Tag Archives: Colombia

Mid Week Thoughts

 

 

 

Some random mid week thoughts – and a photo!


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This is a normal view we have almost every day.  Sometimes it’s earlier in the day.  Sometimes it’s closer to sunset.  But the cool thing is, we get this view almost every day!  Our lives are blessed.  We take long walks along these shores multiple days a week. Sometimes we pick up sea shells. Sometimes we just walk. Last week we came upon two sea turtles – one dead and one alive. You never know what the gulf will give us!

We’ve spent a number of hours lately promoting a venture – All Tide Up.  If you have a second, check out our web site.  If you see something you like – go ahead and order it!  We’ll get it to you as quick as we can.

I become more convinced each week that nothing in life is a coincidence.  There are divine opportunities all around us if we will only be willing to look!  I’m pretty excited that God has provided some unique paths that have crossed and what potential there will be there.  Reminded that it’s not about me – it really is about others!

My friend Alex Rocha is raising funds to purchase a permanent location for his youth work in Cartagena, Colombia.  I’ll share more about that in a post to come – might be a divine opportunity for someone other than just me!

 

 

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Perspective

Life is all a matter of perspective.  I’m learning this more and more each day.  While I tend to think of myself as a smart, educated man – I have quickly realized that education doesn’t mean you understand the real values in life – those things that really matter.

This week I have had some great opportunities.  Wednesday night Cyndi and I participated in our church wide community group.  During the summer we are meeting together as a church every other week, enjoying a meal together and then breaking into groups of eight or so to discuss the topic of the night.  This week’s topic was “greed”.  While that might not sound like a fun topic to talk about, we had a really good conversation with seven others about how greed can/does creep into our daily lives – sometimes knowingly, sometimes not.  Focusing on Matthew 6:19-20: 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,   where moths and vermin destroy,   and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,   where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Last year we had an opportunity to travel with 14 friends to Cartagena, Colombia.  There we met some wonderful people.  One of those new friends is Alex Rocha.  Alex has a heart for God and for people.  Over the past year Alex has been planning and preparing to start a ministry to local youths.  This week, City Church Tallahassee committed to helping Alex financially with his ministry – along with regular spiritual guidance, training and encouragement!  Here are some photos of Alex’s new youth center:

While this may not seem like much to you or I, this is the beginning of a ministry to youths in the San Fransisco neighborhood in Cartagena!

I also had the opportunity to talk with a new friend today – Ricky Love.  Ricky is the pastor of a non traditional church plant in Richmond, Virginia called Matthew’s Table.  Ricky works with people that most of us would rather not be around.  Ricky has found enough love in his heart for the very people that need a whole lot of love!  Here’s a picture of some of the work he is doing:

Back to perspective.  Sometimes when I think I’ve got it bad, that nothing is going my way, that everyone else gets all the breaks in life, that maybe I should just give up and do something else, I’m reminded of friends like these.  And reminded that God really is good.  All the time.  To me.  And as I look at sunrises like the one at the top of this post, I’m reminded that God’s mercies are new everyday to me – and I’m thankful for them!

 


Friends Old and New

I have had some really neat conversations with friends over the last few weeks – friends I have known for awhile and friends I have known less than year!

Here are some highlights:

On a recent Sunday afternoon we drove to some friends house for a late lunch.  Our friends opened their home and hearts to us that day in a really neat way.  While our meal was cooking on the grill, we had an opportunity to really get to know each other – learning about each other in ways that can’t happen with a two minute conversation as we walk to our cars.  We spent a few hours that afternoon becoming closer friends.  These friends have a heart and longing for God and for others!

Monday night after our community group, a friend handed me a card.  I didn’t immediately look at it but politely said thank you.  As we were driving home that night, Cyndi opened the note and read it to me.  The encouragement and generosity the card contained was amazing!  We really needed what was in that card!  We have been friends for about six months and it is really neat to see how our brief interactions have blessed each other!  This friend has a heart for God and for others!

