Saturday, March 28, 2009


At the risk of soundling like a lunatic, I find myself talking a lot about some dreams that I have had recently. As I mentioned earlier, God wrecked me in some much needed ways while I was in Guatemala. He showed me how selfish I still am and how much there is that needs to be done. He showed me that I have not yet learned what it means to give us everything and follow Him. To sum it up, He broke me.

But the breaking did not end in Guatemala; it followed me home. Over a series of five nights I found myself experiencing dreams that were unusually clear, powerful, and troubling. I won't bother sharing all of them, but I do want to detail the last two.

In my third dream I found myself in Hermano Pedro (the hospital in Antigua for children and adults with Cerebral Palsy and malnutrition) trying to care for the kids. The kids are crying, starving, and dying around me. I can actually feel them dying. I am walking from crib to crib touching them, as I keep asking myself, “How many can I save?” and “Which ones do I save?” The dream ends with me standing in the middle of one of the wards crying and saying to God, “I don’t know what to do! I need more help!”

I woke up crying.

The next dream occurred the following night and I found myself in Africa in a long line of people. I was with two companions whom I did not know, and I was holding a little girl who was dying. The line in which we were waiting led to an old tar-paper covered shack in which medical missionaries were treating the sick. I knew that if I did not get the little girl in to be seen that day, she would die. I also knew that we were at the point in the line at which it was questionable whether we would make it in before they closed for the day.

Suddenly, the doctor burst out of the shack and said that they had to close the clinic for an hour. I asked him why and he told me that it was because they were out of “this” and he needed to go get more. He placed an empty bottle of what had been some kind of oil (not motor oil, more like olive oil or vegetable oil) into my hand. I stopped him and said, “No, you don’t need to close! Keep working! I will get you more!”

So I handed the little girl to one of my companions and turned to walk down the line to get what they needed. And as I did I realized that the line extended more than a quarter of a mile behind me. And each adult in the line was holding or holding the hand of a child that was dying. And I realized that none of them would be seen by the doctor that day.

As I walked back the line, I came to two young men, one of whom was holding a little girl. I approached them and told them, “You know that you will not be seen today, don’t you?” One of them looked at me and said, “God can make a way! He has to! We lost a little girl last year because we couldn’t get in. We can’t lose another one!”

Then he reached into a worn leather satchel that was slung over his shoulder and pulled out a 4X6 photo of the little girl (about 8 months old) they had lost as she lay dying. And when I took the picture, I was suddenly in the photograph standing next to her crib. And, as I stroked her little cheek, she died.

I woke up crying.

After each of these dreams I could not go back to sleep. I was deeply troubled so I got up to pray. And as I prayed, the burden increased and I could not shake the impression that I was responsible; that God was telling me that I needed to change things.

So, why would I bother to share these dreams and their impact on me? The answer is simple, they are more than dreams, they are reality. And in the days ahead I will share with you in greater detail what God has been showing me through them and my response. But for now I leave you with the reality of the Word of God:

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard." - Isaiah 58:6-8

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Will I Die?

On February 28th I left the United States convinced that I had laid down my life for the call of God. Over the years, our family has been asked by our Lord to make sacrifices of finances and security repeatedly to follow Him. And, for the most part, we have done so without least much hesitation. So, as I departed with our team of nine for Antigua, my prayers were mainly for God's work in their lives so that they, too, would take up that call.

Little did I know that God would break me down in order to rebuild me. And the focus of that work was the large amount of "things" to which I still cling. In essence, the crux of the issue was my own selfishness.

Every church attender who has heard more than a handful of sermons has heard the passages before:

  • Luke 14:33 - In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
  • Romans 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
  • Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. "

They make good sermons, as long as you don't push the point too strongly. After all, we don't want to offend anyone or set the bar too high. So, these are usually presented as abstracts, not as specific and urgent mandates on churches and the believers that fill them. We prefer to keep these verses on the back burner of our faith and convince ourselves that we would be willing to give our all...if it were to be required of us.

