Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Church on the Move-Haiti

What if, every Sunday your church walked out of the doors and in unison were singing the song you started in the building? That is the perfect description of the church in Haiti right now! I couldn't believe my eyes! I saw it first hand.

I was one of those who, before going to Haiti following the earthquake, asked, "Now what business do I have there?" Don Schreier who is the Director of our work there often uses the phrase, "Boots on ground." I would expect that from a former Marine. So on my first journey inside my head I was chanting, almost "Rainmanish," "Boots on the ground, boots on the ground, underwear at Kmart."

I've been to Port au Prince many times, but only one extended stay. Mission Discovery's work is on the northern coast of Haiti in and around Port de Paix. But, this was a new day, a terrible event had happened and we were there with our friend and ministry partner Haitian Pastor Dr. Chereleus Exante to ask, "What more can we do?"

Dr. Exante is the pastor of the New Haitian Mission Baptist Church in Nassau, Bahamas, and oversees an association of churches in Haiti of 45 member-churches in the New Haitian Mission Baptist Association. He grew up in Port au Prince, and came from poverty to found and lead this association many years ago.

This past Sunday was the last of 3 days of National Prayer and Fasting for the country. Traversing across Port au Prince to visit two of the NHMBA churches we witnessed worship all over town. If the church was not worshiping under a tarp, they were walking, dressed mostly in white, singing in the streets. The largest group walking was at least 200 people! The pastor had a bullhorn encouraging the group like a good coach. I asked Betor to stop the car, I jumped out for this picture.

Later that day at the MD office in Port au Prince we had a second meeting with pastors, simply asking again what were their immediate needs. On the short list were tents, food, and medical. And last on the list from several as they departed, "You won't forget us will you.?"

This week we received 18 new children at the HOLD the Children orphanage in Port de Paix, all as a result of the earthquake. Don Schreier immediately mounted a plan for Mission Discovery's promise to not forget. You can read his blog and see those details.

So what can you do? Sponsor a child at our orphanage, join a team going to serve in Haiti, donate a tent (Shaun King an Atlanta pastor has a place for you to do that click here and read), and ask your pastor and worship leader to pick one Sunday this Spring to remember Haiti-then walk out of your building singing and praising!

In His Service,
Maury Buchanan

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Please Take My Baby, Please Take My Baby!

Earlier in the day Jon Jones and I were talking about not seeing a visible presence of aid groups in Port au Prince, and I mention having seen these large water bladders with pure water for neighborhoods. Many of them from UNICEF. Later that day Jon and I decided to check out the neighborhood around the house Mission Discovery is renting for future teams.
Walking out the back yard of the house to the
street, Jon spotted one of those water stations that had just been installed and out of curiosity we walked to it to find a church worshiping in the lot beside it. This was Saturday, so seeing a church worshiping to
gether caught our
attention. The rest of our team found us along with Pastor Exante, who translated the churches story for us. They had lost their building and two members were killed in the earthquake when their homes fell. They had prayed that the "relief community" would come to their aid and UNICEF then delivered the water bladder. Today they were prayin
g for food, and so we delivered 150 pounds of rice and cooking oil to the group of 20
later in the day.

While we were with the church, listening to their stories, and praying a man to Jon to take his baby girl. I mean not "take" just for a minute, but permanently! She was a bright eyed baby. (Pictured with Jon) Jon said to the man, "I can't do that sir." With the baby in Jon's a
rms, the man ran away. Tony told a riveting story of a trip to Haiti over 30 years ago where a woman ran toward his small plane on a dirt strip shouting, "Please take my baby, mister please take my baby!" The fear of many parents in Haiti is that their children will die in their care from malnutrition. I'm sure for this man it was that thinking that led him to this place.

A lady from the church knew the man and the baby and we were able to get the child back to the arms care. I prayed that the little girl would never know that her father deposited her in the arms of a stranger, and run.

