Saturday, November 24, 2012

Get Off the Plane Bill!!

OK so after the plane landed in Zimbabwe...continuing on from last blog...pretty smooth huh? By the way I want you all to know...all 30+ of you reading this...I have an international following. Yep. I do. Readers in Africa...and maybe even Brazil...amazing. Anyway, before I got sidetracked and bragging about my blog, I was going to tell you a little about my trip to Zimbabwe.First of all I know people say the world is getting smaller but sitting on a plane for over 15 hours going and 18 hours coming back it sure does not feel small. Of course I get a seat that will not recline I got the guy in front of me in my lap as I sit straight up, looking forward. All I can say is I am sure my tail bone was bruised by the time we landed in South Africa. I must stop my whining for a moment to thank Carol for getting aisle seats for Ray and I as we traveled...huge blessing...THANK YOU CAROL!!! Though I don’t think she reads the blog I needed to say thanks...someone else can tell her. Maybe Ray will...he reads sometimes...I think just to check up on me...see if I am slipping back into my old grumpy ways.  So where was I? Yeah...going to Zimbabwe. 

Well, my traveling companion and the guy who asked if I wanted to go had a plan for when we got there and that plan had many meetings in it. Many...meetings. I think I am allergic to meetings but I was afraid to let Ray know, so I went along with his plan.  I will meet people...and I will like it...or try. He made a small mistake right away...he said to me, “Bill, if on any of these days you want to do something different from going to one of my meetings...go ahead. Do what you would like to do.” A loop hole if ever I saw one...I tried not to take advantage of it...too much. One day he had an important one on one meeting...since it was one on one not two on one...I went golfing. Who could pass on a chance to golf in Africa? A friend made the arrangements...I was going golfing with a stranger...worse yet he had coached golf at a high school.  Wonderful of the worship leaders at the church in Harare...awesome story...we had a great time. I golfed incredibly bad even for caddy, yes I had a caddy, kept saying to me, “Don’t worry boss.We are just having fun.” Did not help much but was kind of him.

   When, or if, you struggle with insecurities and self esteem issues you just cannot bring yourself to believe you have much to offer. On this trip I had settled in my heart I did have something to offer...I could just be myself and allow God to spill out where ever He would choose to do so. Let me say this before I go much further, my friend Ray was amazing on this trip in so may ways. Brilliant! First we were meeting with the Vineyard pastors there on Monday and it was going to be a tense meeting...feelings had been was waning...and we were getting together to try to reconcile. It was one of the most God kind of moments I have ever witnessed. Ray and the other leaders talked and listened and apologized and repented where needed.  There was a real sense of honor and respect there.  The churches there have been through so much just like the whole country has been. They have been in a constant season of transition as people leave Zimbabwe after losing everything...or need to move to another community to try to survive. Tough place to lead in for sure...but they do.

Also Ray was to meet, well me also, another group that was a group of young leaders who might want to plant churches for the Vineyard.  Kind of a recruiting trip...and again Ray was on point...relaying what we were looking for and relating it to a dating process...weirded me out a bit but they understood where he was coming from. We met some great people...prayed for many them and drank much tea with them. It was great fun...but I sensed I was there for a little different reason. I really wanted to connect with Bob and Alice and their church family.You might remember Bob and Alice from an earlier blog...maybe not. I could use their real names I suppose but I like the fake names...adds a little suspense don’t you think?  We were staying with another friend, I will call her Pat...well Pat got me hooked up with Bob and Alice real quick. She invited them and her neighbors over for tea...Ray had one of his important meetings to go to, so I had tea with Bob, Alice, Pat and friends. Brilliant, as they would say...loved the time hanging out with all of them. Bob and I had a good chat by ourselves and I was struck as I heard his story. Bob has struggled with taking the reigns here as pastor...the story of how he got the role is so similar to mine...but truth be told...he is a trainer for executives in people skills and management entrepreneur..really the kind of person we would look for to plant or lead a church. He struggled a bit with being a pastor...leading...but I also sensed he was really beginning to find his footing as a leader and take the role and the calling to heart. As the days went on I had more opportunities to spend time with them and just get to know them.  Alice was such a great hostess, I felt sorry for Ray a little bit...not a lot, just a little. I got fed way better than he did for sure...Alice sent a picture of a sandwich she had made for me to Barb and Barb said I need to cut back or I would not fit in the seat on the plane ride back...not nice. 

