Geoffrey Canada – Changing the Odds – Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit

Q: You often use the word "contamination" to describe what's going on. Can you explain that?

GC: There are places in this country people would panic if their dog got loose. Hope is contagious, but so is despair. There are places where young people can't figure out how to make it without drugs and sex and violence. We've got to contaminate them with positive values.

Q: So some people have said you started some schools, but it's more than that.

GC: You can have a great school in a dying neighborhood, and some kids might get out, but other kids will be left behind. You've got to change a neighborhood. We started with one block. Then we went to two blocks. Some people doubted us at first, but by the third block, they said, you know what, this thing may be possible.

Q: You start very young, with young parents who are pregnant, and you go all the way through.

GC: We've tried to figure out what the least amount of money and time we can spend and change kids, and that's just not the way it works. If you raise a child, there is a no time in that child's life you don't need to be a great parent. You can't take it easy when they're three or four or take a vacation when they're nine. We've got to have programs that start at birth and get them through college.

Let's get them young, let's stay with these kids and guarantee they have a good education. Still today in this country that's not a vision, and we've got to change that.

Q: So in addition to education, you offer medical services, what else?

GC: People are like, okay you start at birth and then move them through, but why all of this medical and dental and whatever.

I used to make this argument that it helps them academically, but I got sick of it. I was like, what decent human being would let a kid grow up without good medical care.

It's not exceptional, what's exceptional is that anyone in the United States wouldn't do this.

Q: How can people help in their communities?

GC: In many places a culture begins to take place, and you're trying to tell them to study and work hard, but they're getting 20 messages a day counteracting that. In these communities that's not sufficient. You've got to change that culture. When you have reached 65-75% of that population, you've reached a tipping point. In these communities we are reaching, you've got to reach a tipping point.

Q: You've used the phrase "against all odds" to describe your story. What happened early in your life?

GC: I know there are people here and around the world who celebrate when people get out of these places. Geoff, you got out of the South Bronx, that's amazing! I watched my friends fall into traps that destroyed their lives.

These places where young people are considered extraordinary if they make it out, I think as Christians we've got to confront that notion that we celebrate a kid makes it out. We need to change those odds. We need to give them the same chance as middle and upper-middle class kids.

Q: Who influenced you most as a young boy.

GC: My mother who is 82 is number 1 in this. She made sure I was going to read.

But my grandmother who has passed away decided she was going to save my soul. She decided when I was 6 or 7 we had to talk. I was sitting around as a 6 year old saying, "I don't get this God thing. If there's an all powerful God, how come I have to deal with all of this?" I had this grandmother who returned the lost money to the police station, and she'd say "Stealing is wrong." She knew this concept that most of us never really understand that there's integrity whether you'll get caught or not. She didn't talk to me like a kid, so we had these debates about God and Jesus. And that woman passed away before knowing she saved my soul.

So when you asked who influenced me, you can talk about the academics and all of that, but that woman saved my soul.

Q: So you launched this experiment and you can tell us you saw all of these amazing results right away, right?

GC: My grandmother told me I can't lie. Failure, when nobody knows who you are, you can deal with that quietly and anonymously. When you're public, it's much harder. Here's half of the problem. I was upset because there were these people who weren't rooting for me. There were people saying, "I knew he couldn't do it." One of the most difficult things is to work really hard and fail, and not just fail but fail publicly.

What you want to do is go and hide, scale down the vision, never take that chance again. Going out and saying, I failed, but I'm going to try twice as hard and I"m going to be successful, that's hard.

Q: You had to make some very challenging personnel decisions. You gave them an extra year. Do you regret that?

GC: It was a mistake. But I love people. I believe in redemption. I believe people get better.

Here I think is the toughest part of my business, of our business. Sometimes you feel like you're working for the staff, when really my mission was the kids. The kids didn't have another year. They didn't get a second chance at this. The idea that I could wait for people to get better, was something I had to learn the hard way wasn't true. I'm still rooting for people, but it's different now. It's easy to let someone go who's lazy and disagreeable. It's hard when someone works hard and is trying. I think the way you build a powerful organization is you demand a level of excellence.

