October 12, 2017
In some ways it was a colossal missions trip fail. I arrived in Recife, Brazil on Wednesday, October 4 to participate in Caminemos Juntos' annual conference - a gathering of Anglican leaders from 11 nations, including Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and the U.S. Then I promptly lost my luggage, which didn't show up for over 48 hours. A few days later, I fell off a ledge and severely sprained my knee. I was hot, sweaty, unfashionable with my one set of clothing, and tired as I limped around with my swollen leg. I just wanted to come home!
But then something happened. I'm pretty sure I had stepped into a full-blown revival. The Anglican church in Recife has seen and is still seeing scores of people come to know Jesus for the first time. They have an exuberant freshness to their faith. I preached at the 10 a.m. service and then attended the 5 p.m. service, and both services were packed with eager new or renewed Christians throwing themselves into worship.
I visited House of Hope, a daycare center in the heart of a large favela (slum) in Recife. The daycare center, run by the Diocese of Recife, serves as a refuge for children and mothers, most of whom are single and desperately need to work in order to survive.
Photo: House of Hope
The Christians in Recife also eagerly expect miracles from God. For instance, a group of praying women at the church prayed for my knee. I expected very little (typical post-Enlightenment Westerner that I am), but even to this day I have felt no pain in my beachball-sized left knee. Unfortunately, I just asked them to pray for the pain, not the swelling.
Of course Recife, Brazil isn't heaven. They know about God's glory, but they also know much about suffering. Five years ago, Bishop Miguel Ochoa, the spiritual father of this diocese, was diagnosed with incurable cancer. He was given three months to live. He's fully alive and healthy, but his wife has been hospitalized for nearly eight months. Even as I write this blog post, her life hangs in the balance. The economy and government in Brazil are crumbling. Poverty, drugs, corruption, gangs, crime - they're all rampant throughout the country. Some of the more established and powerful churches, often funded by denominations in the US, have been spreading a false gospel that has left people spiritually bankrupt.
Photo: Bp. Miguel Ochoa
But in the midst of these problems, the Holy Spirit is at work in such a powerful and beautiful way. As I boarded the plane to come back to O'hare, my eyes kept filling with tears - tears of joy for seeing God at work, tears of affection and appreciation for the people I met, and tears of sorrow for the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Recife.
This is why we have global partners. This is why we worship together, eat together, laugh together, and cry together. And we learn from each other because we desperately need each other. We need to learn from the Church in the Diocese of Recife, but I don't think it's arrogant to say that they need to learn from us as well. We belong to one Body, the Body of Christ.
September 16, 2013
For over two decades, Church of the Resurrection required a truck and a 24-foot trailer to cart all of its Sunday morning accoutrements from the ministry center to Glenbard West High school and back, every single week.
But not anymore. We are currently blessed with a building boasting all sorts of need-specific rooms we never had before – the sacristy with its own laundry room, children’s ministry rooms equipped with boxes of toys and supplies, a smaller chapel for morning and evening collects, a place to keep ceremonial robes, and even an artists’ studio.
We also have a huge storage space. Just take a moment to chew on this: think of all the resources that go into Holy Week, especially Easter Vigil! The storage area has more than enough room to hold supplies for Holy Week, Lunch with Staff, Christmas Festival, and other church events (at least for now!). Given that storage is where we keep supplies for Vigil, the most festive, imaginative event on our church calendar, you might half-expect to see magical creation scenes, colorful streamers, and Noah’s-ark creatures coming out of the woodwork. Maybe something a little “Night at the Museum” style. No such luck, though. Most of the interesting stuff, I imagine, is shut up in boxes. Except I did happen to notice when parking my bike inside that there IS this one random suit of armor… is there a #youknowyou’reatRezwhen hash tag?
Once we were settled in here at 935 W Avenue, the vestry had time to consider how we were going to keep our now-vacant trailer from becoming a 24-foot waste of space. On August 1, Resurrection gifted our fellow Wheaton church, Antioch, with our truck and trailer.
“Since we were a mobile church for many years, the Rez vestry wanted to bless another mobile church and we were aware that Antioch might have a need,” said Dan Easley, vestry chair member.
Resurrection’s business manager, Anne Kessler, offered Antioch the truck and trailer two months ago. The elders were in the middle of potentially landing a deal that could change Antioch’s status as a mobile church, so Anne explored giving the pair to a couple of other churches. When there still weren’t any takers, she decided to put the truck and trailer for sale on Craigslist.
“We were just getting ready to do it, and then I get a phone call from Chris Ott, one of Antioch’s head pastors,” Anne said. “He told me, ‘I’m almost embarrassed to even ask this because I’m sure you guys have already gotten rid of it, but our deal fell through…so we’re going to be mobile, and we could really use the truck and trailer.’ So I called him back and I said, “It’s quite obvious that the Lord wants you guys to have this truck and trailer, because we couldn’t give it away.”
Antioch formerly had a 12-foot trailer, and Antioch volunteer Tyler Ford said that only one man at the church knew how to pack it so that everything would fit. With twice the space they had before, it sounds like things at Antioch are working out fine. Resurrection staff received this thank you note in their inboxes soon after:
"Thank you so much! This is very helpful. Everything so far is working out just great and we are loving not having to play Tetris every time we load and unload. Your church has been a major blessing to us and we are extremely thankful for your generosity." —Tyler