Sunday, May 19, 2013
Have had a few inquires online as to how people can support our Haiti ministry. Thought I'd reproduce the information sheet we gave the congregation this morning that breaks down cost, and give folks some idea what they might want to contribute to and at what amount.
First, let me describe the opportunities:
Victory Christian Church Primary School (K-5) Tuition and Fees
On the average there are about 120 children enrolled at our sister congregation's primary school. There is state provided education in Haiti, but 1) it is not universally available to all children and 2) it very competitive to get into. A child who has the opportunity to get a primary education not only becomes literate (which is good no matter where you live) but has a fighting chance to get into a secondary school where they can continue their education. There have been a number of kids during our association with VCC (led by Pastor Marius and Pastor Maccine) who have been able to make the leap to a secondary education, and some of those to college. The school provides on average about 10-15% of it's own financing (families pay what they can), but without our partnership, the vast majority of children could not afford to be enrolled by the their parents. Education gives a parent, a child, a church, and a community hope. We like being in the "hope business". Here is the breakdown of cost:
Education and fees:
- $0.48 day/ $2.60 week/ $9.60 month/ $86.40 year - PER STUDENT
- $57.50 day/ $288 week/ $1,150 month/ $10,350 - 120 STUDENTS
Victory Christian Church Primary School Lunch Program
For the past ten years, Community UMC has providing a warm lunch to every student three out of every five days of the school week. The lunch usually consists of rice and beans, bread and something to drink. For many children these are the only meals they can count on receiving each week. Led by long-time CommUMC member and a true champion of the children of VCC, Flora DeVoe, this year we are seeking the necessary support to feed all VCC students every school day. The cost includes not only the food, but the cooks who are paid to prepare the meal and properly clean the plates/utensils, and cooking fuel. Here is the breakdown of cost for a daily lunch, all five days of the week:
- $0.36 day/ $1.80 week/ $7.20 month/ $64.80 year - PER STUDENT
- $43.20 day/ $216 week/ $864 month / $7,776 year - 120 STUDENTS
Labrauyer Medical Clinic (Living Hope Mission)
The village of Labruyer is about 20 miles from CapHaitien, but the journey to get there take about 90 minutes. A hub for trade (they have one of the largest rural market days in all of Northern Haiti), Labruyer is a service center for the villages and farms that surround it for miles. The Labrauyer Medical Clinic is a ministry of Labrauyer Christian Church, which has been led by Pastor Doleon since the late 1980's. The clinic, which is was started with Pastor Doleon by a nurse from Nebraska, lost it's primary forms of funding when that nurse retired, and returned to the United States. Now, partnering with our friends, Wilbert and Meg Merzilus of Living Hope Mission, the clinic - which now employs a bright young Haitian physician Dr. Odrigue Norestine - is seeking to re-open the clinic five days a week. The clinic which addresses all issues related to basic health care is held in such high regard that the Haitian Ministry of Health funds a vaccination program for children through LMC to serve the community. Our medical professionals were able to see Dr. Norestine at work, and are all immensely impressed. Here's our proposal of support for the clinic:
LMC Staffing, Overhead and Medication Cost
- Partial Underwrite of One Average Office Visit (including meds): $2.50
- 20 Patients Per One Typical Day: $50/ per week: $250/ per month: $1,000/ $12,000 per year
Living Hope Mission Water Ministry
Our friends at Living Hope Mission are working with many committed servants (including our own Don Knepper) to host teams 6-10 times a year who do nothing but repair broken water well pumps. Nothing improves the health of a community faster or more effectively than clean water. With each pump serving hundreds - sometimes even thousands - of people, a broken pump forces people to walk further to find a source of clean water, or choose instead to pull water out of an area stream or river. With water-born illnesses, like Typhoid and Cholera, still very much a danger in Haiti (particularly to children and elderly) and other water ministries focused on digging new wells, Living Hope Mission has found an opportunity to improve the live of Haitians by repairing existing wells that have been broken. With a goal of $100,000, this new well pump repair ministry will be able to buy containers of well-parts, as well as equipment and transportation, to repair wells all over Northern Haiti. Here's the breakdown of cost:
- Average cost to repair one pump: $250
- Two pumps: $500
- Four pumps: $1000
Pastors in Haiti work hard. Long hours for uncertain pay. You can help us support a pastor and in turn, the continued sharing of Christ's Gospel of love in Haiti by helping a church fund their salary:
Pastor's Salary Partial Underwriting:
- $150 per month
- $1,800 per year
Got all that? Also, you can make an undesignated gift and trust us to use your gift for Haiti wisely. Follow these simple steps to make a one time donation:
1) Review the options listed above.
