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This week I am in Norway, teaching at the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) community. I am teaching on issues of Justice, specifically why, as followers of Jesus, it is necessary for us to care for and live our lives on behalf of the poor and vulnerable. I am asking five questions this week, questions that I heard from Don Millers interview with Andy Stanley. 

The five questions that I am bringing are:

  1. What do the students and staff need to know?
  2. Why do they need to know it?
  3. What do they need to do (application)?
  4. Why do they need to do it? 
  5. How can I help them remember?

I am excited and humbled to guide this community through the above questions, and I am excited to learn myself. My answers are hopefully simple:

  • We need to know why its important and necessary to practice justice as a part of our regular rhythm of life. 
  • We need to know it, because it is crucial to our human flourishing, neccesary as humanity and commanded by God. 
  • We need to open our eyes, stop living in fear and isolation and respond in love and practice to the needs around us, both local and global.
  • We need to do it, because we are a shared humanity, and we need each other. It is the most fulfilling way to live, to love all. 
  • I hope that through stories, media, statistics, and emotion I can help people remember why this is all worth remembering. 

I would appreciate your prayers this week, as I serve and learn from this amazing community. It’s an honor to be invited into this communities journey, and I pray I bring truth, conviction and life. 

Youth With A Mission

Don Miller with Andy Stanley

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It is October 10, 2018, day 18. I am writing a bit each day about my thoughts, motivations, ideas and dreams. Last night I was roller skating with my girls, some friends and the Syrian youth group that I help run. At one point in the night, as I was practicing my crossovers that I learned in the 1980’s, I thought to myself “your old, you have grayish hair, and your rollerskating to pop music with a bunch of teenagers, you don’t belong here.” Thanks self for that deposit into my mind.

This wasn’t the first time I had this thought, it has been happening a lot over the past few weeks. Before this, I had never had these thoughts, so it is all new to me. I remember hearing old telling people telling young people to act their age when they were messing around, or being immature. So, If a teenager is being immature, they are told to act their age. Does this saying apply to those who are old too?

I was just talking to my family about this over the breakfast table. I asked the question, “am I supposed to act my age (46) or my hair color (old man gray)? This really is the thought that has been coming into my head lately, “Phil, act your hair color.” I don’t think 46 is old, but I guess Im getting a bit insecure about feeling and acting young than I ever have.

Do I fight this feeling, or do I give into it?

I know I have to fight it because it is just culture talking, but as we all know, culture talks loud. Culture can dictate what we buy, what music we listen to, who is in, who is out and where and how we shop. Culture is a voice that has the control of many. Jesus tells me to come as a child. Jesus tells me not to worry. Jesus tells me to have fullness of life. Hmmm, that sounds a lot better than what culture is telling me.

I guess the answer is to be yourself, do what you love and be thankful for it. The older I get the more I will have to fight this voice, but the more I fight the more victor I will have over it. I don’t want to be the old dude, who has no fun, hangs with people his own age and eats at Marie Calendars, I want to be me.

Peace

 

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It is October 5, 2018, day 13. I am writing a bit each day about my thoughts, motivations, ideas and dreams. Today/tonight I am writing a bit about a mission/learning trip I am on this week in Tijuana and San Diego. My first time to Tijuana was 25 years ago. I came on a mission trip with YWAM. We built a home, did some dramas and I even did a Tamborine dance (it will cost you $50 to see that picture).

Tonight, 25 years later, I’m sitting in TJ on a immersion trip learning about immigration, DACA, and reflecting on the first time I was here. I love this country, both the beauty and the brokenness. I have learned so much from Mexico and I am excited to learn more in the next two days.

Today we went to the border wall, on the US side. We heard about immigration, both the facts and the stories. Then, we went over the border to a center that houses men and women who have been deported. I sat across the table from Roberto, a man who just got deported today. He leaves behind his wife and four children. He was not legal in the USA, but was working to provide for his family, and trying to be a good husband and father. He was pulled over for a traffic violation, checked for his status and deported (this was his story).

