Archives for posts with tag: Southeast Asia 2013

Southeast Asia 2013

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

We’ve had so many rich experiences here in Southeast Asia. It is often the unexpected experiences that touch our hearts the most.

In the mountains of Northern Thailand there are nine officially recognized tribes of people, one of which is the Akha people. The other day, we traveled to an Akha village where one of the rescued, at-risk children at the GROW home grew up. I road in the bed of a truck with a few of the children for the 90 minute drive through the (MOST BEAUTIFUL) mountains. It was all dirt road…so I had trouble sitting the next day…if you catch my drift!

I could write ten blog posts about the things we learned from this experience, but I will focus on just one idea for now.

These people have been robbed of dignity and freedom. They own nothing because they are prevented from doing so. They are not considered citizens of Thailand for a variety of reasons. And they are essentially trapped in the mountains, lacking the ability for any opportunities in other villages or cities. (Side note: three cheers for the International Justice Mission who is addressing the roots of these injustices…Google them)! They live the simplest of lives because they have nothing.

The thing that breaks my heart though, is that the decades and decades of living like this have led them (even the Christians among them) to believe that they are worthless. That somehow they are less valuable than ‘Thai’ people, or Westerners.

I’ve been reading through Ephesians during this trip and have been reminded of the significance of our status as Christ followers:

– we are blessed with every spiritual blessing

– we were chosen & adopted, and it brings him pleasure

– we have been redeemed, forgiven

– we are sealed with the Holy Spirit

– we are saved

– and we are SEATED WITH CHRIST IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS…FAR ABOVE ALL RULE AND AUTHORITY, POWER AND DOMINION, AND EVERY TITLE THAT CAN BE GIVEN, NOT ONLY IN THE PRESENT AGE BUT ALSO IN THE ONE TO COME…

And those are just a few selections from chapters 1 & 2! Let those truths simmer a bit.

Are you living in light of this new identity in Christ? Or are you comparing yourself to others based on surface level lies fed by circumstances, culture, and the enemy?

Understand and live under the love and grace of Jesus today!

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

Post 9

Southeast Asia 2013

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

My wife was helping me pack for this trip and I asked her if bringing five books was too ambitious. We agreed that though I will have spent 40+ hours on airplanes, alone, I probably should only bring 3. I just love learning. (Which is probably why I keep going back to school :)… I promise, honey, I will be done soon!

I’m currently reading books related to missions philosophy. A lot has been written in recent years, especially related to how our Western perspectives of ‘helping’ can sometimes actually ‘hurt’. Challenging stuff that we need to be responsible to consider.

I won’t elaborate too significantly here, but thought I’d share a few highlights from the book by Peter Greer, “The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good”. (You should Google him and his Lancaster-based organization, Hope International)!

“…it’s possible to sacrificially serve God and be completely self-centered in the process. Morally upright people fully immersed in service can be…far from God…” (p. 33).

Personal application: I need to check my motives for serving. Is it to make me feel good or look good? Is it to try to earn God’s favor? Or is it in humility and simple obedience to God’s leading in my life?

“It is possible to be successful, even in service, yet be heading in the wrong direction” (p. 54).

Personal application: How am I measuring success? Jesus said that apart from Him, I can do nothing. Am I abiding in Him? Are indicators such as my marriage and home life healthy? Are the things that are most important to God most important to me?

Quoting Dorothy Sayers: “It is the business of the Church to recognize that the secular vocation, as such, is sacred” (p. 91).

“…an elevated view of full-time ministry is thoroughly unbiblical. Sabotaging our ability to impact the world for Christ, it leaves most of the church on the sidelines, cheering on the pastors and missionaries” (p. 93).

“If there is such a thing as full-time ministry, we’re all in it” (p. 95).

Quoting Abraham Kuyper: “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!'” (p. 95).

Personal application: We are all ‘in the ministry’ no matter what our vocation. How am I expressing my commitment to the ‘mission’ through what I’ve been called to do, today?

Quoting Henri Nouwen: “I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me – my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts – and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards instead of developing them for the glory of God” (p. 101).

“Breaking free of our inflated view of ourselves comes when we ruminate on the amazing story told in Scripture. When we orient our view toward God’s glory, we get a glimpse of the grand story, one of redemption of wholeness and hope from a very big God…When we turn our eyes away from ourselves, we see that we’re not the superheroes-but we’re part of a much bigger story than we ever could have dreamed” (pp. 108-109).

Personal implication: It’s not about me. Never was. Never will be.

This post has gotten lengthy. To wrap it up, I ask for your prayers for me and our church leadership as we consider these kinds of challenging thoughts in our missions and outreach strategies. We want to partner in ways that are pleasing to God and that richly benefit his Kingdom. We want to participate in short-term missions opportunities that aren’t about making us feel good, but that are advancing the power of the gospel.

