This is on the light side. We went to Compassion Project 866 at Springs of Eternal Life Church in San Miguel, El Salvador. We had the most warm incredible welcome I have ever been a part of. I will post in more detail later when we come home to the states. All that to say here are some big American boys whose Sombrero’s just don’t fit, and Selah riding in a cart pulled by oxen!
We’ve had a great time getting to know Neil and David of Run Kid Run.
After we visited the Compassion school and church we went to homes for lunch. Our home was a mother in the Child Survival Program. An amazing program for pregnant mothers all the way to when the child is three. We were dropped off by bus at a creek and picked up in style by these guys.
We leave tomorrow afternoon. I’m full of emotion and I’m still processing. As I get pictures from Keely and I’m able to sit down and wright I will share the incredible life changing stories I have witnessed. Until that time I hope you have a good laugh at this post.
Here are some pictures of our day today.
One of the most powerful experiences of the day was visiting a sponsored child’s home. Today Allan, Amy, and I visited Jeffererson’s home.
Jefferson has cancer in his throat glands. Jefferson’s father left for the states 4 yrs ago. Don’t know how much his dad is in his life. Compassion came into his life 4 yrs ago. His mother was in tears as she shared that the staff of Compassion is the reason she has hope.
No great story to tell here. The are just so cute I had to post it. For many of these kids this meal will be the only one they eat all day.
Puppusas are a staple. The are made out of corn flower, water, and oil. Beans are placed in the center, and then they throw them in the pan. They are soooooo goooood!
The two little guys, second row all the way on the left, sang at the top of their lungs! Hilarious.
Okay, I know after the church debacle in Haiti it’s probably not okay to take him home, but look at him:)
This young man was preaching about how Jesus is the answer to our problems. How He is our hope.
These young men are brothers. They sat on my lap during the presentation. I showed them how to take pictures with my Iphone and that was it. 250 pictures later I got it back!!
It’s a bit blurry. The girl in the violet dress to my left gave me hugs all day. I have never been hugged in one day so much in my life. These kids were so loving.
Here are some suffering for Jesus pics. After we were finished at the Project we stopped at a Coffee plantation. Coffee is one of El Salvador’s largest exports. This plantation is on top of a mountain. They grow the coffee right there. They have a restaurant and exotic birds. These pictures looked fine in the edit. They don’t in the real blog. I’ve tried to fix it several times and I’m giving up.
This Toucan was a complete ham. He would hide in the ceiling of his cage, and as soon as you walked by him he would drop done and pose for you.
Allan, myself and Amy after an incredible day…
All pictures taken by Todd Smith’s Iphone(Keely’s would never look like these). Some pictures taken by two small Compassion boys who will remain anonymous.
We (Selah) are on Day 2 of our trip to El Salvador. We are staying in the beautiful city of San Miguel. Today we are visiting the Saving Fountain Church where Compassion’s Child Developement Center is. We will be spending time with many national Compassion staffers, but primarily with Rocio, Carlos, George, and Diana.
We spent all day with them yesterday. I’m hoping to get to know them better over the next couple days. If I’m going to trust Compassion I want to know the hearts of the people running the Centers here. Last night I sat next to Diana and heard her testimony. Looking at her you see this sweet, joyful, beautiful person. You can tell she is caring and selfless. I would have never known she was raised in heartbreaking circumstances. I asked her how she found the Lord? She gave me permission to share her story.
I was 7 years old when my parents divorced. My father remarried and I lived with him and my step mom for 6 years. My step mother was verbally and physically abusive to me. She used to lock me and my brother in the bathroom for up to 6 hours at a time. Finally, when I was 13 years old my brother and I moved in with my mother. I quickly became friends with a girl who was a Christian. She would share about Jesus with me all the time. When my other girlfriends were making bad choices (alcohol, partying, or sex) I would always remember my friends words and abstain. Much of the time I was with her so it kept me out of trouble.
After many “no’s” I accepted in invitation to go to her church. The woman speaking shared about Jesus. She asked if any of us had been abused, rejected, or felt hopeless. The more she shared the more the tears came. That night I gave my life to Christ.
