Testimony: Only God Could Bring Us Together!

The new team of UniteBoston Reps!

The new team of UniteBoston Reps!

Last fall, a colleague of mine pointed out that although UniteBoston’s ministry is seeking to unite the Christian community in Boston, our volunteers and participants thusfar have mainly consisted of White Evangelicals.While this might not be a problem for some ministries, for UniteBoston, diversity is an organizational goal. We cannot achieve our mission of uniting God’s people unless within our team we also represent the diversity of the Christian community.

Last November, I began praying for a more diverse team of UniteBoston Reps. A sticky note on my desk reminded me to pray daily that God would bring us UniteBoston Reps from eight different denominational and ethnic backgrounds.

A few weeks ago, when we launched our new team of UB Reps, to my surprise, we had new reps from every single one of the categories that I had been praying for!

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Let this be a witness to the fact that God is good and He answers prayer! Only Christ could bring this group of people together. He is moving in a big way through this ministry.

Ephesians 2:14 says that Christ himself is our peace and has made the two groups one, and destroyed the dividing walls of hostility.

We carry a simple, yet profound message: In Christ, we are one.

Thus, I am convinced that the degree to which the UB team reflects diversity is the degree to which our ministry is able to bring reconciliation to the deep ethnical and denominational divides within Boston’s Christian community.

We have just launched 11 new UniteBoston Reps! Pray for us as we continue building relationships with pastors and city leaders, and discern how churches and ministries can collaborate together to further God’s work.

What can God do with a city that is united in His love? Let’s make Boston that city!

Kelly Steinhaus

UniteBoston Team Leader
kelly@uniteboston.com

 

Sermon: Listening for God’s Still Small Voice

I recently shared a sermon about how when we are quiet and still, we can hear God’s voice best. I also gave a practical model of centering prayer for stilling our hearts and spirits so we can hear the voice of God.

Centering prayer has really transformed my prayer life – click on the link below to listen to my sermon!

http://jcboston.org/whispers-part-3-listening-gods-small-voice/

Sermon: Strength in Weakness

Last week, I shared a sermon at Journey Church, which I titled “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

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This is a photo of me on Mt Kilimanjaro. Climbing this mountain was one of the most physically & emotionally challenging experiences I have ever gone through. Yet, I can say that the struggle made the triumph of the summit all the more rewarding. I learned so much about myself through this experience, and I feel like that is largely true of any type of hardship we go through.

A lot of people question the purpose of suffering. If God is love, and He is as good as everyone talks about, then why did _______ happen? I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that yes, God is love, but love can be painful. The purpose of suffering is not just because God wants you in pain, but because He is doing a deep work in you. A good father isn’t one that shelters his children but one that allows them to go through things that will mold and shape their character, that they might become the person that they are created to be.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

This passage is really rich with biblical language – I want to encourage you to listen to my sermon to hear an explanation of the significance of these words as I exegete these verses. Keeping this in mind, the “Kelly” translation of this verse is:

You need nothing more than God’s grace, because His resurrection power is completing a process in you. Therefore, rejoice in your powerlessness, because as your weakness increases, God’s power grows and dwells within you.

CS Lewis said “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The fact of the matter is, suffering is, well, painful. How do we rejoice in the midst of it?

We can rejoice in these sufferings because God is taking us through trials which humble us, taking our eyes off of ourselves and onto Jesus. We begin to understand that we can accomplish nothing without His strength. Through our weaknesses, He shines through and is glorified. Because when we become less, Christ in us becomes more.

What I want to challenge you today is – in those moments, who do you turn your eyes to? Do you grit your teeth and fight through it, or are you quick to God and admit your need for His help?

Personally, I tend to turn inward, gritting my teeth and bearing it in my own power, saying, “I can do this!” Or, sometimes I turn away from the pain, doing what I can to change the circumstances and making myself comfortable.

But in reality, the only proper response is to say, “Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me. Give me power in my weakness.”

Terry Fullam said that there is one prayer that is irresistible to God: “Whenever we ask him for the grace, the wisdom, the insight, the knowledge, the courage, the resources to accomplish what He has assigned us to do.” This prayer is irresistible to God because it’s an acknowledgement that we are nothing without Him.

So this week, in your moments of greatest weakness, I want to challenge you to say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” You’re literally asking God to pour His strength through you. And He will. He delights to.

The reality is that in heaven, it won’t matter how rich you were, or how prominent you were. All that will matter is how wonderfully the strength of God poured through your weaknesses.

There’s more! To hear my entire sermon, and some stories of how God has turned my greatest weaknesses into strengths, click here: http://jcboston.org/weak-strong/

How much for a child?

