Power in Partnership…

Well, we only have two and half days before we head home.  That seems so fast, but I think everyone will be ready by then.  I would say that the key word to this years global reach to Africa is Partnership.  I have had so much fun this year in building some new relationships and partnering together to make a difference around the world.

God has partnered us with some great people who have a heart like we do to reach the world.  God has put a new friend in my life this last year, that I have grown to value a great deal.  A man named John Osborne.  He is the director of ROC (Rwanda Outreach Coalition), and works at OC in their program to help Rwandan Students as well as working with Christ Church Rwanda.  He has connected me with some more new friends.  Brian Hixton a great man, who has a heart like God.  He cares for people, and is an exceptional planner and details man.  Which just means, he cares a lot.  Pastor David The Senior Pastor at Christ Church and His team, Pastor Rusty, Pastor Eddie, and Pastor Moses.  What a great team.  These men and their wives have made commitments to the cause of Jesus that few have, and it is apparent that God is using them in a mighty way.

We partnered with them in Rwanda, partnered with Watoto in Uganda, partnering through the local church is where its at.  The only way to make a long term impact is to partner with long term local church teams.  I urge all short term missions programs out there, to take a hard look at the way you are doing what you do, make sure it is connected an partnered with a long term local church partner.  If you don’t, you may feel like you are making an impact but in the long run, it’s a shot in the dark.  You can know that your efforts are not in vein and have a long term impact through partnership.

I urge you long termers to use the energy, passion, and gifts of short term teams to help train your teams and give you a big momentum bump when you can.  Ive always been a partnership person, and now more than ever.  Church its time we took the limits off, joined hands, and let God do His thing.

I’m inspired and truly appreciate the power in partnership.  Its a divine principle established by God, lets do it, partner.

Something to Say about INJUSTICE

Its encouraging to see how many people are becoming aware to the injustices and need around us and around the globe. So many great organizations are taking it as their responsibility to do something about injustice. Many are attacking this plight on humanity called “Human Trafficking.” Slavery is as real today as its ever been in the history of the world. We are going to stop it however, by Speaking out, Reaching out, and Helping out.

Many are attacking the injustice of hunger. There are families right here in the US and around the world, who are hungry. My wife being a teacher sees it all the time. Kids who are not being cared for well, either hungry or sick because of the lack of good food. The issue around the world is unbelievable. Just what I have seen in the places I have been will blow your mind to think that people live in these conditions. We are doing our best to do something about it. Yes these situations occur for different reasons, and truthfully those things need to be dealt with, but in the mean time, we will not let the innocent suffer the injustice because of some judgement we are making. How is this injustice being dealt with? People are Speaking out, Reaching out, and Helping out.

We could go on and on, about poverty, about exploitation, about clean water, about orphans, and homelessness, and when we look at all of this, it makes us afraid, overwhelmed, feel hopeless, and an over all resignation that there is nothing we can do. Truth is the way things change in the world, is by the pattern I’m talking about now. What we can do is very simple, and doable if we truly have passion to do it. Speak out, Reach out, and Help out.

Because I spend time developing ministry and projects to address these issues, and raise money to help with this and take trips to do the work, I have learned something very real. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Truthfully if everyone did something, we could wipe out, some of the injustice in the world.

So join me in the following.

SPEAK OUT! Do some research, become and expert on the issues and talk about the problems, make people aware of what is going on. Share stories and solutions, force people to get their head out of the sand, and realize we are our brothers keeper. Talk it up.

However without action TALK IS CHEAP!

REACH OUT! So now that you’re speaking out, start reaching out. Align yourself with people who are doing something. Reach out to them and partner up. Reach out to those who are on the front lines and support. Things don’t change because we wish they would. They change because we do something about it. Doing something about it costs money. Some go, and Some send, but everyone can do their part. Don’t remain isolated and indifferent, reach out.

Now you’re speaking out, and reaching out, good, one more step though.

