Thursday, July 2, 2015

When God Gives You Both

I was this. close. to meeting [Esperanza] in the summer of 2014, but God had other plans. However, I'm convinced that travelling to Guatemala was postponed, not cancelled. 

That is what I have written next to the picture of my Guatemalan Compassion sister, Esperanza, on the Compassion International page that lives up there on the pages bar of this blog.

I had an amazing summer last year. It was something only God could orchestrate, and that is evident by the fact that my summer 2014 looked very different in Spring 2014 than it ended up turning out.

I had planned to spend a month in Guatemala with Mennonite Central Committee. And when God took that away (in favour of something I never could've imagined at the time) with a phone call from the team leader stating not enough people had signed up for the trip for us to be able to go, well... I'd be lying if I said I wasn't devastated.

But you know, God is good and he gives good gifts, and it turns out He wasn't saying no to Guatemala, just simply - wait.

Wait one year, to be exact.

And a year later, the entire family will be on an airplane to Guatemala in late July, off to meet Esperanza.

Stoked? Uh, yes.

So there it is... We're going on an adventure to Guatemala.

Pray for us - mainly that I don't say anything super stupid in my (extremely) limited Spanish... I'm not as good as I think I am. ;)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Introducing... True Story: What God Wants Us To Do About Poverty

  
It's for real for real in my hands!

I joke that at one moment, a wonderful member of Compassion Canada's creative team was emailing me about getting my feedback on a youth curriculum they were producing, and the next moment, I was on a plane to film it.

But this whirlwind has kind of felt like that.

"Did that happen? Did we really produce a youth curriculum?" That's the question the team leader and I laugh over last Saturday.

It happened... and by no fault of our own, really. 

Only God could do something like this.

It is with great joy that I blog-introduce you to...
True Story: What God Wants Us To Do About Poverty.

Here are 7 quick facts about True Story:

1. It is six sessions, including a serving-together opportunity for Week 5.

2. It was filmed over 11 days in 2 countries - Canada and the Philippines.

A photo posted by Allan Spiers (@allanspiers) on

A photo posted by Allan Spiers (@allanspiers) on

3. Over that period, I delivered 6 scripts.

4. The Week 5 script was done in partnership with our recently-graduated LDP student - Rechelle!

A photo posted by @iamcurtanderson on

5. True Story is way, way, WAY more than just videos - that leaders' guide pictured above includes activity ideas, teaching notes, Bible readings, small group questions, Identify with Poverty challenges for students and leaders to engage in at home each week, prayer guides, and lots of tips and support for youth pastors, facilitators, and leaders.

6. True Story is entirely FREE. Compassion truly has a heart for reaching youth through the local church, both in the developing world and here at home, which is why True Story is Compassion's gift to the Church.

7. True Story is all available online, and hard copies can be requested off the website, too... www.compassion.ca/truestory.

I personally learned so much about poverty from hosting this curriculum, and my prayer is that youth across the country and across the globe will be impacted by the message of True Story


Thinking about poverty and seeing it through God's eyes changes your perspective.

- True Story - Week 6

My generation is one that is going to deeply impact this world - I have no doubt about that. But it's so easy for us to start with a burning passion that quickly goes out when we realize how overwhelming the brokenness of this world is.

True Story's message speaks to that superhero tendency of my generation and reminds us that our Saviour has already overcome this world... It is a blessing that we get to be a part of that. 

Brokenness seems a lot less overwhelming when we realize that we serve a God that has had a redeeming restoration plan going long before we were ever involved - and that is the Gospel.


Our world is broken... Things are not the way they should be. But we have a God that loves us. One who made a way to fix this mess and make things right again.
- True Story - Promo


When you address poverty from that perspective, it becomes a lot easier to join in and partner with this loving God who simply invites us to trust him enough to say yes to our part in this bigger story of redemption. 


How can we use what God has given us to serve our communities?
- True Story - Week 4

As a Canadian teen, I am so excited about True Story. I hope you'll join me in praying as this curriculum begins to land in youth groups - that the Holy Spirit would move in powerful ways, and that youth everywhere would begin to say yes to God's invitation to serve the least of these...

