Monday, October 31, 2011

Nikki and Next Year

If you were at Faith Alive in 2008, you probably met Nikki Burks. She’s a young adult from my church in Fort Collins, Colorado whose six months in Nigeria significantly shaped her future. In fact, her time there solidified her call to seminary. She’ll graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary next May. Way to go, Nikki!

She was in town on Friday and we enjoyed lunch together. I showed her snaps from my most recent trip and she said that she felt a physical reaction—like a magnetic pull—toward Faith Alive. So much so that she’s prayerfully considering coming with me next year.

Which brings me to offer an open invitation to anyone else who wants to join us. Nigeria 2012, anyone?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Peace in Jos

That's right--peace in Jos. Or as the locals say, things are "cool." So often I report when violence erupts, but this time I'm happy to say that I haven't heard of any crises, large or small, for many weeks. Google Alerts sends me links every day to new posts with the keywords "Jos Nigeria" and I try to keep in touch with the Faith Alive family there. Join me in thanking God for peace and asking for it to continue.

Monday, October 17, 2011

September's Spiritual Theme: Awake, O Sleeper

I like to sleep. Actually, I love to sleep. Bedtime is one of my favorite times each day. I get into my pajamas, settle under my fluffy blankets and thank God for another day. Imagine my interest when Pastor Ben told me that last month’s spiritual theme at Faith Alive was “Awake, O Sleeper,” based on Ephesians 5:14.

While he references scriptures that talk about physical sleep, Pastor Ben is mostly talking about spiritual sleep. However, he talks about their interconnectedness by saying, “Spiritual sleeping is detrimental at every level to our health…whatever happens in the spiritual realm effects the physical and vice versa.

“Spiritual sleeping is a stage and period we lose spiritual sensitiveness and alertness. At this time we become dull, lukewarm and inaccurate in our spiritual judgment and decision. We become so shallow in understanding, careless in handling spiritual issues and unconscious of spiritual moves that we begin to allow some unwanted seeds of the world to creep in and choke up the seed of the word of God in us.

“This reduces our spiritual performance and in turn leads to spiritual poverty. If not interrupted through some spiritual means, it brings about spiritual death. A careful look into the scripture above, it is clear that sleeping comes before death; that was why the sequence of the command above was that one has to awake from sleep then come out of the dead. It was to avoid all of these that we received the call to awake.”

If you want to read more verses about sleep, Pastor Ben cites Romans 13:11, Matthew 25:6, Mark 4:38-39, Jonah 1:6, John 10:10, Matthew 26:40-41 and Matthew 24:42.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Business Centers

I’ll bet that most people in the United States have been to FedEx (formerly Kinko’s) to copy, print, pack or ship something. But Americans probably don’t know that kinky-haired Paul Orfalea (hence the name Kinko’s) founded the company in 1970 with a single sidewalk copy machine in a California college community. If Wikipedia is correct, the company now has 1,800 sites and makes over $2 billion in revenue.

On a smaller scale, First Presbyterian Church in Fort Collins, CO donated start-up costs for Faith Alive’s new Business Center. Like Kinko’s, it will offer copying and printing (but leave packing and shipping to DHL). And the copy machine will not be on a sidewalk (even if there were one); it will be in a storefront near the clinic.

With a vision to become self-sustaining and profitable, one day, God-willing, we will read the Business Center’s success story. Only I doubt the article will describe Dr. Chris’s hair style.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Update: Editing

For those of you who wonder when the manuscript I’m writing about Faith Alive will be a book in your hands (or on your ipads), here’s the scoop. It’s coming. Really. I’m two years into this three-year project of research, interviews, outlining, writing, fact-checking, writing, getting legal permission forms, writing, etc. The manuscript is written, but it’s far from finished. It’s now time to put all those personal stories together and start the arduous process of editing as a cohesive whole.

Before I show the entire work to a professional editor, I need to self-edit. That basically means I want to pick up the manuscript, think like a reader and say, “Hmmm. What advice can I give this writer?” I’ll be looking for more than grammar and sentence structure—things like flow, characterization, voice and point of view that many readers don’t realize are the building blocks of a great story.

I’ve heard that editing is what transforms mediocre writing into something that people want to read so much that they don’t need a bookmark. That it makes the difference between ordering an advance copy because you’ve heard it’s a must-read or heaving it, unread, into the garage sale pile.

Here’s to doing my best for God’s glory in a way that inspires readers to draw closer to Jesus Christ and transform suffering into service.