Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Club & Hockey Ministry

Several years ago, I heard a brief segment on the radio about something that got me thinking. They had reported a popular TV talk show host said something like, "Radical Christianity has caused as much trouble as Radical Islam". At first I was appalled, mad, and even disgruntled; but once I thought about how the word "radical" was being used, I realized the statement was probably more correct than I wished to believe. Let me very briefly explain, and then I will get to the real point of this post. I will apologize in advance for the heaviness of the first few paragraphs, but I feel it is needed.

First point - Abortion clinic bombings, witch hunts, killing heretics and pagans, the Crusades, thousands upon thousands of people have been killed in "the name of Christ" (sad but true, and, I have yet to find anywhere in the NT where we are justified in doing this...Obviously Christ is not represented well in situations such as these).

Second point - There are places all over the world, both past and present, where being a member of the Clergy meant power - political and otherwise - much to the detriment of the Body. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this overbearing power has really turned many people away from the comfort, freedom and love that is found in the message of Christ.

Canada (Québec) is no exception. Several years ago, the religious powers were controlling every aspect of peoples lives, even to the point of telling families how often to have children. People fled from the "church" at an alarming rate, and now Sherbrooke is less than 1% Evangelical Christian. Most people are uncomfortable with the social stigma that comes with being a Christian, and invitations to Christian events often go unannounced and poorly attended. Here is where a different definition of "Radical Christian  comes in. To me, being a radical Christian means being so dedicated to Christ, being so focused on Him, there is hardly any room for anything else. So, in Canada, how can you be a Radical Christian, attract non-believers, and not come off so strong that you completely ruin your chance to demonstrate the love of Christ?


We have been blessed to meet a local family who have dedicated their lives to a personal ministry. Every Friday night, they rent the gym at a primary school and let neighborhood kids play floor hockey. With that comes a great opportunity to teach life skills through sports: teamwork, cooperation, focus, confidence, sportsmanship, obedience, confidence, unity, goal setting, self-improvement, hard work, and self-correction. And self-improvement takes place - these children learn about laughter and smiles. In a "cold" culture, and especially with the avid video gamers these days, these concepts are often foreign or forgotten. They also learn about Christianity and faith. Because of this one families involvement with children, they have had many opportunities to interact with some of the parents as well, many of whom are Muslim, or apathetic to any religion.

Assisting with this ministry is a perfect fit for us! It just so happens we love hockey, too!!! Plus, it fits our school and baby schedule, plus we need opportunities to practice French, plus we love working with children. Perfect fit all around!

Pep Talk & Prayer

The kids in action.

The look of concentration....or confusion....


Game on!

The Equipment Manager

Teaching the kids sportsmanship

One Friday night out of the month instead of playing hockey, we gather for "Club". Its very much like a VBS with games, songs, skits and a lesson. Most club nights the attendance runs in the 60's or higher. A lot of the Bible students from school come out to aid as well. It is one big playground in one little gym!

Most of the time we divide the kids up for a game where the boys go against the girls.
A race to the finish. The winner answers a trivia question.

Time to sing songs! (The adult helpers are students in our class)


And then there is always time for some good old fashioned rough housing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

That’s Just Different…

An American missionary visited a remote African tribe in the 1950's. The Tribal Leader was moved and felt called to the Lord. He asked what needed to be done to go to Heaven. The missionary told the Tribal Leader that he needed to repent and be baptized. The Tribal Leader asked of his sin and was then informed that he could not be married to three women and unless he leaves behind this sinful life, he could not be baptized, and could not receive the gifts of the Spirit. With a heavy heart, the Tribal Leader watched the missionary leave.

A year later, the missionary returned to the tribe. After a lesson, the Tribal Leader came forward and claimed his acceptance of Jesus and wanted to be baptized. The missionary was overjoyed and asked if the Tribal Leader had acted on the words of wisdom from his last visit.  The Tribal Leader exclaimed with great exuberance that he did and he now only had one wife! The missionary was so excited that the Tribal Leader could now become a baptized believer! Curiously, he then asked of the whereabouts of the former wives, the Tribal Leader told the missionary that he had killed them.

