I'm just about to start driving back north to Seattle. I've had a slow, but good week in Hollywood. I was able to take a couple vacation days and hang out with some old college friends. I also had the chance to share about my ministry with my friend's church yesterday, which was very encouraging. And I met with some people I missed on my trip down here last Fall.
I didn't gain any new monthly support this week. So I'm still at 65% of the $5,300 I need per month. I know God will provide, and I am very thankful to Him for all the people who are supporting my ministry. Thanks!
I found out last week that I will for sure be starting French language school in Quebec in September. I have to try to remember all the French I once knew. This means I have about a month and a half left in Seattle before I start driving east. Please pray that I will get 100% before I begin.
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
This is an interesting story by Jon Cadd, another MAF pilot in Congo:
"I had an interesting flight to Congo a few weeks ago. I was flying Rune Edvardsen, a Norwegian man working in a ministry providing homes for abused young girls, and also schooling, and counseling. We work with him quite a bit. They also do pastor training and musical concerts sharing the Gospel.
"After we finished there, we flew over to Bujumbura, Burundi, to visit with their president, Pierre Nkurunziza.
"We had a meeting with the first lady, Denise, in the morning. She is very involved in community service and hoped that Rune would help with schools. After that we drove to the home town of the president to visit him. That was the most dangerous part of the whole trip. Winding mountain roads with lots of traffic, and trucks with bunches of bikes hitched on back. It was really crazy.
"We had supper with Pierre from about 8 to 11pm and sat around talking. There were only 4 of us, and I had a chance to ask him many questions about his life. Pierre was a university professor when the genocide began in Burundi, and he ran to the hills and joined the Hutu rebels. He was just a 'private' starting out, and as leaders died or left the country, he worked his way up the ladder until he was their leader. He showed us his bullet wounds from the war. He said he had been left by the rest of the guys to 'heal' if he was lucky. He said he spent 4 months hiding, lots of the time in the bottom of a boat on the lake.
"Rune's dad was an evangelist and came to this whole region for crusades for many years. Pierre heard about a crusade in Bujumbura, and came by night to hear and gave his heart to the Lord. He then announced he wanted peace, and talks began. He was elected President in the end.
"It was fun talking. Before going, we had prayed that we would be able to encourage him in the Lord and focus him on the important things. That we could also encourage him to serve his people and be an example of a true Christian leader, unlike so many of the leaders who seem to only care about themselves. We really were able to do that and before leaving I asked if I could pray for the president. He was very happy for that. I put my hands on him and he put his arms around me as I prayed. It was strange, but cool. Amazing to think that God might use even me to help change leaders' minds for good."
I took a day off yesterday and went to the Getty Museum in LA. Unfortunately, I didn't get too many photos of the actually artwork because security kept telling me to stop every time I went to take a picture.
The courtyard The gardens The Getty from the gardens Los Angeles
Chapter 5 - A Radical Rethink of the Aid-Dependency Model
Governments need cash. Regardless if they are capitalist or socialist, they need money to provide for their citizens and grow economically. African countries cannot depend on aid for their cash for two reasons: 1) aid doesn't produce growth, and 2) the donors are growing weary. Africa must begin weaning itself from its addiction to aid.
One of the major obstacles of growth in Africa is the corruption of its governments and leaders. With the help of aid, corruption breeds corruption. When corrupt governments receive aid, it props up their governments, they pocket the money, they don't spend it on the necessary things, the country gets poorer, which leads to more aid being given. And the cycle repeats.
Aid is continually given because it is a business which employs 500,000 people. Success for development agencies using the aid is based on how much aid they give out, not on whether or not it is doing any good.
For MAF, it takes an average of 80-100 individuals and churches giving monthly or annually to support 1 missionary (or family). I have 75 people and 65% of the $5,300 per month I need. I think I am going to be closer to 100 people by the time I'm done.
"Africa's failure to generate any meaningful or sustainable long-run growth must, ostensibly, be a confluence of factors: geographical, historical, cultural, tribal and institutional."
Does aid work?
