Saturday, February 28, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
- Run 3-5 times a week
- Run a marathon (yikes!)
- Build two long-lasting friendships with Africans (a month later, this goal seems to be way too low)
- Read 12 books (1/month)
- Read through the Bible twice.
- Memorize at least 1 whole book of the Bible (probably James or Colossians).
- Spend time alone with God daily
- Fast once a month
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This week has been a very busy one, as we are currently having the J-Life International Summit here at Camp Eden. Eleven different countries are represented here by their country leaders: Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and the most recent addition to the J-Life team and only non-African nation, J-Life USA, which is based out of New York. We are also privileged to have Dann Spader here, founder of Son Life Ministries and President of Global Youth Initiative, as well as Steve Hudson, a long-time Son Life guy as well, and currently on the GYI staff with Dann. The country leaders are being trained in things such as recruiting and coaching leaders, developing boards, developing budgets, funds development, team building, team cohesion, and overall improved communication.
I have been lucky enough to be able to break away from the normal training this week to join in the Summit. We have been hearing exciting reports from all of the countries represented about disciple-making movements sprouting up all over the continent. Next week two leaders will be sent into Tanzania, where leaders from the tribal bush area have already been chosen to be trained to lead disciple-making movements in their regions. Other efforts are spreading into Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, and Madagascar. God is moving on this continent!
How you can pray this week:
- That God would continue to provide vision and leadership for J-Life
- For spiritual and physical renewal for the country leaders
- For a sense of community and cohesion among the different countries and their leaders
- That the Spirit would continue to move as workers are trained and sent out in His Name!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Thanks so much to all of you who have kept me in your thoughts and prayers over the past few weeks. Taking the step into full-time missions has been something on my heart for several years now, but I must admit that when the time came to go, it was a big leap of faith and one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. As I arrived here the first night, we were driving down the 7-mile dirt road driveway back to the training center, stopping occasionally as jackals ran across the road, and I remember thinking, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?!” More than three weeks later, all of those initial fears are gone, as I have built many solid relationships here, have been welcomed into the community, and have truly seen God move daily.
I am a part of a community of some 45-50 young people who are being trained to come alongside the local church in Africa and plant disciple-making movements of youth. We are living in a dorm-like situation. I am living in a room with three other guys: Praise (from Malawi), Sabin (Congo Brazzaville), and Sampson (Zambia). Other trainees here come from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Swaziland, and of course, myself from the US. Needless to say, I am getting quite the cross-cultural experience!
The training is pretty intense. Our first three days here, we went out into the bush, with very few supplies, used machetes to cut down trees and build shelters, and basically just tried to survive! It was a pretty neat experience, and a good bonding time for everyone. For the last couple weeks now, we have been back on Driefontein Farm, where the J-Life training center is located. It is a really beautiful place—several thousand acres of mountains, rivers, lakes, and wildlife. Guys go hunting here a lot, and last week we killed a wild boar...and then ate him for dinner! We joked about how we were eating “Pumba” from the Lion King!
So far our training here has included things like spiritual gifts, personality tests, leadership and vision, and the DNA of disciple-making movements. It has been really powerful to plow through some of these topics together as a community. More than anything else, however, the core of the training revolves around our own spiritual health and maturity. We are held accountable to spend time alone with God daily, we pray together corporately, we are memorizing Scripture together, all in an attempt to be a holy community, set apart for God. The discipline has been great for me.
On top of spiritual “boot camp,” we are in physical training as well. I run daily with the guys here, which is pretty intense over the hills and mountains on the farm. We are also at a high elevation, over 7000 feet above see level (higher than Denver), so I am just now getting used to the thin air. So far my longest run has been just over 6 miles, but I am working towards a half marathon by April. I also swim across one of the lakes almost every day, with my longest swim being about half a mile so far. It feels great getting back into physical shape. It’s summer here, and the weather is blazing hot, somewhere in the mid-90s most days, so a daily swim is almost a necessity!
I received a great piece of advice before I left from my friend and former mentor, Karl Black, who said, “If you are able to see yourself as a learner, you will grow immensely over the next year.” I have truly tried to take those words to heart in my time here. While I have more formal education and ministry experience than most of these guys, I am still able to learn so much from them—from their cultural backgrounds, from their life experiences, and from their hearts and passion for the Lord. I truly am learning so much every day and growing in my understanding of other people, as well as in my relationship with the Lord.
Here are some ways that you can be praying for me:
-that I would continue to develop deep relationships with the guys here
-that I would stay focused on my relationship with God above all else
-that I would remain free from homesickness
-that God would continue to reveal His plans for my future, and that I would have the courage to follow His leading
Thanks again to all of you who are praying! I could not be here if it weren’t for your love and support! Please know that I am praying for all of you as well!
Alive in Africa,