Greetings friends, family, and strangers;
Welcome to KoSD. This is my first official blog post, and its long overdue. You can find out what other type of content you’ll find here on the About page or just by clicking on the menu at the top. My hope is that this website is a blessing, inspiration, and encouragement for you to commit to life beyond yourself, and I wouldn’t exhort that without practicing it myself.
That being said, it seems appropriate to start this blog off by explaining what exactly I am doing and how I got to this point.
For the latter point: In late 2016 I quit my job in the investment management industry after having received confirmation from the Lord that my time to visit the Middle East had finally come. This was not out of the blue; I have pondered this travel since my early college days after I came to know Jesus the Christ as a person, or spirit, and not as a religion, philosophy, or value system (this is not going to be a religious post, but it is relevant context).
I watched for years the collection of issues boiling up in the ME, and its disastrous affects on ordinary innocent people who just happened to live in this area of the world, and at the exact same time I was beginning to learn about the supernatural power of God and seeing it with my own eyes. I’m talking about deteriorating spines being restored, deaf ears opening, fractured bones being healed, constant migraines never coming back, strangers hearing intimate details about their own lives from me and my friends and them asking how it’s possible we knew that stuff, all immediate results of offered prayer in the streets, parks, and malls (I should give the disclaimer that it was not always a 100% success rate, but we believed the words of Jesus and went after it). I was fully intent on quitting community college and doing “full time ministry”, but instead I heard the Lord tell me “you’re going to finish college.” You should know that at that time I felt on top of the world and I was told, both in and out of school, that I was a relatively bright guy for my age, so I argued and said school was useless and I have no interest in wasting money.
“You’re going to finish college.”
So finish college I did; I moved away from home for two years. By moving away I was separated from the people I was going out into the streets with to pray for strangers. Now, I was just the somewhat socially awkward, calm, nerdy but nice Christian guy who didn’t smoke, drink exhessively, party, or have sex during college. I was the guy people could “be real with” and not be judged when they wanted a break from the constant expectations of college males and females to be a certain way.
This was also true when I went to study abroad in Turkey for a few months. Fun fact: I once took a nap on the cold late evening shores of the Black Sea in order to avoid taking part in the rave happening right behind me that was put on for our exchange student program. That night ended with me escorting a really attractive and very drunk girl to her home and declining an invitation to spend the night. I don’t mention that to add a star to my “moral” chest, but it’s to paint a picture for you of how I lived and thought.
While in Turkey I learned more about Islam, albeit a nationalized democratically acceptable version of it. I also went traveling by myself in the southwest region of Turkey for one week and did not speak any English the entire time. I gained more of an appreciation for every day normal people who treated me like a brother despite the American Evangelical rhetoric that “those Muslims are dangerous people that hate our flag and God.” The person I most connected with during my time over there was not a fellow American traveler, European or Christian, but a non-Turkish Muslim friend who I’d talk with about many different life topics until 2 a.m every other night. The early morning before my flight to leave Turkey at noon, I wandered the city streets around 3 a.m. reflecting on my stay there and I couldn’t hold back tears from thinking about how much I was going to miss the people, place, and culture. Not even one month after I left, riots and civil unrest began in the very streets I roamed before.
Even after finishing college, establishing a career in the financial industry, and developing myself intentionally, I kept tabs on the effects of the Arab Spring, war torn Iraq, a hostile Iran, a divided Israel, al-Qaeda, Hamas, the growing force called ISIS, the Syrian refugee crisis, growing domestic terrorism in Europe, etc. Every month it seemed as if things were getting worse, or at least the media was reporting it as such. As the burning alive, shooting, and beheading videos came out, I remembered the first unedited up-close video I watched in Turkey of a Christian man having his neck sawed open with a knife and his blood spilling all over the executioner’s hands until his head was severed completely, all the while hearing “Allahu Akbar”. I’ll never forget imagining that could be my head someday and trembling and sweating with fear.
Nonetheless, I constantly remembered what I heard (not from a human or book) when I was born again: “Don’t be afraid, I am with you.” Every year I asked the Lord, “Jesus, I don’t know exactly how but I need to go do something. YOU need to do something, this can’t keep going on and we can’t just pray problems away. Here I am, send me.” The answer: “Everything is in it’s time, and your time is not yet.” I would be upset with this answer for a few days but then I’d continue in my way of making money, traveling within the continent, and learning how to be a successful entrepreneur someday.
Then, on July 3, 2016, the answer I usually got changed. It was as simple as “go.” And I felt the deepest of peace in my heart that this was right. So without waiting long, I told my boss, coworkers, family, friends and loved ones that I would be leaving the country for an extended period of time without partnering with an organization. I was just going to go.
Everything you’ve read to this point is a super expanded version of how I’ve explained myself to people who have asked what I’m doing. The common question I got, in a variety of words, was: What exactly are you, one individual, going to do about these complex religious, geo-political, and humanitarian issues?
The sincere and honest answer is: I have no idea…sort of.
I have ideas, such as being a micro-financer to refugees who want to start a business to get their family and community out of povery, or such as being a consultant to different organizations on how to better communicate and share resources with each other to more effectively do their jobs, and a few more; but I have no experience or first hand knowledge of that type of work nor am I sure that I would be able to get close enough to these issues to engage in such a manner of business. There’s always a need for hands and feet to minister food, water, and clothes, and maybe I’ll start there, but I’m one to look at the core of things at a macro level and see what’s the biggest long-term impact for your buck. But as stated earlier, I’m not really sure yet how I’m going to contribute to the survival of innocent people suffering at the hands of oppressive and dark powers.
If that’s the case, you say, why the flying flip would you willingly give up a promising career path and risk your safety for helping people that you don’t even know how to help?
Because we are made in the image of love.
Love, on Good Friday of all days, protected me from being aborted in the womb. Love rescued me from several years of depression, anxiety, and loneliness that started when I was young and continued on with constant dreams of death and darkness. Love gave me confidence and strength to let go of self-depricating lies I thought about myself for years. Love is not self seeking. Love protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love compels action, and it never, repeat, never fails. This is not the type of love found between two humans or animals, it’s something supreme and sure.
As such, I am compelled to do something. I can’t passively live life while knowing people are being rejected to the point of death by their own family, neighbors, and strangers from both sides of the world. I’m no fool though, I make this decision knowing well that regardless of my actions these injustices will always exist so long as people who don’t believe in righteousness, peace, and joy in holiness walk the earth.
So back to the first point: What exactly am I doing? For the purpose of giving me structure and guidance, I came up with an acronym for it; ACT.
Adventure: I am traveling to the Middle East as an adventure to first observe, listen, and investigate the situation here firsthand. My visits will include both places that are safe and stable, and places that are not.
Community: As I travel, I am believing for being connected with people who share a similar vision, are looking to develop a team united in power and love, and building camaraderie with them.
Transform: This is both personal and non. As I am transformed by the renewing of my mind and by serving others, the communities and people we minister to will also be transformed and shine bright in a dark place. You can’t kill ideologies, but you can denounce and replace them. A seed must fall to the ground and die before others can spring up and bear fruit. It’s already started, thanks to the sacrifice of others before us.
This, for now, is my plan, and I am currently in the “A” phase. You can find out more of my thoughts on ACT from the menu at the top of the page. I hope you found, and will continue to find, value here. To conclude this post, I will submit to you the following:
Don’t sell yourself short.
Find out who you are and what fruit you want to produce in this world. Your actions, or inaction, will testify on your behalf.
Everything has its time, but when the time comes don’t be afraid; we are not alone.