The model of the Marshall Plan, which helped get Europe back on its feet after WWII, has not worked in helping Africa. This is because in Europe the economic infrastructure was already in place, and all that was needed was a short-term boost of cash. It was reconstruction, not development. In Africa the infrastructure was missing, and the aid turned into long-term dependency.
Conditionalities attached to aid, while good in principle, are usually not carried out. Yet knowing this, the aid still pours in.
For many, democracy is seen as the key for economic growth. However, even though democracy may be good for countries that already have a good economy, it is not good for countries trying to build a good economy. Democracy is not the prerequisite for economic growth, economic growth is the prerequisite for democracy. What is needed in the early stages is a benevolent dictator.
The short-term effects of aid tend to look good, but when we look at the big picture and the long-term effects, aid does not produce sustainable development. In fact, it does more damage than good.
The birth of aid. After WWII, 44 countries resolved to establish a framework for a global system of financial and monetary management. The main purpose was to reconstruct Europe's economy and prevent another Great Depression. An infusion of cash into already established systems was viewed as the best option.
After the success of aid in rebuilding Europe, why not try Africa? European countries were loosing control of their colonies, so aid would be a good way to maintain some control. It was also a way to fight the Cold War; giving aid to countries willing to be allies.
Aid is given to fund large-scale industrial projects, such as roads, railways and dams.
The focus of aid shifts towards the poor. It's redirected from large infrastructure projects to agriculture, rural development, social services, mass inoculation, adult literacy and food for the malnourished.
With increased borrowing, high interest rates and then a recession, the debt of many countries became unsustainable. Instead of defaulting on the loans and causing a financial crisis, the loans were "restructured," which meant giving more loans to pay off existing loans.
Also, the new idea was that excessive governance was the major obstacle to growth. So aid was directed towards privatizing state-owned enterprises and encouraging free trade.
In the early 1990s the amount of money being paid to the West to service the loans exceeded the money being given as aid to Africa. The new problem- corrupt government. Now aid must also be used to promote good leaders and democracy.
The rise of glamour aid; celebrities, not African policymakers, are calling the shots. Their cry is to cancel all of Africa's debt and then give more aid.
I arrived in Hollywood a couple days ago. This is the view from my friend's apartment I'm staying in. Living in the city is very noisy at night, but it's a great view.
I had a good time this last last visiting some old family friends in southern Oregon, and then a friend in the Bay area. It was encouraging. This week I will be in LA, hopefully reconnecting with friends from the Biola days, and then sharing at a church on Sunday.
Last week I jumped up to 65% of my ongoing monthly support. I gained 2 new supporters, which brings the total up 75 people giving monthly or annually! It's quite humbling to think of all the support I have received so far. I continue to praise God for His goodness.
If you would like to partner with me in this ministry through support, please the support page on the blog. I would encourage you to prayerfully consider partnering with what God is doing all over the world, by finding some missionary or organization you can stand behind through support. It's truly a joy to be part of what God is doing.
Even though there have been some signs of improvement in the past 5 years, compared to the rest of the world, the overall picture of Africa remains a challenging one.
"Why is it that Africa, alone among the continents of the world, seems to be locked into a cycle of dysfunction? Why is it that out of all the continents in the world Africa seems unable to convincingly get its foot on the economic ladder? Why in a recent survey did seven out of the top ten 'fail states' hail from that continent? Are Africa's people universally more incapable? Are its leaders genetically more venal, more ruthless, more corrupt? Its policymakers more innately feckless? What is it about Africa that holds it back, that seems to render it incapable of joining the rest of the globe in the twenty-first century?"
What is aid?
There are two types:
1) Humanitarian or emergency aid; charity-based aid, which is distributed by charitable organizations to institutions or people on the ground.
2) Systematic aid, which are payments made directly from government-to-government (bilateral), or transferred via institutions like the World Bank (multilateral).
The book Dead Aid: how aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo has been recommended to me a number of times, so I thought I would read it. And I thought I would summarize what it says as I went along, so you would know too. Then at the end maybe I'll write what I think about it.
We live in a culture of aid. We are taught that the rich giving to the poor is the morally right thing to do, both individually and as a society. Governments are judged by it. Celebrities promote it. In the last 50 years over 1 trillion dollars in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa.
