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Carrie Ngangnang | conversantlife.com

What does it mean to Suffer?

I don’t like missing out on anything. While I don’t necessarily need to be the center of attention, I most definitely like being around to watch when someone else is.

Last week I shared a bit about how I feel like I’m missing out on the action a little bit. I’m doing okay with it – what choice do I really have anyway – but there is still a part of me that is grieving the loss of excitement, adventure and the unpredictable.

This past week, my bible study group discussed suffering. Our bible study is sermon based so this past Sunday we heard a sermon on suffering.

The Pastor said the question is not why we suffer. No, as Christians we know we will suffer. Christ suffered and following him inevitably leads to suffering. Take a pass through the book of Acts and you’ll see what I mean. The first century Christians rejoiced in suffering for Christ. It was an honor to suffer for the Name above all names. The question rather, is how long will we suffer?

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Could a Little Whistle End the World's Deadliest War?

In June of this year I highlighted NY Times jounalist Nicholas D. Kristof’s article Death by Gadget in this post.  Kristof did a great job of speaking the truth about the war in Eastern Congo and the driving force behind it. Yes that force is the demand for Congo’s minerals which are used to manufacture most electronics, Apple products included.

Since that post I’ve also posted a bit about an organization I am hearing more and more from called Falling Whistles.

Falling Whistles began because an American young man visiting Eastern Congo, ran into a few boys who had just ran away from the army they had been forced to join and who were now in hiding. This young American man listened to their stories of their kidnapping and the brutality they were forced to endure themselves and inflict on others. And then he heard something he could hardly believe was true.

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You can call me Martha. You can call me Mary. For short, you can call me Marthy.

I’m out of place.

 

What I once knew I no longer do.

 

I’m 30 and clearly having an identity crisis. In the words of Kirk Franklin's 1990's classic, Stomp, "Can I get a witness?"

 

I’m in transition and it’s clear to me I’m in the beginning of a new season in my life. As the ever-so-delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte has made its way back into our local Starbucks indicating that fall is just around the bend (despite triple digit temps at the beach in Southern California), so it is that a new season is upon me.

 

When I first joined the ConversantLife family, I was fresh off the seminary boat and my degree in missions and evangelism was on my brain constantly. I was full of ideas on how to actively engage the world with the gospel message and I was traveling abroad for cross-cultural service projects as often as I could. I was also working in ministry, something I had done since my college days and felt comfortable doing.

 
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Meet Yves

While I sleep at night, a war rages on in Congo. When I rise from my desk at work to grab a drink of water, men, women and children are thirsty in Congo. While I sit in traffic on my daily commute, Congolese children sit and wait in hiding, hoping the merciless rebels pass them by. 

Congo is special to me. I was in the country in 2003. I met the locals. I ate the food. I poorly attemped to speak the language. I met beautiful children. Congo is in great need. The Congolese have suffered for generations. It's time for the country called "the heart of darkness" to experience the light of Christ. 

An organization called Fallen Whistles is working hard to help those of not in Congo not forget the world's most deadliest and violent war going on right now in Eastern Congo. Stories are a powerful tool in bridging the gap between the not so personal and the personal. Congo and the Congolese people are worth becoming personal. Their lives are too valuable for the world to continue to turn away to such devastation. 

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The Freedom Campaign

Imagine for a moment you find yourselves at a crossroads. You have a decision to make. One that will change everything you’ve ever known and one that will ultimately determine the course of your future. You can stay where you are and continue your life as a slave, or you could risk everything; including your life and set out on an unknown journey in hopes of a better life; a free life.

What would you do?

It was the year 1849 and Harriet Tubman “Moses” fled from a life of slavery on a Maryland plantation and after a long and rigorous trek, reached freedom in Canada. Tubman did something remarkable. She returned to her plantation and led others out and into freedom as well.

The Underground Railroad was a remarkable and complicated system. It took the collaboration of brave abolitionists and the determination of those who knew they deserved a better life to carry out this organization of freeing Americas slaves of the mid-1800’s. And they succeeded. Slavery in the slave states eventually ceased.

Over 150 years after Harriet Tubman tasted freedom and helped countless other do the same, history books refer to her as an American hero. She stands tall with other hero’s of that movement such as Fredrick Douglas, William Stil and Susan B. Anthony.

Fast forward to today and you’ll find 15 cyclists who just finished riding along the Underground Railroad, stretching 1800 miles (see videos of the cyclists). The same miles former United States slaves walked. The cyclists are part of The International Justice Mission Five Weeks of Freedom Campaign. The campaign, which wrapped up end of July, focused its efforts on awareness and advocacy in support of IJM’s work to give a voice to the slaves of our world today and those facing unbelievable injustices.

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Four Universal Questions Answered with a Biblical Worldview of Mission

I’ve mentioned in previous posts I spent the summer of 2005 in the tiny Eastern European country of Moldova. I was there on a solo mission partly to earn credit for my masters degree in missions and partly to lead a high school short-term missions trip for the church I was working for at the time. During the 2 weeks the high school students from Boston, MA were with me in Moldova, we spent most of our time living at an orphanage in the middle of the beautiful countryside.  