I was chatting with Tim Pagnett, a writer for Time Magazine as were were departing Haiti last week. We were talking about the 10 Baptist "missionaries" jailed there in Port au Prince. He said a fellow writer had posted an article about the group titled, "Compassion Done Poorly." Those are three striking words. I don't doubt that the leadership of those 10 individuals had good intentions, but did it badly and resembled traffickers vs a well organized effor
t to meet real and felt needs.

How do we help a man who can't afford his baby girl? How do we make a real impact in Haiti? How do you help a baby who's been abandoned by her father? How does the church in the U.S. and abroad effectively make a difference. Here is something the media is not printing: The church in Haiti is well organized. Their communication networks are crossing denominational lines to meet needs. Haitian churches are raising money inside Haiti among members to help families in needs. Haitian churches are gathering daily under trees, tarps, tents and walking the streets in large groups singing songs of praise to God. Haitian churches are organizing medical outreaches.

If you as an idividual go out to almost any major aid group website you'll find it very difficult for you to find a personal way for you to get involved in Haiti-except by you donating.

I'm offering this question. What is God doing in Haiti and how can you join Him?

A man named Dean on Twitter sent a message to the Mission Discovery Twitter site. "Just what we need, a group of tourist eating food that could go to children." His point received, Haiti does not need a tourist now, but real workers who bring food, hope and caring to a nation 1.5 hours from the shores of the U.S.
Really the man with the baby girl asked a hard question, "Will you take my burden?' There are ways for us to respond, to take burdens. I'm happy to day that Mission Discovery's, HOLD the Children Haiti has been responding responsibly in Haiti for 10 years. That's not long, but in our 10 years there we have been able to make sure that 350 children receiving an education and a hot meal each day. HOLD the Children's orphanage is now receiving children who lost all family members in the earthquake in a way that agrees with Haitian law. So you won't see me on CNN from behind bars.

I hope to stand under a tent at the departure lounge of Port au Prince Airport some day, look at you and say, "Compassion Done Well, " then shake your hand and say, "When will you return?"

Friday, February 19, 2010

One Appointment I Won't Forget in Port au Prince

When I arrived on Friday morning in Port au Prince, I had this plan in mind of how things might unfold for the day. I'd heard that we would host a feeding center at the Mission Discovery office in PaP, have an appointment with a former Haitian Presidential candidate, and search for bunk bed materials for a team to build beds for teams of doctors and relief workers coming soon with Mission Discovery. It all happened, but not the way I thought.
When I arrived Dr. Chereleus Exante, my Haitian friend from the Bahamas and overseer of the 45 member New Haitian Mission Baptist Association met me at the airport and we put our bags away. We had a meeting scheduled downtown with Pastor Jeune Chavannes, who in 2006 ran for president of Haiti, came in 4th and continues to be a leader in his country. I had seen Chavannes on the 700 Club in an interview last week. He mentioned having a medical clinic and I wanted tosee if a groupof doctors joining me in March and April could assist him.

Exante is very soft spoken, "Let's go downtown to meet Pastor Chavannes," and then mentioned that many of the stores were closed today because it was a weekend of prayer for
the nation and that Chavannes was one of the coordinators. What I didn't know is that your meeting would be on the platform in front ofmillion, really 1 million people worshiping, praying, an listening to encouraging speakers, like Chavannes. We parked as close as we could then started moving through the crowd. It was packed, no chairs, no isles, we just created our own path to the platform, passed CNN's Sanjay Gupta-said "Hi", then came
to a dead stop. We just could not get through the crowd because they were so tightly packed! Then Exante started really dancing and walking toward the platform and a small conga line formed behind him and people let the "dancers" me, Exante, Franklin and our lawyer Betor right on through and many
followed us!

We were listening to President Rene Garcia Preval speak as we move closer to the platform. He began by saying, "I come to you today not as your President, but as your Christian brother." The crowd was elated. It was the first time that Preval had spoken to the nation in this way since the quake, and they need to hear him. He was encouraging.

When we reached the base of the platform Exante called Chavannes on his cell phone and before you know it we were on the stage. I have never seen a million people standing, but it was amazing. Chavannes handed Exante the microphone to address the nation. "I want you to raise your hands, he said, "and turn toward the Presidential Palace." The Palace was visible from the event and had been destroyed in the quake. "Now we will ask God to restore our nation, our people, our government," and led a powerful prayer that friends told him made CNN that night.

