Everyone has a story….10 yr old Isaiah!

LIVE IT AND GIVE IT  (Zug, Switzerland)-  for August 2010
Hello all,
What an incredible July for my family in our return to visit Summit County (Frisco) Colorado after moving away from there 6 years ago!  It wasn’t just a vacation in a beautiful place, nor just re-connecting with old friends and church family, but it was truly an “American Heritage Re-Discovery” for our family, in particular for our kids.  When we left Colorado in 2004, Livia was 7 and Silas 3 and upon our return Livia is a teenager at 13 and Silas 9 with baby Sarah at 18 months, seeing the Rockies for the first time!  For Livia and Silas who are in the Swiss school system in the German language, it was the first time in a long time that they were in an all (American) English  environment.  A funny thing about our trip in regards to my language skills was the fact that several people in Colorado discussed my accent in English as not being so American anymore, not my kids’!  (Oh well, what can I say about all the South African, British, Swiss and Italian (my boss) influences shaping my funny English I’ve grown accustomed to over the past 6 years.) 
We made numerous great American “re-discoveries” like the local restaurants of Summit County where a Buffalo Burger is as easy to get as a hamburger, beautiful hikes or wild west horse rides and even shooting real shot guns at clay pigeons with the kids. Another wonderful highlight for the kids was going to Camp Id-Ra-Ha-Je for a week, which they did the week before I arrived to join the family vacation in Colorado.  Livia was in Jr. High Camp and joined by her longest friend on record, Hailey (whom she grew up with from nursery age on) and the two of them had the top of two bunk beds together. What a great week of fun, faith and adventure in the mountains of Colorado.  Silas was in another area of the vast camp, in the Tepee Camp, where his group of campers didn’t sleep in cabins, but yes, in real tepees!  Without having a long lost friend to connect with at camp, Silas did what any kid should do in such a circumstance; make a new friend, like 10 year old Isaiah! 
Thus enters another “Everyone Has a Story” segment of Corey’s 2010 year of listening and learning from others peoples stories.  Isaiah and Silas hit it off pretty quickly, being in the same tepee and all. Their tepee group of about a dozen boys did many things together alongside and in competition with all the other tepee group teams.  What caught Silas’ attention (and heart) about Isaiah was his mention of being adopted.  With baby Sarah as part of our family via adoption, Silas knows something about being part of an adoptive family, but it’s the rest of Isaiah’s story that was so captivating to Silas (and his daddy) in that Isaiah was only adopted within the last couple of years. There were seven or eight years of life for Isaiah before being adopted, not just three days after birth like Sarah.  During the week Silas and his new friend continued the conversation about life in Switzerland or life in a small American town in their sleeping bags, around meals, during breaks or even crazy “mission impossible” games in the forest. Isaiah shared about how he was in approximately 20 different foster homes during his lifetime before meeting and being adopted by his father and mother and meeting his brothers and sisters, which are now “his family”, not just a stop-over place to stay with “a family”.  Isaiah has a joy and appreciation for life and family in a way that intrigued Silas, especially since Silas couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have had such an upbringing, not knowing life as part of the Best family with the same mother, father and sister(s) in his lifetime.  