2) Choose the amount you'd like to donate.
3) Click the "Donate" button above
4) Enter the amount you would like to donate.
5) Send an email to Cathy Dempsey (email@example.com) who does all of our posting, with your name and address (so we can send you a statement - all gifts are tax deductible) detailing how you'd like to direct your donation. If you have no preference, simply just email us your name and address. If you aren't interested also in a statement, don't bother email us if you don't want to.
For a donation that repeats monthly or quarterly, simply call us at 419 991 4806 or email Cathy, and we can make arrangements to send envelopes or arrange e-withdraws.
Community UMC takes no "administrative fees". 100% (after the 2.7% fee PayPal takes) of all directed funds will go directly to the school or mission of your choosing. Undesignated funds not used to meet the needs of the work listed above will be used for things like shipping donated medications, school supplies, customs costs, and other needs which arise only in relation to our Haiti mission work. No funds will be used for Community UMC general fund expenses or other endeavors.
If you don't like the idea of giving PayPal or don't like using e-commerce, feel free to drop off or mail a check to our main office at our Shawnee Campus:
2600 Zurmehly Rd.
Lima OH 45806
Make all checks out to Community UMC, and put in the check memo in what ministry you'd like your donation direction (if you have no preference, enter "Haiti Undesignated"). If you have any questions, feel free to contact the church office via the email address above, or by phone at 419 991 4806 ex.111.
Posted by bryan at 5/19/2013
Saturday, February 02, 2013
(sermon thinking for Sunday... enjoy)
He didn't just say that the church should be open and available to ALL people. He opened the doors of that church to the entire community, standing up to those who would believe that you had to pass some litmus test before you could sit in a pew.
Better to have a good name.
He fails. Notice the difference in 4:1. Before he resists these temptations, Jesus is both filled and led by the Spirit. But after he resists Diablos, verse 14 says he's been empowered by the Spirit. It's one thing, for example, to want to be a police officer. You can even be led to apply for the position and go somewhere to receive training for the job. But it's another thing to be empowered with a badge and gun. Somewhere in that resisting, the Spirit gives Jesus sway, influence, authority over people who before, maybe wouldn't pay him much mind. His name can't be sullied or gossiped about - although it is repeatedly, even by people who should know better - because he lives an authentic life dedicated to the will of his Father.
It's the difference between being led by faith, and being empowered by it, day by day, slowly, with greater authority as we leave a legacy of grace.
And worse yet, what if in getting what we want, we still aren't DIRECTLY satisfied? I'd guess there a lot of people out there carrying around regret over sacrificing their integrity and principles for stuff that in the end, still didn't make them happy.
(Can somebody pull this knife out of my heart?)
Often too, just like satisfying our appetites with things that don't matter or last, too many people wake up one morning after years of devoted to their ambitions still unfulfilled, wondering what they traded all the time, energy and effort for the end.
Finally, I think the last temptation Jesus resists to feed the gossip mill, approval, is particularly interesting. Never at any time in history has it been as easier to collect fans than it is right now. People can become famous for being famous. It you are geek like me, you know that this how ultimately, Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. Each poor choice he makes to grow in power as a means of control, which he justifies as being necessary to protect his family, drives his family from him. I get the sense that more than one person in this world has had their name sullied because their ambition drove them to make choices that in the moment seemed wise, but in retrospect came at a dear, dear price.
Our need for approval, too, can erode how others feel about us, and the clout we have with others to be an effective witness and servant. Maybe at no other time in history are those with an outsized need for approval, for fans, been as easily fulfilled than right now. You can even be famous just for being famous. To attract and collect devoted fans for no other reason than you have other fans.
I watched an interview with one of those famous for being famous people not too long ago. At one time she was everywhere - TV, radio, billboards, websites, social media... you name it. The interview was done in the wake of multiple underperforming projects the celebrity had just launched years now after she had appeared on the scene and done all she could to stay in the public's eye. A TV show had been cancelled. An album hadn't sold. A product launched hadn't been bought. And the interviewer asked this celebrity a simple question, "With so many new celebrities like you coming onto the scene, do you worry that your time has passed?"