Then Exante asked me to come to the front of the stage to have my meeting with Chavannes. What a great humble man Pastor Chavannes is. We introduced ourselves and I thanked him for his time and his plans that led to this event. He agreed that a group of doctors
and nurses would be a welcomed relief for his Haitian doctors doing mobil clinics around town.

So when my medical team arrives, they will never know the adventurous appointment that led to them serving.

That week by the end of our time we had fed over 1000 people and met with right at 200 pastors. We asked each to write down his needs and losses. It was some list and for many, I'm sure, that brought tears as they expressed in writing what was lost on January 12, 2010.

I'm so proud of our staff in Haiti. Though our work has been on the northern coast, unaffected by the quake, we are now being asked to serve the needy in Port au Prince. And we will. Many of you sent money with me and we distributed those dollars. We want to begin planning to use our donated dollars for those things that sustain life for individuals and families and lead to an
income. So many businesses were destroyed, there are now so many unemployed. Even business professions in Haiti are living in tents, under tarps and makeshift homes because their homes and businesses were destroyed.

Pray for Evan, who lives behind our office in a tent with his nephew. His brother and sister n law, the boy's mom and dad were killed in the earthquake and Evan has no job, and hope was fading when I arrive for my second visit. Pray for Pastor Exante as he figures a way to meet needs in his church association with little resources.

God bless you and thanks for praying for my friends.


Monday, February 8, 2010

How I Droped the Ball-Another Haiti Story

Yesterday I was asked by my friend Don Bruce to speak in his Sunday school class about Mission Discovery 's work in Haiti.

Don, a pilot, had just flown a group of doctors to Port au Prince, dropped them off, then flew to Cape Haitian to pick up 5 orphans who had adoptive parents waiting form them in Sarasota, Florida. Don talked first about his journey. It was a riveting story with every element of drama, man's mistakes and God's perfect timing. Click here for the video story of Don's flight.

Joe Earnest, a friend who had just returned with me from Haiti, did a great job telling what he saw and how Mission Discover was perfectly placed for a the long term ministry ahead.

Now it was my turn, and I resolved this: what good was it to tell people about Haiti, unless there was something they personally could do?

I want to apologize to my friends in Haiti, my talk motivated a gift of $20.00 to purchase 50 pounds of rice. That gift from a great friend who has been with Mission Discovery to Jamaica and seen our work first hand.

I had so much rolling through my mind and 10 minutes to talk about it all. The current needs of one single orphanage, a pastor named Timothy who lives in a truck beside the church (pictured right) because his home is destroyed, and lost 20 members of his congregation in the earthquake. Our friend Pastor Chavenes whose school collapsed on 400 children, all killed. Evans, who lives behind the Mission Discovery office in a tent in Port au Prince with his nephew whose parents are still buried beneath the rubble of their home. Our friend, Dr. Cherelus Exante, who has the task of ministering to over 45 churches in his New Haitian Mission Baptist Association. The development of a micro-lending effort to help Haitians fund good business ideas, etc. The needs of Haiti are just overwhelming!

(To the right is Mission Discovery HOLD the Children Children's Home located in Port de Paix, Haiti will soon be filled with children from Port au Prince)

I had been working on an email all week and had hit a block, but came home motivated to give friends in Haiti a better shot. On my mind were those friends I mention and a projected $750,000 in projected spending to do our part in Haiti's recovery. The email is out and people are responding! Obviously I write better than I speak!

Not only will Mission Discovery be working in Haiti, but in the Dominican Republic, where a flood of refugees are crossing to find hope and safety. Our network of Haitian pastors in the Dom. Republic are connected to the needs and teams will minister there. (left-I caught this shot of a Haitian woman falling trough the gate entering the Dominican Rep. from Haiti praising God)

We once had a worship leader at an event who shamed kids for not worshiping. After the artist left the stage I said, "They are not bad worshipers, you're a bad leader." He's my Facebook friend now. That's as close as he wants to be.