I challenge you, too, to be praying about your investment. What may God ask you to do to advance the message and transformative power of the gospel both at home and abroad?

I’m looking forward to the journey together!

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

Post 7

Southeast Asia 2013

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

I was able to get a few moments alone this morning and was reading in Ephesians 4, where Paul begins by saying ‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.’ Any other morning, this may not have struck me the same.

But this morning, I met 2 men who have been prisoners because they were sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. One spent 48 days in prison, nearly dying.

They probably decided to quit preaching, huh? Nope. They are both here at a pastoral training seminar, learning how to be even more effective as evangelists and teachers. That is inspiring. That is convicting.

Paul reminds the church at Ephesus of their calling. He’s not talking to pastors, he’s talking to all who claim the name of Jesus Christ. And he challenges them to life a life worthy of that calling.

I can’t help but think about my own life. I claim the name of Jesus. I call myself a Christian. But am I living my life in a manner worthy of the name of Jesus and of the calling on my life as one who has been redeemed by His great grace? Or do I simply claim His benefits and disregard, and disrespect His name.

My life has been void of the kind of challenges and heartache that these pastors in Asia have faced. How much more should I be living in a manner worthy of the calling? They have to make life-altering decisions on a regular basis. The words that they speak can cost them dearly. They face incredible suffering. But they are committed to Jesus, and living life in light of His call.

What about you? Are you living a life worthy of the calling you have received? What would you be willing to sacrifice in  order to do so? (Sidenote: Ephesians 4-5 offer some practical ideas if you need a great place to jumpstart your commitment today).

And what about our brothers and sisters who are suffering for the gospel around the world? How is God calling you to be involved?

Let’s magnify the name of Jesus together today, in word and in deed, for He alone is worthy of our praise!

Post 8

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

Southeast Asia 2013

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

What did you accomplish by age 32?

My heart is so full. Tonight we visited G.R.O.W. here in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Grace Refuge Outreach Worldwide is a ministry that Pastor Ivanildo has been instrumental in leading for the past several years). It is a home that currently houses 11 children who have been victims of some horrible things…things which I will avoid detailing here. The point is, that because of the compassion and vision of one young woman, these children have been rescued.

If you don’t believe that Jesus Christ changes lives, you need to meet these children. The situations that these kids come from wound and scar children in significant ways. Most people wouldn’t waste their time trying to help them… and even those with good intentions may give up because of the massive amount of time, heartache and sacrifice it takes to walk with them through such trauma. But in time, healing comes. And we saw evidence of the redemptive work of Jesus tonight.

Several children showed above and beyond hospitality, greeting us with cold drinks. A 9 year old showed the awareness and kindness of an adult, sliding her chair closer to mine so that I could follow along with her in a songbook. A 12 year old LED an entire devotional program for the whole house and us guests. A 10 year old recited several different passages of Scripture from memory. Several children articulated their testimonies, including the painful details of past trauma. And every single child exhibited responsibility helping to clean up dinner. Yes, every single child…including a 4 year old. And in the midst of all of it…joy! So. Much. Joy.

Who is behind this? Jesus, of course! He is the one who transforms lives. But he has used a 32 year old woman, my new friend Faa, and her staff and volunteers to love, serve, protect, train and disciple these children. She is investing in the kids that no one else wanted. And she is changing the world. There is a house full of kids in Chiang Mai who will continue to do radical things for Jesus. And her motivation has everything to do with her own life experience. She, too, was rescued – in order to rescue others.

What about you? How has God rescued you? What painful history have you dealt with? How are you using it to rescue others? There is a generation of broken people – some by choice, but many by no fault of their own – who need the love of Jesus in their lives.

For more inspiration, please check out www.grow-worldwide.com

Take a moment to pray:

  • For Faa, her staff and the GROW kids
  • For YOU to recognize how you’ve been rescued to rescue others

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

Southeast Asia 2013

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

This is a unique short term trip…our schedule is extremely busy, and we are traveling many kilometers (yes, kilometers) from city to city, country to country and village to village, exploring potential partnerships for Grace Church. The most we have stayed/will stay in one location is 2 nights! I’ve been on and led many short term trips in the last 12 years and know enough to know that this is not a trip for the faint of heart (nor people with sore feet)!

Why? Because we are exploring many different ministries in many places, and praying for God’s clear direction for future partnerships.

Partnerships. An interesting concept. One that you will be hearing a lot about in the future at Grace Church. You see, we could simply send money to random people and places and call that our missions investment. But we are of the persuasion that we can have a much more significant Kingdom impact by working TOGETHER with others. We are looking for passionate, gifted and called people who are already doing amazing things for God. And we want to partner with them, as God leads.

Partnerships start with relationships. Do you know that your new Pastor has relationships with people all over the world? He has a friend in every city and town: pastors, tuk tuk drivers, restaurant owners, hotel staff, even a favorite barber. And not just acquaintances, but deep and meaningful friendships.

