Sunday, January 31, 2010
On Friday, we had a day of prayer with the pastors and ladies that are in UCI's association. The focus was on the people that are suffering in Haiti and how to counsel them in their grief. The theme of the day was Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." We also took a lot of encouragement from verses 35-39, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?..." God does not do anything that is bad. The pastors and women had been feeling overwhelmed with all the needs in their community but left encouraged. It is such a comfort to know that we aren't alone in all this turmoil. We hope to meet often to share the burdens and help each other to deal with the demands. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter!
UCI was able to give money to help these pastors. The money will be used to buy food to help families that have welcomed refugees into their homes. Because of the many people that have donated so generously, we are able to expand our sphere of influence. On behalf of the many, many people that are able to eat, find housing, and have clothes and other necessary items, we want to say thank you! Thank you for your prayers. Many people are able to see God's grace through all of this.
Please pray for UCI's future relief efforts. We will be building 2 houses for families that want to stay together as a family but who have no space. The houses are in 2 different communities very close to us. These are families that took in people from Port even though they didn't have any place for them. They are sleeping on the dirt and are just overloaded. They are willing to work hard and contribute labor, rocks, water, and what they can to build a better house. We praise God that we are able to help them.
We are also going to employ some of the teachers that left Port. They will be holding classes for the preschool and lower elementary classes. There are many children that have no where to go to school. The UCI board identified this as a major concern for parents. We are providing books and materials for kids in the upper grades to study. The worship center has 2 big rooms in the front that will be used for this purpose. These kids will also be added to the feeding center.
We also continue to send food and charcoal to people living under sheets in Port. We have listened to people that lived in Port for a while after the quake. They said that many times they were able to receive food but had no way to cook it. There is no electricity or gas in many parts of the city. Wood and charcoal are the only ways to cook, but there are few trees in the city. We are sending down another truck load of charcoal to the churches.
Continue to pray for the emotional/spiritual health of the refugees. A kind of sad/funny story happened Thursday. We have a lot of airplanes flying overhead since the quake. On Thursday, 2 Ospreys flew overhead at a very low altitude. I hope I'm naming this plane correctly. It is the plane that can take off and land like a helicopter but can cruise like a DC-3. It is big military plane that has a distinctive, loud sound. We had never heard it before. When it went over our house, all the Port-au-Prince people came running out of the house in a panic. One poor girl even peed in her pants! Everyone was scared that it was another earthquake. From what people tell me, the noise of the quakes and aftershocks, or at least the noise of the houses cracking, crumbling, disassembling, was almost as bad as the shaking. When the people heard the Ospreys, they thought another quake was coming. When I say all of the people, I mean every single one of them, at least at our house, ran out of the house and they looked down at the earth and didn't even think to look above. Everyone laughed afterwards, even the girl with the wet undies, but it is still sobering to know how affected they were.
But, God is good--all the time--and He knows and loves His people. Our 4 weekly services continue to have high attendance of people looking for their answers and comfort from God. People are experiencing His peace that is beyond our understanding.
Love you all!
Kristie, JeanJean, Tana and Kerri Mompremier
Karen and John Zilen live in Carlisle, England, and are missionaries through Barnabas International. They have a unique calling, as they are called to encourage and build up other missionaries throughout the world. They recently traveled to Wales and Tunisia to train missionaries and to offer a marriage retreat for other missionaries. Among their many roles, they work to counsel people who may be having conflicts within their ministry teams, marriages, or within the culture in which they're attempting to serve.
At CCDA, I have been hearing a lot about the new global look of Christianity. John confirmed this as he spoke about how in years past, when one thought of the "sending nations", one would almost always think of the West (USA, England, etc...) Now, the 2nd largest sending nation of missionaries is South Korea, and Brazil also has a large missionary force. There are other missionaries being sent from countries in which the Church is underground.
Say a prayer for John and Karen as they finish up their US visit with family and head back to England on February 10. Their rental home has been sold and they have a short window in which to consider where they might live next. Prayers for God to clearly show them their next move.