During my periodic morning runs this month, I’ve encountered two adorable little Cambodian twin girls. They are the cutest things EVER and they always shout to me kilometers before I even get close. At first, they were quite hesitant to come close to me, but after I taught them how to do “Hi-Fives” (which is ”Hi-Foon” in Cambodian) they quickly overcame their shyness and have become quite accustomed to the early morning visits from their white-skinned sweaty friend. (And let me tell you, Cambodia’s hottest month of the year sure is sweaty!)

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One day, I brought my camera to take pictures, and was invited by the mother to sit with their family in their yard. Developing countries are very community-centered, so this was an open invitation for all other neighboring children to come as well. They were fascinated by my digital camera with the fancy red covering and many tiny buttons. I started a conversation with their mother, who spoke decent English, but we kept getting interrupted by the incessant cry from the girls to take more pictures. Really, who can say “no” to these adorable little children of God?

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One day, I picked up two small polka-dotted headbands at the market and carried them to the girls on my run. Of course, when I arrived, this meant that we had another big photo shoot with the newest addition to their wardrobes (you can see their mother off to the right)

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We then just sat and enjoyed each other’s company, speaking in broken English but having a good time…until the mother popped the question:

“Do you want to buy them?”

Everything in me stopped cold. Surely I didn’t hear right. Did she really ask me if I wanted to buy her children? I said, “Excuse me. What did you say?”

She said, “Do you want to buy my daughters? They eat a lot.”

Yes, my deepest fear was right. The mother was offering to sell me her children.

My mind raced. How do you respond to a question like this? What would have to happen to make selling your child ever an option? Somehow her explanation “They eat a lot” didn’t help.

Part of me wanted to judge her, wondering how much she really loved her children to give them away to a stranger. Part of me was curious, and I wanted to ask her how much she would sell them for. And yet when those emotions fell away, I was filled with compassion for a woman in poverty, living in a culture where selling your children is more than a common occurrence.

Cambodia is a poverty-stricken nation, with one-third of the population below the poverty line. This is due in part to the Cambodian genocide in the 1970’s where one-fifth of the population was wiped out due to starvation, disease or overwork. Decades later, it still has not recovered, and some families feel like selling their children is their only option. According to the documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, by the age of ten, 80 to 90% of all girls are sold, many into sexual slavery. It breaks my heart to hear about the way that young girls are treated not as people but as goods in this part of the world.

I realized that, to this young mother sitting in front of me, giving her children to me would allow them to grow up in America and give them a life that she always dreamed of giving them. In her mind, it was the most loving thing she could do.

So how did I respond? I said something like, “Wow, that’s really generous of you, but I’m not ready to have children” and I began to explain why I’m not married yet for about the hundredth time these past eleven months.

And as I type this, I’m just thankful that the love of Christ is the only sure thing in the world – it’s unchanging and unshakable, no matter the circumstances, financial or otherwise. It breaks my heart to hear about the millions of children that are sold every day…yet the only thing I can rest in is my confidence in the fact that nothing can ever separate me from my Father.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38)

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Reading through the World Race

If there is one thing I could recommend to all future World Race squads, it would be for each person to bring a paperback book. My squad (H-squad July 2012) has about a total of ten books, which are very well-read and have been passed along time and time again throughout these past eleven months. While kindle books are lighter (which is definitely key on the Race), I’m a firm believer that there is nothing like a paperback book in your hands, which can be written on and doesn’t need to be charged.

The reality is that if you’re a reader, you will probably read a lot on the World Race – there is plenty of downtime and travel days between countries to get lost in a book. Reading can really help you to understand the historical context within which your ministry takes place and is an incredible way to supplement the experiences you are having.

So here are some books that I recommend reading, with a few movies thrown in, separated by country. Feel free to add comments below of your favorite books that you read on the Race!

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Kingdom Journeys: Rediscovering the Lost Spiritual Discipline by Seth Barnes. A classic World Race book about the innate desire for each of us to go on a “kingdom journey”

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett.  A great read about poverty and community-development

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff. A funny but challenging book giving personal examples of how we can be catalysts for Christ’s love

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide  by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book has real-life stories about the issues facing women all around the world. One of my squad’s favorite books.

Not For Sale by David Batstone. This book skillfully combines statistics and stories about the reality of slavery happening in many of the countries that the World Race travels to

One Thousand Gifts: Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are – by Ann Voskamp. A great book for the Race, where you definitely have to learn how to be thankful with what you have!

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls – A Christian-based documentary about the sexual slavery exploitation that is happening around the world. Produced by Exodus Cry, a branch of the International House of Prayer.

