Two days before Christmas I got a call from a friend asking me to come and staff the justice-focused DTS (Discipleship Training School) in Kona, Hawaii for the next three months. After prayer and relinquishing all the happy expectations I had for this time, I felt like God said, “Go. This is an opportunity I’ve opened for you.” So with only days to prepare, I arrived here on Monday night. It’s been a delightful adventure so far, and I expect to have some great things to report in the coming weeks!
In the meantime I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am for friends like you who faithfully read these entries, pray, support, and converse with me through your comments. You have no idea what a blessing it is to log on and see that some sweet friend has dropped in and left a note of encouragement or some thoughts to chew on. You are part of a small army who keeps me encouraged, supported, and challenged. THANK YOU, (or as they say in Kona “mahalo”), for being a part of this adventure!!
“One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purposes,
and yours may be that life.”
– Oswald Chambers
For the past two weeks I’ve been in South Carolina listening to the stories of old friends and new friends. Something is afoot with people all over. From Hungary to Hawaii, from the Mason-Dixon line to the Bible Belt people are restless and tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol. In this South Carolina community known for church hopping, friends are giving up even on the hope of finding the missing piece in the church across the way. They’re asking (at last) questions that could lead us right into a twenty-first century Reformation: “Where are people experiencing grace?” “Where are broken people sharing their lives in authentic community?” “Where are weary ones resting in the love of the Father?” “Where are weak and the poor being cared for?” “Where is the kingdom?”
Religion has set itself up for a fatal blow. If these questions are left unchecked they’ll lead into something as new as tomorrow and as old as the dance between the Father, Son and Spirit: If we’re not careful such dangerous questions might lead to the end of religion itself to a wide-open movement that follows Jesus into the radical, unorthodox ways of the kingdom.
I feel stalled in the update department. Any of you who have tried keeping a weblog probably know what I’m talking about. Even thought there’s tons happening in my heart, I just can’t quite make it sound interesting and coherent enough to post.
The Budapest DTS, (pictured below), was a small school filled with warm, passionate people. The joy of the week was living together in one house with a sweet community with seventeen believers from five different countries.
This week I’m in Colorado Springs with another whole group of students in the School of Strategic Missions. This class is filled with bright students who leave me wondering if I’m actually smart enough to teach them anything.
One of God’s best gifts to me has always been the honor of working with young people. They constantly force me reexamine my ideas, rethink the way I live, and to jump up and down on my brains when necessary. Countless times the Holy Spirit has used young people to help me see His Kingdom with clearer vision. And this week He’s doing it again.
I’m pretty sure the high point of today will be a walk in the woods I just enjoyed with my friend, Ronnie. Our conversation moved noticeably from preoccupation with the size of our problems to wonderment at the size of a tree. Once again the beauty of God’s creation has been therapy to my heart.
I’m back in Maryland at my Mom’s house enjoying a few days of relaxation. It’s been a daily challenge not to get all bogged down in the daily doses of politics being served up by the media. As a Kingdom person I’m fascinated by all the ideas and dialogue, but I have to keep reminding myself that America, (wonderful as it is), is a fallen kingdom at best, temporal and steeped in materialism, pride, and the love of money. It’s not the real kingdom that will smash all the others to smithereens. (Daniel 2:35) Any hope grounded in America itself rather than in the eternal reign of the King is both misplaced and empty.
Of course that’s not easy for me. As someone who has grown up under the shade of American security, it’s quite alarming to see our foundations beginning to crack at breakneck speed. And a leisurely walk through the woods can be a sweet reminder of the mustard seed kingdom that’s growing under our feet.
I just received a note from a dear friend who asked if I’m about to pull out of Sarajevo. I guess I haven’t been too clear about that, but I actually will be pulling up my stakes on Wednesday, day after tomorrow.
