The Power of Play

I’m generally a big fan of fun.

Every now and then fun, laughter and a smile can be holy. Tonight was one of those experiences where I was so honored to be able to play a part.

A few weeks ago, via Twitter, I reached out to Spikeball (TriVolle) to see if we could get 6 sets donated. The idea was that we have high school students teach a relatively unknown game to the refugees arriving everyday into our local community. Spikeball didn’t send us the 6 sets, they sent us 36 sets. Besides not being able to get in the front door of my flat on delivery day, vision started to grow.

Tonight people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, UK and the United States gathered around and played Spikeball.

We when arrived at the Refugee center it was not a happy place. Over the course of an hour and a half I witnessed a transformation. As we left there was joy, lots of smiles and new friends.

Unfortunately I didn’t get photos once the crowd gathered and we also taught some basketball skills and they showed us a thing or two about soccer. One Somali told me that anyone having fun or playing sport, where he is from, would have been shot or a bomb (grenade) would have been thrown into the area.

I got to witness some incredible moments tonight provided by some willing students and some generosity.

Why missionaries are childish and ask for so much

I woke up this morning needing to raise some funds and this was exactly what I needed to read!

The GREENhouse

“Do you think I can ask someone to take Jack to the airport?”

A ride to the airport is usually no imposition because everything is close in Abilene, Texas. But a ride to the international airport is another story, because it means nearly 3 hours to the DFW airport. That’s about a 6 hour round trip.

Missionaries are childishAnd Jack, he’s a dog. It’s one thing to ask someone to bring your family to Dallas, but to ask someone to bring your dog to Dallas on a separate day, is that asking too much?

That’s what Tia was wondering when we recently took an early morning walk before the summer sun made it too unbearable. Her family was making plans for their approaching move to Costa Rica and they’ve been asking for a lot lately.

She’s not the only missionary who wonders if she’s asking for too much. If it’s not a…

View original post 754 more words

When being connected hurts. 

For expats, TCKs, and MKs living and operating at an intersection of the world has great advantages. It’s a culturally rich experience to be directly connected to so many parts of the world through the people around you.

There are moments when it can be painful. When tragedy strikes, like it did on Tuesday, I find myself bracing to see how we will be connected to someone directly affected. With the crash of the Germanwings flight it has come through students and staff we know in Düsseldorf, who lost a teacher.

A few years ago it was friends who had moved to Germany from Newtown, CT and had friends at Sandy Hook. Daily we see refugees arriving from places where violence has forced them from their homes. These things used to be distant. News stories and images that were tragic, but insulated by great distance.

We often grieve our lack of connection: to family, to a home, to friends, and to community. In moments like these we grieve because of connection to far off places, whose roads lead to our intersection.

Our prayers go out to all those impacted by the trajedy on Tuesday.

IMG_0511

Not in Kansas Anymore – Guest Post by an Irishman living in Switzerland.

I get to meet some amazing people and I must say that Clive is one of my favorites!

My friend Clive is from Northern Ireland and has been living and ministering with his family as the Chaplain at an Anglican church in Switzerland for over a decade. All Saints Church has been an incredible support to what we do throughout the European region. The last time we were with our friends at All Saints, Clive had written the following article and I asked if I could post it. It’s great advice for Expats, TCKs, and most humans.

Please read in your best Northern Irish accent…

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

I’ve just returned home from a Conference in England. The Conference Centre itself MUST have been the best Christian Conference Centre I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Let’s just say, I’ve put on weight.

My room had an ensuite bathroom, a bed that was actually very comfortable, pillows that rivalled my own and enough cupboard space to swing a cat in. However, for the four days I stayed there, I never unpacked my suitcase. Shirts, trousers, socks, and jumpers all remained packed.

I’m sure you’ve lived out of a suitcase at one time or another. We do so when we’re on holiday or on a business trip. And we do so because we’re only there for a short time. An unpacked suitcase says “I’m only passing through.”

You may not believe this but a significant portion of the Old Testament is given over to addressing the needs of Ex-pats. The enforced exile of God’s Old Testament people from Jerusalem to Babylon led to prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. It produced great men and women of faith such as Esther, Daniel and Nehemiah – all expats living away from home.

On one occasion, a particular expat community wrote to the Prophet Jeremiah (who was still living in Jerusalem) asking for advice on how to live cut off from the familiarity and security of home. Speaking through Jeremiah God spoke into this Expat experience and said “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

These enforced exiles were to unpack their suitcases and put down roots. They were to stop living life longing for home and instead seek to bless the community in which God had now placed them.

