Category Archives: Family

The Plan

Ever since my return from Rwanda, I have wanted to take a year off from school. I was sick off the classroom and learning in such a controlled environment. Idid not know, at the time, what this year would look like. Many options were available to me. I could go to another country and work with a missionary who had been there for years. I could do a gap year program with an organization I love very much and travel all over the world. Or I could do something by myself without a set organization or group or even plan.

Through God’s prompting, this last option is what I have decided on. As of now, I am in Maryland on vacation with my family. The day after I get back home, I am headed up to Colorado to work at Camp Kivu for the rest of the summer. I am super excited about that because God always does wonderful things there. This is where I will be doing a lot of mental/spiritual preparation for my trip. I will arrive back home in the middle of August and from then until the beginning of September I will be getting ready for the trip and spending time with friends and family.

So, to the trip itself. On whatever day I leave, I will fly to somewhere in the U.S. (not sure where yet) with a back pack and whatever gear it can hold. Wherever I land, I will begin walking and from there I will see where God takes me. The trip will last the entire school year. That is as far as the planning has gone and I do not anticipate it getting much father along that it already has. I am flexible, in the extreme, in terms of planning this thing.

Though I love writing stories, I know this one is not for me to write. Besides, God is a much better author than I am. He has not shown me any of the actual text yet but He has made it clear that the theme of this story is TRUST. This journey is about trusting Him. Trusting Him to provide health, and shelter, and warmth, and food, and to open up doors to places I have never seen, and to create relationships, and to teach me things about life.

I know I have not written much on here for awhile. I wanted to focus on my last days of high school and boy were they great. Thank You Father! Hopefully, I can put a few more posts on here before I leave. I do not plan on writing much on here during the trip but I will not rule it out if that oppurtunity becomes available. I do plan on keeping a journal during the trip. I hope to share whatever happens to me with whoever wants to hear about it. I am very excited, nervous, and scared. I am almost ready.

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Morocco Highlight Film

Here are some of the best clips from my flip that tell a pretty good story of our journey.

Nate

Because I did not write about my trip to Morocco in a timely manner and because it is becoming increasingly hard to find time to write, I will, whenever possible, jot down a quick story or two. Our two weeks of adventure were filled with so many great stories. But what good are they if they are forgotten. I want/need to tell these stories because they are so meaningful to me.

The first story I’d like to tell is that of Nate.

We spent three days working at a Physical Rehab Center in the city of Nador. We painted a large wall, opposite the main building, white in order that future teams can make a mural for the children to look at. Working on the wall was a blast and an awesome way to serve like Jesus. It was hard and long and tiring and hot and sometimes gross and dirty but it was so worth it. It was the correlation between salvation and love. We didn’t do it because we wanted to check a box. We didn’t do it because we felt like we were better than these people. We didn’t do it out of religious obligation (although in one sense I think it could be considered the purest form of religion). We served because Jesus came to serve. We loved because Jesus first loved us. It was quite amazing to be a part of something so profound and yet so simple.

wall

So what does all that have to do with Nate?

On the morning of the first day, while we were working, a black man walked by the building. You may not think that significant, especially since we were in Africa, but in that part of the continent there really aren’t many black people. The guy stopped by, interested in what a bunch of white guys were doing painting a wall in the middle of Arab/Berber Morocco. Steve, the guy who coordinated our trip and has lived in the area for about 25 years (also one of the most vibrant followers of Jesus I’ve ever met), started talking with him and asking him questions about his life. We gathered around and took it all in. His name was Nate. He was a refugee from Nigeria, staying in a camp called Gurugu up in the mountains with other refugees from many other war-torn, poverty-stricken countries. They are all trying to get into Europe in order to make a new life for themselves as well as their families. Steve asked him if he was a Muslim and he said “No, Jesus is my King”. Steve then asked if we could pray for him and he said yes wholeheartedly. Steve prayed and we all agreed with the words being lifted up. It was an incredible moment. Once it was over, we gave him some water and he went on his way. We thought that was it and that we’d never see the guy again. On the third day, he came back. He wanted us to pray for him again so we did. Only this time people were watching. The staff from the center (some of whom are followers of Jesus, most of whom are not) was out their along with some others. We had another great time talking with our King and then he was gone again. When we looked around and noticed the other people around us, we saw tears in some of their eyes. It was awkward beauty at its finest. Later, during our trip, Steve informed us that one of the women that worked at the center was saying how amazing it was that we could go to our God without horrible guilt and shame. It sure is amazing. Not enough can be said about that. It was so crazy how God used Nate in such a seemingly random way that could have such huge repercussions in the long run. Father, please keep nurturing the discussions that have come from and will keep coming from this amazing encounter. I don’t know where Nate is now. Maybe he’s with his King. If the refugees are caught crossing the border, they are either sent to no-man’s land or killed. If he is still alive, Father please keep doing crazy things through his life. Thank you so much for Nate!!!

Wedding Dance Entrance

This is quite hilarious. Ideas are churning!

Tomorrow is go time!

