Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haiti update from Kristie

Dear friends;

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

help for Haiti

(pictures): An ice sculpture of the OHC logo and a table with information about UCI
Today's brunch at Park Place was hosted with Haiti in mind. 100% of the ticket money will be donated to United Christians International in Haiti. JeanJean and Kristie will work to use the money as needed to provide help and hope for those suffering from the earthquake. In the beautiful, somewhat fancy atmosphere of Park Place, along with a huge spread of delicious food, one is quickly reminded of our state of abundance and the mandate to "be people of blessing".
That we might share with glad hearts and open hands!

refreshers of the hearts of saints (Philemon 1:7)

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.

movie review

"Akeelah and the Bee"...great movie. While my son and husband were off at a silo ice climbing competition last evening, Sara and I watched "Akeelah and the Bee", a movie about an eleven year old from an under-resourced neighborhood who makes it to the National Spelling Bee in D.C. Sara and I would both give it double thumbs up. And it has pumped up Sara who will compete in our local Knights of Columbus Spelling Bee this upcoming Saturday in Cedar Falls. :)

do you sponsor a child?

Writing letters to sponsored children is really important. I know I love getting letters and fun mail in our mailbox! Maria, our sponsored child in Mozambique, is one year younger than our daughter Sara who is ten. The two have become pen pals. Sara received a letter from Maria yesterday:

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

classic Saturday

A friend of mine asked me yesterday, "How do we invite and help people walk into the really hard stuff?" She and her husband are foster parents and have recently been grieving as their home emptied from having five children in it. They had been fostering two sibling groups who were placed into permanent home settings at about the same time. Though these friends have been foster parenting for years, their loss of the kids this time has been especially hard because of the length of time the kids were in their home and the involvement they had had with the biological parents.

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 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

love legacy

Dante Marcellous, Chassidi Ferguson, Ellaysa Newton, and Brion Martin, four friends from SHOUT! Ministries, will be providing a concert next Saturday, February 6, at 7 p.m. at Lang Auditorium on UNI's campus. Entitled "Love Legacy", the four will share their gifts to help us look at the true meaning of love.

Concert is free. You can learn more about Dante at and more about Ellaysa Newton at

Dante, Chassidi, Ellaysa, and Brion are beautiful people and friends! I hope you'll come be blessed by their love for Christ next Saturday evening!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ida B. Wells

I subbed in a sixth grade classroom this morning, and we spent an hour in the computer lab working on projects. Students are in the middle of writing papers on a famous African-American. I picked up a book that one of the students had been using as a reference, and I couldn't put it down. Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was a journalist and Civil Rights Activist whom I have never heard of before, and her story is rivoting.

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?

bright spots

Our community is full of people and places that are bright spots- assets- in this Waterloo/Cedar Falls area that is home to approximately 100,000 people. My day yesterday reminded me of this repeatedly:

* 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


I saw a friend tonight whom I hadn't seen for awhile. He and his family were eating dinner in our church commons with a room packed full of families for the Wednesday evening family night out meal. My friend works a full-time job, is married and has small children. He was telling me how he doesn't see how people have time to go serve in the community when their lives are so full with so many other obligations. He was frustrated by this and couldn't figure out how to get involved in service and still keep his family a priority. I listened, and I could affirm his season of life and listen to his frustration.

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


Quick, what's the first definition that comes to mind when you hear the word "prodigal"? When I was asked this in a class I'm taking on Sundays, I thought of the word "wayward". That was my definition because I've always linked "prodigal" with "prodigal son", a parable found in Luke 15 of the Bible of a rebellious, wayward younger son who wanders from the Father, squanders his money on reckless living, and later comes back home.

But the class I'm taking is called "The Prodigal God". Wayward wouldn't fit here as an adjective. The actual definition of prodigal is "recklessly extravagant" or "having spent everything". That fits our God. Recklessly extravagant with love and grace as demonstrated in His son who spent everything to buy us back.

