“God took me on an adventure… He used my story, with all it’s screw-ups, for His glory!”
Along with serving great coffee right in my backyard, one of the things I love about 1000 Hills Coffee is the driving message behind their business. Jonathan Golden (Roswell, GA), their founder, started the company after being moved by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In fact, it “led Golden to start a coffee company that pays a fair wage to the farmers of Rwanda, helps them with their basic needs, and brings a quality product to coffee lovers.” Great coffee from a great company? Yes, please!
In the video below, Golden shares an important message about how we as Christians share the gospel:
“Every once in a while, God give us something big to do, but every day he gives us something small to do. Those small things make a difference.” – Jonathan Golden
I tend to forget the little things do make a difference — little things like drinking a cup of coffee. Not even where the coffee comes from, but also who I’m drinking it with (my wife, a friend, a coworker?). A few months ago Jen and I started a weekly Thursday AM “coffee date” — a standing 30 minutes each week to connect, catch-up, and talk about what’s on our minds… all over a good cup of joe. :) There have been mornings where we’re dead tired, but have tried to stay disciplined knowing that God will honor those ‘little times’.
After seeing the idea on Pinterest, Jen created this bucket of “prayer sticks” to include in our girls’ night-time routines. We wanted to be intentional in praying for specific people and things. It clever, unique, and our girls love it! (Now they close their eyes, pick out a stick, and get all excited!)
Earlier this week, Sophia (4 yo) pulled out the “Salvation stick” — the one that just says Salvation… where we, as parents, get the opportunity to explain what this means to our kids in the most simplest terms. The girls turned to me for an interpretation, and…
…I was speechless. <<Crickets>>
Like a clunker with a burned out engine, I stalled.
Thankfully, the kids probably didn’t think anything of the quick 5-second pause, and Jen stepped in and told them what we believe: God loved us so much that Jesus came to earth so we can have a relationship with Him. It’s not anything we did or can do, but because of His grace and love.
In a sense I know I was caught ‘off guard’, but I should be able to explain my faith to someone. Let alone explain it at it’s most granular level, right?
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
In any event, I’ll be ready next time my girls select that particular stick. :)
During an afternoon OC12 breakout yesterday afternoon, Doug Fields talked about different areas in our ‘spiritual basement’ that need to be addressed from time to time – time, drive, study, spiritual strength, refreshment and calling.
Each one of these areas can drain a leader’s time and energy – and so, need to be challenged though intentional effort.
One comment reinforced a belief that I’ve held onto for a long time. He said:
“Invite authentic community into your life. Make it a top priority.”
He used those two sentences to address the area of driven-ness of a leader.
Without authentic community, we are self-focused and don’t have people to keep us in check. Instead, intentionally invite people into your life.
Who do you have in your life asking you those tough questions / speaking into your life?
- Why did you make that decision?
- I’ve noticed this trend in your life – what’s up?
- Dustin, man up and do ____!
If we don’t have those people in our lives to ask us those questions, Doug compared this to “emperor with no clothes” story – the Hans Christian Anderson children’s story where the Emperor parades around with clothes that are invisible.
Those around him don’t say anything because they think that if they say something, they are stupid and ignorant. The ridiculousness continues until a child shouts, “The Emperor has no clothes!”
Here is a story of a ‘leader’ who did not have people speaking into his life.
No community whatsoever.
Prior to the opening session at the Orange Conference last night, Reggie Joiner (and team) revealed a few simple facts by highlighting the most diverse zip code in the US.
Zip 98118 in Seattle, WA is a 6 square mile area that accounts for 40,000 people, 59 languages and 60 nationalities.
In effect, the message was clear: more communities are becoming diverse / more people want to live in diverse communities.
In fact, 25% want to live in a culture that is diverse, while 60% don’t want to live in one that’s diverse.
As a father to multi-racial children (Dutch, Spanish, Filipino, Black = yes, we are the world, indeed!), this topic was one that piqued my interest. How do I (someone who is “white” [I say that because my appearance looks like that even though my mom is Dutch and my dad is Spanish]) communicate diversity and tolerance to my children?
Stats show that people are embracing diversity and rejecting those who show signs of intolerance. How do I align with a church (or my church, rather) that embraces all peoples of all different backgrounds?
What does “embracing diversity” look like? How do I do that in an almost 90%-white suburb of ATL? How do I do that in a multi-racial family/household?
In the end, no matter where my family “lives”, I want this message clearly and effectively communicated to my children. I want them to experience different cultures, cherish their heritage, and accept people simply because they are human.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
Simple enough. When we get granular, we are all broken people in need of a Savior. No matter our color, background, family history, income, political stance, etc, etc, etc. All of us, yes all of us, are called to embrace people. Because that’s what Jesus did.
“No expectations.” ~ Me, right now.
As I sit here listening to the hilarious entertainment at the start of the Orange Conference, I wanted to set expectations that there are no expectations these next few days.
I remain expectant (does that mean I’m contradicting myself?) that God is going to bring out some solid truths during the conference sessions.
I’m excited to participate, blog, listen, take notes, and… hopefully… pass along some of my takeaways with you.
Thank you for reading… and stay tuned!