...until all those daily yeses become a lifestyle of compassion and justice. 




#TrueStorySeries
www.compassion.ca/TrueStory

Sunday, May 10, 2015

To Mamas Everywhere -

I've seen the scene play out many times.

You're chatting with me or that adorable, kind, genius not-so-little brother of mine.

I might be telling you about Wilmington or True Story and maybe he's telling you about how all these little kids crammed into this tiny house in one of the most underdeveloped parts of the Philippines to watch him solve a Rubik's Cube.



And after a few minutes of conversation, you'll turn to our Mama who's most likely close by and you'll say those words that will make that Mama of ours squirm a little -

"You did good raising these two."

And I'll smile and nod because you're right - she's one great Mama and I'm so thankful she's my Mama.

But I know what inevitably comes next. She'll smile and open her mouth to respond and through these few short words, you'll see what makes her such a great Mama.

"No, their Heavenly Father did good. It's only by His grace."

My mama always tells me she doesn't want to be special. Yet I could solve world hunger if I had a dime for every time someone asked her how she does it.

And she doesn't know how to answer because she really doesn't think there's anything special about the way she does the whole Mom thing. It's simply in her blood. But I get it, there is something incredibly special about my mama.

I know it is not normal that her two kids spend their days off driving to the inner city to hang out at a UrbanPromise Rubik's Cube Club or that we collectively sponsor 3 kids through Compassion Canada.

And my mama has been such a huge part of why that is.

Why? Because...

She sacrificed so much to be our full-time mama. Every kid says that. But for real - after working her butt off for 5 years to earn her Bachelor's of Landscape Architecture, she never pursued a career as an Architect in order to be a Mother. In this climb-the-ladder world, I don't know too many people who are selfless enough to give up their entire career for even their children. But being able to come home for lunch until I was 14, knowing my mama would be home after school after a particularly rough day, or always letting her be the first one to know about my greatest accomplishments from the day made me the woman I am today.

She taught us by example. She never asked us to give something away that we hadn't seen her give before. She conquers her fears, rides victory and losses, gives and receives with a grace and posture that inspires and informs so much of the way I carry myself today. She said yes when I begged and begged for a little Compassion International sister, so how could I say no when the opportunity came for me to sponsor my own little girl? She always brought us along when serving at church or in the community, because she wanted us to see and be involved from a very young age.

She expected excellence from us. No, not perfection. But excellence. A performance that was our best - one that we could be proud of. On a similar note, she expected us to be generous. To whom much is given much is required, and my mama expected us to give of our money, time and lives to the least of these, because she knew that's where we would find our greatest joy.

Most importantly, she knew that the best possible parent we could ever have would be our Heavenly Father. At the end of the day, none of these great parenting decisions meant anything if she didn't know that ultimately, we are God's children. It all comes down to grace, she always says. And that, friend, is what truly makes her a great mama.

And you know something else about my mama? She wishes that every mama could have kids who spend their time and money in unusual ways like hers, so that the way she and her children live are no longer unusual.

And I think that's why she's so disturbed by those questions or comments of "How did you do it?" 

Because she does not want to be extraordinary.

So, to all you wonderful, beautiful mamas out there, on this day that celebrates YOU, can I encourage you to be extraordinary?

It will take courage, but simply bringing life into this world is courageous, so we all know that mamas possess the courage already.

It will take sacrifice, but I know that you would give anything for your children.

It will take trust in a God who loves your children more than you ever could, but I truly believe that you will find even greater peace in giving it up to Him.

It will be the hardest thing ever because (trust me, I've lived this first-hand) us kids are so darn stubborn sometimes...

But I believe you can raise your kids to be great.

But more importantly - I believe their Heavenly Father will. 

And I pray that you would have the power to truly and deeply believe that, at the very core of who you are as not only a mother, but as the beautiful, courageous woman of God that you are.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wilmington, Take 3

Hi, blog. I think I'll just save the bytes and skip the whole apology for the dust everywhere and just dust off this little corner right here and place this little update about my trip to Wilmington down. However, I'll put a little plug in that my Twitter & Instagram are far less dusty, for anyone interested in 140 character and/or snapshot updates on a more regular basis. But for right now, I'm still blown away by how Wilmington blew me away again... 

