We can do something…

In the last blog I gave some thoughts and statistics that are really staggering, heartbreaking, and shocking.  Several people responded and most said what most say.  They were outraged, irritated, and frustrated, then went on to say, someone has to do something.  What can we do?

A few years ago, when I became aware of the sex trade, and the unyielding problems that come with hiv/aids internationally the effects of war, and poverty, and the lack in underdeveloped nations, it profoundly effected me.  I always knew about these problems, but you can know, and not really “know.”  I knew mentally, but had never seen it for myself, and I have to say its way to easy for us as Americans to bury our head in the sand and just deny what goes on around the world, and even in the impoverished areas of our own nation.  People think if they just ignore it, it doesn’t exist, but when i took my first trip to Cambodia there was no denying the travesty that exists, and no ignoring the roaring voice in my mind that yelled, “DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!”

My mind realed, i was thinking about all the problems.  starvation, poverty, disease, war, children being orphaned, the sex trade, and so much more, and for a moment i just became overwhelmed.  I was thinking, this is horrible but what can I do?  I mean, really what can I do?  Then I adopted a new thought.  “I can’t do everything, but  I can do something, but what I will never do, is nothing!”

So we have been doing something.  You can read in previous blogs some of the things we are doing, and in future blogs what we are going to do, but I want to give you some thoughts, on how to do something.

Whether local, regional, national, or global you can do something.

1.  make up your mind you will do something. Something, meaning anything that you have the power to do.  Many people do nothing because they think if they can’t do something huge it wont make a difference.  The truth is most of what is making a difference in the world today are things that started by someone saying, i will do what i can, and just grew from there.

2.  Wake yourself up, and those around you up to the need, and take responsibility for it. If everyone is thinking someone else will do it, then no one will.  It takes all of us doing what we can, when we can, where we can, to effect a change.

3.  Brainstorm what you can do. Don’t think that the answer to everything is merely money.  We have lots of resources that are based on talents, and time, and not just treasure.  Yes it takes money but you can do things that make a difference that don’t cost a lot.  Its at least a place to start, and remember our resources go a lot further in the third world than they do here.

4.  Become a partner. Nothing significant will ever be done on any level without partners.  We need each other.  Others need you and you need them.  We all bring something different and good to the table, and working together gets more done than trying everything on our own.  We are developing partners all over the world.

5.  Make people aware. I used to think awareness efforts were a waste of time.  I would say, people need to quit talking and start doing something about it.  Then I realized that with our ability to ignore things awareness is very important.  To do what we do we need financial partners and we have learned that people are motivated by getting a revelation of what is really happening, rather then us just saying we need help.  People need to know that little girls and boys are being sold and bought for sexual perversion.  People need to know that people have no medical care, or no education, or no hope because of corruption or poverty.    When we make people aware it incites a riot on the inside of them, it turns their world upside down and demands action.

6.  Don’t get frustrated when people aren’t as motivated as you about these needs. It takes time and your frustration will only negatively effect you and put an edge on you that will repel people not attract them to help you.

So those are some things I think about.  Just remember you can do something.  So do it.


The clinic…

We are so excited that we got all the glitches worked out for the clinic. Here in Rwanda many times the national govt is a very cooperative and forward thinking and grateful for people coming in and helping, but sometimes, not all the time, just sometimes the local govts are not. Thank God for giving us connections and friendships that have helped us get through the issues and have our clinic. The clinic was a huge success. I will have to post pics later, due to some technical difficulties.

The area that our clinic is in is a major prostitution area one of the biggest in Kigali. A lot of the problems we saw were STD’s, some stomach viruses, some infections, some problems that were severe enough we were able to refer them to a hospital and doctors care.

The first day because of some of the difficulties it took us a bit to get started once we did we saw around 175 to 200 patients total. The second day we had more dr.s and were able to see around 500 patients. It was a very busy day.

The children were dirty and mostly bare footed. They’re community was the poorest of the poor. It was a slum. One of the dr’s told me that the ditches there, and he pointed to them, they were filled with trash and all kinds of filth. He said when it rains and the ditches fill with water, they will use the water out of those ditches to drink. So you can see what a need their is for medical care and for teaching these families how to be healthy. What not to eat, what not to drink, what promiscuity is doing to them.

One of our doctors spent time while people were waiting in line teaching them. He said they are just ignorant of the facts. This is how they have lived from generation to generation and their thinking has to be changed.

