Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Mission Trip

Did you ever go to church and hear the stories of church members who recently return from a mission trip. Their testimonies are great and wonderful. Often many church members are excited and want to go on the next trip. Well I would like to tell you about my mission trip with the hopes that you will want to go where I went to share the gospel.

My trip started out like most trips; travel, nervousness and excitement. Once our team got to our place, our local missionary, who I cannot name to protect them, showed us one of the places of worship. I have to admit that the place was very ornate and beautiful yet I sensed a presence of evil.

As our team went into this place, we saw many worshiping one of the many idols or gods in the place. They were chanting, bowing and praying to these pieces of wood and stone. It saddened me that this was what they considered "god."

One of the priest recognizing I was a westerner asked if I would like for him to give me a blessing. Curious of what this might entail, I decided to participate. After the priest had given me some holy water to drink (water with some spices) and holy fruit to eat (nuts, dates and raisins), he rang a bell to wake up the "god." Then the priest looked at me and said I will pray for you after you give an offering. So I gave the only thing I had: cash. Once I gave the priest some cash, he prayed for me and lit some incense for me. At the end of the ritual, the priest handed me a banana and said I had been blessed.

The saddest part about this visit was a lady that I saw in the corner of the room. She was sitting on the floor, chanting and weeping. I asked the priest what was happening with the lady. Through an interpreter, he told my friends and I that the lady had suffer 3 miscarriages and that she was praying to her "god" for 24 hours straight that she would not miscarry her current child.

My heart was broken. Here were people having to ring a bell to wake up their "gods." Here were people having to beg and plead for miracles by chanting and here were people having to pay for blessings by bringing gifts. These were people who need to hear about the Grace of God. These were people who needed missionaries to reach out to them.

If you are reading this, please pray for these people and this place. You see this was only one place of many in this place without the Gospel. In this one city where we were 80% of the people are lost without Christ, Please consider how you could reach out to this dark place that has at least 35 unreached/under engaged people groups who do not know the gospel.

As I left that place, I wondered why this was happening. I was wondering where were the Christian believers in this place. Why were they not trying to reach these people who needed hope?

If you are wondering where this place is: I will tell you. It is Nashville, Tennessee. Home of the SouthernBaptist Convention. Home of the Grand Ole Opry and home to 1000's who do not know Christ and worship many "gods". Will you do a mission trip here?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Listen Up

When I served with C Co. 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, THE PRIVATEERS, I had the privilege of sitting in on some of the leadership training for the staff, even though I was a Chaplain serving with that unit. As I was going through some materials today, I found the following leadership notes from my Chaplain days. So as our commander use to say: "Listen Up!" Meaning this is important. I thought I would pass along those important thoughts.

1. Lead by example from the front of the formation. Take your performance personally—if you are proud to be average, so too will be your troops.

2. A leader must provide a vision—clear and achievable “big ideas” combined in a strategic concept—and communicate those ideas throughout the entire organi­zation and to all other stakeholders.

3. A leader needs to give energy; don’t be an oxygen thief.

4. There is an exception to every rule, standard operating procedure, and poli­cy; it is up to leaders to determine when exceptions should be made and to ex­plain why they made them.

5. We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear­ view mirrors—drive on and avoid making them again.

6. Be humble. The people you’ll be lead­ing already have on-the-ground conflict experience. “Listen and learn.”

7. Be a team player. “Your team’s triumphs and failures will, obviously, be yours.” Take ownership of both.

8. Don’t rely on rank. If you rely on rank, rather than on the persuasiveness of your logic, the problem could be you and either your thinking or your com­munication skills. Likewise, sometimes the best ideas come from bottom-up information sharing (i.e., “Need to share” not “Need to know”). 

9. Leaders should be thoughtful but deci­sive. Listen to subordinates’ input, evaluate courses of action and second- and third-order effects, but be OK with an “80 per­cent solution.” “There will be many moments when all eyes turn to you for a decision. Be prepared for them. Don’t shrink from them. Embrace them.” Some­times the best move is the bold move.

10. Stay fit to fight. Your body is your ulti­mate weapons system. Physical fitness for your body is essential for mental fitness.

11. The only thing better than a little com­petition is a lot of competition. Set    chal­lenges for your team to encourage them to excel.

12. Everyone on the team is mission criti­cal. Instill in your team members a sense of great self-worth—that each, at any given time, can be the most important on the battlefield.