The city of Wilmington, Delaware never ceases to amaze me.

I didn't see anything new during my latest trip to Wilmington to work with UrbanPromise - my third trip. Nothing groundbreaking. I tell stories about Wilmington and they sound repetitive, same old, I've-heard-this-one-before.

And maybe that is the most beautiful thing of all.

It's been 4 years since I first stumbled upon this Kingdom-community known as UrbanPromise Wilmington. And 4 years later, they're still the same passionate, world changing Jesus-lovers that inspired me and changed my life back in Grade 9.

Yes, they're moved by Christ-like compassion, hope, and love. But what makes this community different from every other spark of passionate action for social justice is their Christ-like perseverance.

When the going gets tough, it's not "Well, we tried." It's "We're gonna get through this. Together. Because we're a family. We're the Body of Christ."

Guys, I'm just gonna skip the tip-toe politically correct business and say that it's been an especially tough year for at-risk minority youth in American inner cities. The streets of America seem especially soaked with the blood of black youth this year. Race relations, black violence - this is all real stuff all the time, and maybe it's because I'm older or maybe not, but there was a new level of tension in the air this year.

And this trip was a reality check for this girl from the Canadian suburbs, let me tell you. Because there's shaking my head at the latest on CP24 from Ferguson, and then there's sitting in a room while a teenager from Wilmington says he's literally afraid to take his little brother outside sometimes.

Because there's retweeting something social-justicey, and then there's the community at UrbanPromise Wilmington that is passionately and tirelessly working together against the grain of this broken culture day in and day out.

"What's the biggest challenge facing youth in your city?"

All three of those teenagers said the exact same thing - "Violence." "Violence." "Violence."

It runs so deep. And even though the stories are same-old, may we never take lightly the absolutely heart-wrenching, world-shaking, holy Kingdom-work that the UrbanPromise community is doing with a Christ-like hope and perseverance - kids, youth, interns, and staff alike.

I think we like quick in this culture, wouldn't you say so? Quick results, quick answers, quick LTE data.

While my generation has the power to change the world with our quick advancements, what's going to kill us is our restlessness. Our inability to stick around long enough to see the really beautiful deep stuff take root. The best stuff - hope, love, reconciliation - that stuff takes time to grow.

The UrbanPromise Wilmington community has stuck around. Beauty like that doesn't just happen. It requires trust. It requires perseverance.

And I know I'm guilty of restlessness. But my week in Wilmington taught me that there is beauty in staying, because our Father knows exactly where He needs us to be -

And personally? There's no place I'd rather be.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Wilmington Again

I owe this blog an update, I know.

This blog and I will have a good, cozy catch up soon, but it's going to have to wait at least a week... because I'm tapping out this quick little note to say...

I'm going back to UrbanPromise Wilmington again on a compassion trip with my youth group... tomorrow

Friends, I am beyond excited. Could I just ask you two favours?

Pray for me & the team. Some of my prayer notes from previous trips to Wilmington would still apply... Find those here and here.

Pray for my family as I leave them behind on their own compassion mission right here at home... Read about that on my mama's blog here. I look forward to joining back up with this compassion team when I come back home on Saturday.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for prayers. They give strength and breathe life in remarkable, world-shaking, holy ways.



Wilmington 2012:
Shining In A City Called Wilmington
3 More Sleeps
Wilmington

Wilmington 2013:
Wilmington, Take 2
Stories from Wilmington: Comfort & Discomfort
Stories from Wilmington: You Don't Choose Where You Were Born
Stories from Wilmington: Because It's More Than Just A Job

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The World In Which I Get To Be An Adult

Boy, it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks.

I found out I was accepted to the University of Toronto's International Development Studies, Co-op program on a Thursday. I celebrated 18 years of life the next day, Friday, with sweet girlfriends and a Frozen birthday party fit for a 4-year-old.

