A Different Gift

79802997_10157823661083698_7172175744540344320_nThis time of year, so much of our time and energy is focused on finding the “right” gift. Currently, countless websites list “The best gifts under $20”, “The most popular gifts on Amazon”, “Top toys of the year”, etc. All these lists have one thing in common; we spend money to buy something for someone else. Retailers are trying to get you to spend money on gifts in their store or on their website. Let’s talk for a minute about a different kind of gift. Continue reading

Embrace the Mess That is Short-Term Missions

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Most people are a complicated jumble of conflicting priorities, values, and reactions. Anyone who has worked with a homeless outreach, done marriage counseling, or worked with teenagers will tell you that the vast majority of people are messy. In a perfect world, things wouldn’t be so difficult. It’s not a perfect world. Not even close. Until we embrace the “messy,” ministry will be an unending exercise in frustration. Continue reading

Just Be Quiet!

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There is a new Tom Hanks movie out called “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood“, about the life of Mr. Rogers. There is one scene that’s being mentioned over and over again in reviews. While sitting in a diner during an interview, Mr. Rogers asks a reporter to be silent for one minute. Mr. Rogers doesn’t speak, the reporter doesn’t speak, for one full minute. A full minute to just listen. There are no flashbacks, no inner-dialog, only silence. Two men are just sitting in a restaurant booth. A minute of silence with no action in a movie feels like an eternity. It’s something we all need to practice. Continue reading

WE DON’T NEED YOUR ORGANIC GARDEN

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Many short-term mission teams come with their own pre-planned ideas and agendas; this is fine as long as they mesh with the goals of the ministry they’re serving. Sometimes these goals and agendas are questionable at best. Sometimes they can be harmful to the goals that have been laid out by the receiving ministries and communities. What kind of impact will your mission team have? Continue reading

Missionaries are Messed Up.

summer-sunshine-alcohol-drinkI recently sent a small, short-term mission team to visit another ministry. This other ministry does some incredible work and is lead by a profoundly inspiring man. The group spent a full day experiencing the ministry, listening to the stories of what goes on and saw how God is moving. They were impressed and impacted. They were also surprised that the leader of the ministry was wearing a Call of Duty T-shirt. “Missionaries don’t play Call of Duty.” Mmmm, maybe a little… Continue reading

Why Me God?

76751545_2435729773188946_2898917725810196480_oThe orphanage I help run was spared by the recent wildfires that blew through our town. Many people were not so fortunate. In response to one of the many “Praise God” comments on Facebook, one angry gentleman shared a substantial rant, “If God was going to spare you, why did He start the fire? Why did other homes burn? Does God not love them as much?” Obviously, this gentleman has some issues, but it brings up some profound questions that have plagued theologians from the beginning. How does one explain the randomness of suffering? Why are there orphans? Why do some people get cancer? People much wiser than I have struggled to respond to this question. Here are a few thoughts. Continue reading

The Selfie With the Poor Kid

pexels-photo-1125850The idea of social media and short-term missions was brought up to me three times in the last week. It also comes up a lot when you run an orphanage as to how much exposure the children should get online. When and how do we post to social media? What are we saying when we do? It’s a complicated issue. How do you engage people back home and not use photos of cute poor kids or needy areas? Continue reading