Wednesday I skyped with a friend in Cartagena, Colombia.  We met this friend on a trip to Cartagena in August 2011 when he served as a tour guide and interpreter for our group.  We have maintained good communication since our return to Florida and hope to return again in August 2012.  This friend shared how he had been blessed with some good paying tour work in January.  Instead of spending his earnings on something for himself, this friend used most of his money to sponsor a Christian Hip Hop event in some impoverished neighborhoods in Cartagena.  This friend has a heart for God and for others!

Today I had coffee with a group of men – men who I try to meet with every two to three weeks.  All of us range in age from early 50’s to mid 60’s.  Former law enforcement, postal employee, parks and recreation supervisor, small business owner, real estate, mason, advocate for homeless and advocate for anyone in need.  Men from all over the United States and even Europe.  A common denominator among all of us – we love Jesus and have a heart for others – especially those who are having a hard time helping themselves.  My time with these men always inspire me – inspire me to strive to be a closer follower of Christ and inspire me to intentionally look to help others.

What about you?  How did you interact with your friends this week? What did they share with you and what did you share with them?

We can’t live life in a bubble!


God Will Provide a Way for You to Do What He Wants You to Do!

Here’s a profound truth I’ve learned this year – 2011:  God will provide a way for you to do what He wants you to do!

I haven’t received a paycheck from a paying job in 2011.

But God has provided for our needs the entire year!  He has provided a place for us to live when we’ve commuted to Tallahassee each week through our friends Matthew and Rachel Robinson. More than just a room, He has provided a place where we can relax and recharge. He has provided financially for us in Inverness by allowing us  to make our house payment each month and on time!

We made more than 40 trips to Tallahassee this year to volunteer our time with some dear friends who are being used by God to share the gospel through a local church plant – City Church Tallahassee. We shared our time in Inverness so Cyndi could continue her business with established clients. God provided a great year for Cyndi and I know it was so we could pay our travel expenses this year!

God has blessed us over the years and as a result we have been able to use those savings to follow His leading.  God always provides enough!

We have had a great 2011!  Leading a community group of around 15 people has been refreshing!  Becoming part of other believer’s lives as encouragers, teachers, helpers is what God has created us to do and as we do it God blesses us in ways that seem beyond explanation! We are now friends with Christ followers who have given up their jobs to plant churches, people who have gone to Bible college and now work in the secular work place because that is where God has called them to be a light, people who are new Christ followers and need mentorship and role models, people who are hurting and need love, people who we can pray with on a regular basis and most of all just living life together in this crazy chase after God’s will in each of our lives!

We have had an opportunity to be part of the leadership team for City Church.  Helping to flesh out a vision for Why Not Tallahassee!  Helping to craft practical ways to share the gospel beyond the weekly sermons or worship time. Helping bring wisdom, knowledge and leadership skills to a group of people dedicated to serving God!

We’ve had the opportunity to be part of several services at a local night club! Opening up a non traditional location for thousands, yes thousands, of people to hear the gospel – many for the very first time.  Seeing dozens and dozens and dozens of people cross from death to live for eternity! Knowing that hundreds of people will be with Jesus for eternity – not because of what we did but because we were faithful to do what He wants us to do!

We’ve shared Jesus with hundreds of people in Colombia this year. Making friends that don’t understand our language and we don’t understand theirs. But we do have a common bond in Jesus! Providing cloths and shoes and food to people who have so much less than we do. Walking among families whose homes have been destroyed. Telling them about the love of Jesus, praying with them, holding them in time of sorrow – showing compassion.

We’ve shared our lives with people we didn’t know. Telling our story of how great God is! Trying to be an example. Trying to be Christ followers.

Our savings are dwindling. But this I know: God has a plan for us and He will provide for us.  He always has. He always will.


Strangers in Another Land (or why we really need to go!)

While in Cartagena, Colombia, our team had the opportunity to experience so many new things.  From new food to crazy traffic.  From new friendships to negotiating/bartering for most things. One of the things that was not new but somewhat unexpected was the openness and willingness of people to listen to what we had to say.

