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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Barak Obama, saviour of America.

Do you long for a better future? How about a life of peace? If you but merely cast your vote for Barak he will single handly, no less, restore the moral standing of America so that it is the last and BEST hope for all those who are “called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”* Why? Because he believes in change!

“All day, under a punishing Colorado sun, tens of thousands of supporters trudged across an overpass to Invesco Field, pilgrims in a line snaking for kilometres, a march that began eight hours before Obama spoke.”* They all gathered around the statium to hear their saviour speak.

Below is a clip of his speech:

“America, you are the light of the world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden! You have heard it said, ‘love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,’ but I say, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and bring our troops home from Iraq! You have heard it said, care for the widow and the orphan, but I say, care for the widow and orphan and give everyone access to affordable health care! Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you! Because America, I have been annointed to preach good news to the poor. I have been sent here to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour for America!”**

America, get your palm branches ready because here comes your saviour (let’s not kill this one).

If Jesus is Lord, is it idolatrous for followers of Jesus put their hope for change in a man?

If Jesus is Lord, is it idolatrous for the Church to put her hope for change in the Empire?

There is but one Lord, and his name is not Barak.

America has but one Savior, and his name is not Barak.

*Quotes taken from Toronto Star article, ‘Obama’s new dream for America,’ http://www.thestar.com/News/USElection/article/487523.

**Not actual Obama speech

***This writing is satirical.

Grace and peace.

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Lord, be with Bijan, Reza and Dariash. Give them ears to hear what you are saying and eyes to see where you are. Transform their lives and the lives of their friends by your Spirit. Amen.

I sat down at a table one night in northern Paris for a community dinner; a free meal for those who are homeless. There was one thing that I noticed about the group, they were not white. They weren’t “french-French”. Through conversation I found out that there were almost entirely refugee’s from Afghanistan and Iran. This was where I met Reza. Reza was my age and had only been in France for 5 days. He came into France from Italy, clinging to the bottom of a train. Some of his friends had died trying this. He was a normal guy like myself, fleeing the oppressive dictatorship in Iran. He introduced me to two of his friends Bijan, who had been in France for 7 days and Dariash who had only been there 2 days. They met the day before I met them in a park.

Myself, Reza and Bijan.

Myself, Reza and Bijan in the park where they slept in Paris.

During the conversation I asked where they slept at night. “In the park.” Oh. As it turned out, there was a park called Jardin Villemin that was located beside the Gare de l’Est (train station) in Paris. Over 100 illegal Afghani and Iranian refugees slept in that park each night. That struck me as a place where Jesus would spend time. So we got the location of the park and said we would visit them the next day. We did and were overwhelmed with the number of refugees there. We were told that there were close to 2,000 refugees in the area. After staying for a while and talking we said we’d be back with clothes. The next day we came and handed out clothes. Many men gathered around and asked why we were doing this. We told them it was because God loves them and then we got the chance to pray with them. This was probably one of the highlights of the trip for me.

Pray for these men. Pray that God would grant them favour wherever they may end up and that the government would grant them refugee papers to stay. Pray for believers to inhabit the parks where these refugees stay and demonstrate God’s love while proclaiming the Gospel.

A side note: I asked Reza during our initial conversation if he was a Muslim. “No, Christian…Jehovah,” he replied. I got excited. He said he had been a Christian for 8 years. Then I asked Bijan and Dariash the same question and they also told me they were Christians. I asked for how long: “one day.” When I asked how they had become Christians Reza replied, “I told them.” Ok. Simple enough. He then reached into his bag and pulled out a magazine for me: The Watchtower. Initially it was kind of a downer. But then I realized something. All of the refugees that we met were nominal Muslims and were open to other possibilities. In fact, two of them became JW’s in a day simple because someone they had just met told them. I asked them why they left Islam and they told me that Islam was not good.

Paul and myself with some Afghani refugees in Jardin Villemin in Paris.

Paul and myself with some Afghani refugees in Jardin Villemin in Paris.

Lord, be with Bijan, Reza and Dariash. Give them ears to hear what you are saying and eyes to see where you are. Transform their lives and the lives of their friends by your Spirit. Send people to sow the seed of the Gospel in this fertile soil. May the Parisian Church hear Your words in: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Eqypt,” (Ex. 22.21), and again: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them wihout expecting to get anything back…be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” (Lk. 6.35-36). Amen.

JT.