HELP OUT! Its not enough to speak or reach, we must cross the barrier, find out what we can actually do, and do it. When we first started thinking we could do something, it was daunting, but we realized, there are people who stand around overwhelmed, there are people who talk forever about grandiose plans for change, and then there are people who actually take steps, however small, and do something. We decided, we would be the latter. Whether locally, or globally, we would do what we could. What we have found is that over the years, the little we can do, turns in to generational blessings and help for people who are suffering injustice. We starting helping out.

So there you have it. The pattern for change, for dealing with injustice. SPEAK OUT, REACH OUT, HELP OUT!

Please share your thoughts, solutions, and concerns about injustice. Lets right the wrongs around the world.


A revolution of Service

I have been so proud of our team over the last two days.  Yesterday we were finishing up our seven days of Servolution.  Our project was to help with the CARE program at the MWC police department.  Our team started gathering early and preparing to go in and help.  Something happen that changed everything.  A fire started in MWC and spread over a significant area of MWC and Choctaw.  We know now that 49 people were injured, and 50 houses were a total loss with others being badly damaged and still others with smoke damage.

The police told us with everyone being called in, there would be no way we could do the project we had planned, they suggested we go over the the community center and see if there was something we could do there.  At the same time, the leader of this project and one of our other guys in the church called and said why don’t we turn our servolution project into helping the evacuees, of which there were hundreds.  So I stopped and picked up a lot of supplies told our team who were already in their “serve team” shirts to head to the community center and start setting up supplies.  We called on other serve teams to join us, and just set up and started helping people.

Giving out water, and food, and toys for the kids.  We started thinking, “who could we partner with?”  So we called starbucks and they supplied coffee and Hot chocolate.  Krispy Kreme provided donuts.  There were pets so a vet brought dog and cat food and treats.  People just started showing up and giving us hot food, to pass out, people in the community started coming in and saying where can I serve.

We worked with the Red Cross, what Great People they are and an incredible organization.  There were also folks there from the Southern Baptist Disaster relief organization, incredible servants everyone.   I must say that the MWC community leaders, the city council, the police, and firemen, The officials, and the leaders of the community center, Were so sharp.  This city and its leaders have their act together.  The sherriffs, the city manager, so many people and organizations working together to help others.  We were so blessed just to be part.

There were so many churches sheltering people and helping people, our friends the Burchetts at Eastpointe brought their people together today and really helped the people who have so much damage and loss and the public servants working so hard as well.

So there are some things I learned.

1.  Don’t set back and call leaders in the fray and ask them what you can do to help, they don’t have time to figure it out for you and at the moment don’t know what to tell you.  Just get into the fray with them, and start serving.  This is the best thing you can do.  The church is not an outsider in the community it is a part of the community.

2.  Partner, Partner, Partner….You have connections others don’t have and they have connections you don’t have.

3.  Realize that people want to help.

4.  Wear matching shirts so you can be easily identified and people can come to you for help.

5.   Help the kids, if they can be connected with it gives their parents a chance to think, and rest a minute.

6.  Be open to jump in and do what you can without hesitation, be willing to say yes, when needed.

7.  Your team will give over and above, and people will always rise to the occasion.

8.  Always be thinking about the next step.

9.  Serve the servants.  First responders put it all on the line, and have no time to stop and take care of themselves, so serve them as well as the victims of the disaster.

This was really a great way to solidify a servolution culture in our team.

I invite you to join the party and embrace what our friend Dino Rizzo Cause a “Servolution!”

20 years…

As I sit here this morning reflecting on life,  and my  place in the world, (sounds deep right) what else are you gonna due when you wake up this early on Sunday morning.  I think  of last Tuesday August 12.  Last tuesday was a marker in my life.  A twenty year marker.  As of last tuesday, my wonderful wife Janae and I have been married for 20 years.  I know, I know we look way to young for that, at least thats what we tell ourselves.  We got married when we were 19, now i wouldn’t change this, but I don’t necessarily recommend it.

