Friday, January 29, 2010

Tim Tebow's Super Bowl Ad

Tim Tebow--if you have even a small love of football, you know this guy. He's been everyone's darling, the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for the Florida Gators. He's clean cut, an engaging all around nice guy. His faith in Christ is strong, and he has never hidden it. For the Super Bowl, he has recorded a pro-life ad, not condemning anyone, but stating his gratitude that his mother, a missionary, didn't choose abortion for him when her medical team advised it. Everything hit the fan. Suddenly the media is all over him, accusing him and the network of being "anti-family, anti-women" for airing such an offensive ad. He's the talk of the nation again, much of it extremely negative. One commentator I heard questioned "why Tim had to do that. He is risking his popularity, his income, his future, and even the popularity of his next team with this public stance." Wow--that guy misunderstands the goal of the Christian life that Tim embraces. Here's the thing: Though we are called to love everyone, the goal of a Christian's life isn't to be loved or even liked by everyone. The story of Jesus shows that he certainly wasn't. As Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to courageously stand for what we believe, speak truth even when it is unpopular, and defend the helpless. Certainly we have to balance this reponsibility with love and compassion, and season our words with care. But trying to avoid controversy is not an option. It lacks courage AND character. No one who actually is thinking with the mind of Christ will choose it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How do you spell relief? Good news!

Our Cornerstone Clear Blue Team is in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A military plane flew them there, and they are being housed there overnight. They will either be met there or in Miami by Bishop David Roller.

I praise Jesus for our wonderful team---I know they were a God-send and unspeakable blessing while they were there.

I praise Jesus for the amazing Free Methodist Church who have turned everything up side down, trting to make sure we got information.

I praise Jesus for these United States of America, and the compassion that flows from so many.

Haiti Thursday

Just got off the phone with Bishop Roller. The evacuation from Haiti of our Clear Blue team is entirely dependent on the US Embassy based or urgency and need. We have no idea now when they will be home, just that they are on the list. Until then, we know they are providing valuable assistance, and being enabled by our powerful God.

Emails, tweets--any communication from Port au Prince is sketchy and one-sided. An email may a sentence or two, with no opportunity to dialogue or ask questions. No phone calls. So, we rely on sporadic information and are grateful when we get it. That will eventually change. No commercial air flights can go in or out. People ask if we are putting together a team to go down there---certainly not now. No one can. Only specified, qualified relief and military can get in and out.

Andy Yardy, a journalist and FMWM media director (creator of our Clear Blue videos), arrived in Haiti today by way of the Dominican Republic as a journalist. Hopefully he will be able to provide news shortly, and perhaps even a video for Sunday

As I am writing this, an email came in from Bishop Roller. I will conclude with info from him:
We continue to be in prayer for our Haitian brothers and sisters in crisis. Here are some recent developments:

► Jack Munos and Katie Zook were airlifted from Guantanamo Bay last night because their conditions were deemed more serious than originally thought. They arrived in Miami early this morning. Pacific Northwest Superintendent Matt Whitehead is at the hospital and reports both are doing well. They are in ICU but alert. Both have been suffered quite a bit of trauma but "we can be encouraged that God is answering prayer." Katie's family is now at the hospital and has been a great encouragement to her. I was able to speak to Jack for a few moments by phone and encourage him with, "Well done good and faithful servant." Jack asks us to not give up hope on Jeanne even though he recognizes her rescue would require a miracle.

► The Free Methodist World Missions team, together with the Board of Bishops, are working to produce a short video for use in FM churches on Sunday. I (Bishop Roller) will be the face of the video but will be representing the broad spectrum of Free Methodists with ministry in Haiti. Remember that International Child Care Ministries, Clear Blue Global Water Project, FOHO (work teams), Eden Reforestation and other FM-related ministries will be involved in our response. Please alert ministries to connect with us before developing independent plans.

► We are working to put together an exploratory team to travel to Haiti and connect with the Haitian church leaders. We will rely heavily on the wisdom of the Haitian church to create a response strategy and action plan. We also are working to make connections with other denominations and NGOs to participate in a coordinated response. We anticipate this exploratory team will provide a fuller assessment of the needs, as well as the best way for North-American teams to respond over the next months.

The next weeks and months will be filled with uncertainty and grief. At the same time, we know God will redeem and heal. He will make sense out what appears random and cruel. There will be opportunities for Haiti to be rebuilt as a new Haiti. Soon, unprecedented opportunities will open up in Haiti for the church to participate in building safer and better housing, more reliable infrastructure and a more just society. The Haitian FMC, which has always been intrinsically wholistic, will need our partnership. Get ready.

Bishop David Roller

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti tragedy and Clear Blue Team--What We Know For Sure

The news is tragic. That is sure. The newscasters keep reminding us that everything is a guess, we know little for sure. I agree with that.But, we do know a couple of things for sure.

What we know for sure:
Our Clear Blue Team (arrived Monday) is safe. I just got an email from the US EMBASSY in Port au Prince on behalf of Bruce Oberlin, simply stating, "We are ok. Please contact our families." Pastor Arron Swenson just wrote and said to tell the people at Cornerstone that their people are doing fine, and providing tremendous help. They will be flown to Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, and from there to Miami. Bishop David Roller and Dale Woods from our missions department will meet them there for debriefing and crisis care.

* The FM Mission House in Port au Prince was destroyed in the earthquake. Three stories collapsed into one, and it is burning from the basement.

* Jeanne Munos was at the Mission House; she and two other FM mission workers who had just arrive from Lakeland, Florida on Tuesday, Merle West and Gene Dufor are missing and the search continues. Erlin, the young Haitian caretaker , was found and buried this morning. His wife and 3 year old son are physically ok.

* Jack Munos has several broken bones and kidney damage after being trapped under concrete for 6 hours. (He was at a construction site, not on site at the mission house when the earthquake hit.) Katie Zook, Jeanne’s assistant was buried under debris and has lacerations but no broken bones. Medi-Evac is evacuating Katie and Jack to Gitmo for medical attention.

* MANY wonderful Haitian pastors, their families, loved ones and friends need and deserve our united prayers for God’s mercy and help right now! HE knows where they are and can bring them aid! 80% of Haiti’s population live below the poverty level in dire need for the necessities of life on their best days!

* International Child Care Ministries supports more than 4000 children there, and sponsors 53 schools across the country, most near Port au Prince. Information about those children will be released as it becomes available.

Most importantly, God is still God. He still cares and still is working. When we feel like we can't trust the circumstances, we can trust His heart.