By the time I was in Moldova, I had been on similar short-term missions trips to Mexico a handful of times and had been to Congo, Kinshasa in Sub-Saharan Africa. Needless to say I had seen poverty before.  However, spending those 6 or 7 days in that remote Moldovan orphanage opened my eyes to a new level of poverty I had not yet experienced. I’ve thought a lot about why there was a noticeable difference between the places I had been and the place I was in Moldova. I’ve come to believe the difference to be that while in Mexico and in Congo, Kinshasa, I was a bystander. I was an onlooker to the poverty. I was a spectator to the mess and not part of it.

But in Moldova, at this orphanage, I lived among them, in their subhuman conditions for that week. Rather than arrive, shake some kids hands, give others hugs, snap a few photos and leave, the Boston high school students and myself stayed.

Moldova has a high number of orphans due to the countries poverty. The simple fact is parents do not make enough money to support their own children. They have no other choice but to send them to an orphanage. The government pours very little resources into these orphanages leaving hundreds of children in the care of 2 of 3 adults who don’t know what its like to have a day off.

This particular orphanage was over crowded with some of the neediest children I’ve ever met. Due to a high rate of alcoholism among Moldovans, deformities and mental disabilities run rapid among the children. The first child I shook hands with when we arrived was missing 2 fingers on his right hand. Others had severe mental handicaps and needs that were unmet.

The warn-out, thin mattress I laid my head on every night was soaked in urine. The facility turned the water tower on for showers once a week. And even then, it was a light trickle of pure cold. The single course for the day was potato soup (simply boiled potatoes in water) on days when the potato farm had enough potatoes.

During my 2 month stay in Moldova, I was hosted by a group of girls who had grown up together in an orphanage. They were all teenagers and had lived together in an orphanage in the city for most of their lives (This orphanage was funded by an American organization and the conditions were much more civilized). These girls remain close friends of mine and we keep in touch often. Five of them are now in the US between North Carolina and Georgia while 2 remain in Moldova.

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Where is God in Natural Disasters?

"The mature Christian rarely experiences God. The mature Christian simply knows He's present." I recently attended a 1/2 day spiritual retreat and was struck by that comment the leader made. There have been moments in my life when I feel as if my number one craving is to experience more of God. I have witnessed him act in mighty and tangible ways and I long for those experiences again. Like a child whose daddy is throwing her in the air and catching her back in his arms cries out in delight, "Do it again, daddy, do it again!" I find myself praying those same words often. And when I don't see him act - which I translate into experience - I think he's being silent or not active in my life. 

The comment above has really caused me to stop and think. In 1 Kings 19 the radical Prophet Elijah finds himself in the presence of the living God on the same mountain top Moses stood before him also in the Lord's awesome presence. The elements swirling around him as well as with Moses. But God was not in the elements with Elijah contrary to what I would have expected and I think contrary to what Elijah wanted having just witnessed God in the elements before this. Check out 1 Kings 18 for that story. 

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Haiti: Six Months Later

The world seemed to stand still for a moment 6 months ago when a powerful earthquake rumbled its way through the tiny country of Haiti and destroying everything in its path. My friend Stuart was there. You can read and see more of Stuart in Haiti during that time here. Newspapers wrote about it and Stuart witnessed that God is very active in Haiti among the Haitian survivors. Below is a recent article Stuart wrote for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, student magazine Contact. (Stuart and I became friends while students at the seminary). How cool it would be if the country known for so long now as the poorest in the western hemisphere, will now and forever be known as God's country!

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What is the Gospel?

Five years ago at this time, I was in Moldova.  On reflecting on that time, I rememered this blog I wrote a couple years ago. How would you answer the question "What is the Gospel?"

I spent 6 weeks in the country of Moldova during the summer of 2005. Moldova is a former Soviet State that now finds itself struggling to survive in the aftermath of the fall of communism. With 80% of its population living in poverty and 2/3 of the remaining 20% living out of the country simply to find work, Moldova is a country with great need. I spent a lot of time there with young people and almost every youth I talked to, desired to leave Moldova. When asked why they did not want to stay to change the way things were being done, they almost always answered, “It is hopeless to try.” Unfortunately, the state of mass hopelessness does exist in Moldova. I saw it in the lives of those living in the urban city of Chisinau, as well as those families struggling to make a living in the rural farm lands nearby. I have never seen a more hopeless people than when in Moldova.

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Could the iPhone be Fueling a War in Africa?

NY Times journalist, Nicholas D. Kristof, wrote an article published in today’s paper he titled Death by Gadget. It’s a timely article in light of the release of the latest iPhone. Would you believe that by purchasing the iPhone and most electronics, for that matter,  you might be funding one of the deadliest wars in history?

Kristof has this to say about the conflict in Congo:

I’ve never reported on a war more barbaric than Congo’s, and it haunts me. In Congo, I’ve seen women who have been mutilated, children who have been forced to eat their parents’ flesh, girls who have been subjected to rapes that destroyed their insides. Warlords finance their predations in part through the sale of mineral ore containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. For example, tantalum from Congo is used to make electrical capacitors that go into phones, computers and gaming devices.
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About
I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.


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