Just thought I'd pass on a new learning of a word in case you didn't know it either. This class is focused on the Tim Keller's book, The Prodigal God if you are interested in a book to read.

Monday, January 25, 2010

our worship

The religions of sports and TV in America are phenomena worth studying. I don't think I'll do too much research, but I can't help but make a few observations this morning.

In our early days of marriage, Mike and I had a small 9" black and white TV. In 1990, we moved to Guam for a few years, and we shipped that little box on over with our stuff. When we were packing to come home in '92, we couldn't even GIVE that TV away. No one wanted a b&w TV that was 4 x smaller than they'd like to have in their family rooms. We shipped it home.

Over the course of the next few years, a friend from our church couldn't stand it any longer. He called to tell us that his family was upgrading and would we please accept the gift of their used, much bigger, color TV.

A similar move happened this last week. We've had that TV for years, but last winter when television went high definition, you either had to have cable or get a little converter box to transition into the digital age. We didn't have cable, and we didn't buy the converter box. We kept the TV, however, to watch dvd's with our family. Last weekend, a family friend came over with the gift of a converter box for us.

We plugged that converter box in yesterday to watch four teams contend for a place in the SuperBowl. As I listened to the sound of TV filling our living room for the first time in a year, I was just struck anew with the power that sports and TV has in our American lives. Fierce identity and loyalties, loads of money laid down, hours and hours consumed, appetites whet by advertising, culture formed through programming. These thoughts came on the same day I listened to my friend Alice teach at church about how the majority of our adult church population opens their Bibles once or less a month. Can you even begin to imagine the release of the power of the Gospel if it was Scripture that gained our affections in such a way as sports and TV? Identity, loyalty, money, time, appetites, mindsets all found and spent in Christ? People coming over to our house to make sure we had a Bible rather than a TV? Excitement and passion for the Gospel as freeflowing? That's just an amazing thought road to go down for me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

update from Kristie in Haiti

Pics: Caiman's youth group on a prayer tour and the Mompremier's expanding household.

Dear friends;
In the last couple of days, 2 planes came in from FL with supplies and money for us to distribute to refugees. The community has a committee in place that has identified the families that have opened their houses to people from Port-au-Prince. They have been dividing the supplies and delivering money. The money is given to the families so that they can start to participate in taking care of their families. The committee has a list of 887 people that our area has received! And every day the list gets longer. It is wonderful to have the community band together. From our experience, people of the community have given of their own stores. We have received cabbages, oranges, sugar cane, coconuts, etc--whatever people have to share, they are sharing. UCI has also been able to hand out a lot of food to families in need.
Since the response from you has been so great, we are going to be able to expand our area of influence. JeanJean has been in contact with all of the pastors that are associated with UCI. Each community is in a similar situation to ours. We will be able to send money and food to these churches as the need is assessed.
Today, one of the pastors that we know in Port came back for a funeral and stopped at our place on his way back to Port. He has been in the city with his church members since the quake. He gave us a report of his church today. Their church is barely standing and no one dares to enter. But, Pastor Tessechrist has opened up the yard. He has about 200 church members sleeping on the ground. He says that they pray every night that it doesn't rain. The eat day-to-day. Many people go long distances to stand in lines waiting to be handed some food. Then they have to take it back to the church and try to find charcoal to cook it. And then they have to divide the food up between everyone that is there. We thank you so much that we are able to send them food from the relief money.
In one of my newsletters, I wrote about a young man that came back from Port with severe shock. He has since gotten some treatment at the hospital. He was released yesterday to return to his parent's home. He sent a message to us saying that he wanted to pray with us to receive Jesus. We traveled to his home this evening. He is living with 18 other people in a little 12' x 12' house with dirt floors and a roof that leaks. All of the adults of the house came to listen as we read the Bible, sang songs, and prayed with this young man. When JeanJean asked the young man, Jean Renel, if he wanted to pray; 6 people in the house committed their lives to Christ! Please pray for this family, the Saintils, who still have to deal with sickness, the trauma of surviving the quake, poverty, and a father who believes in voodoo. While we were there, we felt another aftershock. But, it didn't cause the people that survived the quake in Port to become scared--rather they felt that God was displaying His grace.
UCI has been trying to continue with their project of putting in cement floors for people that have been sleeping on the dirt. One of the houses that we are cementing is for the family that lost a 24-year old son in the earthquake. Besides UCI's help, they also had a huge outpouring of community support to help them. Actually, the community decided to gather rocks for them in their time of need. Their house is small and one wall is crumbling. So, as a sign of how much the community loved this family, they decided to dig all the rocks and gravel and sand and cut the wood needed. This family will be getting a whole new house!
We have 35 people in our house and probably more coming but God has sent us such great people. Everyone wants to help out. I haven't washed a dish since all this happened! Everyone is family already. But, keep praying as we just don't know what the long term looks like. But, it is always good for all of us to trust our tomorrow's to God.