Q: Remembering the ultimate person your serving is huge.

GC: If I had a lot of history that said that person who let me down, the next year was overperforming. Typically, it's pretty evident those who can do the job and those who can't.

Q: You've faced pressure from influential donors. How did you handle that?

GC: I have to raise a lot of money. I know that. I didn't get into this business to raise money. People who like me like me less when I have to raise money.

The donor is like the customer who is always right. You're sitting there trying to figure out where the line is, and there's a line. There's a line where the gift detracts from the work. So I'm sitting there with a person who says, "This is great, but you really have to focus on employment, and I have a lot of money to give you." In the end it would have destroyed my program if I had watered down the vision. Sometimes not taking the money is the smartest thing you can do.

Q: How has your leadership style changed over the years?

GC: My compassion has grown as I've understood how difficult these things are, but I also feel a stronger sense of urgency. I think we've lost our way. I don't think we can have another generation on a pipeline from cradle to prison. So I've gotten more impatient as well.

Looking at these really tough problems there's a tendency to say we can't do it. But when we want to do something, we get it done. We put another rover on Mars. It just means that as Americans we have not put our focus on it and decided this is our core mission.

Q: I've heard you speak on succession planning. Can you share about that.

GC: I find this fascinating because I go to Ken (CEO of AmEx). As life would happen, I went to school at Bowdoin with Ken. What do you think about succession? He said, "The day I walked into this job, there was a succession plan. This is a business. The company has to survive, but there is no intention, no matter how good I am for this company to be worse when I'm gone. There are two or three people in the line of succession who I pay a lot of money not to leave."

So I went to my board and said, "I have to leave this organization when it's on it's way up." There's this thought in the non profit world that it's "your" organization. This institution belongs to the young people who need an opportunity. No one on the board wants to come to you and stay, "Geoff, it's time to go." People start to whisper, but they don't want to tell you it's time to go. So as leaders, we have to tell them, "I'm planning to go, and I have already brought in people to replace me." You can't get great talented people to replace you and not have an exit strategy, because then they start looking at you, like, "He's a little sick today." They have to know when you're leaving.

And if we leave on the way down, the person who takes over is seen as worse because it wasn't as good. You can't wait until you're worn out and tired. I love my job, but I am preparing to leave in the next three years.

Q: Geoffrey, you have been doggedly pursuing this mission for a long time. What would you say about staying the course in the times of disappointment.

GC: I have been in the same job for 30 years. And I say, yes, it's nice to be on TV and all of that, but for most of that time no one knew who I was. We are but a moment in a path to victory. If you get to be celebrated, you have gotten more than most. Probably for hundreds of years there were people struggling and saying "One day" about slavery. Some people never see the reward in their lifetime, but they know they are right.

There is something about fighting for the right cause. You will be part of the process of getting towards victory even if it's not in your lifetime.

Q: You know, you could always be a preacher...

How does faith play a role in your life and work.

GC: My grandfather was a pastor. My grandmother was an ordained minister. My mother was. My wife just became an ordained minister.

But I don't want to give you a flip answer because I grew up in the 60s, and I would be in church listening to my grandfather preaching and then walk out of the church and there'd be drug addicts on the streets and kids growing up without parents. And I said, this isn't what Jesus had in mind. This is a con job.

I was going through a rough patch my sophomore year in college, one of my twin sons died, my brother was killed in a car accident two months later, and I found out on my way home that my grandmother had cancer that was incurable. I went to my grandmother and I was angry. I said, "You're the most God honoring person I know. How can you sit there and tell me you have faith." She said, "Geoff, it's easy to have faith when everything is going great. The real test of faith is when you're faced with something that only your faith will keep you believing in God." I looked into her eyes and realized she wasn't kidding.

