504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On Summer and Summer Camps

Pray now. Pray for youth camp. I am privileged to be able to preach at four camps this summer--Skycroft in Maryland, Jonathan Creek in Kentucky, Great Escape in Mississippi, and Camp Caswell in North Carolina.

Many of you who honor me by reading this blog are involved with youth ministry. So you know that summer means summer camps. Youth groups will hit the road throughout the summer. In addition to the "big" camps--Student Life, Centrifuge/MFuge, Fun in the Son, Great Escape, Youth camps put on by state conventions--there are lots of small camps, some even "one church" camps.

All of them are staffed by adults who are passionate about seeing kids become followers of Jesus and become disciples. These incredible adults will stay awake beyond imagination, plan creative ways to study the Bible, play some great games, and listen late into the night as students visit and re-visit what it might mean to take some risks in faith.

All sorts of students are at these camps. There are students who made a profession of faith in Christ as a child and are now examining that faith as an abstract-thinking young adult. There are friends of the faithful who have never been to church or church camp in their lives. They are at camp because a student in a youth group convinced them that it would be the funnest week of the summer. And their eternity will change as they hear and process the Good News.

There are skeptics, seekers, believers, blamers, fakers, takers and difference-makers. They are students and the Holy Spirit is relentlessly pursuing them because adults loved Jesus enough to create the environment called camp.

We can pretty much imagine what is going on at camp--arrival on Sunday or Monday, getting into the rhythm of camp on Tuesday or Wednesday, establishing trust, getting comfortable, barriers breaking down...winding down on Thursday and Friday and heading home...followed by nonstop sleep until church on Sunday.

Prayer is critical at every stage, right up to the prayer for parents and church members to fan the flame of camp instead of throwing water on the fire. Pray for the thousands of students who go to camp this summer that they don't get over it. Pray that a generation will teach an entire convention what it means to reach lost friends without any fanfare--just life on life, ropes courses, and late night junk food.

To God be the Glory.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

On thinking about the Great Commission

I have a lot to learn. I know that the leaders of our convention are good men with hearts for God and with a passion for the message of redemption in Jesus to be known across the world. I believe that the mission field is ripe for harvest, both in the United States and abroad. I believe that there are “unreached people groups” in every corner of every city, county (parish), and state in the USA as well as in every country in the world.

This is on my mind because I am in the airport in Cancun, waiting to catch a plane for Havana, Cuba where I will (with my co-laborer in ministry Tim Searcy) work with Cuban students who are also professors and pastors. They will take my notes, such as they are, and translate them, correct the cultural difficulties, and make them their own. Then they will take their lessons and teach pastors, youth ministers, children’s workers, and laypersons all over Cuba. So far, over 1800 followers of Christ in Cuba have been trained by Cuban professors.

As we had to get to the airport 4 hours ahead of our flight in order to buy a ticket on Mexicana Airlines, we were able to sit in a coffee shop and watch the worship service at my church, FBC of New Orleans via internet streaming. Our waiter looked over our shoulders and Tim was able to witness to him and to lead him in a prayer of decision for Christ. A lady from TGI Fridays (Selena) walked out where we had found a plug to recharge computers (where I sit now) and Tim was able to witness to her in Spanish as well.

My point is this. What if instead of making such a big deal about redirecting funds to the International Mission Board (which I do not necessarily oppose), we spent our personal funds and energy simply learning another language? It is said that if you speak three languages, you are trilingual, and if you speak two languages, you are bilingual, but if you speak only one language, you are an American. I can converse enough in Spanish to tell the security lady who just came by that I am boarding a flight in an hour. But I do not know enough to share the Gospel and respond to her questions. And that is to my shame.

I wonder what might happen if I–if all of us–pick a language and learn it well. I need to pick up both Tagalog (Filipino) and Spanish which are used in the two places that God has seen fit to allow me to minister the most. I have seen faces light up when I tried to learn the language–it is a sign of respect and a pathway to sharing the Gospel.

Rosetta Stone, here I come.