Anyway, Jeff and I watched an unexpected movie last night. It started out as "let's get a cartoon that we can zone out on and doesn't require much thinking" but ended as "of course we're always drawn to movies with meaning". The cartoon will have to wait. (Do they even make cartoons anymore?)
It's called Machine Gun Preacher, about Sam Childers, and is played by Gerard Butler. It's the story of a man with a past (he was in a biker gang and addicted to all sorts of drugs) who meets Jesus and eventually makes his way to Sudan, where he starts an orphanage that helps kids oppressed by the LRA. "Oppressed" is the least descriptive word I could use. It's horrific.
There are some pretty graphic scenes and language (I had to look away a few times), but the story is powerful. He sacrificed so much because he saw an incredible need. He does it so imperfectly, but he still does it. One thing he said as he was speaking to his congregation (he eventually started his own church in Pennsylvania) is to the effect of: God wants your hands, he wants your sweat, he wants your action.
I feel incredibly challenged by that.
I spoke this last weekend at a youth conference at my home church. There were about 150 people there and I'd never done anything like that before. But the theme of the conference was about being a hero. I talked to them about how any normal person could be a hero in someone's life. You don't have to be a sinless saint to make daily choices that affect others and introduce them to Jesus. It's about seeing a need and doing something about it. And I feel challenged by my own words.
Most of us will never go start an orphanage or live in a 3rd world country. But I have lots of friends who are adopting kids. I'm surrounded by people who love their neighbors. My community is full of the most generous people I've ever met. And I'm equally inspired by them. They inspire me to live by faith, take risks and love deeply. Sam Childers lives in the face of literal death every day, but these take up their cross daily and follow Him.
I want to tell them all thank you. Thank you to all the husbands out there who are so faithful to their wives and children. Thank you to the pastors and elders kids who have shared their parents with a community of people who need them. Thank you to my friends who open their homes to us all the time. Thank you to all the zillions of people who verbally encourage and gently remind me that God is good, and He is faithful. Thank you to the wives I know who set an example of giving their best to the Lord and their families. Thank you to my leaders and pastors, who have given up lives of leisure and ease to serve a greater purpose. Thank you to all of my friends who are in the armed forces. Thank you to all of you who give your hands, sweat and action everyday. Thank you for doing it even though it's not always recognized or acknowledged. You are my heroes.
Adventure isn't missing,