Friday, January 28, 2011

Jet Lagged, But Joy Filled!

Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. Habakkuk 1:5

One of the detriments of our culture with all our created amusements is that we are way too easily “amazed.” In his book, The Weight of Glory, CS Lewis comments:

“Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

In pondering my experience these past two weeks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the only word that captures the experience is the word amazing. While it will take a long time to process this trip, let me summarize it by telling you that the Kingdom of God is alive and well and advancing in the Congo. This reality exists not in spite of trials and persecutions, but because of trials and persecutions.

I witnessed in the Congolese a joy that is genuine and supernatural. I witnessed a hunger and desire to see God manifested in lives that have experienced very tragic oppression. I witnessed a value from the Congolese on the Word, worship, fellowship and outreach that humbled me. I saw the church, just years removed from civil war and rebel conflict, resilient and getting on its feet and on its mission to bring Christ to the Congo.

I also saw firsthand the return on investment from our giving through PCC. I toured hospitals and health clinics that we have invested in. I saw bikes used from micro-loans we helped established that are allowing people to take their produce to market and create economy in villages and families. I heard of how the orphanage we are investing in is growing, (sad news), and how each orphan, now numbering over 50, is clothed, fed and schooled so that they have a chance to make it as a Christ-centered adult. I looked into the eyes of and interacted with Pastor after Pastor who spoke of their hopes and dreams for God to use them in supernatural ways.

The team you sent from PCC -- Anthony Mejia, Joan Long, Ryan and Stephanie Hupfer -- were nothing short of all stars. Their joyful, daring and ambitious spirits, their hearts for the people of the Congo, their generous and lavish interacting with people, all made the trip a tremendously vivid experience. Joan and the Hupfers are still in the Congo, teaching English at a Ubangi Protestant University and will return Monday night. Let’s please continue to keep them in our prayers.

Amazing, isn’t it? Why are we surprised? When the church functions like the world-minded, Great-Commission-focused, Biblically-functioning community Jesus died to empower and create, it is nothing short of amazing!

In the coming weeks you will hear of an evening that we will have with pictures, video and more detailed stories to further explain all that God is doing through our partnership with the Covenant Church of the Congo.

This weekend, we will continue in our series We Are PCC looking at how we value Living the Word of God. Take some time and read up in Matthew 4:1-11 and I will see you on Sunday. I’ll be a bit jet lagged, but joy-filled to be together once again.