I was humbled to hear the heartbreaking stories of these men tonight. These men have made mistakes, and were living undocumented in the USA, but still, it is so sad to see them alone, in a country that they don’t know and living in a shelter. The people of the Casa del Migrante center love so well, they look a lot like Jesus. I am excited to go back tomorrow to learn more.

Peace

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It is October 1, 2018, day 9 of sharing. I am writing a bit every few days about my thoughts, motivations, ideas and dreams. This past weekend we had some friends staying with us that we have known for the past 23 years. Some of you reading this are not even that old, but this will be good for you all the same. Last night we were sitting around eating Raclette (cheese, potatoes, bacon and pickles of all kinds), we were not trying to be healthy, thats for sure. We were laughing about past memories, sharing deep thoughts and wounds and giving and receiving from each other. It wasn’t just the adults thought, our children were with us, laughing and getting slightly embarrassed at mom and dads stories.
We have only hung out with these girls a handful of times over the past 20 years, but when we do it is deep, beautiful and life giving. Our kids call them Auntie as they are truly family. This happened because we are vulnerable with each other, and we are there for each other when there is a need or crisis. Our family is blessed to have friends like this from around the world. Friends who are like family to Amy and I, but also to our kids.
All of us can have these types of relationships. They take time, although some relationships like this seem to happen overnight. Take a few minutes right now to think about who that person is in your life. Someone you don’t see regularly, but when you do, you pick up right were you left off. Give that person a call, send them an email, or SMS them telling them how much you appreciate them, asking if they are ok and even setting a time to get together. Then, make it happen. Friendship is a gift, having a friend and being a friend. Spend time building and cultivating relationships, because in the words of the great scholar Ferris Bueller “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

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It is September 29, 2018, day eight of sharing. I am writing a bit each day about my thoughts, motivations, ideas and dreams. Today I am writing about refugees, specifically ones that I have relationships with. As some of you know, I started meeting refugee families in San Diego just over two years ago. Before that, I had seen images of refugees on the news that were both heartbreaking and overwhelming, like the image here of Alan Kurdi. Alan was three when he lost his life . He was on a boat to safety, a boat that came under heavy waves moments after it left Turkeys shores in August 2015. This image haunted me for a long time, and still does today. Its an image that motivates me to action, and motivates me to empathy.

It was one year later that I met my first Syrian family. I was asked to drive a few boy’s from a nearby city to a “Welcome to San Diego” party that some of us were throwing for the Syrian community. I had butterflies in my stomach when I pulled up to the apartment where these Syrian families were staying. They hopped into my car, put on some Arabic pop music and off we went. We headed to the beach in San Diego where we were throwing the party, over 100 Syrians attended.

Since then I have met many Syrian families. I now have Syrian uncles, aunties, brothers and sisters. We have celebrated together, camped together, had emotional conversations together and grown in strong relationship. It has been an honor to have these Syrian brothers and sisters in my life, one that I see as a gift to me from God.

Three times a month my family and I meet with a small group of Syrian boys and a few people that volunteer with me. We are currently going through the fruits of the spirit that Jesus taught about in Matthew. We have short times of conversation, followed by times of fun, food and a bit of craziness. I am committed to these boy’s, and their families. I have learned so much from them, and hopefully they learn bit from me as well. This youth group is more than just a few people who hang out, It is a representation of equality and Gods heart. Male, female, brown, white, Irish/Canadian, American and Syrian all in relationship with each other. The reason we hang out is simple, its to create a safe space that these boy’s can be themselves, and have adults in their lives (other than their parents or teachers) who care for them and are committed to their success.

Some of you asked how you can be involved, well to be honest we need your financial support. Each week costs approx. $60. We meet three times a week, so that is around $175 a month. Would you be willing to sponsor a month of our gatherings? This goes towards gas, food, events (We went to their first ever movie in the USA last week), birthday gifts, and parties. You can give through Steps of Justice, the non-profit I run. If you can’t do a month, could you sponsor a week? We won’t send you pictures, we won’t put your name on our shirt (we still need to make youth group shirts, if you know of a good designer), but we will have an amazing time, and you will be participating in that for sure.

Alright, thanks for taking some time to read today. Have a great rest of your weekend, and feel free to share this.

Peace

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