Sunday it was a great class, a good group of people, ready to make a difference. I know them and their hearts. You had a bad communicator-me. I'll do better next time....promise!

On our departure I had a nice chat with CNN's Dr. Sange Gupta and Gary Tuchman. Good people telling a difficult story. Anderson Cooper and Dr. Gupta are traveling back to Haiti today to continue their coverage.

Looks like I'm headed back to Haiti this week to get materials together for the construction of bunk beds at the Mission Discovery office in Port au Prince. I'd appreciate your prayers. Here's the Mission Discovery office in Port au Prince that will house teams. We understand there is a proposed feeding center coming next door to the office that will feed 500 each day. Perfectly positioned for His perfect work!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

We Need Your Help for Haiti

As you may know we have an orphanage on the northern coast of Haiti that was constructed to hold 60 children. Currently 11 make their home there as we are barely open. The orphanage is brand new, was not damaged in the earthquake, and is located near Port de Paix, Haiti.

We never anticipated a time like this. 1/3 would be left homeless following the devastating earthquake on January 12. Before the earthquake there were over 250,000 orphans in Haiti, a country of 9 million. Now there are possibly thousands more.

Our intention was to open a facility that would address the rescue of some of the over 200,000 slave children in Haiti.

Because of the need to shelter and care for children that have been orphaned in Port-au-Prince by the earthquake, our plan for a gradual opening of our home has been altered. We will accelerate operations in order to accommodate as many children as possible, as quickly as possible.

This is where we need your help.

We will have at least 64 children, plus staff much sooner than we expected. Therefore, we need to accelerate our efforts which requires increased funds and supplies to operate.

Here Are The Immediate Needs

1 Commercial Stove $4,500 (funded)
75 Matresses $5,800 (funded)
32 Bunk Bed Materials $6,400
200 50 lb Rice $4,350
200 50 lb Beans $4,350
175 Sets of Bedding $4,375
75 School Cost Per Mnth $2,250 ($30 per child)

Mission Discovery's Rich Rohde will be in Miami tomorrow (Monday 1/8) loading a container with theses supplies bound for Haiti.
Donations Needed for the Orphanage:

Medical Supplies
Cooking Oil
Propane Tank and Fuel
Playground Equipment
School Supplies (Notebooks, pencils, books)
Library Supplies (French)
Dining tables and chairs
School Desks
Plates, Cups, and Bowls
Mission Discovery is Responding Right Now in Haiti. Donate Now

Last week a Mission Discovery team was on the ground in Port au Prince, Haiti offering relief. We met with over 50 pastors in Port au Prince giving aide as well as ministering with medical supplies, a clinic and the acquistion of a house to host teams. Immediately Haiti continues to need doctors and nurses. Simple "wound care" will be essential for the coming weeks. Our base will host these teams with long-team ministry in mind.

Mission Discovery's HOLD the Children Orphanage on the northern coast will be a safe haven for children who lost every living family member in the earthquake. Teams will be needed in the future at the facility to help. 10 feet from the HOLD the Children Orphanage is our school, so children will immediately be placed in our school where they will receive a quality education.

We are ready for the tasks at hand because of the generous gifts of our partners. Every dollar for the construction of our children's home was given by friends.

Donate Online or By Mail

Mission Discovery is a member in good standing of the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability. Mission Discovery is a 501 ac 3 organization and gifts are tax deductible. To donate online click here. Donations received before March 1 for Haiti can be applied to 2009 tax period.

To give by mail make checks payable to Mission Discovery preferenced for "HOLD Orphanage."

Thank you for your support in this urgent time in our ministry's history.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

4 Tips To Preparing the Best Short Term Mission Trip

1. Understanding the Why of going on a mission trip.
2. Research the What with three things in mind
3. Find the Who by promoting the Why and What
4. Prepare you team with exercise in Team Building, Team Covenant, Story Telling, Debriefing, Understanding Cultural Differences, Cross Cultural Communication and Problem Solving

Understanding the "Why" of your mission trip may be as simple as digesting Acts 1:8 or the Great Commission of Jesus, but may go one step further. Asking questions like: What tangible results do I hope to see in my live and the lives of the team members? What steps can I take as a leader to facilitate the continued interest in serving God that happens after every intensive mission experience? And, how does a mission trip, youth or adult, not foster dependency in a foreign land?

