Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Become a Missionary... The Yes Doctrine

Step 1.  Say YES.

I am a missionary.  Let me rewind.

I began this quest when I was 12 years old.  I knew after hearing all the elaborate stories about snakes in the amazon and safaris in Kenya that being a missionary would be AMAZING.  I knew that I'd get to travel to far and distant places and meet people that would have elaborate stories about how they would have clothes dropped to them like in the movie "Operation Dumbo Drop."  I knew that telling them about Jesus would be easy because they ''needed'' him more than I did.

I had to play my cards right.
Finish High School
Learn how to Lead Worship
Go to a Christian University
Question if missionaries actually help

Ok. I know missionaries help - but was I had many questions:
Was I wanting to be a missionary out of selfish ambition?
Can I really make a difference?
Can I chose to commit my life to learning a new language and culture to only be rejected?
Am I just being lazy?

Step 2.  Say Yes!

Jesus called us to be disciples and make disciples.

I found out while leading short term mission trips in Mexico that when the different groups came down to ''help,'' they often hindered any sort of ministry from happening.  These 'missionaries' were often bitter.  They were not open to becoming disciples and definitely against discipling.  They chose to take a trip with a 'no' mentality.  You could also see the lives changing when those who came decided (before coming) to say Yes to whatever came up.  In fact, one group decided it would be best if they couldn't come because they felt called to focus on their local community.  They were obedient. They forfeited their money for the trip and stayed home.  They said Yes.  They were missionaries.

Missions start with a decision to constantly be learning and the decision to love one another.
John 13:34-35: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

My pastor in Mexico told me:

Missions is not about
            where you go....
                          what you do......
                                    how much you spent.......
                                               what language you learn.......
It is about saying      YES   to God.

Yes I will follow you.  Yes I will praise you.  Yes I will speak up for you. Yes I will love everyone.  Yes I will be your missionary.  YES YES YES.

Step 3.  Say Yes......Jesus said Yes

Jesus did not think geographically.  I don't think they had a missions board in the temple wondering if they needed to extend the budget so Jesus could travel to Jerusalem or Samaria  (by the way they definitely were against the 'ends of the earth' campaign).

Jesus continued to say Yes until he sacrificed his life for the sin of mankind (which by the way includes those who would say yes but also those who would say no).

We get so weary hearing about missions.  We feel as if it is some distant thought or lifestyle that we will never be a part of (unless you check the 'donate to missions' box on the tithe envelope).  We are all called to missions. We are all Called to be Disciples!

We are all Called to Say Yes.

-David Carnes
Director of Store Operations
NewSpring Thrift Stores

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Water...It's Kind of a Big Deal's kind of a big deal.  

I don't know what it's like to not have it.  I grew up drinking well water, which had sulphur in it, that gave it a funny taste and smell, but I got used to it.  The water wasn't contaminated, it just had a higher sulphur content.  Nevertheless, as long as I have been alive, I have no understanding of existence without clean, healthy water. Which doesn't change the fact that...

Water is a big deal.

"In a newborn infant, this may be as high as 75 percent of the body weight, but it progressively decreases from birth to old age, most of the decrease occurring during the first 10 years of life.  The human body is about 60% water in adult males and 55% in adult females." -Wikipedia

"According to some figures, the consensus is 70.8% (71%) of the surface is water, 29.2 % is land. Other figures suggest the percentage of water (on Earth) is 71.11%..." -

So our bodies are about 60% water, on average, & even the earth itself is about 70% water.

New well in Liberian village

We got a report in recently from Edwin Moses, one of our pastor/leaders in Liberia.  Edwin writes:

"Praise God, for the Kru town church. This is a town since it was discover some seventy years ago has not experience safe drinking water, today I’m please to say a big thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ through AFJ/WATER OF LIFE MINISTRY that has brought water into this town. It is a big boost for the missionary and the Christian’s in this town as they are now using it for evangelism and also Muslim are now complaining that, since they were born into Islam nothing as  such has happen in this village. Also, on the day the well was turn over to the chief; four persons (Muslims) gave their life to Jesus Christ." 