I realized I had to step back because if there was something so powerful it could keep you through that, maybe I should give this faith thing a second chance.

In the end, if you have faith, it will pull you through anything. My faith has gone 180 degrees from where it was before.

Q: What one thing would you say to leaders?

GC: People are watching us all the time, and this issue of your moral compass, I believe if you're a leader in our business, you've got to bat 100%. You've always got to be on your game. Why is it that folks wait to get to be leaders before they decide to cheat on their wife, steal money, become abusive. I would challenge us all as leaders to get that moral compass right. Every time you have a leader who gains some notoriety who acts up, it causes all of these people on the fence to say, "I knew it wasn't true. They were lying." Get your moral compass right and you'll save not only yourself but a bunch of other people too.

Judah Smith at Catalyst

I want to spend just a few moments with you sharing from the Bible. I'm going to start in Exodus 33, and I'd like us to consider the glory of God and its implications in your life as a leader, and most importantly as a follower of Christ.

Ex 33:12-23

John 1:14,18

Jesus is the glory of God. I believe if in fact that statement is true, you will leave here tonight with a surplus, the overwhelming fact and truth that you will leave hear tonight with everything you need for living and leading and pastoring.

Thursday night is the most special night in our family. It's date night. When you've had children, the rhythm of life sounds something like this: date night, blur, date night, blur. I love date night.

I wish someone had told me before we got married that women have rules. And they don't have to share their rules. You're supposed to know them. And if you really love them you will know their rules and abide by them, and then they will feel loved.

My wife Chelsea has rules for date night. And women are under no obligation to tell you when the rules change. So the other days I suggested we do dinner, coffee, dessert, and a movie. Her countenance dropped, and I thought "rule change." She's like, "I don't really want to go to a movie." I said, "Neither do I. They're secular."

Gentlemen, what you have to know about date night is that there is always a score and if you score high enough, you score. And I don't know why you do date night, but I don't do it for the conversation.

Chelsea said, "I don't want date nights to just be movies." I didn't show displeasure, but I'll be honest with you, my perfect date is like, go see a great action flick and go home and make love. We don't even have to talk!

She asked me the other night, "Where do you feel most loved?" I said, "Really, do you need me to answer that question?" But really, when women ask you a question it's just a front for wanting to be asked that question. I couldn't believe the answer. It was the antithesis. It blew my mind. She said, "When you ask me question." For a guy, that does not communicate love, ladies. It's like being interrogated.

My wife's office is right next to my office and we work together, and we go on date nights and she asks me how my day was, and I'm like "You were there the whole time." So I ask about her day, and she tells me about the morning meeting, and I am like, "I was there."

But my wife is smart. She doesn't just want to do stuff for me or with me, she wants to know me. She is good for me. She sits me down and asks me how I'm doing, as a dad, in my ministry, with each other.

Marriage isn't just about doing stuff together or being in each other's presence. You need to know each other.

Moses has experienced the presence of God. And he's kinda on a role with God, so he asks for something he's never seen before: glory. He asks to see God's glory. What a crazy request, a risky request, maybe not even a healthy request.

And I think God must have been so happy. My boy doesn't even want to just do stuff with me, he wants to know me. It's early in the day. I was going to make a new covenant, but he's like, alright, how do I do this. Now, I want you to shimmy in this rock over here, and I'm going to put my hand over you as I pass by. Now don't peak, it won't go well for you. And as I pass I'll pull my hand away. So Moses shimmies in, and God's like, you're not peeking, are you? So God's like, you can look now Moses. And Moses asks, are you sure? And God's like, you're good now.

So Moses' face glows in the dark for days.

Maybe you'll notice that Moses' request was not fully granted by God. Moses got only a glimpse in passing. It was in Jesus that we got the full answer to Moses' request.

Throughout all of the corridors of history and the ages, no doubt Moses' request stood unanswered until Christ came, and we beheld his glory.

People say, "I want to see what Moses saw?" I'm like, "I don't." Why would I want to see God's backside when I can look him full in the face.

