Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rwanda Prayer List

I'm leaving for Rwanda on January 7 and as I prepare I wanted to ask anyone who takes the time to read this short blog post to pray for me and Mark (my pastor).

In Rwanda we will be teaching at an international Apologetics conference, visiting a genocide memorial, teaching in the local church, connecting with local pastors and much more (I hope eating amazing food makes the list).  We're traveling with Come and See Africa and excited for this opportunity.

Here are the top 5 ways you can pray for us while we're gone:

  1. Pray for God to use our teaching time to honor Him
  2. Pray for safe travels (planes, cars and anything else we may ride in)
  3. Pray for relationships to form that are mutually encouraging 
  4. Pray for God to open doors that may be closed
  5. Pray for our families while we're away
If you want to add something to the list it would be our health to remain strong!

Thanks for praying; I'm excited to share what God does. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Preaching to Murderers

My mind has been bothered lately... I think my soul has too.

Let me explain this to you and how it came about.  See in about a month I'm going to Rwanda with my pastor.  On our trip we'll be teaching at an apologetics conference and preaching in the local church.  As we've been prepping for our trip my pastor read a book titled Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda.  After reading the book he passed it on to me and I read it; here's what I learned.

Before Europe conquered Africa and divided up the land Rwanda was lead by a king.  The king has three leaders over three different aspects of life: Military, Livestock and Agriculture.  The leader of the Military could be a Tutsi or a Hutu, the leader of livestock was always a Tutsi and the leader of the agriculture was always a Hutu.  Once Belgium came in they were under the assumption that the Tutsi's were better leaders because of their height, lighter colored skin and positions they were currently holding.  Therefore they promoted the Tutsi's and educated them more, leaving the Hutu's out to farm.  The Belgians also brought identity cards with them solidifying the segregation.

Years of this segregation created an undercurrent of frustration in Rwanda that climaxed in April 1994 with the genocide.  In the genocide 800,000+ people were murdered, read that line again: 800,000+ people were murdered.  Estimates guess that 20% of the nations people were killed in the genocide.  No country intervened for months, if I remember correctly it was about 100 days of killing.  The Hutu's were fed-up and started killing all the Tutsi's because: their skin was lighter, they had livestock and they was a different nostril flare.

Now before you try to separate this emotionally and put some rational behind the killing you have to remember the majority of the killing was done with machetes.  I've never killed anyone, but my first choice wouldn't be to use a machete.  A machete would be an intimate way to kill someone; there is very little distance and you would become closely acquainted with you victim.

Now you have to add a layer to all this senseless killing.  The killing wasn't done by a country to invade another country.  The killing wasn't done with bombs and snipers.  The killing was done with machetes who killed their neighbors.  People who were being killed would say things like: "John (fictitious name), how come you're doing this, you're my neighbor."

The genocide in Rwanda was neighbors killing their neighbors with machetes.

If you're still reading then your interested in where I'm going.  I'm guessing that when I preach in the local church, most of the darker skinned men, and maybe women, over the age of 38 have killed someone.  The disturbing facts of group evil are at play here.  Something an 18 year old male is unwilling to do on his own, he is willing to do in the company of other men his age: group evil.

I can't get the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount out of my head:
You have heard it was said long ago: "Don't murder" but I tell you anyone who even thinks about hurting their brother or sister has committed murder in their mind. Matthew 5:21-24 (my translation)
I shouldn't be surprised that I'll have an opportunity to preach to murders but its been messing with my brain.  The reality is we've all committed murder in our mind, the people I may or may not get to meet acted on the thoughts.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Rwanda Bound: Prep

Last week I started really preparing to go to Rwanda.  I've shifted a lot of my mental focus to preparing for this trip.  I've slotted time on my calendar to ready myself.  I'm started studying my material for preaching in the local church and creating material for the conference we're teaching.  I also went and got my shots (not my favorite) at the hospital.

About 3 months ago I called my doctor and found out what I needed to update for shots to prepare for my trip.  Last week I went to Kaiser to pick up my prescriptions and get my shots up to date for my trip.  I started by going to the pharmacy and picking up my prescriptions that were called in.  For the trip I needed to update my Typhoid vaccination, tetanus shot, get malaria pills and bring an antibiotic just in case.  While getting information about my prescriptions I learned Typhoid is not a shot anymore but a 4 pill oral vaccination.

As the pharmacists was explaining my prescriptions she suggested I go to the third floor to get my shots before they closed.  I quickly headed up where I was the last one in to get my tetanus shot and they talked me into the flu shot.  The conclusion of that: my arm hurt for three days.  I went back downstairs and my prescriptions were ready.  I got the Typhoid pills, malaria pills and an antibiotic for any stomach problems that may arise.

Overall I'm pretty much ready (physically) for the trip.  I'm going to start my Typhoid vaccinations next week and will take the malaria pills about a week before we leave.  Thanks for your prayers for my trip; I really appreciate it!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Confessions of a Pastor: Happy Holidays?

The Holiday's are an amazing time of the year!
We spend priceless hours with our families at the table for Thanksgiving.  
We get extra time off at Christmas to spend with family members we haven't seen in years.

So how come the holiday's are still so tough for me?

You can ask my wife and she would have a kind response to how I struggle so much with the holidays.  I've noticed how my attitude changes around Thanksgiving and I've been examining my life to get some answers.  I'm pretty sure why the holidays are so difficult to me has to do with my childhood.  

While most of my friends were hanging out at their house with their parents, eating family meals, opening presents and going snowboarding I was probably sitting in a car heading to my dad's house.  As I've processed this I'm realizing how coming from a broken home was so tough on me.  I want to make it clear I am not writing this to bash my parents; I love my parents.  I am writing this to share my personal struggles with the holidays.

I thought that when I gave my life to Christ this would magically change... it didn't.  There are some years that are better than others but like clockwork at the end of November I get these unexplainable feelings inside.  I get unsettled feelings.  I go back to my childhood and wish I was able to experience normal holidays (if that exists).

Now that I've pinpointed the issue I've been able to work on it.  As the Holiday's have started I've seen my attitude change, its happening again.  

This year I'm aware. 

This year I'm praying more about my attitude.  I'm thanking God for my family.  I'm asking God to help heal the unexplainable feelings inside.  The best part is being married to Charity.  She has taught me more about the joy of Christ during Christmas than anyone else I've ever met.

Merry Christmas!