Hog the Blessings

This Summer I had the privilege of meeting a wonderful young pastor from India, named Rufus.  He’s very well educated, spoke beautiful English, had an infectious laugh and leads a very fruitful ministry to the Yanadi people, the poorest of the poor in India.  His father pastored a very successful church in metropolitan India when he felt called to take the gospel to the out caste in his land.  His father has passed on, and Rufus is now leading this great ministry.

In short, he takes the message of Jesus Christ to the poorest villages in India who have never heard the name of our Savior.  As people come to faith, he trains up men to become “evangelists” (church planters) who then take the gospel to the next village.  This vital ministry has planted over 200 fruitful churches among the Yanadis, and is seeing many come to faith in Jesus, it’s breathtaking.

Wanting to get in on the fun, I emailed Rufus this week to see if he has ever calculated how much it costs to train and support an evangelist, thinking maybe I would lend a hand with the finances.  Now don’t forget, “training” starts with teaching the men to read and write, memorizing big sections of the Bible, being trained in basic doctrine, teaching and preaching.  Rufus responded back with the exact numbers… he can train an evangelist for $40 and it costs $25 a month to fully support them in their work in the village!  I find this absolutely amazing, and highly motivational… not to mention very humbling.  These new converts sense God’s call in their lives, it is confirmed by Rufus and the newly planted church leadership and they commit themselves to service in one of the poorest cultures on our planet.  Rufus says the drop out rate is almost non existent, and the tenure of an evangelist is decades… amazing.

Right now he has 12 men who have qualified for training and they are waiting for the money to proceed.  For a mere $40 dollars I am able to pay for the training of an evangelist and for another $300 I am able to partner for a year keeping him fed, clothed, housed and equipped, amazing.  If you want a “piece of the action” contact me, I won’t hog all the blessings.

brett.gilchrist@gmail.com

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Boyhood Dreams Manhood Realities

Every kid has a “wish list” of things they want to own, my list revolved around wheels, guns and knives… no I was not a gangster wanna be.  I wanted a chrome lugged racing bike.  I still remember when Mark Henjum bought the first 10 speed bike I had ever laid eyes on, a Schwinn Varsity.  Prior to that I had always and only ridden an assortment of hand me down 24″ one speeds with handle bar grips in various states of disrepair or missing… I still have the scar on my face to prove it!  But Marks 10 speed changed my outlook.  I would bike to our little public library in Silverton Oregon, and read everything I could find on racing bikes.  It became clear, it had to have a lugged frame and Campy components… chrome lugs would be over the top, and frankly out of the question.

My second passion, was guns and knives… I fancied  myself a mountain man and spent hours reading Outdoor Life, Guns and Ammo and American Rifleman, I needed a Smith and Wesson Model 66 on my right hip and a Puma “Pal” on my left if I were going to survive the dangers of the Oregon wilderness.

I knew better than to suggest such extravagance for Christmas or Birthdays, I just resigned myself to dreaming not owning.  But things have changed, I am now in my 50’s with a little savings in the bank.  I can fulfill my childhood dreams, and I have. While lifestyles are relative, my wife and I have chosen to live with a fair degree of simplicity.  For me, this choice has allowed my boyhood dreams to live on in the man, making their occasional fulfillment a pleasure.  It struck me today as I was enjoying a beautiful ride along the McKenzie River on my fancy bike with the chrome lugs… keeping our wants and desires simple is abundantly freeing.  Obviously my thought is not a new thought, the Bible has commended this choice for centuries, admonishing us to be content with what we have, to be free from the love of money, to avoid the lusts of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.  But it is fun to be rewarded from time to time with a boyhood dream, chrome or not.  I’m still looking for that Puma “Pal”.

A Late Christmas Gift

In our short history as a church we have instituted a great tradition called Advent Conspiracy.  We did not come up with the idea, but have enjoyed participating.  In short we encourage the people of UFC to slow down and spend less money on “stuff” at Christmas and spend more time with those they love.  Then we all pool the money we did not spend and give that money to a good cause.  Last year we gave most of it to ministries in developing countries.  This year we have chosen to give a large portion of it to our local police department.  We have met with the Chief and his team and developed a “community partnership”… in essence we have purchased $8,000 worth of food, gas and hotel gift cards.  Eugene police officers will use their good judgment and distribute those cards to crime victims, innocent family members of criminals and anyone else they find in need.

This does at least 3 things.  First, it helps those in our community.  Second, it communicates to our police force that we support them and appreciate what they do and third, it allows our local law enforcement to be “givers of gifts” and get some well deserved credit.

We are presenting the “partnership” to Chief Kerns this Sunday (5.23.10) at church, 10:00 am.  You are welcome to join the fun.

Here is the text of a letter that was sent to all EPD employees this week.