Darling Sara, How are you? You are by my side. Everything is ok together with my family by the grace of God. I am very happy for communicating always with you by letters because it shows me that we love each other. I am waiting for you to come and visit me personally. I too like studying so I will reach my objectives. I like helping my parents too and playing with my friends. I always pray for you. God bless you. Maria
Write your sponsored child and remember to pray for him/her! Have you ever considered visiting your child? We're needing to create a savings fund at our home to help us get to Haiti in 3 years and Mozambique in 6 years. (though it's going to be difficult for Sara to wait that long to meet Maria!)
Saturday, January 30, 2010
They've been experiencing pain deeply, but only because they've experienced love and life deeply. And instead of advising people to avoid such an experience, they are perhaps compelled more than ever to invite others into such an experience.
This week's devotion might speak a bit to this. It was written by Francis de Sales (1567-1622) who addressed "devotion" in this particular passage:
"Those who discouraged the Israelites from going into the Promised Land told them that it was a country that "devoured its inhabitants." In other words, they said that the air was so malignant it was impossible to live there for long, and its natives such monsters that they ate humans like locusts. It is in this manner that the world distorts holy devotion as much as it can. It pictures devout persons as having discontented, gloomy, sullen faces and claims that devotion brings on depression and unbearable moods. But just as Joshua and Caleb held both that the Promised Land was good and beautiful and that its possession would be sweet and agreeable, so too the Holy Spirit by the mouths of all the saints and our Lord by his own mouth assure us that a devout life is sweet, happy, and lovable....
It is true that devout souls encounter great bitterness in their works of mortification, but by peforming them they change them into something more sweet and delicious. Because the martyrs were devout men and women, fire, flame, wheel, and sword seemed to be flowers and perfume to them. If devotion can sweeten the most cruel torments and even death itself, what must it do for virtuous actions?"
Many of the most alive folks in Christ that I know are also people who are walking into hard stuff and sacrificially giving and living. It's absolutely the upside-down Kingdom stuff. I think of parenting as a parallel. Why would we tell someone to enter into something that is going to be physically painful at the onset...will cause us to lose much sleep....cost a lot of money over the years....be hard work...cause us to sacrifice "me" time....and there will be inevitable conflicts, heartbreak, and failings in the journey. Yet, the majority of the population chooses to have children. Love and devotion. Something flowers that outweighs the hard stuff and changes it into something "more sweet and delicious." Jesus invites us into a world of hard stuff so that his love can penetrate and change the lives of all involved to be "sweet, happy, and lovable."
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
So often, we hear about slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation, and then we hear about MLK Jr. and the Civil Rights Era of the 1960's, but we do not spend much time learning about the inbetween years. To read about the discrimination and lynchings of that time, and to learn about courageous people like Ida B. Wells who fought for justice will help in my journey of understanding. I find history very beneficial in helping me understand where we are in the present.
Over the next month, as February is declared Black History Month, I encourage you to check out a few books. There are some solid children's books and middle grade books that help us to learn alongside our children and offer some very good conversation potential. Do you have any books you'd recommend?
* I had the privilege to check out the pad of Waterloo's new mayor, Buck Clark, as I sat with him and one of the city planners. In his office that reflects his love of family and the outdoors, I sat encouraged by these city officials who serve our community and work tirelessly to see it thrive.
* Cottonwood Canyon- E. 4th St. A great place to log-in to wireless to do a little computer work and to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in a hip environment. While there, I was on the phone with an older gentleman who is a rock in the eastside community of Waterloo. I've been trying to get together with him, but he has been ill for the past few weeks. I told him I'd pray for him, and he said, "You can just pray right now over the phone." So, walking into the Cottonwood Canyon bathroom, I had the privilege to approach God together with this honorable elder of the faith.
* Boys n' Girls Club and Lilli Ferguson Child Development Center. Both needed programs for kids in our community. I stopped in yesterday... both are transitioning in these next months. Boys n Girls Club's director, Jason Barta, is leaving, so a new director will be sought. And Lilli Ferguson will be building on their property this summer. Good thing, too, as Allen Hospital Childcare Center closes its doors.
* Sookies Restaurant off of E. 4th St. on Argyle St. Owners Helen and Manuel Seenster are bright spots. Sookies is currently open 9-2, Tuesday through Saturday. Helen, also a pastor of a local congregation, and I had a real blessed time of sharing and prayer, and I enjoyed the bonus of a great cheeseburger. I've never tried anything else on their menu, but I can testify to great cheeseburgers.
