Friday, May 25, 2012

A Good Warning

This is a good word!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rwanda Reflections Still Flowing

A month ago today we were wrapping up the Unity Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. I am still thinking about our time in Rwanda...all we saw, learned, experienced, etc. One of the things that made the trip special for me was being able to travel with one of my mentors, Dr. John Fuder (aka Doc). Doc was my urban ministry professor at Moody Grad School. I took more classes with him than with any other prof there. However, Doc's influence on my life exceeded well beyond the classroom. I travelled with Doc (and other students) to several CCDA conferences, enjoyed BBQ's at his house, and even occasional breakfasts with him after my Moody days were done.

Doc is a guy I truly look up to, and definitely want to emulate his commitment to the Lord, to his wife and family, and to ministry. So it was pretty crazy to teach at a conference with him! I really felt honored by that. Not only that, but it was good to just hang out together again with him and two of my former classmates. It felt like CCDA Africa!:)

I thought I would share some of Doc's reflections from our time in Rwanda...

Doc's May newsletter was also dedicated to the Rwanda trip. During the first part of this newsletter, he shared about our visits to the genocide memorials in Kigali. It was a sobering experience for all of us. It definitely set the tone for the remainder of our trip. Doc shared this, "Because I think we need to at least briefly feel the incredible weight of grief and guilt, carried even by Rwanda’s spiritual leaders, many of whom we had come to “teach” that week. These precious men and women, some coming from many hours away, gifted us with their gentleness, humility and vulnerability. For days we poured into them, from morning until night, and they gave right back to us. We shared exuberant and joyful worship and many hugs and tears as we taught hour after hour on unity, forgiveness and reconciliation."

A month later I am still so grateful for the opportunity we had to serve in Rwanda! Our experiences there "marked" me in good way.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

May Praise & Prayer

This was supposed to go out last week, but we were feeling a bit out of it after our long flight home and significant time zone readjustment!:) We have so much to praise God for! Thanks for praying for us!

Praises (Praise God with us for...)
(1) We are so thankful for the Rwanda trip, and all God did in and through us during our time there! You can read more about our trip in our previous blog entries (and there will probably be more coming).

(2) Today was our final training session with the missionary from the Crescent Project. Curtis, Aaron, and I are so grateful for this answered prayer and needed training for us!

(3) On Easter Sunday, we celebrated with 8 baptisms immediately following our service! Each person represents a story of God's transforming grace. It was especially moving to have Aaron baptize his son Isaiah. Check out the video!

Prayer Requests (Please pray with us for...)
(1) Josie has been offered an 8 week day camp director position at the YMCA. She has a meeting tomorrow to discuss the details of this position and program tomorrow. Please pray for wisdom about potentially moving forward in this.

(2) Please continue to pray that we would be able to rent our condo in Branson and sell our condo in Chicago!

(3) We are having our first church membership class (we are calling it "ministry partnership" rather than membership) this coming Saturday, and then launching discipleship groups (small groups) the following week. Please pray for us as we begin to go deeper relationally and mobilize as a church!

(4) I am praying about serving in a sports ministry role (as a volunteer) at two youth organizations (Bay Area Rescue Mission & Richmond Police Activities League). This would be a great opportunity to build relationships with teens in Richmond. Please pray for direction for me, and that I would not overcommit myself (I tend to do this sometimes:)).

(5) We will be traveling to the midwest the first week of June. We will be at New Hope Fellowship in Paw Paw on Sunday June 3rd, Roseland Bible Church in Chicago on Wednesday June 6th, and Lawton EMC on Sunday June 10th. Please pray for me as I begin to prepare for this visit.

Thanks for your partnership in ministry! Let us know how we can be praying for you!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Do We Weep?

(Blessed & Doc Fuder with Josie and I)

During our time in Rwanda I was moved by the heart of my good brother, Blessed. Blessed is the director of Hallomai, and he is the one who worked to coordinate our trip there. After our second very full day at the Unity Conference in Kigali, he began to debrief the day with our group and encourage us by how God was using the conference to encourage pastors. He shared that several pastors had commented on how they had been blessed and encouraged by the sessions. He then went on to share and reiterate how great the need is for theological training for pastors in Rwanda and in many other African nations. He shared that he has been getting emails from other pastors in other places asking for training. He said, "the need is great," and then he began to weep. He was so burdened by the need to come alongside pastors and church leaders with training and encouragement that he was moved do deep tears. It is a moment from our trip that I will never forget. As he paused to cry, Doc Fuder placed his hand on Blessed's shoulder and said, "God bless you brother" (as only Doc Fuder can) and then led us in prayer for Blessed, for the efforts of Hallomai, and for the need to equip and empower church leaders in Africa.

It reminded me of the quote, "may our hearts break for the things that break the heart of God." Are we burdened by the great commission? Do we weep for the nations?

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Answered Prayer In Rwanda

(Josie and I with our host, Pastor Dennis)

Josie and I made it back to Richmond yesterday (Monday). We are still "getting our bearings" as we fight jet lag and readjust to the Pacific time zone. We are still reflecting on our time in Rwanda and all that God did during our time there. We are so thankful for the opportunity we had to be a part of a team from Hallomai and to connect with our Rwandan family!

Before we left, we prayed for a few things in particular. We prayed:
1) That God would use us to be an encouragement to the Church in Rwanda through both our teaching of the Word and our interaction with believers there.
2) That we would be able to build authentic relationships with believers there that would last beyond our 2 weeks there.
3) That we would go as learners - learning all that God would want to teach us there and learning from believers there.

(Josie and I with one of the pastors from the Pastors Family Fellowship, Pastor Dennis)

God answered all three of these prayer requests in abundance! By God's grace I believe He used both our teaching of the Word and our lives to encourage believers in Kigali (Rwanda's capital city) and the surrounding area. God also gave us meaningful relationships with our brothers and sisters in Rwanda, who we hope to continue to correspond with and Lord willing spend time with again. Finally, God taught us so much during our time there. He used our Rwandan family to encourage, challenge, and inspire us.

Thank you for your prayer support while we were gone. We definitely felt your prayers!

There will be more Rwanda reflections in the coming days. You can also check out my two previous posts, "For The Love Of The Game" and "Cross Out The I."

(Blessed, Louisa, Doc Fuder, Mike, and Cheryl)

For The Love Of The Game

During one of our breaks in between sessions at the Unity Conference I got this footage of some boys playing soccer (futbol) just outside of the church we were at. I tried to play a little bit, but my dress shoes and slacks really slowed me down:)