Between fear and hate: a response to shooting in our church

This 9:32 minute audio is Greg Taylor’s response given the morning after a shooting inside the building of the church where he preaches, Garnett Church of Christ.

Click on play button to listen

We chose the following media link because it more effectively shows the Hmong community response.

Shooting at Hmong Party in Tulsa

The Hmong leader interviewed in the story, Linda Lor, had just spoken to me minutes before she was interviewed on camera and she assured me that the Hmong community is coming together, that this is a wake up call for them and for us in many ways to pay closer attention to Hmong (and all) youth, anger, forgiveness, love. She said, “this shooting was due to an unforgiven grudge,” a targeted shooting toward one man in particular within a family clan.

That clan is planning a gathering at our church this weekend. Please pray for love to reign in this place where a shooting took place last weekend.

The audio above states what we want to say for now: blessings, prayers, support, love for and to the Hmong community. We also want to thank all those in our church and community and the nation who have been praying for us here. We feel and value your prayers and know the Holy Spirit is working through us as we seek to respond in ways that Christ would want us to respond, not with fear nor with hate but with love for all, including those who try to do us harm.

Related articles

Water4Uganda Video

Can water wells be dug by hand? Yes, that have for centuries. Can a 6 inch diameter bore hole be drilled by hand and hit water? Until now, most people would say no, you need a drilling rig.

Enter Water4, Dick Greenley, Chris Cotner, and Steve Stewart. Two years ago, my friend Chris King introduced me to these guys and a new project called Water4, a not-for-profit based out of Pumps of Oklahoma in OKC, OK. I’ve been around water projects and lived in Uganda for seven years, but I’d never seen anything like these tools: hand augers, balers, rock breakers, and an innovative and powerful yet affordable pump.

As one Ugandan said, “This changes everything.” Will it happen fast? It could but that’s up to people joining hands, working hard, and giving countries around the world their own chance to dig their own wells.

Water4 provides tools, designs that are public domain, expertise, and people like you and me travel and take tools and help train local people and leave projects in their hands to develop as each country and churches and communities see fit.

Watch this video and write me if you want to know more.

Source of Life

From Bobby Garner . . . here is the new web site of the Source Cafe and Resource Center. The Source Cafe

The Taylor family plans to be there May 25-June 14 to reunite and see good things “flowing out” of the Source of Life Resource Center. It’s named “source” because it’s within a mile of the famous “Source of the Nile” where we lived 1994-2001.

We’ll also be taking another “source” of life from water4.org

Are you ready for your mission trip this summer?

You’re thinking about a mission trip in 2010 . . . and you have questions, perhaps for you, a friend or relative, students or a whole group . . .

Can I drink the water? But I don’t speak the language! You want me to sleep where? They eat what? How am I going to raise that much money? Is it really God’s will for me to go? I don’t know how to share the gospel.

Are you ready for your short-term trip? How do you get ready? More than two million Americans will go into all the world on short-term missions trips in 2008. Are you ready to be one of them?

Anne-Geri’ Fann and I have written a short-termers survival guide! We have years of experience as both long-term and short-term missionaries and have led teams there–and the always important . . . back safely. With humor and brevity–the book is just over 100 pages–we help you prep and pack for the trip, and we put our arms around you while you’re gone (I suppose you could cuddle with the book), and offer perspective as you re-enter “normal” life.

How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions: the ultimate guide for sponsors, parents, and those who go will help you:

Pack your suitcase and prepare your heart
* Build genuine relationships with the locals
* Understand cultural differences
* Deal with physical fatigue
* Combat stretched emotions

There’s even a chapter for clammy-handed parents!

With humor and experience, help you ask questions you can’t hide from and help you focus on your true mission, so you can act like the One you are calling people to follow while on your trip, and not like an ugly American!

Order it or find it at your local bookstore.

* Paperback: 136 pages
* Publisher: Thomas Nelson (2006)
* ISBN: 1418509779

What’s Next @ Garnett Church of Christ?

My co-worker and good friend, Wade Hodges, will be leaving Garnett Church of Christ effective March 1 to follow his dream of planting a church in Austin, Texas.

Wade is one of my best friends and has personally challenged me in every area of my life, from my faith to my health to my thinking. He has challenged our church’s and larger Christian community’s narrow assumptions of faith and what it means to live the Christ-life and has prepared us to be a church that embodies the kingdom life he’s preached for six years. Wade, your jokes will be missed by a few of us. But missed by all will be the way you drive deep the sword of the word to penetrate heart and soul and bone marrow. Wade, we will miss you. Thank you.