Every Expat living in Switzerland faces the challenge of unpacking their suitcase and resisting the strong temptation to live life longing for home – even if that is three years away. Unpacking is an act of trust that God has placed you here. It is an act of surrender – a stepping out of the boat onto the water – that says “because You have placed me here, I now lay down the place I once called home, to build a home here”. It’s an act of mission that says, “I will now seek to be a channel of your blessing to the strangers among whom I now live”.

One way of easing the transition from Jerusalem to Babylon – or in my case Belfast to Blonay – is intentionally putting down roots. This can be done through a number of simple actions. Here are a few …

         Invest in relationships – be a friend and welcome the friendship of others. Friendship formed while abroad can at times be the most meaningful and long lasting.

         Invest in your Church – whether that is All Saints or somewhere else, be a blessing to your local Christian community. Rather than trying to replicate the Church you’ve just come from, seek to be a building block for what God is uniquely building here.

         Be careful how you use your holidays and where you spend them. Going home for long periods of time, especially during the summer can be deeply unsettling both for you and for your family. How can you use your holidays to make your roots more secure?

         Manage the expectations of family. Sometimes the demands of family “back home” can make you unsettled. Their expectations of you need to be carefully and lovingly addressed. They too need to know that God has placed you somewhere different – even if it is for a little while.

         And finally, use the word “home” carefully. Where is home? Is home the place where you grew up? Is home “where the heart is”? Or is home where God has placed you? Where would God have you call “home” for the moment?

Jeremiah 29v7 offers a vision of God’s people living abroad, living to be a blessing where they are planted. Do you share this vision or are you counting down the days? Is your suitcase unpacked or are you living out of it? As you enjoy this summer period and as you look to the autumn, what one thing can you put in place that will help you live out Jeremiah 29v7? Is there a person to reach out to in friendship? Is there a way to serve the Church community? Is there a way in which I can be a blessing to the nation of Switzerland?

And remember a step of faith – no matter how tentative – is always a step towards God.

Thanks Clive for the way you lead and love those around you!

Summery Summary and a Canadian Invasion

We’ve just come through a one of our busiest summers as many international school students start back on Wednesday. Our summer has been marked by partnerships helping us introduce kids to the hope found in a relationship with Jesus.

Shortly after school ended in June we partnered with Outpost Expeditions and took kids from Brussels, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK to Italy for an incredible week. The week was filled with sun, sand, and opportunities to hear from Bill Paige (Young Life), and musicians Phil Stacey (American Idol), and Trevor Hager.

We helped with running some of the program and worked to break down walls with humor…and costumes.

The week is designed to give students an opportunity to process their year, experiences, and understand where God is wanting to intersect their lives.

Here are some of the highlights from our week in Italy…

This past week we’ve partnered with Athletes in Action to host a basketball camp for students in the area.  We helped host a visiting Canadian basketball team and manage pieces of the camp.

Sharing with athletes during their afternoon break.

Sharing with athletes during their afternoon break.

On Friday I shared the story of proposing to Julie and let the kids know that they are part of an even more elaborate proposal from a God who loves them deeply. All of creation and even a visiting Canadian basketball team are a part of God’s plan to reveal Himself to them.

The visiting athletes have been keeping up their blog posts with their take on the week’s activities here…

Athletes in Action Blog

We have also started an official partnership with Youth for Christ. YouthCompass has come under the Youth for Christ umbrella and we’ve already started to experience how this partnership is going to help us reach more students.

It has been an incredible, busy summer and this week school starts back up for many of the students we work with and we are looking forward to another year, reaching more kids and understanding even more of what God has planned for us. Thanks for being a part of it.

If you’d like to help support our work with teens from around the world, you can do so HERE!

16 minutes of Compassion

You may not have 16 minutes to spare. However, if you do, here’s a glimpse of what we do each spring. Taking students from around the world to serve the poor. Students serve, but also get to hear from speakers and musicians who tell them about the God who gave them their heart of service and longs for them to know how much he loves them.

We love Project Compassion, we love these students, and most of all we love a God who allows us to be involved in telling his story.

Project Compassion 2015 will be April 3-12 and we’d love to have you or your students join us!

email for more info bjohnson@youthcompass.org