I began the call with an apology, "I feel like my three professional goals should be time-based with one that's immediate, a three year goal, and a five year goal. But I've listed three that are immediate because that is just the reality in which I find myself."
Jeanette's response was, "You have listed crucibles." I paused, not fully understanding her comment and responded, "Well, while all three goals are immediate, they also are long term." She said, "Yes, they're crucibles. These are things that are very critical and intense in their inception, and your actions now will have eternal direction."
I felt so validated by her response!
She went on, "It is rare for a person to have a crucible goal in a lifetime, even rarer to have three, and extremely rare to have all three hit at the same moment." I thought to myself, "If my mother was here, she'd laugh." She always has said that my life is long periods of waiting and then an explosion of activity. She's right about that.
Jeanette, a mentor of mine within Church of God leadership, went on, "I get the feeling that these aren't goals that you've chosen, but they are goals that have overcome you." Again... I nearly came out of my chair as I leaned toward the screen of the online meeting, "Yes! That is exactly right. I've done nothing to make these things happen... I'm just here bearing witness and trying to be faithful!"
She laughed and said, "These are the types of things that we see often in the pages of the Bible, situations that seem to swallow a figure in the Bible and then that person takes on the mission." Yes, I agreed, saying, "These things aren't even why I came to Guatemala. They were not my plan. They were no-where on my or anyone's radar!"
In fact, they are all against common logic and status quo. I've become a rogue that is upsetting tradition, history, and the rules of being a missionary. It's made me a bit of a target and even has introduced some risk in to our lives.
With Journey Church, we're expanding a church that crosses cultural boundary lines, language, and is unapologetically American in a Guatemalan culture. We're partnering with indigenous churches and expanding as we partner with missional organizations. We're even holding gatherings in secular settings like coffee shops! The advice to missionaries for decades has been: fit in to the culture, don't be too American, adapt and be accepted. We've broken all of those rules, and we're filling a gap that no-one else is bridging.
The formation of Church of God Ministries Guatemala continues to expand as more pastors and churches are connecting in their own fellowship. This is a change from a tradition of order being maintained by an outside influence, church, or missionary. We're finding connections with the Church of God Reformation Movement, with offices in Anderson, Indiana, to train and ordain pastors, to connect them with churches worldwide, and to enjoy an international fellowship.
Our work with Catalyst Resources International is also expanding through Emmaus, a 10 student, 5 week, 4 country road trip throughout Central America that is an advanced level missional experience that removes students from a life of comfort, entitlement, and convenience... and lands them in places that are hot, hard, and heart wrenching as we encounter Jesus in the stories and people along the way.
These are our three crucibles... Journey Church, Church of God Ministries Guatemala, and Emmaus.
2016 is going to be an unforgettable, unbelievable year. We welcome you to come along for the ride. We need you. Pray with us during this time that we maintain our focus. We must keep our eyes on God. We must seek Him above all else. Obedience to His call is more important that anything else. Paul said it best in his letter to the church in Philippi.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...
I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.