Monday, April 28, 2014

Eunice Ko: Blessed in Guatemala

Eunice Ko is known for her exuberance and un-ceasing encouragement.  She actually had some trouble raising the funds to go on the Guatemala trip, and for a few days, I really didn't think she was going to make it!  I was bummed about that, not just for her sake, but because I knew what an encouragement she would be to everyone else on the trip!  (Eunice is in the back)

She wrote an email to friends and supporters and I asked her if I could post some of what she said.  

Psalm 27:13 says "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."  That verse really stuck out to Eunice as she was preparing to head to Guatemala.  

She writes: "On our first day in Guatemala our team worked on pouring a concrete roof for the Hope Renewed Bakery. For this project all of the Hope Renewed scholarship students were required to volunteer so I got to make a lot of Guatemalan friends! This was the day I got to meet Jacqueline! She lives in the ghetto but God has allowed her to get into (arguably) the most competitive medical school in Central and South America! When Jacqueline was younger, she had cancer and almost died but her mother. who is an amazing woman of God, believed that God would heal her! Because of all the time she spend in the hospital as a child, Jacqueline decided that she wanted to be a doctor despite the impossibility of her circumstances! She was rejected from medical school twice but when her mom prayed, God showed her a green light and she encouraged Jaqueline to apply one more time. Now she is a third year medical school student with a lot of struggles, but God is ministering to her through all of it!"

Praying and ministering with Jaqueline was a true highlight of the trip for Eunice.  

"We also got to visit the women's prison where we listened to testimonies and we got to pray for the women. It was funny to realize that all prisoners are the same as us. Some of the women are charged with murder and some are charged with laundering, but every woman in the prison was just looking for God and so open to receiving His love. 
There is a separate area in the prison where gang members are isolated so that they don't hurt other people or hurt rival gang members."  

The Guatemala  team was blessed to meet one former gang member who came to know Jesus while she was in prison.  Today she ministers to the other inmates and has been able to see over 100 people put their faith in Christ.   

Our Cru team was able to spend  3 days at a girls orphanage.  

Montezuma's revenge was unyielding and most of the students did get sick at one time or another.  Eunice was grateful for the chance to not only serve the Guatemalans, but to grow closer to the team thru service as the week went on.   

Eunice  wrote "Although our time in Guatemala was brief, it was such a great blessing to love people and watch God moving in the hearts of Guatemalans and my teammates!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Brian Green is NOT Normal!

Senior Brian Green is very unusual.  The things that he does are not normal; they are not typical, they are supernatural.
James 5:16 says “confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”  Brian does that.  A couple of months ago, he felt prompted to pick up the phone and call his dad specifically to confess some sin.  He had talked with his parents about many trials and temptations, but he decided it would be a good idea to call his dad and really let him in; to tell him ‘the whole story’ related to a specific issue in his life.   

John Owen once said: “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you”   Brian Green is a man who steps out with boldness and exposes sin to the light; where it dies!   Normal people don't confess their sins to their friends. They don't open up to their community group. Normal people don't call their dad and confess sin to their family!  Brian Green is not normal.

Brian can only do this stuff because he really loves Jesus!   He got involved in Cru during his freshman year.  Edgar Lei and I were leading a freshman small group and he came out very early on.  Brian would say that although he had a Christian background, college is where he really came to understand what it means to live in relationship with Christ.

Brian can be very outgoing and funny.  He cracks people up when he speaks in various accents –imitating people from around the world.  Brian is very dependable and smart, but I am certain that when people think of Brian the first thing that comes to their mind is his gracious, compassionate nature.   The way that he treats others is so kind and so helpful that they immediately feel loved. 

When he’s part of a small group, Brian has a real gift of helping others to be more authentic.  He leads others to a place of vulnerability.   He does this by sharing openly about his life and about his sin in a way that helps others to actually feel the safety and warmth of God’s grace. His openness enables others to connect with the truth of the gospel in a way that is quite remarkable.   Brian has grown a lot during college and that has a lot to do with his humility.  He is unassuming when he has a question; he's honest about what he knows or what he doesn't know.

 In our ministry, we talk about the Good News of Jesus Christ transforming Cornell.  We really believe that when the love of Christ is impacting every student, this place will be better!   We are striving to proclaim the gospel and make disciples who live out their faith in a way that really changes and blesses the world!  So how does that look on the ground? 

Recently, Brian brought truth and grace into his engineering project work group.  There was a bunch of “drama” in his group and they had become marked by relational tension, back-biting, and gossip.  Working together was miserable and it was all basically fueled by competition and selfish ambition.   The group was not performing as well as they could have been, but rather than pulling together and encouraging one another, everybody got irritated and started blame-shifting!  Nothing new under the sun.  (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

In a normal group, that would probably just continue until the end of the year.  But as I’ve mentioned already; Brian Green is not normal.  For Brian the idea of bringing sin into the light is not a theory; it has become a life habit.  So one day, he decided to bless his group in a way that only a Jesus follower could.   

It was not easy, but with trademark gentleness buttressed with Spirit empowered conviction Brian spoke into the messiness of his group.  Before they started their homework he said: “Hey guys, I think we should talk about our group here.”  You could have cut the awkward silence with a chainsaw!   He proceeded then, to verbalize that which everybody already knew was true –that there was a lot of tension in their group.  And then he uncovered the sinful root.  He did this by confessing his own faults.  He talked about his own frustration and then apologized for the ways in which he himself had been blaming and condescending towards others –both overtly and in his heart.  He asked for forgiveness.  Then he asked if anyone else wanted to express their feelings.  People were reluctant to open up as boldly, but in the end, the air was clear.  The fire of gossip had been doused.   The group was better!  

That study group stopped being so horrible because of Brian’s faith in Jesus.  He brought redemptive blessing to that work team.  And in short, it was because he understood that God loves him unconditionally that he was able to risk looking like an idiot and being ostracized by his team-mates for making things more awkward!  Additionally, it was by resting in the grace of God and understanding His  power that he was able to be courageous and not shrink back from what needed to be done.    Knowing the compassion of God enabled him to proceed with hopefulness that God would use his actions to make his group better.  Understanding God’s passion for loving reconciliation gave him a vision for how much better his group could be! 

Brian would be the first to tell you that what he did was scary!  But I’ve seen Brian move through his fear with faith many times!   He’s been a strong and stable leadership presence in Cru at Cornell for almost 4 years now.  He’s helped lead small groups and gone on numerous short term mission trips!

We will definitely miss him when he rolls, but I know that Clark Construction will be blessed to have him.  As Christ’s love pours thru him, they will be blessed. 

Brian was with me in Haiti over Spring Break.  He’s actually served with Cru on three separate trips to Haiti –including a Summer Project.