Monday, February 23, 2009

Church for the Church-Scarred

On Sunday, I (Kevin) went to a church that's slogan was "church for the church-scarred". Boy what an unruly bunch of misfits. I was forced to think about what it means to be church-scarred - maimed by attending a community of believers who sometimes bring in their own stuff into the Kingdom of God.

I was struck by the love and peace in God that these "punks" had and expressed in church. While the experience was nothing like I'd ever experienced before, the genuine love of God was so powerful that I even wrote a poem entitled (Watch Out! - When Misfits are Freed).

As we return from Spain, Leah and I have dialogued greatly about being disciples in a country where the majority of the people are church-scarred. This experience then was very impacting for me. I was reminded that there are people who have been church-scarred and though they do not agree with the status quo church, they want and desire a passionate relationship with Jesus. These are people who have been burned by the church, but STILL make an ardent intent on pursuing and forming community surrounded by the freedom, love and redemption of Jesus.

If then there are people here, then God is stirring in the hearts of misfits in Spain. There are going to be people, not seekers, but ardent intentors of relationship with Jesus and his community. Though these people may be scarred by the church, they will congregate out of all seriousness to worship in community.

One of the most exciting things about this perspective gained while at this church is that God has followers intent on loving him and feeling his love and redemption. As one going into ministry, nothing can be a more joyful thing to here. There are people now, serious, and intent misfits, who want the peace of Christ that the church that scarred them forgot. BUT, by the grace of God, they have desire of community, and they will not let it rest without being a part of the Gospel community.

This church in Portland was a renegade bunch on the fringe of Evangelicalism, complete with twenty hair-colors, cussing in and outside of the church and some wild worship tempered by the sheer weight of the love of Jesus Christ. It is a place where those scarred by the church have come. Thinking about ministry then in a country full of church-scarred people, maybe we will have to think a great deal differently about who it is that will be congregating with great intent around the love of Jesus Christ.

If the church of Spain become a country-wide church of misfits, I will thank God for the opportunity to commune with misfits around the great and powerful peace and freedom in the love of Jesus Christ.

A Whole Lot of Learning

I, Kevin, have been up in Portland (and am still missing Leah as I am still in the beautiful Northwest), attending classes for my Master of Arts of Ministerial Leadership. I have been learning a lot while here, both in and outside of class, but to give some perspective on all the lectures I've been in and the intensity:

October - George Fox Seminary 50 hours in one week
December - Madrid 20 hours in four days IN SPANISH
January - Miami 80+ hours in ten days
February - George Fox Seminary 50 hours in one week

Books I've read that are notable:
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
Prayer - Richard Foster
Spirituality of the Road - David Bosch
Compassion - Henri Nouwen (and others)

While in preparation for Spain, Leah and I have been thrown into the roll of students. As with any preparation for any venture, one must study and be a student of the new venture. Having been students now for some time now, it is a great reality that God wants his people to be life-long learners as we serve him. Consequently, most of what we study as life-long learners is not something that is new, but a deepening or stretching of what we have already studied.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Jeremiah 31:2-4 (New International Version)

2 This is what the LORD says:
"The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the desert;
I will come to give rest to Israel."

3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

4 I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.

I don't know how this Valentine's day finds you, happy, sad, feeling loved or un-loved. Wherever you are I want to remind you that there is a Father God who loves you with an everlasting love. He loves us first, before we even begin to love him. He forms us in our mother's womb and sees deep into our lives into those places where no one else has access. He redeems us and gives us peace and meaning even within life's most violent storms. He longs to hold you in his arms and to give you a sense of belonging and purpose. He is the author of love and the only one who can perfectly love you. I encourage you to open your heart to him and remember him wherever you are, in your emptiness or fulness, for he is waiting patiently for you. Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gearing Up For Summer and Beyond

It has been wonderful to get a move on things and really pour ourselves into our ministry and getting to the field. As we intend to go to Mexico this summer for training, and as we love the ministry of Spearhead (, I (Kevin) have been really intent on recruiting students for summer '09 in Mexico and have been developing networks that would be interested in partnering with us and Spearhead-Spain.

