Sunday, September 12, 2010

My challenge...and yours

I have been challenged by a friend to share our God whispered to me when I was 16 through the life and writings of Bertha Holt, how He broke us in an orphanage in Vietnam when we met our daughter, and how He shouted through the words of Francis Chan and David Platt and Richard Stearns, moving our hearts toward Africa and setting us on a journey that even now is surprising us. 

I was hesitant though, hesitant still. I fear that folks will miss Jesus in this and see only our humanity and stumbling. My words seem inadequate, more passionate cries than clear pictures, and the careening nature of my days in this busy home are rarely conducive to reflective writing that might exhort those around me to listen, to hear Him and to remember this day and the next that we can't afford to waste our lives.

But two days ago...

I was watching this 3 minute film. Monte stopped his play and peered over my shoulder. When the words appeared on the screen, "Many African women walk 6 miles every day for water," Monte gasped. "Really, Mom? Every day? Why?" I explained the little I knew, and he disappeared, at my side again in just minutes. He had emptied his piggy bank, shaking out the coins alloted for gumballs and the dollars adding up to Legos.

"I want to build a well, Mom," he said.

And it was then that I realized how yet again God was speaking to me. So, Monte and I sat together and read up on wells in Africa and how to go about sponsoring something like that...just how many piggy banks would have to be emptied to make that happen. I tried for a bit to steer him toward something more affordable than a well...maybe water purification tablets or a hand-pump, as showcased on World Vision's site. "No, Mom," Monte insisted, "I want to help build a well...something that lasts."

And this conversation is why I am writing today.

I knew I needed to more clearly share, as my friend had challenged me, what we are learning and how we, as a family, are seeking to be Jesus' hands and feet. But it took this conversation with my 8 year-old to realize that I needed to share with If he can catch this vision, I want to challenge you to reach for this vision as well. This vision of living differently so that the rest of the world can live differently. To live each day remembering how few days we actually have to live.

And so, I am challenging you, readers, family and friends to join me on an adventure. Over the next month, I will be attempting to write every day, sorting this journey into words that might stir you too, to take a different path. What I would love, though, is to have you read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. He writes clearly, sharing stories and statistics that will educate you and break you. Perhaps you will be able to answer the question, "What does God expect of us?" and you will also be able to answer the question, "What does God expect of me?"

Monte is hoping to raise enough money by Thanksgiving to help build a well. Wouldn't it be the ultimate expression of gratitude to give back some of what He has given to us? So here is my challenge to you, dear ones. I will put $10 in Monte's well fund for each of you that reads The Hole in Our Gospel and tells me how you have been challenged. Already read it? Then take some time to reflect on what you are doing with this gospel, what you are doing with your life, and tell me, tell others, about it. You have until Thanksgiving, and you can e-mail me if you would rather leave a more anonymous comment. I hope to add some of your comments and e-mails to the blog, as my hope is that we can spur one another on, encourage each other, push each other, if need be, to not waste our lives.

Oh, and a perk to get you going? I will put all names of those taking this challenge (or those that have read the book already and write a reflection) and on Thanksgiving, I will randomly choose one person to receive a pound of Gobena coffee. Not a coffee drinker? Let me know, and we will get creative if you are the lucky draw.

By the way, do you know how much it costs to dig a traditional well in Africa? $2,600. I love that my boy is dreaming big. Thanks for considering walking this path with us and reading along. Here is my prayer for each of you, a Franscican benediction...

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word Who is our Brother and Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Please consider Glimmer of Hope and the project this family is raising money for.

Love your hearts for Africa....and beyond.

jan said...

been there, read it :)

and LOVED it! read it just before leaving for rwanda. came home a total mess. Lord willing, i am taking our six kids to rwanda for a month in january. only two went the first trip. we will serve anyone who will let us.

the book was instrumental to my africa journeys....


Christie said...

I'm in....just ordered it..have been wanting to read it! Hope to take it on our trip next week! =)
Look forward to reading your blog!

Ann said...

Sweet friend. I can't wait to read the book. God has given your son His heart. I am looking forward to spending the next month thinking more about how I can be the hands and feet of Jesus in a greater way! Thank you and blessings! Glad you know your light is shining!

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

I think I am on chapter 4 of Stearn's Hole in the Gospel ... reading with you.

Thank you, friend...

All's grace,

Anonymous said...

It has been a few months since I have read this book but I will try to put a few thoughts together.

This book caused me to think outside the walls I have built around my life. To put feet to my faith; action to my beliefs. The example Richard Stearns shows through the immense change in his lifestyle is inspiring.

There is no "hole" in the gospel. It is whole, the good news that Christ died for me. So I guess I am the hole. My life needs to be shaken up, to waken from what the world is telling me. I am living the American dream baby! Boy, it sure is uncomfortable to think about 147 million orphans, AIDS, sex slavery and Christians being persecuted around the world.

Yes, this book caused me to think. Not in the sense that I will change the world and there will be no more injustice; that's in the Lord's hands. I need to not feel discouraged that I can only do so little so why do anything at all.

And I need to put words to my faith. To not only act, but to share the Gospel as well. Why is that harder for me than action?

Sandi said...

I plan to order the book. I really don't have a whole lot of words. That prayer at the end...tears here.
God is stirring my heart. I am excited, feel alive and terrified all at the same time.

I made my way here from Tonia's place. Looking forward to reading and following the rest of these posts. Thank you.

jodilee0123 said...

I somehow linked to your blog starting with the Suburban Servant. I'm challenged. Just ordered the book--I hope I can get it read in time. I'm kind of slow. (I only have three kids--but they keep me challenged every day!)

Laura said...

I just ordered the book and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Amy Danielle said...

I just ordered my copy on Kindle. Planning to read it with my older boys.

sherri said...

Love your blog! Sounds like this book is similar to David Platt's Radical -Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream, which was a wake up call to me this past summer. I'll pick up Stearn's book today! Thank. You.

Ann said...

I just made a complete post about it on my blog. Life changing. It's a book that's hard to read--in so many ways--but I feel convicted in a new way and for that I am grateful and I am changed. Very challenging. Very filled with God's love, the teaching of Jesus, and hope for the world.