Life has ended and now it's time to just soak up your rewards.
But don't forget...The Work has Only Just Begun.
We need academics and social workers.
We need athletes and celebrities.
We need scientists and business people.
A Few years ago, I had an interesting opportunity to visit the Grand Mosque in Bahrain. The Al Fateh Mosque is one of the most beautiful structures in all the world. Literally, marble flown in from Italy, Lights fashioned in Paris, rugs from Persia, it's an absolutely wonderful building to take in.
I was meeting a Muslim Friend at the Mosque, and we were going to talk about the similarities of the Christian Faith and the Muslim Faith, but were were also going to outline some important differences.
Of course when we talk to people of a different faith than the one we claim is truth, there's always a bit of a poker game going on. To try and be cordial while still holding to truth is an interesting skill. Most of us just think "well, we're right, they're wrong and that's that." But when you start really discussing the issues, there are some great places to share life together.
His first shot across the bow, "How do you read your Great Commission?
Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Most of my life, I was taught this verse meant that we need to go out and ask people to say a prayer, sign a card, or give their heart over to Jesus. But of late, I've been wondering what the word disciple really meant.
The Encyclopedia says, "A disciple is a follower and student of a mentor, teacher, or other figure." So if Jesus was referring to making disciples, he was actually telling the disciples to simply follow. He referred to this in John 10 where he said, "I am the way the truth and the life..." The way actually refers to a method of behavior.
I stumbled across a video I thought was interesting in describing this problem. David Platt is a well regarded pastor in Birmingham Alabama. He gave 2 minutes to discuss this problem like this.
When I revealed to my Muslim friend the fact that I believed the Great Commission was to help people follow God, he looked at me with great interest. "You mean you aren't trying to convert me?"
"Well, if by conversion you mean I'm asking you to dance a little mantra, then...No."
His eyes grew wide and he said, "Andy, there's something different about you. We need to continue this conversation."
I started talking through this concept today at KIVU. As we mentor and train students in the fullness of the gospel, how might this change the worldivew of our day?
Feel free to chime in at your leisure.
Turn on the News, and all you hear about the Middle East is destruction. Syria, Arab Spring, Afghanistan, it just goes on and on. The images we see are hopeless, filled with pain, and leave Americans wondering if there is any way to solve some of these enormous global problems.
I'm not sure there's one solid answer that would make sense to everyone around the world, but I've traveled to the Middle East quite a bit. I have friends in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Israel, and the UAE. One thing I've noticed, the older groups I hang out with are pretty much already set in their ways, but the students...well, that's another story.
I've taken what I've learned over the last 20 years working with teenagers, and I've started applying it to my relationships with Middle East Students. This Volleyball game was on the Arabian Gulf with American kids, Australian kids, British kids, and Saudi kids, just having a good time. We played volleyball, kicked the soccer ball, had a cook out, and at the end of the day I made some new friendships that are continuing even today.
I started thinking....
What if we extended our hand of frienship, and started bringing more and more Middle Eastern kids to experience some fun "American" style adventures. After all, I've been working at a Colorado Adventure camp for the last 13 of my 20 years in youth work, and so I tried it last summer.
We brought over 10 students from Jordan who had an absolute incredible time!! We rafted, hiked, biked, rock climbed, and shared life together. It was nothing short of a U.N. style peace accords, only it was with teenagers, and we weren't trying to prove anything...we were just allowing the relationships to take their own life.
This summer, I have a unique opportunity to bring 50 students from Jordan and Bethleham.
Wouldn't that be AWESOME!!
We could begin long term friendships with people from the Middle East in hopes of helping to heal relationships here in America. The only Caveat...We need Resources.
I've only asked for money on this blog a couple of times, but THIS IS IMPORTANT!! If we can continue to develop long term relationships between Middle Eastern Teenagers, American Teenagers, Muslim Teenagers, Christian Teenagers, and Jewish Teenagers, What would our world look like in 20 years?
I'd love to invite you to help me on this journey. If you, or you know someone who can see far into the investment future of relationships with the Middle East; please contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a few donors starting to work on this project, but we need more. We need people who want to help change the course of history, who trust in the fact we are going to work tirelessly to help mend relationships between East and West.
We're changing the course of the future, one student at a time. Come join us along the way!!
Today is the Day!! KIVU is beginning. For the next 100 Days, we'll be hosting America's Finest College Students in preparation for our family of High School Adventure Loving Students. The crew has started to arrive, and the adventures are about to begin.
For those who have been here before....we miss you.
For those who are coming...we are anxiously awaiting your arrival.
For you who are wanting to beat the heat of the summer time, and head out to Colorado, check out http://www.campkivu.com where you can register online and come and join us.
It all begins today.
This is the BEST part of the year!!
Around the country today, we honor all the mothers who make life possible. It's not they make life easier, or life more enjoyable, but let's be honest; POSSIBLE!!
I'd just like to honor the Mother at the core of Braner Party of 7, Jamie Jo.
Her heart is big.
She's selfless in serving everyone in the house from sunrise to sunset.
She works tirelessly to make sure kids are delivered, homework is complete, and she still finds time to be a friend like no other.
To Jamie Jo..Happy Mother's Day.
To the Braner Mother of 2, Sharon Braner; Thanks for your countless hours on the phone talking politics, encouraging in the dark, and loving the Fab 5 the way you do.
To the White Mother of 4, Debbie Jo; Thanks for your endless support, encouragement, and the way you care for the kids in this house. We love You Much.
To Grama' - Thanks so much for your continued love for my wife. Your friendship to her means more than you know, and we are so thankful for you being Gram.
And to all the Moms around the country today...We love you and are thankful for you.