At the end of the week, when Tanya was picking up Silas, he said proudly, “Mom, this is Isaiah, my friend I’ve met at camp this week”.  Fortunately, Tanya being the family photo gal that she is, said, “Great, nice to meet you Isaiah. How about we get of photo of you two friends together?”.  Only in the days to follow did Silas expand upon the story behind the story of Isaiah.  He shared from the heart, and our hearts were wide open to hear the story of Isaiah.  
Over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve looked at this picture of these two boys proudly smiling together at camp, with two bright futures ahead, I am so touched to imagine the love of God that has been bestowed upon, not only Isaiah with his family, but his family with Isaiah as well!  God has a way that only He can accomplish in “creating family” or creating a place to BELONG, where one can know what it truly means to be home and BELONG as family!   I’m like Silas, I grew up in a loving Christian home with the same father and mother, who are now married for more than 45 years…and still living and giving their love and faith away to me!   In reality, perhaps even becoming the majority in the world today, there are families and kids that are growing up in a “home” that is far from the traditional family unit of a married father and mother with the 2.5 kids and a dog or cat.  Sometimes this breakdown of the family is due to choices of grown ups such as divorce or decisions to not marry but have kids together, etc.  but often it’s also due to tragic circumstances such as death and disease of parents, or refugee circumstances that break up families from their homelands.  Yes, in our world today, there are plenty of relationship “dysfunctions” in one way or another and so many of them hit pretty much close to home (in every home).  
In closing and in encouragement to you, like Isaiah, regardless of where your own story has brought you from, you have a place to BELONG, a place to call home and a FATHER in Heaven who loves you very much….whether you believe it or not!   But, like Isaiah – who made such an impression on Silas because of the way he didn’t have to “wish” to belong to a family anymore, but “knew” that his home and place with his family was real and lasting- you too can know that as well. I pray and hope you believe and know it too!  Home with God doesn’t have to wait until you die and go to heaven, but already starts on this side of heaven with His Son, Jesus.   BELONGing to God’s family – through faith in Jesus – also gives a bonus of instant brothers and sisters in Christ who God puts alongside the journey as family, friends and fellow encouragers.
In His grip and grace,
your “brother” Corey
PS: A Word from our Father about Him being our Father, especially if we are fatherless on earth, about Him loving us and also about Him having plenty of space for us in His Home!
Psalms 68:4-5 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds—his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 14:1-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Everyone has a story….Kingdom Builders!

Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)-  for July 2010

Hello all,
It is a beautiful day in Zug, Switzerland, 11:00 a.m. and I’m sitting in the Starbucks at Metalli with Jesus and you (via my keyboard) trying to put into words some stories of amazing people the Lord has allowed me to cross paths with.  In continuation of “other people’s stories” as the theme in 2010 for me with these Live It and Give It (LIFT) updates. This time around it is a collection of 5 encounters with church planters/missionaries around Europe.
My work life at an International company takes me to all sorts of places and this year in particular I’ve been intentional to seek out and connect with Kingdom influencers whenever possible.  Aside of the all too brief words about meeting with each of these men (although they all are blessed with wives, one of them getting married today!), for me there has been a back story behind each meeting of simply being amazed at watching God orchestrate these divine encounters.  12 months ago, I knew none of them and one by one, from one mutual friend or connection we were “introduced” via e-mail (or Facebook), then my work travel schedule sent me to their country, then my local schedule allowed an open night free from work commitments to meet, while at the same time their schedules aligned just the same…….yes, God scripted the steps along the way! Over the next weeks, I’ll share more about their stories as today, it’s Horace from Belgium who is highlighted.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM: Horace serves the Kingdom outside of Brussels in Flemish speaking  Leuven, a university city. Overall, their ministry work there over the last few years has been mainly based on “serving others”.  Their organization, Serve The City uses volunteer work forces to serve in countless ways across the city; from expected things like feeding and clothing the homeless, clean up projects, to other very personal and real things like spending time with elderly people in their homes who need tasks done or just need someone to talk and share stories with.  Horace’s organization also sends out teams abroad for short term service/mission trips to various places.  Interestingly, as they have a base of approx. 400 volunteers involved in serving others, the vast majority are NOT Christians, but care to serve others and give of their time, money and resources to make a difference, regardless of faith based or not.  Currently, they are now transitioning in creating more of a “church plant” with regular gatherings/worship services on Sundays for those who desire to grow in faith.  For a guy like me who studied countless church planting models and lived the LIFT experience over the last five years, the reality of what Horace has done is exceptional, especially since it’s somewhat “backwards” to the norm.  They first created a large movement and cause with hundreds involved, then transitioned those who desire a deeper relationship and purpose in life with Jesus to come together for “church”.  Some out there might think this is a “bait and switch”, but if you were to have the opportunity to meet Horace in person and hear his heart and story, then one will quickly get it that he’s for real and genuine with people, whether they go to “the church” or not, they are important to him and others and valued, regardless of their current faith beliefs.  His story: Horace was raised in a home far from relationship and knowing Jesus, but full of religion and practices.  Polo (yes, the sport on horses hitting the balls around large fields to score) was his early professional career, taking him from Belgium to South America and eventually Florida depending on which team he was contracted to play for.  Although polo’s fan base is not as big as soccer’s current World Cup, nor American football or basketball, he had a cool life of pro sports, traveling, money, cars and a bit of fame within the sport…..but deep down searching for purpose.  I pray someday, you can hear him share the full version of his powerful story directly from him, so I’ll just wind down the short version with him meeting Jesus personally nearing his mid-twenties as he was wrapping up his Polo career. Although having this new found relationship with Jesus, knowing God and having a purpose in life, it didn’t solve all of his life’s problems and issues at the time, in fact in some ways his circumstances even got more difficult.  Needless to say, faith is normally strengthened by circumstance and through perseverance and within a couple of years he found himself in another city serving God at a church in the States where he met Tina.  Another decade later, Horace, Tina and their kids are serving their city in Belgium and serving others, in a relevant and real way!  Horace is a man of vision and action to creating a reality of those visions…..that’s a man of faith indeed!