I'm singing "Show me your glory." And all of the sudden I get this distinct impression from the Holy Spirit. He says, "I already have. His name is Jesus."

Look at Hebrews 1. I don't do crack, I don't smoke weed, because this is good enough for me. "God has in these last days spoken to us by his son." "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person."

When Moses asked to see God's glory, what he's really asking is to see God's essence, the inner reality of who God really is. He wants to see what makes God, God.

And then Jesus comes, and he's just that. He's the enactment and full form of divine radiance. You don't have to wait for a fuzzy feeling, for the hair to stand up on your nect. You'll have everything you ever need in Jesus.

A couple of years ago my family went through the most difficult period of our life. My father had cancer, multiple myloma. There was not a day in my life I did not talk to my father. They passed leadership of the church off to me, and the elders agreed. I started to play out in my mind that I'm 30 now, and if all goes well, I'll probably pastor this church for the next 30 years. And I started to think about 30 years of weekends, and all of the sermons I'm going to have to write. ANd I began thinking, God, I can't do this. I'm not my dad. You know those guys taht can get up and don't read the Scripture, they just quote it. And they don't have notes, the sermon just flows out of them. ANd I get up the next day and I'm like (in a high pitched voice), "Hey church. I'm pastor Judah." They used the King James, and it sounds so spiritual, and I'm like, "Yo, what's up church."

Have you ever come to an event like this and you don't leave encouraged at all. You're actually discouraged because every single person who gets on stage, you're like, "I've never even seen that in the Scripture before." And you leave with your head hung. The Bible says don't compare ourselves with others, but what (we think) that really means is don't do it in public. And you show up at your church and you're like (in a high pitched voice), "Hey, church."

And so you're looking for secrets, like some special program that you can do and then you'll become super-sermon dispenser.

Or maybe you watch Christian television, and you're like, "Maybe I'll just preach that."

So it was the perfect storm. Daddy handed the church over and then went to Heaven. If and when this day came, he was supposed to be there to help me.

I wonder if I really realize what I have in Jesus.

Where do I get off looking for secrets. There's no secret, no potion, no magic formula. There's no software that can supplement the savior, the King. God is no respecter of persons, no background, no pedigree. He is freely available to every person in this room.

You all remember that story where Jesus breaks down the desperate housewife by the well. She's a bad woman. She's a loose woman. She would make a fantastic porn star. Which is amazing to me because we deify the people Jesus reached out to. But these were scandalous people.

Remember how the whole story goes? Jesus asked how she is, and she's like, "You talkin' to me? I'm a woman, and I'm a Samaritan woman? You want to talk to me and get harrased by the Jews?" And so he's like, "So go get yo' husband." And she's like, "I don't have a husband." And so he's like, "No, you don't, you've had 5, and the guy you're with now isn't your husband." And she's like, "Shoot, you a prophet or somethin'?" Jesus talks about worshipping him in spirit and truth. And she said, "I don't know about all that, but when the Messiah comes, he'll figure it out." And so he says, "I am he. You don't have to look any longer or any further."

If I could apply that to every volunteer, church leader, mom, dad, business leader, etc. Pastor, you don't have look any longer or any further. There's no potion or secret. It's just Jesus. He is the rose of Sharon, the deliverer, the healer, your pastor, your friend. He is everything you'll ever need in your life. I just came to tell you, "You've got Jesus."

I'm starting to figure out pastoring a church wasn't really about me to begin with. I'm starting to figure out God loves my city more than I do. I'm starting to figure out it's his name on the line, not mine.

Can somebody start to paly the piano so I really sound spiritual?

You guys feel that (listening to the music)? It's like the Holy Spirit just came in.

I feel like I cam tonight to ask you the question, "Since when was Jesus not enough?"

Was it the inforamtion age that broupght us to this place? Since when did we have to add to his sufficency.