*Harvest Vineyard, 12:45 p.m. Wed. Bible Studies. The topic was "faith" yesterday, and it's great to be in a room full of people whose life experiences have been quite different than mine and whom all have had lifechanging encounters with Jesus.
* Cedar Falls Recreation Center- What a bright spot to exercise these winter months. Our kids took a few friends after early-out, and we had a good time of basketball, jogging, raquetball, and hanging out.
* Cup of Joe- Wow, two coffee shops in one day. I love Cup of Joe. The four kids and I stopped for a beverage and several rounds of "Apple to Apple" at the "Joe" before going home. I find this a bright spot for many conversations, a spot to highlight local art talent, a gathering spot with a good feel.
* Orchard Hill Church, Wednesday evenings. The church is alive with families eating a meal together and high schoolers coming together with caring, interested adults for a time of worship, teaching, small group connecting. This is definitely a bright spot in many folks' lives weekly.
I don't know how God does it, but He's a Master Weaver. My prayer is that He'll weave together the bright spots in our community to create light so magnificent that all will praise our Father in Heaven.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
His conversation brought up some questions and thoughts that have been forming for my own life, though. They're not very articulate questions and thoughts at this point, but bear with me as I attempt a fly-by at them.
What if it's less about community service and more about a re-orientation? Check out this picture below:
It's a picture that was drawn over a year ago at a gathering I was at, and it has stuck with me. Check out what consumes this family's life by how they have set up life. If you look hard, you can see the church and the hospital on the outside of the clock/circle and a little of Jesus (small crosses) represented in the various components of life...commerce, education, etc. I've considered this image quite a lot because of the culture of comfort, convenience, safety, and security I've grown up in. I grew up in this picture; this picture is all around me. What if my family life orientation looks more like the picture above than a picture where the cross is in the center and anything else is oriented in light of Jesus instead? Would this change some things about life? For me, I think it would. You?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Pics: Caiman's youth group on a prayer tour and the Mompremier's expanding household.
I wish I had a photo of the Wed. morning prayer and fasting and our Friday early morning service. There are so many people turning to God at this time! People that haven't set foot in church are desperate for Him. People that have let their faith slip are convicted to give all of their lives to Jesus. People are praying and believing in prayer. I wish it didn't have to take an earthquake for this to happen, but I know that God is in total control and that He loves us all.
Friday, January 22, 2010
"I discover within myself two persistent temptations toward "doing for" the poor rather than "doing with"them. One is that it feels so good. To surprise a mother and her three little children with a bounty of good food at the very moment they have hit the bottom of the peanut butter jar produces a rush of warm feelings in the spirit that are deeply satisfying. Such an experience leaves little doubt that surely 'it is more blessed to give than to receive.' (Acts 20:35). The other temptation, and clearly the stronger one, is that it is much easier to do for people. It is so much quicker to drop change into a panhandler's cup than to learn his name and offer him work. Or to box up food in the church kitchen than to sit at the kitchen table of a needy family and work out a budgeting plan.
Does this mean then, that feel-good, easy charity is bad charity? I would not go that far. 'Doing for' charity meets a very basic human need, for the moment at least.....'Doing for' charity can open a door into the world of human misery. It is a first step in understanding the overwhelming problems that can gain the upper hand on the less fortunate. It can open up one's heart and serve as a catalyst for compassionate, redemptive involvement. It can change the life of both the giver and the receiver. Doing good can lead to doing what is best.
But good can sometimes be the enemy of best. When our one-way giving becomes comfortable and our spirits are no longer stirred to find the deeper, more costly solutions, good has become the enemy of best. When our feeding programs value order and efficiency over the messiness of personal involvement, good has become the enemy of best. When recipients remain recipients and givers are content to remain givers, good has become the enemy of best.
Perhaps the best giving is the kind that enables the poor to know the blessedness of being givers."
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Yesterday, she called me and described how she'd picked up her Bible during the day and did a Bible study she found online. I could tell from her voice and conversation that the Spirit of God met her and moved in her through that time. She went on to describe several "a-ha's" she received, including a new understanding of what "repent" means. She had always thought of "repent" as "admitting or confessing," but was gaining new insight about how it really means "to change; to turn from that way." I could catch the fire in her voice, and it was such a blast to listen to her tell me about the a-ha's that God was providing for her as she read and studied His Word.
