Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who Knew...

When I accepted Christ in high school I never fathomed the things he would use me to do. This week He has particularly been giving me opportunities that I never could have predicted. Jeremiah 29:11 keeps coming to mind “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Though perhaps not in the context that Jeremiah wrote it, I am reminded that God has plans for me that don’t always make sense to me!

We have all been touched in the last couple of weeks by the tragic earthquake and resulting chaos in Haiti. I’ve read accounts of all sorts of people serving and helping the relief effort. It has ranged from senior citizens in nursing homes giving their last dimes to support the effort, to ministers and pastors going over to pray for and encourage the Christians in Haiti, to medical teams going over to help the hurting, to our own military going over to help regulate and provide needs for those suffering. Humanitarians, politicians, preachers, musicians, movie stars and everyone in between have challenged us to make an impact.

Marc Driscoll @ Mars Hill Church has put together an amazing, eye opening look at what the situation is like over there. I would encourage you to take the 90 minutes and listen his sermon/presentation on the matter. You can check it out here.

I am honored in the way God has used me. For the last week or two teens from West Park have donated shoes and clothing to ship over. Yesterday, I was able to take these donations to Forefront Church where, with many friends, we were able to bundle up and prepare them for shipment. The estimate is that we have about 4,000-5,000 pairs of shoes, not to mention a ton of clothes, tents, duffle bags, backpacks and other necessities. Check out this short video to get a glimpse at what took place.

Now we will be heading down to Alabama Wednesday night to drop these off at the soles4souls shipping warehouse so they can get over to Haiti and help those who are suffering. Please pray for us.

Thanks again to everyone who donated, prayed, and helped pack up. It is amazing to see God work through his people. All glory to Him!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Response To Haiti...

This is a lesson I wrote to discuss the Haiti situation with our teens at West Park. A couple people have asked me for it, so I'm gonna put it up here so that it can be a help to anyone trying to discuss this. Use it as you will, use it as your own.


Use newspaper/internet articles, news clips, youtube clips or other media to provoke discussion.
Q: What are some of the things you have seen or heard about the earthquake in Haiti?
Q: How does it make you feel? (most kids probably wont speak up, so ask specifically if you need to, i.e. “how does it make you feel Adam?”
Q: What are people saying at your school about this?

Q: Where is God in all of this? (students may not answer this, so rephrase it “if someone from your school asked where God is during this, what would you tell them?” and if someone says “I don’t know” reassure them that is an acceptable answer.)

READ PSALM 60 (it almost reads like something a Haitian Christian may have written)
Q: What parts of this Psalm relate to current events?
Q: What emotions and feelings are being expressed in this Psalm (remind students that Psalms are songs/poems written in honesty, without sugarcoating feelings)
Q: How does the author feel about God? Do his feelings change?

This verse is ALWAYS used to encourage people and remind them that God has a plan for them and that he works things out for people. However, the context of the passage is almost always neglected. While its true that he has plans for us, look at the situation His people are in when they receive this word. They are exiled, prisoners (if needed, explain to kids in a little more detail what being exiled means.) God gives them this encouragement through a time of hardship and disaster.
Q: Has anything good ever come from a hard time or struggle in your life?
Q: What are some good things God can bring from this disaster in Haiti? (be prepared to give some answers)

In Our Culture:
Q: Do you know who Pat Robertson is? (odds are someone will know, if not, explain.)
Q: What did he say about this incident? (again, be ready to explain. he basically said Haiti had this coming because they made a pact to the devil in the 1800s to deliver them from the French.)
Q: How do statements like that make you feel? Do you agree or disagree with it?
Q: How does that make Christians look to other people?
Q: How should Christians respond to something like this?

A Christian Response:
Q: What does Jesus look for in his people?
Q: How does this relate to Haiti?
Q: What makes living like this difficult for us?
READ ACTS 4:32-36
How did these Christians take care of each other?
The idea is not that they automatically gave everything away, but that when there was a need, they did what it took to meet it even when it meant selling their possessions. Their priority was on each other and not on their things. We may not need to sell our stuff to help (thought we very well could), but we may need to give of time, money, and encouragement.

Get Involved:
(note, this is a plan specific for West Park, be prepared with your own ways to get students involved. feel free to use these ideas/strategies and implement what will work)
We are partnering with Forefront Church who are working with www.soles4souls.com. We are collecting the following.
---New/Slightly Used Shoes
---Foldable Tents/Tarps
---Duffle Bags/Back Packs
PLEASE make sure you don’t give junk, if you wouldn’t want to receive it, don’t give it.

HOW Can we accomplish this?
---Get your parents involved. Let them know what you are doing so they can support you with it and help out!
---Rally your classmates/friends. Maybe a pair of shoes is too expensive for you, but three of you can team up and buy a pair!
---Be creative! You could sell Blowpops at school and give the money to Haiti. Do chores/babysit around the neighborhood and give the money to Haiti
---Check the sales. A lot of shoe stores and clothing stores have out of season or out of style shoes and clothes for sale cheaper.

Take Index cards and have students write down “www.soles4souls.com” so they can remember to look there for guidance. Also have them write down Matthew 25:31-46, Acts 4:32-36 and Jeremiah 29:11-14 to have as a reference to read and encourage them to serve Haiti. Then have them write down the items they can donate and ideas to accomplish it that you have discussed. If you want, you can have these premade, but if they take the time to write it down, it will stick in their brain a little better.

Close by reading Psalm 27 and praying for Haiti.