Our purpose for going to Cartagena was purely evangelical.  We didn’t go to build houses, treat medical conditions, build wells or work in orphanages.  We went to share Jesus with children through a series of Vacation Bible School activities, offer football (soccer) and baseball to youth and present the gospel of Jesus during the evening in churches, in the streets and on football courts!  Dozens and dozens of people became followers of Christ. Children were told about the love of Jesus. Youth were exposed to the truths of Jesus and what the Bible says.  God answered the prayers of hundreds of people who were praying for the people of Cartagena for months before we arrived! Hearts were opened, minds understood despite the language differences and relationships were developed.  Conversations took place on football fields, in alleyways, on sidewalks, while sitting on porches and yes, just in the middle of roads.  Opportunities were seized by our team as often as they were presented!

One of the strangest events was also perhaps the most meaningful and demonstrated clearly the need for Christ followers to go and tell! Most days we  took time during the middle of the day to rest and try to stay out of the heat.  On this day, most of our team members were napping. I was returning to the front of the house when I looked up and staring at me from the open window (standing on the outside stairs) were two young men.  One was caucasian and the other South American.  While I didn’t know them I recognized their dress.  White short-sleeved shirts, dark ties, and dark slacks.  Here in the middle of a neighborhood in Cartagena were two Mormon missionaries.  These two didn’t care there were 14 Christ followers in the house.  They were intent on speaking with the woman they came to see.

What shocked me the most was the realization that most of the people I know who are proclaimed Christians don’t understand the urgency of sharing Jesus with others.  These mormon missionaries were intent on spreading a false gospel while many Christ followers won’t share the true gospel.

If we won’t go, who will?  If we won’t tell others, who will?  Jesus’ command was very clear.  These issues bother me at night.  They bother me during the day.  I struggle with the balance between home and another land. I want to do what He commands. I want to be a true Christ follower.


San Francisco, Cartagena, Colombia

During our recent trip to Cartagena, we experienced an unreal situation.

Following a day of rain, about 60 houses collapsed.  I mean collapsed.  They didn’t just have cracks in the walls or a hole in the roof.  Walls fell down, roofs were gone, foundations were torn apart.  When we heard of the disaster, we took the opportunity to purchase food and made plans to deliver it in the neighborhood.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw as we walked up the hill into the affected portions of the neighborhood.  People were in a steady flow down the hill – each carrying belongings.  Some carrying roof trusses or roofing material they hoped to salvage and use in their next dwelling.  Some carried what pieces  of furniture they could save. People were orderly.  There wasn’t mass confusion.  Strangely enough, there was no crying or hysteria.  It’s because this was just another day in the lives of those living in these conditions.  The residents have come to expect this type of event happening in their lives.  Here’s some video of what happened there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQiuhfTAj-8

As we split into two separate groups, Jason Priddle led a group and I led the second.  We found spots we could stand and speak to the affected people.  As dozens if not hundreds of people gathered and listened, we talked to them about Jesus and how in spite of their current circumstances, He is a God of Love and that He cares for them.  Preaching the gospel in the middle of what was going on was humbling.  When we finished we handed out the food we brought.  There was no pushing or shoving. There was no complaining when we ran out.  There were very grateful people there that day.  When we had given the food we had, we slowly went to various groups of people and prayed individually with them. 

My heart breaks for those that live in San Francisco, Cartagena, Colombia.  I cried that day.  Several of us chose to fast for the evening and asked that our meal be given to someone who didn’t have food that day. 

I’m excited to plan to return to that neighborhood soon!


Colombia 2011

In August, Cyndi, Ethan and I had the opportunity to travel with a group from City Church Tallahassee to Cartagena, Colombia! Over the next several posts I will try to share the experiences we had.
The bottom line is that our trip was more than I could have imagined! We got to see God work in a people in a city where there is hope! More than 150 people made the decision to follow Christ – more than 300 young children were told about the love of Jesus and more than 300 young adults were exposed to the teachings of Jesus! God is very good!