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.
God bless all of you!!
JeanJean, Kristie, Tana, Kerri and the rest of the extended Mompremier family

classic Saturday

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a preacher and a key figure in the "Great Awakening".

In this week's devotional classic, Edwards contends that "the exercising of the will is nothing other than the affections of the soul....The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection: love, hate, desire, hope, fear, etc... These affections are the 'spring of action,' the things that set us moving in our lives, that move us to engage in activities."

Edwards goes on to list 9 affections that Scripture encourages us to have: holy fear, hope, love, joy, holy desire, religious sorrow, gratitude, compassion, and zeal.

How do you cultivate some of these "affections" in your life so that they create passion and motivation to act and live out of them?

Friday, January 22, 2010

partnering to help Haitians

Barmuda and Orchard Hill Church are partnering for a Sunday Brunch on January 31, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Park Place Event Center.

100% of ticket money will go to UCI for Haiti Relief.

$29.99 adults, $12.99 (12 and under) Call 277-1255 for tickets.

on doing good

Excerpt from Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life by Bob Lupton:

"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

living and active

I love how God meets us in His Word! I have a friend...a relatively new follower...who has been settling into a consumer Christian mindset over the past several months and who has been, in my opinion, backsliding and stalling out on her journey.

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

news from Kristie in Haiti

Dear friends;
Thank you so much for all the prayers, letters, support, and donations that you have been giving us. We appreciate it very much.
Right now, we have over 24 staying with us. That is in addition to the family that we have living with us all the time. Sometimes it is hard to be responsible for so many but we are so thankful that these people are not in Port anymore. People still have to sleep in the street because of the instability of the houses. Just yesterday, there was another aftershock. Unfortunately, there are many thieves in the streets of Port-au-Prince. We are very glad that our house is full and that there are 24 people that have a roof and food to eat. We are happy that the Lord can use us in this way. We will take in more, if need be.
JeanJean has been busy organizing the community leaders into a response committee. Our relief efforts are basically the same as we had envisioned at the onset of this disaster. With the community, UCI will be continuing to send trucks into Port to evacuate people. We will not only be retrieving people from our area but also offering the trucks to take people to other parts of the country where their family is. We had taken 5 young women out of Port on Sunday. We didn't know where they were from and they were scared that they wouldn't get a ride if they said they were from Ranquitte--a community behind our own mountains. People are desperate to get out of Port, and they will get on any truck they can, no matter where its destination. They don't bring anything with them except the clothes on their back. They just want to get out. We thought that we would be taking in these 5 girls into our house. However, when they got to our place, were fed and given a place to sleep, they felt comfortable enough to tell us the real story. Luckily, they had family only an hour away from us. We found transportation for them and got them to loved ones. We would like to offer that to others. UCI's board met together this afternoon and decided to make every effort to reunite families. Pray for the 3 trucks that will travel to Port to transport more refugees.
Another area that UCI's relief funds will go to is to supply food for the families that are receiving people. There are families that have taken in as many as we have. These families will give and give, but sooner or later, their stores will be depleted. We are glad that we are able to help this way. We hope to offer money to people in the near future so they can get back on their feet. Most of them have viable skills and just need help to start over. We don't want to be caught giving food indefinitely and never letting the families take control of their own lives. The Mompremier family has land on the mountain that can be worked and we will offer this as well to the families that have no land.
It has been wonderful to see how the community is banding together and giving generously. So many people have offered food, money, and their homes. They may only have a space on the ground to offer someone, but it is so much better than sleeping in the streets. Our youth group prayed with the families who lost sons or daughters today. They sang, read the Bible and prayed with the families. Then we gave an offering that we gathered and soap for the family to wash their clothes. Lastly, the youth offered to come and do laundry or help in their yards. I was really proud of the group. Jacqueline and Rosenie did a great job of leading the youth and it was a privilege to be with them.
It has also been a busy afternoon for me with my nursing skills. I have sent a lot of supplies to our local doctor but I also have been seeing a lot of people myself. There are many cuts, bruises, sprains, and other external problems. But, more often, we see many people that are still in shock. A young man came to me that just left Port this morning. He is from our area but was living in Port, making sandals for a living. His good friends were the young men from our area that died. He spent days trying to find the bodies. He has slept out on the streets every night since last Tuesday--which means he hardly slept at all. He is a young man but he looked old and he had no strength left. He kept talking about the aftershocks and how each one made him relive the earthquake. His problem is the same for many. In our house, every single night someone screams in their sleep. Each one that I talk to has said that it is still hard to sleep at night and eat during the day.
Keep your prayers coming!! Pray for JeanJean as he counsels many that suffer from the shock. They were still pulling people out of the rubble yesterday! Praise the Lord! There are still many good people helping their fellow man. There are so many stories of God's grace.
Thank you again for all your support.
God bless you,
Kristie and JeanJean Mompremier

both and

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

powerful words

For the first time ever, I just took the time to read completely through MLK Jr.'s letter from a Birmingham jail. Wow, if you've never read it, I really encourage you to read the full text (link below).

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.

Martin Luther King Jr.

An audio tape recently surfaced of a speech that Martin Luther King Jr. gave on Jan. 21, 1960, at Bethel College in Kansas. No previously known tape or transcript of this speech was known to exist. Below are just a few excerpts from it... My prayer is that I won't just pause to remember MLK Jr. today, but that I will pause to pray and commit to working toward reconciliation with my African-American neighbor.

