Pastors are always surrounded by people; whether they are preaching a sermon to a full church on Sunday, attending crowded prayer meetings or ministering to the hurting. Yet crowds of people don’t necessarily bring connection. And isolation can be a serious reality for the person behind the pulpit.
I have been in the Amazon for nine months, and every day I have seen with greater clarity the purposes of God in that place.
"We aren't just the first campus ministry there, we are the first student organization to be on that campus, as well."
My main spiritual gifts/talents are encouragement, working with kids, leadership, and singing. I was hoping maybe one of them would be useful while I was in New York. Little did I know, God had much more in store for me!
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. declared:
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.
Merriam Webster’s Thesaurus lists shameless boldness as the best synonym for the word audacity.
Dr. King embodied righteous audacity as he proclaimed that every person regardless of race, country, or creed has the right to a full and healthy life despite the realities of oppression in the world.
Is this not the very essence of faith in Christ? Despite darkness, light wins. Despite oppression, freedom prevails. Despite hunger, people eat in abundance. The first shall be last. This audacious faith seems fitting for people who believe the God of the Universe became human in order to save the entire world from sin and evil.
In Texas, one in four children struggle with hunger. Our state ranks last -- 51st (50 states plus the District of Columbia) -- in terms of health care coverage. Thirty-one percent of Texans under 65 do not have health insurance and have barriers to adequate healthcare.
The “arc of the moral universe ... is bending toward justice.”
These are now famous words, but are they true? What do you see when you do a personal memory scan of what you know about history. Some of us may see an arc toward justice; others of us may wonder.
We surely have not arrived at complete justice in the United States.
We live in a nation of laws, which is a huge step toward greater justice, but those laws are not always justly applied across economic and racial divides.
We live in a nation of inclusiveness that promotes justice for all persons without regard to race or ethnicity, but still bigotry and racism flourish in both language and violence.
Justice and injustice -- both are real.
Scripture makes it clear that God is just and wants justice. One reason some people miss this is that in Scripture the words translated as justice or righteousness are often the same words in Hebrew or Greek.
There are many stories that could capture the essence of the work my team and I did during our journey to the camp. A big part of me didn't want to write about my journey to the Greek island or about while I was in the camp; thinking about it makes my heart ache and tears well up in my eyes.
Symptoms, we call them. When I can't stop coughing, it's an indication something is wrong in my lungs. When my truck will not start, there's something wrong under the hood. When young people drop out of church, there's something wrong. Dropping out is a symptom.
It’s not really news that many young adults stop attending church regularly after high school. New numbers show the situation is actually a little better now than 10 years ago.
But if we care about the people these numbers represent and the teenagers who are following them, then the reasons why they leave are very important.
Top five reasons for dropping out:
Moved to college
Judgmental or hypocritical church members
Disconnected from people in church
Disagreed with church’s political/social issues stance
Work responsibilities prevented attendance
Texas Baptists expanded missions partnerships with two state conventions, committing to assist with church planting and revitalization efforts with the Northwest Baptist Convention, serving Washington, Oregon, and Northern Idaho, and the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.
Upon applying to Go Now Missions, I was very compelled to be able to connect with the Asian culture. I initially applied to go to the East Asia trip and upon hearing that I was not appointed there, I was confused. I felt that it was the spot the Lord wanted me to be. However, he opened a new horizon to a completely different place and it was right here in the states. It was in New York.