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN: David serves the Kingdom in Stockholm.  We met in May and not only did we both have a passion in serving the Lord, we’ve both been blessed with God enhancing our family via adoption.  As much as my family saw God “work out” countless details, paperwork and bureaucracy with our Sarah, David’s story of his two adopted boys who are about Silas’ age (one a year older and the other a year younger) touched me more than his also amazing story of Kingdom work and ministry in both Sweden and the UK.  Sweden, like Switzerland, is very complicated and a long process when it comes to adoption, often 5 years or more are necessary, and yet David’s cases a decade ago were miraculous with both their infant sons coming into their family in less than two months (although two years apart) from starting the adoption process.  The connections of how David and I “met” (via another friend, Derek Webster, who’s never “met” David face 2 face either) is also beyond the realm of simple coincidence. 
DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Adaumir serves the Kingdom in Dusseldorf with Mosaic Dusseldorf.  A Brazilian national, who’s also a German citizen via his German wife, church planting there for approx. 5 years, but also has a “day job” to provide for his family. A father of 3 (two sons about Silas and Livia’s ages and a beautiful lil’ girl about 2 years old) and we’ve realized we’ve got a lot in common actually!  I first met Adaumir on the phone last October, then in person a few weeks later as I fly to Dusseldorf frequently since my company’s headquarters is nearby.  We last met two weeks ago and shared a meal at a Brazilian restaurant while watching a world cup game together and sharing what the Lord is doing in our lives and ministries.  More to come in the future, but Adaumir has been a huge encouragement for me personally as we really do have a lot in common although our ministry contexts are different…..we’ve connected well in mutual friendship and encouragement, as he says “we are of the same tribe!” 
DUSSELDORF, GERMANY: Alan serves the Kingdom in Dusseldorf with Mosaic Dusseldorf as well.  I’ve shared a bit of his story before as he’s “the dancer” and choreographer that came to Germany last year from Los Angeles on faith and calling and not much else (financially, etc).  I love crazy adventurers who GO in faith…and not much more, so God can get the glory as He blesses faith with His faithfulness.  Alan not only had a place to live, enough food to survive and been able to connect and serve others, Alan found his life’s greatest blessing in Germany and is getting married, TODAY (actually even as I write, Veronica will be walking the aisle very soon!)  Last Monday while there on business, I had the opportunity to met Veronica and they took me to Mosaic’s new facility that the Lord has provided after years of meeting in Adaumir’s living room, then another weekly rented place, and now a full time place to encounter and grow faith every day of the week!
MILAN, ITALY: Jason serves the Kingdom in Milan, a city in a country full of Christian religion and history, but “somewhat empty” on relationship in knowing God personally through Jesus Christ!  Every time I talk with Jason, I smile as he’s got a bit of a Southern USA accent, but isn’t really from Arkansas because he was raised most of his live in Brazil on mission with his family.  Over the past 5 years he’s transitioned his Portuguese into Italian and connected especially since his passion is football (known as soccer to some). In fact, a side mission/opportunity for Jason has been coordinating the Atleti di Cristo (similar to Fellowship of Christian Athletes) in Italy in connecting pro players and community projects which often allow these famous athletes to share their faith as well.  After meeting last year while there on work, and some continued correspondence, Jason and I shared lunch and a couple hours together in downtown Milan last Saturday.  It was great to hear that their church plant is continuing to grow and they are now having Sunday gatherings at a rented venue alongside their meeting in their home where they’ve outgrown over the years.    
So there you have it…..just a glimpse into some areas around Europe where God has put His Kingdom influencers into these cities.   “Other people’s stories” for me has been an incredible experience in not just hearing, but seeing what the Lord is doing in the lives of these men and their families. Hard to believe that in just the last three months I met with each of these men in their cities and their stories of life, faith and seeing God work through their ministries are inspiring. These brief words about Horace and the others in the weeks ahead, truly don’t even begin to share their full stories………their journey and journeys continue! Take a moment and pray for them, their families, their ministries and their cities and may the Lord continue to bless His Kingdom in these places and across all the nations as we, the Followers of Jesus, continue to Live our Faith and Give it away….near and far! 
In His grip and grace,
PS- For those of you that are part of LIFT, interesting to note is part of our missions giving the past three years has been in part to the Mosaic Alliance, and the Serve the City in Brussels and Mosaic Dusseldorf have been two of the ministries that Mosiac had forwarded some of our missions giving to….another part of the back stories of God scripting these mutual serving the Kingdom encounters! 