Greetings,
On behalf of University Fellowship Church I want to say thanks for your service to our community. We recognize that Eugene is a unique community and policing it comes with unique challenges. This year we have taken a special offering that we would like to give to EPD in an effort to make your job a bit easier.
Chief Kerns, his staff and UFC put our heads together and created a “community partnership”. This concept is designed to give the officer on the street the resources to meet pressing needs in the community. When you find yourself serving a family or individual with obvious needs (food, gas, and housing) this partnership provides a fairly quick and simple solution to meeting those needs. We have purchased nearly $8,000 worth of gift cards and vouchers that you can distribute to crime victims, innocent family members of criminals and others you sense have a real need.
We have done this for three reasons; First, we appreciate what you do and the difficulty of the situations you find yourselves in. We want to better equip you to respond when your experience and judgment leads you to act. Second, we know there are needs in our community going un‐met, and we want to make an effort to meet those needs. Third, we want you to be the “bearer of good news”, to be able to lend a hand, meet a need and frankly, get a little credit for your good work (please leave us behind the scenes).
You will receive a laminated card that outlines the process and procedures for the partnership. Your watch commander will make sure you have what you need and explain all the details.
Lastly, we want you to know that there is a church in town (probably many) that appreciates your service and honors what you do. You are always welcome with us, and we are sure you would feel at home at UFC. I will be “presenting” the partnership to Chief Kerns, Sunday May 23rd and praying for those serving in law enforcement in our community. If you would like to join us on that Sunday we would love to have you. We meet at Roosevelt Middle School (24th and Patterson) at 10:00 AM, dress is casual and uniforms are always welcome.
Thanks for your good work,
Brett Gilchrist, Pastor
University Fellowship Church

A Year Later

It has been a year since we started University Fellowship and we (I) have a lot to be thankful for.  The church has grown and prospered, provided a landing zone for lots of believers looking for a place to be fed and connect, it has served to draw a few people to faith and a larger crowd of non churched folks into a setting to investigate the claims of Christ.  We’re seeing more college students each week, and they report they love the church and feel a part of the growing family, so good things are happening.

The tone of the church is pleasant and authentic.  We are not trying to be something we are not, and this produces an environment that allows people to be an honest reflection of who God made them to be.  People seem to like being together, lingering late and relationships are being built.  Our relationship with Roosevelt School has deepened and it would appear they really enjoy our being tenants.  We are seeing more visitors from the South Eugene neighborhoods darken our doors, and I am meeting new people every week.  Great things are happening and God has been gracious every step of the way.

As comfortable as it may be, “resting on our laurels” is not really a long-term option .  There are a number of things that still need to happen, maybe even in the next year of our young church life.  We are working on writing a constitution and by-laws, that’s a hoot.  We will need to establish a new leadership structure in the days ahead, that will require wisdom, prayer and trust.  We need to clarify what membership looks like in our church culture and communicate that clearly.  We need to help people find their place of ministry and engage in serving their church and community.  We need to reach greater clarity on what it means to “make disciples” and agree on how we will undertake that process in the life of our church.  This partial list of “needs” illustrates how much has yet to be done.  But I feel strongly that we not overwhelm our spirit of simplicity and the genuine joy we are experiencing as a church family by bowing down to our “organizational to-do list”.  Often churches get so caught up in the “serious business” of church structure, organization, goals, vision and planning that they miss the joy of being a church… lets avoid that path.

To keep the process moving forward, the church staff is planning to get a way for a few days in the first week of January.  Our goal would be to make and prioritize a church “to-do” list and lay out some basic plans where appropriate.  But we are committed to simplicity and trusting that God is leading His church; no panic, no rush, few programs and pausing to relish the joy of being a part of this wonderful young church.

You’d think I forgot how to type.  It has been a long time since I sat down and posted on my blog.  For those of you who still check in, thanks for your patience.

Something Changed

Free LunchPhares and I first arrived on the U of O campus in the Fall of 1983, I was the new director for Campus Crusade for Christ and she was adjusting to life as a new mom.  The reputation and reality of the campus were not far apart, it was dark spiritually and had a tone of hostility.  The early years of ministry were challenging and slow, but  eventually the ministry grew, kids came to Christ and many were sent out into life walking with Jesus and making a difference for the gospel.  Even today we stay in touch with students who are now pastors, missionaries, doctors, teachers, business men and women, mothers and dads who are making a real difference for Christ in their communities.

In 1991 I left the campus ministry and transitioned into church work.  Sure Phares and I have stayed connected to the campus (sent 3 kids to college there), both speaking at student gatherings or conferences on occasion, but our connection was much different from spending 40 hours a week on campus, trying to share the gospel, make disciples and stay sane.

I went back to the U of O campus yesterday and something has changed.  Over 70 volunteers from our church put on a free barbecue for the students on the lawn by the Student Union.  Nearly 2,000 meals were served a total of 1,200 burgers and 1,200 hot dogs given away not to mention pounds and pounds of  fresh baked homemade cookies.  Needless to say it was a GREAT day!  But the tone was different.  Kids waited in long lines to get fed, mingled with our volunteers and did not seem to be “uncomfortable” being fed by a church.  They looked us in the eye, said thanks more than once, took our flyers and seemed to be glad to be there.