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

Louine's earthquake story

I have seen many people turning to prayer as their last and only option--it should be a first choice and best choice. It does change things. I'll give you an example. My family has been sharing about more and more of their experiences. You can't tell about all the trials in a disaster like this at one time. Things keep coming out as time goes by. That first night after the quake, it was supposed to rain. The forecasts all predicted it and the Haitians said that the temperature and sky all indicated that it should have rained. Can you imagine if that would have happened? There were so many buried but still alive, the dust everywhere, and even the ones saved were sleeping outside and still in shock. It is cold for Haiti right now and rain would have killed many more people. My family said that their whole neighborhood who was outside that night prayed and prayed for the clouds to go away--as I'm sure many, many others did. It started to sprinkle just a little and everyone lifted their hands and shouted praises and supplications--and it didn't rain at all in Port that night or any other night since then. My sister, lifting up her hands as she recounted this, said that the clouds opened up and the stars showed over the whole sky. Amazing! God is good.
My nephew Louine, that was buried under his school, still suffers from the shakes. He can't sleep through the night. But, his story is a story of grace. He was on the second story of a 3-story building. His class room faced the street. He was sitting in his desk when he felt the earthquake start. He stood up immediately. It didn't take long for the building to collapse. He fell onto his desk instead of being crushed in it like others of his classmates were. But, when the quake ended his head was resting on the folding chair and one arm was under his desk and the ceiling of the 3rd floor was less than a foot above his head. He couldn't even sit up or turn his body at all. For a long time, the students didn't even know that it was a earthquake, they thought that only their building had fallen. But, after a lot of time had passed and no one arrived to help, they believed it had to be a quake and the whole city was affected. They knew they had to help themselves. It was already dark by this time and they only had the light from their phones. They couldn't call anyone. The ones that were still living encouraged each other not to cry or loose hope. They touched hands or feet or any part of the body, if possible, and sang hymns to keep their courage up. At around 9:00 PM, their professor, who was talking up to that point, passed away. He was 'sitting' right behind Louine. Then the students nearest the door were able to move the broken chalkboard to clear a hole near the doorway. It took a lot of painstaking work with their bare hands to clear even a small space. As each person was freed, it opened a small route to reach the others. Louine was one of the last. He is a tall young man and the hole wasn't big enough for him. He had to take the rubble and make the hole larger. By this time, there were people that were helping from the outside. And he made it out. One of the things that struck me the most is when he talks about the period of time when he was waiting for the others to get out. The cement ceiling was less than a foot away but it kept descending. Louine says that he kept passing his hand over his head to see how close the ceiling was to him. When his turn came, the ceiling was resting on his forehead. When he got out, the first people he saw were