Sunday, May 30, 2010

ALL on their own

“You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so their people can no longer terrify them.” Psalm 10:18

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27

Why these verses? I’ll let you know in just a bit…

Well…at the end of a spectacular day where I literally jerked from side to side and bounced up and down as our rickety mini-van sped and slowed across roads consisting of dirt, gravel, rocks and at times only grass.

Where I traipsed through narrow “feet” only trails of banana plantations etched into the side of steep hills. Where I gingerly walked along goat and cow paths carved by animals used to traveling in this precarious manner.

There were times I felt as if I were a character actor in the movie, Sound of Music, because these hills were truly alive, not with music, but with LIFE!

At the end of every one of these paths, lanes, trails and passageways were the MOST precious of all gifts, children. However, these weren’t just “any” children. This day, I had the extreme privilege of being an honored guest in the homes of these very unique, very special God made gifts.

Yet, many wouldn’t generally see them as such, you see, often they’re referred to as Double Orphans or Child Headed homes. It was humbling, really, as children extended me, the adult, hospitality. These kids ranged in age from 6 to 22.

Most of us in the US, and in particular in the sheltered confines of Southern California, are clueless that over the past 10 years, in this one African country of Uganda, all as a result of HIV Aids, TWO million Ugandans have died.

Yet, here’s the story that often goes untold, because of the destruction of AIDS, 1.8 million children are orphans TODAY!!! 1.8 million in Uganda, alone!

Today, it was these kids who loved on me. So to say that today was an emotional day would be a complete and TOTAL understatement.

Think about it, where we live, if someone can get past the gate and ring the doorbell of a house, apartment or condo and a child would be allowed to answer the door, one would immediately ask, “Can I speak to your mom or your dad?”

Today, I visited kids who’d say, “You’re speaking to him. You’re speaking to her.” Ponder the reality, it was these kids who buried their moms AND their dads.

Therefore, most have no one left to care for them. So they don’t go to school like other kids and even if they did, how would you like to be the kid without a mom AND dad; where everyday is a reminder that you’re going home to nobody and they’re all going home to somebody!

Not to mention, they now, no matter the age, are left to clean, repair, cook, farm, barter, learn, cry, etc., ALL on their own. ON THEIR OWN! Do not read on, don’t you dare, until you reflect on those 3 words (I’m not too proud to admit that I’m crying as I type)!!!

As I reflect on those three words…the implications are staggering. Men in the village break into their homes & rape little girls because there is NO ONE to protect them. Their house structures degrade rapidly because there is NO ONE to fix them. The grasses and bushes quickly become overgrown because there is NO ONE to cut them.

Fields go unfarmed, so no crops produce and then no food to eat, because there is NO ONE to tend to them…the list of atrocities goes on; children are taken, sold into sex slavery, because NO ONE to defend them. Studies aren’t maintained because there is NO ONE to encourage them…

You have a choice, make your own list or stay in your bubble. I let God burst my bubble this day…emotionally it hurt and spiritually it hurt…

I’ll end this for now…come back, tomorrow, for part 2…because there is HOPE being spread and a light more than flickering in the midst of this darkness.

Thanks for reading,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Emotional and Heart-filled Greetings

At every turn and in every country God ambushes and surprises me. In El Salvador, it was the time invested in me through Pastor Miguel. In India, it was the heart tugging and overwhelming sights and even smells of the India Slum. In Vietnam, it was a Father’s eyes and then moms and babies at the Father’s House.

After only one very full day in Rukungiri, Uganda, it has been the very emotional and heart-filled greetings.

Today, I found myself with tears running down my cheeks, as Ugandan women and little preschool children from a Compassion International Child Survival Program center ran with abandon while singing and clapping as they rushed to greet us.

After being in India with Compassion International, I was expecting a greeting, but not at all like this. You can watch it here. The joy, happiness, and smiles, on the faces of these women as they sang and danced, as little toddlers clapped…okay, it wrecked me!

The Child Survival Program (CSP) overseen by Compassion International, the church in this area of Rukungiri AND supported by dollars from our church, The Crossing, is making a substantive difference in the lives of women and children.