The American missionary came to bring good news, truly a noble and worthy thing; but failed to recognize how different the cultures were. In this particular tribe, plural marriage was a lesson in love and respect. The cultural reasoning behind this was in the event the first wife was barren, the husband could marry a second woman so she could bear children for his first wife. In this case, the second wife was also barren, so the Tribal Leader married a third time in order to have children to share among all three women. (This is actually a very Jewish concept.) When the Tribal Leader was informed he could only be baptized after he choose between the wives he loved and the Jesus the preacher spoke of, he was put in a tough spot. Divorcing two of them would be a life sentence of prostitution or slavery. So with love, the Tribal Leader killed them to keep them from a destitute life.

As part of our training for Africa, we discussed this very lesson so we could begin to see the world isn't based on American ideas and opinions. How can we reach the unreached if we don’t first adapt to the culture in which we serve? What good is it if the first thing we do is offend a culture who was taught their way of doing things is the only possible correct way, much like what we have been taught?  What happened when the Tribal Leader (from our story) begin to read the Old Testament story of Solomon, with 300 wives and 800 concubines, when he himself was not permitted to have only three beloved wives? Will the remainder of the tribe then come to believe that one must commit murder in order to become a Christian?

Unfortunately, the answer to bridging cultural gaps is very complex. For example, look at the way we Americans dress. We cover our breasts and are comfortable revealing our legs. In many African cultures, this is forbidden. The breasts are not sexual because they are used for feeding a baby; covering them only hinders the feeding process.  But the legs are part of the sexual beauty in a woman and thus covered in long dress. What if a visiting Western woman were to walk around in shorts, what impression will she give an African male? It would be one that says all Western women are sexually immoral simply because of their only experience with this one Western woman. Does it make their culture wrong and Americans right or does it make their culture right and ours wrong?

The basic awareness of cultural differences can be applied to just about any relationship, from different races, different nationalities, different Christian denominations, and even to different families. Each one has a micro-culture specific to them and will do things slightly different than another, and all of this is OK. 
"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:28
Does Paul say everyone must do everything the same? Certainly the Jewish culture was completely different than that of the Gentiles. Certainly some cultural changes had to happen in order to live more like Christ, but to completely act the same would be absurd. The important thing to remember is one is not better or worse than another, just different. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Guest Post...There Will Be No Suffering

When I stepped into the church nursery on Sunday, I expected to see my happy baby playing with the other children. Instead I saw her being held by a worker while she sobbed. As I stepped closer, I saw why she was crying and my heart broke. I waited quietly as the translator patiently relayed the story from French to English so I would not be confused. I demurely smiled as my heart broken even more.

Join me over at Intentional by Grace to see the rest of the story.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happiness is...

"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
-Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776

Here in Québec, Canada, we have a TV, but it only receives 1 channel. We never watch it (even if we did, at this point in our French learning we wouldn't understand much of it). When we returned to East Tennessee for our Christmas break, we watched TV for the first time in nearly 4 months. Even after this short amount of time, we found our perspective had changed. We weren't a big fan of commercials before, but now we realized at the heart of it, the only reason we were watching a program was because we paid them to tell us what we needed to buy so we could feel fulfilled and happy. Over and over, we were bombarded with the message that we should chase our own happiness with reckless abandon.

This is a big trap many people have fallen prey to (myself included); the trap is believing the world’s definition (more specifically the U.S. definition) of what it means to be happy or successful. My wife and I fell for this lie. At one point, we felt “successful” and we were, by the standards of many. We had a nice home, above average income, two cars, a big yard, a TV, a dishwasher, 2 dogs and so much stuff stored in the attic and basement that we didn't have any more room. And yet, happiness and contentment eluded us. God asked us to step away from our cushy jobs and re-evaluate where we placed our identity. Voilà! We wound up in international ministry.

One of the neat things about the journey into international missions is learning a new language.  Many phrases and idioms of one particular language translate-but with a slightly different twist.  An excellent example is the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.  In English, many versions read “blessed are the poor in spirit, mournful, meek, etc., etc.”  In French, however, it reads “happy are the poor in spirit, happy are those who mourn, the meek, etc.” Hmm. That’s different.  All in all, “happy” is mentioned roughly 30 times in the bible and only about half were about how to be happy.
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12-13).  
 Don't miss understand me, there is absolutely nothing wrong  with pursuing the things so eloquently written in the Declaration of Independence. Indeed many times throughout the Bible material things are blessings from the Lord, it's even more OK to be thankful for them. Certainly the "Smack Chop" or "Sponge-wow" are great products that can make life easier, but realize that inanimate objects and certain life styles are not things to give us an identity. 

