03 July 2009

Mozambique 2009

Since 2005 I've been going to Mozambique for church missions. I have always loved the experience even though it's physically, and emotionally draining. The spiritual side is amazing, so that makes up for it. Mozambique 2009 is upon us, and I depart TOMORROW for this momentous mission!

As with all missions to Mozambique, there's been a last-minute scramble by yours truly to get everything into gear. This year, ironically, has been the least stressful preparation for me, and maybe that's because I'm now a five-time veteran or something, or because I know it's going to be arguably the toughest mission I've been on yet. You see, this time around, our leader has decided that the only way to REALLY experience community with the people we're going to work alongside, is to li
ve alongside them. That means, of course, that we are going to sleep in the community, eat with the community, and work with the community.

Why is this such a big deal?
There's no running water. There's no ablutions. The water you pump isn't drinkable. There's mosquitoes with malaria. There's nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh, and there's this witch. The Witch of Pikoko. This "lady" and I had a v
ery intimate encounter last year, which ended up in me being rescued by a Land Rover that DIDN'T STOP MOVING and me bundling into it with explosions and gun-fire and curses and spells and all sorts. But that's for another time.

For now, if you want to know what we're up to, or want to pray for us, here's the itinerary:

Also, I'm preparing to preach this year. Something new for me in the sense that I'm preparing in advance, so there's a lot of responsibility and expectation on my shoulders. The sermon notes can be seen here; http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddptrndx_31gh429bfc

Please feel free to pray for the team, pray for the sermons, and for good health and effectiveness. And also for the ones left behind, or for some reason or another couldn't go on Mission this year - and for those that are spouses and family of the missionaries.

Thanks guys! A te prossima semana!


Shalestra said...

I like the sermon, all except the stuff under "Devil convinces us we have a reason to hide". I fail see religion as about one's relationship with God, not anyone or anything else, and least of all about the devil.

Why talk about the devil? Surely to be seperated from God is the greatest horror and punishment, like being separated from the love of a parent.

I particularly have an issue with the line, "it's the very isolation from God that feeds the devil's deception and makes us believe more of his lies".

The focus of your sermon seems to lie in accepting responsibility for your actions and reconciling yourself with God, but this line, particularly the phrase, "makes us believe", shifts the responsibility, makes "the devil" responsible.

I'm not having a go at you Bryan, I think it's a really good sermon, but my suggestion is to cut that portion. In the story of Adam and Eve they're tempted and decide to do something forbidden. Many people make the mistake of blaming it on Eve, or the Devil, or even God for making the rule, but in the end I see the core message as being that we all make choices, and sometimes they're not good ones. We're human, we make mistakes.

Adam makes excuses, he attempts to cover up, both physically and spiritually, to place a barrier between himself and God. As a result he doesn't completely acknowledge his fault and ask for forgiveness, and so there are consequences; Adam and Eve are cast from Eden, but because of the honesty he does show, and because of God's love, they are don't lose the important thing, their relationship with God.

We all feel shame, but God is the one person we can be honest with, the one person we can approach with our problems, our insecurities, our misdeeds. To conceal from God is to place a barrier between ourselves and God, and hurts only us.

Anyway, I've rambled a bit, but I think that mentioning the devil is distracting from the central message of the sermon, as well as sending a bit of a mixed message.

On a personal note I don't even think the devil should be mentioned in any sermon, it sends a message tainted with fear about external demonic influence that plays right into the hands of the type of people who hurl curses and use witchcraft. If your relationship with God is good then you have nothing to fear, and if it's not then the focus should be on fixing that relationship, not on fearing further infernal influence. Send a message of love and hope, fear shouldn't enter into it, except for the fear of living a life without God's love, which is awful enough really.

Shalestra said...

I was re-reading the sermon after my comments and I noticed at the bottom two struck-out verses,

"There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

2Th 2:16-17 "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, (17) encourage you and strengthen you to always do and say what is good."

This is where I think the focus should be. A focus on God's love rather than the fear of the devil (1 John 4:18).

And a focus on a good relationship with God as empowering you to doing good (2Th 2:16-17), and so the importance of being honest with yourself and God in order to have God's help in living a good and fulfilling life. Effectively the "why" you need to open yourself to God.

I don't know why these two quotes were struck out, but they fit very neatly with my reading of your sermon.

I hope my comments are useful. Again, I think your sermon is great, and well written and thought out, it's just that one area where I think it needs a little revision and refocus.