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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do-It-Yourself, part 1

Image from Carpe Factum.
As I was perusing Barnes & Noble yesterday, something interesting came to my attention: the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) section is vastly larger and more popular than the religion section, especially that of the Judeo-Christian literature. This got me thinking, and so I want to share my thoughts on the matter.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Are short term mission trips worth it?

Those who have been blessed with going out of country on a mission trip have probably had the experience of being overwhelmed by the size of the work.  This is especially true when you brush shoulders with those who are suffering.  Many thoughts pop into the head and sometimes they can defeat us.  Perhaps we get angry that there are not more people getting involved.  Maybe we come back to our own country and feel discouraged about how wasteful we are with our resources.  Sometimes we look at how expensive the trip was and think to ourselves that perhaps it would be more productive to just send money.  My hope with this post is to put short term mission work into proper context, point out limitations and help those involved reflect on their experience.

1st: What counts as a short term trip?

In many people's  minds a short term mission trip is anywhere from 1-2 weeks long.  However, in the world of mission work a short term trip can be anything from 1 week to 1-2 years.  Long term missionaries I have read and talked to will say that it takes at least 1-2 years to really learn the context.

2nd: Limitations of a short term trip

There are three main limitations I want to look at which are time, culture and language.  Admittedly these categories overlap but each have points that need to be addressed separately.  The love of God is experienced greatly in the context of relationships.  Some of the most powerful ministry happens when we are willing to pour time into someone else's life and walk with them through the dullness of everyday life.  However, deep relationships take time to develop and this is something that short term trips obviously don't have.  Many times a short-term trip will also take place in one specific area.  For instance, a work-site of a church building in progress or a youth camp.  A problem can arise when we use these experiences to dictate how we understand the people we are working with.  What we are really engaging in is only a slice of the people's culture.  We haven't seen what they are like outside of this context and so our view of their culture is often partial.  Finally there is the limitation of language.  Language is much more than a list of words with definitions attached.  Language has the power to carry with it entire world views and cultures.  It is in a way an expression of a people's identity.  The language barrier that is often talked about goes far beyond not being able to communicate.  It can mean a barrier in understanding each other as people.  

So, is it worth it?

With all this in light, it can be easy to become discouraged.  One of the questions I've had to wrestle with is whether or not it is worth it and whether or not it is making a difference.  To begin with we have to place short term mission trips within the right context.  We cannot expect a trip anywhere from a week to two years to have the same affect as a long term stay of ten to fifteen years.  Next limitations can turn into opportunities when we realign our reason for being there.  If our goal is to change the entire landscape of the place we visit and convert everyone we come in contact with and all in one week, we are realistically going to be disappointed.  This is not to say that God cannot do this but it is to lay a mindset that guards against selfish ambition. 

 I believe our reason for going is two fold: to be vessels of God's love and to partner with the body of Christ.  God's love is trans-cultural and trans-temporal.  It will be demonstrated and experienced no matter where the location or how long the visit.  This is one reason actually going is so much more important than sending money, which is sadly a knee-jerk reaction for many Americans.  We next have to realize that we are not in the role of power holding missionary but in the humble state of partnering Christian.  We have to go with the intention of connecting with fellow Christians.  This involves sharing our stories, learning theirs, empowering their work, teaching, learning (extremely important) and finally sharing communion which connects the body.  We are not leaving home to preach the good news in far away lands.  We are going to visit family and participate in God's work in their context.  It is not a one time thing but a continual partnering relationship.  People who go on short-term trips are in the unique position to connect Christians who would not have otherwise been connected and to broaden people's understanding of the body of Christ.  When this is done a fuller understanding of the God we serve can be developed and this is truly a powerful ministry.

This is only a brief overview and much more can be said but I'll end here since this is just a blog.  I hope that this can at least offer some thoughts for reflection, realign the place of short-term mission trips and convince the reader that these trips are not only worth it but are essential.  

