I call this travel sickness. And I currently have it.
I call this travel sickness. And I currently have it.
Jennifer and I are hitting Guatemala for the next ten days, and we’re so excited to go back to a people and a ministry that deeply touched our hearts. Not only will we be able to re-connect with the four children that we sponsor, but we’ll be ministering before some incredible and diverse audiences. Even since Inn Ministries published this infographic, we’ve been notified that another school has invited us to come speak.
A few fun ways to engage with us on this trip:
• Stay tuned here for long-form updates.
• Invest $5, $15 or $25 to Inn Ministries.
• Sponsor a child for $30/mos.
Giving should be fun. So let’s have some!
• Shout Out Pics: For those of you who chose to invest into the Inn, Jennifer and I’ll post a customized picture just for you that will hit Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on our blogs. Mine will probably be whacky; Jennifer’s will be thoughtful. Mine will be random; Jennifer’s will be intentional.
• Us and Your Child: If you chose to sponsor a child, Jennifer and I will post a picture of us with your sponsor child. This also applies to anyone who already sponsors a child through the Inn. Again, leave a comment and give us your child’s name. This is a beautiful way to connect with your kids through us—we’ll be your eyes, but you’re still the heart.
Thanks for for being an integral part of changing culture with us.
There’s an old adage:
Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
I’m pretty sure there’s another one. At least there is for me:
Anything worth doing well is worth doing as a team.
And maybe better still:
Anything you want to do well, you’d better do with a team.
Last night, the team pictured above rallied to put on one heck of a show at Indian River High—the largest campus in our county. The event was one of our youth ministry’s LIFTED events, which mixes music, worship, drama, dance and video to support a Gospel message, concluding with an invitation to accept Jesus.
Here are a few reasons I resist doing things without a team:
They’re Smarter Than I Am
When things go wrong and systems fail, I want to be around people that are smarter than me. Or, at the very least, will look at things with different eyes. This allows problems to be treated with new solutions that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
We had a few unforeseen system integration audio issues during set up last night; work arounds came much faster because ideas were shared quickly and freely. We checked one another’s work and talked through some of the more complex signal paths. Because the teams trust each other and are not threatened, even people not on the audio crew were getting involved and doing their best to serve and troubleshoot.
When the pressure gets high, you need people around you who can make you laugh. The only other release for pressure tends to be rather destructive: you allow it to mount until you snap. And people or things usually get hurt.
Keeping things fun, even in highly stressful scenarios (and I’d argue especially in highly stressful scenarios) is absolutely critical. Dedicated, hard working people who have a lighter side, and know when to augment situational tension with a bit of levity are crucial for letting teams reset and keep things in perspective.
Humor is also a great way for you as a leader to let your team know you’re not drowning in frustrations when things go wrong. At one moment last night when things were especially difficult, I just decided to start dancing. No music. No beat. Just my moves (which are in themselves hilariously pitiful). It made people laugh and reminded us all to keep the main thing the main thing—our core message: we’re here to share the Good News of Jesus with teens.
At the end of the day, saying, “I did all that,” gets rather boring. Not because you’re suffering from a lack of ideas, but because you have no one to share it with.
Doing things together means more people are taking pride in what’s happening. And people that do things together end up building stronger bonds because of the process.
This sense of community not only makes the end product more vivid and colorful, but it’s essential in spreading whatever core message you’re attempting to promote.
Doing things as a team says to history, “We were here. We had something so important to say that we needed many voices to say it with.”
May history never forget us and the future never forsake us.
What are some of the favorite teams you ever worked with? What made them special?
UPDATE 11:39AM EST: Jonathan’s site is currently down, and it looks like he’s abandoned this voyage. Details still pending. He still gets a Kili-Boranna patch for his efforts.
If ever there was someone who deserved to be inducted into the Kili-Boranna Guild as an honorary member, its certainly Jonathan Trappe.
He’s an IT specialist and aviation buff who’s obsessed with attempting things out of ordinary in record-setting style. As if his cluster balloon airlift of a faux house á la “Up” wasn’t enough, he’s now attempting a trans-Atlantic voyage in a lifeboat basket beneath 300 helium filled cluster balloons.