his dad and our cousin. They had arrived at the same moment that Louine left the building. Praise the Lord! Louine attributes his class being saved because they prayed together. The class next to his had many who survived the initial collapse but they panicked. Louine said his class mates tried to help them to be calm and pray and not to scream but they couldn't seem to stop. After a couple of hours, these students succumbed to shock and their injuries. No one was able to leave. Louine also prays that his professor was able to turn to God in his last moments because he cursed and mocked his students efforts to pray. But, Louine emphasizes that God can change hearts, even at the last moment. When one of his fellow classmates broke down, the rest of the class was able to sing and pray for them. In this way, they were able to stay encouraged and united. Louine thinks that 12-13 students were able to walk out of the rubble and 8-9 had to carried out of the building. Three students died instantly and the professor died after several hours. In all the classes, Louine's had the most survivors. Again, he attributes it to God's grace. The earthquake was at 4:45PM and Louine left the building at 10:30PM. Others followed him until into the early morning hours. Louine didn't leave the scene right away. He knew how the shock left so many tremendously thirsty. He and others went to find water and lowered it to the trapped students below. He believes that saved many others.
Louine wants me to say this to you: I want to tell my story because I didn't know for a long time whether I would die or not. I checked the time on my phone often so as to know the time of my death. But, there came a moment when God spoke to me. He said, 'You will not die, I want to show you my greatness.' Louine says it is for this reason that he not only wants to tell his story, but is able. I can attest to that as he is sitting beside me shaking. I pray that remembering God's grace and love in the midst of all the horror will heal him as nothing else can. He pleads with you to never stop praying because God does not allow anything to happen for nothing. God gives VICTORY.
God bless you, Kristie
P.S. I just got back from youth group. The kids are going to go and pray and visit with as many families who have lost sons or daughters as they can. They are going to offer to wash clothes or clean the yard or whatever. They are also taking up an offering themselves. Many of them will be lucky to offer $.25 but it will be a beautiful and rich offering in God's sight.

from Haiti

Orchard Hill also partners with the Dr. Guy and the hospital in Pignon, Haiti. This note was sent to one of my co-workers at Orchard. I'm unsure who the author is, but it is an eyewitness to the devastation and someone who is connected to the Pignon Hospital. This letter offers many specific ways to pray for our brothers and sisters in Haiti....

...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......

take ten minutes

I just sealed the envelope on a note to our sponsored child, Maria, and her family who live in Mozambique. I think the letter took me ten minutes total time to write. If you sponsor a child somewhere in the world, consider taking a few minutes to write him/her today if you haven't done so in awhile. Keep his/her picture visible and their family close in your prayers as well.

classic Saturday

Dallas Willard is a contemporary Christian philosopher and somewhat of a "father of spiritual growth". From my Devotional Classics book, here are a few words from an excerpt on discipleship from his book Spirit of the Disciplines.

