Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Arms Opened Wide

Sunday night I went to a church about 45 minutes outside of Little Rock to share about missions in Uganda. Since any place more than 15 minutes away from Little Rock seems rural to me, I knew I would be going to a little, bitty town. I drove up to the church at the last possible second, not on purpose, but because I took a small detour (meaning a wrong turn).
I slipped in and quietly sat in the back. The church building itself was small and only about 35 people filled the pews. That was a relief to me since my fear of speaking seems to be much less in smaller groups.

Service was opened with a prayer and then we all sat to begin praise and worship. This was quite different for me. Praise and worship in Africa is a moving experience and I mean that literally. Even the church that I attend usually here on Sundays, we rarely sit during any kind of music. But, since everyone sat down, I also sat down. And actually, being the shy person that I am, I actually liked it. I didn't have to feel self conscious at all, but was able to close my eyes and sit in the presence of my God.
At one point I looked up and sitting about 3 pews in front of me was a man who was about 80 years old. He had his arms open wide, lifted up, reaching out in praise to God. I don't know why this moved me so much. I knew this man was in total awe of God, completely in love with Him. It touched my heart to see a man to be able to completely abandon himself to worship.
I also began to think of how heaven will look. So many people worshipping God in so many ways but not judging each other as to which one is right or which way is the best.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Travel Plans

I am so excited! I was supposed to be going back to Uganda in July and since July seems so far away I've been regularly praying that God would help through the next three months. Well, it seems He did something even better. I get to return to Uganda on May 15. It seems it is cheaper to travel in May than it is to travel in July. That is definitely ok by me.
There's so much to do before then though. Since I wasn't expecting to leave for 3 more months and being the great procrastinator that I am, I haven't done much in raising support. This means the next 3-4 weeks, I'm really going to have to get busy.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Young Adults: A Force of Change Within the Church

Who says you have to be eligible for a senior discount to be a person of faith in the church? I know several young adults that have a faith that I admire. I know that they are still growing and maturing in their walk with the Lord, but they also have a steadfast love for Christ that can be learned from.
So many times, young adults are neglected or seen as a not so important ministry within the church. This seems strange to me because at the same time they are a group that is called on to serve in the church. Frequently, it is not enough that they serve in only one ministry. Since they have nothing else to do, they should be there any time the church doors are open to serve in every facet of the church. Can you hear my sarcastic tone?
Many times the leadership of churches sees this group as an immature,impulsive, and reckless group and find the easiest way to deal with them is to just simply ignore or oppress them. Instead of being challenged to grow in their giftings, they are often used for the menial or scrap tasks that no one else in the church wants to do.
But, I think if the young adults were viewed differently, such as a vibrant and vital part of the church, they could be used to help the church grow and change in dynamic ways. Most young adults are still in love with God with total abandonment. Their love is still fresh. They are transparent, vocal and passionate. They have a heart for studying Scripture and seeing lives transformed. They are an untapped source of growth and strength for the church. But, perhaps it is easier for the leadership of churches to press this group into the shadows of the church rather than to be challenged by them.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Church: To Heal or To Hurt

Well, this week was back to school after spring break but thankfully we were provided with an easy transition back to school in the form of early dismissal every day but Friday. These last few hours without the children left me with some quiet, alone time to think through some things that have been troubling my heart these last few months.
I have really been struggling with church, not the fact of going to church, but really why is there a church. I think many people in my generation are looking for so much more than what the church today looks like. I think many of us want a transparent community of people to worship with, to grow with, to pray with, to love others with and to draw others to Christ with. Instead many of us find ourselves hurt by the church, isolated from and within the church and constantly being frustrated. Many of us are seeing the church as more of a business than a place of love.
For example, I have a dear young friend in Uganda. He is an AIDS orphan and was on the streets. A church took him in as a teenager. They housed him, provided food and schooling for him and gave him hope. This year was his first year in university. During the fall semester, right before finals, the church told him that they would no longer be helping him. Their reason was that it was easier to get money to help young children. People would give more money if the church were helping cute little kids. My friend now has no where to live and is finding himself searching for a reason to have hope again. I am so very thankful that one thing he did gain in his years under the church's care is his steadfast love for Christ. That is all that keeps him going. I talked to him briefly this past weekend. He is not in school this semester and is just scraping by. He is in this predicament, not because of anything he did wrong, but because it was better business to help little children.
After all my hours of thinking this week, I still have no conclusion. I just pray that this generation will continue to strive to be a generation that will live our lives as a representation of Christ's love, that we will be the church regardless of what boundaries the physical church walls try to put around us.