I have to admit, I started to look further than Jesus. Maybe I need to read that or go here. All the while I felt Jesus trying to get my attention and tell me, "My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness."

I don't want anyone to leave here tonight feeling like they're lacking. You have everything you need, pastor. You have everything you need in Jesus. He calls all of us to Himself, all of us who feel like they're in over their head, like they don't measure up. Come to me, Jesus says. I will give you rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

What are you about?

It's a simple question really, although one that might be difficult to answer:  What are you about?  What defines you?  What is unique about you?  What makes you who you are?

Jamie asked this question of herself on her blog, which got me thinking about what I'm about.

I'm about Jesus, and I'm about helping others follow him.

I'm about my wife.

I'm about the Church and more specifically my church.

I'm about community.

I'm about cities. I live in DC, and my last three trips have been to Seattle, New York City, and Addis Ababa.

I'm about food. I especially love Chicago pizza, hot dogs and beef sandwiches, and if you grill meat I'll like it.

I'm about leadership, learning to lead myself and others well.

I'm about too much TV.

I'm about receiving grace and trying to get better at giving it.

I'm about reading and writing.

I'm about social media.

I'm about driving.

I'm about generosity.

I'm about being stressed and agitated but trying to change that.

I'm about my friends.

I'm about Sabbath.

I'm about poker.

I'm about competition and winning.

I'm about thinking and challenging and stretching my mind (and yours).

I'm about serving the vulnerable, because that's what Jesus is about.

I'm about integrity.

I'm trying to be about joy and intentionality.

I'm about theology.

I'm becoming about artistic expression and travel.

I used to be about politics.

I'm about exercise (sometimes).

What are you about?  Leave a comment below or better yet, write your own post and link back to mine.  I'll be sure to swing by your blog and check it out.

Photo by Flickr User gfpeck

Through the Looking Glass

Occasionally we peer through the window of another’s life and glimpse a stain on his soul.

Twice today I have been confronted by the character issues of another person, and in one instance I got angry about a sinful pattern in someone’s life.

As I was considering how to address the problem, it suddenly hit me that I have a similar tendency… one to mistreat others.

My indignation was followed by conviction.

I guess this is what Jesus was talking about when he said to make sure to remove the plank in your own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Occasionally we peer through the window of another’s life and glimpse a stain on his soul.  The fool sees only the faults of his fellow man, but the wise man catches his own reflection in the glass.

Photos by Elvert Barnes

The Right Questions

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying on the topics of hell and salvation in the wake of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s Love Wins, and I’m beginning to wonder if we as a Church have been asking the wrong questions.

For a long time we’ve counted the number of hands raised or altar call participants.  We’ve tried to get converts and have people tell us they believe in Jesus, but Jesus never asked us to do any of that.

Jesus told us to make disciples.

A disciple is someone who follows and begins to look like the person he or she is following.  If we are disciples of Jesus we will have time for children, rebuke the proud, care for the needy, and teach love.

In Love Wins, Bell recounts many of the encounters people have with Jesus that seem to involve salvation or conversion.  Zacchaeus commits to selling all that he has and Jesus responds, “Today salvation has come to this house….”  In Luke 5 Jesus forgives a man’s sins on the basis of his friends’ faith.  Another time Jesus teaches that those who endure through persecution to the end of their lives will be saved.

And so Bell asks

Is it what you say,
or who you are,
or what you do,
or what you say you’re going to do,
or who your friends are,
or who you’re married to,
or whether you give birth to children?
Or is it what questions you’re asked?
Or is it what questions you ask in return?
Or is it whether you do what you’re told and go into the city?

So is it the tribe, or family, or ethnic group you’re born into? (17)

As some would say, “Just believe.” (17)

…James wrote: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (chap. 2). (18; cf. Mt 8:28-34, Mk 1)

So demons believe,
And washing Jesus’s feet with your tears gets your sins forgiven? (18)

I think the common thread throughout many of the Scriptures on which these questions are based is that after encountering Jesus the people in these stories began to follow Him.

