Thursday, April 17, 2008

Episode 8!


p.s. Rick Call is our hero. Thank you SO much for everything.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

We are the body. We are the church.
When I decided to come to CTI it was no easy choice. During that time in my life I considered myself a good person. I was working, graduated from college, supporting my family, involved in church and praise team. Nevertheless, there is a sleep that descends as the waters in life becomes stagnant when there is no change, no higher purpose to live for if not the dream to just earn money have a family retire and wait for Jesus (which of course is not a bad thing in itself but...) There can also be a tendency where a busy life, to fast, pray, spiritual disciplines can become more important than the purpose that it serves.
For me to join CTI, it wasn't just about the music, or that it was a new place and ministry, but it was a test of faith. It was a burning bush moment, where I had always said like Peter "Lord I won't deny you," or was holding onto my agenda, my experience my will (me, me, me) and true motives were revealed where I saw my real nature and stubbornness. If I had to join CTI it would be a sacrifice that costs me, a faith that really required no sight. I had to stop school, leave church, home, work, all these things and also as a non-profit organization, to pay money (for me was precious money that I earned with tears, blood and sweat although I later learned that all my money is the Lord's). It wasn't a formula to follow or blessings to gain. It was to lose my life in order to find it.
This was not a question of my salvation in the Lord Jesus it was something else. So I took a one way plane ticket and left NYC, (where I had been born and lived all my life) to Minnesota of all places. Besides the fact that people are super nice, don't honk horns, with cleaner air and wide open spaces, it was when I trained and went out on tour that the journey began. As a team we are with each other everyday, sharing meals, prayer etc, it was like the book of Acts.
We went to Hong kong, where we learned chinese songs, a christian funky rap song from the 90's, preached the gospel in schools (although China is communist, it gives Hong Kong sovereignty in some areas, esp. public schools to allow us to preach Jesus but we need to give them something else, like music or english lessons) streets, malls, senior citizens wherever we were needed, 78 concerts in 28 days, in 100 degree weather lugging equipment (sometimes there were no stairs, although it was an excellent work out and great way to lose weight, goodbye Jenny Craig).
God was good, people accepted the altar call, and God sent a cool breeze halfway through, provided us with an apartment near the harbor (the apartment was going to expire right when we left coincidence I think not) and also amazing was how delicious chocolate and ice cream are and that God created something like this.
Thus we bonded, because as a team all we had was each other, in a foreign country. When one was cranky, tired, attitude affected everybody in a close knit team. But we survived. After that we had other tours throughout the United States and now have entered our final tour.
We've experienced different styles of worships, small, big, traditional, modern churches, various denominations, prisons, schools, youth events. etc. I've come to the realization that truly America is in need of missions. I always thought missions was going to another country that was poor and helping (which is not a bad thing of course) but the missions more importantly was here and now. Church for me became something more than just Sunday, or a ritual. It is about relationships and most of all love for God and each other.
I look at my team and we're not perfect. We have moments of frustration, miscommunication and discouragement. It's times like that I begin to point the finger, blame others, get bitter and have a pity party for myself. Then the finger eventually points to myself. It's then I begin to see the flaws and mistakes I saw in others were things that I despised in myself. One person's weakness is another's strength so they say. We learn and grow when other's sharpen us, challenge us and the choice is hard to love, forgive, accept. I've begun to see that at times it's scary to speak the truth, be real, honest and vulnerable. But it's only in those moments when we come together and confess our limitations and sins that God moves mightily because we really need God so much because we're not capable to have an agape selfless love.
We all long for that perfect church even when people say realistically there is no such thing and if there was don't go to it you will mess it up or something like that. But we are all broken and fallen people that only are saved by God's grace working in us daily. To be a Christian is a life that is truly the narrow road, to obey instead of sacrificing our game like monopoly money, to awaken to the realization that there is so much more to this life than wasting it by inaction and laziness. There are so many hurting people in this nation, in the schools, churches that need perhaps not so much information or knowledge but tough love that is not afraid to proclaim God's truth and his word and ready to battle the enemy not so much outside or even a political matter but the demons and darkness that lies within every selfish human mortal heart.
What astounds me constantly is that unless this fallow ground is broken there can be no revival no change. Is there a hunger for God, a repentance and desperate humility? It ironically always reminded how in prisons there were so many prisoners that had nothing left, were totally broken and would just cry at these songs that we've simply sung hundreds of times, open to the message, God and the music because they've known what it is to lose everything, be separated from family, and to gather as christians is something that is precious and limited to once a week (and they are known to be christians and not ashamed which is quite evident there).
Then there's the other extreme. Where many of us are comfortable, have food, clothes, homes, and so many things and stuff, yet there's a subtle indifference a slow poison that works it's way in our system, perhaps the enemy realized that direct persecution is futile but a temptation and life of compromise would prove far more effective. Is there a fear that one day we all stand before God's judgement seat and will give an account of every word and deed, and what if Christ doesn't know us and we are strangers to him and we say "Lord, Lord did we not do these things in your name..."?
It's moment's like that I wonder how long will we waver between two opinions and be silent?
To be lukewarm, apathetic, and even create the choice that shouldn't be to not praise God, is something I wonder how it can actually be a possibility or even acceptable? How can such a thing exist? How come it's come to the point you wonder who are really christians and where is the love and grace and fellowship that is so difficult to obtain?
I think of brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world martyred, suffering, losing property and health, yet still joyful, praying for their enemies, and praising God, and really having love for God and others. Can I say in such moments we are the body, we are the church?

We are the body, we are the church.

Thursday, April 03, 2008