While hard to communicate the entire scope of the CSP in a single sentence…the baby training and life skills given to a woman who is about to give birth and the resulting follow up oversight from the CSP staff as the baby is born, then nurtured thru their preschool years, is meticulous, rigorous, and definitive.

The partnership between the Rukungiri Compassion International staff and the North Kigezi Diocese of the Anglican church and The Crossing Church ROCKS!

Women’s lives are being changed! The lives of little ones are being famously nurtured and all this, while unashamedly communicating the powerful message that Jesus reigns, transforms and saves. Yeah God!

Thanks for reading. Please, keep praying, I have a feeling I’m in store for SO much more,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On our way to Uganda

After 3 pretty long flights, it was nice to finally get a good night of sleep. We were up early and are now on our way to Uganda. Thanks for all your prayers! My prayer for you is that you realize the blessing and promises of Psalm 146 for your life this day.

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Pride goes before...a forgotten bag

When it comes to traveling, I don’t just like EVERYTHING to be just “so,” I WANT everything to be just “so”!

Oh, I do my research & hostels, plane makes and models, airport wi-fi free or paid, how to avoid jet lag and diarrhea, as well as how to find exit row and power plug seats, etc., etc., cause I know what I WANT. I have a plan!

I pride myself on knowing what I WANT...I will even tell travel agents, flight attendants, gate attendants, airport guides, hotel desk staff, trip planners, etc., what I WANT and when I WANT it. I tell myself, it’s a good thing to know what you WANT. However, if you’ve ever encountered anyone like me, someone who knows what they want and is even a bit smug in conveying that they know what they want, THEREFORE you should want it for me too.

My kind of “wanting” can come across as...finicky or fussy, picky, persnickety or particular, difficult or demanding, basically...Jerk with a capital “J”.

How do I know? Cause no matter the city, country or language, I see it written on their faces and their bodies when they interact with me.

Why am I telling you this, cause for whatever reason, God allowed me to see the ugliness of ME and the graciousness of others, just in the first 24 hours of this trip to Africa!

I’ll try to make it quick, basically our first plane out of LAX had problems so it couldn’t fly. I knew it would mean re-booking all the flights to Africa. Cause I checked on my phone’s internet connection, so I had a first in line, don’t go to the customer service center like everyone else, just stay at the gate...the plan worked.

We got our new flights, we even got our bags off of that initial flight, I got the seat “I” wanted (I was nice & I made sure J. Michael got one, too) and we were out of there “before” everyone else. I was feeling good (smug).

However, pride goes before the...well, you know...the fall.

We get to London Heathrow, great flight, great seats, great power port...disembark, get on the bus to the next terminal, through security, and then (I hate, “and then’s”), we realized the gate agent in LA didn’t provide the proper ticketing. I was a bit miffed at the new airline agent, “just get it done here,” I don’t want to go back on the bus, through security, to another gate agent, but to no avail...

So back to the previous terminal, get the right papers AND then, again, back on the bus through security to where we were told our tickets were no good, meanwhile, 1 1/2 hours has gone by. I gave the same woman the new papers and as I did, I asked if I could have this certain seat, etc., etc.,

She said in a terse voice (I know she was feeling the affects of my attitude previously), “Sir, we’ll take care of that later, now your bag check tickets, please.” I said back with planned pride, “I didn’t check any baggage, I’m carrying it on...” (Cause, remember, I know what I want and don’t want some dummie to mishandle my luggage and not have it show up in Africa).

And as soon as I said, “I’m carrying it on...” I realized with ABSOLUTE horror, that I left MY rolling bag on the flippin plane ( the plane and that was 1 1/2 hours ago). So I sheepishly said in a controlled creaking voice, “Ma’am, I believe I left my bag on the plane...what do I do now?”

I fully expected her to say, “You, Mr. Perfect. Mr. Planner. Mr. you know what you want man, YOUUUU want to know what to do now? Well, your bag can rot in...” But she didn’t, she was so gracious. She immediately picked up the phone, called the other airlines.

Sure it meant another trip on the bus to the other terminal AND it meant coming back her way (3rd time) with my bag HUMBLY in tow! But as I passed by her desk, her smile and greeting said it all, “Sir, did you get your bag?” I responded, “Yes, Ma’am.” To which she said, “I’m so glad. I hope the rest of your trip is splendid.” (She really meant it, I could tell)

Soooo, all in roughly 24 hours God allowed me to see the ugly parts of me and the graciousness in others!

