Start with a Shovel

With a handful of reed, I stuffed the wire guide to contribute to the 9-year old boy’s remade house. Immediately after the church service, just two days after arriving in Mozambique, members of the Celebration Church campus in Xai Xai head out to Jose’s house upon finishing lunch. Ladies with babies strapped to their backs hold a huge bundle of reed on their heads, grasping them with their hands to hold it balanced. Franco, originally from South Africa and the white minority in the church, utilizes his construction talent to fix the roof on this rebuild. We all take turns doing various jobs, and no one stops until the house is complete. The next few days even have their own construction project of building a kitchen for the church with a similar construct as the reed house–manually manufacturing cement for the floor and an open flame oven, building walls from scratch–then later, fixing a broken wall of another campus. All components of each project took every person who helped work to do so. Everyone was tired, but no one was miserable. People helped each other, conversed, and when a hand was needed one or two pairs of hands were always right there contributing. Whereas ‘serving’ is something that Americans have to think about and praise themselves for, Mozambicans just considered it life–not one effort to a thought was even made on the manner. Though we saw this as part of our “mission trip”, they saw it as Monday through Wednesday–nothing out of the ordinary except for a few Americans with t-shirts that said “Celebration Church“. We made conversation and learned about the people who would later etch their names in our hearts, forming the beginnings to relationships more akin to family–working never seemed so joyful!

Perhaps my greatest lesson was the one I hadn’t expected–ministry begins, not preaching behind a pulpit, but with a shovel in your hand. Continue reading

Redemption of Culture and Modern-Day Pharisees

I still have the sunburn as a trophy to remind me of the awesome Easter service we participated in this year. While my wife played a pivotal role in the sanctuary with the volunteers’ kids, I spent the entire morning and afternoon on the hill with 1,000 other volunteers. Easter on the Hill at Celebration Church was from start to finish a God-anointed event. From the moment Celebration Church got the call from Tim Tebow‘s representatives that he would be interested in speaking, the plans for Easter changed. No longer would they be deciding how to approach the upcoming celebration of Christ’s victory over death in their sanctuary, but reconsidered preparations by dropping to their knees in humble prayer. Perhaps this call was the response Celebration Church received after saturating their spirits in fasting and prayer at the beginning of the year. In January members of the church all had the same conviction–God was going to bring His power and transform the church in a new and mighty way–though the staff and pastors had yet to make specific plans.

Easter Sunday of 2012 has been the most unique and unorthodox service I have ever been a part of, or even attended. Various people dressed in costumes and had interacted with the people awaiting the service in a Woodstock-like fashion (of course, without the clouds of smoke). Recognizable characters such as Elmo (who “Tebowed” with some kids), Woody and Jesse (Toy Story), Football players, Snow White, Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles), and a few others all made the people feel comfortable and at home. Although they primarily served to bring a smile to everyone’s faces, what made them indirectly part of the ministry was the simple message that said, “Come as you are!” This was the entire thrust of Jesus’ ministry. He never established a building and “invited people to church”, but brought the Kingdom to them! Continue reading