Archives For Honduras

We found ourselves in the La Ceiba mall. Not our first choice, but the authentic Honduran shops and markets weren’t open as we had expected, and we had a few hours to kill before church started.

Other than the baristas giggling at my mangled Spanish in an awkward attempt to order a frozen coffee, I could have mistakenly thought I was State-side.

Flatscreen TVs broadcasted the latest Honduran soccer match.

Teenage “novios” walked around with their hands in each others’ back pockets (a practice I find disturbing in any culture).

The latest clothing fashions were on display in store windows and on mall patrons.

The food court was packed.

The place was buzzing, alive with normal Sunday afternoon chatter. People hanging out. Relaxing. Shopping. Enjoying life.

Except for me. I was bothered.

Just 2 miles away from this swirling activity is a slum. A village of cardboard shacks, housing impoverished children, who we traveled 2,700 miles to try and help. Were all these mall rats oblivious to the hopelessness residing just off a dirt path within walking distance from where we shopped? Were they blind, or did they just not care?

The least of these were invisible.

Just as I was sticking my boot in the stirrup to mount up my high horse, I got a little nauseous (and this time, it wasn’t from drinking the water). How often could I be accused of the exact same thing?

Culture instinctively protects us from uncomfortable things. It gives us a framework through which we can sanely process the world. That’s what cultures do.

When we leave what know to intentionally embrace the uncomfortable, we can’t help but see the least of these. They’re exactly who we came here to find.

Back home it’s harder. They disappear into the background. They merge with all the noise. The ebb and flow of daily life swallows the very things that glow like neon when we’ve stepped out of normal.

So here’s the question. No judgment. No condemnation. No cynicism. I’m sincerely asking myself.

How do we once again see the invisible?

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.” –Romans 12:2 MSG

Growing up, every fall was filled with a predictable parade of overseas missionaries. The blue carpet of our church’s platform would bloom with Moroccan djellabas, Mexican sombreros, and then usually some poor guy from Ireland who couldn’t figure out how to appropriately bring a Guinness on stage.

We’d hear their best stories, see their slide shows, and then gather in the gym to taste a little bit of their food.

Each dish came with a side of guilt.

If you were a serious Christian, you became a pastor. But if you wanted to really impress God, you obviously lived in a tent on the Serengeti.

As I grew, I began subconsciously rejecting this thinking (along with the curry). America needs Jesus just as bad as sub-Saharan Africa. I think I’ll stay here, start a career and a family, live my dream, donate some money, and let the crazy spiritual psychopaths do the “ends of the earth” stuff.

But now, on my journey from musician, to accountant, back to musician, turned church planter, I find myself less than 24 hours from once again boarding a plane to Honduras. My wife, 12 year old daughter, and a team of CityCom’ers will be spending a week in impoverished neighborhoods finishing a building, playing with kids, and investing in relationships.

Why?

Sitting here in my air-conditioned office this morning, I can come up with a lot of solid, theological reasons.

Jesus told us to “go into all the world.”

Christians can’t avoid confronting poverty.

We can tangibly become the hands and feet of Christ in a broken part of the world.

But as we frantically scuttle about finishing last minute details, I’m pondering something perhaps a little more practical.

There is something transformational about seeing the Gospel at work in a culture starkly different than your own.

As much as some would like to convince us, God isn’t American (although I will debate his preference for the NFL over World Cup soccer, say what you want). But He’s not South African, Chinese, Romanian, or Honduran either. His Kingdom is a culture of its own. It’s not a way of life, it is life itself.

Nothing illuminates that truth like watching the redemption of Christ do its work outside my natural context and perspective.

The goal for La Ceiba, Honduras is not to make them more like Americans. It’s to bring Christ’s Kingdom to life here on earth. We’re definitely taking it with us, but my experience tells me we’ll encounter a bit more of it for ourselves there, too.

Stay tuned. I’ll be posting updates, pictures, and video from La Ceiba next week as internet connection allows. We appreciate your prayers.

Letting God lead is not the same as letting things happen. Lack of preparation is not a Kingdom value.

