Monday, January 31, 2011

Anthony sent me a piece a while back to include in our curriculum. He called it "An Old Man with an iPod." Here is an excerpt from that:

Who me?

If you were to ask me in the spring of 2010 if I'd want an iPod, I would have said no way. I'm “Baba Computer” and I like a real computer, something we a screen you can see. However, the Lord had other ideas for this old man. Through a string of events I ended up with an iPod Touch before leaving to return to Nigeria for the first time after having cancer. It had been nearly a decade. I had strong feeling that the Lord wanted me to have this newfangled toy, that He wanted to teach me something.

Sure enough, one day as I'm walking down the streets of Kagoro on my way to lead a training session, I put my ear-buds in and turn on some old music that I used to listen to when I was a young man in my twenties. The next thing I know I'm transported from Kagoro to somewhere else. It was not back home in the USA. No, it was into worshiping the Lord with the old music that had been so dear to me. It was as if I were walking on cloud nine.

I had always known music is powerful, but I really hadn't experienced this kind of thing before. I'd never had an iPod that brought back the old music and made it so clear and even loud in my ears that it drowned out everything else. I thought to myself, "No wonder the young people love these things. Oh, I so wish they all were listening to music that praised God!"
Music is powerful, and it can carry you before the throne of God or it can bring you to the depths of despair and destruction. In fact, some music drives people to such a frenzy that they will harm or even kill others. This new technology is such a wonderful tool. As Dr. Yohanna Byo once shared with me, the computer can be a tool for us to know God better or we can become slaves to the computer. I can't think of a more succinct way to put it.
. . .
[Think also of] how powerful the worship of God is. In our lives there are many powerful influences – healthy ones like love of our family and friends, the joy of sex in a marriage, and the gratification of doing your work well, to name a few; and unhealthy ones like drugs, sex out of a marriage with one wife, and violence as examples. Yet, none of these compare to the real worship of God. Maybe that is part of the sense of what Jesus taught in Luke 14:26:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

Of course, Jesus didn't mean for us to hate our family, but our love for him is to be so much greater that in comparison with our love for God our love for them seems so insignificant.

As a young person, that may not seem reasonable. I know for me, I was walking with the Lord many years before I realized this and started experiencing it in worship.1 It is true. If you continue to walk with the Lord, you will know it too, so that those times when the music in your iPod leads you to be walking so closely with the Lord no matter what is happening around you, will be great times of joy. Then you'll be able to thank God for the technology he has given you. Just keep in mind that God does not lift us up so much so we can constantly be listening to our iPod, but to fill us up so we can take the ear-buds out and reach out to the hurting ones of the world, serving them and cleansing their wounds and bringing them to the feet of Jesus that they may know him, too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pressing prayer requests

Our hearts are stilled by the grief in Jos, but time will not stop advancing, nor has our calling ceased. Here is a summary of our current prayer requests, sent along by Anthony:

With all the trouble in Jos it has been very hard to communicate. We need some info so we can move forward with planning. In particular, please pray for:

* Peace for our brothers and sisters.
* Determining the costs for the workshops this summer. We need to know:
** Cost of having enough computers to train the teachers
** Cost of printing
* Continue to work out the plan with ECWA and TEA3.
* Planning for the Transformational Education Center (TEC)

Thank you for praying; it really does avail much:
“I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.” Thomas Lye

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebration shattered

"Things are not yet normal, we can not move around freely now because there are still a lot of silence killings in the city.
Things have been really terrible for us, we were hit so badly in this present round of crises from December 24th (bomb blasts) and January 8 massacred. . . Please, pray for me, it has been very devastating for us in the family, church and the community"--Christie, Jos, Nigeria

Oh, Father, we are wounded, and I nigh at a loss to go on while our partners grieve. We continue to pray for peace, continue to work towards better things, continue to believe; but to hear her sorrow from across the ocean, the prayer and work and faith seem cold sans this:

"I should be there."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Not results, but legacy.

"Too often the church buys into the five-year plans of the business world. But God tends to work in five-generation plans. He moves over the years and generations. It often took a generation for the gospel to take root in a place, so why are we so unwilling to spend time, even our entire lives, to see the gospel go forward?" – Anthony Petrillo, TEN3 Curriculum and Material Writers Guide.

Somehow, as God gradually began to stir my heart for being active in missions, He was also growing my respect for those who devote their entire lives to service – the kind of long-term service from which they may never see great results, but the impact of which grows for generations. A five-year plan might have a fifteen-year impact. But a five-generation legacy of continual sowing can yield a harvest of immeasurable magnitude. That is what I want to be part of; and that is a key reason I love TEN3.

Another example Anthony likes to use is of wood, since he likes working with it. Thorn wood grows quickly. It is light and easy to carve. Thus, pieces made with thorn wood are cheap and do not last long. Mahogany, on the other hand, is a tree that grows slowly. The trees are strong and long-lived, and items made out of this expensive wood are strong and last a long time. There is a place for thorn-wood items, but we want to build something valuable and long-lived, like mahogany. It will take much time and hard work, but will be more than worth it.

"So is this what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life?" E asked me after I came back from Nigeria this summer. My reply: "I'm called." I'm in this for the long run. I can see myself still doing stuff with TEN3 when I'm sixty. Or maybe in another fifteen years I'll be able to hand off my position to somebody in Africa, and I'll be doing Bible translation with frontier missions. Only the Lord knows, but I believe that our labor of faith will continue to expand and bear fruit long after our names have been forgotten.