There is no substitute. There are a lot of good books and speakers to help unpack Scripture, but there is nothing as living and active and as powerful as the Word of God to cut through our hearts, to renew our minds, to transform our beings.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
We've been living in a flocked land of white these past four days in the Midwest. A friend and I went for a walk this morning and talked about how the scene is both magnificent, beautiful and unsettling, eery all at the same time. It's a cross between feeling like you're in a winter wonderland one moment to feeling like you're living in Narnia with the icy cold feel of eternal winter all around. One minute I'm driving our country roads rejoicing in a clump of trees that have a gorgeous contrast of black and white (I kind of feel like I'm living in an Ansel Adams poster), and the next moment I feel an unsettledness and eeriness as I drive through pockets of fog and as I notice that the sky and ground have melded together with the same cold greyish hue over the past few days.
It's a good parallel to my daily living. I often live with both gratitude, joy and a sense of burden, unsettledness as I walk out my days as a Christ-follower on this earth. One minute I'm rejoicing in seeing God at work and the next I'm pained with unsettledness as I recognize sin and brokenness in me and around me. Literally and figuratively, I thank God that we will not live in eternal winter, and that our longing for Spring will be fulfilled.
Monday, January 18, 2010
After reading it, I find myself praying fervently that I won't be what King describes as a white moderate, and that I won't accept the status quo or the complacency that has infiltrated the Church of Jesus Christ, but rather that I would be an active pursuer of peace, justice, and racial-reconciliation....someone whom King would call an extremist...extremist for love, truth, and goodness, an extremist for the extension of justice.
Reading the letter is very moving and makes it all the more important to me that we go this evening to the MLK Jr. unity service at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church. We're leaving from OHC at 6:30 p.m. if you care to join.
One of the tragedies of the South at this moment is that we are seeking to live in monologue rather than dialogue. We just aren’t talking with each other. Men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they are separated from each other, and they don’t know each other and they don’t know each other because they can’t communicate with each other. …
We must face the shameful and tragic fact in America that on Sunday morning when we stand to sing, at 11 [o’clock], “in Christ there is no East or West,” we stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America. We must face the tragic fact that the most segregated school of the week is the Sunday school. Thank God we’re beginning now to shake the lethargy from our eyes and our souls and we’re coming to see that if we’re to be followers of Jesus Christ and the great ethical insights of the prophets of old, that we must take a stand, because this issue at bottom is a moral issue. There is something in the New Testament reminding us that we are made in the image of God … we are all one in Christ Jesus. And these things running the gamut of the Gospel must one day cause Christians everywhere to take a stand against the evils of segregation and discrimination. …
The Negro must work passionately and unrelentingly for first-class citizenship, but we must never use second-class methods to gain them. Our aim must never be to defeat or to humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. And by following through with this method of nonviolence and this way of love, I believe that we can assist in bringing the third period to its fulfillment. …
Saturday, January 16, 2010
...I saw first hand the destruction and loss of life and it is incredible. I cannot fully describe the scene and I am still trying to process it all myself. I wept this morning as we continued our 40 days of prayer. It is simply very hard to experience. Imagine over 3 million people displaced, hundreds of thousands of dead bodies, no power, no water, no shelter, no fuel, no food All of this is unimaginable in a developed country let alone a country like Haiti. From what I saw the city is for all practical purposes destroyed. I was able to see all of the government buildings, finance, justice, health, mayors office, palace, all destroyed. Four large hospitals destroyed, and all hospitals damaged. Nearly all the major businesses were destroyed or severly damaged and commerce has stopped. I saw two working gas stations but each had run out of fuel by the time we left. I saw dead bodies everywhere, lining streets, lying in rubble, piled on street corners and being slowly carried away by men with carts. I saw people erupting in joy at the news their loved ones survived and I saw families erupting with grief as they learned of the loss of their family, the scene repeated itself thousands of times all over the city. I saw thousands upon thousands of people sitting and lying in the streets unable or too scared to enter the shelter of the buildings left standing. I slept outside with many people and listened to the sweet sound of relief planes arriving and carrying hope more than anything else. I listened as thousands of people cried out to God and even praised him. I felt ashamed at my lack of faith as they sang "tout bagay déjà byen" "all things are already good". Unbelievable. I counted people as we stood and waited along the road out of Port au Prince. The average was 81 people per minute heading north, with that average over 14,000 people passed by me on there way out, many unsure where they will go. I'm sure you have all seen pictures and heard the news stories but the reality is astonishing and will worsen in these first days of this tragedy.
