The Power of ONE.

There are a number of struggles I face when it comes to working within ministry. Most of those struggles are the kind that simply "come with the territory". However, there's one of those struggles that usually bothers me more than the others. That struggle of "numbers". Now, any of you that work in ministry probably know exactly what I mean when I say that. It's that idea that the success of your ministry is driven by how many people are attending. I teach College Aged Sunday School, and this time of year, because a lot of students are away at school trying to cap off yet another school year, there are fewer and fewer students in Sunday School. I struggle with that because of a few desires I have for the College Aged Ministry:

1. I want to see the College Age Ministry thrive in Columbus. In terms of this being a "college town" it's not the same as what I experienced in Lexington. That means a lot of times the turnout for things like Sunday School isn't the same. I want to see that change. I want to see a community of people coming together to intentionally study God's Word in a more intimate setting than a corporate worship service.
2. I want to invest in the lives of the College Age people in Columbus. In order to truly and effectively communicate the importance of the Gospel and to encourage a relationship with Christ I have to have a relationship with the individual. I want to invest in the College Age ministry because I want to see those that are apart of it invest in themselves by taking their faith seriously.
3. I want the College Age ministry to flourish causing a transformation of our city. As much as it surprises me that I'm going to write this next sentence... I love the city of Columbus. I know there's a desire for a lot of college students to escape Columbus, their hometown, and experience other parts of the country. I get it because I was that person. However, Columbus has been good to me post-college, and I want to those that are college age to understand the importance and the impact this city can have for the Kingdom of God.

Now, looking at those desires, I see a yearning to truly see College Age Ministry be successful in Columbus. I think it will become a success because I think there are people taking action through CCC that are going to make a difference. Those recognition of those desires this morning helped me realize an area in which I fail in ministry. I focus too much sometimes on numbers. Granted I would love to have 25, 50, 100, College Age people in Sunday School every week. But, right now, that's not the reality. In order to effective I need to be present with where the ministry is. This morning, that ministry was one guy. In fact, since I started teaching College Sunday School, this one guy is the only one I've seen consistently. I think he's missed one week the last two months (that's less than I've missed). I realized that developing a relationship with him, even just by catching up on our week and learning about his life just as important.. no no, more important than having 100 people in the class and not being able to really get to know them. Investment in the lives of others leads to relationships, relationships lead to community, community leads to impact, impact leads to "success". This morning I am thankful for that one guy. I am thankful for the opportunity to just hear about his week, but more importantly, I am thankful that he was hear. That he's willing to invest his time in being present, and that he's willing to give me feedback on how we can become more effective.

Columbus is going to see in uprising of 18-24 year olds working to spread the Kingdom through our city. Every movement, every change, every impact... starts with one person. One person choosing to show up to Sunday School when no one else is here, one person that's willing to take on a role doing both Middle School/College Age ministry and say "we can do better", one person to decide that investing in the communities that are Ivy Tech, Harrison College, and IUPUC is going to change the face of our city.

And when each one of those people come together, a revolution begins.

 In order to influence the culture, you have to infiltrate the culture. 


Pierced, Crushed, Beaten, and Whipped... for MY sin and MY rebellion

Sometimes, I sit in my desk chair and feel this strange sense of uncomfortable.

I feel like I don't belong. I don't mean I don't belong at work, or in Columbus, just in general. I have these days where my body just feels... wrong. Where my heart feels heavy and my soul feels crushed. I've written about this before, I've written about the bad days. Today didn't start out like that, but it turned into one.

Anxious. Nervous. Uncomfortable. Sad. Disillusioned. Awkward. Complacent. Unwanted.

Those are the things the enemy puts into my head. Those are the things the enemy wants me to believe, so I forget that, because of my relationship with Christ I am (or should be):

Still. Calm. Provided for. Protected. Joyful. Normal (whatever that means). Content. Wanted. Needed.


These days come in the strangest of ways. Sometimes I wake up feeling that way. Sometimes, it happens in the middle of a conversation. It's never planned, or predicted. It just happens. I used to get really angry about the bad days. Which, in reality, only made the bad days worse. Then I realized that every once in a while the bad days are something I should find comfort in, because I realized this morning... those feelings, that attack from the enemy, is because he desires to make me distant from Christ. Because the enemy doesn't like the relationship I have with Christ. The bad days come, because I'm doing something right. They make me cry out to God while I'm hurting, and they strengthen my relationship with my Creator because each and every time... He answers my cries. Whether that's by a whisper or a whiplash. He answers. 

Today He answered. He answered with a passage from His Word, that made me realize the things that get me down, that bring on the bad days... are nothing compared to the sacrifice He made for me. 