Networking and recruiting are some of my favorite things to do. I love to be able to put people in contact with things I believe in, such as Spearhead - Mexico and the ministry that God has called us to.

We obviously have a passion to see students grow in discipleship and Spearhead is the way to do it, so I've been looking for ways that Spearhead (both Mexico and Spain) can develop relationships with campus pastors, or leaders in student movement groups such as InterVarsity, Navigators or others. The best way we can serve our youth is by networking together. Student movements and Spearhead are a natural fit.

I've also been contacting friends who pastor churches or are on staff at churches seeking partnership with our ministry. We hope that these churches not only would support us in prayer or finances, but also that our relationship would provide their young adults with an opportunity to explore missions under Spearhead.

No ministry is an island, or at least no effective ministry is, especially on the mission field. Collaboration is key, both in-country and with contacts from the sending country. We've been so blessed to have a number of contacts and we look forward to how God is going to knit together hearts with our ministry.

At our current church, things have been going swimmingly. We have reconnected with a family friend who has such a passion for international students as well as missions. It is fun to have not only a friendly face, but somebody who shares our similar passions and advocates for our ministry. We look forward to helping partner with her in her own ministry to international students here in Northern California.

I (again, Kevin) have just had my membership from Foothill Community in Azusa transfered to Foothill Community in Oroville so that I can move forward in the ordination process. The ordination process for me, while tricky, has seen a lot of openness and flexibility from a number of Free Methodist pastors and missionaries. The normal process is pretty straight forward, doing Local Ministerial Candidate stuff in a particular church and then progressing to a Conference Ministerial Candidate and serving the conference. I on the other hand, began my process in a church in Southern California while in Mexico. I was their Local Ministerial Candidate in absentia. Then upon returning from Mexico, we chose to live by family, hours away from our supporting church, but the FM church in Oroville was quick to take me on with few reservations and will work with me desite a hectic travel schedule and our plans to move to Spain in early 2010. I knew I wanted to get ordained in the Free Methodist Church. They have been such a blessing and so encouraging. I like being a part of a church body that gives freedom to develop ministry, even if it means some chaos on their part.

Summer and Beyond is in our sights and we are heading at them both with our helmets down. It is fun times to be in ministry and to follow the call God has given us.

Monday, February 2, 2009

California Dreaming

Late Thursday night Kevin and I landed in the Sacramento airport. We were more than a little relieved to finally be able to stand up and stretch our legs, since it somehow took us a grand total of three different flights to get from Miami (where we had been for our LAM orientation) to California.

Here in Northern California we are enjoying unseasonably beautiful weather. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I am comfortable outside with jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. There is something about being on the farm where I grew up that always refreshes me, breathing the sweet air and seeing the millions of stars in the night sky.

But while it is quite pleasant here, both Kevin and I have our minds set on the journey ahead which will hopefully lead us to Mexico City for the summer, and Spain by the end of this year. There is something a little different this time, however, for me than the months when we were in California before we left on our two month Spain/Florida hiatus. Before I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of time I had on my hands with no friends, no job, and a new church where I hardly knew anyone. This time I come back with a "to do" list that goes on for a couple of pages and a renewed excitement and vision for the support raising process. On Sunday the missions board at our new church expressed an interest in seeing how they could come behind us and support us, something I certainly was not expecting. Then Sunday afternoon we got together with some friends we met in October to watch the Super Bowl.

I really wanted to share these things because, if you have been reading our blog, then you will know that really September through November was a difficult season for us, coming home from Mexico, feeling out our new vocation as long-term missionaries, and struggling to build a new community in a place that Kevin has never lived, and somewhere I have not lived since high school. I felt overwhelmed. But God is faithful. While I am sure the next few months will have challenges of its own (namely raising enough support to leave for Mexico by mid-April), I feel so grateful for the community that is beginning to grow around us, and the renewed energy and vision we have for this "transition time." Thank you God.