And therein lies the revelation of God to me as I sat holding a little girl named Gloria in Hermano Pedro. It is required of me. Right now. Urgently. And it has been required of every believer since Jesus interceded in history. A passionate call from the Father to His children asking us to lay down our lives in order to touch and change a dying world. And His call includes this truth, He gave His all to reach, save, and adopt us as His own, what will we give to do the same for others? Will we die to ourselves? Are we willing to literally die to follow our Redeemer's call?

The church has become extremely nearsighted. (As a pastor for nearly 20 years, I include myself in that statement.) We have reached the point at which we have difficulty seeing with Christ's eyes beyond the walls of our facilities that we call churches. And as that disability has increased in severity, the importance of life within those walls has increased in our own minds. So, we become justified in our preoccupations with meetings, committees, programs, budgets, and a miriad of things that has grabbed the attention of congregations and their leadership. And we become convinced that these things are close to the heart of God. And we correctly assume that none of those things require real sacrifice on our part.

But meanwhile, outside those walls, lies a world filled with Glorias, and Luises, and Lionels. A world wrestling with feeding their children, facing life-threatening diseases, and struggling to find clean drinking water. A world that is hurting and dying, both literally and spiritually. And, in light of that, we must ask, "How much of what we do inside the walls of our churches really matters to God?"

But there is an even greater question. Will I die? Will I give up everything I have, make myself a living sacrifice, and pick up my cross daily in order to be Jesus to that world beyond my church's threshold? Will I lay aside my entertainment, my bank account, my retirement, my home, and my vehicles in order to help and love in Jesus' name? Am I willing to leave my job and uproot my family to follow my Father's call?

Every believer has been called to die to him/herself and follow. More than just an abstract theory, that is a practical mandate on every Christ follower. And I am right in the center of that call. Will I die?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How can you walk away?

For nine days I had the priviledge of loving on some of God's most wonderful children. There is a hospital in La Antiqua, Guatemala named Hermano Pedro that houses children, teens, and adults with Cerebral Palsy and malnutrition. Currently there are approximately 240 of God's creation who reside there, and while they are provided food, clothing, and baths, they often lack a key

Imagine your world being a stainless steel cage (its a crib if you sleep in it, its a cage if you live in it) in which you reside for 20 hours a day and a wheelchair next to your cage in which you sit for the other four. Imagine having a cloth diaper that is changed twice a day by a nurse who rushes in, does the deed, and rushes away because there are 15 other children awaiting the same. Imagine being heavily medicated so you will not cry and will go to sleep by 8:00 pm. That is an accurate picture of the lives of these precious children of God.

Our team of nine had the wonderful experience of loving the children in Jesus' name. We held them, fed them, changed them, played with them, took them for walks, and even had the chance to take 14 of them out to eat at a local restaurant. And during the time, they came alive. Laughter replaced blank stares, animated motions replaced lethargy, and hope replaced despair. It was a wonderful week of love!

But on Sunday morning as I said goodbye to the children of Hermano Pedro I was haunted by this question..."How can you walk away?" After all, when you return to your life in Ohio they will still be here in this place and in this same cage, and you won't be here to love them. "How can you walk away?"

But just as quickly as the question arose, the answer came. "You can walk away because you will bring others back!" And therein lies my passion and bring at least four teams a year to Guatemala to fulfill the vital roll of holding, loving and caring for the children of Hermano Pedro and others like them in other institutions and orphanages. We are the hands of Jesus and there are children waiting for His touch.

It is time for the church of Jesus Christ to realize that we have wasted time with meetings and programs that focus more on our own wants than the world's needs. It is time for us to have our hearts broken by the same things that break our Savior's heart. It is time for us to take our theology into the world and change the world in Jesus' name.

Would you join me in that mission? If so, go to and click the "Ministry Trips" link to request more information. Let us choose to not walk away.