Everyone has a story….and a dance!

Live It and Give It!  (Zug, Switzerland)-  for April 2010
Hello all,
Dance- Worship? Ministry? Outreach?
In continuation with my intention of observing the stories of others these past months, this week is about a “trio of dance”, 3 people who have impressed me on how they have allowed the Lord to use them for His Kingdom purposes in very beautiful, artistic and creative ways! (And to think it’s wasn’t too long ago that all dancing was considered “sinful” within most church cultures…or actually some may still feel that way today……but here I go anyways!)
ACT 1: “ALAN”- I met Alan last year and have admired his faith in putting his life on the line for the Kingdom in how he is GO-ing with God on mission, very much in complete faith. Alan’s is a dancer, a choreographer and a pastor hearted guy who left his job, his home church, basically his overall comfortable “normal life” in Los Angeles to GO and serve God alongside a church plant in Germany. I love the adventure and heart in this guy, even if I think he’s crazy…of course in the best sense of the word. At home, part of his ministry to the Lord from his talents and passion was that of serving with the dance ministry at his home church in LA. But his home church is truly unique in that they have an amazing extensive dance and musical ministry since many from the congregation are professionals who perform in dance, musicals and various productions in Hollywood, LA and elsewhere. Really cool stuff actually, and not something that most churches have access to with such talents in their congregations. And yet, as comfortable and cool as that may have seemed, Alan was called to “GO” and give of himself elsewhere, in a country called Germany, after his heart was touched during a short term mission there. Today, Alan isn’t working with numerous professionals and a large scale structured ministry team, but with local German speaking people who are learning dance (many for their first time) and how to use it as a form or worship and even outreach. Today, Alan is has a place to call “home” while living in an apartment with some roommates and eating food every day which seems normal. But, again that is today, but when this man of faith left his comfortable life in LA several months ago to serve the Lord it was WITHOUT PRE-FINANCIAL SUPPORT and NO GUARATEES OF IT! That’s NOT normal, and totally something I admire in Alan and his story! It hasn’t been easy and still a true adventure of faith, but God has been faithful and along the way has provided Alan’s basic needs every step of the way! Obviously there is much, much more as I didn’t even bring up like the fact that he doesn’t speak German, although the Lord has provided lessons since his arrival as well, but yes, Alan has danced his GO-ing feet for the Lord in special fashion. May the Lord continue to touch hearts through this faithful servant and Follower of Jesus.
ACT 2: “GLEAM JOEL”- I’ll spare you the lengthy e-mail. Joel’s story can be found here: www.stillstandingthemovement.com. By the way, he’s got a musical/concert in Cham on May 21st and 28th with ticket information also on the link. I met Joel about 5 years ago shortly after we started planting LIFT as he was starting a “Hip Hop church plant” west of Zurich. Derek Webster was around at the time and helping Joel get connected with a German speaking Swiss church to be somewhat of the “support church” to Joel’s vision. It’s even funny now again trying to imagine this conservative Swiss (German speaking) church with many mature (a nice way of saying old) congregants coming alongside a foreigner with poor German, but incredibly flowing and rhyming English from Africa who’s vision was to use Hip Hop to reach the younger generation. One of the most profound things I ever heard since coming to Switzerland was Derek sharing at the time about one of these “old Swiss conservative Christian men” who was totally skeptical and against the whole idea of a Hip Hop Church and their church being associated with it. This old man, skeptical as he was, attended a “Hip Hop church service” which was basically a Hip Hop concert with a sermon, and that night afterwards deciding that HE TOO LIKED HIP HOP MUSIC IF THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES TO SHARE THE GOSPLE WITH YOUNGSTERS! About 100 had attended that night and he realized the power of using contemporary means to share Jesus in a relevant and effective manner. Soon after, this old man was that Swiss church’s strongest supporter in gaining others to support this young church plant! That’s a cool story all in itself!
ACT 3: “TEAM FEDOR”- This one is closer to home, right here at LIFT. This isn’t just about a person, but a family of 4 that have been amazing in starting and creating an outreach dance ministry at LIFT that has truly surprised me in how cool it is…..even if is seems so opposite of my own “manliness”. I’ve written about these 18th Century Dance nights before, but truly it is an fun and eventful evening….even for “men” who prefer attending sporting events. K*, alongside husband D* and teens J* and E* have given of their time, talents and abilities to reach out into the Kingdom and not just those at LIFT, but our community of Zug/Zurich/Luzern around us! THERE’S ANOTHER DANCE NIGHT TOMORROW NIGHT, IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO COME AND JOIN….AND BRING A FRIEND! TRUST ME, YOU’L LIKE IT! (….and be LIFTed UP!)
So there you have it, my TRIO OF DANCE of insight and gratitude to others in serving the Kingdom of God; using dance and faith as worship to God and a way of sharing Him with others…….in living and giving their faith away!
In His grip and grace,

