Saturday, June 12, 2010

Can I Tear Out The Sidewalk?

When I was little, we had this old sprinkler. You know, the kind that goes back and forth sending about 100 little streams of water in a perfect arch across the lawn? Yes, that's the one! I can remember running back and forth through that cheap sprinkler all day! We would pretend we were invincible and whatever was coming out of that sprinkler (dihydrogen monoxide - H2O), could somehow take that super power away leaving us helpless against the attacks from "The Enemy," also known as "mom". . .and "dad."
Time passed and I eventually forgot about the excitement hidden within water coming out of the aluminum and plastic contraption that eventually got stepped on and became useless. As I grew older I began to immerse myself in much more expensive and more complex forms of entertainment. Movie Theaters, The Latest Game Systems, Nice Cars and Computers. These are the things that, over time, have come to hold my attention. These are the things that only months ago, I would have scribbled onto a list if someone had asked what I couldn't live without. And, unfortunately, these are the things that today. . .right this moment. . .are holding me where I am, possibly keeping me from moving forward.

In July of 2009, I started selling windows for Andersen Windows in Knoxville, TN. About 3 months into it, the timing chain in my car BROKE and beat everything in the engine to a pit. When I finally found a way to get it to the shop, the mechanic called me hours later with crippling news. It was going to cost almost $2,000 to fix my car. After telling him that I just couldn't afford to fix it, I hung up the phone... defeated... Luckily he was willing to let it sit in his lot until I could figure out what to do with my 2003 Honda "Paperweight."

I began calling around and quickly found a loner vehicle to use so i could begin working extra hours to earn the money to fix the car. However, there wasn't as much luck finding someone to come move it. A week went by... The end of the second week was quickly approaching... I knew i had to figure something out quickly. I decided to call the shop and find out just how long they would let my car sit until they had to dispose of it. To my surprise the man on the other end of the line informed me that my car had been fixed, and that someone had dropped off a check to cover the expenses! I didn't know what to do or I graciously accepted the generosity and drove my car home the next day. This is just one of the many times in my life that God has provided above and beyond what I could ever expect! A few months later, the newly repaired car develops an appetite for burning oil very quickly and I decide to sell and get a newer vehicle to get me to my window selling appointments. With the purchase I acquired a newer set of shiny wheels along with a pretty hefty monthly payment. But I've got a good paying job right?

Well, in January I was offered job with a non-profit called "Z-Foundation." They are an organization that produces media for missionaries and other non-profits around the world. This wasn't just any job to put on the list of the many positions I've held over the years. You see, Z-Foundation doesn't really have many employees because they cannot afford to pay full time staff. The interesting thing about this opportunity was that someone actually called Shawn, the president, and offered to pay my salary if they would hire me. After praying about it, I really felt like this decision would be the beginning of the next chapter in my life. This was an opportunity i couldn't pass up so I said goodbye to the window business, and hello to the new adventure called "Z-Foundation."

After the tragic loss of their son Zach Weimer, Shawn and Sally Weimer started the Z-Foundation in his name. It's aim was to provide opportunities for families to serve together, because Zach loved serving the Lord...especially with his family. With Shawn's background in media, a new avenue of ministry opened up and they began creating digital and print media for different ministries and non-profits around Knoxville and surrounding areas. This is where I enter the scene. I was hired to help Shawn develop the media portion of Z-Foundation. In my first few months I created and reworked several videos and graphics they had not been able to get to because of the busyness of planning service opportunities for the number of families looking for the chance to serve the Lord. In the midst of planning, serving and creating, the Weimers were also in the process of helping their daughter, Kelly, get ready for YWAM (Youth With a Mission).

YWAM is the largest missionary training ministry in the world, with an international base in Kona, Hawaii. Participants of YWAM spend three months in a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with emphasis in different areas, and are immediately sent into the mission field for another 3 months to use the skills they gained during their the DTS. When Kelly had been there only a few weeks she called us with exciting stories of the things she had learned and what God had been showing her in the time she was spending in His word and around His people. After 3 months, Kelly found herself in a remote jungle in Brazil. When she finally finds civilization and a way to contact us, her face was glowing like she had been spending time at the feet of Christ. It was amazing and I began to long for the chance to meet God in such an intense way. After much wise council, prayer and research I began to realize just how selfish and comfortable I had become. When even my closest friends agreed that I had a really bad case of "But I'm Jon Hatton" syndrome, I knew something had to be done. I made the decision to begin preparing for my own YWAM journey because I knew it would force me to put things other than myself on the top of the list. I began to grow tired of sitting on the sidelines watching others do radical things for Christ and decided I wanted to be part of His movement.

On September 29, I will be getting onto a plane directed at the International YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii. While there I will be part of the "JUSTICE DTS," a DTS focused on heartbreaking injustices in both Asia and Africa. After the 3 month training, we will travel overseas to reach people involved in and affected by Human trafficking, child soldiers, genocide, poverty, living on the street and AIDS. In order to make this trip a reality I have to raise almost $15,000 to cover the expenses involved in travel, training, room and board. Along with the 15k, I also need to sell my nice shiny car that I owe more than $18,000 on, because I won't be able to make payments on it while I'm involved in YWAM. When I get back from YWAM I won't have a job waiting on me, so there is no way I can pay for it when that part of my journey is finished.

At the moment, I am in the process of listing most of my belongings, including my car, on "Craigslist" with hopes of doing nothing more than breaking even on the Honda. Blue book retail value is $17,500, so I'm hoping God will send someone to either write a check for what I owe or take over payments. If nothing happens by the middle of September, I'm pretty sure I'm prepared to drop it off at Honda with the keys and accept a "Voluntary Repo" on my credit. Right now, I'm praying that I don't have to do that, but I know that I have to do what it takes to follow God's call on my life, even if it isn't how I would write the story.

What I'm beginning to realize is that the things I once found glorious and desirable aren't bringing the joy they once did. The pretty car and nice belongings I wanted so much are now the very things holding me where I stand. I used to walk down the sidewalk in my neighborhood watching the cars fly by wishing I had something better. I used to be jealous of my friends because of the toys and gadgets they had. Now... I would give anything to tear that sidewalk out of the picture, leaving no place to stand.