Heather has been a great co-worker as we’ve worked together in outreach, and her skills as a counselor and administrator have been invaluable as we’ve reached out to the Hispanic community in Tulsa. She has launched and help to grow the Garnett Bilingual Preschool to sixty students, with instructors in Spanish and English, leaving a legacy of a solid ongoing program that impacts dozens of families in our community. She has been both a good friend to many in and outside our church, and she knows how to get things done. Heather, we will miss you. We will miss Wade’s and Heather’s sons, Caleb and Elijah, but we know this great family is following their hearts and dreams, and we’re happy for them.

In some ways, the Hodges and Taylors are trading places. Jill and I came to Garnett with seven years of experience with a church planting mission team in Uganda. We know what it’s like to have a burning in our hearts to start something bold and new in the name of Jesus Christ.

Garnett will continue to support Wade and Heather for a time while they launch the new church in Austin, and we encourage others to support them financially, spiritually, emotionally, with prayer as they seek out people who are searching for Jesus and what it means to follow him today without many of the trappings of traditional religion. See Wade’s blog to follow him and email him if you want to know more or support what they’re doing in some way.

What’s next for Garnett?

March 1, I will move to lead minister at Garnett Church of Christ. I want to thank the shepherds for their confidence in me. I’m honored and humbled and have accepted their offer to lead the staff and preach. Would you please say a prayer for Wade and Heather today in their church planting mission? And would you please say a prayer for Jill and me and our children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, today?

The Hodges are following their dream, and I’m ready for the challenges ahead in leading and preaching at Garnett. I’ll continue my focus on outreach to the community but will hand off some other duties to other capable people in the church as I move into weekly preaching. Wade’s such a great preacher, he’ll be a tough act to follow, but with God’s help I can be myself, tell the truth, and make a different kind of impact that’s helpful in the kingdom. I’ll end below with some great words of commissioning from one of our shepherds, Loy Johnson. Thank you to Loy, Rusty Anderson, Robert Garland, John Dickmann, and Jeff McIlroy for how they laid out the transition to Garnett congregation Sunday. As one person said, their leadership was “comforting” and at the same time challenging to the congregation, and they did that credibly, humorously yet sincerely. Thank you guys for a job very well done.

Jill is a full-time math teacher at Wright Christian Academy and teaches adjunct at Tulsa Community College. She also volunteers in the children’s ministry at Garnett. My deal with her and the churches we’ve served is that I have no stereotypical “preacher’s wife” expectations of her, and I ask our church to also allow Jill to carve out her own niche, as she has already done in the last three years here volunteering as a great Bible class teacher in children’s programs. Feel free to contact Jill directly if you’d like to encourage her or know how she feels right now. She is also on Facebook.

Finally, I want to end with an excerpt of Loy Johnson’s “Charge” to me.

Wade’s calling was one of pronouncement. Greg, yours is one of implementation.  It’s been said that a church takes on the personality of it’s pastor.  While the mission here at Garnett will remain the same, we understand that under your influence, the way it’s fleshed out is likely to reflect your passions and your personality – and we encourage that.  As Shepherds of this congregation, we give you the following charge:

  • Help us bring about unity, healing, and stronger family relationships within our body.
  • Help us practice what we preach.  Show us ways we can take an active role in healing the community around us.
  • Help us develop the same heart for others that you and Jill have already displayed.
  • Work within your giftedness.  Pursue your passions, but know your limits.  Focus on your areas of strength and allow others to serve within their’s.
  • May your ministry here at Garnett be marked by an expansion in God’s kingdom.  Through your efforts, may many people, both inside and outside of these walls, grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Going on a mission trip in 2008?

You’re thinking about a mission trip in 2008 . . . and you have questions, perhaps for you, a friend or relative, students or a whole group . . .

Can I drink the water? But I don’t speak the language! You want me to sleep where? They eat what? How am I going to raise that much money? Is it really God’s will for me to go? I don’t know how to share the gospel.

Are you ready for your short-term trip? How do you get ready? More than two million Americans will go into all the world on short-term missions trips in 2008. Are you ready to be one of them?

Anne-Geri’ Fann and I have written a short-termers survival guide! We have years of experience as both long-term and short-term missionaries and have led teams there–and the always important . . . back safely. With humor and brevity–the book is just over 100 pages–we help you prep and pack for the trip, and we put our arms around you while you’re gone (I suppose you could cuddle with the book), and offer perspective as you re-enter “normal” life.

How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions: the ultimate guide for sponsors, parents, and those who go will help you:

Pack your suitcase and prepare your heart
* Build genuine relationships with the locals
* Understand cultural differences
* Deal with physical fatigue
* Combat stretched emotions

There’s even a chapter for clammy-handed parents!