Checking out his website is a definite must; there you’ll find two nifty links, one that’s plotting his course, the other that’s tracking his transponder, including his exact location, speed and elevation.
God’s speed, Jonathan. And as the Guild would say…
Fly or die,
Christopher sez: No, I’m not going to New Zealand. At least not yet. She is on my top three “favorite countries I have not yet been to but desperately want to see before I go home to be with Jesus” list.
(Others on that list include Australia, Japan, and Fiji).
But one of my guests has written a piece on travel to New Zealand.
I know I have a number of faithful readers in New Zealand, and I’m curious to know in the comments section if you can corroborate these locations, and perhaps give other notable places to visit. (Im making my own list, so they better be good!).
• • •
The great outdoors isn’t just trees and birds and animals and earth. It also serves as one of the strongest evidences of God’s grace. Many Christians feel a strong link to God’s presence when interacting with the great outdoors. Pope John Paul II was an avid outdoorsman, often going on numerous hiking, skiing, and kayaking trips as part of his ministry. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, exhorted parents to show their children the wonders of God in nature. If you want to do the same, there’s no better place to visit than New Zealand.
With its wide, rolling vistas and breathtaking sights, New Zealand has long been a favorite haven for those enamored with the great outdoors and is a popular destination on Dial A Flight. Here are a few things that the entire family can enjoy on a visit to Kiwi country.
For a truly authentic New Zealand experience, rent a campervan and embark on a North Island road trip. Kids and adult film fans alike will appreciate the drive through the real-life versions of Hobbiton and Mordor, two of the most prominent locations in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You also get to see a wide variety of New Zealand’s many different landscapes from lush, green rainforests and rolling farmlands to towering mountains and volcanic fields. The journey starts in Auckland and ends at Wellington, the nation’s capital.
Don’t ditch your campervan just yet. New Zealand’s South Island is where the real outdoor adventure starts. You can head to Queenstown and find out why it’s called the Adventure Capital of the World. You can go on a quick boat ride to spot giant sperm whales or make a beeline for the Otago Peninsula to spend a day with fur seals, sea lions, and, if you’re lucky, royal albatrosses. Lake Wanaka also offers a myriad of water activities including kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Practically everywhere you go in the South Island is an outdoor adventure waiting to happen, with every sight a clear sign of the Creator’s majesty and love.
• • •
Christopher sez: OK, readers, chime in. If you live in or have visited New Zealand, what are some of your favorite places?
Moments don’t happens to us.
We happen to moments.
They take creativity and energy (which equates to virtue). Add some forethought, sometimes money (because money = time, and time = life), and an ample amount of consideration-of-others.
Planning your time off is just as important as planning your appointments to address work-load.
Tonight’s memory will be a road trip with my Princess to see Jonny Lang.
Do something today. Get wood for campfire. Cancel your non-essential plans and go to the drive-in. Take a walk, play in the mud, eat pizza and throw the crusts in a stream.
Be intentional about making moments count so you have memories to collect.
This is a piece of personal history I first published just after it happened in the summer of 2010. I thought it was fitting for today as I sat around with my extended family this morning, dwelling on the freedoms that we enjoy, all at the hands of countless men and women I will never meet this side of heaven.
Happy July 4th everyone. Born free, stay free.
Normandy was our direction, and Omaha Beach, our destination.
To say it’s a historically significant locale would be an understatement. Abounding with monuments, museums, and restaurants like “The D-Day Hotel,” one gets the impression that the boys that laid their lives down nearly 65 years ago would never have imagined we’d be dining on the beach they bled over. But as I waxed melodramatic, my dad–son of a WWII Marine Corps Col.–spoke aptly as he ate his steak: “They’re saying, ‘you better dig in boys; this one’s on us’.”
After wandering the sands of Omaha Beach, we drove up to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. I can honestly say it’s one of the three most sobering locations I have ever been to on the planet, paired with both Pearl Harbor and Auschwitz.
The biggest surprise, however, was receiving the honor of a lifetime. While walking the hushed pathways through the manicured gardens, a strong American voice behind me asked, “So where are you boys from?”
