Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekend Recap

So a couple of cool things went down this weekend:

On Saturday, my nephew Ben had his first Birthday party. Elmo of course. I got him the LeapFrog Learn and Groove Alphabet Drum…

He likes to “pat pat” so with this toy he can listen to some cool tunes, play the drums and learn his alphabet all at the same time. And of course it’s bilingual – so he can learn the alphabet in both English AND Spanish. Being his super cool Uncle who is about to move to South America I thought something bilingual would be appropriate...

On Saturday night I attended a wedding at the Higdon House Inn in Greensboro, GA. A friend of mine from my first small group at Buckhead Church got married. It was a great evening. Outside wedding. Wonderful weather. Beautiful ceremony. And of course the obligatory “So, who do you think will be next?” talk amongst all the single bros there.

And this afternoon I officially registered for my three week cross-cultural missionary training program in Palmer Lake, Colorado. The training is through an organization called MTI, which specializes in training missionaries prior to leaving for the field. Here is their mission statement – Our passion is to see cross-cultural messengers of God’s grace experience effectiveness, longevity and a deep sense of satisfaction in their calling.

Well alright then, let’s do this.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

So Long, Farewell

A week from this Sunday on May 6, Buckhead Church will be opening its new building at Tower Place. I hope to make some Sunday 6 p.m. services every now and then but for the most part I have to say so long, farewell. I will continue to meet with a group of guys from church on Wednesday nights but I will be absent most Sundays.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Buckhead Church. And the relationship with Christ that I have today is largely due to the impact the church has had on my life over the last two and a half years. I like to say that I am a “product of the system” – their mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Mission accomplished.

But for various reasons it is time to move on, and the transition to the new building at Tower Place has provided me with a great opportunity to make my own transition. I think that Buckhead Church knows their target audience so well and over the last few months I have begun to feel like I am not their target audience anymore. I feel very strong in my relationship with Christ and I think I am ready to accept my first missionary assignment – the suburbs. I love the music at Buckhead and I love Andy Stanley’s messages but it is time to give up my chair so some “Curt from two and a half years ago” can take a seat.

Also, in preparing to move to Bolivia as a missionary one of things I realized recently that is absolutely critical to my success in the field is a very supportive home church – not just financial support but relational support as well. Buckhead Church is set up to drive people into community groups so I really wanted a home church that could be more like the bar in Cheers – a church where everybody knows my name. And I also wanted a church that has a wider range of ages.

So I am currently pursuing membership at Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville. My best friend Chris and his wife Melissa attend there. Chris’ parents attend also. In fact the thought of this whole missionary thing first came to me when I went with a group from this church on my first mission trip last summer. My hope is to get as plugged in as possible these next seven months before I leave. To be honest, it’s kinda a nice change from the Megachurch. And it’s kinda nice to shake the pastor’s hand when you leave church.

Leaving Buckhead is definitely sad though. One of the saddest things to me is that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my group of second graders. I hate to have them show up in that new building and me not be there to welcome them.

I think this pretty much sums it up…

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It’s a southern thang…you probably understand

So friend-raising takes energy. And I can already see how spending a good amount of time just trying to meet people, trying to get to know people and sharing with people the vision that God has placed on my heart could just wear me out. I told someone the other day that my weekends these days are mostly spent “shaking hands and kissing babies.” I think that is going to be the norm until I actually move to Bolivia. Don’t get me wrong – I love it.

I kinda feel like a politician sometimes though.

I say all that to say that this weekend was no different. I spent time with the brotherhood at Holy Cross on Saturday morning and today I visited one of Holy Cross’ sister churches – Holy Spirit Anglican Church in Watkinsville, GA.

Holy Spirit is a new congregation and today was their founders’ day. Basically, a day when the Bishop visits to officially receive new members into the Anglican community. It was a great service. And after the service there was lunch…

Picture this…I walk outside the church and there is a looooooong table of food. Old School Southern Style. I’m talking rolls, potatoe salad, deviled eggs, mac and cheese, broccoli casserole, turkey, chicken, pork, banana puddin, four different cakes, sweet tea, etc…

When I got to the table to sit down to eat I told the person next to me that “I think that spread of food just convinced me to stay in the South and not move to Bolivia.”

The whole experience was just a nice moment that reminded me how great the South is. It’s also just funny how we tend to stop and enjoy things more when we truly believe that we might not be able to enjoy those things sometime in the future.

I think this will be a common thought for me these next seven months and I hope that it causes me to make the absolute most out of my time left here before I leave.

But it is still a very weird feeling to enjoy certain things and events and think “You know, I won’t be here for that next year.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Current Top Five

Thought I would share something a little different...

Here is my current top five list for Tuesday, April 17th:

1) Adriana Lima
2) Reese Witherspoon
3) Mandy Moore (brunette)
4) Rachel McAdams (brunette)
5) Carrie Underwood

Anyone care to share?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

City Mouse

As promised…a conference recap.

We arrived at the conference on Monday and we ended up leaving to come back to Atlanta on Friday evening (It was a very long week). Despite being a long week it was definitely an amazing experience and here are some highlights…

One of the main things that was accomplished was that I was able to confirm that Bolivia is still my main focus. I did meet with Kim and Mike Miller, the SAMS missionaries in Honduras, and they are doing some amazing work there – in a rural village called Chasnigua. I was so impressed by what they are doing and I was interested in their ministry because of their strong focus on children. But they will primarily be working in a rural village of about 60 families and as I pray about it more I just really feel that God is leading me into a more urban environment for my ministry.