With humor and experience, help you ask questions you can’t hide from and help you focus on your true mission, so you can act like the One you are calling people to follow while on your trip, and not like an ugly American!

Order it from Amazon or find it at your local bookstore.

* Paperback: 136 pages
* Publisher: Thomas Nelson (2006)
* ISBN: 1418509779

Remembering Moses and Adam

I wrote this last January but never posted it, but wanted to share this on the one year anniversary of Moses Kimezi’s and Adam Langford’s deaths in Uganda.

January has been filled with saddness over the death of friends, ice, cancellations, disorientation. Come February, come. So artificial, those month markers, but all the same I told Jill, “I’m grateful for a new month.”

In through the cracks of pain come moments of illumination and joy. The only reason I can fathom losing a son or a brother now is because I’ve watched faithful friends do it with grace and peace and brokenness and tears and even great laughter. We have lost our incredible friends Adam Langford and Adam Kimezi, but being present with close family and friends in their suffering, says Adam’s last journal entry, is all we can do sometimes.

Short-term missions

Adam Langford joined a long-term mission in Jinja, Uganda, in part, because of short-term experiences in Honduras and Uganda.

My friend, Johnna Raymond, said, “We challenged our interns to give it over to God, all of it. Adam did.” Adam Langford and Moses Kimezi died January 16 as they worked to take good news to the poor and proclaim the joy of Christ. Both Moses and Adam were like that: the spirit of Christ oozed from their pores and their quick laughing smiles.

Literally millions of people in the United States and worldwide are preparing right now for short-term trips, particularly on spring and summer breaks.

Missionary hero of mine, Sam Shewmaker, asks, “Who are the 50 who will ‘replace’ Adam Langford in the mission field?” And who are the 50 who will ‘replace’ Moses? Indeed, we can’t replace Adam or Moses, but they have inspired us, called us once again to missional lives, to suffer with those who suffer, to take fresh water, healing balm, words of comfort, listening ears and learning hearts and serving hands.

Will you hear God’s call through this tragedy? Jason and Jody King already have. They had already made a short-term trip to Jinja and have been planning to go back for two years to Jinja and work with the team that Adam and Moses served with. Jason and Jody still need support. Will you hear God’s call to help support them? Will you either support short-term missionaries or long-term if you can’t go yourself? Or will you go?

Please, please do not go into a short-term trip light-heartedly or with the flippant spirit of “tourism for Jesus.” You need more than a passport and shots. You need the humble spirit of one who is willing to die for others, willing to be a transformed traveler, an incarnational presence of Christ as you discover the amazing diversity and learn deep truths yourself from Christians and God-fearers worldwide.

Here are some resources for you as you prepare. May God bless you, and please write me to find out more about short-term trips that make long-term missionaries. If you have any questions about how to support short-termers, train them, or go yourself, feel free to write.

The Kibo Group
Partners with creative people in both short- and long-term mission capacities to develop solutions for sustainable and community development in East Africa.

International Mission Internships (IMI)
Places university students with experienced missionaries for six-week-long internships that include a two-night bonding experience with locals.

Harding University at Tahkodah (HUT)
The HUT training village offers economic and cultural learning games to show what real life is like in a developing nation.

Mission Alive
Experientially trains mission teams and Christian leaders as evangelists and church planters.

Youth Works
Provides weeklong youth mission trips throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico

Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
Sends out twenty-five thousand short-term missionaries each year. Participants make God known through evangelism, mercy ministries, and discipleship training.

Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)
Seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. HFHI invites people of all backgrounds, races, and religions to partner with families in need through house-building projects.

Short-Term Evangelical Missions (STEM)
Offers training events, consulting, and publications to help churches and sending groups achieve maximum impact in their short-term mission programs.

Mission Year
Sends young people for one year to work in a poor urban neighborhood. In that time participants partner with a local church, volunteer at a social service agency, and develop relationships within the community.

Beyond Borders
Organizes reflective journeys and long-term apprenticeships that create opportunities for dialogue between the visitors and their Haitian hosts.

Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO)
Helps those working internationally with the poor be more effective, particularly in the areas of agricultural advancements and developing technology.

Casas por Cristo
A nondenominational ministry addressing the needs of the poor in Mexico through partnerships with churches in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (Casas por Cristo is Spanish for “Houses because of Christ”).

Source: How to get ready for short-term missions (Thomas Nelson, 2006).

Adam and Moses

They have biblical names and, like these biblical heroes of old, Adam Langford and Moses Kimezi have been pillars of faith. They died Tuesday in a tragic vehicle accident in Uganda.