The "What" really simply means what will you choose to do. What is the mission trip. As a leader of a team you'll look hard at “What” your team will do and why it is needed. Maybe it is building the Mission Discovery orphanage in Port de Paix, Haiti or leading a children's bible school in Mexico. Imagine Julian, from the Biggest Looser, yelling at you saying "What is the task ahead? Why is it important?" Answering these questions fully, by the way is the fuel for your recruiting effort.

One of the “sub headings” of answering the “What will we do?” question, is “How will be do it? And “how will we know we are successful?” The answer to these questions has to come from the team. They must “agree” how they will accomplish the mission once they know what the mission is. Every Mission Discovery team leader is taken through an exercise of creating a “Team Covenant.” The Team Covenant is like a contract. It contains the mission statement that a team will create specifically for the trip, how they will accomplish the mission statement, and the scriptural backup of each of these components. The Team Covenant can contain specifics like: We will worship daily. We will seek to serve with the heart of Christ the nationals on the field and our team. We will meet daily to debrief the events of the day and ask each other how we saw God at work. We will ask God to show each of us during our short-term mission trip to help us understand what one thing will change in our lives because we came? Etc. (Mission Discovery has an outline of the exercise that can be requested by emailing

One of Mission Discovery’s strengths over the past 18 years has been the dedication to preparing leaders to prepare their teams of our short term mission trip experiences. "Though the content has changed over the years the outline has mostly stayed the way I first experienced it with Tim Gibson, my boss in 1990," says Maury Buchanan, Director of Mission Discovery short term missions. "One of the most powerful components of planning a mission trip for my own church recently was helping each team member know the 'stories' of each of their fellow teammates." The group accomplished this very simply with 8 feet of wire. "We ask these adults to bend the wire into shapes that explained their life's-journey with God. By the end of our meeting, the team had unfolded deep stories of the ups and downs of their walk with God." It was only one step that would end with the ability of every team member having the ability to stand in any country in the world and in 5 minutes tell his or her story of how Christ had changed their lives. "I'm always excited about preparing a team. I believe the mission trip starts well before departure, and in a sense doesn't end on the day they return home from the field."

One component not often considered in a team short-term mission trip, is the reality that there will be problems. A short-term mission trip is no regular retreat. You are placing people out of their comfort zone, often among the poorest of the poor, sleeping in the heat, eating a different kind of meal, and working through cultural differences. Not to mention the possibility of speaking in front of people which ranks in the top 10 of greatest fears of people! Great books are available in understanding problem solving. Two quick sentences to expose your team too are: While there is sin in the world, lets consider that cultures are not right or wrong, just different. Secondly, when a problem arises always look for second, third or forth “right” answer! Remember too, that problems are normal and biblical according to James Chapter 1.

Other components of the preparation process involve getting your team to experience one of the neatest forms of communication possible in a foreign field-non-verbal communication. That can be accomplished by having the team accomplish a puzzle, task without talking. Then add an element to the exercise like asking the team to not speak and use only one hand. The wackier the better! To have your team think deeply about how they communicate non-verbally even relates to how the team dresses, etc. What are the other components of non-verbal communication? “Once, we had a counselor come and talk to our youth group about what she looks for non-verbally in a counseling session.”

Lastly, the Luna Game, is one of the greatest exercises in helping a team experience what it might be like to enter another culture. It is an experiential game where a team is divided into two groups and experience together another culture, the awkwardness of communicating with a language barrier and more. If you can’t find it online Mission Discovery will send you a copy. It comes complete with two CD’s and printed handbook. (We ask that you consider a 10-dollar donation for shipping)

On the last night of your mission trip give the entire night to the team. Ask one simple question, “What are you taking home with you?” Step back and watch what happens. Resist the urge as the leader to be first, let the silence penetrate the room. Then you go last. Avoid the desire to fix or explain some one’s struggle. It is common for some team members to say, “I sill don’t understand how God has given me so much, and they have so little.” Resist, resist, resist, the urge to preach. Simply say thank you. Remember James 1.

