Relationship is the key

A blog i wrote while in Rwanda april of 2008 and never published….

Relationship is the Key….

We just wrapped up our three days pastors conference, it was phenomenal. Lives were changed. All of our team preached, and taught on many different leadership topics. It was life changing for the pastors and their teams and it was life changing for me and our team. We had right at one hundred pastors representing over 50 churches.

One of the things I taught them is a Jon Maxwell maxim, which is to say, “Leadership is influence, and influence comes through relationship. I have just read Pastor Kirk’s notes for this weekend’s services and that is basically what he is communicating. We can lead, “persuade,” “Influence” others without having relationship.

I love it when we are able to teach something and exhibit it all at that same time; it creates such an authenticity that everyone is impacted by it. I have made some great connections on this trip, and begun some great relationships. I have to say Rwandese people are the most resilient people I have every experienced personally. The team and I were discussing one night about the fact that sometimes we in America have something happen to us in life, and it shuts down our future we cease to be functional people, and here we are standing in front of young men and women, who have suffered the worst of travesty’s and they are praising God, they are testifying of His power. They’re not perfect and they have their issues like everyone else, but they just keep moving. Keep your eyes on Rwanda, God is starting something wonderful. I truly believe what is happening there will impact the world.

Like it does usually when you go to a third world country it brings things into perspective and it makes us realize how good we have it, and reprimands us for whining so much. What I am saying is not to de-legitimize real problems In your life or mine, but it is to say, take a look around, you don’t have to look very far to gain perspective.

I taught on relationship and how important it is, and God set me up with some great new friends. Friends that I will have for the rest of my life, young men and men my age who have a heart to change things. These men don’t think like the average person in Africa, they have a new way of thinking, it’s a new breed. Pastor Jackson, the man who worked as our point person for the Rwanda portion of the trip. He is a go getter by anyone’s standards. I say this without equivocation he would put a lot of pastors I know in the states to shame in vision, passion, faith, tenacity and plain old bull dog persistence.

I won’t try to put all of his stories in this blog, but I will put them in later blogs. They will encourage you and build your faith. I also, met a young man who interpreted for me, he is one of the best interpreters in the nation. He is a brilliant young man named Henry, he has stories as well that will make you want to stand up and shout. I also, began a relationship with a young man of 26 years of age who has a real heart for unity in the church and orphans, he is one. His Dad died in the war in Rwanda in 1990, and his mother died when he was born. He has real compassion on orphans. He has an organization called together as one.

I received the great privilege of speaking a special session just for them. I walked in and wanted them to speak to me. It reminded me of our church. They were all young adults and some teenagers, and they are absolutely passionate about making a change. They are renting an office building themselves and they have three goals. One is to evangelize, use their talents of dance, singing and preaching to impact the globe, many of them are orphans. Second, they are working on getting land and building a children’s home. Third they want to bring Christian Television to Rwanda, and with that host and coordinate big conferences. They have already invited me to bring our worship team and come back and speak in the big stadium which they believe they can fill 20,000 people.

They had such passion, such grace and humility, and they are serious about changing the world. I was so inspired! They are not talking about changing the world, they are changing the world. They aren’t victims they don’t think like that at all, they think it is their responsibility to do something and so they are.

My relationship with them, and theirs with our team and the relationship we built with the rest of the pastors, has given us influence with them, and affected them and us. Relationship is key, and if we are going to reach people, if we are going to lead people in a positive way, we must not be afraid, or threatened, or fear to take a risk to have a relationship.



Care enough to share

Isn’t it interesting, Jesus began his ministry by relationship building? He developed relationship with twelve men from all different walks of life and for three and a half years shared His life with them.

When something great happens in our lives, we want to tell everyone about it. When we graduate, get married, or have a baby we send out announcements, so everyone will know. What could be more wonderful than having a relationship with Jesus? He has freed us from our sins, He heals our bodies, He restores our souls, and although He is the God of the universe He takes great pleasure in being personally involved in our lives.

We want to share these great things with others. Some of the most rewarding relationships Janae and I have ever had have been when we decided to make a conscious effort to help lead another family to a higher level of living in Christ. It’s awesome to see people grow; it’s incredible to help them overcome problems and watch God work in their lives. This is what a relationship with Christ and His church does in people’s lives it turns them around. Yes, it takes work, and is sometimes inconvenient, but it’s the way Jesus has seen fit to perpetuate the Gospel. He designed it to reproduce through relationship.