"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

new Haiti update from Mompremiers

Dear friends;
This is just a short note with a picture. We wanted to show you the first truck going down to Port with 56 bags of charcoal (for cooking), meds, 15 boxes of food from "Kids vs. Hunger," and clothes. All the clothes came from UCI board members here in Haiti. The truck will be going down with my 3 brothers-in-law who will be distributing the supplies to people in their neighborhood who they know are in need. They also will be going down with money to buy water to distribute. Then this truck and another truck will be going to Carrefour, the site of the epicenter, to retrieve my last brother and his family as well as many others who need to be evacuated. We will be evacuating more than 200 people tomorrow. We will be taking them up to the Plateau. We will be giving out food to the refugees when they get here. All this is because you have so generously given. We are just starting--we will have much more to distribute when we are able to buy food and supplies in Cap Haitian or Ouanaminthe. We also will have a better idea of how things go after tomorrow. Thank you.
Pray for the safety of this endeavor. There are many people who would steal a truck filled with supplies. It is a truck with a closed bed so we hope that will keep them safe. We need to get people out of Port. The stench of the bodies is horrible; people can't breathe. And the food and water and gas situation is difficult as well.
God bless you all!
JeanJean and Kristie

looks like an interesting book

The Poor Will Be Glad
Charity and Microfinance

January 15, 2010

This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, an American church wanted to help those struggling in the Ukraine. For several years, they donated medical supplies, food, clothing, and even money.

In many ways, they did everything right, even cultivating a long-term relationship with a Ukrainian church.

But when they later followed up with the Ukranian pastor, they found that their generosity was actually stunting the generosity of the Ukranian Christians.

Instead of Ukranian Christians giving sacrificially to their neighbors as needs arose, they came to expect another shipment from the Americans. Even worse, the pastor feared his church growing increasingly dependent on outside resources and losing its own motivation for ingenuity and industry.

As Peter Greer and Phil Smith share in their new book, The Poor Will Be Glad, sometimes our best intentions at helping the world’s poor can have devastating long-term consequences.

However, as the authors explain, there are ways to create long-term sustainable solutions—solutions that help people understand the value and dignity of work, while still providing relief.

The authors particularly focus on microloans and creating opportunities for savings. In the United States we have grown accustomed to the availability of credit and to the fact that there are safe places to save our money.

In many third-world countries, there are no such options. Loans and credit are unavailable or come with insufferable interest rates. And mud-walled huts with only a bench for furniture provide little safety for long-term savings.

Authors Greer and Smith explain basic concepts such as creating local savings and credit associations, which can help communities to begin digging themselves out of poverty. Additionally, the authors explain how MFI’s, or microfinance institutions, can make small loans available to the needy.

Prison Fellowship International has also learned how useful these tools can be in helping former prisoners rebuild their lives in some of the poorest countries in the world. Prison Fellowship Zambia is enabling former prisoners to start their own chicken-raising business through a microloan and entrepreneurship training from Prison Fellowship Canada.

Gradually, these men and others who have started small business based on the training are not only making a living, but paying back the lender. Prison Fellowship in Zambia is also using a flour mill business started with local seed money and the help of an outside relief and development agency to employ ex-prisoners.

The fact that charity can sometimes turn sour shouldn’t stymie our generosity. Instead, it should move us to find the best ways to give—especially to the poorest of the poor.

When the American church I told you about learned how their giving was affecting the Ukrainian church, they didn’t give up. They regrouped and came up with a microfinance solution that helped the Ukrainian Christians help themselves.

I encourage you to get a copy of the book The Poor Will Be Glad. You can visit us at to read an excerpt.

