Saturday, November 20, 2010

Radical thinking

As a church we have been reading a book called Radical by David Platt. Over the course of a couple of months we have read this book and for the first time things were revealed to us that we were previously blind to. One of those blind spots in our lives was our wastefulness. Another area was the Great Commission and how we are all called to go and share The Gospel with those who have not heard. I have heard The Great Commission numerous times in sermons and through my own reading, but it has never applied to me though. Radical is a book that once you read it and God reveals things to you, you are unable to un-read it or forget what you’ve learned. So be careful. It became glaringly obvious to Ronnie and me that WE have been called to go and share with others. Now that we know WE are called, we can’t not go! Through the reading of this book I am starting to understand what a fear of the Lord is. I’ve never feared God before, but I am beginning to understand what that means, and having been told by God that I am to go and tell others about Him, how can I now not go? I fear what my life might become or what I might miss if I am disobedient, or what other peoples’ lives might become if I do not go, and I fear the repercussions of someone going to hell because they needed me to tell them about God and I kept Him to myself. Also, I fear the blessings that I might miss out on because I didn’t do what I was asked to do. So this is what reading Radical is doing in our lives, and I told you about all of that to let you know what else is going on in our lives because we have started to be obedient in the small things. Because we are taking the first step in our obedience there are several new developments in our lives.

For awhile now water well drilling has been something I was interested in. I felt drawn to the idea of providing clean water to people who did not have access to clean water, and being from arid West Texas I appreciate water and am aware of the consequences of not having water. I have a background in agriculture and I’ve wondered at times why I went to school for so long and spent so much money to earn degrees in agriculture when anyone can tell you there is no money in production agriculture. I’ve wondered how I might use my education to give back. My dream is to ranch, but that’s hard to do without land or money. From time to time Ronnie and I would discuss ways to utilize my agricultural background to assist those that depend on agriculture to survive. Water is always at the top of the list of needs to be met when we discuss our ideas. We have developed an interest in drilling wells and Ronnie and I had even gone so far as to discuss how we might purchase an old drilling rig so we could start drilling wells. We had this idea of getting an old drilling rig, getting it to Africa, drilling wells, teaching the local peoples about irrigation, starting an orphanage, having a farm that provides food for the orphans and crops for income, livestock for food and income, initiate proper grazing practices by livestock, and eventually have an orphanage/farm/ranch where the orphans help in the raising of the livestock and cultivation of the crops and rather than being a burden to the village, the orphans could actually provide for the village. The orphans would feed the village! We didn’t have any of the details worked out, but we were just imagining at this point anyway. We talked about ways to make this a reality. We discussed our heart for orphans and how adoption might be something we look into one day. We began to think about spending some time in New York with Ronnie’s Uncle Kenny who drills water wells for a living. We are excited at the possibilities that exist and how our thinking is beginning to become more “radical.” And we see now that we are tremendously blessed and we have been blessed not so that our lives would be easy and comfortable but so that we can use the blessings we have received to bless others and to make much of Him who has blessed us. All of my education and life experiences have happened so that I might use my knowledge and abilities to be a blessing to someone else and in all things glorify God.

We continued to discuss and pray about all the ideas we were having regarding our future. Then one afternoon we ran into our friends, Todd and Bonnie Huckabee, and they told us about a young couple, Bud and Kimberly Huffman, who were operating an orphanage in Kenya and also about a ministry out of San Angelo that drills low-cost water wells. We felt that this conversation with the Huckabees was of a divine nature and not a mere coincidence, so we followed up on our two new leads and contacted both parties to see what would come of it. The water well drilling ministry is called Water for All International (WFA), and it is a ministry that offers low cost water wells to the rural poor and assists with meeting their physical needs of food, water, and shelter. WFA also develops relationships and meets their spiritual needs by sharing the Good News of Jesus in a culturally appropriate and sensitive way. After contacting WFA and corresponding with their staff I have been invited to attend their mini-course in March where I will get the opportunity to meet the WFA folks, learn about WFA and their drilling method, and see if this is where God is calling Ronnie and me to serve. Ronnie and I have felt for some time, and feel it more and more all the time, that we need to go and spread the Good News of Christ to those that have not heard, and we feel that for us it has to be through developing relationships and building credibility though our daily lives rather than just words. I see that we have been given this opportunity to be obedient and I feel anxiety when I think about what will be missed if we do not obey. We also feel very humbled that God wants to use the two of us to be a part of furthering His kingdom.

So for now we are planning to continue pursuing the opportunities that may exist with the Huffmans in Kenya, planning on taking the WFA mini-course in March, will continue to look at and pursue the possibility of working with WFA, and are heading to Guatemala in March to be a part of what God is doing through Toni Steere in the Casa Bernabe orphanage. We will continue to keep you posted on the wonderful developments in our lives.