But has it worked?
No. In fact, the recipients of aid are worse off. It has made the poor poorer and growth slower.
If the evidence shows that aid is not working, then why does the notion that it is still persist? If aid is not the solution, then what is? These are the questions this book will try to answer.
In my devotions this morning I was reading Judges 10-12, the story of Jephthah. Jephthah was a son of Gilead, by a prostitute, and because of this, Gilead's other sons sent him away. Later, the Ammonites made war against Israel. Gilead's sons went to Jephthah because he was a mighty warrior, and asked him to save them. He agreed on the condition that he would become the head of Gilead. They agreed. Jephthah vowed to God that if He gave him victory than he would sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house when he returned home. Jephthah defeated the Ammonites, and when he returned home his daughter, his only child, came out of his house first to greet him. Though torn with sorrow, he fulfilled his vow to God and sacrificed his daughter.
This is one of those stories that troubles me. I don't understand God in this, because He could easily have made an animal come out of Jephthah's house first, like Jephthah expected to happen. But He didn't. Instead He made Jephthah choose.
The story can easily be seen as pointing to the Gospel. Just as Jephthah had to sacrifice his only child to save Israel, God had to sacrifice His only child to save us. Both fathers were torn with sorrow. And both children went obediently to their deaths.
It also makes me wonder if the righteous will always suffer more than others. God made Jephthah choose, fulfill his vow to God or save his daughter. Why God made him choose I don't know. But only someone truly committed to God would choose fulfilling his vow in that situation. A half-hearted follower could easily rationalize not fulfilling his vow, and no one would blame him.
I'm hanging out with a friend in Sunnyvale, California for a couple days. It's been great to leave the rain of Seattle and see the blue skies. I have missed the sun. My evenings here have been fairly busy with visiting various people, but the days are somewhat slow because I just sit in front of the computer. So I was flipping through some old photos again for a break, and I came across this random video I took a couple years ago.
After the tsunami hit southeast Asia in 2005, my brother and I went to Indonesia with MAF to help out (a story for another blog post). We basically ran a little internet cafe for all the NGOs so they could have free, high-speed internet access. Our cafe (tent) was located at the UN base camp, which was a tent camp setup and run by a Swedish organization. It was like a little village with engineers, medical staff, cooks, etc.
It was a lot fun staying there for 3 months and getting to know some of the Swedes, especially since I'm half Swedish. Anyway, all this to say, one day we were in our tent when we heard singing coming from the other side of the camp. So we walked over to see what was going on, and found the Swedes dancing around a weird palm tree thing singing. I think it was a midsummer celebration, but it was just very random; not something I was expecting to see when I went to Indonesia.
I didn't have anything profound to write today, so here is the video...
Reverse Engineering is one of my favorite concepts for the Christian life. Basically, it means if you want to do something, you need to figure out where you want to go, and then identify the steps that will get you there. For example, the Bible says we should be such and such type of person, but we are not that person now. So we need to figure out what steps are necessary to become that person and start doing them, even though in the immediate context the steps may seem strange.
Reverse Engineering only works, however, if you have an end goal in mind. Fortunately, as Christians we do; God in His Word tells us the end of the story. History has a purpose, the Church has an end goal, and Christians are becoming a certain type of people.
Unfortunately, in most of western society there is no purpose. There is no story. There is no end we are moving towards. In response, most people either choose any random thing to give meaning to their lives, like sports, music, work, marriage, etc. Or they simply live for the day; do what feels right in the moment.
The reason I was thinking about this lately is because I think a lot of our community groups are church are community for community sake. They are not community to serve the greater purposes of God, but substitutes trying to give our lives meaning. I think our church is too influenced by society. We forget what God says is our purpose, and we either 1) start searching for other "Christian"purposes. We pick certain aspects of the Christian life and make them the center. I think this is what most fades and trends are. Or 2) we adopt the "live for the day" mentality. We do short-term mission trips, instead of long-term. We use authenticity as an excuse not to try to become more holy. We avoid all responsibility and commitment that could tie us down.