We were talking the other about what this means, all that we’ve gone through, the ups and downs, the extremely good times, and the extremely bad times.  A lot can happen over 20 years.  There have been times we have been so mad at each other we just wanted to give up, and quit on marriage.  There have been times when we had such difficulty that we couldn’t imagine how we would have made it without each other.  There have been such great times we have been elated to be together.

God has truly blessed us, by surrounding us with people who give us great examples of how to last.  He has taught us through his word, about what a great marriage really is, and how it works.

How do you do 20 years?  Love, no not that fuzzy feeling stuff we call love, but true love.  Love that considers the other person more than self, love that wants the success of the other, love the supersedes frustration, anger, or discontentment.

How do you do it?  communicate, talk to each other, my wife, even if she is the one im mad at is the first person I turn to, I am the same for her.  We are partners.  It doesn’t hurt that Janae is the greatest person I know, and has more true love and care and wisdom in her little pinky then the majority of people i’ve met in life.

How do you do it?  Believe in each other.  Realize that God has gifted each of you, that He has a purpose for each of you, and has put you together to realize that purpose, not the least of which is to train your children to become great people.  Support one another.  My greates cheerleader is Janae, and I’m hers.

How do you do it?  don’t let anger rule in your house.  Care more about unity than you do about making your point.  Remember you are parnters not enemy combatents.

How?  Most importantly Keep Jesus at the center of your life.  Not a side note, not thing we do, but truly our relationship with Jesus is what holds us together. Oh, to some 20 years is nothing, they’ve got 40, 50, even 60 years and we are striving for that.  We love each other more now than we ever have, we understand each other now, more than ever, I would never want to llive my life without her, she is my life.  To us 20 years is a great mark, and we’re ready for 100 more.  We are partners, our family is a team, and we are going somehwhere.  We focus on thriving, not surviving, and we realize nothing is so bad, that we can’t overcome it with God’s help.

I love Janae Gadberry, and I truly believe that God gave her to me as a gift, to help my life unfold according to his plan, and I hope that i’ve been that same gift to her.

So there you have it….twenty years…Its been fun, but the best is yet to come!


Did You Change the World today….part 2

I met an educator today that is changing the world. As I have said before my wife is an educator and I am a Pastor, so our lives are great, we find ourselves in the path of need all the time, and get the opportunity to change our world one individual at a time, which is usually how it works. Never underestimate the power of one or few to bring real change. One of my favorite quotes is…

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

I also Love Proverbs 31:8-9 (MSG)

“Speak up for the people who have no voice,
for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
Stand up for the poor and destitute!”

Its important that those who can speak out, those who can help, do. If we don’t who will. There are those who can’t speak up for themselves or stand up for themselves, and even if they did they would not be seen or heard. We as teachers, have that responsability, because in my mind the most injustice in the world finds its focus on children or the young, and it is our responsability to teach, train and help them learn and grow, to partner with their parents to build a strong foundation for their future.

I connected with a young lady today that is doing just that. She is an assistant principal in one of our local middle schools (Del Crest Middle School, Midwest City, Ok). This particular school has a fairly impoverished population and she knew that a lot of her kids would be home alone over spring break, she wasn’t sure what they were going to eat, or if they would get breakfast and lunch, and she knew that most of them would be home that whole time by themselves and the idle time spent can easily turn into trouble. So She created a program where they could come to school over spring break. There were a certain number of Kids invited and then a certain number of students above that who could sign up to be a part.

She Invited some of her students who were struggling academically and this afforded them an opportunity to ask a lot of questions and get great tutoring, becuase the ratio was about one teacher to ten students.

She had 90 students show up and attend all week. She told me that it has been incredible. She and 10 other teachers gave up their spring break to be there for these kids. We played a small part by providing breakfast and lunch one of the days for everyone.

Wow! As I spoke to her I could see the fire in her eyes, she had great expectations for these students, and she got the results she expected. What a great thought, what a great educator to think beyond the norm, to think at the level of the students need, and how it intersects with the teachers dream. I am so impressed, and I will support her and work with this school as much as we can to be a help to someone who is changing her world today.