classes and seeking to find a clearer calling about where I should request to be placed for my ministry assignment for the next few years. I've also gotten a lot of time in being active on the beach (even though its really cold most days, surprisingly... one day was actually colder than it was in Vancouver) and connecting with other people here like me, who have been called to reach the world's college students and are about to be scattered throughout a largely unbelieving (sometimes, misunderstanding) world.

Our classes (Christian Theology and Bible Study Methods) have challenged me to live in a more Biblical way, not through a series of correlating rituals, but by recognizing what every passage in the Bible says about 1) man's fallen condition and inability to save himself and 2) God's role in redemption as a completion of man's fallen condition.

The classes have been great and, in many ways, are the biggest thing causing my faith to stretch at the moment. There are some lectures I think are lame, mainly ones about the end times and ones about calvinism/armenianism, but all in all, they've been a great source of encouragement to me. I feel like Bodie from The Wire, having grown up around "the game," knowing many of the basic concepts about it, but when you get taken under a kingpin's wing, like a Stringer Bell...well... you just take off. No longer a dope boy, not quite the big boss. More like a Lieutenant, somewhere in between.

Anyways, I've got about 2 weeks left here and am both really enjoying my time here with everyone and hopeful to get back to NC soon!

Thanks so much for your prayers and support!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

The New Year in the Big Apple (sort of)

I was so glad to get back in the saddle recently after a couple months of being burdened (in my own mind at least) by raising support almost excusively with Bridges Int'l! I've also been working at a restaurant part time to have some extra income (I wont tell you which one, but it is closed on Sundays and has been a great job for flexible hours and the people are fun... Also their mascot is a cow.). However, getting to go to the Vision Conference in New York City was just a great treat for me to see 300+ international students come to hear the Gospel for the first time or to hear it again if they had already become Christians.

The only disappointing thing is that, much like the Giants and Jets, we resided under false pretenses in New Brunswick, NJ, so it felt more like we were hanging, not with Broadway Joe, P Diddy, and Jay-Z, but instead with Jon Bon Jovi and Snooki, The Situation and the cast of Jersey Shore. It was still great though.

I spent lots of time on the Chinese Track, helping with seminars, etc, especially as the Audio Visual guy. It was a hard, but good time for me, as I am very technologically challenged, but taught me a lot and really made me take the posture of a behind-the-scenes servant, something I'm not accustomed to or particularly fond of.

Anyways, there are lots of stories, but one I will share. It reminded me of why I love working with international students and the great opportunity we have to share the Gospel with the nations here in the US.

Right before New Years, we had a NYE party in New Jersey (No hassle of Times Square for us!). Of course, there was a talent show (a staple of any foreign student party), the Electric Slide, the limbo, and a Conga line.

Then the music changed.

It was some song I had never heard, with tones of the Arabic world. It was catchy, but none of us knew how to dance to it. Except for 2 guys.

One was from Iraq. He was a UNC visiting scholar and will have tons of influence in his home country someday.

The other, from Afghanistan, a nation undergoing radical political transformation.

They began to dance, twirling their hands in a way that only Middle Eastern guys can artfully do without looking effeminate. Everyone circled around as the excitement, intrigue and amazement mounted. They danced for several more minutes until another song came on. Then the thought came to me:

"Where else in the world would two future leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan be able to hear the Gospel repeatedly for an entire week? To have their questions on faith answered? To seek truth in a non-Muslim context?"

I couldn't think of another place on the whole earth.

And that is why this job is so fulfilling in the spiritual realms.