And then encourage your church to think hard about its charitable efforts. As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s best not to give a hand out, but a hand up.

joy and sadness from Kristie in Haiti


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

another letter from Kristie in Haiti

Dear friends;

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

Kristie's Haiti update

Dear friends;

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


This past fall our church took a spiritual health check-up called "Reveal". In the Reveal Study, participants answer about 30 minutes' worth of questions on-line, answers are processed, and a big packet of information comes back to the church that helps leadership and the congregation get a snapshot of where our collective body is "fit", "unhealthy", and areas where we could use some "exercise" and "nutrition". At staff meeting on Monday, our staff reviewed the multiple charts and notes that came back from the study. I believe that it was on the last page of the results that I read a statement that has stuck with me over these past few days.

I am willing to risk everything that is important in my life for Jesus Christ.

How true is that statement in my life? In yours?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Haiti earthquake report

This came from JeanJean and Kristie in Haiti this evening, hours after a major earthquake rocked the country:

Hello everyone;
Yes, we definitely felt the earthquake that hit Haiti. We are 85km from Port-au-Prince where they reported a 7.0 quake but we felt the first quake and the 2nd aftershock. It was crazy--we were outside by our Ford pickup. It was rocking up and down and the springs were making a lot of noise. We thought someone was horsing around and jumping on it! The girls were on a rock bench that surrounds our huge tree with all their friends. The whole rock bench starting swaying. My house had some vases of flowers and pictures fall down. We are all just fine. We are just very anxious about our family and friends in Port. JeanJean has heard from one brother but can't get a hold of 3 of his sisters/sister-in-law who live in Port. They say the national palace and cathedral are wrecked. There are reports that many have died. Our phones aren't working. Only one radio station is broadcasting. I can't imagine what things are like down in Port. Keep praying!
Kristie and JeanJean

Monday, January 11, 2010

Who do you talk with about Jesus?

Do you regularly share your faith verbally with others? Do you courageously proclaim the Gospel in speech to both people within and outside of your circles?

Evangelism and verbal witness have some negative memories in my experience. I've seen word without deed, belief without action. I joined a church group on a trip once where I watched people in the group rudely interrupt diners at fast food tables to hand them tracts and talk "at" them. Though I'm a friend of Jesus, I am part of the vast majority of our culture who is suspicious of "proclamation" unless I've seen love demonstrated and know the person is someone with integrity whose life backs up their claims. I'm aware that the way Jesus has been shared in my culture has largely led to a consumer brand of Christianity where people try to get from Jesus what they want, claim a "fire insurance policy", try to live pretty morally, but all with no real intent or evidence of actually being his disciple. Personally, the most positive experiences I've had in witnessing verbally one-on-one have always been in tandem with demonstrating the Gospel through service or in relationship with someone who I'm getting to know, or in a conversation/speaking engagement where there was some expectation that I would talk about a relationship with Christ.

So, why then am I taking an evangelism course that is going to talk about witnessing to strangers and talking about salvation through Christ with just about everyone you meet? Here's a list of reasons why I felt compelled to take the class:

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 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

classic Saturday

Not long ago, I received Devotional Classics, a book edited by Richard Foster and James Smith, that features 52 devotions written by Christian thinkers and saints of our past. I thought reading and meditating on one per week would be a good goal for the year. And since I'm blogging, I thought that I could give you a little taste of that devotion in a "Classic Saturday" blog post.

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

desegregating the Church

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.

(if you click on comments below, Clint has provided the link to the full article in Time Magazine. I just printed off the full article and look forward to reading it!)

love cedar valley '10

We're made to believe, belong, and bless. One of our leaders at Missional Renaissance talked about this critical combination for our lives, and those three B's have stuck with me.

I'm currently turning my work and attention to Love Cedar Valley ( 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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

update from Molly in Cambodia

Hey friends all around the world!

I just back from a lovely trip to the States, Iowa to see the family and Georgia to see 2 of my great friends get hitched. That’s right I was a bridesmaid, all dolled up, that’s right even missionary girls can look gooood. Haha. It was a short, but lovely trip. The snow cancelled some of my opportunities to speak in different churches, but that meant more time with just Mom and Dad, which is always a good thing!