I returned to Pignon with Dr. Batsch and his family and 9 others whose homes were destroyed. We had the business of seeing the Fargo, North Dakota team off, graciously arranged by Pastor Caleb and we will be planning how we can provide for victims in the next few days. They announced on the radio today that patients can be taken to the our hospital here in Pignon so we will see what happens. The patient load here is heavier than normal and I suspect will continue to increase. We will begin planning how we can accommodate any refugees that come to Pignon. We have talked briefly about areas we can use to set up tents and will plan further as we know more.
The needs are enormous. I wondered this morning how you take nothing from nothing. Someone said yesterday "if Port au Prince is broken, Haiti is broken" and that is correct. This tragedy has deeply affected all of Haiti. The availability of all supplies here is decreasing or gone and the means to get supplies here is crippled. Diesel fuel is nearly gone and the price has nearly doubled. Diesel is $5 a gallon and a gallon of gasoline is now $12.50 in many places. I know the town of Hinche is out but this morning when I went to find fuel I was fortunate to get some of the last diesel in Pignon. Dr. Guy said that he had tried to buy as much diesel as possible in Cap Haitian, I don't know at this time if we have found that fuel. Without diesel fuel we have no electricity, no transportation and no water at the hospital. Most of the rice, flour, sugar here in Pignon is gone or disappearing fast. Many vendors hoped they would have more tomorrow from Cap Haitian so we will see. We could find a little rice, and could only buy sugar in small quantities and could not find flour. We purchased enough supplies this morning to last about a month. Food, water, medical supplies and fuel will be the main concern all over Haiti......
"The word 'disciple' appears 269 times in the NT, while the word 'Christian' is found only 3 times and was first introduced to refer precisely to the disciples...."
The disciple of Jesus is not someone of super-Christian status, "not the deluxe or heavy-duty model of the Christian- especially padded, textured, streamlined, and empowered for the fast lane on the straight ad narrow way." Instead, "he stands on the pages of the NT as the first level of basic transportation in the Kingdom of God."
Willard goes on to say that in past decades, churches have made discipleship an option or extra.
"One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, and one may remain a Christian without any signs of progress toward or in discipleship."
"When Jesus walked among humankind there was a certain simplicity to being a disciple. Primarily it meant to go with him, in an attitude of study, obedience, and imitation."
Willard ends with referring to Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship and adding thoughts about the cost of nondiscipleship. "It was right to point out that one cannot be a disciple without forfeiting things normally sought out in human life, and that one who pays little in the world's coinage to bear his name has reason to wonder where he or she stands with God. But the cost of nondiscipleship is far greater-even when this life alone is considered- than the price paid to walk with Jesus. Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God's overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring. The cross-shaped yoke of Christ is after all an instrument of liberation and power to those who live in it with him and learn the meekness of lowliness of heart that brings rest to the soul...The correct perspective is to see following Christ not only as the necessity it is, but as the fulfillment of the highest human possibilities and as life on the highest plane."
I relate with the cost of nondiscipleship. The areas of my life in which I struggle to place under the reign of Christ...these are the places of greatest unrest for me. I may worry about the "cost of giving up something" but as a follower of Christ with an ever-growing mindset of "full devotion", I end up paying a much higher price for keeping these things under my own control and will, for I give up peace, freedom, and obedience to sometimes hold on to the comforts and "security" of this world.
A suggested exercise at the end of this excerpt is to go through the Gospel of Matthew and list all the things that Jesus commanded us to do. The list will make up a mosaic of what the basic Christian life should look like according to Jesus.
Friday, January 15, 2010
We feel so blessed right now. Our family is all here.
JeanJean spent the whole day trying to get to Port-au-Prince so that he could evacuate his family. He was stopped in Hinche where he could not find even one gallon of gas. Our truck didn't have enough to go on to Port. JeanJean found 2 trucks that did have enough gas and sent the drivers with instructions on how to find family. Then JeanJean loaded up the Ford with refugees heading to our community and Pignon. There were so many people needing a ride that had no money at all, he paid for a large truck to transport another big bunch of people. Even though it was great to help those people, we were all disappointed that our family wasn't coming home. At 9:00, we received word that JeanJean's brother had found a truck and was transporting all of our family and many others from the area. They arrived at midnight. Praise the Lord!
