Thursday, September 29, 2016

Evangelism Sometimes Uses Words



It is my last day in Honduras. I’m sitting on the back porch of Clinica de Esperanza. Around me, people are digging and planting, moving dirt and piling rocks.

I’M THINKING ABOUT THE WORD “EVANGELISM.”

I used to think evangelism was all about talking (the cliché phrase: I’d like to tell you about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ). It brought up images of street preachers and TV preachers and tracts. None of those things excite me. I don’t relate to those methods of sharing the Gospel.

But I do enjoy talking about my faith in authentic, transparent and organic conversations. At the same time, I don’t want to force a conversation on anyone.

Honduras has changed things for me. I no longer equate evangelism with converting people via preaching or a five-step guide to salvation. When you nail the last nail and open the door to a family’s new home, you see Jesus lighting up their faces, and there it is.

YOU’VE TAKEN SOME OF THE HOLY SPIRIT INSIDE YOURSELF AND GIFTED IT TO ANOTHER PERSON.

James 1:27 comes to mind. I love it in pretty much every translation of the Bible, but it especially hits home in the Message:

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

I carried the Spirit of Christ in my tool belt during the month of July (el mes de julio). I lifted the Spirit into children as I held them and loved them and read books with them. I prayed in Spanglish by the bed of a child in a hospital, hands on a mother’s shoulders, Jesus all around us.

Mahatma Ghandi said, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

I’ve thought about that a lot while serving in Honduras. In Tegucigalpa and the surrounding communities, the name of JesuChristo is well-known. There are churches everywhere. People know about God, about the right and wrong of things. They know who Jesus is. What they don’t know is…

JESUS LOVES THEM SO MUCH HE GAVE MORE THAN HIS SON.

He gave His hands and His feet also.

Us.

He gave us.

And every time we feed, clothe, or shelter a person, we give them Jesus. We pour Him out of us and into the hungry and the naked, the homeless and the loveless.

EVANGELISM SOMETIMES USES WORDS.

Evangelism sometimes uses hammers and nails, donated shoes, cotton candy and popcorn machines, cinder blocks and concrete, games of tag, airport terminals, and long conversations in government offices.

Sometimes it uses those things.

Always, always, always…

It uses us.

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This post was originally published on Middle Places.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Post with Book Pictures



I started teaching preschool last month. I have 4-year-olds three days a week and 3-year-olds two days a week. I will refer to them simply as the Fours and the Threes.

My favorite part of the job?

The books.

Duh.

My main goal is to foster a love of reading in my kids. We will, of course, also learn about numbers and shapes and colors, etc. However, I will teach most of those things alongside books that complement the topics.

I quickly learned that a funny book is the fastest way to a preschool heart. I try to read at least one funny book per day, so I did a Google search for "funny picture books" and started putting things on hold at the library. I will do a series of posts here, sharing my findings. Maybe it will help some of you in selecting books for your own children or for your classrooms.



Mustache Baby

written by Bridget Heos
illustrated by Joy Ang

I really liked this one. My Fours did laugh at it, but my Threes loved it more. I was surprised by that, because the Threes usually require more flat-out-silly rhyming to hold their interest. In this case, they were fascinated by the whole idea of mustaches and beards and who has them and who doesn't. I just put Mustache Baby Meets His Match on hold at the library.



Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great

by Bob Shea

I had hoped for more from this one. It was cute, and I loved the drawings, the mood of them. I didn't read this one to my Threes. Once I had read it to the Fours, I decided the concept was a bit over their heads right now. I should mention that there are a lot more of the Threes, so it is harder to hold their attention as a group. The Fours listened to the book but didn't laugh. I think the concept may have gone over their heads as well. I would suggest reading it in an elementary school setting to start a conversation about jealousy and accepting others.



This is Not My Hat

by Jon Klassen

My kids loved this book, Threes and Fours alike. The Fours absolutely begged for it. "Read it again," they said. They have only had that reaction to one other book so far. I will have to give in and buy this one. After each read, they debate whether or not the big fish ate the little fish. One boy actually cries each time, insisting that no fish got eaten. They loved this so much, I grabbed the earlier book, I Want My Hat Back from the library. They weren't as impressed with that one. I think they just love the fish. Regardless, I am anxious to get my hands on We Found a Hat.




The Book with No Pictures

by B. J. Novak

This is, by far, the favorite book for my Fours. I have not read it to the Threes yet, due only to length. The Fours were dubious when I started reading the first time. "Why are there no pictures?" one kid asked. Another insisted "I only like books with pictures." Now they beg for it. I have to ration our reading so it doesn't get old. They laugh so hard I have to pause and remind them other kids are in other classes and we have to use inside voices. If you have not read this delightfully silly volume, go get it right now. It is the first thing I bought for my classroom, and I plan to take it with me to visit family next year. I can't wait to read it to my niece and nephews.

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