Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving of one another as God in Christ forgave you.
-Ephesians 4:31-32

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's not about being nice...

I apologize for my negligence in posting-- but this past week and a half has involved lots of transitions, growth and moving around without any real stopping.

I'm officially more than halfway through my summer of ministry in Europe.

Part of YHM's program is to have a midsummer retreat where all of the YHMmers regardless of their location meet up to reflect on their experiences and learn from eachother. So, I spent this past week (June 26- July 2) in Hurlach, Germany- a teensie farm town about a half  hour's train from Munich.

The week involved lots of reflection, confrontation and quiet time. Here's a bit of what I've learned:

1) My team needs more "team time". In coming to Europe, it's vitally important to share with those you came with in what you're strugging with, what's been bothering you and what makes you happy. As a stationary team, it's easy to get caught up in the work schedule at the shelters and invest time in all different places. In Germany, my team realized that while we haven't had any real conflict while other teams have had some big issues, we're not really "friends". While we all get along well--- our team unit isn't necessarily as strong as we'd like. We get along as individuals but the team community between the four Amsterdamsels hasn't been solidified. Pray for us to be more intentional about growing in community together.

2) Quiet time is good.

3) Everyone is part of Christ's body. That means, I can be a finger, you can be an eye and we're all part of that. The finger can't get jealous of the eye's way of doing things or be bothered by the annoying things the kneecap does... but the finger needs to know that the finger isn't any more or less important than the eye or the kneecap. Every bit has a vital, but different role.

4) Sharing the Gospel isn't about being nice. My neighbor in Amsterdam, Sam, came and visited the house I live in one night and was talking to me about how afraid Americans are to offend. We don't want politics or religion to be in civilized conversation-- "it's impolite". Dutch people love this bluntness and are bothered when people skirt around how they really feel. Sam challenged me: "How will you ever be able to share the Gospel if you're afraid of hurting someone's feelings?". The Gospel is a message of love-- but I have to stay firm in the Truth. It's hard to process, hard to swallow. To accept the Gospel is to say that you're broken-- that you don't have it all together. It's not about being comfortable. It's scary. But it's not rude. It's not impolite. I'm learning that sometmes the most lovin hing you can do is to confront--- to speak truth and love.

I pray that in my second half of the summer that I'm not afraid to try to instill a 'holy discontent' in the people I meet and see.

"Do not be afraid, but go on speaing and do not be silent, for I am with you"
-Acts 18:9-10

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