Let Me Introduce

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You might ask who he is – this man I grieve. An introduction is in order. His presence still permeates my soul. His love radiates in my heart. His faith continues to give strength when my faith waivers. His laughter reverberates on, even in the absence of his words. The melody of his voice is a song set to memory in the recesses of my mind. He is gone – but he lives on!

He was mine for 40 years and those years wove a tapestry of life well lived. Yes, he was mine…but then he wasn’t. His first love was His Jesus, then me, then our children. He lived to touch lives. Those lives were changed by his sincerity – by his fun – by his FAITH. He gave freely, because he loved as his Jesus loved…without reservation, without judgement, with realness.

He is gone now – but then he’s not! A life well lived, lives on. Let me introduce you to the one I grieve. His name is many names. He was my soul mate, my friend, my love. He was Dad. He was Coach. He was and is a man to be remembered – Jim.

The Ambush

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This thing called grief is a brutal animal. It lays waiting in the recesses of the mind to sneak out and attack at moments unexpected. Life is moving quite nicely. Emotions seem settled and loss is manageable. Suddenly the smooth passage of a normal day is thrown into chaos. The battering of pain, emptiness and longing invade the soul. Easy becomes hard and survival paramount. Grief chases the existing peace. Then, the sinews of faith and trust take hold of the mind and the talons of grief miss their prey. Faith in the ONE who envelopes me in the safety of HIS ARMS, again carries me through another attempted ambush by GRIEF – and I know I WILL survive.

A Journey Called GRIEF

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I am taking an important step tonight. It is a step into the unknown; a step toward a place I have never been. It is a step that will take me on a journey of pain and sorrow, of darkness and light, of laughter and tears. It is a step toward living that began in dying; a step taken by many and desired by none. It is the next step in the journey called GRIEF.

As I sit alone in the room which was ours and now is mine, I sense his presence. It was a strong presence, it still is. I know he is gone, but still he is here. The place that I am is a place of sorrow and pain, but the peace that I feel brings a warmth and a rest to my soul. How can such a place exist?

He was the love of my life. He was my soul mate – I was his bride. We lived the ups and downs of life together for 40 years and had seen precious life grow in the midst of our love. They were three and we two made five. We loved each other well, our family. An uneven road and many curves led us through the adventures of marriage and children, of jobs and LIFE. It may have been sometimes difficult, but it was still so good. Now he is gone – with a gone-ness that has no description. It just is. He is gone and I am lost…except for the strong thread that was interwoven into the weave, of the fabric of our lives together. That thread is our Jesus. The strong fiber of HIS being is the tie between my love, in heaven, and this bride, as I sit quietly in the room which was ours. Our universe has changed and will never be as it was…but the strong tie, that binds us together and with our creator God, is unchanging and everlasting. HE is my strength. HE is my passion. HE is my hope for the next step in this journey called GRIEF.

What is the WorldRace?

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It was a late night in November, 2012 when our 21 year old daughter came in to our bedroom and asked what we would think about her doing an 11 Month/11 Country Mission trip called the World Race.  Our response was for her to check it out and then seek the Lord’s leadership in whether or not she was to go. That is what she did…and she went! She is in month 8 of the 11 months. We just returned from visiting her in the 8th country – Ireland.

Within days after that night, I had read the book Kingdom Journey, written by Seth Barnes, the founder of the mother organization Adventures in Missions. Written with a passion for young people and for the church, Seth builds a sound platform for encouraging young adults to take a season of time and journey out of their comfortable existence and step into the world. In the midst of this season, they are given opportunity to experience the realities of an existence dependent not on father and mother or on the structured lifestyle and programs of the church, but upon God. They are guided toward an understanding of what it means to BE the church…the hands, the feet, the eyes, the heart and every other life giving part of the Body of Christ. As they go out into the world, they are witness to profound beauty in the landscapes of nature and the faces of people and cultures. Their hearts are stretched and their minds challenged by the baser side of humanity and the seemingly distorted balance between poverty and wealth.

Many have asked us if this “mission trip” was not more of a journey to explore the world and experience the wonders of travel than to go and serve and share the message of salvation. We have at times wondered too what “mission” action was being done as the teams sat in coffee shops and spoke English with university students or as they taught English to kindergarten children. We were, however, privy to hear the song in our daughter’s voice as she talked about loving on university students in Vietnam or making friends with the little lady at the cafe they visited almost every day. We heard the pain in her voice as she spoke of the pastor and his family who were soon to be without a job or home, because the man who had begun their ministry for orphaned children had been arrested for sex trafficking. That same pain was turned to passion as she vowed that she and her team would do all that they could do to make certain that man and his family were not forgotten.

We were privileged to go and spend five days with some of the young adults that have traveled with her for these past 8 months. Ranging in age from 21 – 35 the racers (that’s what we call a World Racers) come from all over the United States and Canada. They come from various cultures and cross the lines of denomination. They are united in their belief and faith in the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. As we journeyed with them for 5 days and watched them Ask the Lord to reveal the direction He would have them go and the people He would have them love on, we, as well-grounded and solid men and women of Faith, bore witness to a mighty and strong army for the kingdom. They went out onto the streets armed with hearts that were a reflection of Jesus. They displayed the character, the attributes, the attitude of their Lord and they led us into sweet moments of encounters with whoever God led them to. There was the homeless man, who just wanted some food for his puppy.  We shared words with a young gypsy woman who needed formula for her baby. None were too dirty or disheveled to merit a bit of loving and that same spirit of love went forth to the jovial bartender in the street Pub and the tired receptionist at the hostel. It is with humility that I say it was an honor and a privilege to share in just a few brief days in the life of a World Racer.