So, not having water in a village in Liberia was such a big deal that, when a well was installed, and the village had clean water for the very first time, it caused four Muslims to reexamine their view of Christ vs. Allah...and Christ, the wellspring of living water, became their Lord.

Perhaps the well exposed a deeper thirst.

That is a very big deal. 

What are you thirsty for?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Time...Friend or Foe?

This post is a guest me(@andersonica)...meaning that I borrowed it from my personal blog, because I was suffering from a bit of writer's block, or something like it last night.  It was originally published on Feb. 10, 2010...I hope that you enjoy it.

When you are a kid, the flow of time has the consistency of molasses. Here in the South, we use the comparison, "as slow as molasses" quite often. It has been used to describe me and the speed at which I operate more than once. When you are younger, life is about "The Waiting," which, according to Tom Petty, is the hardest part.

There is waiting for Christmas, the next birthday, until you are old enough to do this, that, or the other thing. Waiting until after dinner before you can have your desert.(Adults do not always adhere to this one...not that I would know anything about that...) Waiting until you are old enough to darn near everything.

Conversely, the main complaint that I hear from the older generation is rate at which "time flies."
How there "are not enough hours in the day."
"The years just fly by."
"Where does the time go?"

So which is time too fast or too slow? Friend or foe? If you were to redesign the DNA of time, how would you change it?

It seems that, according to many, both young and old, time is one of the biggest enemies to the way that we would have things to be.

But what if it's not time's fault, but rather, our disregard for it's value...our lack of appreciation for a moment...this you are reading this. What is wrong with this moment? It seems like a perfectly good moment to me...and granted, I am but one observer or partaker of time. Still, I can't find anything particularly wrong with this moment.
Wait, don't tell's too soon, isn't it?
Or it's just too late.

Maybe this is the perfect moment what you've been putting off.
Make the call or visit that you least want to make...then you'll waste less time scheduling around it.
Tell the truth.
Tell someone who needs to know that you love them...that they matter...even if you don't tell them in words...tell them with your actions...even better.

I look at all of the things that I have done in my life to avoid being in a moment that I did not want to be in...the delaying, playing dumb, procrastinating, medicating, protesting, sleeping, lying, plotting...and all because when the moment showed up, I didn't like how it was dressed. So I tried all of these and so many other methods to make the moment look like I wanted it to. Subsequently, a lot of moments left me...and it was my fault. About fifteen years ago, I began to drink from a different stream of teaching. It's nothing new...and it is for sure that I didn't discover it. It is kin to carpe diem, only more immediate. It is about embracing the moment. Each and every one of them. Good, bad, and ugly. Take them as they come and take the gifts that they bring. If the moment brings lifted, empowered, and encouraged by it. If the moment brings taught or shaped by it.

It is for certain that I am not above wasting time. If not making good use of one's time were a degreed course, I would have a P.H.D. Over the last several years, however, the bow of my mental/spiritual ship has been turning. It has taken a while. I move like molasses...remember? I have come to the conclusion that time is both a gift and a friend of mine. The joyful moments, that I have been a part of have left me with many beautiful images that can still stir my heart in an instant, and make gratitude well up inside me. The painful moments have been, maybe my greatest teachers.

Yesterday, it was sunny and fifty-two degrees here in Nashville, TN. It has been grey and cold for about the last three weeks. I took an hour out of my day to walk some of the trails out at Radnor Lake. I sat by the lake for some time...just drinking it in.

The merry-go-round stopped.
Gratitude welled up inside me.
I received the gift that the moment had for me.
I am better off.

Time is my friend.

Monday, April 4, 2011

God Is Up To Zambia

In January of this year, Africa For Jesus merged with another African ministry- Hope Builders.  Hope Builders and AFJ both believe in church planting and disciple making by pouring into native pastors.  Both ministries believe that God meant for us to work side by side.  And both believe that God is up to something in Africa...and that something is...enlarging his kingdom...making the family bigger...and with a quickness like we have never seen.