We spent hours talking about their experiences. They are still in shock and they are sore. They haven't eaten, bathed or slept since the quake. My nephew that was buried under the rubble is experiencing respiratory problems and is so sad for many of his classmates. I was told by his dad that as soon as he left the building, he tried to go back in and help get more people out. Others had to force him to stop and rest.
All of them talk about all the friends they have lost. They can't even describe what it was like to see and hear dying people and not be able to do anything about it. They also don't see how they can return to Port. There is no where to live; no where to build.
The thing that strikes me is that all of my family that was sitting in my house for New Years is back with us again--we didn't loose even one of JeanJean's immediate family. We feel so blessed but we also found out tonight that 3 of our cousins did perish. All 3 are from the same grandmother, JeanJean's aunt.
Thank you for your prayers--I can't say that enough.
Pray for JeanJean as he has 4 funerals to conduct today--probably the first of many. He wants to give a message of hope even now--especially now.
We love you all,
JeanJean and Kristie and Tana and Kerri
Thursday, January 14, 2010
After a night of praying specifically how we can help, we have felt that God telling us to, "Go, and do in His name." Port-au-Prince is not too far away for us to go with our vehicles and bring supplies in or to bring survivors back here. We have Port-au-Prince contacts, both individuals and churches that can help direct us in helping with immediate needs. We also can help the families of the deceased. And soon, there will be a need to re-build. I think of the challenges that New Orleans faced. Haiti has even less resources and support from the government.
For so many, Port-au-Prince represents the golden dream. This is where they could go to school, or where they would find that elusive job that would support them. It is where they would find a good life that they couldn't find in their home towns. People save and save until they have enough money to rent a small room that they share with 3 others, as was true with the 4 local young men that perished in their collapsed building. Now, for most people, that is all gone. My prayer is that people will turn to God as their hope and provider.
I just was interrupted in typing this by our friend, Marie, who cleans the dormitory for us. She came in tears because she has to go to Port to try to find 2 sisters. She hasn't heard anything from them except that they live in an area that had massive destruction. Many people are in the same situation. These are people that we can help. Our brother just called and he will be coming back with many others. People will have to come back to their home areas because there is nothing in Port for them now.
If you would like to send money to UCI to help, you may send it to the address listed below. JeanJean and I and our whole UCI Haiti board will use it to help people in need and to honor God. Thank you, thank you for your prayers and I am not ashamed to ask for more prayers. We love you so much for your love to us and Haiti.
In Christ, who is just, and who saves!
JeanJean and Kristie, Tana and Kerri Mompremier
PO Box 51
Orange City, IA 51041
Make out the check to UCI and write "earthquake" in the memo
First, let me thank all of you for your prayers, your letters, and your wishes to help out in any way. We really appreciate it.
We just received word that JeanJean's family is OK. Praise the Lord! We don't know anything about whether their buildings are stable or whether they can get food and water but we are so thankful that they are alive. There are at least 4 confirmed deaths of sons and daughters of our church friends that perished in collapsed buildings. Every time I think of my nephew buried in his school building overnight, I get shaky. Thank you, Lord, for saving him. JeanJean is breaking the news to the families of the deceased as I write this. Every single one of those boys was here for the Christmas holidays one week ago.
Many of you have asked us what you can do to help with this disaster. We do feel a great burden to help the families in our community that have lost loved ones or houses in Port. And, we do have several church contacts in Port-au-Prince. We will be praying and searching how best to help those who have lost so much.
Please, please continue your prayers. There is nothing better than that! I felt another aftershock an hour ago. If we felt it over here, I don't know how intense it is near the epicenter. There are a lot of unstable buildings that could still collapse.
God bless all of you for your support and love.
Kristie and JeanJean Mompremier
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
1. I've grown timid and weak, especially with people in my family and close friend circles. I grew up with a church history that was more about demonstration than proclamation, so I grew used to a "non-verbal" witness. I also end up spending too much time concerned about self than I do the other person or the power of the Holy Spirit. I tend to worry about words to speak, rejection, or I end resigning myself to the belief that if I am active on my journey of discipleship, then I'll just wait for people to come and ask me questions when they're ready or seeking. I try to leave it all to the Holy Spirit without actively doing my part. I need to strengthen my verbal evangelism muscles.