I turned 18 - adult age, for real - the next Wednesday.

And you know what? Until Tuesday, my birthday eve, I was totally unaware and unrelenting to the fact that, on that Sunday after my birthday party, ISIS had beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians.

And this is the world I get to be an adult in. 

A world where teenagers flee their home country, leaving their family and everything familiar behind to run from persecution, torture or death.

A world where teenagers sleep on the streets, far away from a home or a family.

A world where teenagers feel helpless to do anything about everything... They know their peers are suffering all over the world, but they just don't know what to do about it.

Happy Birthday, me - this is the world you get to be an adult in.

Oh, but wait - and lean in close for this part, because this is where it gets good...

This is also the world I get to be an adult in:



A world where I get to celebrate my birthday on Friday, then celebrate the birthday of two refugee youth at Matthew House on Saturday. And my heart could almost burst at the loving community of Christ that is surrounding these two after the most tumultuous year.


A world where I get to lead a workshop at my school about youth homelessness, encouraging fellow students to get informed and take action.

A world where my beautiful friends gift me with donations to The Refuge for my birthday.

A world where I get to watch my face flash big across a screen at a youth conference, my voice telling this room full of my peers that "We have a God who loves us. One who made a way to fix this mess and make things right again." 




And then I get three. whole. minutes. to tell these unsuspecting world-changers that they have the power to do something for their peers living in extreme poverty by sponsoring a Compassion child. And can I admit something? I came off that stage frowning, but that girl that came up to me after with "I love what you said." on her lips? She made my weekend.


A world where I get to study International Development at the top university in the country on a fancy scholarship, and my heart just wants to shout it - this world is full of crazy amounts of grace if you look just beyond the brokenness.

Because yes. This world I get to be an adult in is so. so. so. broken. Just ask Kayla Mueller. Or those 21 Christians.

But oh yes, is there ever wild amounts of amazing grace in this world, too.

I once said that we don't get to choose the world that we're born into.

But I do believe that we get to choose the world that we live in.

May we always. always. always. choose the world where we can take heart, for the world we have chosen is already overcome by the Man that hung on the cross. The Man who overcame, is overcoming and will overcome this world with salvation, peace, hope, light and love.

And may we always declare that truth with our words and our lives... We are people of the cross - people who live saved and freed, stand for peace, believe in hope, shine brightly, and love radically with a risky, take-up-your-cross type of love.



Monday, January 26, 2015

Embracing His Heart

I'm done with this whole "Jesus lives in my heart" deal.

At four-years old, I asked Jesus to come a live in my heart, but I am so over that.

Now before you call my youth pastor to report another young person running from Christianity, just hold up and hear me out for a second.

Rather than Jesus living in my heart, I want to live in His.

I am so over a Christian culture where Jesus comes to live in our hearts - but dude, like, keep your feet off my heart's coffee table, OK? And, yeah, the guest bed is in the basement.

Make yourself at home (but please stay out of my bedroom), fair trade(-ish) coffee's in the coffeepot, here's the wifi password, and I'll see you when I get back from Function/Activity/Meeting No. 24573290.

Huh?

No way. That is not what pursuing, embracing, living like Jesus is about. 

We have to stop just fitting Jesus into our hearts, lives, agendas, and start living out His heart.

We're ok with the whole Christian deal, as long as Jesus moves into our lives. But what if we abandoned it all to live in the middle of His heart?

Forget about moving Him into the guest bed in the basement of our hearts and just giving Him Sundays... Imagine what could happen if we literally pulled out our entire, beating, ugly, bleeding hearts, held them out to the One who bled for us and said "Here - do what you will with this awful mess."

I'm gonna take a wild guess here and say it would be beautifully ravaging... ravaging-ly beautiful.

OK... So maybe I'm not totally over this Jesus lives in my heart thing. 

But let's be Kingdom-people who live for more than that.

Let's literally surrender our entire hearts to Jesus - give up the whole entire thing and tell Him to take. it. away.

We want to know His heart.

Let's surrender our entire bleeding, beating hearts to the One who bled for us and really mean it -

Take me to the middle of Your heart.

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