Thursday, October 22, 2015

Prostitution, Parties, & Peru

Like I said in my last post, I feel as though God has been talking to me a lot on the subject of seeing the world. Like most human beings, I avoid discomfort and pain a little too much. When I hear about tragedy and the pain of others around the world I try to distance myself. I was challenged on this in chapel (at Northwestern) last spring. I downloaded a news app this spring to keep up with what is going on the world more. Still, I have been feeling lately like this is not nearly enough. It is not enough to check out the news app every once in a while and see what is going on through the eye's of an author. Lately, I have been feeling like God is calling me to see the world for myself. With this constant nudging came the repetition of a quote by one of my heroes. This hero of mine chose to see the world and face it. That is why William Wilberforce is one of the people I admire the most. The quote that continually repeated itself was this: "you may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." I feel like God doesn't want me to able to say 'I did not know'. I feel like God is calling me to know - to know the world as it truly is, not just the rose-colored glasses version. He wants me to see the world through His eyes. Now, this requires a great bit of discomfort and pain, which as I mentioned I am not particularly fond of. But God doesn't usually ask us to do easy things now, does He?

God gave me this call and then just like He usually does He plopped several opportunities to live out that call in front of me within a matter of a couple of weeks.

Right when I was feeling like seeing the world was something I needed to do I was asked to be a leader of a weekly ministry team called Seeds of Hope. Seeds is a new Northwestern ministry started by friends of mine and what we do is we go out into the cities and minister to real people with real stories right where they are. The past 3 Saturday nights I have gone out with them have been amazing. God has truly blessed our time and allowed us to impact people. But He has also shown me the world through it. The first week we went to the U of M... during homecoming. That was completely eye-opening for me. I had never seen anything like it in my life. I thought college parties in the movies were completely exaggerated but what I saw that night was just like all those movies. It hurt to see it. It hurt to see all those people ruining their lives when they thought they were truly living them. But at the end of the evening I knew that I was there that night because God wanted me to see it all and dare me to feel something about it rather than try to shut it out. It is easy to make Northwestern a bubble where you stay and get a Christian education with Christian friends and never leave the safety net. But that is not exactly what God wants from us. He calls us to train ourselves to impact the world for His sake, yes. He calls us to be in community with other believers, yes. But He also calls us to be in the world and that is something I think we are called to do now as students. We don't have to wait for God to use us. He wants us to go out now and reach out to people.

Another way I feel like God is helping me to see the world came through a piece of paper. It was almost like God legitimately sent me an invitation (except it was not actually addressed to me - although it might as well have been). Before I tell you about this piece of paper there is some background you need to know. I have been on 4 mission trips now. They have all been within the states and have all impacted me greatly. I had every intention of going on the last Revolution mission trip next summer. But I was trying to figure out how I could do that if I were able to intern somewhere like I intend to. I didn't know if it would be a possibility so I started thinking about other mission trip opportunities. If I were to be unavailable in the summer I would only have one other window of opportunity to go on a trip: spring break. Luckily Northwestern sends teams out to places all over the country during spring break. They often go to New Orleans so I started thinking about how great it would be to go back to the place where God decided I would leave part of my heart. But before they announced where they were going over spring break I ran into this piece of paper. It was announcing an informational meeting about a trip to Peru. And get this - the trip was not over the summer like all but one of the international trips UNW takes are. This trip was happening during spring break. Coincidence? Probably not. For about a year now I have been thinking about how I have seen the world through mission trips but how in America nothing is quite so extreme as it is everywhere else. I was thinking about how going on a mission trip overseas would be so different and I began to think that maybe it was about time I go on an international trip. Well, here God was giving me one. Still, being a human, I tried to make excuses. Like how I am not a person built for the jungle or the mountains or warm weather in general and how I don't exactly speak fluent Spanish along with other excuses. But I realized quickly they were very weak excuses and my prayers for clarity were resulting in answers of "yep, Kallee, Peru" and "yes, I am calling you to go see all kinds of things that will hurt you to see them but it's something I need you to do for me". So long story short I spent my day today renewing my passport and in less than five months I will be in South America.

A third way God is continuing to show me the world is through Streetlight, Northwestern's homeless ministry. Every week we get to meet people with stories very different from ours and it is amazing. It can be eye-opening too. But this year there has been an additional opportunity God has given us through Streetlight to see the world even more. This year we have been able to do street ministry. Now this isn't average street ministry This is Franklin and Chicago in South Minneapolis at 11:00 on a Friday night. It is not family friendly and the Dove foundation would not approve of that picture. In many ways it feels like the devil's playground. Everywhere on those streets he is altering people's minds in order to try to keep them from the Gospel. It can feel like no one on those streets is sober but that doesn't stop us. This last time we went out was especially eye-opening for me. James, a staff member of the Marie Sandvik Center, came with us and as a former walker of the streets he pointed things out to us we might never have seen before. He pointed out a drug dealer to us as well as an actual drug deal going down. While James was explaining some of these things to us we made light conversation with a woman passing by. We then watched her as she continued down the street and a car made a U turn. We watched the car pull into the parking lot of the strip mall and the woman walk over to the car. We saw them talk and then we watched the woman get in. Then James said "yeah, that just happened". So now I can add prostitution to my list of things I have seen but never want to see again.