I can’t imagine that their life expectancy is very long. In this culture if you are 50 or above you are considered old. Some places even 40’s are considered old. To most of the young guys we were working with, i was old, and as you all know I am very young. (sorry a little of my mid life crisis coming out there..lol)

When we talked to the minister of Justice, he said something that is very true. There is something to do to help in every sector of society. Humanitarian efforts, spiritual efforts, infrastructure efforts, business efforts, and on and on.

Our meeting with the ambassador was very informative. Stewart Simington the third. He is a good man. He has only been in Rwanda since September, but he definitley has his finger on the pulse of this nation. He was very helpful in giving us ideas for the future and was so welcoming.

He was very appreciative of Americans coming here trying to help. He has invited us to bring the entire team to his house this afternoon to talk. He wanted to see them all. He is a great representative for America here in Rwanda. You would be very proud of our embassy here as well.

So We have done what we can, the team is out shopping for souvaneirs and I am staying back in my room recovering from a bout of either food posining or a bug i picked up but either way yesterday was tough. Its times like these that you truly miss home. I’m feeling great today. Just resting recouping my strength, and ready to come home. let me say again how great this team has been. I always say this after a trip but its true every time. I would take harvest people anywhere around th world to help people because our culture connects well with those who we are trying to help. Thanks Pastor Kirk and Nancy for raising us to care about people locally, regionally, nationally, and around the world.

Love you all and look forward to seeing you soon.


Helping people…the great adventure

I love adventure.  I love trying knew things, taking a challenge, doing something thats fun or gives you a rush! I love the risk of it the commitment of it, the courage it takes to be adventerous.  If someone around me is not asking, “you’re really going to do that?”  or,  “are you sure you want to do that?”  I know I’m not really living.

I love adventure.  The greatest adventure in life is taking the challenge and the risk.  Making the commitment, and sacrifice.  Accepting and embracing inconvenience for the sake of helping others.  There is no rush, no excitement, no fun, like helping other people.  Getting involved in their lives, dealing with their issues and helping them find solutions, this is adventure.

There are so many christians in the world right now who are living this great faith adventure, and I love it!  I love it that the church is figuring out, that the answers are not in setting behind our four walls enjoying each others company, but it is in reaching out and bringing people in that is changing lives, and causes great adventure.

Christians who aren’t passionate about Jesus, are struggling being bored with their Christianity because they’ve lost the adventure that is supposed to be at the forefront of a Christians life.

One of the reasons I love our church, and many like it is because we are living the adventure, we have lots of people who have embraced this exciting life and are doing it together.  This week we will be serving women at our “Girlfriends Conference”  Women from all four of our campuses and over 50 other churches will come together and experience a highly creative, spiritually impacting, relational and fun conference.

We have volunteers that will take their time and serve these ladies so they can have this life changing experience.  We also run youth camps all summer long, june through august at our OKC facility.  Rental camps and Our National youth ministry, Youth America. Next Monday we will be taking a team to Africa, where we are leading a pastors and leadership conference as well as a medical clinic for two weeks.  At the end of  July we will be taking another team to Camobdia, To work with Orphans and impoverished children, helping them  not be victimized by human trafficking.  We have a Kids camp as well as a Royal family Kids Camp which is our ministry to Foster Kids.  A free camp for 85 foster kids ages 7-11.

That may sound like a lot, and is why we call summers at harvest one big adventure!  We are committed to Change the world through the adventure of helping others.  All the teens, all the kids, all the adults, locally, regionally, nationally and globally we will help this summer, are all part of this great adventure called Christianity.  Its about taking the chance to love people, to extend grace to them, and to live life full tilt for the greatest adventurer of all time.  Jesus!

So jump off the bench, get off the sidelines, get in the game and enjoy the adventure and who knows, you might open up a life of adventure for someone else.


Take Your Place….

Being out of place is the most uncomfortable and disorienting feeling in the world. It steals our enthusiasm and frustrates our purpose. It can hurt us and others around us. On the other hand being in place is completely satisfying. There is peace when you are in the right place at the right time.

I think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. You have a beautiful picture on the outside of the box, which all the small pieces put together should make. We have, in the Bible, the picture of the purpose and life that God would have us to live. When we pray and seek God and put each one of those elements, seasons, gifts, talents and abilities together in the right place it culminates in the picture that is our God purposed life. The thing about the pieces to a puzzle is they have one place to fit. We can try to force a piece in but it will ruin that piece and the pieces around it, and ultimately the picture will not look like the front of the box.

Being out of place can bring loneliness, confusion, heartache, and apathy to the forefront in our lives. Moses is the biblical person I think of in this scenario. I think sometimes we put his life in a theatrical box and don’t really understand how he felt. The picture of Moses overall life is definitely the picture of a deliverer. The components of his life put together depict his purpose. His personality, his raising, his very name meant “to deliver” or to draw out.