Water for All International website
The Huffman’s blog

A blog by a couple who as part of Water for All’s ministry are moving to Uganda to live out what God has called them to do.

Toni Steere’s blog

Thursday, November 11, 2010

So what did we learn??

These last 30 something days have been a great journey for Colin and myself. To bring you up to speed, we have been conducting a 30 social experiment to get a perspective on what it is like to live on less than $2.00 a day. We did this because a huge percentage of the world's population are forced to live on this amount or less everyday. We got the opportunity to try this out, where much of the world has no other option. We decided to attempt this and see if we couldn't gain some perspective and allow our eyes to be opened to what others who are less fortunate deal with everyday. We have just opened to door and allowed God to move however He sees fit in our lives and He is doing so in a big HUGE way. But that is another whole story in itself. For now I just want to finish out our $2.00 a day living.

So what did we learn? Well the first thing is we learned that we can live on much less. We have a lot of luxuries! We may not always refer to stuff as luxuries, but if we were forced to choose between going hungry or make-up or have to do without food all-together - many things that were "necessities" would soon become luxuries we could do without. We saw through this 30 days of living on less that we could in fact live on much less than we do currently. But there are many different things that factor into this. Only because we live in this country and because we are so blessed was this even an option for us. Many people don't have the choice to do this kind of social experiment, they just have to live it. Also we were at an advantage due to the type of storage we have here in this part of the world. We can put things in air tight containers to keep things fresh, we can freeze meats and veggies, and keep other products in the fridge. We can run down to the store anytime we run out of something. We can buy products in any size container. Only because of those things were even able to attempt to walk in others' shoes. Just another reason why we feel so blessed to live where we do!

Another thing we learned is that it is really hard to actually gain a perspective on what it is like to live like much of the world when we are surrounded by such abundance and excess. It was hard to actually feel what it would be like to live on $2.oo a day or less because we didn't factor in other living expenses like fuel, transportation, clean drinking water, health care needs, our home, showers, electricity, clean clothes, heating/cooling, etc. Out $2.00 a day was just food, but for a huge percentage of the world's population $2.00 a day is probably for everything.

Another area that our eyes were opened to was just how wasteful Colin and I were. I heard while driving about a study conducted by an Arizona university on household waste. During this study they discovered that the average household in America throws away 15% of the food that is brought in. Colin and I were in that 15% range or even higher. Through the last 30 days we have been made aware of our wastefullness and are doing much better about eating leftovers and using all that we have in order to stretch it as far as we can.

This might not be a big thing, but we also found that we were eating healthier foods. No junk foods, no processed food, just homemade good-for-you stuff! We had already cut out soda or cokes (whatever you want to call it) and we also cut juice out of our diet. If you want to feel better...just try that! Cut out the sugar and chemicals that are in a 12oz can of soda for a few weeks and see just how much better you feel! And if you are wondering what on earth you are going to drink, try water. Shocker, I know! We drink a lot of water, and I can't stress the A LOT enough. We realized very soon into this experiment that when living on less than $2.00 a day a lot of extras such as snack foods, bottled water, and juices have to go. In this country we have abundant clean drinking water, but in many countries clean water isn't available. Another reason to be thankful!

One of the most important things that God did for us through this was He showed us where we could cut back in our spending and opened up an area in our finances where we will have more money to give! That in itself was worth the whole thing. We we know that we are blessed so that we can bless others. God has blessed us with all of the above so that we can free up money to help those who are not as fortunate and are needing a little help. Now how cool is that! Just a few months ago you would have heard Colin or I saying that we just can't seem to find anywhere in our budget to cut back in order to free up funds, but low and behold! We let God take control and look at what He has been able to do! It may not be millions or even thousands, but "The Lord was devoted to you and chose you, not because you were more numerous than all peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples." Deuteronomy 7:7 God wants to show how great He is through us! He wants to do awesome things with us to show just how wonderful and great he is!

Hopefully we were able to gain some perspective on what it is like to have to live on less than $2.00 a day. I do want to feel compassion for those less fortunate and not just sympathize but actually do something. I think God will use this experience to free up some of our finainces to allow us to give more, to open our eyes to the tremendous blessings we have received, to make us less wasteful and appreciate what we have, and maybe even prepare us for a situation where we get the opportunity to live with those who survive daily on less than what many of us spend on a cup of coffee. So in closing I am giving all the glory to God, it is only because of the blessings that He has given us that we are even able to write about our great journey with Him! What some may call radical, God calls obedience.