These past couple of weeks I have been reading The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield. I am not pounding through this book, I am just taking my time and soaking it all in. Rosaria is writing about the way that I want to live, but have yet to get the courage up to dive all in. The book is inspiring, as is Rosaria’s story, courage and convictions.

As a YWAM staff, I have been around good hospitality all over the world, but this book is different, it is talking about hospitality to my friends, my neighbors and the stranger. I have also learned a lot about hospitality from my Syrian friends over the past two years. I see the importance of hospitality, bringing people into your home and loving them as a brother or sister.

One of the sections of the book that is sticking with me is where Rosaria talks about being a guest and a host. She talks about how we are never just guests, and we are never just hosts, we need to be both. When we go to a persons house for dinner, as a guest, and there is still work to be done to get the food ready, we become the host, jump in, and help cook. When we go to church, we sit and learn, as guests, and we give our tithes and help with childcare, as hosts. This is such an important life hack for sure.

I recommend picking up this treasure, it will fill you with faith, hope, and love, in a time where our nation is full of doubt, fear and hate.

The Gospel Comes With A House Key- Amazon.

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Enjoying this time of rest as a family. We are realizing how badly we have needed it. Just time to connect, swim, play, listen, pray and not work. I was looking at my Fitbit tracker today, and measuring my sleep. Over the past month I (Phil)  have averaged 4.75 hours of sleep a night, not the best, especially since sleep is one of my love languages, haha. We also have been going harder than usual, with summer trips, end of school year wrap ups, hosting foreign exchange students, etc. it is good to step away from it all for a short bit.

Thank you to all who support us, in prayer and through giving, for making it possible for us to serve with Steps of Justice and YWAM.

Also thanks to those of you who encouraged us to rest, you gave us the permission to do what needed to be done.

Peace.

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Since January of 2016 I have found myself in a new season of life, one that is different than the last 23 years that I have worked in missions with YWAM. I have always worked under a YWAM operating location, in LA, Seattle, San Diego, and Kona (we have lived in some pretty sweet places). In 2016, we moved from Kona and the YWAM Ships location, to San Diego, to start a new chapter as Steps of Justice and YWAM.

The past 16 months have been filled with beauty, difficulty, loneliness,  prosperity, doubt and joy. I am thinking out loud here, as that is the way I process best, but stick with me, I’m going somewhere. Let me break down the last 16 months in more detail (talking strictly about ministry, not family. Family is for another post). Below I will share how things have been, and use the word “I” to refer to me and “we” to refer to Steps of Justice and the YWAM ministry that I run.

  1. There has been so much beauty that I have seen over the past 16 months. I have seen new ministries started, like our friends of Syria events and the Syrian drop in center that I have co-led on a weekly basis. I have met amazing people, who have believed in me, stood by me, inspired me and motivated me. We, as Steps of Justice, hosted our first urban team this past year, and we are seeing more trips to Cambodia than we have in a while.
  2. These past 16 months have also been difficult. I feel alone in a lot of ways. I am trying to get things running, and ministries started, and that is happening, but I feel alone in it. I have spent years working in team, but these past 16 months has been working alone, and trying to build and find teams to work in.
  3. This has been a year of prosperity. Not just financial, but also missional and ministry prosperity. We live in an expensive city, intentional because of the relationships we have here and the opportunity to work with the refugee community. We have seen our support grow since moving here, and have had other ways of making money that has really helped us save more and give more. There has also been prosperity in ministry, as we have seen our work with the refugee community grow, have been able to host teams in San Diego and Cambodia and have had open doors to work in a school made up of mainly refugees and immigrants. God has opened doors we didn’t even know existed.
  4. I have had a lot of doubt these past 16 months. Not doubt in my faith, or in the work that I am doing, but doubt in the decision to move my family to San Diego, into a pioneering situation and out of the established ministry context that we were with in Kona. I have had doubt in the loneliness and in the difficult times. The doubt is peppered with the reality that God is blessing us, but it is a different season than I am used to.
  5. In all of it, I have had tremendous joy. Ever since I was 10 I have wanted to work in missions. I have had a desire to show people who Jesus is, and His love for them. I have spent most of my missions career training others to be missionaries, but this season has been one where I have seen my mission dreams come true. I have dear friends who do not love the Lord. They are not my projects, they are not my newsletter material, they are my friends. I have relationships with people who are not followers of Jesus and those relationships run deep. I  am as committed to these relationships as any relationship in my life.

I am not sure how much I will continue to write about this season, but I hope a lot, as it helps me process and learn. If your reading this, your prayers are appreciated.

Peace

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Yesterday, millions of men, women, and children marched for human rights all across world. Marches began sprouting up in over 400 US cities, and 168 other countries, where there were nearly 700 marches worldwide, including 20 in Mexico and 29 in Canada. It is estimated more than 3 million people marched in the USA alone and countless more worldwide. (source)

My daughter Emma and I attended the march in San Diego, along with 30,000 others. Women, men and children marched for various reasons. They marched to share their thoughts and opinions on same sex marriage and pro choice issues, they marched in solidarity for the refugee, the immigrant and equal rights. The marched to protest some issues and policies and support others. I went to stand with those who feel unheard, unwanted, and uncertain of their future in the United States. I also marched because I believe Jesus would have marched, and indeed was.

I did not march in protest of anything, I marched to show love, support and compassion with those who feel none. I marched because I wanted my daughter to know that she could participate in a peaceful march like this, without hate or violence, and stand with those who hurt. We don’t have to share peoples convictions, beliefs or lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean that we, the church, shouldn’t be in the same spaces that these people are in, standing side by side with people who don’t look like us, act like us, talk like us or believe like us. In fact, those are the places we need to be.

The event was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. There were signs of hope, raised beside signs of hated and anger. There were people cheering and full of joy, standing beside others who were hopeless and tearing others down. There were things that I was proud for my daughter to see, and things that I wish she never had to see, or see again. There were people booing Trump for his policies, asking for a better America, and highlighting their conviction of pro choice over pro life. It was a beautiful mix of love and hate that Jesus was right in the middle of, and that my daughter and I were in the middle of as well.

I was reading a post this morning by Mike Frost, an author and teacher. He beautifully wrote about the marches, and his  (and my) belief in pro life for the unborn. I was not there to change anyones mind in this, as there is plenty of tension on this issue in our world already, but I was there, as a follower of Jesus, and believer in pro life, to love and represent Jesus and His church.

I was sitting in a worship service today with my church community and was overcome with emotion at the brokenness of our world. It is filled with so much hate,  oppression, and hurt. We the church need to stand with those who are hurting. It was after all the broken that Jesus hung out with. He never judged them, just loved them. He never responded in hate, always in love. He loved and ate with the woman in prostitution, had dinner at a tax collector’s house, and sat with the refugee’s and immigrants of his day. That is what I am trying to do, and what I am trying to lead my children to do.

The words of the song “Brother” by the Brilliance come to mind as I write this. I am not a pro choice, feminist, hater of Trump, I am a follower of Jesus, who is trying to live and love like Him.

When I look into the face
Of my enemy
I see my brother
I see my brother

Forgiveness is the garment 
Of our courage
The power to make the peace 
We long to know
Open up our eyes
To see the wounds that bind
All of humankind
May our shutter hearts
Greet the dawn of life
With charity and love

Peace.

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