Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Joseph as a missionary- Reverse culture shock

I still remember coming off the mission field as an AIMer. I can recall all the excitement of knowing a new culture. I still remember the feeling of having seen new things, done new things, and been places that others just hear about in stories. The world was my oyster (whatever that means). Just hours off the mission field and all was well.

And then "poof".... reality came and burst my bubble. For starters, no one back home really cared about my experience (which makes since because I didn't care about what they had been doing either). Few people understood, and fewer people had time to act like what I did mattered. Over time, excitement transformed into frustration and even a bit of bitterness. Like so many before me and after me, my AIM experience was tainted by the foul aftertaste of reverse culture shock. I was an emotional wreck, struggling to understand my own purpose and identity in the world. Many things got under my skin and agitated me. From church to family to the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart, God's mission in my life was turning towards resentment and sorrow. Wow... that was a fun experience I can tell you!

When God took Joseph of Genesis out of the care and comfort of his family's arms, Joseph never knew what would happen next. Joseph had a winding, adventure filled road. One day he was a slave, the next a prisoner. One moment he was involved in scandal, the next he was involved in politics. Joseph eventually became king, ruling over the Egyptian people... what a ride! However, at the pinnacle of Joseph's success, Joseph was forced back into connection with his Hebrew roots. Scripture says Joseph's family didn't recognize him (Gen 42:8), didn't speak his language (Gen 42:23), and feared his foreign ways (Gen 44:15). Likewise, Joseph responded to his family with hesitation (Gen 42:15), hostility (Gen 42:7), and deep sorrow (Gen 42:24). In every way, Joseph sounds like a man going through reverse culture shock!

I can totally relate to Joseph here. I get his pain, his anger, his frustration. What I don't quite understand is how Joseph "bounced back" at the end. It amazes me that after multiple interactions and "tests," Joseph manages to reconcile his relationship with his family and even bless them. Joseph brought his family to Egypt where he gave them purpose, power, and provision as God had given Joseph earlier. I guess that's the key... isn't it? How do we take our experiences and use them for good? How do we take bitterness and turn it into blessing? Joseph was able to do that. How? Maybe because he understood that some scars only God can heal. Maybe because he realized that what people intended to do for evil, God intended to do for good. So, I guess our story isn't over yet either. Reconciliation and forgiveness are still possible, even after the adventure.

- Chris Johnson

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Express Yourself

If you haven't heard, the AIM Alumni Association is taking ministry to another level this month by offering a new way for Alumni to express themselves. With several events and ministries on the horizon, we have decided to open up a T-Shirt store as a means of raising funds for future Alumni activities. Unlike most alumni groups, we don't charge dues and aren't constantly soliciting our members for donations. This is one goal that we have striven for and hope to always maintain, above others. Being a member of our group is free, and should always remain that way. It's nice to know you can be part of something for free. In fact, we value this truth so much that many times we offer things for free (like our stickers at Tulsa this year). Freedom in membership is high on our value system. However, like most alumni groups, we do have plans for all types of special events for the future, which can cost money. At some point, money is required to make good things happen. So, what solution do we have for this dilemma? Simple, we are opening up a store! Please feel free to click the link above called "Shirt Store." If you see something you'd like.... buy it! It you'd like something special... tell us and we'll look into making that. Remember, 100% of all profits go to the AIM Alumni Association. Funding helps us to function, is for a good cause, and gets you some seriously cool stuff!


Monday, June 14, 2010

AIM Alumni Brown Bag

For my article this week I wanted to share an open letter written by Brettin White, a recent graduate from the 2007 class. She has a great insight into how we can get stuck and presents a striking parallel from the Apostle’s experience. For those who graduated a while ago, a “Hello from Lubbock” email is a periodic correspondence that Kris Smith has been sending out that informs people about the ongoing progress of the AIM classes. I’m sure he would send it to you if you ask him.


- Jason Thornton

A “Brown-bag” for Ex-AIMers

Disclaimer: I am certain that these are all things that we already know; however, these are things that have struck me recently, and I felt the need to share.

I read the most recent “Hello from Lubbock” email the other day and was excited to hear news about the ’09 class heading out to their various fields. It was strange to hear reminders for the ’08 class winding up their field times, some much sooner than later. But the strangest of all was that the ’07 class wasn’t addressed. Another reminder, Oh yeah, I’m done.

And there was a line Kris wrote that stood out to me: “For those about to go [to the field], you have heard us say this before, the best part is ahead of you and it will be what you make of it. So dive in with all you’ve got.”

I believe this statement wholeheartedly, but I also believe this: we should ALWAYS apply this statement to our lives. The best part is always ahead, never behind. I might even say directly ahead, so maybe we should be saying these things to the ’10 class about Lubbock too. We dive in to our present, our today, with all we’ve got, not because it’s our “field time” but because it’s our life, and it is “all we’ve got.” I think we can sometimes read statements like this and let them bring us down, let lies creep in that our “glory days” have come and gone.

