Friday, December 26, 2008

STINT Survey and the Christmas Conference

I've been thinking alot about you stinters scattered around the world. I know that the Christmas season is often a great time for sharing the hope that you have in Jesus, and I pray that you have seen God revealing Himself to friends that you have been making over the past weeks and months.

I'm sure you are all praying as well for the 10,000+ students who are attending Christmas Conferences beginning tomorrow. Did you know the Bridges Conference has over 800 international students attending, their largest conference ever. Imagine the impact of that as they return to their campuses, and to their nations in the years ahead.

As you pray for all of those who are attending conferences, I know you are hopeful that God will touch the hearts of hundreds and thousands of students with a passion for God and His heart for the nations. You might remember that the first night of the Briefing Conference I shared about Moses and his encounter with God in the burning bush. Well, your surveys about why you came on STINT were evidence of the reality of the burning bush experiences of which you shared that night. 93% of you said that one of the most important factors in deciding to come on STINT was hearing from God in His word and prayer. A friend's counsel, a summer project trip, and vision for your campuses' partnership location were all very significant as well.

It seems to me that the Christmas and Winter conference environment is where a lot of these factors intersect. Meeting with God, hearing about the mission, encouragement from friends, and a chance to go overseas for a summer are all part of the conference environment.

But here is what the stint survey also revealed; only about 5% of you made the decision to STINT while at the conference. 28% made that decision after the conference in January and February. At first I was surprised, but then I realize how good this really is. It shows a reflective process is occurring. There is also the fact that 65% of you said the challenge of raising support was one of your biggest barriers to stinting. The specter of raising $40,000 in 3 months tends to cause one to check a few times if that was really God they heard in the bush, or was it just passing emotionalism.

I pass this along though so that we put our hope in God for what He wants to do in raising up additional stinters. No doubt your experience is proving what Jesus told his disciples 2000 years ago: "the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few." Wherever you are on STINT, and regardless of the current results, one message always cries out: We Need More Help!

Jesus' solution was to "pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into His Harvest." Put into the example of Moses from Exodus, let's pray that 10,000 students will be "turn aside" to see, listen to, and respond to God as He reveals Himself, and His heart for each one of them to be fulfilled in His Kingdom purpose for their lives. If that happens, I'm sure God will call many to labor alongside of you as STINTers this coming year. (And the rest who don't can support you!)

And my prayer for you is that you will experience God's refreshing touch upon your life in the days ahead, with hope in your heart for how He wants to work in your life this coming year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lessons from the Wild II (Devotion)

The rhino, as any fan of The Gods must be Crazy, knows is the self-appointed fire prevention officer of the jungle.   But maybe there are a few facts of the Rhinoceros that you might not be aware of and can apply to live & ministry on STINT. 

A group of Rhinos is called a crash.  The reason is because a Rhino runs 30 miles an hour but can only see 30 feet in front of them.  (Props to Erwin McManus for this insight.) This propensity for running into things is perhaps why God created Rhinos with thick skin and gave them one or two horns depending on the species.  

Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:18  says, 'we fix our eyes on what is unseen rather than what we can see' and in the next chapter adds 'we live by faith and not by sight'.  What if we charged through life like Paul and his buddies, like a crash of Rhinos - full force, break-neck speed, by faith, not worrying about what we can see with our limited eyesight?   We don't have a horn and we're not pachyderms (though some of us are thick-skinned & some thick-sculled) but we have the same promise that enabled Paul to live & minister this way.  It's a promise of the coming resurrection; a promise that while this measly aging body will waste away its not the end.  

We can be pressed down but we are not crushed.  We can be perplexed but we are never in despair.  We might be persecuted but we will not be abandoned.  We possibly could be struck down but we will not be destroyed.  Life, eternal life, real life is guaranteed so we can charge ahead like Rhinos - full of faith.

Another little tidbit about Rhinos is their symbiotic relationship with the oxpecker.  The oxpecker feeds off of parasites that live on the Rhino.  And it seems like they get the best of them because they get a little of the Rhino's blood when they remove ticks or whatnot.  But with the Rhino's myopia, he knows that danger is near when the oxpeckers fly away.  (The rhino also has amazing sense of smell and hearing but those facts blur my analogy so ignore them.) 

It's teamwork in action.  Where the Rhino is limited, the oxpecker is strong.  When the Rhino might not even know there are little guys beneath the thick skin slowing sucking life away, the oxpecker shows up for a groom and a snack.  For the Rhino, while sacrificing a little blood in the process, this relationship saves his hide.  For the oxpecker he gets lunch and a free wild ride.

 In the same way of God's created order in the wild, He has placed you together as a team for a purpose.  It's no accident you are together. Everyone has a role.  Sometimes the role is defined: team leader, person who handles finances, team prayer leader, buyer of snacks for socials, etc.  But sometimes the roles are undefined.  Maybe one of you is the team encourager speaking life into others.  Perhaps you are the one God has gifted with humor who brings light moments to heavy ones.  Perhaps you are the team servant joyfully serving others and not wanting to draw attention to yourself. Maybe you're 'the team mom' caring for others when they are sick or 'big brother' looking out for others and making sure folks are safe.

Do you really believe that God has uniquely made everyone on your team and brought you together for a purpose?  Everyone!   Do you just accept each other's differences or do you appreciate them?  Or maybe you are just still back at the stage of being aware that you are not alike or acknowledging these differences but just trying to tolerate one another.  How often do you say, "God I am so thankful that this person is on my team and that you made them different than me.  They might even bug me at times but I need them... I need those who are thick-skinned.  I need the bloodsuckers, too.  I need every person on this team and they need me."   

We need each other to forge ahead by faith as a crash of Rhinos.

Another Resource

There is a new on-line resource for evangelistic materials in several languages.  It's Gospel Translations and already has articles in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, etc.  It's set up like a wiki so if your translation skills are worthy you can add to the tool or maybe a student you are discipling would like to contribute.