As you know I'm all about stories, but my Grandma sent me a letter of her year in review and so I thought I would follow in her foot steps:

Year in review:

Health Care School in Australia: 3 months of big campus YWAM, learning how to teach basic health care in villages and cities in developing nations. I use it nearly every day in Cambodia. Enjoyed BIG YWAM (Perth has like 300 staff!) for a few months, but it's good to be back to baby sized Battambang!

7 weeks in the Philippines and 4 weeks in Vanuatu: Health Care Outreach with 12 others. Taught in slums, jails, homes and churches (I like the slums and jails the best) Highlight of my year hands down was going back to Vanuatu. I was there in 2006 and I love the Ni-Van people. I got to circumnavigate another island, challenging people in their faith and doing health care. Oh the adventure with Jesus!

June-Aug: back in Cambodia, helping out at the base, hospitality, working with lots of church teams, translated for a huge organization that gives out rice to poor villages.

Sep-Nov: co-leading our staff developing school called Phase 2, teaching 3 staff about basic health care, going in to villages doing clinics and simple health care teaching, discipling our staff, helping to get vision from God for our base in the future as we are growing and developing. Taught for a week on Hearing God's Voice in DTS Phnom Pehn, I love teaching, I learn so much as a prepare for it.

Nov-Dec: 2-week YWAM Simple Health Care Seminar in Battambang, we hosted, 2 wonderful friends came up from Perth to teach it, we had 20 participants from 4 locations in South East Asia! The day after we finished up the seminar I jumped on a plane to good old Iowa, spent Thanksgiving with the whole Hagen clan, jumped on another plane to Gerogia and spent 4 days with great YWAM friends from all over the world. Jumped back on the plane to Iowa for a few days, jumped on another plane and back to home, sweet home Battambang Cambodia!

What’s NEXT?!?!: We’ve got one more month of Phase 2 School. We are having a agriculture seminar, doing medical outreach to one of staff’s village that doesn’t have a clinic for miles and miles from her house, no electricity, no beds…I’m SO excited, I love the sticks! Going to dooutreach at another YWAM base, to train their staff in simple health care!

Health Care Ministry Team: We are looking to buy a truck, we’ve already raised over 1,050 USD for it! To take a bunch of us and bunch of stuff in to the villages that our staff are from, and all around Battambang. A truck can get us there and back much better than little mopeds. We almost have enough money for a fetal heart monitor...that means expecting Mothers can hear their babies heart, trust me it's a beautiful sight when a Mom hears that rapid heart beating within her. Many women in Cambodia never hear this, but it's so simple and easy (even I can do it!) It's a powerful moment to share about why we are giving life: to know God.

TESOL: We will be hosting Teaching English as a Second Language this March for 6 weeks. For anyone, not just YWAM staff...we expect to have lots of new friends join us from around Asia for this training!

DTS ’10: Discipleship Training School starts the end of Feburary, if you are interesting in 6 months with just you and God loving on people, it’s not too late to apply!

The Bridge Church from Ottumwa is coming in March! My good friend, Marty, who used to be my camp counselor! is bringing a team from their new church to see how we can partner even more!

Fundraising: As we expand as a base, we get more and more staff we are looking at ways to generate some cash, we have many ideas, I’m really praying taking this on part time when Phase 2 is finished, as I see so many of our staff struggle month to month to even eat.

So that’s the year in short form! Hope you all are great and would love to hear from you, if you have questions or would like to know how to partner with me, feel free to e-mail. Tis’ the season for spreading hope, well actually it’s always the season to spread hope, the world needs it bad. Please pray for Cambodia.

Merry Christmas and joyous start to 2010! Now I’m off to play volleyball, outside in December…I love Asia.

Peace. Molly Hagen

address in Cambodia:

Molly Hagen

U of N Battambang

c/o Dr. Ouk Vitea

931 Potivong Road