God bless,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

So, What happened to Gabe writing?

Hello blog people,

Well, as you saw a while ago I was added graciously to the "author list".  As I'm sure you have also seen I have not posted anything up to this point.  I do wish to apologize for this and explain my absence on the blog.  Life has become increasingly crazy for me over the past several months and this has prevented me from writing.  However, thankfully life is finally beginning to slow a bit and so I will hopefully now be able to contribute.  My plan is to share a few thoughts on mission work and then go from there.  Thank you for being patient with me (I'm assuming you're being patient...)

God bless,

Addicted to Blogging

So I found a quiz through reading Exploring Our Matrix to decide how addicted to blogging I am. Here are the results:

57%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

Feel free to ignore the part about the dating site. Anyway, here's a link if any of you wish to take it. It's kind of interesting.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In Defense of Injustice?

This blog is a good place to think. Sometimes, it simply helps to get all my thoughts out on paper in 1s and 0s. Never am I truly certain that others will respond or even read these posts; but blogging is mostly done knowing that a vast amount of the earth's population will never come across the written material.

Anywho, here's a situation for you:

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Messianic Secret Research Paper

Here it is: the biggest research paper I've ever done. Critiques are welcome, both positive and negative (preferably the former; don't just flat out say you think I suck).

Irony is...

I've noticed a few interesting occurrences as regards this blog and its place on the webernet. Here's what I've come up with:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Things I Learned from Zelda

I've compiled another list, this time of lessons I've gleaned from my hours months years of gaming. Today, these are the lessons I gained from the Legend of Zelda, particularly the Ocarina of Time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Return

Aside from some potential need for minute revisions, it appears my research paper has been completed! Entitled "A Brief Introduction to the Messianic Secret in the Gospel of Mark", it is my first research paper to do as a grad student. As I attempt to gather a few trusted nerds friends to proofread my paper, my ultimate intention is to share what I've learned here at Reedeemed. If you would like an online copy of this essay (28 pages without title, table of contents, bibliography, etc.; 37 total), leave a comment!

Like I said: the completely complete version is not yet completely complete. But once it is, I plan on making it available at my account, given there are people who want to read it.

Grace and peace,

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I just quickly wish to apologize to you poor souls who have found yourselves consistently reading this blog. Oh, and for not having posted in a few days. I've got the biggest research paper of my life due on April 16, this coming Saturday, and I've been focusing all my energy on that. I have even failed to do this week's Greek homework (but that's not until Thursday, so I think I'll be fine) or last week's reading for my NT Theology class.

If you would be interested in reading my paper on the Messianic Secret in Mark's Gospel, feel free to leave a comment under this post or send an email to the Gmail account. Not that I'm requesting readership of my "scholarly" work(s), but it might be something you find interesting.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poetry: Our Story

I don't know why, but I wrote another poem. I can guarantee to all of you that I am no poet. Even so, I felt inspired just now. This poem has no official title, but perhaps it doesn't need one. Let me know what you think.

Things I Love: Research

My plan is to write, for at least the next few posts, things I truly enjoy. Today, it's researching.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Ability to Say "No"

I'm finding more and more often that I have a greater number of things in common with my dad than I think I would ever have cared to admit. The irony is that I want to say a few of them. For example, I thoroughly enjoy making up words and changing the words to songs I know and love. I make really lame jokes which I find incredibly humorous. But not all these similarities are great and dandy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Poem about Part of God's Creation

Often good art comes out of some kind of life experience. I had such an experience just now, and wrote a poem about it. It involves a creature of God's. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Death: The Healing Sleep

According to Patrick Mead, death has a rather easy statistic: one out of one dies. While he says this in a humorous context, it does not make this fact any easier to accept or deal with. And if you haven't noticed, a lot of people die all the time. In fact, everyone knows someone who has died, and I do not think this to be within the realm of hyperbole. For me, there are several deaths in my lifetime that stick out in particular.