Without so much as turning around I said, “New York.” It’s not often you here a strong US accent in France, so meeting a fellow American at this memorial seemed likely.
“Well, would you both like to retire the colors?”
As my dad and I turned around, we both realized we were standing face-to-face with the head curator for the national cemetery. I think a “yes” came out of my mouth, but I really don’t remember. In fact, I think I was floating up the rest of the walkway, turning up to the two flagpoles with thousands of crosses now in view; and further, my knees weak as we stood for the lowering of the flags with the color guard to the playing of taps.
Both my dad and I wept as we folded the two flags, the entire cemetery now freezing at attention, watching two pastors from New York retiring the colors.
I thought of my grandfather and his first landing on numerous Pacific Theater islands.
I thought of the over 4,000 men that gave their lives on D-Day.
I thought of the freedom my children so richly enjoy.
And I thought of the privilege it is to be an American, truly blessed by the Living God.
But more than that, I thought of the anointing that I felt on the grounds. An unexplainable presence of the Lord that, in fact, caught me completely off guard. Only later would I learn the reason.
The pastors who live in the north of France consider Omaha Beach their nation’s greatest revival. “I don’t understand,” I said to Pastor Vincent Fernandez. He went on to explain a little known fact about the Normandy Invasion. In an unprecedented move not replicated in any other moment in the war, the clergy on board the incoming ships–cross denominational, and without regard to theological bias–insisted that each young man give their heart to Christ, knowing that their deaths were imminent.
Not only was there a mass conversion of thousands of young allied forces soldiers on those shores, but the cemetery stands as what the French pastors believe is a cemetery of Christian martyrs, dying for the cause of freedom, and that of Jesus Christ. It was a story I had never heard as an American, but is fairly common among believing Christians in that region. And it is a story I will never forget.
I worked 15 to 20 hour days this week. Sometimes that just happens. But I find there’s a supernatural level of grace in the midst of it, and everyone and everything that needs attention receives it. It also helps that I love everything I do, that there’s a synergistic commonality to every exploit, and I’m surrounded by amazing people. Grateful for the God of time feeling welcome in my schedule; couldn’t do it without him.
Here’s my week in pictures:
Released a new TV ad for New Life Media featuring my kids.
Jenny captured a great morning snuggle with Levi.
A wonderful New Life Board Meeting, which featured my father sharing on the 30th anniversary of his head-on, mid-air collision.
One if the top four parenting moments of my life.
Jenny captured “The Boys” moving the fire pit to a new section of the back yard.
On location at the new Clayton Hotel shooting a new TV ad for Bach&Co with New Life Media.
Another great, spontaneous moment with Levi.
Checking in on the amazing buildout of Sprig Studios at New Life.
Q&A session with Todd Agnew and Unspoken.
Stag left with Unspoken at New Life.
The joy of watching Eva spontaneously read her hand-transcribed Bible to her brothers.
My glam wife all dressed up to shoot a wedding, one of her many astounding talents.
Congratulations to Costa & Karen, two of our dear friends.
I was at a friend’s 50th birthday Saturday night in PA, and one of his best friends flew in and surprised him from Las Vegas.
Don Gallop is a church planter, something I respect highly. And as his tent making, he builds custom, one-off amps. As we talked more, I realized this guy can model any board out there, or build to whatever idea you hear. What a gift! From super quiet circuits, to fat and dirty, he can dial it in.
I was totally amped(!), and thought – shoot, if we’re going to buy amps anyway, why not buy a custom build at a fair price, and support a guy who’s planting a church in Vegas?
Now that’s money well spent.
Pass it along.
Jenny and I are tucked away from the world. It’s a wonderful feeling. My iPhone is sitting on my bedroom bookshelf back home, enjoying the “off” position. And my brain is relishing the rare state of doing nothing. No demands, no questions, no missions. Just answering How long do I want to sleep? And Where do I want to eat?
Excited for our marriage’s new commitment to the Seven Policy: a date night every seven days, an overnight every seven weeks, and a vacation every seven months. This is on top of getting away with our four minions during the summer.