Well we’re back! Christina and I touched down at Lester B. Pearson in Toronto at about 2:00pm on Sunday. When you’re away for that length of time and living out of a suitcase it always feels great to be home. So much happened in our 3 weeks in France and Hungary that I couldn’t possibly highlight it all. However, despite that I’ll be writing a couple of posts highlighting particular things that really changed us.

We went to Europe with an amazing group of people from the Toronto area and Minneapolis (although they were dubbed honourary Canadians for the week!). The team was made up of the following people.

Howard, Caron and Patty Moore. Howard is the Canadian Director of Greater Europe Mission (GEM), Caron is his wife and Patty is one of their daughters who just so happens to be a Paramedic (this came in handy when a women fainted on one of our flights).

Paul, Vicky and David Burke. Paul and Vicky are pastors of Church in the City, Church in the Beach and Urban Cornerstone Church in Toronto and David is their son.

Flora. I’m not sure of Flora’s surname, so I won’t try but she is the mother of Vicky Burke.

Keith and Noreen Jacka. Keith and Noreen are a part of Church in the City and live downtown. They both have their Ph.D’s in education.

Kathryne Silver. Kathryn was a last minute addition to the team. She’s 18 and will be going into her second year at Tyndale this fall.

Peter Goulos. Peter is a part of Church in the Beach and works for RBC in downtown Toronto. He is Greek and hilarious.

Casi and Andy Buch. This couple is from Minneapolis and are quite fun to be around. They’re moving to Spain on September 16th so that Casi can teach English for a year in Madrid. Their last name means ‘book’.

All of these people were so great and we really enjoyed getting to know them over 3 weeks! We look forward to hanging out more.

Everyone came from different experiences and walks of life, but we all love Jesus and had at least that in common. There were 18 year old college students and retired Doctors. Bankers and Pastors. Singles and married folk. However, these differences only made us stronger as a Body.

Myself, Andy, Kathryne, David, Christina and Casi in front of the Gare de Flandres station in Lille. A little blurry, I know.

L-R: Myself, Andy, Kathryne, David, Christina and Casi in front of the Gare de Flandres station in Lille. A little blurry, I know.

Patty, Flora, Paul, Caron, Peter and Vicky.

L-R: Patty, Flora, Paul, Caron, Peter and Vicky trying to figure out where to go in Vienna, Austria.

Howard, Keith and Noreen at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France.

L-R: Howard, Keith and Noreen at Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in Paris, France.

Peter, myself and David at the GEM Conference in Sopron, Hungary.

L-R: Peter, myself and David at the GEM Conference in Sopron, Hungary.

We love you guys!

Grace and peace.

JT

We got back to Paris last night. Yesterday morning we left Hungary and spent the day in Vienna. Crazy city. Wow. Our home in Paris is about 20 minutes north on the train in a town called Ecouen. We’re staying in a very old French building that used to be the servants house for the castle up the road. I’ve been taking pictures, and yes, it’s very cool!

Some things I learned from the conference we attended in Hungary:

– I need to read/think about scripture more than I do

– I need to pray more than I do

– There are a couple of families/people that God laid on my heart while in Hungary that I’ve been praying for non-stop. I’ve really been thinking a lot about the concept of finding a “person of peace’ (credit: Carol Davis) and allowing God to transform them and their oikos.

– I’ve been rethinking ways to reach people in the community with the Gospel that wouldn’t normally come to a church. This has been cool.

– I’ve seen the ‘Parable of the Sower’ in new light (more on this later). Essentially it’s more about the soil than anything else and so it’s important to sow abundantly and widely in order to discover soil that is good (as opposed to trying to find good soil and then sowing there)

Anyways, I’m off to read  and play Wii with some kids here. Cya.

Grace and peace.

JT

Hey all!

Just a quick hello. Christina and I are in Sopron, Hungary at the moment attending a conference with Greater Europe Mission. Essentially we’ve been hanging out with over 300 missionaries from all over Europe and hearing their stories. It has been way greater than I was experiencing. Being here and talking with these people from across Europe and participating in discussions is really getting me excited to return to Canada and change some things in regards to youth ministry in Aurora. I’ll share more on this later. Hearing peoples stories is incredible. I mean, in North America we hear loads about how we’re living in post-Christendom. But let me tell you, Europe is POST-Christian. Yet God is doing cool stuff through His Church here on the fringes of society in Europe.

Monday, we head back to Paris which I’m pumped about. We biked around Sopron the other day and got stuck in the pouring rain. Nice.

Anyways, just a quick hello and update.

PEACE.

JT