I know there was not much Fruit of the Spirit, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control” on display. But, thanks be to our Lord, I can humbly say a lesson was experienced.

So prayerfully, during the rest of the trip, it’ll be less of me and what I want and more about others.

Hey, thanks for reading. Thanks for praying!

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Headed to Uganda!

What a weekend! Doors are WIDE open, Colossians 4:3 is happening right before our eyes. For 22 years at The Crossing, we’ve seen God open so many doors. This weekend was HUGE! Tons of you wrote on the “walls” names of people who you desire to see changed through the incredible power of Jesus Christ. It was pretty awesome!!!

Hey, would you pray for me, I’ll be heading to Uganda this week, Rukungiri, Uganda to be specific. I’m traveling with one of our volunteer leaders, J. Michael Declues. His heart is HUGE for the people of Uganda. Check out everyday or our blog. I’ll be posting updates as I have internet connections. I hope to send back pictures, videos and written updates of what I’m seeing, the people I’m meeting and the experiences I’m having. God is moving in a BIG way all throughout Uganda.

I’ll be seeing our ministry partners in action, Mosaic Vision, Compassion International and the North Kigezi Dioceses. God has allowed me to see and experience SO much over this year. I will not soon forget the sights, sounds, and people of El Salvador, India and Vietnam.

Now pray, will you?


Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

P.S. This weekend we talked about 3 crucial components for our church in the next 6 to 9 months as we prepare to move in to the completed Phase 1 of our construction. First: We all begin to pray for 3 people, who in the months ahead we’ll be inviting and bringing to church. Second: We all give a percentage of our financial resources to our church, each of us seeking to move toward the full tithe. Third: We all pray for our church, The Crossing, 30 seconds a day, everyday. 3 simple, yet profound, ways we can partner with God’s Spirit as He keeps opening doors!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pastor Tim & J. Michael Declues heading to Uganda

Sitting at LAX at Chili's restaurant...I'm watching J. Michael eat his pancakes with plastic utensils, I guess they don't want us attacking the waiters. A BIG shout out to all those who came and prayed for us this morning before we headed to the airport. Thank you!

You MUST watch this video. This is J. Michael, he's part of The Crossing Uganda impact team. He's been to Uganda 3 times. He loves the people of Uganda. He sponsors Compassion International kids there. Hear him as he shares his excitement in seeing them again!

Be praying for us!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nursing homes, Mother’s Day, and Restaurants...

Nursing homes, Mother’s Day and Restaurants...what in the world do those three things have in common?

Well, I hear next to New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day ranks third as the largest turn out for restaurants. One person said, “It’s a way to honor mom, give her a break and get her out of the house...”

Personally, I’ve been thinking a ton about Mother’s Day this year. Just this past week, my mom was put into a nursing care facility. Her legs just stopped functioning and even with all the strength that my dad has, he just couldn’t give her the care she needs.

Mom has always been the stalwart. Even as her body has aged and her gait slowed, she’s had a way of persistently keeping on. In my mind, I keep thinking this “change” can’t feel good for either her or dad. Sure they’ve weathered numerous “changes” over their fifty plus years of marriage, but this one has to have rocked their world. I’ve felt the tremors and I’m 3,000 miles away.

Everyone always says, “Change is inevitable!” And I would agree, but when it hits home and hits your mom, it’s not always easy.

This Mother’s Day weekend, May 8th & 9th, Sue and I will be speaking at The Crossing at ALL 6 weekend services (Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30, 9:30, 10, 11, & 11:30 a.m.) regarding “Change!” I’m excited that I get to share the platform with my best friend and my babe. Do not miss it. We are looking forward to sharing this weekend with you!

This Mother’s Day, I wish I could give my mom a break, honor her and get her out of her situation. Seems trite, but I’d even take her to a restaurant; I think she’d even like it.

Thanks for reading,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

P. S. There are two nights left to do a Building Walk Thru on the campus of The Crossing, Wednesday, May 5th and Thursday, May 6th from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Sign up here.