The celebrity began to cry, threw a tantrum, and ended the interview.
There is a part of us that is still the little child who begs mom and dad to watch him ride his bike or wants her art project to be put in the place of honor on the front of the refrigerator. I've watched unmet desire for approval destroy marriages, careers, financial portfolios, and generally drive a life spent making poor decisions in the quest for personal affirmation. It's a reason, I think, you see so much bizarre behavior in the world today. People will do just about anything for, and to keep, a fan.
I think that's maybe why we see so many celebrities who get famous ending up really messed up. Either the approval becomes suffocating and overwhelming, or it eventually dies down and is withdrawn altogether. Maybe the only thing worse than not getting approval, is getting it in spades and then have it withdrawn. In any event if we ever craved approval, particularly from someone who mattered a lot to us, and it wasn't received, it can hurt. Deeply.
Solomon in all of his wisdom knew when he wrote that verse in Proverbs that we are built to receive satisfaction, accomplishment, and assurance. These are needs deep within us that have to be fulfilled. But we can't let those needs warp the choices we make. To sell out something more important - summed up by Jesus as loving God and loving our neighbor - than our hunger, need to succeed, or receive applause just so we can feel a moment of temporary peace, will only lead to moments of temporary peace.
I think that's why for so many there's so much power just in the word, "Jesus". Somebody who stopped by my office not long ago talked about how in the aftermath of a family tragedy, in the depths of despair, all they could do was just repeat the word, "Jesus" over and over. Jesus, who was led by the spirit into the wilderness, but after resisting the temptation to give into his appetite, ambition, and need for approval, came out of that wilderness empowered by the spirit (v.14) to accomplish over the next three years, with each teaching, miracle, and in the example of his life, what he said he came to do:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoner
and recovery of sight from the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (v.18-19)
Jesus, who hungered for the Father and his kingdom, who lived so that the work of that Kingdom would be accomplished, and in the cacophony of voices sought only One from whom he needed approval, was single-minded enough fulfill that promise made. A promise that took staying within the discipline the empowering Spirit demanded from him, and us.
That's how he built his good name. That's why his name continues to live on, and carry weight of authority and power for people.
But here's the problem... it's one thing if the sum total of someone's life, all we know of it, sought to seek the fulfillment of appetite, ambition, and approval from the Lord, first and foremost. It's something totally different if your life has meandered from that purpose... maybe far away from that purpose. To a degree every single one of our names has been sullied... spoiled. We've failed by letting our appetites get the best of us, letting our ambitions - realized or not - get out of control, and our need for approval to drive us to do things that now we regret.
So, if that describes you, now what?
Well, as we prepare for communion this morning, I'd share one last thought on this matter that was shared with me by one of the leaders at a conference I recently attended. As he has been pondering all of this, he's started coming to realization that maybe, in all of his years of ministry, his own insatiable appetites, ambitions, and need for approval might have been drivers in his ministry, as opposed to the leading and calling of the Lord. And as he began to unpack the reality that maybe even the good things he was trying to do came out of a place that was less than Heaven directed, he began to be filled with guilt and shame.
And then, he remembered Jesus', hanging on the cross, uttering the words of the Psalmist:
"My God, my God. Why have you abandoned me?"
Jesus, who lives rightly and out of the right motivations, experiences the sting of an appetite going unfilled. An ambition being extinguished. And probably most devastatingly, approval withheld.
And then this leader at this conference said these words I'll never forget....
"Knowing Jesus did everything right and still felt that terrible sting of rejection upon the cross, crucified the sting of those failures in my life."
Jesus invites us into experience so that it should be with us.
Nothing you have has destroyed God's love for you, or altered the course of history for you or anyone else for that matter, that will deny that same divine love and acceptance from being available and encountered by others. Even if we are a little late to the game of realizing that the only legacy we have is how we've protected our good name, and that by walking with Jesus, doing what he did, loving who he loved, that name is made good, nothing we've done to this point needs to defeat you. In fact, it can be offered to Christ, who can use it for victory.
Just ask this broken man who found mercy in the words of a leader at a conference they both just attended.
And so, this day, I invite you, if there's something that's left a sting. A failure to properly satisfy your appetite, ambition, or need for approval to place it at the feet of Jesus, and let it go. Give it up. Let it drive you deeper into His arms and Kingdom, and away from your despair.