The NewSpring Thrift Stores exist to support both of these ministries.  It gives us a great reason to get out of bed and serve our customers every day.  When we get reports back about what God is doing in Africa, it really energizes what we are doing in our stores.

Victoria Falls
Over the weekend, we got such a report from Jeff Hawkins, who is the Country Coordinator for Zambia.  Here are some excerpts from Jeff's report:  "Saturday morning we viewed the Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side. It was a first for me. I must say the Zambian side is best, though both are absolutely awesome.

Sunday we all went to church. Bill and I went to Pastor Soko's church. This afternoon we met with Pastor Soko's new group of 10 Hub pastors. We spent about 2 hours together explaining the method and philosophy of making disciples and training new pastors while planting new churches. Pray for them as the endeavor to establish 100 new churches by this time next year. Pray also that God would raise up the partners needed to help these pastors with Bibles and bicycles. We would like to help Pastor Soko's church complete their building. After 9 years they are still trying to find the funds to put on a metal roof. Pray with us.  Tomorrow we start mapping here in Livingstone and then travel to Mazabuka on Tuesday Morning."  

One hundred new churches in twelve months?  Really?  
These pastors believe that God is going to help them raise up one hundred churches this year?
Believers are going to continue to meet in a church that hasn't even had a roof in the past nine years?
In a land where there are 200 million BELIEVERS who have never seen a Bible in their native tongue?
And yet...they believe...and the kingdom is getting larger.
God is most definitely up to something in Africa.  

What is God up to in your world?

What has He given you a vision for that requires all of the faith that you posess?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Confessions of a First-Time Father

I have some things that I want to confess.
I work for NewSpring Thrift.  I believe in our mission.  
I confess...I enjoy what I do.
It's one of the things that drives me to strive for excellence everyday.
I am in all of our stores almost every week...which has its advantages and disadvantages.

I confess I have shopped at thrift stores since I was in my early twenties...which is...a long time.   I have done so because one of the great advantages of shopping at a place like NewSpring is that you can find the same name-brand items that the retail stores carry, for a fraction of the price, so that you can still afford to eat.  Some call that mentality "cheap," I prefer, "frugal," or "thrifty."

I confess, I am 45 years old, and a first-time father of a magnificent six and a half months boy-wonder, named Isaac.  In the last several months, I have discovered another advantage- NewSpring easily the best place to shop for our son, Isaac, who is growing out of clothes so fast, that we are donating clothing almost as fast as we can buy it.  It's kind of like we are just renting his clothes anyways, so Ana and I feel good about "renting" his clothes from NewSpring, because we believe in supporting Africa For Jesus' cause.

So I get to help my son and help our cause simultaneously...a win-win!

The only real disadvantage is that I see something almost every day that my son would be irresistible in, or that he would love to play with.
So, I confess that I am having to learn all over again to not let my emotions govern my shopping habits. (See grocery shopping when hungry.)

I confess...I love my wife...which is why I have a son.
I confess...I love my son...& I love the fact that NewSpring allows me to clothe Isaac...& not go broke doing it.
I confess...I am blessed.

Do you have any blessings to confess today?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Words That Get A Bad Rap..."Suspend"

There are certain words in our language that just have negative connotations almost as soon as they are uttered.  Their reputation proceeds them, and no matter how hard one might campaign on their behalf, they will probably always be received with a cringe.




When you see or hear those words, your reaction is almost a reflex.  You start to brace yourself for some news that is not good.  Right?  What about the word "suspend?"  When you were in school, and you heard the word "suspend," what feelings were associated with it?  Does your stomach drop to your shoes?  Most sports fans never want to hear any form of the word "suspend" associated with any of the members of their team.

 sus·pend [suh-spend]
to debar, usually for a limited time, from the exercise of an office or function or the enjoyment of a privilege: The student was suspended from school to come to a stop, usually temporarily; cease from operation for a time.

