Thursday, June 16, 2011

the red soil of Africa

Two years ago I stepped onto African soil for the first time and since that moment my life has been turned, flipped, broken, crushed, thrown, and soaked in Glory. 
Africa didn’t change me, God did.  But He used that beautiful continent in a way that I could have never believed when I signed the paper to go on the first trip to Uganda.  On that trip I saw poverty and evil for the first time in my life and have never been the same.  It’s almost as if once you not only see injustice, but step into injustice, you have the single choice of whether to start living or to start dying.  By the grace of God, I chose to live.  Although the last two years I have literally been haunted by those images and realities, I have been learning to walk with Christ, by His grace, with a mangled and beautiful heart. 
Last summer I went back to Ethiopia and was introduced to a whole new culture and God once again opened my ignorant American eyes up to the world and how in Africa, yes even in Africa, there are diverse and different cultures (I was so stinking oblivious.  Every country in Africa is the same, right?!).  I was given the gift of seeing others live with Christ as their life, not just a part, but their entire lives.  I saw love in the arms of barbershop employees and hope in the eyes of AIDS orphans, and overall Jesus let me choose to live, a little more.
Tomorrow I am returning to Uganda, Africa. 
This past year God has given me the chance to live in a way that is unexplainable and this past year I have at last realized that my heart for the world is only as real as my heart for the people around me, so even as I rant and rave about Africa, please understand that I am not so wrapped up in over there, that I am missing out on here. 
But finally, God is giving me the gift of going and I wait with eager longing for the first African sunrise and the last sunset.
Many of you know and have heard about our trip, but I want to give you all a brief run down so that you all can pray fervently.
In a stupidly brief explanation, here it is: There is a huge problem in Uganda with witchdoctors, and these witchdoctors will abduct children and mutilate them and sell their body parts to business owners who bury the parts under their businesses for good luck.  Its sounds like a bad dream, and truthfully like a poorly put together horror movie, but my brothers and sisters, what is going on is just as real as the hands I type this with.  We were made aware of this terrible tradition last summer.  Soon after the situation had been addressed, it was discovered that the witchdoctors would only abduct “pure” children, with no deformities.  Well, a deformity can be something as small and as insignificant as a pierced ear.  Some children’s parents will put sticks in their ears in order to protect them.  So we started working with some pastors we know in Uganda and before we knew it, God had opened a way to fight injustice, to charge the gates of Hell, to be the Church, the hands and feet of Christ.
Next week we will be doing five ear piercing clinics in five different slums in Kampala, Uganda.  We are working with local pastors and Ugandan Gov’t and will be sharing the Gospel while we have the clinics. 
As you can imagine, there are many concerns with all of that and believe me, whatever concern is filling your mind right now has most likely been confronted.  Safety procedures and cleanliness and all of the obvious issues have been addressed by countless people coming together and every health problem and so on and so forth has not only been tackled head on, but prayed about for hours upon end.  
But I not only ask you to pray, but urge you to pray, beg you to pray.  Jesus has commissioned each one of us on the team to go, He handpicked us since the beginning of time to go on this trip and each one is ready.  To say we are confident in the Lord’s leading and provision for our team is an understatement.  The same hand that molding the Universe is holding us.  Who shall we fear?  Surely not the witchdoctors or any evil for, our King, He has already overcome. 
Please be on your knees with us next week and be continually interceding for us in Jesus name.  Pray for God to be glorified, for justice to be done in the midst of untold evil and for countless lives to not only be literally saved from the witchdoctors but for many many many more lives to be saved for Eternity through the redeeming love of Christ.  Pray for protection for our team but much more for our Ugandan brothers and sisters who will be on the frontlines with us, for their safety is much more at risk. 
In 15 hours I will be on my way back to Africa.  Hallelujah.
I went to Passion this last April and God absolutely blew my mind, but one thing He did was bless my life in an untold way by a small sheet of paper.  I wont go into details because frankly, many people who will read this would call me a lunatic, but in short, I received a beautiful and unforgettable note from a true saint the last night of the conference.  The note ended with the words, “the red soil of Africa will beautify your feet”…
Next week, my feet will be beautified once again. 

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with the Lord your God?”
-Micah 6:8

