The Latest from Rick Wolcott on our Haiti trip!

Check out what Rick says next about our mission in Haiti.

http://eoccom.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/day-2-in-haiti-rain-rain-go-away/

“Before leaving for Haiti I had been watching the weather forecast for the region and I didn’t like what I was seeing. The mid to upper 80 degree temperatures were fine but the rain wasn’t.

When we arrived yesterday I was pleased to see blue sky and sunshine. Well, that didn’t last long!

There was heavy rain through most of last night, it rained on and off during church this morning and we just had a torrential storm – none of which cooled us off, but instead just increased the humidity.

This is the start of rainy season so I fear the forecast may have been correct – rain all week. I am curious to see how the weather will affect any of our plans because the roadways we take into the mountains are not the greatest I am told – actually, using term “road” is probably generous if they are anything like many that we took in West Africa last year.”

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What’s the Best Way to Reach People?

I’m not a marketing guy, but I’ve got to think that word-of-mouth is where you want to be.  You can spend millions in TV commercials, billboards, and catchy slogans, but there’s nothing like one friend calling up 6 of her own friends to tell them about this great product they just tried.

As Christians we’re about reaching people, because Jesus was.  Jesus spent 3 years traveling around, encountering as many people people as he could.  And he also trained 12 followers and then sent them out to do the same thing.  No advertising, no marketing ploys…just people reaching people.

You may or may not be a Christian, but my guess is that you’re reaching people too.  You’re reaching a friend, a family member, co-worker, or even a stranger in some form or fashion.  The power of those encounters, whether in a church building, in the office, or in your home, is undeniable.

Community developer Bob Lupton who wrote the book Toxic Charity and others said: “Programs won’t save communities.”

What’s the best way to reach people?  People!  But to be more specific: You.

What Does Ebola Have to Do With Me?

If you ever doubt how connected we are as people, just consider the Ebola virus.  Kathy L. Gilbert relays how Ebola not only takes lives, it harms communities.

“I think there are going to be a lot of long-term devastating consequences to this even when the medical aspect comes under control,” he said. “For every case there is a family, a community, church members … all of whom are going to experience deep needs.”

Indeed, there is no us vs. them.  We’re all connected…we’re all responsible.

How does this consideration change the way you go about your day?
Also for a wakeup call, check out this educational video for affected areas.

Do You Care?

Most of us would say that we care about the troubles of the world.  We care about the Middle East.  We care about poverty and homelessness.  We care about food shortage and education.  And when those concerns effect us directly, we’re likely to act.  We’ll join the school board when our child’s education is at stake.  We’ll raise the grocery budget to give our families healthier options.

But there is another layer to caring, one that goes beyond the scope of your life.  They are the concerns of people that you don’t know, but you know they are there and you know they are suffering.  We care about their plight, but perhaps we’re unsure what to do about it.

The thing is, people in need depend upon your concern manifesting into something.  So what is that?  How should our concern manifest?

It’s important to also realize our limits — to know that we can’t allow our concern for all things to manifest.  We are not God.  But perhaps we have been sitting on a concern, overwhelmed at the idea of taking action but unable to throw it out of our hearts and minds.

Take that leap…God is with you.

What is a Rule of Life? (part 4)

Ok, so I’ve taken you through a little tool I’ve been using to develop a Rule of Life based on the Greatest Commandment lived out both personally and corporately.  Click to view part 1, 2, and 3.

Now, finally, I’m to loving people corporately.  Here we go.

  1. Connection.  I was going to say ‘fellowship’, but sadly that word has been hijacked by the church bizarre and afternoon tea.  I’m talking about connecting with real people, no Twitter followers.  Of course, that means that I need to let people connect with me too.  In this superficial world, this one can be tougher than we think.
  2. Seeking Justice.  This is en vogue, by the way.  Yes!  Justice for all!  But what does that really mean?  Are you seeking it like you seek the meaningless penny dropped in the couch cushions, or are you seeking it like your relationship with God depended on it?  Because your relationship with God does depend on it (see Micah 6:8).
  3. Practicing Hospitality.  All are welcome into the family of God.  Does my life reflect that invitation?

Why Did I Draft Ray Rice?

If I lived how I believed, I wouldn’t have drafted Ray Rice on my Fantasy Football team.  But I didn’t do that.  I do believe, however, in confession.  So here’s convicted me trying to do something right and telling you that I messed up.

I didn’t need a TMZ video to tell me that Ray Rice hitting his wife unconscious was a bad thing.  I knew it.  I even disagreed with his lax 2-game suspension.  But all of that was forgotten when I saw what was a top 5 player a year ago still available in the 6th round.  So I pounced.  “It was a bargain,” I said to myself.  But even my friends knew I was in trouble.

A little later that night, I confessed to the feminist that is my wife.  I immediately flashed back to when I confessed to my wife the animal lover after drafting Michael Vick in the year after his reinstatement.  I got a talking-to.  

Fantasy Football is a silly game, and it’s fun.  But what my wife reminded me, the lesson that I had forgotten, was that Fantasy Football is a tool to boost public popularity in it’s players.  It’s brilliant actually.  Since playing fantasy I’ve been more interested in the sport beyond my Cleveland misery (good thing, too).  It’s bad, however, when the player we’re lauding is a symbol for something atrocious.  

We’re all consumers.  Whether we’re conscientious about it is another story.  This little convicting moment, while it may seem silly, makes me think about all the stuff I “buy”.  Do my clothes indirectly support child labor?  Is that fresh piece of fruit provided by the sweat and tears of an underpaid migrant worker?  Do we even want to know?

You see, the problem with me and all of this isn’t ignorance (as if the video added any more flagrancy to open knowledge that Rice knocked his fiance out), it’s our preference for ignorance.

How do we move forward?

You know when you have a giant argument over a small thing? Through the course of the shouting, you realize that there are many layers to the hard feelings that you share with the other person.

I have been thinking about the tragedy of Michael Brown’s death and the protests in Ferguson Missouri. I was thinking to myself: I think it’s high time we figure out what really happened. But the longer these protests drag on, it will distract us from a clear, objective investigation, probably from federal officials.

But then I realized that, like many arguments that I have had with other people, there probably is a whole host of events that have led to this struggle. A history of oppression, bigotry, racism, and division.

How do we move forward? How do we break this cycle? For Ferguson Missouri, I really don’t know the answer. Nationally? I don’t have any answers either. What I do know is that I have the answers in my own life . I can choose to break down barriers. I can choose to love people the way God does. That may not make a big difference on a national scale but I think it still does make a difference, and that’s enough.

Can We Really Do ‘Diversity’?

Diversity is quickly becoming a primary value for our worshiping community called Catalyst.  “When was it not?!” someone might say.  Yeah…most people say they’re all about diversity.  But we’re beginning to live it…and for a short time I suspect there might be some reality checks, such as “Oh wait…this doesn’t look or feel the same as what I’ve become comfortable with.”

But once the dissonance of mixing styles and preferences and cultures settles down, people living in real diversity pretty much forget about diversity.  They don’t really see diverse people, they just see people.  Getting to that beautiful place takes a lot of sacrifice, perspective, and maturity, which is why sometimes it’s just easier to say it without letting it reflect in our lives.  But…it’s totally, totally worth it.

Like Water Slides?

Many of us are standing at the top of the water slide.  We’ve taken the time and energy to climb to the top…all we need is to take that one step and nudge that flings us down the next great adventure.

But we’re afraid.

We’ve seen it before.  Some will turn away and descend from where they came; others will ride the wave.

You’re at the top of the slide after climbing all that way, staring down at the thrill you’ve prayed about.

Your move.