Posted by bryan at 2/02/2013
Thursday, January 17, 2013
My grandmother is 86 years old.
86 years of books and letters.
86 years of experiences, good and bad.
86 years of being.
She sleeps a lot now.
It's part of the dementia.
Slowly she is drawing away.
When she awakes I like to sit with her.
I make jokes about commercials with elephants in them.
"You don't need medicine for an elephant. You need a zookeeper."
She asks me to explain what's on the news.
I make up crazy explanations.
"He's really a Martian. That's why Oprah wants to interview him."
Mostly we are quiet.
I give thanks for the time we've had together.
Time talking about politics.
Time talking about religion.
Time talking about our family.
Time listening to learn about my past.
Time spent over ice cream and instant ice tea.
Time spent timelessly.
I did not know how valuable the time I had with her was.
Now.... I do.
If now were then, she'd listen.
She'd offer advice.
She'd ask questions and clarify.
She'd encourage and build up.
She'd tell me to do good and help people.
Through her God would heal.
But now is now.
Now is different.
Time is short.
I am here for her.
Because she "is" and we "are" I am here.
So I sit quietly and wait for my grandmother to awake.
Soon, we will sit together.
I'll will make her laugh.
Mostly we'll be quiet.
That is enough.
Through her God does heal and I give thanks.
Posted by bryan at 1/17/2013
Friday, January 11, 2013
A Life Worth Imitating (21st Century Monks)
A House Re-Purposed for Hospitality
Friday, January 04, 2013
The United Methodist Church has three - and only three - general rules.
- Do Good
- Do No Harm
- Stay In Love With God
I've always had a clear sense of what it's meant to do good as a pastor. I've always tried to keep this at the top of the list and pushed the congregation hard to do good in the process. Unfortunately, sometimes when you try to do good, people often end up feeling harmed. They think they are getting left behind or choices are made that conflict with their priorities. So ministry for me has largely been a balance between trying to do good, and doing my best to help people heal when they feel they've been harmed.
But somewhere in the midst of doing good and doing no harm, staying in love with God ended up being placed on the back-burner. Outside of my daily Upper Room devotional (which I highly recommend) all of my study and reflection went into the work of the ministry. All my energy went into trying to keep everyone focused on heading in same direction, trying to work out whatever differences came up, and work through moments of brokenness. Little energy was going into working on the one relationship that needs to be right, so that all the other ones rest on solid ground.
This has taken on me, personally, a real toll. I must credit my wife with forcing me to acknowledge this. As a member of our staff for the last couple of years, she's experienced first hand the complexities of this work. The difficulties of trying to keep everyone focused on fulfilling all three, The Great Commandment:
The Great Commission:
and The Great Requirement:
It was Aimee who begged me to just take some time, and go seek God's presence. It was the SPRC and staff of Community UMC who gave me the blessing to do so (for which I am thankful).
So I'm taking some time off from the ministry of the Lord, to just go chase the Lord. You've heard of a "date night" where couples set aside a night once a week or once a month to reconnect, focusing only on one another over dinner.... this is time I'm setting aside to just be in God's presence. To let the Lord know that every other relationship I have will only grow and flourish if I'm right with Him first.
I'm going to listen to Trappist monks chant the Psalms just like they've been doing for 1200 years. I'm going to spend some time some other folks who want to figure out how to be spiritual and holy, and not still not be overly weird. I'm going to visit some friends of mine who are ministers who have been down this road and know what it's like. And I'm going to visit my grandmother whose health is deteriorating slowly, and ask the Lord to be present with her.
Mostly, I'm just going to invite God to speak by getting away from the noise, and go to a place where I might be able to patiently listen. To go find that place Jesus always went away from the crowds where he could sit in his Father's presence.
In the meantime Daniel Hughes and our Lead Lay Pastor, David Imler, are going to take care of preaching at the Shawnee Campus. Charlotte, Daniel and our staff will all be available to serve and guide you. Christ's wonderful ministry will continue at this church... and with a little prayer your pastor will come back refreshed by Living Water and Bread Alone Which Satisfies.
I'll preach this Sunday, and then you won't see me again until early February. Until then, do good, do no harm, and stay in love with God.
Posted by bryan at 1/04/2013