And that’s just as silly as those middle-aged fat men on sitcoms who talk about their “glory days” in high school. I mean, I want to say, really? The best of your life was your adolescence? You have so much more to live! You weren’t even totally mature yet, and that was your peak? But we’re doing the same thing spiritually if we have any thoughts like that about our field time, or really any time we could point at and say, “It all goes downhill from here.”

I was reading Acts the other day, and I love it when Jesus ascends into heaven, and an angel has to come and say, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” That’s such a silly situation to imagine – who knows how long they were standing there before a messenger of God came to ask them, why? He goes on to say, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” I love that phrase, “this same Jesus.”

I was talking to my teammate Toby the other day about how I’ve missed talking to my really good friends in Mexico City on Skype recently. Then I remembered how when I first came home from Mexico, I was basically glued to my laptop at all times, waiting to talk to Miguel or RocĂ­o or Grecia, looking at pictures from Mexico on facebook, and how that must have looked to my parents while we were playing games or to my friends staying over at my house. My mom even said to me once, “I understand. You’re just not really here yet.” And I’m not saying that’s wrong necessarily, everyone struggles with that, but I think God’s been nudging me the past couple of months, asking me “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Jesus is the same Jesus whether I’m in Mexico, Oklahoma, California, Japan, wherever. So even though I’ve missed seeing my friends online lately, I think it’s been good for me to remember, oh yeah, the best is still ahead of me, and Jesus is still faithful.

I’d like to ask that we pray for the current AIM classes, and the one that’s currently forming, but please don’t forget to pray for each other too, the graduated ones, however long ago that may have been. “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23). Let’s ask God to “establish the works of our hands” (Ps. 90:17) and that we would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and live lives that are pleasing to him (Col. 1).

Shout outs: To everyone: Thanks for reading. I love you! :)

- Brettin White

Monday, June 7, 2010

How are you defined?

Take a minute and think about yourself. How would you define “you”? How would you describe who you really are? I think most of us would have a hard time listing off very many positive things about ourselves … we’ve been raised with the idea that this would be bragging. So instead, we’ve developed the opposite habit. We keep a record of our wrongs … always adding to the list … defining ourselves in a negative light. We never allow ourselves a break.

If this doesn’t sound like you … congratulations … I want to know your secret. Actually, I think I know the secret … I just have a hard time putting that knowledge into action.

One moment does not define us. I will even go as far as to say an accumulation of moments do not define us. God defines us. He made us … He gets to apply the description. He bought us … He gets to write the ad.

God proves this idea to me throughout the Bible. I’ve seen it most in the life of David. The more I study about him the more I see just how much he messed up. And yet, I never hear God tell His people, “Do not be like David who murdered a man.” or “Do not follow David’s example of adultery.” Quite the opposite, over and over throughout the Old Testament God tells the people to remember David, to be like David. Just looking in 1 Kings we see a brief description of David through God’s eyes …

1 Kings 3:14 - … walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life. 1 Kings 9:4 - … walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, 1 Kings 11:4 – … his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 1 Kings 11:6 – … he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. 1 Kings 14:8 – … but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.

When I look at David’s life and his actions I don’t always see a man that followed the Lord completely, or that only did what was right in God’s eyes. But this is how God describes Him … this is how God saw Him. So wouldn’t it reason that God sees me the same way?

I was knit together in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am wonderful. I was created good and I am the apple of His eye.

This is just the beginning … His thoughts about us are too numerous to name, but I want you to try. Tell me some things that God has said about you … how does He define you?

- Paige Foreman

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are There Any Real Christians Left in the World?

I have recently been wondering how many Christians there really are in the world. I don’t just mean those that say they are believers in Christ, but how many people are there in the world that are actually living the way that Jesus lived? And it seems that there are also very few people who claim to be Christians who ever share the message of the gospel with others.

On Yahoo! Answers someone asked a similar question and the answer that was chosen as "best" was: "...if you go out of the USA, yes you see good Christians."

Well what about in the USA?

Over the last several years, I've heard a lot of people ask why churches in the USA have been dying. People have been really scratching their heads on this one, when it seems like a no-brainier to me. People simply aren't living like Jesus. Of course churches are going to die if people aren't willing to actually follow Christ (which is supposed to be what the word "Christian" means in the first place).

It seems as though many have not remember all that Christ has done for them. In their minds they like who He is, but deep in their hearts (whether they are aware of it or not) they are ashamed of Him. This makes what Jesus said really come home: "Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
-Mark 8:38

Lets show the world that there truly are bold followers of the one proven to be the Christ. I don’t mean "show" as in a prideful “I told you so” way. But rather by simply loving. By being the humble servants that Christ has called us to be. By always having our speech seasoned with salt so that others may know the glorious measure of the Messiah’s love and be filled with all of the fullness of God!

- Gary Ford II

Link for Yahoo anwsers