He was raised in Pharaohs household, God’s way of training him for leadership, however because he was a Jew and Identified with his people, he felt out of place. His frustration and zeal combined to push him to act out that frustration. He struck a blow against tyranny and slavery, but was out of place and time for that blow to be struck. This forced him to run. He knew his actions were ill timed and as a result his life begin to spiral out of control. Was he to be Israel’s deliverer? Yes, but this was not the place or the time. God had not finished training him. Inexperience and immaturity will Cause us to act out of frustration even in the direction of our purpose it will put us out of place, as it did him.

Moses, then found himself on the back side of the desert. Even then we see him trying to be a deliverer. There were some young women trying to water their father’s flocks and were being bullied out of the way. Moses stepped in and stood up for them and brought them to the front of the line. He met his wife in that interaction and married, and took on the trade of his father in law. He became a shepherd.

It seems that Moses had resigned himself to his new life. The zeal to deliver seemed to be lost to him, and his people dead to him. We can deny our purpose, we can act like “our life is fine,” but in truth we are hurting and miserable. The way you see it in Moses is in the name of his child. In their culture your name many times held great meeting. Moses named his child just as his mother named him, except she named him in faith. She named him the future deliverer of his people. He named his child to declare his miserable state. He named him Gershom which means Expulsion, or a stranger there. He was practically screaming “I am out of place!” My life was not supposed to turn out like this. It’s not that he wasn’t happy with his wife, or his child, or even his life or occupation, what was missing was the God component, purpose.

It’s very interesting to me that he knew he was out of place, but when God called him, he made excuses, and asked God to get someone else. Sometimes even when we know we’re out of place and in our heart of hearts we’re miserable, missing that one God component, we still make excuses. I think we get comfortable. After all, my life’s not so bad; I have a great life, a good career, a great spouse, wonderful children, and good friends. No more excuses! It’s not about whether or not I have a great life or whether or not I enjoy my life, it is about whether or not I am fulfilling my purpose. We can’t get comfortable with life in the wrong place.

When Moses finally surrendered God gave him the courage to act on his purpose by delivering the Israelites out of the hand of Egypt. He broke the generations free from the shackles that held them. What significant thing is yet to happen as a result of your purpose or dream? It’s going to happen if we get in place. Moses wasn’t meant to be pharaoh’s son, nor was he to be just Jethro’s son in law the shepherd, He was meant to be Moses, the deliverer of the people of God. He found meaning when he found his right place. Find satisfaction, peace and the realization of God’s purpose in your life as you take your place.


My hero part two…

Hero’s are truly all around us.  In my mind a hero is a person who is actively involved in making a positive difference in the lives of others, by sacrificing themselves.  I know numbers of people like this.  People who have been blessed and see life as an opportunity to be a blessing to others.

Hero’s see need and say, something has to be done.  To them this is not a suggestion, rather a statement of fact.  Hero’s never point at others and say you should do something, they take the responsibility themselves and do what they can.

Hero’s realize they don’t have all the answers, and they can’t fix all the problems, but the difference between a normal Joe and a hero, is action. Normal Joe says, “someone should do something,” hero says, “I will do something.”  We can’t do everything, but we can do something, and what we must never do, is nothing!

Whether you are a teacher in the classroom, a professional in business, a mechanic in a shop, a worker in a plant, a doctor in a hospital, a pastor in a church, we can all do something.  Will it take us beyond our level of comfort?  Yes.  Will it require sacrifice?  Yes.  Will it feel like its more than we can do?  Yes.

I think we should all go that extra mile, stretch beyond our boundaries, lead beyond our level, and achieve change.

Pat Bradly, of International Crisis Aid, is one of my hero’s.  Pat is a man who is truly doing things to change the world.  A few years ago he was in a crisis moment of his life, and he asked God to help.  God helped him make a major life change, which saved his marriage and his life.  He has an advertising business and is a blessed man, and is a blessing of a man.  Pat with his non-profit organization International Crisis aid, goes into “no go” zones.  He feeds the hungry, brings medical care to the malnourished, and is helping to rescue young women out of the sex trade, which is modern day slavery that is effecting the entire globe.

Here is a man, who is as down to earth as it gets.  Hes normal, fun, excited about life, has a great family, and is making a difference.  The way you know a person is really making a difference is they will always say, we need to do more, which I hear Pat say frequently.

So Hats off to my hero, Pat Bradly.