I continued to live with my mother, but over the next 6 months neither she nor my brother would speak to me. I was alone. They kept me from my friend and from going to church for a long time. As time went on they saw a change in me. A change where I was making the right choices, and finally I was allowed to go to church again. My mother is saved now, but I am still praying for my father and brother.
I told Diana I would ask you for prayer for her family. Please pray that they will come to know Jesus fully. I could relate in a small way because my mother prayed for over 40 years for my grandpa to come to Christ. There were many days she thought those prayers were wasted and useless. One morning my dad woke up and said “Nancy, today is the day.” He just felt the Holy Spirit telling him that. Dad shared the gospel again with my grandpa and he accepted Christ that day. He passed away a couple months after that.
I asked Diana why she believes in Compassion. She said it’s a very hard job. It can be very stressful and demanding, but she sees the hope these kids have. She said “you will see the difference in the kids who are in Compassion’s program compared to the children who are not tomorrow.” They have hope. They have opportunity. They have confidence that they can be so much more. Many of them go on to Compassion’s Leadership Developement Program (college/spiritual formation program) where they become experts in their field and bring that experience and knowledge back into their communities. Diana said “most of all we are sharing the life changing hope of Jesus.”
Diana is what makes up the Compassion leadership. Her transformation through Jesus Christ is what gives this ministry credibility. Someone who had no hope and little chance is now devoting her life to seeing kids receive a future. Seeing them get opportunities in a Christ centered environment that she was never given.
Diana’s life is inspiring to me. She is what Compassion is all about. This is one of many reasons why I believe I can trust what Compassion is doing.
Today my group Selah left for El Salvador on a “Vision Trip” with Compassion International. It’s called a vision trip because it’s purpose is to give us a better understanding about what Compassion is all about in developing nations. A chance for us to soak up the culture, to be with the national staff, and to see the results of child sponsorship in action.
Our (Selah) concerts provide an opportunity for us to share with thousands of people about this ministry. We want to get people involved by sponsoring a child, but we don’t want to manipulate them. As we share stories that are emotional we don’t want to mislead people’s emotions. I’m hoping and praying that I will come away broken and angry. Angry about the injustice and poverty I see. That the next time we share from stage it will be more authentic, honest, hopeful, and passionate.
Sure we look good sharing about children in need. We show that we have a global look on life with our ministry, but I want Allan, Amy, and I to be so changed by this trip that when we share people will know we are speaking from a place of conviction and urgency. It’s easy to share about kids. It’s easy to play with people’s feelings when it comes to children. We want the Holy Spirit to impact our lives so much that when we talk about our experiences in concert people will be compelled to sponsor.
I have my questions. There are some things I’m skeptical about. My wife Angie, my girls, and I sponsor two kids in India. We get great joy out of doing this. Right now Mohit and Sangita are young and impressionable. What happens when they get older? What happens when they are done with the program? What percentage of kids grow to adulthood and live better lives than the other children around them who weren’t in the program? How do we know they are getting a good education? What opportunities do they have for jobs? Why should we care about these kids when we have so many in need in the United States? How do I know Compassion is handling the funds well that my family, and other families send who sponsor kids in El Salvador?
I’m hoping these questions will be answered in a way that I am satisfied over the next few days. Not only satisfied, but where we feel confident in sharing with people who are trusting Selah as we ask them to give to Compassion.
During the month of January my church has done a series on “Pursuit, The Search for More.” We’re reading through Proverbs. 31 chapters in Proverbs, 31 days in January. So much of Solomon’s teaching in Proverbs is practical everyday common sense. Common sense I forget or many times choose to ignore.
Yesterday, my group Selah performed at FBCH. It’s in Hendersonville about 30 minutes outside of Nashville. They were having their sanctity of life services that morning. They were recognizing all the families that had the blessing of adopting children. As we sang “Bless The Broken Road” the families came down the aisle and stood up on the platform with us. It was very moving. Later that evening we had about 1000 people join us for a concert. It was a wonderful day. It was also great to see our college friend and FBCH Music Pastor Troy Freeman again. 14 years, too long.
