Interactive Sermon

"Those who have the disease called Jesus will never be cured" ~Old Russian Proverb

Monday, September 19, 2005

G.O. 2005: Namibia (pt. 1)

Before we left for Namibia this past summer I told members of my team that when they returned they might have great difficulty telling the story of their experiences to others. I told them that they’d find their words insufficient and often the interest level of their friends and loved ones discouraging. What I didn’t count on was that this would actually be my experience as this trip came to an end. I’ve been considered many things, but ‘at a loss for words’ has never been one of them.

I’ve been unable thus far to put this trip in written perspective. It’s not for lack of trying – I’ve been writing about this trip almost continuously since we’ve been back – but always finding my way to the ‘delete’ key. In an effort to get something ‘out there’ before it finds it’s way to the virtual waste heap, I’ve decided to publish short sections of a trip summary here on the blog. Just a quick editing note as I begin: Music was so much a part of this G.O. Team’s experience both around the campfire and as accompaniment to our dancers’ performances. For that reason, I’ve decided to use song titles and lyrics that were meaningful to us as an outline for my thoughts. So, here goes part one of many…

Dust In The Wind
Just a drop of water in an endless sea…
Though nowhere near the beginning of the story, I suppose that the 2005 trip began to officially take shape with an email I sent to our friend Dieter Morsbach in Namibia: “What if we brought a team of teenage dancers to Namibia? What if the dancers partnered as our worship band had in 2002, presenting sexual purity assemblies in Namibia’s public schools?” And then after providing Dieter with several paragraphs of ‘opt-out’ language, “What if many of the dancers we bring aren’t Christians? What if they are not even church-goers?”

Dieter’s reply came quickly: “What a God inspired, Him-credible plan. Joan and I just love crazy ideas. The crazier, the better. Let’s do it!” He continued: “When I read the printed copy of your email to Joan last night as we sat out watching the sunset she said, ‘I knew it!’ She went on to explain that she had had a sense from the Lord just yesterday that you would be coming back this year – but this time with something totally different.” As I read Dieter’s reply I knew that we were off on another adventure together. But this would be different. This one would break all the rules.

More than proposing a crazy idea, this would involve our overturning the rule book on short term missions and the local church. Numerous short-term missionary experts have published handbooks for the planning and executing of successful short-term mission trips. Were you to take a consensus, their ‘rules’ would read like this:
Rule # 1: ONLY take mature believers on a short-term mission trip.
Rule # 2: NEVER take an unbeliever on a short-term mission trip.
Rule # 3: Revisit rules 1 & 2.
Their years of experience had taught them that taking a team of anything less than committed followers of Jesus Christ would be catastrophic. They promise as much in their books.

But what if God hasn’t read their books?