Thursday, July 21, 2011

In one week....

We leave for Ghana one week from today. I believe that this 100 degree heat index is just to prepare us for the journey, so turn down the air conditioning and jump into the sweaty sunshine! It's amazing to me how there is oppression everywhere, even in a country as free as the U.S., and yet we don't often really help one another completely. As we embark on this journey to another world in Africa, I'd like to reflect on the meaning of neighbors. How do we cross the road for one another?

Henri Nouwen reflects on this in several of his writings, but I am particularly struck by this passage:

"We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another. There is so much separation and segregation: between black people and white people, between gay people and straight people, between young people and old people, between prisoners and free people, between Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and Christians, Protestants and Catholics.....there is alot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the road once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might indeed become neighbors."

Today in Ghana, a minister recommended the arrest of all gays and lesbians in the Western region. This is devastating for human rights and I would hope that you would read the article and pray for the people. Let's cross the road to listen, to help and to be listened to and to receive help. Here's the article:

There's so much good work to be done all around the world, and I hope that we can be of some small assistance!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Covenant of Change

As I was in my own devotions this morning, so much was running through my head about all the preparations I still have to make for this study-abroad experience in Ghana. I could barely focus during my time of prayer. I know that each and every one of you who are traveling with me are also experiencing some of this preparation anxiety, and what I would encourage for all of us is a covenant of change with ourselves, where we actively work to be in communion with the holy spirit, to breathe and to commit to God's peaceful presence in our lives. Here's how I came back into focus today through my reading:

Paul writes to us in Ephesians 2:10:

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

The word workmanship here is from the Greek poema meaning that we are God's poem, God's writing; that we are God's epistles! We are the signature of His Grace and as we do His work in this world, we are becoming completed so that eventually we can fulfill His promises.

As you prepare for this trip, make a covenant with yourself for change -- to become God's poem and carry His meanings of resurrection into the world.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ghana Semester Preview

Hello everyone:

There are a couple of things I'd like to say as we begin this semester together. First of all, I hope that this will be the time of our lives, not only in the sense of a marvelous adventure abroad, but an experience that will teach us to truly follow Christ and sense the healing, guiding presence of the Holy Spirit among us. Recently, I've been doing quite a bit of reflection on the story of Jacob because there are those moments in his life where he questions God's presence. In the story of Jacob's ladder, we learn something quite consequential about God's presence in our lives:

Genesis 28:10-19
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’

The words of this passage in Genesis ask us to consider that every place we find ourselves, we need to seek God's presence...and not only in place, but in people, and in ourselves. God is in our heart and His presence fills us with peace, in our hearts and our minds. My prayer for this semester is that we would pray unceasingly for God's presence to be felt in the service, learning and recreation that we enjoy.

Together we created a covenant that expressed our commitments to one another on this semester. I ask that you would reflect on those commitments and prayerfully consider how we will seek God together as we experience Ghana!

I cannot wait to see all of you and begin our journey!