Tag Archives: Mission

With These Two Hands I’ll Change the World

If you look close, you can often catch joy and sadness walking hand in hand.

Photo by Brendan Scott

I did anyway while on a ten-day mission trip in Guatemala. At a school in Xela, our team played crazy games like Zombie Tag, where the kids laughed and ran and mumbled, “Must eat brain, must eat brain.” In chapel services those same kids sang, “Sin has lost it’s power, Death has lost its sting, From the grave You’ve risen VICTORIOUSLY” at the tops of their lungs. Zombies, even pretend ones, singing about the ultimate anti-zombie, Jesus, was beautiful and hilarious. The kids listening with rapt attention when we told our stories about how God loved all of us was pure joy.

This was mingled with the sadness of watching street boys, ages nine or ten working, shining shoes on the square, or the little Mayan girls carrying their heavy burdens on their heads to work instead of to school. Or the blind man begging, or the two gringas wobbling down the street drunk at about 4 in the afternoon. Deep. Sadness. I wanted so to be able to tell them too of the love of God for them.

Photo by Eugene Scott

I noticed something else about joy and sadness (I have seen this before but always forget). Wealth and joy were not always hand in hand, nor were sadness and poverty. There they were together, wealth and poverty, sadness and joy arm-wrestling. The wealthy do not have a market on joy nor the poor on sadness.

Hurt, pain, worry cut across all lines, as does laughter and song.

I remembered then that our problems and our hopes are deeper than dollars can dig. Maybe that is why God does not simply throw money at us when we ask for help.

The poet and prophet Isaiah told his people in a time of deep poverty and sadness that God would one day “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

As Ben Harper sings, God wants to use our two hands locked together, along with joy and sadness, to work this miraculous exchange of beauty for ashes for all of us.

Eugene C. Scott is most moved by being with people and seeing God in them. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.


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Ten Heros In Afghanistan

Several years ago Dr. Thomas Grams made a fatal decision. He closed up his successful dental practice in Durango, CO and began providing dental care for children in Afghanistan and Nepal. Last week he and nine humanitarian colleagues were murdered by members the Taliban in Badakhshan, Afghanistan.

Grams and his team were true heros. We toss the word “hero” around way too easily today, especially in sports. But they gave their lives for something bigger than themselves. They knew the risks and faced them and paid a price for what they believed. I can only hope that their courage and selflessness is contangious and that I become fully exposed.

The tragic loss of their lives also made me wonder: What pushes people to make such difficult, selfless decisions? Though each of the ten was an individual and made his or her choice for individual reasons, faith in God played a role for many of them.

Like Nehemiah, from today’s reading, many on the International Assistance Mission team put themselves in danger in response to God showing them a need.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Nehemiah 1:1-3:14

1 Corinthians 7:1-24

Psalm 31:19-24

Proverbs 21:4

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Nehemiah had a cushy job. He was trusted and respected by King Artaxerxes, the most powerful man in the world at that time. Nehemiah lived in the palace, dressed well, had a top-notch education, ate the best foods, and drank the best wine. He was the cup-bearer, which meant Nehemiah served the king his wine, making sure the wine was not poisoned.

Why would he give all that up to go before the king and ask for an extended leave of absence to travel to the ruined city of Jerusalem and face possible death? Jerusalem was the bad-lands. The people living there were either oppressed or were the oppressors, lawless, violent, willing to kill, rob, and go to war to take what they needed.

When Nehemiah heard the news about the need of his people in Jerusalem, he experienced a discomfort that even all the money and power of Artexerxes could not deflect. God revealed to him that those “who survived the exile are in trouble and disgrace.” Nehemiah wept because the people were living in such poverty and hostility. And the temple, the place that once spoke of a loving, powerful God, lay in ruins.

Why did Nehemiah go? Because God showed Nehemiah a need and he responded with a prayer and then a plan to do something about it.

So too did Dr. Thomas Grams. So too can we. And we need not travel to Jerusalem or Afghanistan. Look over your backyard fence; visit a local school; listen to your co-workers and friends. There are needs all around us.

Is it possible that, as with Nehemiah, when we notice these needs, it is God’s nudge for us to pray and plan so that we may do something about it?

“Blessed are they who mourn,” said Jesus. “For they will be comforted.”

What if part of what Jesus meant by this is that, though our hearts may break because of what we have been through ourselves or when we see the pain of others, comfort comes through following God to do something about that pain.

I lost my father at age eleven. In some ways I have mourned ever since. And when I see or hear of fatherless children, my heart breaks.

Then recently God stirred my heart anew over fatherlessness and I began to pray. I shared this with Mike Klassen (my co-pastor and co-blogger) and he said he felt God calling him to do something about this as well. We prayed together and God formed in us a plan to launch a mentoring organization for fatherless young men at our local high school. We’ll keep you posted as to what God does with this vision.

But Mike and I are not facing death and danger as did the International Assistance Mission team nor Nehemiah. We are simply responding to a need God brought to our attention.

You can do the same. Will it cost us our lives?

I hope so.

P.S. Let’s pray for the families of the ten who were murdered. They must be in such pain.

God, please comfort and bring hope. Let your Holy Spirit fill in every gap and every tear. Surround them with strong, kind, grace-filled people. Walk with them. Answer their questions, if answers will heal and help. Bring justice as only a merciful God can. Let them, and us, know the real you through this. Please don’t let this vilolence begat more vilolence.

I know that anytime people who claim to represent God rain-down hate and vilolence, it breaks God’s heart. It also makes me ask him why he lets people like that claim his name and his favor. But then, it seems to me, that the question ricochets back to me. Why do I tolerate it?

I won’t any longer. Sharia law is wrong. Executing people in the name of God because they don’t believe what you beleive is wrong. We who believe in a God of mercy and love, the God who, rather than snuff out our lives, gave his life in Jesus, will not seek retribution, but we will not stand silent in the name of diversity or tolerance.

  1. What do these for passages share in common?
  2. What most breaks your heart?

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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