I wonder if the question “Do you believe in Jesus?” isn’t the right one.

Maybe we should be asking, “Who are you following?”  Are you following Jesus?  Are you a disciple of Jesus?  Is your life pointed toward Jesus, or is it pointed away from him?

Inherent in the idea of being a disciple of Jesus is that you believe in him.  Belief is essential.  We are saved by faith alone.

But if we truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God come to earth to reconcile a fallen world to the Almighty, that will necessarily result in our being His disciples.

If it doesn’t, then we don’t really believe it.

The Ins and Outs of Heaven

As Evangelicals we have a simple test of who will be in heaven and who won’t.  If you believe in Jesus, you will.  If you don’t, you won’t.

But as Rob Bell points out, “…what Jesus does again and again is warn us against rash judgments about who’s in and who’s out.” (Love Wins, 54)

Jesus spins a yarn about a religious leader and a tax collector in which the tax collector is justified but the religious leader is not.

Another time he tells his followers that the unprepared, the wasteful, and those who ignore the poor will be left out of the Kingdom.

Even those who do mighty works in his name might not get into heaven.

So who gets in and who doesn’t?

God didn’t put us in charge of answering that, so in one sense it doesn’t really matter if we figure it out.  He’s going to sort it out in the end.

But what about for ourselves?  How do we know if we’re going to get in?

More on that tomorrow.

Cartoon by Andertoons

The Come to Jesus Meeting

Altar calls aren’t something we’ve done very much in recent years here at NCC, but they’ve been happening a lot more recently. We’re in a place where we’ve been challenging people to make a decision to put Jesus in charge of their lives. Over the coming days I’ll be going through the Gospels looking for stories of those who decide to follow Jesus. I’m excited to read the stories of those early believers.

As Mark, our senior pastor, put it, we want to help people to start a journey, not just raise a hand during a service and go on with business as usual. We are commanded to make disciples, not “get converts.” Disciple implies relationship and committment. There is a conversion experience, but we are called to a journey of faith with Christ and fellow believers, not just a one time intellectual act.

National Community Church – The Elephant in the Church – The Unchristian Elephant – Joel Schmidgall

Date: 10/25/2008 – Disclaimer

John Stuart Mill has an essay entitled “On Liberty” in which he explains how words lose their meaning. He says that the best example is Christians. Christians say beautiful things but don’t believe them.

I say these things:

  • It’s better to give than receive
  • Love your neighbor as yourself
  • If someone asks you to go one mile, go with them two
  • Judge not, lest you be judged
  • Pure religion is taking care of widows and orphans

I do these things:

  • I give more than I receive
  • I love my neighbor like myself
  • I go beyond what people ask of me
  • I don’t judge others
  • I take care of widows and orphans

There’s a huge discrepancy between what we say and how we act. You know what the word for that is, hypocrisy.

We see Christ’s calling, and then we see the way that they act.

84% of young people say they know a Christian. 15% of those people say that they Christians act any differently
49% of young people have a negative perception of Christians.
Among young people, negative perception of Christians is three times larger than it was a decade ago.
Judgment, hypocritical, political party, anti-homosexual, boring, and confusing are the words used to describe Christians
Love respect, trust, and hope are used very infrequently in regards to Christians

Do we act like Jesus or do we live it in our heads and go out and live a different set of principles?

Modern day Christian behavior seems decidedly unchristian. There’s a difference between the Scripture, between the red letters in the Bible and the way we live out our lives.

I love the Church. I am a product of the Church. Many of the examples in my life come out of the Church. The Church is the Bride of Christ.