Culture of Honor by Danny Silk. A great book to help understand how we can prefer and honor others

Nepal

The Little Princes by Conor Grennan – A gripping account of a young man reuniting boys with their families in rural Nepalese villages

Cambodia

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung. A young girl describes her experiences during the Cambodian genocide – really well done.

Killing Fields, Living Fields by Dan Cormack. The story of the Cambodian church in the midst of the Khmer Rouge genocide. A thick book, but very interesting to see how God worked good in the midst of tumultuous times.

Vietnam

The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong. The story of a young woman who was burned by napalm during the Vietnam war.

China

Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger. A biography of a young woman who moved to China by faith and saw many drug addicts and gang leaders set free.

The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun  by Brother Yun. An autobiography of a young man who grew up in a rural village and was called to preach the gospel in China, becoming one of the leaders of the House Church movement.

Malaysia

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. These books take place in Islamic countries, which will better help you understand the Malaysian culture, a largely Islamic nation.

India

Mother Teresa: In My Own Words by Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa offered so much hope and love to the children and adults in the slums in India – this book has quotes, stories, and prayers.

Moldova

Six Bullets – A movie about a young American girl who was trafficked in Moldova.

Africa

Hotel Rwanda – A moving film about a family in the midst of the Rwandan genocide

Blood Diamond – A great movie about a man who mines diamonds in the midst of the Sierra Leone Civil War. Helps you to see the corruption that exists within the worldwide political and business systems.

The Boy Who Harnassed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. The story of a young Malawian boy and his dream to bring electricity to his village

–Add a comment below of other books you would recommend to read on the World Race-

Makin’ Banana Pancakes

We discovered banana roti after a long day of ministry in Thailand, and we never went back. It’s banana chocolately goodness became our comfort food, and many evenings us World Racers would venture out in attempt to satisfy those oh-so-familiar midnight chocolate cravings.

Here in Malaysia, we are staying right next to Little India, conveniently situated between exactly three restaurants which serve banana roti. Penang is known for their street food, and it was rated by CNN Travel as one of the top food cities in Asia. So this month, I thought I’d order banana roti from one of the street vendors and post this recipe, courtesy of Yaowalak (Ann) and Jerry Good on www.importfood.com

Ingredients (Makes 8 roti)

  • 1 large or extra-large egg
  • 1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk + more for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • Canola oil
  • Ghee or margarine for frying (don’t use butter; it will burn)
  • 4 bananas, thinly sliced
  • A few Tbsp chocolate sauce, for drizzling

In small bowl or mixing cup, whisk together water, egg, 1 tablespoon condensed milk, sugar and salt.

In medium mixing bowl, add flour. Make well in center. Pour in water mixture. Mix with wooden spoon until it comes together. Drizzle with butter. Using hands, knead to form ball of dough. Knead 3 to 5 minutes until soft and elastic. Lightly grease with oil. Return ball to mixing bowl. Let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Twist and break dough into 8 balls (each about 1-1/2 inches wide). Coat each with oil. (You can make ahead to here. Keep at room temperature in sealed container for up to 6 hours.)

Using rolling pin, roll 1 ball as thinly as possible into rough circle with jagged edges, repeatedly coating fingers and dough lightly with oil to aid stretching. (Aim for 10 to 12 inches, but if your roti is smaller, simply adjust filling accordingly.) The locals do this by “throwing” the dough in a circular motion:

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Heat large non-stick skillet or griddle pan over medium high. Add dollop of ghee or margarine. When hot, place roti in pan. (It will start to shrink immediately.) Quickly spread banana slices over centre (about 1/2 banana per roti)

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Fold edges in and over filling to form square packet (about 5 inches), flattening packet with spatula. Cook until both sides are lightly browned in spots and roti is crispy, 1 to 2 minutes total, reducing heat if browning too darkly

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Transfer to plate. Drizzle with condensed milk and chocolate sauce. Using pizza cutter, cleaver or knife, cut into bite-size squares. Repeat with remaining rotis and filling.

Enjoy! It’s super yummy if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top too :-)

All you have to give

Being an athlete most of my life, I was concern that I wouldn’t be able to work out on the World Race. Luckily I have been blessed with two amazing teammates – Meghan and Katy – who have put up with my incessant drive to work out in the mornings. Over the months, we’ve ran along the beach in Ireland, through the streets of Ukraine, up to rock viewspots in Kenya with children’s feet pattering behind us. In Transnistria (Moldova) we saw dozens of small girls walking in their best white dresses and carrying small packaged gifts – we followed them and came upon an assembly of hundreds of children outdoors for the first day of school. We’ve been on so many adventures during these morning runs that I am convinced there is no better way to see the world. We don’t always travel the same way and sometimes we do end up getting lost, but it’s not about the destination but the journey.