God has been showing me the world these past few weeks. And I can't always say that I have loved what I have seen. In fact a lot of what I see makes me sick but I know it is what I need to see because in order to change the world we must know the world even if knowing the world breaks our hearts. It is okay that it does because when our hearts are broken that much we are forever changed. And when we are forever changed we are moved to action.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Opening our Eyes to our Brothers and Sisters

In chapel a few weeks ago we took a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11 and we talked about the Syrian refugee crisis. When I got back to my dorm after Greek class that day I listened to a radio clip that was recorded on 9/11/01 and then a video John Green posted explaining the refugee crisis (I know - some heavy topics for a Friday afternoon after class). Anyway, it got me thinking about what our brothers and sisters around the world face. I think we often think of the world as 'us' and 'them' but a better way to view the world is 'we'. We are all in this world together at this same time in history and I believe it is all for a reason. Those thoughts inspired me to write this post. In this post I will write about who are brothers and sisters are, how people have cared for their brothers and sisters in the past, why we need to take note of what they are going through now, and how we can help others (if at all).

Who are our brothers and sisters?
In the Bible other people are often called our brothers/sisters. The Greek word adelphos, which is generally translated as brother or sister, is used over 300 times in the New Testament. Over 250 of those uses almost absolutely do not refer to a family member. (For more on this look no further.) What does this mean? It means Jesus does not want us to just care for our direct family members. He calls us to love people outside of our bloodline. So once again that begs the question: who are our brothers and sisters? Well, I think that question is a different way to ask the question "who is our neighbor?" In Luke 10:25-37 an expert of the law asks Jesus the same question. Jesus answers by telling him the story of the good Samaritan. The story showed us that everyone is our neighbor. It is easy to distance ourselves from the struggles of others on the other side of the globe but that isn't what we are called to do for our neighbors.

Why should I care about other people?
1 John 2:10 says "whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling". John 13:34-35 says "a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." If that doesn't convince you then maybe this will. As you may know, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is known as the "love chapter" of the Bible. In it, it say this:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Why should we love other people? Besides the fact that they are our brothers and sisters, we are nothing without love.

Can I even make an impact?
Short answer: yes. You can make an impact. You may not be able to completely change the world yourself but we all have an impact and we get to choose the kind of impact we make. The song "The World You Want" by Switchfoot asks "is this the world you want?" Then goes on to say "you are making it (the world) every day you are alive". So according to them we make an impact no matter what so it might as well be a positive one, right? History proves one person can make a huge difference. Need an example? Well, here is one: Adolf Hitler. He changed the world - no one can argue that. It was in a terrible way that he changed the world but he did indeed change it. Examples of people who changed the world positively include Jesus (of course), William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, the apostle Paul, and many others. One person can make a difference. I promise you that. My life has been deeply affected by the actions of single people. I would not be sitting here at Northwestern if it weren't for Dr. William Bell Riley, who started Northwestern, along with all the donors and presidents and staff and faculty who have kept it going since then. Or for that matter the many people who encouraged me to check out UNW. Come to think of it I would not have started looking at Christian colleges at all if it weren't for me putting my faith in Christ. That was a result of going to Eagle Brook Church, which I wouldn't have done if it weren't for a friend of mine from North Lakes Academy. I wouldn't have gone there if it weren't for the founder Jackie or if it weren't for my mom's encouragement. This is just one simple line of connections to show that how other's lives and choices affect us. Whether we like it or not our lives are all connected and the choices we make affect other people. We are affected by the choices of many before us, and others around us and those to come will live differently (for better or worse) because of our choices. So now here comes the question: What will your impact be? Will you be remembered as a person who reached down and reached out to others in need? Will you be remembered as a person who encouraged others to change the world? What do you want to be written about you in your eulogy?

How can we best make an impact?
In order for us to make the greatest impact possible we must be educated. I don't mean we have to know trigonometry or chemistry. I mean we have to know the world as it is. (This is something I feel like God has been trying to teach me lately and I want to share a bit more of my journey with this lately in another blog.) In order for us to change the world, we must know what needs to be changed. Makes sense, right? The only thing is that this particular type of education will not always be pleasant. In fact, it may very well break your heart. Still, we must force ourselves to walk away from comfort for the sake of knowledge. If we don't truly know what is going on in the world we can never have true motivation to change it.

Warning: Getting educated about the condition of the world may very well change you and wreck you in the greatest way possible because before we can make a change we ourselves must change.

What is your next step?
Maybe you need to simply gain more knowledge of the world or maybe you are at the point where you need to experience it. Below are a few suggestions for next steps. I encourage you to think or pray about what God might be calling you to do to better understand the world...

1. Start reading the stories of persecuted Christians from The Voice of the Martyrs  and pray for them
2. Read the heartbreaking facts about sex trafficking
3. Hear the facts and stories of women who had abortions
4. Read about how people who are homeless are just like you and me from Invisible People and then join a homeless ministry
5. Find out more about extreme global poverty and then dedicate one day's wages to help end it
6. Read about world hunger and then go pack food at Feed My Starving Children
7. Sponsor a child with Compassion
8. Go on a mission trip and see the world as it is

"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
- Gandhi