The world is desperately searching to find its identity, the meaning of life….It will continue to fail miserably so long as its identity is tied to possessions or a certain life style. I am afraid as the world seeks to finds its identity outside of Christ, the more we as Christians will be influenced to do the same. Happiness and fun are not our priority, Christ is our priority. Instead of searching for happiness, we must search to first and foremost " first his kingdom an his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:24). 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun with French

Greetings from the Great White North!
Picture of view while driving through a foot of snow, while it is snowing
As we begin our 2nd session of French, we want to take the opportunity to share with you some of the French we have had the privilege of learning. The French language has influenced many different cultures all over the world, and you will be surprised at how much you already know or think you know, or know wrong...

1. The French that you already know and use regularly:
Déjà vu, première, bon voyage, façade, faux, faux pas, banquet, corsage, concierge, début, résume, Adieu

2. Food:
Quiche, croissant, crème brulée, sautée, à la carte, bouillon, crêpe, crouton, éclair, mousse, julienne, baguette   

3. The words you use frequently and had no idea they were French:
Blonde, simple, debris, bacon, detest, intense, vacation, scandal, pause, miracle, lapse, journal, park

4. The French you had all wrong:
-Commode – unfortunately does not refer to a toilet. It actually means dresser. Don’t you feel silly?
I keep my socks in the dresser. Je garde mes chaussettes dans la commode.
-Encore – used to request an additional performance. In French, it means “still, yet, or again.”
I am still in school. Je suis encore à l'école.
-Toilette – American’s have butchered this meaning by using it to simply refer to the potty.  In all proper sense, this French word is actually used to reference the things you do to get ready (i.e. brush teeth, comb hair, put on make-up, etc.)
I will be ready to leave after I finish my toilette. Je serai prêt à partir après avoir fini ma toilette.
-Voilà - English speakers tend to believe this means “A-ha!” But it really means “there it is!”
Where is my book? There it is, on the table. Où est mon livre? Voilà, sur la table!
-Soirée – In English, this is a word used for “party” or “gathering”. In French, it means “evening.”
Have a good evening! Passez une bonne soirée!       
-Entrée – American word for main course of their meal. In French, it is a verb used to say “enter”.
We can go in the door that says entrée. Nous pouvons aller dans la porte qui dit entrée

5. Pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation! 
-Québec. It is not pronounced as “Qwa-bek.” Think of the word bouquet – (kay). Now think of the word fiancé – (a). Combine the two to form the combination “ué”. 
Québec – (Kay-bec) heavy on the “a” and light on the “c.
-Louis. It is not pronounced as “Lew-us.” Remember the Italian car in the Disney movie “Cars”, Guido? You guess right, “ui” is pronounced with a “w”! 
Louis – (Lu-we)
-Chaise. There is no “ch” sound in the French language. Think of “chic” – sh. 
Chaise – (sh-eh-z) heavy on the “s” sound. 
-Tchad. This is how the French spell the country of “Chad”. Since there is no “ch” sound in the French language, they added a little trick here. By placing a “t” in front of it, they can make the “sh” sound a little more like a “ch” sound because the “t” is most always silent. Although it ends up sounding a little more like “Shad” than “Chad” but it sounds pretty close to the real thing. Another example is depot. You don’t say you are going to the Home Depot (de-pot), but the Home Depot (de-poe). You can thank the French for that one.
-Au jus. The French tend to drop the last letter off of most words, with exceptions of course. 
Au jus – (o – ju). 

*French Trivia!
 --- The phrase MAYDAY actually comes from the French m’aider (pronounced the same). It literally translates to “help me.”
 --- Did you know that RSVP comes from the French words, répondez s'il vous plaît which means "please respond"? So saying “Please RSVP” is redundant.

Now you know some of the French language! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Chat with K.A.T. video

Thanks to everyone who showed up to wish us well! For those of you who missed Kevin speaking, here is the link:

A Chat with K.A.T.

Kevin will be speaking at Highland View this evening about our updates. For those of you who will be unable to attend in person, here is a link so that you might watch it live on ustream. Just click on the "Live Webcast" icon 6:30-7:30 EST to watch it.