Maybe the problem is that we have become so Biblically illiterate that we no longer know what God said our purpose is.
I'm spending the night in Grants Pass, Oregon this evening, and will be heading down to San Francisco tomorrow as part of my 2 week support raising trip. I was looking over some old family photos this evening and just thought I would post some. 4 brothers in Lesotho in Germany in southern California, posing by the beach couch in Hawaii. I know it looks like we are depressed, but we are actually just tired last year in Washington
This weekend I began my 2 week trip to Oregon and California. I arrived in Hillsboro, Oregon last evening and spent the day with my old college roommate, who hosted a Disc Golf Tournament as a fundraiser today. Good times! I leave tomorrow for Grants Pass and then the next day for the Bay area in California.
Last week, I gained 3 new ministry partners, so I'm now up to 73 people supporting monthly! I have 61% of the monthly support I need. $2,000 remains to be at 100%. I would like to begin language school in September, if I can get all my support in time. But if not, then I'll have to wait until January. Please continuing praying for this support raising process, that people would catch the vision of what God is doing in Congo through MAF.
As always, if you know of a Church or small group that would interested in letting me share about my ministry, I would love the opportunity. Or if you are in California the next 2 weeks and would like to get together, let me know. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.
Support raising makes me think about tithing quite a lot. To be honest, it's rather discouraging to see how American Christians spend their money. Jesus said choose one: money or God. And the vast majority of Americans, by their actions, though their words say otherwise, choose money. If we honestly look at our lives, do we use God to serve our money (succeed at work, be financially secure, be more educated, be healthier, etc.), or does our money serve the purposes of God.
Never in the history of the Church has it been so wealthy. We were given a golden opportunity to do good: to finish the Great Commission, to serve the poor, to show Christ to the world. Instead, we squandered it on ourselves; on comfort, luxury, and entertainment. And we created a church that tells us it is ok.
Our lives as Christians are defined by the story of God, of which the core is the Gospel. It tells us who God is, what He has done for us, who we are, what the world is like, and it shows us how to live. So modeled on the example of the Gospel, what would our giving look like? I usually come up with three key principles. 1) We give joyfully. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. 2) We give generously. In Christ, God lavished His blessings on us. 3) We give sacrificially. The gift that Jesus gave was costly, His life. Worship is costly, like the woman pouring expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. If our giving doesn't begin to hurt us financially, then it's probably not enough.
It's a shame that missionaries have to spend years trying to raise support. Trying to pry a couple dollars out of the hands of Christians and churches, as if making disciples of all nations was an annoying burden to the Church, instead of a joyful adventure (and necessity).
Christian ethics is something best learned by following the example of our Christian elders. It is not common sense; something we will do if we just think straight. Nor is it something we will naturally drift towards. Nor is it something best learned through books or sermons (though they do help). Nor is it something possible for us to do by our own strength.
It first requires God to save us and fill us with the Holy Spirit. Then He puts us in the Church to teach us how to live. Jesus taught His first disciples by having them follow Him around for 3 years. In the Church, we follow the example of mature Christians as they show us how to follow Christ. It's called discipleship.
One reason it's still important to send longterm missionaries overseas, is to have a living, walking example for people to follow. For nonbelievers, it is a demonstration to go along with the words of the Gospel. For young believers, it is an example to follow. Sending books, sermons, and short-term teams is not teaching discipleship. They may aid in the process, but having one mature Christian living in the community will be more effective in making disciples (Christians living like Christians) than 100 books.
On the night of September 4, 2002, thousands of heavily armed militiamen active in the occult and witchcraft surrounded Nyankunde, a town in eastern Congo. They hid in trees and in the brush... waiting until morning. At dawn they descended on the town, and the killing began. Gunfire, loud explosions, and screams of panic filled the air. Christian leaders spoke of a sense of unbridled evil. Some local Christians reported seeing a large, demonic presence moving with the attacking troops as they marched down the main street. The carnage was terrible. Thousands fled into the forest. In all, an estimated 2,000 people died, many through horribly brutal means.