So many more stories to tell, I will write more soon but let me wrap this first one up with this thought. Well, a couple of I had a wonderful was really the first time I had ever gone out on my own without Barb alongside. That is just how we do things...together....unless she goes out on her own:)  A great trip to meet great people.  What I saw was this...I knew it but grew more comfortable with it I suspect...I am a is what I is the call on my life. 
Ray has much stronger leadership skills and that is awesome...those skills allowed him to go places and meet people that might have great affect the Church in Zimbabwe. My time with Ray was time well spent...I enjoyed watching and listening...and my time with Bob and Alice...Pat and her neighbors...her sister...hearing her story...praying for her...the twin daughters...and Guido...married to one of the girls and owner of a couple of sweet motorcycles. Victor the golf coach/worship leader and all around great guy. Zechariah..(not his real name either) a young domestic worker who senses a call to do ministry and has many great questions...and so many more. Time really well spent.

These people were not necessarily our target group...Pat was relentless in making sure no one was overlooked or forgotten. Yes, there were leaders to be discovered...and there were others to be listened to...cared about...encouraged to keep on moving forward in the kingdom...healing needed...people set free...relationships began. I realized I was sent to the regular person...not the strong new leader...the regular guys and gals. Some in leadership...some not...but all players in the Kingdom of God. Makes sense...doesn’t it?  Thoughts from a Regular Guy...great title for a blog don’t you think? 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Leavin' on a jet plane!

Well, I am getting ready to leave later today for Zimbabwe...not a vacation destination but not a mission trip either.  It is a ministry trip for sure, meeting other pastors, potential church planters, and other ministry leaders. I guess as I sit here thinking it just does not seem real on many going to Africa?  This guy who lives in the very same neighborhood he grew up door to the house he grew up the house we built 35 years ago and rebuilt 7 years ago...with my daughter and grandkids five houses down the street.  My sister and her family four houses down same son and his family two neighborhoods, I am going to Africa? I spent most of my life working in auto plants...not in executive roles but common jobs...running machines and setting things up. Me...I am going to Africa...with Ray...I think I may get mad at him...he invited me to go. 

 I have been to Brazil and spent days, well weeks on the Xingu and Amazon Rivers and that amazed me also.  I would be sitting on the boat in the middle of nowhere thinking, “How in the world did I get here?” OK, I know a plane or two helped get me there...but how did I get there?  I think I will blame Barb for that one...that usually I will be angry with a couple of guys named Rick...they invited us to go.  Yep...I am ticked at them now!  Really that does not answer the question I have...why am I going to Africa now? Barb is not going and I know she would love to go...I am not sure I “love” the idea of going...anywhere.  I think if it was not for her and my kids I could easily be a hermit...well and my church family...hard to be a pastor and a hermit. I do think I could hide...never leave a spot...never be uncomfortable...just sit and wait for Jesus to come back I suspect.  But noooo...I am going to Africa.  Oh boy.

I am not sure why I am wired like I am...I understand life shapes me and I know I am in a much better place right now than even a couple of years ago. As I sit here and write my thoughts down...tears spring up as I think about not seeing my kids...MY GRANDKIDS!! church family for a couple of weeks. What is wrong with me??? Doesn’t it seem kind of strange? Probably to many of you it does seem strange...maybe I should cancel the trip to go see a shrink...kidding. This is just who I am...and I am OK with that.  I really am not the best dad in the world for my kids or Papa for my is not like I spend every day with them...but I suspect one of the reasons I enjoy being a pastor is this...I love being a dad and it! I will miss my why am I going?

The only explanation I have right now is this from Paul in second Corinthians...”For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” It really is the first five words...For Christ’s love compels us...not other reason to go to leave an easy factory job with sit on a boat in the pour concrete in leave behind those you love the most...His love compels us. His love for me...His love for others compels me to be fight feelings of being really believe I carry something with me that can make a difference. His love compels...not dreams of an international thoughts of being someone special. My love for Christ...and His Body...that compels me. The thought of encouraging other leaders to continue on and not give lead with joy. That motivates me. He motivates me...when I sense His love for could I not go?  

So what I realize now more than is not me that anyone in Zimbabwe is Jesus in me...this is what is off to the plane I go. I will cry when I think of missing my daughters birthday...missing golf with Corey...dinner with all the kids and grandkids...and I will wonder over and over why God would choose to send me...and I will thrive in the mystery of His love and is not about me right is all about Him.


PS..By the time this is posted I am back in the states...I wrote as I prepared to leave but did not have time to post.