Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seeds of Hope in Denver

Last night it became clear that the timing of God's purpose for the Lost Boys is now!
We held an event in Denver to introduce our Sudanese brother, Arok Garang, the second Lost boy to help the village of Palliu to get their children to school.

Arok lives in Denver. He came here straight from the Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2001. He is very intelligent and articulate. He graduated from Colorado University in May of 2008 with a degree of economics. He hopes to get a masters degree in agriculture so that he can go back to his village with skills that will help rebuild that which was decimated in the late 80's from the Janjiweed, and forced him with 15,000 to trek through Africa for over 1,000 miles.

His story must be told that so that hearts and people are moved with compassion to come alongside Arok and help fund the education of the approximately 80 kids from he and John Kher's village.

We expected about 35 people to show up. But The Hub, a local newspaper, did an article on John and the church we held it told us that people had been calling for the past two days saying they wanted to attend. Unbelievably, the room filled up with 90 People! They all came, eager to hear Arok's story and many took next steps. They gave money, they committed to join the Denver Seeds of Hope Missio Community, they offered to connect Arok to their sphere's of influence, and they offered their services which were varied and significant.

It was really overwhelming, and yet I knew, that just as Jesus had a specific time to come to earth, God hidden as a baby, John and Arok and the other Lost Boys, have almost been hidden until NOW! Now, is the is when God says go! It's time to get those kids to school, rather than languishing in a forsaken, desolute village, wondering when they will get to eat next.

My dream is to see one village after another rebuilt with Sudanese people, the very ones that have suffered beyond any suffering I can imagine, because they are the solution and they are the ones that God has appointed for such a time as this.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Reality of the Rice Dinner

I couldn't go to sleep last night because I felt so joyful!
The rice dinner ended up being more than I could have anticipated.

It started out with our 10 and 8 year old neighbors, Cassie and Sydney, collecting the food from the neighbors. They brought it all over to our house so that everyone who came for the dinner would be able to see all that they accumulated. They spent hours sorting and counting and sorting and counting. They made a thermometer to track the progress, and got excited every time a neighbor dropped off another bag or two. We made it to almost 600, with promises of more on the way!

I've always dreamed of having a neighborhood like this, where we feel comfortable walking into one another's homes because we are that comfortable with one another.

I've dreamed of seeing kids know that they have a chance to make a difference in the world, and at one point Sydney said, "Tamara, I know you asked us to do this, but I am glad that I did it because I like to serve people." (This makes my heart soar and makes all the work of getting to this point worth it.)

The best part, however, was when everyone started to arrive. About half of the 50ish number of kids and parents were from Missio Lux and about half from the neighborhood. When they sat down to eat, they ate with one another and discussed the specific country they were given to explore that experiences extreme hunger, making new connections and friendships.

I realized when everyone left that I had been able to accomplish for a brief time what I dream of doing, helping people come together for a reason bigger than ourselves and breaking down the barriers that exist between those who pursue Jesus and those who currently don't. I know this: that when we reach out to serve it awakens the heart of God within all of us!

I can't wait until next year to eat that delicious rice for dinner.....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rice Dinner Challenge

Saturday night missional families are gathering at our home to intentionally identify with the significant number of the world who go to bed hungry every night of their lives.

We are gathering to have a simple bowl of rice, and a cup of green tea. As we gather, we will consider the different countries where hunger is a huge and growing issue. It's only going to get worse as we struggle with environmental issues, income issues, and an increasing earthly population.

But, hunger isn't just over there.... it is also in our own backyard. The local foodbank, Issaquah foodbank, is short of food already for this season. They have had significant shortages due to the economic downturn.

But, Missio Lux is doing their part!

We are challenging ourselves and our neighborhoods to collect 1,000 food items. . .this is an awesome opportunity for kids to get involved.

Our own missio community challenged our children, aged 10 to 2, to make a difference. So, they made up a flier, stapled it to paper bags, and went to every house in our neighborhood, asking them to participate and inviting them to the Rice Dinner!

They became very excited as they took their project on and in the meantime, their heart of compassion is being expanded. This is very important for children in this area who are confronted daily with rather extreme materialism from an affluent culture.

It will be fun to see how people respond. However it goes, the ripple effect makes it bigger than what we can ever see.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seeds of Hope Plants Seeds in Denver

Next week I am going to Denver. I grew up in Denver and then our family lived there for 18 years before moving to Seattle. I am thrilled that I know so many people in Denver because God has work for Missio Lux to do in this city.

A wonderful woman named Kim Johnson has agreed to partner with our Sudanese brother, Arok Garang, to help connect him to opportunities to tell his story of being a Lost Boy, but now also being a young man with a very important purpose.

His purpose, along with John Kher's in Seattle, is to get his village children to school. Arok put 16 kids in school last May believing that God would provide all that they needed. I met Arok in June and we decided to include him and the children he is overseeing as part of our Seeds of Hope Project.