Lastly as a leader, you have so much on your plate in planning your mission trip. But if you are leading the trip, not using an agency like Mission Discovery, make sure that you do a set-up trip. In other words spend the money to go to the field months before your team arrives to see it first hand. You’ll be better prepared to prepare your team. On that set-up trip you’ll want to look at the facility where teams will be sleeping, pass off dollars to your host missionary for supplies, research nearest hospitals for emergencies, have an evacuation plan in the event there is a need, discuss with the host missionary what his or her expectations are for your team. One of the most stressful parts of a mission trip for groups is, believe it or not, is the arrival in an overseas airport. On your set up trip take notes about your entry, when you have cleared the last door, notice your surroundings, imaging your group passing out those doors and being shouted at by baggage handlers, taxi drivers etc. and look for a place where the team can wait for their transport pick up with safety in mind.

In two week we will pass along an outline for evening meetings that has been tested and proven effective with short-term mission teams for many years!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Six Questions from Sydney

Sydney Smith was a Mission Discovery staff in Nassau, Bahamas and years ago a high school student on a Mission Discovery project in Mexico.  She sent me this request tonight:
I have a class in my graduate program on Servant Leadership where I have to interview some church leaders. Would you be one of the "subjects" of my papers? It's only 6 questions!

Here's my quick reply:
1) How did you come to realize you had a place of leadership in the church? I started working with students as a Youth for Christ volunteer in Huntsville, Alabama. I enjoyed the work, had some gifts that I discovered that worked well in youth ministry. YFC has excellent training that still benefits me today.

2) How would you characterize your leadership style? I would characterize it as encourager, coach, visionary, and servant. Willing to take the worst job.

3) How do you see yourself as a servant-leader? "Servant leadership" comes from the model of Jesus washing the disciples feet. Notice that in the verses that preceded the event, "Knowing where he cam from and whose he was." Knowing that my home is not here, my identity is not tied to me being a citizen of the U.S., I can take any job, even the lowest.

4) What kinds of conflicts have you dealt with as a church leader? Misunderstandings, adult leaders wanting to be youth leaders who are simply extending their adolescence, breaking of confidences by others, unresolved hurt, and egos.

5) What spiritual disciplines do you practice to keep the flame alive? I pray constantly, read books including the Bible, watch inspiring movies, teaching classes and speaking keep me sharp, I have met weekly with a group of 8 men for 10 years for accountability.

6) Any advice for someone who is answering a call to Christian leadership? The word "answering" is a great word. It denotes a continuing event, that God continues to "Call" all the time. I like the verse written in Revelation 3:20, Jesus is speaking and says that he is knocking on the door and if anyone hears His voice he will come in and eat and drink with you! That verse was written to believers. All of us have doors that God is knocking on. After that door is opened to God, He goes to the next door. I tend to think that the reward for opening one door, is the next hardest door. That has proved true for me. Each call, each door, is harder, but fully possible because nothing is impossible for God!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Is This Your "Corner Day?"

Who knows when those days will come that I call "corner days." A "corner day" is one of those days where a definite turn in life takes place, a sentence spoken that stops one dead in his tracks, they can either be positive or not so positive in nature.

Last night I walked into a room where an event occurred 8 years ago that allowed me to make a turn...a "corner day." The room was much the same as I remember it from 8 years ago. A rectangular shaped place with games and books on shelves filling one short wall, windows on a long wall, a huge, exposed, deafening air conditioning unit on the other long wall and I really can't remember even today what was on the other short wall....that short wall was where the "corner day" occurred. Short term mission trips in the Rio Grand Valley have started in this room for years, but this was my first time back in the confines for all these years.

