Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thankful Today for...

Clockwise from top left: Feeding finches at Omaha Zoo, Musing at a Missouri Civil War battlefield,
Silly time at Sonic with Caden & Hannah, Goodies at Gatorland in Orlando

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Taking Risks

Our friend Kristi in Thailand is pioneering a program called Embark, training young leaders to impact their world cross-culturally. In following her work with Youth For Christ, my thinking has been challenged in the areas of risk-taking and cultural perseverance.

Living and working together for a couple months in Chiang Mai, she and her trainees go through a serious time of being known, and thus, have serious potential for personal and communal growth. Renting motorbikes and trying new language skills are built into the schedule in order for the participants to be faced with doing hard things and to learn endurance in the face of fear. It puts me in mind of one of my worst fears...

Kristi & I in Germany (she's NOT my worst fear)

In Wichita, I was a volunteer youth leader with Young Life for several years. YL assigned me to an area high school, and my role was to show up and get to know students. Lunch periods, volleyball games ~ I just showed up and started talking to kids. It still amazes me that some of them actually talked back. They let me in, but it usually took a few awkward attempts at conversation over a few weeks. It took perseverance, and I was willing to endure because I wanted them to know Jesus.

Then at one of our weekly leader meetings, our area director asked a game-changing question: "Are you loving students so that they will come to Jesus? If so, then you're in the wrong place."

"Wait a minute ~ isn't that what I signed up for?" I wondered, my jaw beginning to set.

"Or are you loving them because Jesus loves them? If you love people with an agenda, then there will come a time when you will give up on them. If you love them because Jesus loves them, then it is by his power that you will love them."

And I melted. Why do I love my neighbor? Is it because of what he or she could do for me? Is it because they make me feel good or in control? Is it because I want to be the one to change their life? Do my motivations keep me from making risks in personal relationships for the purpose of honoring my friend and neighbor, or do I seek to honor myself in relationships?

I have many fears that keep me from loving well: fear of being known, fear of rejection, fear of being hurt. One of my worst fears, however, is that I will rely on my own power, seek the best seat for myself and will fail to endure.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  ~Colossians 1:10-14
Thanks be to the one whose glorious might it is that gives us all power to endure as we get to know people better and for the first time.

For more on Kristi's work in Thailand, check out the Embark website yourself and send a young person you know to it as well. She's praying for eight young leaders from four different countries for the training session that begins in February 2013. The blog post that inspired this one is below.

My Cup of Tea: Keep On Keeping On: Perseverance Cultural Intelligence is defined as our level of interest, drive and motivation to adapt cross-culturally (fro...