Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Come to Haiti!

I'm really excited to report that we've already filled 7 of the available spots for this years trip to Haiti. So far those confirmed are Tom Campbell as team leader, Doris Stitt, Dave and Leslie Potkaletski, Marcella Polanski, and two intrepid teenagers McKenzie Simmler and Tess Teurlings. I'm hopeful that as some of you read this blog and consider that God might be calling you to go yourself that we will soon close the time to sign up with a full crew!

This is the third year in a row that we're returning to the same partner in Haiti. CODEP which stands for COmprehensive Development Project. CODEP is located in southern Haiti and is an excellent opportunity to connect with our Haitian brothers and sisters as we experience the global body of Christ and to learn about redevelopment mission. To get a fuller picture of CODEP I encourage you to take a moment to visit their website which provides this summary:

CODEP works with 30 small communities and 600 Haitian farmers (200 of whom are women) to improve the their lives and those of their families.  Accomplishments include:
Planting over 7 million trees since 2000.
Digging over 1,000 miles of contour ditches to prevent further erosion.
Installing/Building over 100 cisterns and almost 90 houses as incentive awards since 2000.
Installing and operating over 30 fishponds as aids to protein dietary enrichment.
Impacting the lives of over 50,000 people in the Léogâne Commune.
You can see pictures from our past visits to this community here and to read my own story and the stories of those who went last year click here!
The trip this year will be from June 06 - June 13th. You can download all the relevant documents (start with the informational sheet and vision trip covenant) by clicking here. I can't wait to hear your own stories as you gain a vision for God's kingdom and the renewal of Haiti through our partnerships like CODEP.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Lenten Season

Many joined Pastor Michael and I this last Wednesday to celebrate Ash Wednesday and begin the season of Lent together. Lent is a 40 day period (not counting Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The number 40, of course, is significant for the 40 days Jesus spent being tempted in the dessert and the 40 years that the Israelites themselves wandered the dessert before entering in the promised land. Many choose to use this time as a period of fasting. On Ash Wednesday, we reflected on Isaiah 58:1-12 and the type of fasting that God seeks from his people. Isaiah 58:5-7 says this:

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

I hope that over the next 40 days of Lent we will all consider some way in which we can prepare for Easter and the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. It may be that you decide to fast from something or give something up for this time period. Remember the point of fasting is not to make yourself feel bad or deprived. It is to give ourselves a daily reminder and physical sign of the hunger we feel for God. Whatever it may be that you fast from when you feel the urge or reminder, set the time you would have normally used and dedicate it to God. If you give up lunch once a week, use that lunch time instead to pray to God, to meditate on God's Word, and to invite Him to change your heart that your heart might be more and more like His. Then as our hearts are change, aligned with God and His will, we manifest that in the way we live our lives and our fasting doesn't just become an external sign but an inward reality.

Jesus's first words in the Gospel of Mark, the oldest of the Gospels, are  "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. As we near the celebration of the good news, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us cultivate a heart centered attitude of repentance, of turning our hearts towards God.