Post 5a

Perhaps this doesn’t surprise you. If you have spent any time talking to Ivanildo, you know that he loves you upon meeting you and is deeply concerned about your life. And if you have ever been in public with him, you have seen him meeting nearly every person he comes in contact with.

This kindness quickly leads to a conversation, a sharing of life stories, and in some cases, an alignment of purposes. Common theology,  common philosophy and common mission…and suddenly, a potential partnership is born.

Perhaps the partnership is simply a friendship; an exchange of ideas and stories; keeping in touch; or stopping by when you’re in town. And other times partnerships are deeper than that; an investment of time, energy, human resources, and money. Whatever level of relationship, we should always partner through prayer.

Make sure you catch this. God has opened many of these doorways of opportunity for us – all over Cambodia and Thailand – because Pastor Ivanildo was willing to open his mouth. At some point in time, exposure to these amazing ministries started with a relationship. And that relationship started by him conversing with someone. And that conversation started because he went beyond a trite ‘hello, how are you’. And that conversation started happened because of his heart for people – his passionate concern for their exposure to the gospel.

Post 5b

I can’t help but think what opportunities I have missed in life because I didn’t take the time to invest in a conversation… relationship… partnership with someone.

God has given each of us the same mission. Our contexts may be different, but our calling is the same. And each of our callings, whether we are teachers, businessmen, at home moms, nurses, farmers or fire fighters is about people! Who might God be calling you to today? What partnerships might He have in mind for you? Don’t miss it!

Take a moment to pray:

  • For us to have wisdom in discerning the partnerships God desires Grace Church to pursue
  • For YOU to have courage to pursue the people God has placed in your life today

Guest writer: Doug Kegarise, Pastor of Development and Deployment

Southeast Asia 2013

Saving some and losing some.

Can you save a child’s life in three years? I mean one who was abandoned by his family and now roams the streets like a ghost, walking past people who couldn’t care less what tomorrow means to a child who was already as good as gone?

The answer is absolutely yes. Not just one, but 22. Sambo, who lives in Poi Pet, Cambodia, has done it. He and his wife have three girls of their own, but when the call came asking whether they could help, they didn’t even have to look at each other to know what they had to do.

Post 4a

Three of the children they rescued were so young they would probably be dead in a matter of weeks. One three year old girl is HIV positive and they knew it before they got her. One baby boy was abandoned by his parents and they named him “Moses.” The stories are endless.

The six oldest ones are now teenagers and all of them are excellent students. They are outstanding leaders in their classes. They have learned to play instruments and they now lead worship in church. They represent the future hopes of an entire nation.

Sambo and his wife Pha are a rare breed. They chose to live for others at great peril to themselves. They love children so much they have a very difficult time saying no when organizations come calling with the story of yet another child on the verge of extinction.

And make no mistake about it: every time people like Sambo are forced to say “no” to a potential rescue, it is like sentencing a little one to a life of degradation, starvation and in many cases extinction. Just in the last couple of weeks, he had to say “no” to 10. The pangs of one’s conscience rise to high heaven. This stuff keeps you awake at night.

But Sambo cannot take any more children right now. His house is full. Three of his own and 22 others he and his wife have rescued. We stopped by their house earlier today and I took a snapshot of a family brought together by love. Of 22 children, only 10 are sponsored now.

Post 4b

Please pray for Sambo and his wife, Pha.  I expect Grace Church will be hearing more about this couple in the months to come.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade (reporting from Cambodia)

Southeast Asia 2013

It was not on the official program. One of those things to do, “if time allows.” No, can’t say it was on the agenda, but there hasn’t been a time yet when I was in Phnom Penh and didn’t make an effort to get there– a brief visit to the Kien Kleang Orphanage, where it all began for me. The year was 1999 and it was here that I held my first HIV/AIDS patient, a little boy who was 3 but looked like he could be only a few weeks old. He had that look of anguish in his face, the kind only those who experience severe pain can express. But it was too late for him. He was already beyond recoverable.

I found out that there were others like him in the home – waiting for their turn to die.

I got out of the property, went inside the van, and wept bitterly. “Why? God, why?” I kept asking myself… And that day I made a promise to God that if He opened the doors, I would do anything to help rescue at risk children. And a decade later I met Faa and the dream is now a reality in the form of G.R.O.W. (http://grow-worldwide.com).

Post 3a

We only had a brief visit today and I felt bad I walked there empty-handed. But the smiles and hugs were worth it all, from my friends who have suffered so much in this world but keep on smiling.

In the pictures here is a girl with Down’s Syndrome. Se was only 13 when I met her in 1999. But she has never forgotten me. And her hugs are so special. The other little gal I only met a couple of years ago. She and her sister are deaf and mute, but their smiles are much ore than words. Note to self: come back only if I have time to play for a while. And never again empty-handed!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade (reporting from Cambodia)