God is at work. Next Tuesday, November 25th, we are holding a gathering for people to meet Arok and hear his story. It's his first official speaking engagement, and the launch of his pursuit to engage partners for Seeds of Hope for the children in school.

Kim is doing a great job of finding opportunities for Arok to get the word out. He is invited to speak at a conference about Sudan in December, and a school has asked him to come and speak as they are donating their "Read-a-thon" money to Seeds of Hope!

This is just the beginning. . .God has big plans for opening wide the floodgates for Arok and John as they faithfully live out their purpose to transform their village by educating the children.

I will let you know how it goes on Tuesday night. If you are close to Denver, you are invited: just check the details at!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seeds of Hope Plants Seeds

Sunday Seeds of Hope put on a party! The purpose of the party was to make cards for the 34 children that are in school as a result of Missio Lux' Seeds of Hope project to provide an opportunity for Sudanese children to go to boarding school.

It was so inspiring to see the individuals faces of each child as we tucked cards into their specific card pocket that held their picture. It was also sobering to watch the video that contrasts the difference in the lives of those who are in boarding school in Kenya and those that are in the barren fields of Sudan tending cattle.

The children in school have faces that radiate hope. Education is hope in Africa, especially for the Sudanese who have only known war and suffering in their lifetime. The faces of those in the dusty cattle fields look burdened and hungry.

It is easy to feel so overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering in our world. Because we live in such a globally connected world, we really can't escape hearing about it. At times it is immobilizing--it makes me want to throw up my hands in despair and hide under my covers.

But, looking into the faces of our Sudanese children in school makes me know that we are making a difference. We are planting seeds of hope not just to the indivual children whose lives will be radically transformed, but also for all of Sudan as we continue to work toward our goal of partnering with other Lost Boys across the US to help their village children go to school. My dream is to see Sudan be filled with healthy functioning villages because they have educated people who are bringing solution to the countries severe challenges.

But, for now, I will be content looking at the smiles of the children who are enjoying life at Roots Academy in Nakuru, Kenya!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Human Trafficking--Prayer First, part 2

All through the day on Friday, I continued to get emails saying, "I will take this time period if it is still open." Amazingly, everyone chose a different time until all of the opportunities to pray were filled. I knew at that point that God had a plan for our prayers and he would direct us very specifically as we prayed.

I signed up to pray at 4 a.m. This is an hour that seems very important between God and I. I often get to pray, being very thrilled by the ability to connect with God so easily. (I guess the distractions are at a very bare minimum, except for an occasional struggle to stay awake).

I was amazed at how easily I could move into prayer and pray alongside the Spirit's direction. The hour absolutely flew by so that I could hardly believe that my time was up. I was led very specifically to pray for the traffickers; that they would be convicted of their evil work and be led to a place of sorrow and into a relationship with Jesus. I was also led to pray that brothels were shut down in various places around the world. As I prayed, my faith grew in God's ability to do this as he partnered with people who pray!

I'd love to hear from others who prayed.
How did God lead you?
Was it a struggle to make it through your time period?
Did you sense a specific area for prayer that God will bring to you over and over until it is accomplished?

I know that as we put prayer first, God will use Missio Lux to shine light into very dark places in the world of slavery. May the world be much brighter in the days and years to come.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Human Trafficking--Prayer First!

Tonight at 7 p.m. Missio Lux is starting a 24 hour prayer vigil for Human Trafficking.

Individuals have committed themselves to pray for one hour each so that we have constant prayer being lifted to heaven for 24 straight hours.

Everything about human trafficking goes against how God created the universe and humanity. He created a world where people lived in peace with one another, God and the environment. Respect was always present, equality was the norm. God created Adam and Eve to be companions, nothing about their relationship involved hierarchy.

So, it totally goes against God's purposes for humanity when one person owns another. If it is prostitution, or child labor, or immigrant workers, all of it involves one person having ultimate control over another.

Prayer helps break down the strongholds that exist in human trafficking. Prayer can do the work to eradicate a brothel; it can free children that have been sold for food. Prayer can raise up abolitionists to work to eradicate the vast injustice of slavery. Prayer can change an entire country's mind and law about slavery.

Wilbur Wilberforce understood the spiritual principals involved to breakdown slavery. He brought people of different sphere's together: the government, business, education, family, the arts around his dining room table to inform and discuss the perils of slavery; to recognize the darkness it brought to their country.

He eventually gathered people from all different spheres together and got the king to read an edict stating that England was a Christian country. Within just a short time, slavery was voted to become illegal in their government.

How did this happen without a Civil War? Prayer. Strategic action. The heart of one man determined that there was something that he could do to make a difference.

