Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not flying solo...

I recently cashed in a gift certificate that I received in January from a bunch of friends and family. I'm sure they contributed with good intentions and wishes so I could fulfill a longtime quest to jump from a perfectly good airplane. Here's how it was done and some interesting parallels that made me think...

a. WARNING! We want to make sure you know how to
write your name so we've provided this 6 page worksheet for you to practice your signature 50 times. Oh, and we just want you to know that you have no rights and therefore cannot sue us if we kill you... and your second cousin's, uncle's best friend has no right to sue us either.

+ When I surrendered my life to serve Christ I gave up
my "rights" to do my own thing. The twist is that in signing my life over to Christ I am doing the very thing I most want to do!

b. After watching a training video I harnessed up and received a bit of instruction. The harness is an uncomfortable but necessary piece of equipment. It is specially designed to connect to the instructor's harness since I'm not qualified to do a solo jump.

+ Sometimes the things we must do to follow Christ are uncomfortable but if we don't do them the journey won't have a very good ending.

c. We checked over the parachute and reserve then I had to help my instructor put on the parachute pack that would carry us safely to the ground.
The parachute was quite heavy. Not something that you wear around if you don't need to.

+ This is where it really hit me. Realizing that I myself put the burden of my sin on Christ. He willingly carried that burden so that I would have life.

d. My instructor was very thorough and ran through every detail I needed to know. After reviewing the wind conditions we loaded up the little Cessna and made our way up over Lake Superior. Click here to see the view for yourself. At nearly 2 miles above the earth we opened the door...it was 45 degrees F (it was 75F on the ground). The sky was quite clear with just a couple passing clouds. After my instructor made sure I was all connected to his harness we put a foot out on the landing gear step, took a look and then jumped.

I think we did a full 360 degree tumble and then leveled out. After a short time I realized that I didn't have to stare straight ahead at the ground so I started looking around and taking in view. I also had to remind myself to start breathing. Yep, it really did take my breath away in the sense that I had neglected to breathe normally since leaving the airplane.

+When we make the jump and surrender our entire lives to Christ he is with us and we can have the confidence that he is close by...so close that he is in control and yet we have the freedom to take in his wonderful creation. He will guide us and give us instruction that brings us through the danger safely. We still have the freedom to do things our own way, but the guaranteed result is that we'll mess things up putting our lives in danger and throwing our descent off course.

e. Somewhere between 4,000-5,000 ft above the planet my instructor released the chute and it worked. We went from deafening wind rushing past us to a surreal kind of silence as you start to hear the sounds of the city wafting up from almost a mile below. My instructor told me to look up at our chute so I could see how part of it was folded under itself...not really a good thing. A couple yanks on some of the lines and the problem was taken care of. My instructor handed me the control straps and I guided us in. Instructor man took over for the landing.

The last few hundred feet the ground came rushing up quite fast...especially the last 50. On touchdown my feet got pulled under but I managed to get them up and run it out. It was fun. Not something I need to do again, but I'm very glad that I did it. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone looking for for something to call an experience. Gravity is a crazy thing.

Thank You! Thanky! 10Q! to all who contributed to make this experience possible.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Operation Mobilization OutBound

As part of our orientation with Operation Mobilization we gathered with about 30 other prospective OM missionaries at the OM USA Headquarters in Atlanta, GA for a week called OutBound. This week was anything but textbook and dry lectures like we had been anticipating. At the beginning of the week we were divided up into "tribes" and came up with a tribe name, flag and skit about our tribe origin. At the end of the week had an "Amazing Race" type hunt around Atlanta after being dropped off at the International Airport with a bag of quarters and a list of things and people to find. I'm proud to announce that Waka Waka Hiki Mundo tribe won and we got to sign a trophy with the world on top and a picture of George Verwer (OM's Founder) on the base.

During our adventures downtown Atlanta, we shared Christ with Bemga (from Nigeria whose name means "God lifts me up") and Kim (see photo). Please pray with us that they surrender their lives completely to Jesus! Another highlight was a surprise connection with fellow OutBounders, Sarah and Dax Bryant. Sarah was my sisters college roommate some 10 years ago! It was super neat to catch up and meet her family and hear how the Lord is leading them in missions

Throughout the week we heard from and prayed for many OM missionaries who had come from around the world to cast a vision for ministry in their field. We had practical sessions on support raising, expectations and transitions. Not only did we learn much more about OM as an organization and about its history, we experienced OM first hand and the love and care they have for their missionaries and their desire to thoroughly prepare people for serving the Lord for a lifetime. Even though we have been doing full time ministry for many years, this week was a refreshing reminder of the basics of missions and what it is all about, not to mention a whole lot of fun!