I really do think that to some degree I am just a city mouse at heart. And one of the interesting things that I learned this week about ministries in the rural areas is that things kinda die down in the evenings after dark. Most of the ministry activities happen during the day. Makes sense. And when I stop to think about the variety of ways that God might use me wherever He sends me I just really feel that I could be apart of some amazing ministries in the evening. In fact, most of the ministries to street children in the big cities happen at night.

I was also able to spend some time with the Bishop of Bolivia and get his blessing to move forward. So now the next really big step in front of me is my placement trip to Bolivia. This is big because this trip will determine the exact city that I will be moving to and the exact ministry that I will be partnering with.

So in about two months I will be back in Bolivia for two weeks to visit Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and La Paz to try and figure out which city/ministry truly grabs my heart and to see where I will live for the next three years of my life. In the meantime, I am about to start taking my dog and pony show on the road. My “quit my” business cards are printed and ready to go. Now my goals are to setup as many face to face meetings as possible with potential supporters and also to schedule larger scale presentation opportunities at as many churches as possible. And I am working on finalizing my first official support letter which should hit mailboxes in a few weeks. So if you get an email from me asking for your mailing address get ready!!!

It certainly is all about building relationships. But it’s a very tricky thing since I only have about seven months to build new relationships here before I hope to move. I HAVE to truly view people through the lens of wanting to build a long-term relationship with them. If I just see them as dollar signs and only show interest in myself and not interest in their world – they will see right through me. And rightly so.

The conference also just simply confirmed that my God is a missionary God. And that Christianity without missions is not really Christianity at all. Probably the best thing was just the opportunity to listen to real missionaries share their experiences. I received some great tips on how to take care of myself in the field and how to combat both physical AND spiritual attacks.

It was a very exciting week which took me one step closer to “the move.”

T-minus 7 months, 16 days, 11 hours, 25 minutes and 45 seconds…

Monday, April 09, 2007

New Wine Skins

So today I am heading up to Ridgecrest, North Carolina (just outside of Ashville) for a week to attend a missions conference called New Wine Skins. It will be attended by about 1,000 Anglicans from across the country…I think a mix of current missionaries, people who are trying to figure out if they are being called to be missionaries and just people in general who want their home churches to be mission-minded.

I am definitely looking forward to it. The actual conference is Wednesday – Sunday but the cool thing is that staff and current missionaries from my sending agency SAMS will be gathering today and tomorrow for a special retreat prior to the conference. It is also the 30th anniversary of the launch of SAMS-USA so on Wednesday night we will be having an anniversary dinner. This will be my first real opportunity to spend some time with the current long-term SAMS missionaries and I am really looking forward to getting to know them and building relationships with them.

I also have various meetings setup with different folks – some SAMS staff members, Bishop Lyons who is the Bishop over the diocese of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Loganville, and Kim and Mike Miller who are long-term SAMS missionaries living in Honduras.

The meeting with Kim and Mike will be cool because they currently live in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and they are looking for one or two long-term missionaries to join their team. They are particularly looking for people with a finance/business background. Their vision is to build a children’s home in a village called Chasnigua - just outside San Pedro Sula. And they are interested in talking to me about the vision that God has given them for the children of Honduras and to see if I might consider visiting Honduras in addition to Bolivia this summer during my placement trip.

Until recently, Bolivia has been my main focus but this potential opportunity in Honduras is one that I am definitely going to explore. Please just pray for me as I continue to ask God to lead me where He needs me the most.

I will post a conference recap when I get back. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Friend-raising NOT fund-raising.

It’s an interesting concept and the title of the book I just finished reading. This is one of the books SAMS gave me to read as I begin the process of building what we like to call a missionary support team.

It could be very easy for money to become my main goal during these next eight months as I prepare to move to South America. And I can see how that could happen because I need money. And if I don’t get the support I need it will be kinda difficult to move.

But the basic idea of this book is that relationships are more important than money. Friends are more important than money. I think they are telling me something like the moment that my friends become dollar signs instead of just friends that’s not cool.

I can definitely see the temptation to manipulate. The temptation to ONLY contact someone and communicate with someone when they send me a contribution.

This is a really good lesson to learn now. And I need this thought at the forefront of my mind throughout this process. The thought that MY financial needs are met as a by-product, not as the goal. And that any time there is only giving or only receiving in a relationship, it is unhealthy.

Can I really get to the place where I genuinely say “I don’t care whether they support me or not. I just want to love them.” Can I build a lifestyle of caring for people more as friends than as sources of funding?

Some other major themes of the book or “pillars of wisdom” suggested are generosity and the idea that my own generosity has a way of breeding generosity in others. Something about it being hard for me to prosper in ministry if MY heart is pinched.

Also communication of course is very important. To let people know how much they mean to me and to inform people of what is going on without imposing undue obligation or pressure.

And prayer because I don’t believe that I can make it day to day on human effort alone.

So that being said, if you could all just email your credit card number, expiration date and that three digit code on the back of the card to that would be great.