These two sentences explain a lot about me. How I’m wired. Driven. What formulates the root expression of my life

I blame my mother (in a good way, I guess). I often remember her quietly powerful voice cautioning me, “don’t ask God for help if you don’t do your part,” as I poured over the notes for a Science test or rehearsed for a piano recital.

Lots of truth there. Salvation is a free gift, but God still expects things from us. Following Jesus doesn’t mean we’re effortlessly chilling in the back of a stretch limo while He’s negotiating the I-9 (Jesus, take the wheel).

  • God gave Israel the promised land, then told them to physically go and take it. (Joshua 18:3)
  • Solomon exalts diligence and hard work. (Proverbs 10:4 amongst plenty of other places)
  • Heck, Jesus himself chastised the servant who buried the Master’s money in the sand instead of taking a risk and doing something with it. (Luke 19:20-26)

So where does godly effort morph into obsessive control? Where does making things happen begin stepping on the sovereignty of God? When does diligence begin to necessitate medication?

More good questions. More good tension (which is where I find the truth has usually taken up residence).

In two short days, 22 CityCom’ers will board a plane for La Ceiba, Honduras.  One of those team members is a complete surprise. Following the unfortunate fallout of an automobile accident (all healing well), one plane ticket lost it’s owner just three short weeks before our departure date.

In discussing potential last minute replacements, we tossed around a smorgasbord of different names. We strategized. We white-boarded. Who was the best candidate to fill that empty slot? We had some ideas. Some good ones. We were ready to make things happen.

And then we just stopped.

“Let’s wait. Let’s sleep on it. Let’s ask God to say something here that we simply can’t deny.”

And so we did. And wouldn’t you know?

At 9AM the next morning, I got an unexpected phone call. We love our friend Steve, but he wasn’t on our short list (he wasn’t on any list). He hadn’t even crossed our minds. But two vivid dreams of boarding a plane to Honduras gave Steve and his wife the courage to call and ask if there was somehow an open slot for this trip that had been full for months.

In one moment, God did more than hours of frantic phone calls and wise “strategery” could have ever accomplished.

Because we asked.

Because we waited.

Because we listened.

This was one great lesson for me. We humans are undeniably good at justifying our cowardice with inaction. But we’ve also mastered the art of creating momentum around our own ideas. If we’re really talented, we can even attach God to them for further marketing appeal.

But now we’re going to work. We’re doing our part. We’re making things happen. All with the knowledge that God has undeniably spoken, and our diligence is simply a response to what He’s already at work doing. That’s the kind of effort I want to get behind.

How do you balance the tension between letting God work and doing your work?

No “official” Beyond The Risk post today. I’m conferencing with other ARC pastors in Baton Rouge, LA, and sharing the CityCom Honduras story here alongside our partners at Mission of Mercy.

(We love this organization).

But in it’s place, check out this hysterical post from Bryan Roberts, lead pastor at Church Relevant in Newburn, NC, about his first day experience here at All Access 2011. It’s always funniest when it’s true (I’m wearing plaid today, in fact). Thanks Bryan.

Real Preachers Wear Plaid (And Other Lessons From Day #1 at All Access)

There are a couple of fine looking gentlemen in this video that you may recognize.

We’re honored that our partners at Mission of Mercy are featuring CityCom in their promotion for ARC Churches this year.  This video will be shown at the annual conference in Baton Rouge in early April, and we’ll be on hand to help tell the CityCom story in person.

You can see the full web promo by clicking here.

It’s hard to convey how much we believe in what Mission of Mercy is doing. Through this real life organization, CityCom has been able to sponsor over 50 kids and build a care point facility in La Ceiba, Honduras (all in our first two years of existence). This June, we’ll take our second team there to work hands on with these beautiful children.

If you’re interested in child sponsorship or our work in La Ceiba, we’d love to talk to you.

Huge thanks to our friends at Mission of Mercy for their vision, hard work, and magical ability to make me and Nathan sound mildly coherent (the power of video editing).