The Leatherwoods, Artajona, Spain, 2006.

The Leatherwoods. Artajona, Spain. 2006.

It is hard to believe that it has been four years since I first went to Spain. In 2006, I visited three missionary families in three various locations around the country. This photo has always been a favorite of mine for its metaphor of beginnings and of new opportunities. This family, the Leatherwoods, walked through this archway located in the 11th century Cerco de Artajona. I suppose that in comparison to the 900 years this structure has seen visitors come and go, my four-year absence has been hardly noticed.

Yet, for my friends in Artajona, I am sure that the past four years have brought countless changes in their lives as they watched their five children grow. For me, those years have passed by in a blur as I have changed careers and embarked on founding and building my media mission, A Mission Proclaimed.

It was a year after that trip I started A Mission Proclaimed (AMPProductions and AMPPhotos). Greatly inspired from that spring and summer I spent visiting my church’s missionaries as a media emissary for my church in my position as Director of Video Services. The intent was to gather stories of what was happening on the mission field and bring them back to the church to create interactive,  multimedia “kiosks” for creating a greater connection between the church family in the states and those overseas. That project fell apart along with other church projects in the harsh reality of cutbacks and reorganization due to the faltering economy. The blessing of those factors, however, was that they were the impetus for my vision and creation of A Mission Proclaimed, to continue bringing the stories of God’s work in missions back to the people here at home.

The revelation of having so much time pass brings some guilt that I have not kept in communication with the missionaries I visited. Being in constant “catch-up” mode and busily starting a new career while simultaneously building up a ministry takes a toll on the cultivating of friendships.

I suppose it is out of guilt that I vow to reconnect with those friends and to cultivate those friendships that I started over the last few years. Priorities, priorities, priorities. Get them straight.

In my hope to realize the metaphor pictured by the Leatherwoods as they walked through that stone arch four years ago, I commit to treating each day as a new beginning, a gift from God, and an opportunity to greet each new day as a blessing to enjoy friends and cherish friendships that God has given me.

© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Mourning Into Dancing

27 February, 2010

Dancing Roma man, Skopje, Macedonia, 2009.

Dancing Roma man. Skopje, Macedonia. 2009.

I walked the narrow streets of a Roma enclave in Skopje, Macedonia and came upon this man who greeted me with a smile and a small spontaneous dance. What a wonderful introduction to the Roma people in this extremely poor community. Macedonia is among the poorest countries in Europe and the Roma are the poor among the poor. Yet, this man seemed to have genuine joy and expressed it to me, a total stranger roaming his streets.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: You have put off my sackcloth, and clothed me with gladness; – Psalm 30:11

Surely we Christians should express such spontaneous joy. That song comes to mind, I Hope You Dance. This secular song can present us with a challenge.

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance; Dance
I hope you dance (1)

I see it as a special challenge to get involved, to step out, to live life, and to do so with joy and in step with God. In so many ways life is like a dance. You either dance with careful, stiff and stuttering steps, carefully regarding those who watch and self-conscious of how your steps are received. Or, you dance without regard for how you are perceived, with abandon to that music which fills your heart from a higher Source.

Regardless of how your song starts or what changes in key you find as you move from verse to chorus, when you final reach the coda I hope your dance inspired others, but like David’s dance was intended for God alone.

Reference:
(1) © 2004 MCA Nashville, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc. Artist: Lee Ann Womack

© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

 

The World Will Be Watching

23 February, 2010

Futebol, Patacas, Brasil, 1996.

Futebol. Patacas, Brasil. 1996.

As I begin to write this post there are a mere 107 days, 14 hours, and 32 minutes until the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (I owe the exact timing to the ESPN FIFA World Cup iPhone app). The actual number of eyes to view this sports event is widely debated. Some say half to three-quarters of a billion and others say tens of billions (It has been stated that the total viewership for the 2002 World Cup was 28.8 billion. There were 64 games at the World Cup giving an average of 450 million viewers per match). There is really no way to determine how many will be watching.

This year when the whistle blows on the pitch at Soccer City Stadium in Jo’burg to start the first match it will usher in a transformation in the way people view television in the home. (1) The 95,000 people in the stadium may not have the best seats; that may be reserved for the home viewers equipped to watch the game in 3D, yes 3D!

ESPN announced it will use the starting game between South Africa and Mexico to unveil a dedicated 3D network. Home viewers will now be able to view the event à la Avatar. Granted, this immersive experience will be limited to a wealthy few who can afford the HDTV equipment to take advantage of this new technology.

