Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's Goin Down

In addition, to this blog I also update Sunshine's blog. I recently posted a cadre of blog entries from some of our staff. It is exciting to see God at work as we serve together and learn together! You can check out the blog entries here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Discipleship & The Arts

A good friend and co-worker of mine, Mike Avery, recently started a movement, called the D3 Movement. Mike is a very talented dancer. He specializes in the following dance styles: krump, hip hop, pop locking, waving, and lyrical hip hop. He uses his art form to proclaim the good news and to give glory to God. Mike is also a disciple maker, so his heart is to use dance to disciple this generation of young people. I am excited to see how God is going to continue to use Mike in ministry! You can check out this web site here.

The name D3 stands for:
Deliver the Gospel
Deposit a new Mindset
Disciple this generation

In the book of Acts, chapter 13 verse 36 it says of King David, "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers...." This verse I think communicates Mike's heart behind the D3 movement. May the same be true of us. By God's grace, with the days He gives us, may we serve the "purpose of God in (our) own generation."

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A Soldier On Mission

On Mission

I recently read an article in the Kalamazoo Gazette that was written as a tribute to a young man who had given his life as a soldier in Iraq. His name was Gabe De Roo. His parents go to my parents church, and our families went to the same two churches throughout our growing up years. I never really knew Gabe well, but the article makes me wish I did. Gabe, age 25, died August 20, 2006, killed by a sniper’s bullet in Iraq. He had stooped to reassure captured Iraqi gunrunners that American soldiers intended to arrest, not kill them. As he rose, a sniper’s slug struck his neck in an area exposed between his helmet and bulletproof vest.

Gabe’s father, Dave, shared with the Gazette that he had initially dissuaded him from enlisting in the military. De Roo’s parents had urged him to take classes at a local community college instead. He came home one day and told his parents that he had enrolled two weeks prior to his conversation with them. He wanted to be in the infantry, front and center. He wanted the physical challenge. He wanted to serve his country. He left for basic training on January 30, 2003. He assured his dad he would find a church when he left.

During his service in the military, between 2003 and 2006, he wrote numerous letters to his wife and family back in Michigan. He consistently communicated his love for his family and how much he missed all of them. Some letters ended, “Be good and godly,” and were signed ‘Chummer’ a name his father had bestowed on him years earlier. Among the pictures he mailed home were several of smiling Iraqi children sitting next to the grinning, sunburned American soldier. He was intent on learning the language and considered someday returning to Iraq as a missionary he told his wife.

By Gabe's second deployment, Iraqi insurgency had escalated and US base commanders urged departing soldiers to “make sure you have closure with all your friends and family.” His mother shared that he was keeping a very short list and keeping his conscience clear during this time. He had been promoted to sergeant when he returned to Iraq in June 2006. Messages to his parents began to change during this time. “Please pray for us…that we would be godly parents who will teach little Gabriel to love God,” he wrote in a postcard to his mother and father. “I can never thank you enough for raising me with a firm foundation in the Scriptures,” he wrote in another letter.

What struck me the most as I read this article containing his letters home was his focus on "The Mission." Gabe was a dedicated soldier. He loved his country, and he served his country sacrificially. However, Gabe realized that ultimately he was sacrificially and selflessly serving the Lord that He loved. His most important orders came from the real Commander in Chief, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Gabe never lost sight of the fact that he was first and foremost "on mission" for Him. He was a soldier for his country, but he was a Soldier in the Lord's army. He wrote in one of his letters to his parents, "pray that I live as a godly example to those around me and that I give 100 percent all the time.” In another conversation he told them, “If there’s a grenade, I’m going to be the first one on it. These other guys need more time to get right with God.”

After a stirring military funeral and prayers of support, Gabe's father David De Roo was able to share a private moment with the soldier who accompanied his son’s body back to the US. The soldier explained that Gabe’s military friends had nicknamed him “John 3:16.” He had willingly done dozens of extra push-ups, the soldier told De Roo, because he had refused a drill sergeant’s order to utter a swear word. “What kind of person did you see in my son?” David De Roo says he asked the soldier. “Sir, I want to be like that man. I want to be like De Roo,” he remembers the young man responding.

Gabe's life made an impact and brought glory to God! He didn't separate his vocation from His Mission, and neither should we, regardless of what our vocation or profession is. God strategically places us in unique families, neighborhoods, jobs, cities, etc. so that we might be ambassadors for Him. I love the way Peter puts it in 1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." What a privilege it is to go on mission together (that's what we do as the church)! We collectively 'proclaim the excellencies of Him'.