Tomorrow morning I leave with five other guys, including my Dad, to go to Morocco. We will be there for about two weeks. During our time in the country, we will be doing lots of manual labor/renovation stuff for some rehabilitation centers, traveling, meeting with people, living life, hanging out, and in general loving people. It’s going to be a great trip and the guys I’m going with are some of the greatest guys I know. Three of them go to school with me and we are practically already family. The other guy is a college student from Missouri who went to Lebanon with my Dad a few years back. He stayed with us last night and we’ve already hit it off. I probably won’t write anything while we’re there but I’ll take some videos with my new Flip camcorder. So when I get back hopefully I’ll have videos, photos, and much to write about. We all would appreciate your prayers for this trip and that God would move in powerful and mysterious ways while we’re in Morocco. Thanks so much!!!

moroccoflagmap

Muslims, Christians, and Jesus

Medearis_FrontierF.qxd

In preparation for my trip to Morocco, I’ve received a lot of reading material regarding Muslims and overseas work and stuff like that. I haven’t really read much of it but I did read a book that is not on the “required reading” list by Carl Medearis called Muslims, Christians, and Jesus. The Medearis’ are family friends and Carl and my Dad are pretty close. Though I’ve never actually met Carl, I feel like I know him farely well because I’ve listened to him talk numerous times. The Medearis’ lived in Beirut, Lebanon for twelve years trying to follow Jesus, all the while collecting many incredible stories.

Carl is one of the most intriguing story tellers I’ve ever listened to. I’ve heard his stories over and over again and they haven’t gotten old yet. He is all about trying to follow Jesus. Carl is not the smartest or coolest person I’ve ever seen but it doesn’t matter because with him it’s all about Jesus. Everything is about Jesus. Jesus is the answer, not the cliche.

Carl is a refreshing breeze on top of everything that is wrong with the religion of Christianity. Instead of reading biblical texts, he tells stories from his own life that illuminate truth. Instead of trying to convert people to another religion, he builds relationships focused on Jesus and lets God do what He does. Instead of defending his faith with sound theological answers, he speaks to the heart.

The book is kind of an introductory course into the world of Islam. Living in the Middle-East for twelve years has given Carl incredible insight into the religion of Islam and the people it includes. Instead of highlighting the differences between Christianity and Islam, he focuses on the things the two have in common. Namely Jesus (surprise right?) Muslims believe that Jesus (Isa) was a prophet of God (Allah) and that he was sinless, righteous, rose from the dead, was aided by the Holy Spirit, was God’s preferred messenger, was near to God, was blessed, performed miracles, had the title Christ, and is God’s word. God gave Jesus the New Testament, in which is guidance and light. God taught Jesus the Bible and wisdom. All of that is in the Qur’an. WOW!!!

So with all that in mind, why would a Christian (“little Christ”, someone who follows Jesus of Nazareth) skip right to the end of the story when talking to a Muslim (“one who is submitted to God”, someone who respects Jesus very much but does not believe He is God). Why not just talk about Jesus’ life and His teachings and build a relationship on that.

While this book definitely focuses on relationships between Muslims and Christians, it has a message that all Christians need to hear no matter who they have relationships with. Take a time out from the religion of Christianity and discover who Jesus really was and really is. You might be surprised at what you find but you won’t be dissapointed. I don’t think that was the lone message or even the main message of the book but it’s what I remember. If you have the chance, definitely check it out for yourself.

The Bride and the Bridegroom

I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot recently. It’s just one of those big, bizarre things in life that gets my mind spinning. I’ll warn you right now. There will probably be no logical order to this post (maybe a little but not much), just a bunch of random thoughts.

weddingbands

Marriage is so cool! A man leaves his own family and begins a new one with the woman he’s chosen to love for the rest of his life. They become one. What a weird but great concept. They are so close to one another. They can tell each other everything and not worry about coming off foolish or lame. They devote themselves to each other. Eveything they do is a gift to the other. They are best friends, passionate lovers, and soulmates.

It’s not always like that though. In fact, it’s probably not like that more often than it is. It really sucks when marriage is done wrong. Either the people don’t know what they’re getting into or Jesus is not at the center of the relationship. How can you expect marriage to work out if Jesus is not at the very center of it. Marriage is a representation of His relationship with us, His followers. Jesus gave up his life for the church so that it could be holy, pure, and unblemished in His sight. Husbands should do the same thing for their wives. Give themselves fully so that their wives can be holy, pure, and unblemished, the most special thing in his eyes.

Like any relationship, a good marriage will still have ups and downs, for sure. But that doesn’t mean any of the other stuff just flies out the window. It still applies and as long as Jesus is the focus the marriage will probably come out stronger than before.

Phil Wickham has a song called Divine Romance. It’s a great song about our love with God. It’s completely weird to think about at first but as a follower of Jesus I’m the bride and he’s the bridegroom. He gave his life so that I could be holy, and blameless, and awesome in His eyes. When the bride goes to be with the bridegroom, there is a wedding feast. I absolutely cannot wait to go to heaven and see Jesus and be with Him. I’m in love with Jesus and I just want to be around Him. When I first started thinking about all this, I couldn’t get over the whole male/female thing. But once I was able to pull back that curtain, I was able to see yet another part of the Almighty Creator. It’s really quite hard to explain in words.

I really look forward to marriage. The other day my Dad asked if I was in the B.U.T.R. club (Bachelor Until The Rapture) because I didn’t have a girlfriend. I said no way. I very much am in anticipation for the relationship that is marriage. But that doesn’t mean I’ll get married at an early age. I love the freedom that can be exhibited through singleness. I love to go to cool places and do crazy things and not have a job. When God shows me that it’s time, I’ll embrace it. Until then, I’ll embrace the life I have.

Whenever I see people getting married, I think about what it would be like. I’m so glad I’m only 17 and don’t really have to worry about it (not that anyone should worry about it) because it’s so bizarre. The thought of completely giving myself to another, while not far away because of the presence of Jesus, is daunting and frankly kind of scary. But it is good.

I know lots of people who are doing marriage right and I am so thankful for their modeling. Thanks Mom and Dad especially. Love ya’ll!!!