(For the record, they did “covers” of Eminem (Middle School), The Righteous Brothers (Senior Pastors), Adele (Children’s Ministry), Aerosmith, Bonnie Tyler (parking lot workers), and Bon Jovi (volunteers) — all with funny lyrics detailing out what people’s “true” feelings are about these ministry areas.)
On a side note, immediately following these performances there was a killer “Because He Lives” (Bill Gaither) / Blessed Assurance (Fanny Crosby) /Revive Us Again (William Mackay) choir-cover. If it’s ever posted online, it will be a must watch (bound to give goosebumps!).
I am honored to be blogging for The Orange Conference this week. Thank you for reading and following along on Twitter (@dustinv, #thinkorange, #oc12)!
It is wild to think that three weeks ago we were in Haiti. Even now, weeks later, we are still unpacking our experience: changed perspectives, renewed vision, and impacted hearts.
If you’d like to watch, below is a 7-minute video of our 6 days in Haiti:
What a full week we have had here in Haiti! Words cannot begin to describe the range of emotions we felt over the last 5 days. We’ve had highs and lows, sharing these brief moments with the children here in Port-Au-Prince, specifically in Compassion project HA-353. Today, Compassion-Haiti operates a full office with 76 full-time employees currently serving 241 projects similar to 353. HA-353 alone has 347 “Compassion children” who fall under the Child Development Program (through sponsorship), and in total, Compassion-Haiti counts more than 72K registered children who receive education, medical care, meals, and the opportunity to hear the lasting message of Jesus. Taken into account that each one of those 347 children come from individual families (only one child per family), the actual reached/impacted family members is much, much more than that!
As mentioned yesterday, as a team (broken up into two groups) we were able to visit the actual homes of a couple sponsored children. While we saw the poverty over the previous few days, this gave us a chance to actually step into someone’s home and experience it first-hand. In many cases, multiple people live in a single bedroom ‘house’ and live on dollars a day. In fact, seventy-five percent of the population in this community is unemployed. 75%!? It was heartbreaking and sobering to take in.
On top of that, it was gut-wrenching to hear the stories of nearly everyone this week about how the earthquake affected them two years ago:
- Dave & Marilyn (the operators of the guest house we’re staying in) just left Haiti hours before and had to get updates via satellite phone on the state of Villa Ormiso.
- Johnny (our Compassion translator/driver) just dropped off two Compassion representatives to a high-end hotel and ended up having to walk home (miles!) just to get an update on his wife.
- 62 children that were a part of Compassion’s Programs in Haiti died as a result of the earthquake, and a total of 434 died overall (which included the children’s family members, project staff and pastors).
- 4,638 houses were destroyed and over 14K houses damaged as a result of the earthquake (of those a part of Compassion’s programs).
And, that is just the TIP of the iceberg. We’ve heard stories of people who still won’t sleep in concrete-ceiling houses because of fear that they’ll collapse. Even now, over two years later, there still are tent cities where Haitians have made their homes. It’s eye-opening to realize that a country that is less than a couple-hour flight from Miami has been so devastated.
With all that we experienced and saw this week, I want to remember that God’s hand is at work and His name is to be praised about all things. One of the ladies we visited with yesterday was a true-picture of eternal-gratefulness. She was 80+ years old, took in a 10-year old boy, got hit by a bus in downtown PAP, isn’t employed, her tin-roof is leaking, no electricity or plumbing, and was reliant on her church for much of her provisions. Through all of this (and I’m certain this was only a glimpse into her life) she emphatically told us, “God is good. He is generous and gives many, many blessings.” Wow.
As we reflect on this amazing week, I want to remember those words: God is good. No matter what I see or experience, He is good. No matter how “good” my life may seem, He is good. No matter how difficult my situation appears, He is good.
Today was a good day. We were given the opportunity to spend our last day at the actual Compassion Project today where we spent the first half of the day just having relational time with the kids — jump-rope, games, candy, soccer, pictures. It was a blast!
After a quick lunch, we broke off into two groups where each group visited two homes of children being sponsored through Compassion. If the poverty hadn’t hit us yet, I’m sure this experience served as a humbling one for each team member. I’ll plan to share more tomorrow about some of my thoughts, but it was heartbreaking to see some of the conditions that they live in. We were able to bless them with a small gift (food, rice, etc) and, in turn, they were the ones who showed us the meaning of gratefulness to God for/in all things.
As I’ve served alongside of these ten students this week, I’ve learned one things more than anything: our students have a passion to serve.
This new generation of students has a passion to see God’s name lifted high among all nations, all people, all over the world. And, probably more than anything else, they can do this in the simplest of ways.
After being given the unique opportunity and responsibility to serve alongside Compassion International this week, we have spent hours and hours with children in their Child Development Program. We have talked, cried, and bonded with children, teenagers and adults. Each one has a unique and special story that is worth hearing. And, in turn, each student has pointedly invested love into each child’s life by serving, playing, hugging, and listening. It’s the simple things, right?
And each student with us this week has shown me over and over that they have a focused desire to passionately extend God’s love to every corner of the earth. If not Haiti, then in their schools. If not overseas, then neighborhoods. They have learned that faith is active and in pursuit of something Greater. They have resolved to make His name famous regardless of the location!
As the ‘senior’ of the group (I even had to tell one student to not call me “Mr.” on Day:One!) I am able to take a step back and smile… and see a generation of students serving others, giving of themselves, and literally living out lives of compassion and hope.