Everyone has a story….and a name! Continued…..

Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)-  for March 2010
Hello all,

“I just want to feel like that what I am doing in life can make a difference in the world, otherwise what’s the point of just going to work, going home and doing whatever in the meantime. I have a great career and make enough money to do well.  I’m in a great relationship for nearly 10 years now; he’s a really good man and we do love each other…I believe it’s for our lifetime, but don’t feel the need to be married and change what we have.  I don’t really desire kids of my own, but one of my life’s joys is my sister’s toddler that fulfills that aspect of life. But somehow, I want to do something greater for the world” –she’s got a name as well, but I’ll only share a bit of her story. 
How many of you are in your mid thirties (or remember them…or someday want to imagine what your life will be like when you get there) and desire to make a real difference in the world?  I’ll admit that I do and I’ll also admit that I’m actually in my late thirties, not mid and also, the question of “if” I can still make a difference becomes more of a reality because the older I get the seemingly less time I have to do it.  As mentioned in the past couple of LIFT updates, I am on a “Sabbatical” from daily leadership of LIFT this year and during this season of life, part of my personal and intentional goal this year is to better hear “other people’s stories” and try to learn from them and what the Lord might try to communicate to me through their stories if I simply listen long enough to truly hear.
I love the worldly aspect of my professional life that I so often find myself in deep hearted discussions with others who have no preconceived notions that they are talking to a strong Follower of Jesus, much less a “pastor”.  During an international training program with several 2 or 3 day modules over the past year or so, I’ve gotten to know several internationals that have no idea about my “ministry habit”, but know me from my work titles and function. In such courses, a team atmosphere and actual friendships begin to form from the course discussions and the many side discussions around meals and some free times. Although I may keep my “church planter/pastor” roles a bit hidden at the work place, the aspect of being a family man with faith clearly comes out during side discussions. This openness does two things; one it opens up conversations with others about life, and secondly, it’s a message to both male and female co-workers that I value my faithful marriage relationship. So although this woman in her mid thirties shared some insight into her life with me, it was definitely within an “appropriate discussion”. That being said, it’s amazing and ironic that deep down people are all the same (whether they admit to include Jesus or not) in that they seek a deeper purpose of sense in life and also seek deeper true relationships with others. 
Speaking of getting a bit deeper regarding a couple of things she said in the quote above and amongst over discussions in which I found particularly insightful and meaningful:
-“I just want to feel like that what I am doing in life can make a difference in the world”: This theme kept coming up in that she had a huge heart for the billions across the planet that live in poverty, in need of food and water and things she takes for granted every day.  She has everything she needs in a decently wealthy country and comfortable surroundings  She wanted to somehow use her life to help others, in particular children as her sister’s toddler has grabbed her heart and motherly aspirations.
-“a great career and make enough money”:  It was clear to me, (and I believe she meant it) that just increasing her rank in the corporate ladder and salary wasn’t very fulfilling, which actually, for her age, she has already attained a high level and definitely within a circle of very influential people. Status and money still left her feeling empty regarding things that are considered meaningful.
-“a great relationship…but don’t feel the need to be married”:  Ok, this may give away her nationality, but the term for her “relationship” is a unique German language word that expresses much.  “Lebensabschnittspartner”- meaning temporary life companion, or more literally “Life – segment – partner”.  Honestly, although I really don’t like this German term, I appreciate the honesty of it. So many of today’s generation across the planet don’t value marriage and just move in together, often for a brief time, in this case the title of temporary “life-segment-partner” at least admits the truth of their expectations that it is perhaps just for a part of life, not a lifetime.  Aside of the term she used for her partner, she did express deep love and loyalty, perhaps even for a lifetime.
Of course, there is more to her story like a “religious” background, but no understanding of a relationship with God or Jesus, just being made to go to church until her late teen years as it was the family expectations of her parents, who seemingly also only went out of duty, not worship or a meaningful reason. There is more to her story revealing her desire for real relationships and friendships as she admitted her quick successes on FB’s Farmville in recent months showing that she’s spending too much time on cyberspace longing for contact with others and not enough in real life, except those she works with, as she’s somewhat of a workaholic at times.  Of course, during our conversation, I inserted a few words of (Godly) wisdom here and there, just not stating the Book, chapter and verse behind the wisdom and letting the wisdom speak for itself. 
Her story is not over…….neither is yours or mine.   In a few months, I’ll be at another training course and perhaps our side conversation will continue.  In the meantime, I can keep her in prayer and perhaps God will continue to put others into her life to continue His conversation with her.  
YOUR LIFE DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD! In closing, I am the eternal optimist and I really do believe that I can make a difference in the world, and believe you and your life makes a difference as well!  It’s not how big or little of a difference, but simply just making a difference one person, one story, one day at a time.   Simply take the little “insignificant” opportunities that a normal day and normal conversation bring along in living and giving our faith away.  God will take it from there…..with you…..and/or with others! 
Colossian 1:9-12a For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father
In His grip and grace,


Everyone has a story…and a name!

Live It and Give It! (Zug, Switzerland)-  for February 2010

Hello All,

This is my second re-write of what your about to read below.  As a preface, those that know me, I’m NOT a doom and gloom kind of guy- that’s done all too well by the news and media today in “selling” stories that need statistics and numbers to back them up.  As I mentioned in my last writing, this year I’m simply trying to look deeper into the stories of individual people, especially the ones that I find sitting in front of me, wherever that might be.  Sometimes, it’s a continuation of that meeting even if from long ago….their story is still being written, just like yours and mine.