 But "suspend" also has some other meanings that are not negative at all:
to hang by attachment to something above: to suspend a chandelier from the ceiling. to hold or keep undetermined; refrain from forming or concluding definitely:  to suspend one's judgement.

 This last definition is why I think that this word has gotten a bad rap.  To suspend one's judgement.  This is something that we ask of ourselves and of our staff everyday.  To suspend our judgements of people and situations for long enough to allow God to speak about the persons or situations is part of the greatest commandment given in the Bible.  

Love God...and love your neighbor.

It can be a difficult thing to do, because it is our natural leaning to set ourselves up as judge, so that we can either feel better about ourselves; justify our thoughts, words, and actions/inactions, or have the illusion that we are in control of a particular situation.

The rub is that we suspend our judgements of most everything we believe in thirty minute to two hour increments in order to be entertained nearly every day.

Yet, we won't suspend our judgements of people...what they wear, what they drive, how they talk...for thirty seconds in order to see them or hear them for what and who they really are...

 A miracle...

 A gift...

 Just like you...and me.

How I Got Here...Part 1 "Tim Anderson"

My name is Tim Anderson.  I am the marketing director for NewSpring Thrift Stores.  
I have occupied many roles in my time here.  That is part of the game when one is involved with a non-profit, or a ministry.  Almost everyone in our little family multi-tasks, and we make it work.

I'm not complaining, it is the state of what is. The title associated with my name on a particular day means nothing...except that the title might give an overview of what activities I might be engaged in on a particular day.  What is important about my title is how I got it.

I don't have a degree in marketing.
I don't have a degree in advertising...or even business.
I don't have a degree.

So how did I get here?

I met Lawrence Gunnells, the COO of Africa For Jesus/NewSpring Thrift stores about six years ago, when I was operating a coffee shop in Springfield that my wife & I owned.  Lawrence was working for a local newspaper that he owned, and he often held staff meetings at my shop.  After we had owned the shop for about a year, I took on an additional volunteer position with a local church as their worship pastor.  I occupied a few other roles during my stay there, eventually being named the associate pastor.

I had never owned a business of any kind before.
I don't have a theology or divinity degree, nor am I an ordained minister.

Fast forward to early 2010.  Lawrence and I had a lunch meeting with a mutual friend.  I asked Lawrence what he was doing, and he said that while he was still working for a paper, but he was really excited about this ministry that he was working for called Africa For Jesus.  He told me what they were doing in Africa, and I began to get curious.

I have never been on a mission trip of any kind.

I did some online research, and I called Lawrence and told him that I would love to get involved somehow and would pray about it, and I asked him to do the same.  A few months later, I still found that this ministry was in my mind and on my heart, so I called Lawrence, and he said that he wanted to meet with me because some things had changed, and that there might be a place for me.  We had a couple of meetings where Lawrence outlined a position that he called Director of Store Operations. My wife, Ana, and I prayed about it for a couple of weeks, and got clearance from the Lord to accept the offer.  Lawrence told me that he didn't offer the job to me just for my management skills, or the way that I cared for people, or my gifts for dealing with the public.  No, he said that the deciding factor for him was that every day that he was in my coffee shop, I was always talking to people about Jesus.

Nothing that I could ever list on a resume will ever top that for me.  Someone hired me because he saw me doing my everyday thing and telling people about Jesus in the process.

I don't write this to boast about myself, or anything that I might have achieved.  I have nothing to brag about...other than my God.  Anything that I have, any position that I have ever occupied, the provisions that are my wife, my son, my family and friends, are all gifts that He gave to me because He loves me so.

And I do love Him.I'm not just a bit taken with Him.I love Him.  I want to be just like Him. 
The most powerful thing about my resume is that I didn't write it.  God has continuously brought me into situations that are "far above my pay grade," saying to me over and over again, "Trust me, son.  I made you for this moment...& I will be your Provision."King Jesus is still in the business of taking the things that the world calls foolish to confound the wise...And how I got here.

-Tim Anderson
Director of Marketing
NewSpring Thrift Stores
@NewSpringThrift on Twitter