Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Dentist

      With the many tragedies happening around the world, especially the recent events in Colorado, a lot of people have been shaken up. The question "how can God exist, and how can He be good if this is happening?" is being tossed around in variations all over the assortment of social media I've been observing. This video is a great illustration with a simple answer to that question. Enjoy this sixty-second explanation our very loving, very real God!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Something Good In This World

     Sam said, "I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."
      "What are we holding onto, Sam?" asked Frodo.
      "That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for."
                           -J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17th: Norwegian Constitution Day

Me in a traditional Norwegian bunard.
     "Gratulerer!" (congratulations) was the cry of the day. Usually reserved for birthdays, the word was of course appropriate on Norway's own birthday, May 17th! This is the day in 1814 when Norway won its freedom from Sweden and established a constitution (think 4th of July, only super fancy). Everyone puts on their traditional "bunard" and celebrates out in the streets with sausages and sour cream porridge---which is way more delicious than it sounds, I promise. If you don't have a bunard of your own, like me, you dress as if you're going to a fancy wedding. After a huge breakfast with friends, guys and gals---dressed to the nines---head to the nearest State Church where the local bishop leads a service to bless the nation, choirs perform traditional songs, and the military holds a short memorial for lost soldiers. Afterwards, all the local schools parade through the streets, then it's on to barbecues and ice cream socials for the rest of the day! 
May 17th, circa 1910.
     What I find totally incredible about this day, though, is all the different bunards! Every region, sometimes even an individual farm, has it's own design that's been passed down for hundreds of years. Normally guys and girls get their bunards when they are confirmed by the church at age 14, and it's not uncommon that a mother or grandmother will have been embroidering bits of fabric, or buying individual pure silver or gold buttons each year, since they were just a baby. Altogether, a bunard can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,500, and they will wear them on special occasions for the rest of their lives (they're made with extra bits of fabric that can be let out as you grow). The one I'm wearing in the photo is borrowed from a friend, Heidi, who wears the bunard of her mother's homeland in the West Telemark region. It was a super heavy dress, and it took two extra people to get me into it, but it was so fun to play dress-up Norwegian style! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kragerø: Painting The Town Red

     This past weekend we took a team of twenty YWAMers to the Kragerø Russ Festival in the south of Norway to help out with the event. The festival brought in over 900 graduating high school seniors (called Russ in Norway) for teaching, worship, and a whole lot of fun. As the Russ head into their last month of school, there's a nation-wide expectation for them to go absolutely crazy. They pull tons of insane stunts, cause some playful mayhem, and generally enjoy their last weeks together as classmates. It's a lot of fun, and truly good-intentioned, but in recent decades the typical theme of this season have moved toward "drink as much as possible, have as much sex as possible, and experiment with anything and everything." This festival in Kragerø gives the Christian students an alternative to the typical Russ festivals happening around Norway in the weeks that follow. It's really an important time of strengthening as the students prepare to be Salt and Light among their non-Christian friends. 
     As a part of YWAM's involvement in the event, I was asked to put together a 24/7 prayer room in the concert hall. This was a quiet place, away from the chaos of the festival, where the students could come to pray and be prayed for. Many came there to meet with God, to worship, to lay down their rights, to commit to live abstenant and sober lifestyles during the graduation party month and beyond. We also had staff there around the clock interceding for the festival, praying through requests written by students, and lifting up the weeks leading up to the graduation and the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of these youths. It was such a privilege to be apart of this, and all I can say is I CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Påske: Thai Style

      A huge part of my ministry in Norway is mobilizing teenagers for mission. We spend the year teaching and discipling these graduating high school seniors, but taking them through a time of practical application is so essential for bridging the gap between recognizing the needs of the world and actively taking steps toward being apart of the solution. So for Easter break (Påske in Norwegian), along with three other leaders, I led a team of 18 and 19-year olds to Fang, Thailand to work with the Shan people (Burmese refugees living in the northwest of Thailand). Denied official recognition from the Thai government, the Shan have no opportunity to send their children to school and often have to work 12+-hour shifts on less than 1/3 the national average wage. The Shan Outreach Center (SOC) established by YWAM has been working among the Shan as they wait out the war in their home country, providing discipleship and education for over a decade, so we joined in to support their work for the week. 
     The girls spent their days divided between the SOC's two primary schools teaching English and Bible stories while the guys helped to repair the school building that had been destroyed during the rainy season. At night, the team split up into small groups to go out to Shan communities with local pastors to share their testimonies and to preach the gospel. The grand finale to our outreach was a Påske Festival (traditional Norwegian Easter party) that we hosted for around 300 Buddhist Shan in the area. The team led worship, shared testimonies, told the Easter story, and performed a dance and a skit. I was so impressed with the initiative that they took and the effort the put into preparing for the event! 
     I can't even tell you how proud and impressed I was with this group of teenagers who were so willing to serve in even the lowliest jobs and were practically begging for more opportunities to share what Jesus had done in their lives. Throughout the week a totally incapacitating stomach virus swept through the team, infecting all but 4, but even that didn't hold them back. One Norwegian girl was struck with a violent bout of vomiting on the way to a house visit but insisted on continuing to the meeting because she felt such a passion and urgency to share with them about Jesus. Her words pierced the heart of one woman who became a follower of Jesus that night and is now being followed up  with discipleship from the SOC. That's just one of a dozen stories of how God worked through this perseverant group of young people from half a world away! I was so blessed by this trip and I can't wait for the three just like it I'll be leading next school year to Tanzania. 