"But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all" Isaiah 53:5-6

Even though my heart rate increases, and my body feels out of place, and my thoughts are sad and running wild... these is one constant. Christ died on the Cross, for my salvation, He took on my sin, my rebellion so that I could be whole and healed. Regardless of how many times I stray, and how many times the enemy is able to bring on one of the bad days... My Savior is constant. My Savior loves me. My Savior died for me. and My Savior fights for me daily.

Grace and Peace


Impoverished Beauty

Thursday Morning.

It's been a week since we left Moldova, and at this point I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything that happened while we were there. Throughout this last week, on a number of occasions, I have tried to paint a picture of the beauty of Chisinau while also driving home the heart-wrenching poverty that is experienced and faced there on a daily basis. I consider myself a wordsmith when it comes to formulating my thoughts through the keystrokes of my hands. Therefore, I felt that the best way to try and convey the beauty in what I experienced was to write about it.

Here goes nothing.

From the moment I stepped off the airplane I was captivated and intrigued to experience everything. I knew there would be moments that seemed slightly uncomfortable, which happens anytime you experience a new culture. I had prayed that these moments be few and far between on the flight from Munich to Chisinau. Not because I don't believe that things are taught in uncomfortable moments, but because I didn't want any one moment to distract me from experiencing everything there was to experience. Walking through the airport, culture shock started to set in right way. Everything from the bathrooms to the language being spoken was different. Yet, all so exciting. After experiencing a rather... awkward... bathroom experience, I'll admit I was a little nervous about getting through the airport and getting to our hostel. As usual, God used something very small to remind me that this place, these people, they weren't so different from myself... that reminder, as funny as it is, came in the form of a cardboard box. The first thing I saw after walking out of the Wash Closet was a cardboard box, on a chair, that read "James Beam, Clermont Kentucky". It made everyone on the team laugh, and I think it took a little of the uncertainty away, long enough for the excitement of what was to come to settle in for the next 10 days.

The city of Chisinau is almost indescribable. It's this place where, everything, from the rolling hills outside the city to the poverty within the busy streets is absolutely beautiful. Now, let me explain what I mean when I describe poverty as beautiful. Don't get me wrong, the poverty of Moldova breaks my heart, and urges me to want to do more for the Moldovan people. Yet, there's a simplicity in the way they live because of the poverty. There's a happiness about the people despite their poverty and there's joy in my heart because of the pride that was shown through personal appearance. These people literally dressed for success every day, no matter whether they were going to church or work, they wore their best clothes. It was as though they were saying to the economy (if it were a tangible thing) "Despite the lack of stability you provide, we are going to be proud of what we have and who we are". That was one of my favorite things about Moldova. The happiness and simplicity I experienced and saw in the faces of the Moldovan people is something similar to what I had experience in Africa and Jamaica... the difference was, it wasn't a product of ignorance to what they didn't have. I believe the Moldovan people are fully aware of the poverty they face, however, instead of allowing it to destroy them, they embrace what they have and make the most of it. Oh how the world would be different if more people viewed things that way. In our culture it's always about "more, more, more" or "new, new, new". I'm guilty of it as well. In fact, this week, on two different occasions I was tempted to spend money on frivolous things. New clothes because they were on sale, even though the clothes I have are more than enough. Or a new golf club because it's spring, even though it probably wouldn't improve my game THAT much. I'm not saying that spending money is entirely a bad thing... and I'm not going to try and be an extremist and say that I'm not going to buy anything new. I just learned while in Moldova, that I need to be more sound in my financial decisions, that sometimes, I need to take pride in what I have... and stop trying to find more.

I learned a lot about myself, compassion for others, ministry, missions, and investment in others. The wheels are turning now, and I'm looking for new ways to invest in the lives of the next generation. I realize that we don't need to spend time teaching our youth how to be the best at a sport, an instrument, and art, or in business. We need to invest in their lives and teach them how to be the best version of themselves. How to take pride in what they have, and how to be in community with others. Each new generation has an opportunity to change the World... and it's the current generation's job to prepare them to do so. This last year God has been teaching me so much about community and relationships. This trip to Moldova, was God's way of reinforcing everything He's been teaching me. Being intentional about being relational takes on a whole new meaning after seeing how the Moldovan people, and the WMF Staff live amongst and with each other. The staff helped me see that living in community is the ONLY way to truly experience Heaven on Earth. That even in a country as impoverished as Moldova, when a community of believers lives together as one, with one common purpose, the poverty the face... is nothing shy of beautiful.

Grace and Peace