What is the World Race? It is an 11 Month/11 Country mission trip and so much more. It is a journey of epic proportion in the life of a 21-35 year old racer. Given the opportunity to leave behind the confines of the comfort and ease of the American home and church, these young adults find a firmness of faith as they abandon their dependency upon things and upon others and they discover their Savior. It is a launching of seed scatterers. Given the opportunity to go forth into ALL the world, these young men and women scatter the seeds of Christs love across the nations. Sometimes they are the tillers of soil making it ready for the seeds that will come and sometimes they are privileged to share in the harvest of souls for the Kingdom. How thankful I am for that night in November, 2012 when our sweet daughter came into our bedroom to ask us the simple question – What would you think if I went on an 11 Month/11 Country Mission trip?

 

 

Last Week I Went to Ireland

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Originally posted on sammyecampbell:

Last week I went to Ireland. I wanted to go to Swaziland. I stepped into the hustle and bustle of European life and walked through streets of cobblestone and past aged architectural wonders. I had dreamed of passing grass huts and stepping into the lives of hungry and forgotten people. There were pubs and shops and even an Easter Egg Hunt that hosted people who were laughing, talking, looking and enjoying. My visions had been of humanity caught in the throes of poverty and misfortune, yet all around I saw beauty, technology, fullness and adventure. The scenes that unfolded before me were not those of a stark beauty cast as a back-drop to bare-boned houses with open windows and smooth dirt yards. They were portraits of nature at its best and magnificent structures of ages past.

The people moved in masses; set on courses of determined destinations – exploration and…

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Last Week I Went to Ireland

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Last week I went to Ireland. I wanted to go to Swaziland. I stepped into the hustle and bustle of European life and walked through streets of cobblestone and past aged architectural wonders. I had dreamed of passing grass huts and stepping into the lives of hungry and forgotten people. There were pubs and shops and even an Easter Egg Hunt that hosted people who were laughing, talking, looking and enjoying. My visions had been of humanity caught in the throes of poverty and misfortune, yet all around I saw beauty, technology, fullness and adventure. The scenes that unfolded before me were not those of a stark beauty cast as a back-drop to bare-boned houses with open windows and smooth dirt yards. They were portraits of nature at its best and magnificent structures of ages past.

The people moved in masses; set on courses of determined destinations – exploration and discovery foundational in their purpose. My plan had been to minister love to a people full of longing and need.  Where was I and what was I doing here? My dream had been to go and share  life with the forgotten of our world. Instead, I found myself in a beautiful and thriving land, full of the life and vibrancy of culture, history and nature. It challenged me!

I was awakened to needs not limited to hunger, sickness and poverty, but to the loneliness that exists in the midst of a crowd and the hungers that go beyond the belly and deep into the soul. An awareness came to me that in my spiritualized, westernized perspective, I had found sanctuary in the ease of going to remote, unreached places in the world. I had embraced a mass produced map of what it looks like to go forth and share the love of my Jesus, when just outside my door there exist the masses of people pressing forward in search of something to fill the emptiness in their soul…a void to be filled only by the love of Jesus.

So I drank in the refreshing beauty which was Ireland, and my soul was restored.  I took time to see the faces around and I edged forward in to their world. I met Ramona, a beautiful gypsy woman who sat begging on the street. She told me about her two little ones – a 5 month old and a 5 year old. This was her world.  This is what she did every day. This was her culture and my life was enriched as I talked with her and opened my heart to her. We met a young woman from America. She was traveling across Europe alone and was lonely for family on this Easter Sunday that we met. She was adopted for a day of travel with our group…and just maybe, she caught a glimpse of the Father’s love as she was embraced by a group of strangers. A bag of dog food and some bread and meat, given to a young homeless man and his dog, opened the door for sharing life and a little bit of love on a cobblestone street in Dublin. He eagerly responded to the love of Jesus – the most precious gift we had to give. That same gift brought tears to the eyes of an Irish Mom and Dad, as they watched their little ones play games at the Easter Egg Hunt, where we volunteered. They were stunned that people would travel across the ocean to help raise money for homeless and abused children in Ireland.

Where was I? What was I doing in this beautiful place called Ireland? I was there to share LIFE with others…the LIFE that brings life – Jesus! It had been easy to see the needs in the impoverished and hungry faces of the third world countries. NOT so easy, though, to embrace the lives existing in the mass of humanity in my own comfortable, technology-driven, soul searching world. So I will go! I will step out my own front door and see the faces of those who live next door or walk the halls of my school. I will look into the eyes and see the face of the homeless man who quietly walks the streets of my city. I will take the time to ask his name. I will step out of the comfort of my existence and go share LIFE with others – because that LIFE, my Jesus, has given me new life…and YES, someday I will go to Swaziland. I will love on the babies and the precious children and adults who are dying of AIDS and I will share my Jesus with them.