Below is a video I put together of the outreach, and it says visually what I can't express in words! (Photos follow)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Home Is Wherever I'm With You

Jamie & Shayna's children from Texarkana, Arkansas. 
     What a blessing it is to go home to these sweet faces! After the holidays, I headed back to Texas to be with my family and friends for a few short weeks. My nieces and nephews are getting so big! I had tons of fun with Tristan and Trinity at the zoo during their visit from Arkansas, and baby Asher was born  down in San Antonio just a few days later. There's no better feeling in the world than holding my 3-day-old nephew in my arms while 2-year-old Evie scrambles up next to me on the couch to whisper in my ear, "Do you know that I love you so very much?" My heart aches as I sit nearly 6,000 miles away from her tiny voice writing this. It's as Frederich Beuchner once said, "You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” 

Colin & Lauren's children in San Antonio, Texas. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Something Worth Doing

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; 
therefore we must be saved by hope. 
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good 
makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; 
therefore we must be saved by faith. 
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; 
therefore we must be saved by love.
-Reinhold Niebuhr

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Childless Existence

     Anyone who's seen the movie Children of Men can agree with me that a world without children would be a joyless desolate place---one that I would not want to live in. Yet there are over 50 million children missing from the world today due to abortion, and that's not accounting for the millions more who were aborted illegally and, therefore, didn't make it into this already overwhelming statistic.
     This week is nationally recognized as Pro-Life Week in America, a time to speak out on behalf of the unborn...but we should, we must, be advocating on behalf of the unborn year round. Again, I encourage you to watch the 30-minute film "180" and to share it with everyone you know. You can also read my thoughts on the topic of abortion here. Lastly, I'll leave you will some very wise, very practical steps for how to proactively live out what you believe as a "Pro-Lifer" from a recent sermon by John Piper (below).

©LakenChapman2010  This is a collage piece I did two years ago to speak out against child abuse. I've since come 
to recognize abortion as the most overt, horrifying, and tragic form of child abuse. Every child is worthy of a childhood. 
Words from John Piper:
Because of the amazing mercy of God described in Psalm 106 we can cry out with hope, “O Lord, help me when you save your people” (verse 4). And what does he help us do? Obtain the fullest blessing of God: “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” (verse 3).  
So what acts of justice and righteousness in the cause of Christ-exalting life can we do? 
(5 Steps Toward Justice...after the jump) 

Monday, January 16, 2012


"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love 
will have the final word in reality. This is why right,
temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Thoughts From The Waiting Line

I've grown to love my trans-atlantic journeys between America and my home in Europe. I remember that in the beginning they were painstakingly long, stressful, and generally exhausting, but over time I've learned my way around the various airports, figured out how to manage my time a little better, and picked up tips and tricks along the way that have made for smooth sailing from one continent to the other. The reality is that life on either end of my flight is so incredibly busy that 9 hours on a plane has truly begun to feel like a haven for rest and relaxation. The Lord blessed me with short legs, so I qualify as “travel size,” and confined to those tiny chairs I'm quite at my leisure as I watch back-to-back feature films that I either couldn't afford to watch in Europe (the going rate in Norway is $24 per flick) or didn't have time to watch in the US. The flight attendants become my favourite people as they bring me food and/or drinks every two hours (not unlike an infant...) and occasionally offer me a warm towel for reasons unbeknownst to me. Then I have the privilege of perusing the duty free shops on my way out, freshening up with million dollar make-up samples and spritzing myself with something that smells both expensive and pleasant. What more could you ask of your travel experience?

Something I've also grown to love is the “people watching” my cheap-flight-extensive-layovers provide. It's so interesting to observe the melting pot of cultures you see in the international transfer wing of an airport, to recognize the common threads that run through every corner of the world, and to speculate about the stories of passersby. Standing in line at the security check point tonight I recognized nearly a dozen different languages within earshot. This is a game I like to play with myself...seeing how many different nationalities and/or languages I can accurately distinguish between (it makes the lines go faster, at least in my mind). This night in particular it got me thinking about heaven, actually. It made me wonder at the promise that every tribe, tongue, and nation will be represented there. I had the revelation that in a very subtle, very bizarre way, I get to experience a little taste of heaven every time I get “stuck” in one of those long lines in these noisy, dirty airports. There are very few places you see the nations come together like that. It really got me excited for the Olympics this summer in the UK. That's another one of those “heavenly” meeting points, so to speak---a place where maybe not all, but at least a lot, of the the tribes, tongues, and nations come together for a united purpose. I'm so excited to see what God will do as we flood the place with literally thousands of YWAMers who are passionate to see God's kingdom come in the nations. 2012 holds so much promise! So buckle up, and enjoy the ride...