The Scandal of Forgiveness

I am humbled by a moment that I did not expect to ever be a part of in my life.  Today a woman that I have been working with in South Africa told a story about an interaction that she had with a school principal.  I had given a talk about forgiveness the day before and this diligent and amazing woman went to the schools to follow up on the impact that our collaboration with SCORE (the organization that we are working with) was having.  She said that the principal of the school in this township (a fancy word for the areas that many Black South African’s live in) immediately asked “who is this man with no legs that the kids are telling me about?”

Then what she said would have shown me to be crying if my face was not already moist from the sweat of teaching basketball in 100 degree heat.  She said that the principal was curious as to how a man could possibly forgive a woman that was responsible for his leg being amputated.  What she said next involves some interpretation but essentially a comment was made that Christians are required to forgive.  The kids told the prinicipal that!  Additionally, after I talked about forgiveness yesterday, a man that I had never met before wanted to come and talk to me about the message that I had given in broken pieces through an interpreter.  

I was humbled for a couple of reasons, the first is the fact that God would prompt those children to take the message of forgiveness back to thier school and tell their teachers about it.  I am most humbled by the fact that God used me and the team that I am working with to bring a message of forgiveness to a group of people that are 25 years out of an era of Aparthied.  This policy that is one of the darks spots in the history of human rights, a policy that still has repercussions that are playing out today.  God allowed me to bring a message to a group of people that have had more atrocious things happened to them as a group and probably individually than I could ever imagine.  I pray that the simple message of forgiveness that I shared about the small thing that happened to me could have just a small impact in a township in South Africa that is still experiencing immense difficulties.  

Additionally, I have to make sure that I mention the amazing people that I am working with, both with my American team through Proclaim!, but also the team of South Africans (SCORE) that I am working with.  God has truly blessed this township with a group of amazing people that will be doing incredible work well beyond my time here to change the lives of people through sport, community resourcing, and the gospel.

New Places, Same Faces

It is very comforting to step off a plane in a continent that you have never been to before after a 30 hour sojourn to see two faces that you recognize.  Carey and Holly were right outside the gate waiting for me when I arrived in Cape Town South Africa.  As my first foray into the Southern Hemisphere I have to say that I feel less upside down than I thought I would.  Every globe of the world that I look at shows this part of the world pointing toward the floor, this might possibly be an incongruity that I will have to explain to my 4 year old daughter.  

There is something that exists in mission work that I truly enjoy, well two things really.  The first is the emphasis on flexibility.  For anyone that has gone into cultures unfamiliar to your own, you can appreciate the fact that you have to go into uncomfortable environments with an open hand ready to deal with whatever curve balls are thrown your way.  When working with people from different countries and cultures for a common purpose we have to realize very quickly that while we might agree on the goal, the strategies and measurements of success might look different.  

I worshiped at a church in Vietnam a few years ago that might have been one of the greatest worship service that I have ever been kicked out of.  Well it’s the only one that I have been kicked out of, but that is another story.  The great thing about this church is that the only two things that the people in that room shared in common was a love for Jesus and the English language.  That brings me to the second reason I love mission work, it has to be stripped down to its essentials in order to transcend culture.  None of the cultural trappings that tie up so many that try to live out their faith in a homogenous culture.  The picture that comes to my mind is one of a missionary that is trying to pack the lightest bag that he can in order to be able to travel as far as he can as effectively as he can.  He is not going to pack more than I absolutely necessary, and I don’t think that any of us should.  Oh, to live a faith that is stripped of the baggage that I try to shove into the bag only to break the zipper.

How Did I Get Here (Or There)?

I just wanted to let you all know what I will be doing over the next few weeks so that you all can be praying for me, and so you don’t scratch your head when you see posts that are coming from another country.

I will be leaving for South Africa next Wednesday to do mission work with Proclaim! International.  I am very excited as I will get a chance to do many of the things that I love: coaching, teaching, preaching, leadership development, maybe a little worship leading.  This happened pretty quickly and I was not sure whether or not it was going to work out, but I eager to go and see what God has in store for me there.  Please be in prayer for me if you could.

I have to confess that I am am not sure that I had anticipated having the opportunity to be able to do mission work on four different continents when I was younger.  I have to confess that I did not think that I would have visited four different continents when I was younger.  It has been a lesson for me in how to adapt to different cultures, climates, and governmental systems.  As someone that grew up in a very monolythic culture in Wyoming I can honestly say that the growing curve has been steep but enjoyable.

I will try to use this blog to post journal entries, photos, and videos so please bear with me as I attempt to learn how to make this page work for me.  I will also be posting on my Facebook page and Instagram if you are into that sort of thing.

Pray mostly for my wife as she will have to deal with my four wonderful children in the time I am gone.  I have never been away from home this long.  She is a very loving and capable person, but four wonderful kids are still four kids.