This move has been a long time coming. And I’m not too clear about where it will lead. What I know for now is that God spoke to me awhile back that I was to move on from Sarajevo. This will no longer be my primary address, though I DO feel I’ll continue to play a role here in Bosnia, and will most likely be traveling in and out for years to come. There’s just too much “home” here to leave completely, and besides that I feel in some ways that I’m just getting to the place where I can be effective.
The next few months are shaping up with travel and teaching in various YWAM bases in Europe and the US. There’s a real expectancy in my spirit about the coming adventure of having to trust God “on the road.” This weekend I’ll be celebrating the marriage of my nephew (Doug) in Pennsylvania, followed by a short visit with my Mom and family in Maryland. After that, Budapest, Colorado Springs, and Kona Hawaii.
As always I value the prayers of all of you who keep up with me via this blog. There are so many unanswered questions that have me standing on tiptoe. The kingdom is such a vast place, and the opportunities are staggering. Stay tuned!
If you’ll remember a few months ago I was talking about “Nathaniel”, whose real name is Amer, and who told me he “felt like he’d been waiting his entire life to hear about Jesus.” It’s been about a year now since we first met, and he’s been a breath of fresh air to me with his pure heart and courageous testimony. About a month ago he even made the tough choice of quitting his job rather than continuing the pattern of stealing in place among his co-workers.
Well…. today he he was granted a visa that will enable him attend the YWAM Discipleship Training School in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning September 27th. He’s had his heart set on a DTS since I first mentioned it to him last fall. And with his visa and his acceptance into the school it seems God is granting him the desire of his heart.
I got all teary-eyed when he came bouncing out of the American Embassy with the good news. He’s so excited to get some training so he can come back to Bosnia and share his faith with his friends.
Please be praying for Amer. The US will be an adjustment for him, and there’ll be new challenges every day. He’ll also need financial help for the school, the travel, and his outreach to Africa. So if you’d like to help, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll let you know how you can do that.
Until now I wanted to respect Amer’s privacy by not posting his photo.
But he’s been ready to “go public” for awhile now.
PS: I leave in the morning for five days of teaching in Bulgaria. I”ll be needing prayer, too!
Just a few lines of update until I can put together something more substantial.
Sarajevo days are getting appropriately shorter as my time here draws to a close. With only a bit over two weeks left, I’m trying to get in as much time with friends as possible. The time with Adam and Brian was like a cold drink on a hot day: lots of sweet encounters, stimulating conversations, and memorable experiences. I’ll be flying to Bulgaria on Wednesday, Sept. 3rd to teach on the Kingdom at the YWAM National Staff Retreat there. Of course I’m excited as always. Prayers are appreciated. The students will be full time YWAM staff and career missionaries. So I feel appropriately humbled and needy of grace. Thanks for reading!
Camp week in Romania was an exhilarating experience. The 40-50 young people were some of the most eager students I’ve had yet. Lots of great discussions about the Kingdom, prayer times with individuals looking for their place, and simply drinking in the beauty of the little village of Prod. After an unplanned session on grace, one young friend sat down across from me and said “So… you slaughtered a few sacred cows today, didn’t you?” I’m always saddened at the narrow understanding most believers have of the grace of God. It’s no wonder we’ve become known for our legalism and judgmental attitudes. Back in Sarajevo I’m hosting two dear American friends, Brian and Adam. It’s been a real gift from the Father to have the rich, daily fellowship we’ve been enjoying. Tomorrow we head for the Croatian Coast for a few days before escorting Brian on to Genoa, Italy, for Architectural studies. I feel so blessed.
This is the little village of Prod, Romania, site of last week’s camp. The second photo is of a few of the students.
I’m sure some of my friends are wondering how the capture of Radovan Karadzic, (the accused war criminal), has played out itself out here in Sarajevo. It’s been a quiet response. I think people have just taken a collective sigh of relief. Hopefully justice will be served by the Hague, and Bosnia will be able to move another step towards healing. It was encouraging that the Serbian police arrested him rather than the international police force. That, too, will be a positive step in relations between Bosnia and Serbia.