Today we had the incredible privilege of heading up into the mountains over 5,000 feet and visiting a home which is used weekly for church. The husband and wife, Reginaldo “Canche” and Luky, clear out the few possessions they have and preach the Gospel to those that live in the Mayan village of Rex’quix. Despite their dirt floors and sparse furnishings, the selflessness of this couple is overwhelming, and extremely convicting.
Apart from hearing their story, and experiencing their infectious love for Jesus, Jennifer and I were both captivated by their children. We were there for less than three minutes when I look over and see Jenny holding a little girl. Rebekah clung to Jenny’s neck tightly as my wife wept. It was a precious few minutes that eventually turned into laughter as an impromptu fashion show started.
Shortly after, I jumped in with my senior pastor, Kirk Gilchrist, as he started playing with a small group of little girls that clung to the side of the house, spying on us. His son Joseph ended up filming me as we played, a memory which I won’t soon forget.
My life has already been changed in so many ways, I can’t imagine being challenged even more. But I was today, simply by playing with children in a mountain village I never even knew existed. Such is the Kingdom.
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus of Nazareth
I’m writing this from the kitchen table inside one of The Inn’s guest homes here in San Cristobel, Guatemala. Tucked away in the mountains, a cool evening breeze is wafting through the windows, which are continually left open; a light rain is falling outside, accented by spats of lighting and rolling thunder; and the smell of fresh flowers and fried plantains is filling the house. All of these sensations are highlighting the extreme emotional tensions that surround this beautiful ministry compound, both a school and a church.
The large majority of the children in this village live in poverty. They’ve also likely been sexually abused by members of their own families; adolescent boys are encouraged to engage with prostitues, while adolescent girls are abused by male relatives. The tragedy is enough to break even the most calloused heart. Looking at the beauty of these faces makes any warm-blooded human wonder how anyone could endorse such atrocities.
But there is hope for San Cristóbal.
In the early 1990′s, God gave a man and his wife an amazing vision to bring life to a dark village, steeped in Mayan witchcraft and suffering from neglect. Michael & LaTonya Lewis have given their lives (and in a few cases, almost lost them entirely) to bring the love and light of Jesus to these beautiful people. Twenty years later, what used to be swamp-land is now a school, known as the most prestigious education in the region, with a reach into the public school system which is unprecedented. Likewise, their church is busy meeting the spiritual needs of their village. It’s truly a remarkable work.
Over the last two days, Jennifer and I have been able to meet all three of our sponsor children: Cristian, Katerine and Hugo. And as much as we’re told our lives have impacted theirs, the diametric opposite is true: our lives have been radically altered by them. To hug these children is to touch the heart of the Father. They are genuine, sincere, warm and full of life. And they love unconditionally. They have less than I’ve ever had, yet carry more joy than I think I ever will. They are three of my heros.
Our finances go directly to affording our Inn Kids the highest quality education in the region, hosted by an outstanding faculty of born again Christians (both indigenous and foreign) who are professionals in their own right. This means they not only get ahead intellectually, and therefore culturally, but also spiritually, as the Gospel is a part of their life-curriculum.
Jennifer and I are asking you to sponsor at least one child. Your cost is $25.00 USD per month; your benefit is immeasurable. Because you’re literally changing a human life, and affecting an entire people group, as these children grow up to be leaders in their region, sharing the light, love and life of Christ with others.
Please prayerfully consider our request, and ask the Holy Spirit how many children he wants you to support, then contact Inn Ministries’ child sponsorship division today. They’ll help you select your child, and walk you through the process. When you’re finished, please leave a comment back here and let us know the first name of your child so we can be praying for them with you.
And if you ever want to come down to serve and meet your little guy or little girl, you’re always welcome. But just be prepared: that $25 dollars will change your life.
Our hop over to Guatemala has been eye-opening, heart-breaking and awe-inspiring.
Today, Pastor Joseph Gilchrist and I had the unprecedented honor of sharing Biblical truths on sex with one-thousand public high school students. The Superintendant of Schools allowed 3 grades to fill a local church in San Cristobel 3 times.
Jennifer sang over them, and Joseph and I presented God’s life-altering perspectives on sexuality and purity. It was a rare privilege, when we get to do one more time tomorrow!
Here are some pics from today, as well as from our time in Antigua and Guatemala City.