This evening, through the night, and tomorrow, we will believe the same. We will believe that as we lift our prayers to the heavenly realm and recognize that Jesus meant it when he said that "he did not come to condemn the world, but that the world would be saved by him," that dents will be made in human trafficking, and that our dream of seeing it eradicated in our lifetime is realistic. The God who made the Universe just waits to partner with us to bring his Kingdom to earth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Matter

It's easy to feel anonymous in the 21st century.

We get that message almost all day long as everything has become so automated that it is easy to miss the personal contact as we go through our day; to have a casual conversation with someone that crosses our path that gives us something to smile about through the rest of the day.

It's easy to feel anonymous in church too.

The mega-church model makes it easy to go and experience an excellent worship with all the bells and whistles, hear a top notch sermon from a well trained speaker, and to leave not talking to a soul because no one knows who you are. In fact, not being known makes it easy for people to move from one church to another because of the latest sermon topic or program made available.

All the while, we continue to be anonymous. Missio Lux will never have the state of the art worship equipment or a perfect service because our priority is to remember....that we matter. As we spend time with our Missio Community, we know we matter because we are in a place where we feel safe, valued and loved. We can be ourselves and recognize that doing life with others that we care about can be significantly more rewarding than a high tech worship service.

The thing is that if we don't show up for our community, it matters. The body isn't complete because everyone matters. We are missed. There's a hole, and it creates loss because Paul says that the body needs every part represented or it doesn't work to it's fullest potential.

This is how God designed us as people. He created us with a hole in our spirit that isn't complete until we connect with our Creator. He wants us to know as we walk through every day that every part of our life matters to him.

I love Psalm 139 because it speaks of how we matter to God. He is the One who creates us and then knows all about our day because we matter so much to him. Ps 139:17-18 says "How precious to me are your thoughts, Oh God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand."

God thinks about us all day long. He doesn't put us on an automated message when we call; he bends down and comes and lives life with us.
We are not alone. We matter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Rice Dinner

Our family has a tradition that has become a community tradition.

We take a night close to Thanksgiving and eat rice for dinner. This helps us to be exposed to how much of the world lives; almost 50% of the world goes to bed hungry at night.

No one looks forward to the Rice Dinner. My family moans and groans, but they embrace it as a way to remember the many blessings that we have been given. Our neighborhood community is also embracing it and is helping to make it happen this year!

But, as a next step we are asking people to donate food to the foodbank. This is well timed as the Issaquah foodbank is struggling to keep up with the needs right now. Our plan is to go to each house in our neighborhood and leave a paper bag with the invitation to come to the Rice Dinner and to donate food for the foodbank.

The next step takes place as we take the food to the foodbank and help to put it on the shelves. This brings is home that there are children in our area that go to bed at night hungry.

I feel so strongly that we need to expose our children to life outside of our area. We live in a very affluent area and the pressure to "have things" starts at very early ages for children. Exposing kids to the greater way of life for the world helps to develop character and compassion in them and combats the "keep up with the Jone's mentality" that exists here.

Missio Lux is all about circles. The first circle is to be exposed to the reality of hunger in our world. The circle beyond that one is the invitation to "experience hunger" through the Rice Dinner. The next circle is to reach out and to collect food for the foodbank. The next circle is to go and stock the food we collected at the foodbank. Perhaps next year the expanding circle will be for several neighborhoods to come together to eat rice together and collect food for the foodbank!

It just makes me wonder if the next expanding circle will be God calling one of us to go and to help the poor around the world. It's always a lot bigger than it seems at first glance.

You are invited to join us for the Rice Dinner November 22nd at the Buchan house!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

As I listened to either the euphoric voices or the hugely disappointed voices of the election, I read a very insightful article this morning that helped to frame the signifcance of the election of Barack Obama as President-elect in the United States.

David Brooks, a syndicated columnist, writes: "Election day was a historic day because it marked the end of an economic era, a political era and a generational era all at once.

Economically, it marked the end of the Long Boom, which began in 1983.

Politically, it probably marked the end of converative dominance, which began in 1980.

Generationally, it marked the end of the baby-boomer supremacy, which began in 1968.
For the past 16 years, baby boomers who were formed by the tumult of the 1960's, occupied the White House.

(I would like to add, also, that it marked the end of a racial era, much sooner than most people in their wildest dreams thought it would happen.)

Last night, a member of the new generation became president-elect.

So, Election Day was not only a pivot, but became a confluence of pivots."

We have entered into new territory. It's going to be so interesting to see the shifts that take place; in many ways, I celebrate these new shifts. I especially see how God is specifically positioning Missio Lux to be a more culturally relevant way to walk with Jesus than in the traditional church. It is also a structure that will be able to adapt quickly, move organically, and travel light, so we can be available and prepared for when the crisis hits or the stock market drops.

Galatians 4:2 states, "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law; that we might receive the full rights of sonship.

I believe we are in another fullness of time, when the world is shifting so dramatically it makes our head spin; but it puts in a place where our eyes are open and looking for Jesus each and every day. We really can't do life right now without him.