So often today, we hear or read or watch the news regarding stories, often with massive statistics and numbers.  Stories of war ravaged nations, stories of natural catastrophes, stories of helpful entities and stories of billions and billions of currencies.   The numbers can sometimes be so large that we can’t grasp the point.  In one city on one side of the planet 60 die in a bombing at a mosque during prayer, but that story is lost to more than 100,000 dead from a catastrophe on the other side of the planet.  We hear about children dying every few seconds somewhere on the planet due to starvation or lack of water, numbering hundreds of thousands in months and/or millions in a year.  Our hearts get grabbed and we so want to help or do something significant, but feel so small and inadequate. The truth is that many are being helped in many ways by various churches or denominations (often yours or mine in ways you may not realize), humanity organizations, NGO’s (non governmental organization), governments, politicians, rock stars, movies stars and even billionaires like Bill Gates.  The truth is there are still even more not getting help.   

GRASPING THE POINT: Behind the massive statistics and numbers is “a story” (singular) of “an individual” who has “a name”. One has to go deeper to the individual story behind the larger stories, still never capable to ever really grasp the big story (although God is big enough and does that!)  I believe the reality is we too often miss the point of one single person who has a name because we’re overloaded with the data, facts, figures and numbers and missed the individual face behind it…..unless we know that face or that name personally, or connected personally (and I’m definitely not talking Facebook here).   The paragraph above has non specific stories but hypothetically looking deeper, we read right over the story of an Islamic mother who’s life will never be the same after burying her son tomorrow who was the Islamic prayer leader killed in the bombing by one of his own.  There’s 59 other mothers mourning over their lost one too, not just for the guy leading the prayer. There is a hungry man desperately trying to feed his family today, but carrying the loss that it was to late for his 3rd born son who didn’t make it past yesterday.  This man has a name, and he definitely knows the name of his children, especially the name of his 3rd born in which he wrote it on the makeshift tombstone this morning. (Again, this is hypothetically written, but even writing it, I’m getting the point all too well myself). On the positive side, how many amazing individuals make a difference one face at a time, one bowl of food at a time, to act of compassion at a time. Above only organizations are mentioned except for Bill Gates but what about the names of those that spend a lifetime living giving to another in a 3rd world country when they grew up in a western home full of convenience?  They have a name too?  Their family they left behind for most of their life knows it and so does the family they serve in their 3rd “home”land that is truly their 1st world.  What about those that do get a chance to give in an offering or go on a short term trip?  They have a name, and so do the people they meet along their journey. 

We can’t grasp the real story (singular), because we too often only get the overload of too many stories (very plural) with too many names and faces.   I can only praise and thank God that “He is God….and I am not!”  He is God and He knows every story, every face, ever detail and every hair on every head (shaven, full of lice, disease, expensive perfumed shampoo, colored, gray…yes I have a few myself)!  He grasps it and He cares!    “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you” (Jeremiah 1:5 The Message) That makes all the difference for all of us when we think we can’t make a difference, in our own story and in the story of another (singular), or even others (plural).

In closing, I’ll share something that’s not hypothetical, but a real person, with a real story and a real name.  His name is Paul, he’s a pastor.  I last saw him about 10 years ago with his 9 year old son, whose name is Silas.  At the time, Paul was a fellow pastor serving alongside my oldest brother Steve. Tanya was pregnant with our 2nd child and when we met Paul and heard him call to his 9 year old Silas running around. The “name” grabbed our hearts and the day our child was born and we learned he was a boy, we called him Silas. Today, my 9 year old son named Silas is at school in Edlibach, Switzerland.  Today, Paul and his son Silas are sitting in a jail in Haiti.  Paul and Silas are one of the 10 Americans currently being charged with child trafficking as reported in new headlines all over the world. Paul and Silas have a name, a face and a story.  Yes, knowing the names and faces of those in the stories being reported around the world makes a difference.  Yes, knowing that God knows the stories and faces of the stories being reported around the world makes a difference. 

In 2010, I’m seeking to learn through other’s stories. As this year continues, I’m a bit nervous in looking too deep into others stories…….but I believe the journey will be “beyond what words can express”, and I believe………. that’s enough words right there. 

In His grip and grace…
(and in prayer for a man named Paul and his son Silas),
PS- I don’t know the stories each of other “8 Americans” in Haiti, nor the rest of the 8 billion on the planet, but I can pray for those I don’t even know as well, because God knows them and God cares!