Archive for May, 2013

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Mountain Thoughts

May 27, 2013

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;

From where shall my help come?

 My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.”

 Psalm 121:1-2

Do you ever forget that we live surrounded by mountains? I can easily go through entire days without giving the nearby mountains a passing thought. I look only at what is immediately in front of me, the road, the street, the store, my work, my home…I dash around so preoccupied I can’t remember much about how I got from one place to the next.

The other day, Joel (my husband) and I were driving home from New Westminster. We had just finished visiting with a lovely couple. These grandparents are in the process of getting custody of their four grand-daughters who are aged 2 to 10 plus their other two grand-daughters who are 1 and 14! They are such a selfless hard-working pair. While their own children have forsaken their responsibilities to drink and do drugs, these two have cared for their six grand-daughters all the while praying for their own children to return to the right path. To top it all off, about a month ago, there was a fire in their rental house. What wasn’t damaged by smoke was stolen when their landlord failed to lock the house up after the fire. Still this couple is praising God! They are praising God that no one was hurt and that they have a new apartment to rent.

I was thinking about this couple as we crested Cariboo Hill coming down towards our house. The sun had just set leaving the pale pinkish light of dusk. The mountains were purple against the pearly sky and I was taken aback by the beauty of my surroundings. I lifted my eyes up to the hills and was astounded. As I took in the scene before me I wondered, when was the last time that I looked at the mountains and really appreciated the view…a few days? A few weeks?

Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you look up from your circumstances all the time to notice the beauty beyond. However, I wonder if the Psalmist wrote these words to remind himself to look up to the mountains. It was something he had to consciously choose: not to focus on the circumstances themselves but to look above. God made heaven and earth in all its glory. He made the North Shore mountains towering over the sea. Surely the problems of my day to day life are not too much for him to handle. Surely I can praise Him in any circumstance I face.

By Alison Wagler

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Christ, Cambodia and the Kozloffs

May 22, 2013

*This is a guest post from Mindy and Lyle Kozloff. They are serving as missionaries in Cambodia and we are glad to support their ministry and work as a church. This post explains some reasons why the Kozloff’s live and work in Cambodia. Enjoy!

So, why are we living and serving in Cambodia?

Is it because white people are the saviours of the developing world?

Is it because we have ‘so much to offer’ a nation recovering from genocide and war?

Is it because we want to share Christ with people who have never heard the gospel?

Honestly, one of the biggest reasons that we live in Cambodia is that we like it here

I have prayed this prayer for nearly my whole life: “Jesus, may the joys of my heart meet the needs of Your world.” For me, Cambodia is the place where my joy intersects with the needs of God’s world. I recognize this as a gift of grace, because many acknowledge that Cambodia is a difficult place to live. Of course there are daily challenges, like the unrelenting heat, not to mention the unending corruption and injustice. But for Lyle and me, cross-cultural living energizes and excites us. Learning to love the people of this nation has drawn our hearts closer to the heart of God.

My dad often marvels at the openness Cambodians have towards us. He says, “When I think about cross-cultural missions, I think about how I’d feel if someone came up to me speaking bad English, and THEN tried to share a foreign worldview or religion with me. I don’t know how open I’d be to that!” For better or for worse, most Cambodians are open to foreigners, especially Western ones. They patiently laugh when I make language mistakes, and strangers constantly invite me to sit down in their homes. (Admittedly, most of that is probably because I have a cute baby, not because I’m a foreigner.) I am well aware that my face and upbringing bear the marks of “rich privileged white person”. I am aware of what this has meant around the world throughout history – from colonialization to financial hand-outs to local churches looking a bit too much like American megachurches.

So we always try to start by listening to our friends and hearing their stories, long before we try to implement programs or save the world.

I think one of the reasons that I love Cambodia so much is that I didn’t hear its stories by reading books or listening to jaded expats talk about Cambodia. Rather, Cambodians told me about Cambodia. And I didn’t hear a single story of one demographic of Cambodians. I am close friends with middle-class university students, high class officials, moms in the slums, garment factory workers, ex-monks, radio DJs, and people who survived the worst of the Pol Pot regime. The stories I’ve heard are both heartbreaking and hopeful.

I believe in cross-cultural ministry because something very heaven-like happens when this mutual sharing of humanity occurs. We all need a ‘prophetic outsider’ to both listen to us process our world, but also to provide a different perspective and speak into some of our cultural blindspots. In Canada, my life was changed forever by my college roommate who happened to be a Korean ‘outsider’. My prayer is that I can be this ‘prophetic outsider’ for my Cambodian friends. It’s the things that we share in common – raising kids, going to work, living as spiritual beings with hopes and fears – that allow us to connect. From this connection, there is so much joy in learning about and sharing our differences, including our language, food, wealth, and faith.

Having said that, there are very practical and urgent needs here, and we work for an organization that does a really good job of addressing the needs of poverty, education, empowerment of locals, and sharing the gospel. (www.asianhope.org) But you know as well as I do that there are needs all over the world. My prayer is that the joys of YOUR heart will meet the needs of God’s world.