Here are some stories he shared to cement the idea. I’m paraphrasing.
1. A man was out in the park and he was letting his two dogs fight with each other. They were really going at it. Finally, someone came up to him and said, “why are you letting them do that, they are really hurting each other?” The owner replied, “they do this all the time, they will be fine.” The stranger asked, “who usually wins?” Owner, “Sometimes one wins and sometimes the other wins.” Then the owner paused and said, “Actually, the one I feed the most that day is the one who wins.”
What am I feeding myself today? What am I putting in my mind today? What am I choosing to believe today?
2. This next story is sad but true. Back in the 1940′s there was a woman who owned poisonous snakes. A well-known photographer (so well-known I don’t know his name) took an interest in her work. One because the snakes were extremely dangerous and because the owner was a woman, which was very unusual back then. She had just received a Cobra. It was her prized snake. She took it out of the box and the photographer started taking pictures of her holding the snake. The snake was not used the flash bulbs and it’s senses became highly aware. As the owner was putting the Cobra back in the box the snake reached over and bit into her hand. It took 30 seconds to get the snake off.
The snake owner told the photographer to go into a special room where she kept the antivenom. He went and grabbed it, but was so nervous he dropped the antivenom and it shattered all over the floor. It was the only one she had. He drove her to the hospital, but within a couple hours she was dead.
It’s a tragic story. The point Pastor Bruce made was, “We can play with the flesh. We can think we’ve got control as we take it out of its cage. We let it out for a little while. We put it back. The truth is eventually it’s going to bite, and the ramifications could be devastating.”
3. This is the last one, and the one that has stuck with me the most. “Choosing not to fight the flesh, is like letting a wild animal become the zoo keeper, and locking yourself in the cage.”
What do I choose to rule my life and my thoughts? Who do I choose to rule my life and my thoughts?
I hope these stories help you today. They’re simple reminders for me when I’m alone, as I spend time with my wife and kids, and when I’m around others of what to choose today.
15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
Last night Angie and I met with about 20 other bloggers, artists, and Compassion staff for dinner. Being that I have about 40 people following my blog, I fall into the tagging along with my wife category!! We got to see many old friends and made new ones. Among them were Shaun and Becky Groves, Pete and Brandi Wilson, Brad and Lisa Ruggles, Chris and Anne Jackson, Randy and Chris Elrod, Spence Smith, Ryan Detzel, Tad and Robin Dance, and Steve and Patricia Jones.
We ate at Saffire Restaurant in Franklin, TN. I had never eaten there before, but the food was incredible. If you’re ever in the Nashville area go there and order the Fried Artichokes! You will thank me.
It was so great to be around so many incredibly gifted people. People who are excellent and passionate about what they do. People whose faith is real and lived out in practical ways. Many of these people have been on Compassion mission trips. Many are going for the first time in the next several months. I came away tonight excited for the “Church.” Excited for Compassion. It was inspiring to hear what God is doing in their lives. I’m so excited about what my group Selah is going to get to be apart of with Compassion!
Click on their names and find out who they are and what they are up too.
The election last night set off a warning signal to the Obama administration on how a majority of people feel about the health care bill. Why are people so passionate about this issue? What is going on in the state of Massachusetts? One of the most liberal states votes in a Republican after 47 years. Not just any seat. Teddy Kennedy’s seat. Until today’s announcement why has the President tried to push the issue so hard, knowing that most people are against the bill?
I’m against the bill. To me there is an arrogance that “they are going to push this bill through no matter what.” Even though a majority of Americans (Rep. Dem. Ind.) are against it they are going to do it anyways. Trying to push this bill and others with secret meetings and weekend voting goes against the transparency the President promised before the election.
I’ve never seen government as being accountable or fiscal when it comes to money. I don’t see them being good managers of our health system. Although I would like to see health care for everyone, I don’t believe the government should be running it. I don’t believe the President has made it clear how we will pay for it. How they will keep it stable. How they will be able to keep track of money coming in and out.
I think our choice of doctors and treatment quality would decline considerably. I think it would create another department within our government that would be so overwhelming. Once it started we wouldn’t be able to stop it.