The war that has ravaged eastern Congo is largely ethnic- tribe against tribe. This means that for the Congolese people, the enemy is not another country, not another city, but a neighbor. Fear, suspicion, resentment, and bitterness fill people's lives, leaving deep scars. Who can you trust? Sadly, even the church is not immune, and the lack of unity and trust has left it wounded and weakened.
Daniel Mombassa Kasereka was in Nyankunde in 2002 and barely escaped with his life. In 2003, after things had settled down a little, he started a biblically-based reconciliation ministry called OEIL (Organization, Evangelism, Intercession and Liberation) in the town of Beni, 70 miles south of Nyankunde. The organization works by inviting church and community leaders from different tribes together for a 3 day seminar. During the seminar, they hear the Gospel message and how God loves them and how He uses suffering, they share their stories of what they have been through, they pray with one another, and in the end they ask forgiveness and bless each other.
One amazing testimony to the work of OEIL and the work of the Holy Spirit comes from Pastor Abel. After being relocated to a new location, Pastor Abel soon found he was being given the cold shoulder by his colleagues because he was from a different tribe. This hurt him deeply and he became resentful of them. One day he woke up and found that he could no longer walk or stand without the help of his wife. His situation continued this way until an OEIL seminar came to his town. Since Pastor Abel was a pastor, he was invited to attend. Upon hearing the lessons, he became aware of the great anger and resentment in his heart, and he felt the need to repent and forgive his colleagues. After praying, he amazingly stood up and walked! Giving glory to God by a living and fresh testimony to the effect of forgiveness.
The OEIL ministry in Beni was a huge success; achieving what many thought impossible. Soon there were requests all over eastern Congo (and even from neighboring Rwanda and Uganda) for OEIL to come and hold a seminar. The MAF staff in east Congo, seeing the importance of the work and the transformation taking place, offered to fly OEIL for free, anywhere in the country. OEIL is very close to the hearts of the MAF staff in east Congo and we are thankful to be partners in it.
One of the difficulties MAF has been facing the last number of years, is the expense and difficulty in obtaining AVGAS (the fuel small piston-powered aircraft use) in several of our locations around the world. Outside of developed western countries, AVGAS is not used frequently. So getting it to the remote locations where we serve often ends up tripling or quadrupling the cost. At times we've even been forced to stop flying for months because we simply couldn't get fuel.
A solution to the problem has been to begin transitioning our fleet from piston aircraft to turboprop aircraft, which use JET fuel. JET fuel is the fuel large jet engine aircraft use, and it is much easier to obtain all over the world.
Foreseeing this problem, MAF has been investing in the Quest Kodiak plane for a number of years. It's a new turboprop aircraft that is specifically designed for bush flying. It can carry a greater payload than the Cessna 206 (MAF's current workhorse), but it can land on the same length airstrips. It's ideal for what we do.
Currently MAF has 5 Kodiaks. Here are a couple photos of our very first one in operation in Papua.
This week wasn't too eventful, and rather short with the holiday weekend. However, I did gain 4 new monthly supporters, which brings the total up to 70 people. My monthly support level is now at 59.5%! Again, I'm very thankful to everyone who is faithfully supporting, and I praise God for how He is providing.
I'm sharing about my ministry today at Berean Bible Church in Shorline, WA at their evening service. Please pray that God would open people's heart to catch the vision of how He is working in Congo, and how they can partner with Him.
Next weekend I will begin my Oregon/California trip. I plan on spending most of my time in the Portland area, the Bay area, and the LA area, visiting friends and supporters. If you are in one of those areas and would like to get together, just let me know. I would love to see you! I would appreciate prayers for the trip as well, that it would be fruitful and Jesus would be glorified.
And as always, if anyone knows of any churches or small groups where I can share about my ministry, I would love the opportunity. Thanks! My email is email@example.com
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped and said to him, "What does my Lord say to his servant?" And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
Last night I attended a meeting at church for people who had served in Haiti since the earthquake. It was a time to tell our stories, fellowship, and plan for the church's future role in Haiti. It was good to re-reflect on the 3 weeks I spent there in March with MAF. They was a good and challenging trip. Here are some photos from the trip.