Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where did I come from, and where am I going?


This will be my first attempt at blogging. It has been a 10 month journey so far with Mercy Ships. It began with a question. You know, those little nagging things that should have an easy solution but are just a little elusive for you. I asked God, “What is the power of the Gospel?” As I look at our society and even myself I know there has to be more. When addiction rates, debt ratios, divorce rates and suicide are just as high in the church as outside of it, it raises more questions. How can the power of Jesus bring freedom and change to this world? How are people who are losing jobs, homes and family supposed to believe and find hope in a place that doesn’t really look any different?   The first thing I felt was this: Do I look any different? It had to start with me. I have been involved in missions for 18 years now and thought to myself, “Sure, I’m different. I go around the world and serve my church.”  As I worked deeper into this question it became apparent to both Tiff and I that we were supposed to take it a step further. If living for Jesus brings freedom from this world we should be free to follow anywhere. Was it true? Well, we had to sell cars, a boat and find people to rent our homes. We had to sell a lot of our “stuff”.  Not to say it was easy but it is possible if you are willing.  So, we started our journey. dec 2010 (112)

We showed up to Gateway and I was prepared for starting and being a part of something exciting. I thought making the change and selling everything was the whole process. When we showed up in Texas we would “arrive” and then just have to sit back and enjoy the ride. I was sorely mistaken. This was just going to scratch the surface of what God has in store for me.

Gateway was a swirl of emotions for me. Some good, some bad. I was glad to have started and be somewhere I had no doubt I was supposed to be. I was frustrated that just about everything didn’t live up to my expectations. Classes weren't what I expected. Time off and people didn’t fit into my world view. My pride started getting hurt and I started to let bitterness creep in. I know this doesn’t sound like a very good missionary story and I should probably clarify that right now. I’m not sure I’m a “good missionary.” I am a man trying to seek out God’s will for my life and  probably stumble more than I run and fall down more than I win.

01.2011 Gateway Classroom Phase - Texas (11)

After four weeks in Texas we left for Sierra Leone. Maybe I would “arrive” there. Maybe this would be the situation I was looking for. We packed up our family and headed overseas. Now, we have done this several times as a family and I look forward to the travel. It was a bit different though to head out and know that we had no return tickets. We were not planning on being back to the States for around 18 months! 01.2011 Gateway Classroom Phase - Texas (195)

We finally arrived and I started to get  a LITTLE bit of a glimpse of the direction God had for me. We met amazing people as we started construction of the Hope Center. And were able to get a feel for life in the local culture. Power was intermittent. We had A/C shut off and we worked in the heat.

02.2011 Sierra Leone Scenery (81)

All of this time God was working on me. I was in Africa and I was “doing”. Would I stop there and let that be enough or would I continue to seek Him and see where he wanted me to go? I would like to say I always do, but I too must  “choose this day whom I will serve.” Some days it was Jesus, some days it was Dan and his dumb pride and ego.


Seeing the ship arrive was probably one of the most profound moments in my life. As it was pulling up, the hope and joy that seemed to radiate once again confirmed that this is where we were supposed to be.  Now you have read many stories of people we have been able to help and I am absolutely certain that because of the care we have given we have saved lives. Through it all the question before me is: “What is the power of the Gospel?” Right now I know it to be this:  Plain and simple, it is the power of a testimony. It is the story of a life changed. A life becoming something different and better because of the power and grace that can only come from Jesus. I am trying to live that testimony. Each day I must choose to move forward. Some days I do better than others but I absolutely learn something every day.  It is my choice to serve that can maybe change me into what God is wanting. It is this story and this change that can maybe bring hope to those around me. This is the power that can change our friends, family, communities and the world.

osman compressed

Just as a boy can show joy and have hope when his leg gets cut off, maybe we can learn to show the power of a Gospel that can actually change lives and bring hope to those around us.

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