The same people that ran towards Jesus in the Bible often run away from Christians.
God came to earth as Jesus to bring salvation, experience our suffering and pain, pay the price for our sins, and became our high priest and mediator before God.
I went to Thailand a week and a half ago and prayed, “God, break my heart.” It came out of my mouth. I hadn’t intended to pray it, but it stuck with me. When was the last time I prayed that, “God, break my heart as yours broke.” The incarnation is God coming as man to bring us salvation, deliverance and healing. Yet a lot of times we just ignore the heart of God. I’m not talking about pity or guilt or sadness. I’m talking about a deep penetration within our hearts, a deep understanding, about how God sees the need in the world around us.
These realities don’t scare me. They make me sad, give me anxiety, but they don’t scare me because we have a message of hope. I believe God has called us to step into the power he has so beautifully laid out for us. What if the Church began to care about the things that God cares about, to care for the poor, for the widows and orphans, not to judge but to love.
We talked about A1:8 a couple of months ago. It’s about stepping out and doing, about “we will.” One of my favorite moments about the trip to Thailand that we just returned from. We had gone out and talked to girls in the bars and invited them to church, and on Sunday night I was speaking and three of them came. We had them stand up and honored them and welcomed them. We will care for the needs of those around us. A1:8 is about taking “what if” to “we will.”
When you step out and make yourself available to God, God will challenge you.
Change of place, plus change of pace, equals change of perspective and priorities.

I’m preaching to myself today. I’m glad you all could be hear, but my heart is being purged because of all of the stuff I’ve built up in here. I need God to shake me up.

A good summary of the work of Christ – Luke 4:18-19 – The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…
Do any of these words cross your heart or mind on a regular basis?

Jesus said that he came to serve, not to be served, to give his life as a ransom for many.

This is the secret of what we’re talking about today. We’re not talking about an image problem. We’re talking about an action problem. We don’t need to get excited about an issue. We need to get excited about Jesus Christ. He will lead us to the people we need to serve. Jesus leads us to those places.

We talked about going to Thailand here, but we didn’t really understand. Then we got there and heard about it second hand. Then we saw it first hand and were disgusted by what we saw. The first night we went out we were overwhelmed. I was overcome by a myriad of emotions, anger, disgust. I believed it before, but I don’t think I really believed it until I saw it.

John 4 – Jesus hangs out with the Samaritan woman at the well. These are people who don’t hang out. Samaritans didn’t hang out with Jews, but Jesus wasn’t worried about perceptions or categories.

Our days and nights in Thailand were strikingly different. We saw these bright, shining faces during the day, and at night we went out into a place with neon signs where girls were traded as commodities, where they don’t have nametags but numbers. In one bar you could throw a ping-pong ball at the girl you want. Girls were treated as objects. It was disgusting.

There was a moment where we were sitting on the second floor of a bar drinking a coke. I looked in the face of one of the girls and it hit me; this is the girl at the well. God gave me his viewpoint. He said that behind all of that stuff, she is not a number. She is a name. She is a daughter of the living God, created in my image. She’s not number 8. Her name is Em.

Isaiah 43 – For I have called you by name, and I love you. And I care about you, and you’re better than this. And I want to wrap my arms around you and take you out of this, take you out of this environment.

Let me ask you a question today, does your heart break as God’s heart break? When you see suffering does your heart break? Or is the world right about us. God help us. Lord help me.

What personal sacrifices are you making, what family sacrifices are you making for the Kingdom of God, for the thing that God deeply cares about. Do the things of the Kingdom of God captivate my heart. I’m talking about me, and don’t you dare think that this message is for the person next to you. It’s not. This is more than giving a few bucks or giving some money. It’s more than a donation.

Are you willing to allow your life to be turned upside down? Are you willing to give everything you’ve got?

The elephant in the Church today is that Christ followers forget to follow Christ. We have Godliness in form but not in feature. It’s on the exterior, and we’ve been called to the carpet by the world.

I’ve looked the lost in the eye this week, and do you know who the lost is? It’s a good sweethearted girl who is broken, who needs someone to speak into her life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: An authentic church is one that lives for others.

Jesus said to share the living water.

John 4:28 – Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and told people to come and meet Jesus. Jesus didn’t try to save a town. He tried to save one girl.

Destiny is what God chose for you.