Let’s say we vote for it, and realize after 5 or 10 years it’s a bust. What senator would vote against it if tens of thousands in their own state have jobs in it or related to it?
I don’t think this is a case of “something is better than nothing.” I don’t think it’s been thought out very well. I think in the long run it will do more to hurt the country and put us in more debt. I will say I’m not as knowledgeable as I should be. I haven’t studied the Presidents plan.
So I want to hear from you.
What are your thoughts? If you are for President Obama’s health care plan, why? I think we all want to see the poor get taken care of, but why is this plan good? How will it pay for itself? Why do you have so much confidence that the government is capable of running it?
If you are against it, why? What facts do you have to prove you are right? If his plan isn’t good then what should the President do? He wants to see everyone covered. What if your family didn’t have coverage? Would your opinion change?
A couple things.
I welcome anyone’s opinion. I am a follower of Jesus. Let’s not assume that every follower of Jesus is a Republican. If you are not a follower of Christ I welcome your comments. Your opinion makes the debate more balanced and interesting. Let’s be respectful of everyone’s opinion. We can watch the bickering on Fox News and MSNBC. As American’s I think we need to learn how to contend strongly with each other, but do it with dignity.
Angie and I are fortunate to have friends we really trust in our lives. Some of them are in this video. Among them are Pete and Brandi Wilson. Pete is the pastor of Cross Point Church. He is wise beyond his years. God is using him and the staff at Cross Point in so many ways to affect the community of west Nashville.
I believe God is and will continue to use Pete to further the Kingdom around the world. He is married to a strong, wise, and incredibly funny woman, who I am grateful is good friends with my wife. Enough kissing up. Do I get a bigger mansion in heaven for saying that!!
Angie and I believe so much in the ministry at Cross Point, because we know the hearts of Pete and Brandi, Blake and Ally Bergstrom, and the other leaders in the church. We are committed to Cross Points Vision.
We are so grateful for the relationships we have with them and others in our lives. People we can connect with, be ourselves with, and be completely honest with. People we can beat up on, step on their toes, and drag across the table!
I’ve always said, “if you are trying to share the gospel with someone never bring them to watch a church basketball league game (let alone have them play in one), never bring them to a snake handling service (I’ve done it, it doesn’t work), and never bring them to a competitive night of cards, playing spoons, especially with your pastor.
This video was taken this past Saturday at Pete and Brandi’s house. Pete is narrating on how to play spoons! Watch what Blake and good little baptist boy me do to him in order to win the spoon! In case you are wondering I was the final winner of this game!!
If you live in west Nashville and are looking for a church to be apart of please join us on Sunday at 8, 10:30, 11:45, or 6. If you are in the Dickson area Cross Point services are at 9 and 11. If you are in the Goodlettsville area services will be starting September 13th at 9:30 and 11.
And Pete, TMZ…bring it on baby!! They could use a little more “Christian violence” on their show, not that I watch their show, or have ever seen it, or even know what it is!! The SPOON is always worth it!!
Take care and happy card playing all you good Baptists!! Ha Ha!!
We left on Sunday for Denver. ICRS is going on there. It’s where anyone who as anything to showcase in Christian bookstores goes. We were there performing three of our new songs. We sang Sunday evening along with GO FISH, Pure NRG, Phil Stacey, and Britt Nicol. Jeff Allan MC’d.
We did an interview with American Family Radio, signed pictures at the Word Distribution booth, and then headed to Colorado Springs and Focus on the Family. We sand Standing on the Promises, The Lords Prayer, and Unredeemed. After, my wife Angie and I shared about the loss of our daughter Audrey and the struggles that puts on a marriage. Angie did an amazing job!
Tomorrow we fly for Seattle and KCMS Spirit 105.3. We will interview there, and then get right on the plane to Sacramento and K-LOVE!
This morning my daughter Abby asked how old she would be when she got to heaven? Uuhh, well, ummm!! I didn’t know, and told her so. Whether we are the same age as when we die, 33yrs old (same as Jesus) or some other age, I don’t know.
Have your kids asked you that question?
What did you tell them?