Home

Last week, I was honored to be featured in one of Fuller Seminary’s Be Inspired stories, entitled “Longing for Home”, written by my friend Christina Miller. It details not only some of the story of The District Church, but also one of the biggest continuing tensions of my life, one I believe resonates with an increasing number in our globalized and very mobile world — where is home?

Fuller Home Screen

 

As a pure coincidence, the story went live when I was back in Hong Kong, visiting my parents and the place I spent the first sixteen years of my life, so it was particularly poignant to read in that setting.

AirportSaying goodbye to my parents is always a difficult thing, not knowing the next time we’ll see each other, and last Friday was no different. But being able to pray together at the airport before we left, being able to entrust one another into the loving care of our heavenly Father, being able to know that we are bound by something far deeper than how often we talk or how often we get to see each other — these things are symbols of a home that is more solid than our earthly home; they are a foretaste of the home that will be. And for things like these, I am ever grateful.

Wherever you may be, I pray that God is home for you too, both as a destination to be reached as well as the journey there.

They accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live in this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. – Hebrews 11:13-16 (MSG)

Thanksgiving at 30

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Yesterday, I turned 30, and I was reminded this past week–especially in light of this coming week–of how much I have to be thankful for: doing a job I love in a city I love, among people I love, with a family I love supporting me (even from afar).

There really isn’t a way to adequately convey how full my heart is after the events of the last week: from having my friend Rachel in town, to celebrating Austin & Maggie’s engagement, to numerous birthdays this week (Jordan, Erin, Rachel, Amy), to going to see LIGHTS for the fifth time (below), to the birthday party that was thrown for me last night.

When I was leaving California three years ago, a friend wrote this to me:

As you go, I hope that you see and are seen, that you inspire and are inspired, that you know and are known.

Over the last few years, I’ve been so humbled to see how these things have come to pass. Knowing and being known is pretty core for a nomad like myself, and God has been so faithful in this.

This is now the longest I’ve been in one place since I left Hong Kong almost fifteen years ago, and while every few years has been punctuated with a new chapter, this is the first time that, instead of going on to the next thing or to a new place, I’ll be putting my roots down deeper.

And to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to have done any of that without all of you who’ve been involved–from the over fifty people who have supported me financially over the last two years, to those of you who’ve been so faithful in prayer for me, and to those who have been friends and family to me for longer still.

This Thanksgiving, at the beginning of a new chapter entitled “My Thirties,” I’ll refer to Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi: “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Yesterday, my dad sent this quote from Confucius:

At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the mandate of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing the norm.

Standing firm … I like that.

One less place to call home

It’s strange being back in the UK for the first time since I left in fall 2006.

Four years ago, I hadn’t experienced a year of integrating politics and faith with Sojourners in Washington, DC. Four years ago, I didn’t even care about politics; I’d never heard of Barack Obama, let alone volunteered for his campaign. Four years ago, God hadn’t yet broken my heart for the poor, or stirred me to anger against injustice. Four years ago, I was still figuring out what I was going to do with my life—how I was supposed to weave together the disparate passions and talents I’d been entrusted with.

And most of my friends in the UK have missed out on that part of my life. Many of them haven’t seen the last four years of growth and maturing, of heartbreak and healing, of discovering my calling and the joy that comes with that. And I wish they had.

So it’s been a little sad. Much of this past week I’ve been reflecting in a fairly resigned way how we’ve grown apart, how God has led us in different directions, how friendships that used to be so close are no longer so, how people who played such important roles in my life no longer do. I know God is doing great things in each of our lives, and I’m glad for that.

But, like Hong Kong, it seems London is destined to become (and is already becoming) just another place I spent time in—formative years, life-changing years, years when I encountered God through and among some amazing people—but home no longer.

The last weeks of 2009

Last week, I celebrated Christmas with Aaron, Amy and Elijah in Huntington, WV, home of Marshall University (“We Are Marshall”) and of Amy’s family. It was great spending a few days outside of DC, and with an awesome and wonderfully welcoming family.

To boot, last week …

  • I got to go on a tour of the East Wing of the White House.
  • I got to talk with family in Australia, Hong Kong, and California.
  • I got to talk with friends in New Zealand, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California. (What up, iChat video conferencing?!)
  • I got to watch a truckload of enjoyable movies: Avatar, Invictus, The Blind Side, The Invention of Lying, and Sherlock Holmes.

It was a good week. 🙂

[For Christmas pics, check out my Facebook.]

This week, I’m in snowbound St Louis for Urbana 2009, InterVarsity’s triennial missions conference. I’m here with Sojourners, who are co-leading the Poverty and Advocacy track along with World Vision and International Justice Mission. It’s the first time in Urbana’s history that they’re looking at advocacy as a form of mission, and so it’s a pretty momentous occasion and an exciting development.

One of the things we’re launching this week is the Human Wrong Initiative, which is geared towards combating child slavery in all its forms: prostitution, forced labor, and child-soldiering. Of the 27 million people still in slavery today, about half are women and children.

This is how the world is today. But it is not how the world should be. Nor how the world needs to be. Join us, get involved, let your friends know. Let’s stamp out child slavery.

The other thing that’s happening (that I’m involved with) is helping Sojourners lead a night of lament for the injustice in the world; that’ll take place tomorrow (December 29th). I’ll only be speaking for a few minutes, but I’m gonna be laying the groundwork for the couple hundred students in our track to engage with God in this way, so I’d appreciate your prayers!

[Pics to Urbana will follow. :)]