It’s a biblical pattern. I don’t really want to use the word mentor, because it sounds so formal, it’s really just purposed friendship. Look at many of the great people of the Bible and you’ll see it. Abraham befriended Lot his nephew. Moses Befriended Joshua and led him to leadership. Jonathan, King Saul’s son befriended David and made way for his destiny to be fulfilled, while sacrificing himself. David had a host of misfit “mighty men” that he befriended and changed their lives forever. Elijah Befriended Elisha. Eli raised Samuel. Jesus had a close friendship with the twelve disciples. Barnabus befriended Paul, and John Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark. Paul befriended Timothy, Silas, Titus, Philemon, Aquila and Priscilla, and many others. It all comes down to one question. Do we care enough, to get out of our comfort Zone, to think beyond our immediate family, to be inconvenienced, or to realize there are people who need us?

Do you think that Barnabus knew what Paul would become to the church and the Christian movement? I don’t think he did. I think he just genuinely cared about this outcast individual. Do you think that Paul had some kind of Guarantee that Timothy would turn out to be such a force in the New Testament church. I think he hoped he would, but there are no guarantees. I believe that Paul genuinely cared about Timothy. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him; He knew that peter would deny him; He knew that all the disciples would run, in His greatest moment of trial, but he genuinely cared for them anyway.

Caring moves us to action. It causes us to go outside the norm. Do we care? Do we care for the child who has no defender, who is being treated unjustly? Yes, We do. That’s why we are doing the Royal family Kids camp, for Foster Kids and abused kids. Do we care for Young women who are at a disadvantage in life because of whatever set of circumstances? Yes we do that’s why we have “Rescue the girls” ministry. Do we care for men who have gone to prison, and because of outreach been saved there, and need help assimilating back into society, and need discipleship. Yes we do, that’s why men in our church are partnering with a local organization to mentor ex-prisoners. Do we care for underprivileged kids around the globe, yes that is why we have major initiatives in Fortaleza Brazil through compassion international and involved with the Hope RWANDA, and 08 missions includes partnering with Watoto in Uganda, and Hagar House in Cambodia. We have Youth America summer camps every year because we care for the teenagers of this nation.

The question is do we care for our neighbor across the street? Do we care for our coworkers? Do we care for that family member that’s lost? Do we care enough that we’ll contend with awkwardness in order to reach them? Do we care about that person at church that may set down the row from us, who are on the fringe and need help growing spiritually? I believe we do.

Let this blog today become an action plan for our lives, to consciously care for other people. Let’s go beyond the extra mile. If we care enough we’ll do it. So, this week begin a relationship and show someone how much you care.

-David Gadberry

Guest blogger….Amy Raunborg…”There are no Words”

There are no words to describe what we have done in only 3 days.  We’vetaught english classes, prepared sacks for street children with water and small meals, we washed their hands and feet, we gave them first aid, tried lots of Cambodian food, have had great fellowship with Students in the new life dorms, and some of us visited the slums of Cambodia.

We all have so many stories to share with you when we get home!  Cambodia is truly amazing.

Thank you for all your prayers and support.  We will see you soon.


Where the Asphalt Ends

first let me say there may be several mistakes in this blog because I am using a keyboard that is set up a little different.  I am currently sitting in the Niarobi airport, waiting on a flight to Ethipia to continue this great adventure.  The story I am abut to tell you is true and one of the most impacting of the time we have been here. 

The team in uganda really had one objective when they came here, and that was to build an educational faciltiy for watoto and to connect with the kids, and we did that every day.  At night after the work day was over, we would walk into the community and mingle with the people, talk to them, give them gifts, and just get to this neibhborhood.  This district had a huge nighlife, and we got right down in the middlle of it. 

Tyson had met a young man whos name is Alex, alex is about 24 and a year and a half ago he gave his life to Jesus.  He has a little sidewalk shop where he sales shoes, im sure you will see pictures of it later.  He is doing his best to make a living for he and his family.  He is responsible for his mother, his sister and his baby.  He had a wife and she ran away, she had the baby, left her with the family and ran away.  She is a precious littl baby girl named praise.

Alex, is not only a shoe salesmen but also a preacher, he goes up and down those streets, and preaches to the pimps and prostitutes and addicts and impoverished and everyone he can talk to about Jesus.

Before i arrived from Rwanda the team had gone out ministering and i hadn’t gone yet, it was evening and dark so Tyson, John and I went to the slums.  This is what they call it.  Its off the beaten path.  The main road is one club after another, one pool hall after another, one shop after another, but when you go up this road, where the asphalt ends and you are walking on mud and dirt, the further you go the worse it seems to get.