Yet as in years before, most of the world will watch this event crowded around shared, communal TV sets, peering through the snowy reception just as I did while visiting Brasil in 2006; the last occurrence of the World Cup. As I watched, there were about 30 green, yellow, and blue painted faces crowded into a school room in Patacas, a small Brasillian town on the north-east coast of Brasil. The spotty reception did nothing to dull the joyous exuberance each time the Brasillian national team scored.

When it comes to the number of viewers of such global events and estimates of the percentages of the human populace engaged in such a singular purpose, I don’t compare it to other sports or cultural events. I think rather of one of the last great spectacles of humanity, the ministry of the “Two Witnesses” described in Revelation 11. No other spectacle can compare to the vast numbers of viewers of that event.

I suppose ESPN will have the bugs worked out of their 3D experience by then, but it won’t matter. Much of the 1,260 day ministry of the “Two Witnesses” will be all too 3D for the hapless inhabitants of the earth as the rain ceases and waters turn to blood. As plagues of every sort strike the earth, people will not need technology to feel immersed in the event.

It is when these two witnesses are killed in a beastly manner and lie in the streets of Jerusalem that the number of world-wide viewers peaks. The celebrations over the murder of these emissaries of God will far surpass the celebrations of sporting victories, carnivale, Mardi Gras, or other human celebrations . This will be the celebration of the “world’s team” defeating God’s. Or, so they think. You see, there will be a quick severance of the celebrations when these witnesses arise after three and a half days. It will literally shake man’s shoddy foundations.

Granted, there are readers of this blog who may differ in their view of the message of the book of Revelation. The exegesis of scripture is outside the scope of this blog, but the point can be well taken regardless of your view of Revelation: A time of accounting and judgment is promised and God keeps promises.

Don’t take this particular post as an attack on the World Cup, soccer (futebol in Brasil), or other like events. It is not. I enjoyed the three games I saw while in Brasil in 2006. Even more so because we used these games as a gathering point for the youth in the community and a time for ministry and fellowship. The games were secondary to the goal of ministry. We used these games for a greater purpose and it made an eternal difference.

Reference:
(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jan/06/espn-3d-world-cup-ces

© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

 

The Journey Forward

1 January, 2010

Railroad tracks, Kaçanik, Kosovo, 2009.

Railroad tracks. Kaçanik, Kosovo. 2009.

We live in the present, and every evening brings an end of a day that will never be relived. Yet, we mark some days as special because they mark more than just the end of a single day. The end of December 31, 2009 brought the end of a year and a decade. I wanted a photo in this post that connected the past to the future, and a reminder of the ecclesiastical truism that there is nothing new under the sun.

This set of rails is in the town of Kaçanik, Kosovo. I stood looking down the tracks toward the past, only ten years prior, when 31,000 Albanian refugees fled the Serbian forces evicting them from the country, “getting ‘a free ride to Macedonia’ as a ‘gift from the government’ in exchange for the houses and cars.” They traveled these rails by train and by foot, fleeing for their lives. Thousands never made it, primarily those males aged 13 and up who were of “fighting” age.

Every few years we are shocked anew by atrocities visited upon one people by another. Why do we still look upon these with horror and surprise? We look on with horror because we are amazed at actions of depravity, evil wholly outside our sphere of experience. We look on with surprise because deep down we wish the lie was truth; that man is getting better. Yet, we are continually met face-on with the truth of human nature; as Christians we should not be surprised because human nature is the manifestation of sin nature.

Christians should look at the future with an element of pragmatism. Do not think that everything will be getting any better, but be not concerned with that. Will the economy recover or plummet anew? Will Iran comply with the demands of the west? Will Afghanistan come under control or fall into deadly chaos? Will Russia continue to provoke neighbors in a display of nationalistic machismo? We don’t know, and it’s not that we don’t care, but our outlook does not hinge upon events out of our control. We know that all things are in the total control of our heavenly Father.

Happiness, blessing, fulfillment, contentment –however you want to define it– should be based upon being in that prefect will of God, solely. All other so-called measures of blessing or affliction are really neither. We just meet them with an attitude of openness to God’s leading and purposes, or we grasp and claw at temporal vanity.

So, we wish everyone a happy new year, blessed in the understanding that God has a purpose for us. We continue here in the turbulence that is the human experience because we emissaries of the one, true King. What a blessing it is to need no other thing.

© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.