Friday, June 10, 2011

He's Not Done Yet

“I refuse to pray small prayers to a huge God.”
-Louie Giglio

This past week I went to freshman orientation for the University of Arkansas and needless to say, I am ridiculously pumped for the next chapter in my life.  While I was there, I got to spend quite a bit of time sitting and listening to people talk about the University like it was the greatest place on the planet.  As I walked throughout the school and met my future classmates and heard from current students and faculty, I had a deep and overwhelming sense of longing for nothing but to see Christ set that campus on fire.  I envisioned students gathered at the Greek Theatre praying every month, as a follow up to the Rising last semester.  I got future glimpses of the earth-shattering conversations that would take place in dorm rooms, in coffee shops, in Brough, in classrooms, in the Union, and everywhere else.  It was almost as if Jesus gave me a sip of future fire that will rip through the foundations of Fayetteville. 
But more than anything, He simply began the process of breaking my heart for that school as He has begun to do in the hearts of so many already.  There are far too many students, from all different walks of life, on the campus in Fayetteville who love Jesus with everything in them, for something huge not to happen.  I have heard from friends who are in all sorts of various student ministries and churches, many of them don’t even know each other (yet), who all desire the same thing.  They want Revival.  But what is so beautiful is that all of them seek Revival for Jesus, not just for Revival’s sake but because they are desperately seeking Jesus’ face and His love and to be His hands and feet. 
God has begun a great work here in Little Rock and here I am to say that it isn’t even close to being over.  This city, this state, has seen nothing compared to what the Lord has in store for us. 
A couple of weeks ago, as the fire of Revival began to fade, I was extremely discouraged.  It was a Tuesday and I was supposed to be meeting with my friend Niki at Starbucks when my buddy Philip walked in.  I hadn’t seen Philip in a long time so we greeted each other and he sat down to talk with me before the person he was suppose to meet with got there.  We started chatting about what Jesus had been doing and how the Spirit had been pouring out all over Little Rock when the girl he was meeting with, Susanna walked in.  We decided to just all sit together and keep talking and soon after Niki came.  Little did I know that the next two and a half hours of my life would once again revive my thirsty heart.  Philip told us of the amazing things happening in Hot Springs and his friends from Harding University who were seeing Jesus do unbelievable things.  Susanna and Niki spoke of the incredible things happening in Fayetteville and we discussed how Arkansas Tech was flourishing and schools and colleges and churches from literally all over the country were being ignited.  God is on the move and He is readying us for something much greater than we first believed. 
Don’t the words of Habakkuk come to life again? “Look around at the nations: look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.”
And the humbling and punch-you-in-the-face truth that Paul writes out, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.”
We are beginning to know that life is much more than empty legalistic Christianity and the American dream.  We are starting to see that life is Christ.  We are alive to know Him, to make Him known and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in every step, every breath, every word, every deed. 
It all comes down to if we believe Jesus or not, and whether we think He was a liar.  He told us His followers “you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but instead on a stand and it gives light to all in the house.”  If we believe him then we believe that we are the light of the world.  And if we are the light of the world then I move the motion that we stop hiding underneath our baskets. 
This world is in desperate need for Jesus.  He is doing great things and He will continue to do greater things. 
I have to keep remembering that the question is not whether Revival is going to happen or not, the question is, “will we let it happen?” And my prayer is that we will be a generation so in love and obsessed with Christ that He will be free to move through us as He pleases and the answer to that question will be an undeniable and powerful, yes.  By His power and His power alone we breathe and I believe with everything in me that He is going to rock this state and this country like we could never fathom, to such a degree that all people can do is fall to faces and whisper, Hallelujah.

Friday, June 3, 2011


If Jesus told me to go, would I go?
If Jesus told me to pick up nothing and step out into the world, would I go?  Would I go knowing that I was leaving my dear family who has sacrificed so much for me?  Would I go knowing that I was leaving my mom who has spent hours on her face for me and that Jesus would win my heart?  For my dad who has prayed faithfully for me everyday, who taught me to play catch and what it means to be a man of integrity?  Would I go knowing that I was leaving my twin, my best friend, my womb mate?  What about my sisters who have both made dents in my life in ways that no one else ever could?  Would I go knowing that I was leaving behind friends who have shaped the way I walk each day and who have spent countless hours praying with me and laughing and crying and living life with me? 
Sometimes I like to look in the mirror and proudly boast, “of course I would.”  I mean, seriously, I’ve prayed that prayer, I’ve sung that song, I’ve read that verse… wouldn’t I go?  Other times I sit and hide myself in a corner because if I go, then I won’t come back and I know that.  If I say yes to God, if I fall to my knees and proclaim just as Isaiah so humbly did, “Here am I. Send Me.” then there is no turning back. 
I have even been arrogant enough to teach on Hebrews 11 to my youth group and about Moses and how “he went out, not knowing where he was going.” If I was Moses and God told me to go, would I have gone? 
Would I go although I would be facing unknown lands, unknown people, unknown languages, unknown finances, unknown safety, unknown comfort, unknown shelter, unknown success, unknown education, unknown food? 
Throw away all the expectations and the way I should choose.  Throw away all the ways people around have taught me to react and how the church leaders think I should choose to use my talents.  Throw away all pride, all self-righteousness.  Throw away everything except the choice of whether or not I will go.  Can I step into a world unknown?  Can I trust knowing that this could cripple me?  Can I go not even knowing if I’ll have the money?  Can I go not knowing whether or not I will ever see my family again, my friends again, my comfort?  
It all comes down to the simple and pure realization that I am known by the King of the World.  I am held in the hand of the same Being who created the Universe.  I am sung over by the God Almighty.  I am healed by the Great Physician.  I am loved by Abba! by Father!  I am led by the Spirit of the Living God. I am breathing by the divine breath of Yeshua. 
On my own, I could never go.  The only way I could ever and will ever step out into an unknown world is when I finally see that I am truly known even in the midst of the dark and unsettled horrors of humanity.  I am not strong enough or righteous enough to go.  I can not pay for myself or fend for myself or fight for myself or sing for myself or dance for myself or love for myself or laugh for myself or breathe for myself.
I am His and only by His unrivaled, violent, beautiful, and scandalous Grace will I ever be able to go.