Like last night, 8 years ago, I was with a group of interns preparing to start their summer of service with Mission Discovery here. A lot of laughter, prayer, great lesson from scripture and then I shared my story, how I had given my life to Christ when I was 19 and found the courage to start Mission Discovery following a question from my pastor, "Maury, will God call you to do God sized things, or Maury sized things?" The next day the ministry started. Months earlier I and all of the others in the room (staff and interns) had completed a personality profile test some call the DISC test. Stan Horrell who is on our staff now was the one who administered the test and had the results printed and in his briefcase.

Stan began to hand out the results and as he pass me he leaned over and whispered, "I'd like to talk to you about your test after the meeting." I'm thinking, "Great! I failed a personality test!" The mood continued to be festive in the room as people share the results of the test with the others and commented about how accurate it was. My palms were sweating.

After everyone left, Stan pulled me over behind a portable chalkboard on that other short wall. "You not supposed to be here are you?" he said. "The test showed that?" I thought? "Maury, your test shows that your idea of a good time is to be alone, to work in secret", and the test hinted that people scare me. He waited for my response. "Stan, the test is correct. I am the archetype of the person I invite on our trips." My sister will tell you that I was so shy in high school that I took my first date home at 8:45 pm. I had run out of things to say. It was one of the longest nights of my life! I failed many test in school, not because I didn't know the content, but because I was afraid of test! (I know you are not believing that!) I was a lifeguard in college, 19 year old and my pool manager knew I had never kissed a girl so he offered to have his girlfriend, Sonya, teach me how to kiss. What guy in his right mind would turn that down, no commitment, just one kiss. I turned it down.

It is true that when my pastor Richard Bowden posed his "God sized thing" question, I knew that God had been preparing me for Mission Discovery all of my life. I have stood before thousands of people and spoke, I have performed weddings, led chapel service for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and in every setting my palms sweat, my heart races and sometimes I feel nauseated. "Maury you can't tell by looking at you with people that you are this way. You look comfortable." Stan said. It's not that God has taken me out of my comfort zone, as much as He has taken me out of my preference zone. I prefer weekends along with Ann my wife. As God would have it, Ann prefers weekends out with our friends, parties, any event, any size.

The "corner" that day was a better understanding of how powerfully God had worked in my life. That day Stan opened a door for me to open my eyes to another way God revels himself to me powerfully.

This is not the end of my exploration of this journey of mine. I find it truly amazing how God has used me in life. Friends from school who knew me, my personality, remarked how amazed they are at the work of Mission Discovery. What they are saying is, "Are you sure you started this?" My answer is, "No, I am positive I did not start Mission Discovery....God did! Because I experience His power in my life every day!"

So, ready to take a corner? Will God call you to do a God sized thing or a you sized thing? Take the question for a test drive!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My 19th June 2nd At Mission Discovery

I would have never guessed as a disc jockey in the 70's working in Huntsville, Alabama that I would be enjoying working in my passion of helping others experience God through hands-on service projects to the poor. Even more exciting is seeing someone see the incredible power of telling the story in other lands of how God has worked in their lives. I have seen every type of person come through Mission Discovery. They fall into two basic types 1) learners who are open to God working in their lives in a fresh way and 2) people ready to "fix the world." Though category one excites me, I love watching God work in category 2. Without fail, both are deeply impacted by God's touch on short term mission trips with Mission Discovery.

Charles Kimbrough, Jr. was straddling categories 1 and 2. Tough guy, in his mid 30's, good friend of mine from Hendersonville. His goal was to build the house, help hurting people, and leave. He had some expectations of how God would use him, but God broke his heart when he connected with a child at one of the homes he was helping to build. Charles returned home to bring his wife back to the Mexico mission trip. Kara, his wife, was so impacted that she had no word, I mean she could not get words to her lips because of the flood of emotion at what God had taught her. Charles is now an advocate for Mission Discovery back home, eventually involving his cousin Macon, a former short term mission trip skeptic, now a summer staff member for Mission Discovery in Westmoreland, TN.

Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus extends an invitation, "28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (from The Message)

An invitation to a mission trip anywhere in the world is an invitation to learn, "the unforced rhythms of grace." Would you be willing to join me on a Mission Discovery project...I would love to meet you.