Read more at our Jinja Missions web site

Moses Kimezi’s funeral was yesterday. Mark Moore and John Barton flew in from the states to attend with more than 500 others from Uganda who loved and appreciated this self-less man of God who was a carpenter and a manager of our Source of Life Cafe. He was indeed a source of life and will be incredibly missed. He leaves Irene, his wife, and three children.

Mark Moore and Moses Kimezi became friends ten years ago and this is what he said at his funeral: He said that peopple might think that Moses became the type of person he was because of being around missionaires, but for Mark that wasn’t the case. Mark said that he is a better person after being around Moses.

Marnie Moore wrote this about Moses:

Through the years I honestly never saw the man do anything selfish. Nothing, period. He was always helpful to me when Mark wasn’t around, loaned me money almost weekly, and continually worked as a peacekeeper amongst all of our friends. He was strong, constant, loving, encouraging and full of grace. He was patient and kind to our kids, and was especially patient and kind to me. He advised me and helped protect me. Mark and I have often spoken through the years, especially since leaving Uganda, that we have so much admiration for him.

Adam Langford was the kind of person that people were drawn to, whether children watching him balance a soccer ball on his foot, coffee growers he was helping the day he died, Source Cafe employees he worked alongside. Adam was in Uganda to proclaim good news to the poor, and he died in a tragic way but the love and joyful way he lived his life will make an indelible impression on Ugandans for decades to come. I know my Ugandan brothers and sisters will not forget him.

The funeral for Adam is being planned now in Edmond, Oklahoma as his body is being flown back to the states. The date for the funeral has not been determined because of the uncertainty of the day his body is to arrive in Oklahoma.

You can read more about Adam’s outlook on life and his mission in his online journal.

African Children’s Choir at Garnett in Tulsa

African Children’s ChoirGarnett Church of Christ is hosting the internationally renowned African Children’s Choir. They appeared on the Jay Leno Show and have appeared at the G8 Concert and other global events. Their singing was recently featured in “Blood Diamond.”

If you are in Tulsa, the state or nearby state, please join us in “letting the little children come” and welcoming them as Jesus would welcome them.

We want to help those attending to become more aware of global suffering and provide several “next steps” such as water well drilling, micro-credit programs, and children sponsorship that we can all participate in.

This is more than just a free concert by an incredible international group, we want to humble ourselves to receive from the children the gift of beautiful music and to return the blessing with our awareness, action, money, and our very lives.

Garnett Church of Christ, 12000 E. 31st St., Tulsa, OK
Email

Teamwork

In the life of a mission team, as most organizations, there are “documents,” written words that define identity, purpose, vision, strategy.

I want you to see the ongoing work of the Jinja Mission that we have been part of since 1994, and we are proud of those who have taken up the vision of seeing life-change in the Soga people since our departure in 2001.

Look at Jinja Missions web site and you’ll find a “Phase 5” document. We began a “Phase 4” document with an analogy of basketball, and the current team began theirs with one from soccer. I really like both ideas but I love how they have built on ideas and made them their own and partnered even more with Ugandans as we were doing, to creatively reach out and bless a people who we dearly love.

Here is the current team’s sports analogy and below that is the previous team’s from 2001.

2006 – Phase 5
Johann Cruyff and the “Clockwork Orange” Dutch National Team of the 1970’s revolutionized the game of soccer with their “total football” style of play. This strategy emphasized the adaptability of individual players within a fluidly shifting formation, encouraging spontaneity within order, and creating new possibilities for what a team could accomplish together. It is in the spirit of total football that we put forward the Phase V document, in order to provide a flexible structure that allows us to function intentionally, creatively, and openly towards identified goals. The structure is created by our shared visions and principles. Flexibility arises from our willingness to discern and respond as a team to God’s continual action as we perceive Him working together. Just as the Total Football concept is designed to create movement and space, we hope that in putting forward this strategy we are creating space for God to move and act in our lives and in the Busoga Churches of Christ.

2001 – Phase 4
“There is no rigidity here; but there is some structure.” That’s what former professional basketball player and current U.S. Senator Bill Bradley had to say about the game of basketball on the NBA’s 50th Anniversary special. We have used this quote at the beginning of our Phase documents because we feel it describes well our intentions in presenting the visions and objectives that the documents contain. As a mission team, we work from a set of strong principles, solid convictions, and aggressive goals- that gives us our structure. But within that structure, our team functions with a good deal of flexibility. There are many judgment calls, there is room for creative expression, and there are always contextual adjustments. It is this structured flexibility that we hope will keep us open to God’s guidance as we try to implement this Phase IV Action Plan for His glory. Likewise, it is this Phase IV Action Plan that will guide us as we try to move toward our long-term vision for the churches of Christ in Busoga, Uganda.