We took Alex so he could interprate and we went up into the slums.  There were people everywhere, kids roaming the streets, there parents not having any idea where they are, if they have parents. There are men and women out and the smell of marijauna is pungent in the air, and merchants selling their wares, and prostitutes doing the same.  It was shocking how many kids are out and roaming.  We had made a friend, his name was mike he was nine years old, his mom died, his dad moved away and he lives with his older brother, who i don’t get the feeling ever knows where he is at.  It is a sign of friendship for friends to hold hands, so Tyson and John are carrying bags with bibles and goodies in them and michael and i were walking along and michael was holding my hand, and alex was telling me of the great things God is doing in his life.

We started handing out bibles, you would have thought we were giving out free food, we gave out 100 i believe and we could have easily given out 1000, Tyson was brilliant though, he would tell them, “i am giving you this, share it with all your friends, bring them over and you all read it together.” 

So we would give out bibles talk to different ones abuot Jesus, and tell the Jesu akwagala, Jesus loves you.  They would grab those bibles and say thanks.  It was really amazing.  We continued to walk up the street and we came to a church, I’m sure it is nothing like what you may picturing right now in your mind.  It was a one room building, beat down and run down, but they were keeping it the best they could and were very proud of it, it was called “Christ in you the hope of glory church. We walked in and there were several women and a few children, worshipping God, they were praying, we asked if we could join them, it was one of the neatest moments, i wish i had pictures of tyson, worshipping with them, but i didnt have my camera and the moment was not appropriate for a picture, it was one of those times that is so surreal you have to remind yourself its actually happening. 

After we prayed we begin to sing songs with them, they danced, and we loved on them, and we felt like giving the church an offering, i think what we gave was about 100 dollars, which would probably far surpass the budget for a year, you would not believe the response, they shot off like a rocket, and begin to dance and shout, and we were overjoyed by there gratefulness and simple thanksgiving.  So alex said, pastor you should share with them, and so i preached a short sermon to which the responded with great joy.  We prayed with each of them, and hugged them and the crowd grew by double by the time we were finished with kids and women who heard the commotion. 

As we walked back down, we gave away neclaces, candy, treats and bibles, and we shared our faith with them.  We had told Alex earlier that we were interested in ministering to the pimps and prostitutes, and wanted to give them a bible, so we were walking down the street he had us by the hand, and all of a sudden we ducked into this dark ally, very narrow place, and as soon as we did there were men who grabbed our hands and begin to offer women to us.  It was a disgustingly filthy place and very dark, there were men standing, and many women setting on a bench waiting to be sold.  These were not women being forced at least it didn’t appear that way and alex said these were women who didn’t want to do anytihng else, so they did this, he said he frequantly tells them they need Jesus and they need to Him to change their lives.

It became very uncomfortable very quickly, so I leaned in to Tyson and I said they are obviously misunderstanding our purpose here.  Which is fairly naive of us, white men from america, handing out gifts and walking straight in to prostitute central, what were they going to think.  I said, “lets back out and try this another way.”  We backed out and sense they know Alex and that he preaches Jesus to them and does not approve of their lifestyle we sent him in with a bible.  Then we walked off, knowing we did the right thing, we stopped and had a coke, and when we did the most miraculous thing happened. 

We turned around, and there was one of the prostitutes she had followed us out, she said, “I want to know Jesus.”  We were a bit shocked, but right there on the street, we prayed with her and she gave her life to the Lord.  When she asked, another young teenage boy who was standing there said, i want to know Jesus too, so he prayed with us and received Jesus.  While we were basking in the glory of this moment, another prostittute came, she was probably 17 and she said i want what they have, so we prayed with her too, about that time, the pimp sent one of the girls down to tell the two who had given their lives to Jesus not to ever come back, and we said praise the Lord!  We used wisdom and left at that point, but left knowing that we had shared the love of Jesus with people who were hurt and bound by sin, and just let Jesus does, He set them free.

Sometimes we need to leave the asphalt of our lives, we need to say goodbye to the good road and go ahead and trek up that muddy dirt road of the world, and well find that there are people shining a light there, and we will find there are hungry hearts there, we will find people who need Jesus there, and if we take the love of Jesus where the asphalt ends, it will change us as it changes them.

What is the asphalt in your life?  Your comfort?  Your status?  Your pride?  Your fear?  Step onto the dirt, and get your feet dirty, it will be the greatest experience of your life.

My next blog I will tell the rest of the story, we went to alexes house, to reach his mother, it will break your heart for those who need love and help, and inspire you to do what you can to reach another’s world.

Please excues type o’s and blunders i am using a keyboard that is not like what we are used to and can cause more mistakes than normal, which i’m famous for anyway.