Under a Week

I’m leaving for Africa in under a week.

As you might be able to perceive, this has caused somewhat of an explosion of different emotions. Anticipation, anxiety, impatience, excitement…it’s all popping up like Mexican jumping beans. I feel simultaneously totally ready and completely unprepared.

I’ve been loading up the Kindle with books, packing away my fuzzy travel blanket, ensuring that I have my passport and immunization records, selecting the clothes I’ll be wearing for those three weeks, etc. I’m also trying to forget the sheer number of hours I’ll be stuck in a 2×4 inch airplane seat with limited physical or mental stimulation. Sadly, “Beam me down to Africa, Scotty!” is still many years in the future.

I have been told that there will be Wi-fi at the guesthouse where I will be staying, which means I will have the ability to continue posting. My prayer is that I will be able to put into words what I experience to keep those of you who are interested updated and as a reminder for myself when my memory begins to fade.

For those of you who have no clue what’s happening, I’ll give you the quick version: I leave for Malawi on August 4th as part of a mission trip with four others to teach VBS (Vacation Bible School) to three different groups of children in three different villages over the course of three weeks. The mission is handled by WELS Kingdom Workers.

Although I can’t foresee what Africa will do to me, my writing form and style will most likely change with the different conditions, so just a heads-up that my next several posts may not possess the cocktail of funny, intriguing, and spiritually inspiring that I usually do my best to serve up.

This is an incredible opportunity and I can’t wait to just get there and begin. Thank you to everyone from family members to anonymous donors for your love and support. God, all I can do is hand it over to you and go along for the ride.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” – Romans 10:14 NLT

Voice for the Voiceless

Murder is wrong.

You know, that’s not something you ever envision yourself having to say. You take it as one of the unspoken (well, not now that I’ve said it) truths of humanity: You don’t touch people’s butts, you don’t pick your friend’s nose, and you don’t murder.

Yet it just so happens that 22% of babies have been legally murdered since 1973. This probably brings up emotions of shock, horror, and revulsion. You wonder who on earth would ever kill a baby, those wonderful miracles of life that have an infinite pool of potential and so clearly show what love and care has been lavished on every single one of us. But as soon as you slap the name “abortion” on the murder of human beings, it is legal and can be done without fear of serious repercussion.

Because there is no doubt about it: the babies that are being aborted are alive. They are not just cells. At just a month old, they are an embryo that is forming organs and body parts that distinguish them as human. At two months, they are the size of a kidney bean and are moving around constantly with little distinct webby fingers. Do not try and convince me for a second that these are not beautiful creations that must be protected, respected, and taken care of. According to the Planned Parenthood website, the latest you can legally get an abortion is 24 weeks. Do you know what the baby looks like when they are 24 weeks old? They have lungs and skin and tastebuds and eyelids and even teensy tiny eyebrows.

And they are beimg murdered. In fact, the number of babies that are killed each year is roughly equal to the amount of American military deaths that have happened in all of the wars that the United States have ever been involved in. If that doesn’t shoot ice through your veins, I don’t know what to say to you.

Actually, I do. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Or Psalm 139:13-14; “For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it full well.” There are many other verses I could bring up that display the sanctity of life and just how precious it is. It is not something to be thrown around and mistreated. God, the ultimate inventor and creator, carefully put together every single one of us with a purpose, a plan, and a heart full of love. Do not destroy His works.

All this begs the question, Why should I care? We’re considered official human beings. If someone were to intentionally kill us, it would be called murder, unlike other individuals I could and have mentioned.

Well, these babies have one way to communicate: A heartbeat. That heartbeat is enough to give us something to rebel against. Throughout history we see great men and women rise up whenever a great injustice is being committed and they, by the grace of God, overthrow the system to make things right. As people with a voice, it is our duty and our privilege to exist exactly at this time and in this place to stand up for the heartbeats that are being stifled every day.
I’m not sugarcoating this, as I assume has become apparent throughout. First, I’m not that kind of person. Like, at all. Second, this is something that cannot be shoved down into a nice tidy package with a red bow. These are raw facts that demand action from everyone.

For those who would like to get involved that are of my own age, there is a fantastic group of people called Voices for the Voiceless. They are based in Arizona and offer multiple options for high school and college-age people to help out by using their specific talents. You’re a writer? Painter? Photographer? Public speaker? Just a weirdo with a passion? Whatever it is, the movement could always use you. [Link: https://www.voicesforthevoiceless.org/]

22%, ladies and gentlemen. That is a battle worth waging, fighting, and winning.

Click Away

Has anyone else noticed that Facebook is slowly taking over all the websites on the entire Internet? Everywhere you go, whether you’re looking for a zucchini bread recipe or videos on how to perform open-heart surgery at home, you will find a little Facebook icon somewhere on the page. “Sign in with Facebook!” “Do you want to share your top score on ‘Life Waster 3000’ on Facebook?” “Invite Facebook friends?” The World Wide Web is saturated with Facebook. You can’t run away from it! It’s like the McDonalds of online media: Everywhere you turn, there it is.

Now imagine that for a whole week you cannot see anything about Facebook in your daily Internet explorations. No icons, no share buttons, and especially not visiting the Facebook website itself. This would be ridiculously difficult in this modern age! If you were to continue the online intake you currently have, there is a 99% chance that you are going to see something about Facebook. It’s unavoidable unless you take the greatest, most meticulous care in what websites you visit and how you act.

I’ve used Facebook as an illustration for the impurity that exists on the Internet. It is so easy to take a wrong turn and drop smack in the middle of something you never wanted to see. And if you go looking for it on purpose, it is assured that you will find it. And what with the inventions of incognito mode and the “delete history” button, no one has to know, right?

Being a Christian in the world we live in is full of temptations all on its own, but the Internet has opened up so many more opportunities for sin right inside of our homes. This is something to be aware of. Amazing things can be done through this unbelievable gift that God has given us. We can connect with people who are on the other side of the world. We can make Christian resources easily available to the general public by putting it up on a website. It is a tool to be taken advantage of.

Yet it is dangerous. We have become very comfortable with its existence and I believe that some of the rules we young people used to be held to before they could even touch the keys of the keyboard have been dismissed and faded. Keeping clear eyes, pure hearts, and retaining the ability to shut the computer down and walk away is a skill that needs to be called back. As children of God we cannot throw away grace for fleeting seconds of pleasure that a laptop can give us because it is simply not worth an eternity in hell.

So next time? Click away.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 NIVUK