Yesterday, we were on one of these early morning jogs, but this time we were in the mountains of Nepal. That means that your sleeping bag was way too warm and the air outside was way too cold to get motivated…but once outside and our feet were stepping across the swinging bridge, with the Bhote Koshi river rushing below, I knew there was no place I would rather be.

My tennis-shoed feet stepped up the particularly positioned rocks and the sound of the river filled our ears as we gradually ascended the side of the canyon. Frequently the dirt path in front of us split, letting the leader to choose the path of her heart’s desire, while the other two of us tagged along behind. The joy of running in undeveloped countries is that cars and roads are few and dirt paths are plentiful, which means our running experiences aren’t tainted by smells of exhaust or sounds of droning engines. The fog swirled around us and the canyon below until we made our way above it, into the glorious sunlight above.

We ran by simple homes with hay-covered stick roofs as small brown Nepalese children peeked out to greet us. Foreigners visiting this part of the mountains was definitely not an everyday occurrence.

We continued jogging up a side canyon, our breaths forming fog as we breathed in and out. Suddenly I heard shouting behind me. At first, I ignored it – but then the two young girls smiling and waving behind were too cute to ignore.

We stopped and greeted one another:

“Namaste! Miro nam Kelly ho.” (Hello! My name is Kelly)

They excitedly shared their names as well, which each of us tried to repeat but failed miserably (Nepalese names have way too many syllables!) Unfortunately our verbal conversation ended at that point (wish I would have learned more Nepalese!) but through hand motions we gathered that these young girls were gathering greens to feed their cattle with the sickle and basket they were carrying. One of the girls had a few crackers in her pocket, which was all she had to give, and offered it to us. Knowing this was a gesture of welcoming in this culture, we gladly accepted, and crunched down on the salty goodness.

Meghan motioned to ask if she could take a picture wearing the basket. They accepted, and as she placed the headpiece around her head, the basket slipped out from behind her back and tumbled down the mountain. We gasped. We knew that a basket is such an indispensable possession for life in the mountains, and probably costs more than they could spare.

But the girls just giggled, apparently at the clumsiness of their new American friends. They ran down the mountain, hurdling over the terraced landscape and were back within a few moments what probably would have taken us hours.

Then, one of the girls was trying to convey to us something, and she kept saying the words “swimming” and motioning with her arms in the freestyle swim motion. Surely she couldn’t be referencing swimming in the creek below? It was nearly forty degrees outside…

While I contemplated the thought of skinnydipping, I looked at my watch and realized that we had to leave right then in order to make it to breakfast on time. But in that moment I wanted to do something to bless these beautiful girls, the girls who had so graciously accepted us Americans into their culture and their lives if even just for a few moments.

I noticed that their ears had sticks or strings in their piercings – but no earrings. So I took out my pearl studs – all I had to give – and put them inside the palm of my hand. I carefully removed the sticks in my new friend’s earlobes, and placed her new earrings in her ears.

She gave me the biggest smile I think I have ever seen (way bigger than this photo shows!)

Waving “goodbye,” Meghan, Katy and I ran off and made it home just in time for breakfast: asian noodles, vegetables, rice and spiced eggs.

That afternoon, I realized that my computer had completely broke. As I mourned its death, thinking about all the things I couldn’t do – blog, check my email, update my music library, etc. God reminded me of all the things I had – things many Nepalese would never even consider owning. It’s easy for us as Americans to focus on our lack – what we don’t have – rather than what we do have.

In Matthew 15:33, Jesus asks his disciples to feed 4,000 people and they respond “Where can we get enough bread to feed them?” Jesus points them to what they do have – five loaves and two fish, then gives thanks and all are fed. It just shows that when we are willing to share what we have with one another – no matter how big or small – that’s how miracles happen.

The best thing about our morning runs is that not only do we come away with adventures, but also life lessons. Will you be one willing to sacrifice all you have to give to someone else? You might be surprised to see what God will do with your loaves of bread or your pearl earrings…

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Some of my World Race teammates are still in need of financial support to meet our final deadline. If you believe in the work we are doing and would like to take part in God’s kingdom throughout the world, I want to invite you to check out their blogs. (“Support Me” tab on the left)

Katy’s blog: http://katywestrom.theworldrace.org – $1,700 to go

Leah’s blog: http://leahjohansen.theworldrace.org – $2,500 to go

Meghan’s blog: http://meghantschanz.theworldrace.org – $2,100 to go