2. I'm taking the course because my friend, Brion, is teaching it. Brion lives and breathes Jesus, and he talks about Jesus with just about everyone he comes across in a day. Now, that would normally make me "itchy" as my friend Alice says. But I know Brion. Jesus has changed his life so radically, and I'm watching Brion's life as he allows God to deal with him and grow him in so many areas....financial stewardship, time management, responsibility, relationship skills. He genuinely seeks to honor God with his life, to glorify God at his own expense, and to serve people sacrificially. I trust his loving heart, and I'm challenged by his passion for Jesus and gift of evangelism. I've heard how the young and old need one another because the young have enthusiasm and energy and the older have experience and wisdom. I've offered a few learnings from experience into Brion's life, but I also need to receive and learn from his fire and faith.
3. I'm reading the book of Acts. Have you read the book of Acts lately? Just read Acts 5:12-42. There's no doubt throughout the New Testament that I must be bold and courageous in my life of faith- both in action and word.
4. I have become too comfortable with my understanding that faith is a journey, a marathon. I read several books about spiritual growth, and I only have to look at my own life to see how long it takes for change to occur. Yet with my focus here, I tend to lose the sense of urgency that I think is important. I also lose the expectancy for the power of the Holy Spirit to move in mighty ways. My focus, again, can too easily get snagged on the strength of the person and not the strength and power of God. To fight this, I usually try to balance my reading and experiences. I've been particularly challenged as I read books about the white-hot faith of people where big movements of conversion and transformation are happening.
5. John Perkins, founder of CCDA, is a deeply inspiring evangelistic hero to me. Not only does he speak the Word of God passsionately, but his life backs him up, and his modeling of a wholistic Gospel can't be rivaled. Social justice is important but is all for naught unless people are being reconciled to God and one another through Christ. Some people might believe that CCDA is growing because there's more of a social conscience in the Church again. I believe it's because Perkins unabashedly preaches Jesus Christ as the center. He's inspired me to strengthen my witness, both in life and in word.
6. I may or may not agree with everything said in the class, but I think it will give me a chance to think through what I believe and what I practice, and I think my attention here will give God a chance to stretch me.
What about you? Give me some of your own thoughts and journey on this topic of verbal witness....
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The first devotion is an excerpt from Mere Christianity written by C.S. Lewis. Lewis writes about how it is hard to surrender our entire life to Christ, yet that is what Christ demands.
"Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work; I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there; I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked-the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; my own will shall become yours."
Lewis then writes about how it is harder yet to try to live in the natural self, trying to be good on our own...
"...we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder- in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."
The editor, Jim Smith, writes..."when I read this essay, I was brought to my knees....I had been using my 'natural self' as the starting point. I had been trying to keep my self and its desires intact. Christ was merely an addition to my self. After reading this selection, I resolved to live each day consciously listening to the voice of Christ and letting the new self-the one that Christ gives me-come to life."
Three suggested reflection/journal questions from this selection:
1. What are some of the reasons I fear giving my life completely to God?
2. Which areas of my life am I most reluctant to surrender to God?
3. In what ways have I experienced the heavy burden of trying to remain in control of my life?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
If you check out the blog post above, you'll read some hopeful words about a few mega-churches that are intentionally working to become more diverse in their congregations. The blog post mentions Hybels/Bibbs at Willow Creek, though I'm not sure where the article is found that is referred to in the blog.
I'm currently turning my work and attention to Love Cedar Valley (www.lovecedarvalley.com) 2010 which will be Saturday, April 24. From my experience, Love Cedar Valley has been a great day for the Church in our area to proclaim and practice our believing, belonging, and blessing together. It's been a real shot in the arm as we pray, serve, and worship as one in Christ. I think the energy of LCV has greatly been about hope. The day has given us hope for the Church (we're showing that we can work together!), hope for the community (blessing and serving our community draws me closer to the people in our community) and most important, hope in Christ (whose love and power manifests through His people that day across the entire community in one big display of the kindness of God).
As you consider how you might bless someone today, also be considering how you might collectively join with Christ's Church to bless someone on April 24, Love Cedar Valley Day.