So something has changed.  I am hopeful there is a new warmth toward faith and Christianity, but I am also open to the idea that the change might be in me.  I am no longer 25 trying to reach 21-year-old students in an environment I found oppressive; I am 51 talking to 21-year-old kids at a school that proved to be a lot of fun for my 3 children.  I see students less as peers and more as someone’s child.   I have a greater sense of ownership of Eugene and the University, not fighting the cultures but learning to live at peace with both.  I am much older, look tougher (my new ex-con look) but have a softer spot for the campus.

So I am not sure what the final answer might be in regard to change, but campus ministry feels better; and for the 70 of us old timers that went on campus yesterday, it was lots and lots of fun.free lunch 2

Author’s Note: I know one other thing that has changed… resources.  In 1991 we didn’t have enough money to feed 10 students let alone 2000… and 70 volunteers, that was un-heard of.  A big thanks to the good people of UFC!

Armor of God

Gerber MKII 002If you were with us Sunday (University Fellowship Church) you heard Dana Turrell tell her story of how applying the armor of God on a daily basis has given her a new freedom in her walk with Christ.  Enough of you have asked for an outline of her process I asked her to provide it for this blog.  Below is an outline of how she walks through each part of the armor before her day begins, I think you will find it helpful and thought provoking.  I want to thank Dana again for her willingness to be authentic with us.

ARMOR OF GOD:

Eph 6:13-18  The armor of God provides a prayer framework from which I hang various verses and work through whatever God is working on in me at the time. These change as I change.

HELMET OF SALVATION: MIND

  • Matt 6:33 – Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.
  • Phil 4:6 – Be anxious about nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your request known to God, and the peace of the Lord, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • I Pet 5:7 – Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.
  • I Pet 5:8 – Be self-controlled and alert because the enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
  • Rom 12:2 – Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern God’s will, his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  • I Cor 10:13 – No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. But, God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. When you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: HEART

  • Luke 10:27 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT: WORD

  • Eph 4:1 – Now, as prisoners of God, live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

SHIELD OF FAITH: PROTECTION

  • I John 4:4 – Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
  • “Jesus, I am yours!”

BELT OF TRUTH: HOLDS IT ALL TOGETHER

  • John 4:6 – You are the way, the truth and the light.
  • John 8:32 – Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
  • “Your truth, not the world’s lies.”

SHOES OF PEACE: WALK

  • “Let me walk in your ways and find your peace as I do.”
  • “Let me be ready to stand firm in whatever battle you have for me today.”

Hats off to Bill and Al

I graduated from college with a BS (no comments) in Business Administration.  I have written prior on this blog (Country Boy City Boy) that I viewed college as a “job” I had to fund, so finishing in 4 years and passing all my classes were my main goals.   Writing papers was not my strong suit in college, in fact I went to great lengths to avoid all writing.  As a normal practice I would pre-register for 21 to 26 hours of classes knowing full well I would end up dropping many of those hours after the first day of class.  If it became apparent I would have to write any paper of length I would drop the class and find an instructor who liked to grade tests not papers!  Testing I could do, writing not so much.

It was not that I couldn’t write, it was that I couldn’t type.  Sure I had taken a typing class in High School, but I was no Mavis Beacon (if you get that joke you are old). I went to college during the hey day of the “IBM Selectric” typewriter, but my budget left me with a used manual Royal, and frankly I hated that contraption with a passion.  On the few occasions I was cornered into writing a paper I would try to charm a friend into doing the typing, if you have met me I am not real charming.

The other concern beyond typing was my sppelling, one could say I was “challenged” in that area; I’ve never seen a consonant I didn’t want to double!   I have since learned that lots of smart people struggle in sppelling, so if you are following my train of logic… I must be very smart!  This meant I was limited to typing a paper full of words I could spell;  “cat” and “dog” can only be used so many times in a paper on Peter Drucker’s theory of management.  Mistakes meant backspacing and using that white correction tape stuff, trying to re-strike the exact spot I messed up the first time; this always led to frustration, anger and the rationalization that shooting a game of pool would help with the “creative process”… 10 games later I would flop into bed, paper still unfinished.

Bill Gates and Al Gore changed all this.  Bill put a personal computer on our desks and Al tells us he invented the “interweb” (our Persian Pastor, Kambiz,  calls it the “interweb” so I follow suit with great honor) connecting us all together.  I want to thank these guys, it’s their inventions that allowed me to surface my “inner author” and I think they have helped make me a better pastor.  Honestly, I often thank the Lord for these two inventions and feel they were created just for me; sure you get to enjoy them, but God brought them along for me.

I can now create, write (type), delete, cut, paste, insert and best of all SPELL CHECK to my hearts desire.  If I like it, I hit “send”, if I don’t I try again.  Who knew there was a frustrated writer inside me all those years, God did.

So Bill, Al, my hat is off to both of you, thanks.   The only downside… my ability to shoot pool has suffered dramatically.

Author’s Note:  If you attend University Fellowship, I would encourage you to read the post “Country Boy City Boy”, it gives a little perspective on our church.