Who Am I? (part three)

Frankie: Father, that was a great sermon….made me weep.

Father Hovak: What’s confusing you this week?

Frankie: Oh, it’s the same old, “one God-three God thing.”

Father Hovak: Frankie, most people figure out by kindergarten that it’s about faith.

Frankie: Is it sort of like snap, crackle, pop, all rolled in one box?

Father Hovak: You are standing outside my church, comparing God to Rice Krispies?

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Frankie, in Million Dollar Baby, is an under appreciated boxing coach who stoops to – gasp! – coaching a dynamic, backwoods woman (Hilary Swank). As the film progresses, viewers observe as Frankie moves beyond his structured reasons of order, relationships, and sport and instead, surrenders to the understanding that limitations are only what we make them – faith included. This is not unlike many “walks with Christ”: God is before, with, and beyond us. The Bible points to a myriad of characteristics regarding God (a leader, comforter, defender, lover, all-knowing, all-powerful…) and while it’s important to track these in Biblical precedence, it’s also an experiential relationship that is revealed heavily when engaged in.

I think back on important moments where I felt the Spirit itself and here’s one I would like to share. In it, a group of young Rwandan leaders are together playing guitar and singing. This moment was captured by a dear friend of mine while beginning a week long boys’ leadership camp. Some of the students that attended were blind and it became a genuine opportunity for stereotypes, assumptions, and nuggets of generalizations to be named, discussed, and broken. God works in all of us; the students singing felt as strongly about that as anyone.

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There’s a movement in the United States, with a vision cast by an energized and compassionate Texan, Jennie Allen, called the If: Gathering.

The premise is simple, but the ramifications are huge:

What if God is Who He says He is?

Communities of women all over the world are gathering and taking this seriously –  fellow-shipping and praying together. Building communities and networks of kindness, hope, and church. Not the structure – but the people.

Even at the church I attend, we are exploring the idea of “covenant” in our young adult community groups – practically and relationally seeking what it means to build a relationship like this with God, others, and our community.

If we say God : (fill in the blank) –

How does this impact what we do?

What does our functional belief system reveal about how we define God?

So, here on my little home of a blog, I’ve been asking the question Who Am I? in contemplating some of these questions. I see, feel, and know God to be an experience. Dynamic, creative, gracious, redemptive, strong, and without blemish. He knows His people and His people are his jewel, remnant, and perfect reward. Above all, God is transformative.

Especially in the name of Truth. Because that’s exactly who He is: TRUE.

Unlike the biblical fire stones of debate that are easily found online, I’m not talking about theological truth, doctrinal truth, or truth as any given person relativizes in their world. I’m talking about life. About the lives we have lived.

Good, bad, beautiful, ugly, weird, eccentric…whatever it has been. Because here is the thing: the PAST is our truth. It doesn’t have to hold us down in bondage by definition, but ultimately: it has happened. We are living to tell about it. Speak. Truth. God has been alongside us the entire time. He knows.

God is transformative because He encourages these discussions. About being true to what has been your life story and maybe what you hope it to be.

However, instead of asking “what do I want to do with my life?” or “what are my gifts?” the trans formative quality of these “truths” can probe a question like,

What is He calling me to?

When that’s the question life becomes a lot less scary.  Fear? It will be taken care of. Doubt? Work through it. It’s normal and it’s no less painful, but step on the right path and at some point these concerns feel….resolved. You walk through them, but you know in the end, you’ll be taken care of.

All of this to say, truth included, that’s not only how I see God working in our world, but that’s precisely why life is taking me where it is in the next few months…and years.

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I am entering an equipping ministry training for 2 months because I believe God is asking for all of my truth and how to enter into conversations with others so they can do the same. Truth really does set people free. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

After training, I will start a new job. It’s unrelated and totally different from a ministerial type of position. Yet, working with others cross-culturally, building relationships, and building a business model need the foundational wisdom of how to engage others in meaningful conversations and experiences. So, the ministry training will inevitably inform this experience too. I’ll be working for The Women’s Bakery – http://www.womensbakery.com.

Between sharing these two upcoming opportunities and changes in my life with friends and family the last couple of weeks, I have fielded some questions that are important to address.

I have included some of them here. Should you have more, please feel free to contact me at heathermnewell@yahoo.com.

In so far as understanding more about the ministry & equipping training program, you can also visit the ministries link here: http://forgeforward.org/equipping/the-experience.

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Is the Experience related to working for the Women’s Bakery?

No – they are two separate opportunities. The Experience is training; the Women’s Bakery will be a full-time, paid position where I will be based out of Denver, working as the US program director stateside (from home!).

How long is the Experience? The Women’s Bakery?

Two months. I will start mid-May and end mid-July. I will start with the bakery either at the end of July or in early August. I will be traveling to East Africa a few times a year to get experience on the ground, but most of the year, I will be here in Denver.

What exactly do you do during the training with Forge Ministries?

The Experience – the titled training program with Forge – is a two month phased program. The first part is direct training in how to engage in cross-cultural ministry. The second phase is an international mission trip. The third section is utilizing teaching skills and leading a camp for young Christians at the YMCA. The final part includes a mission opportunity stateside as well as “life planning” that involves working with a mentor to map out our lives – past, present, & future. I will be here in Colorado for most of the training – but I will be housed with the other program participants – I will not be living at home. Once I finish, I will return to living at my apartment in the Denver area.

 Will you be converting people with the Experience?

The intention of the program is to build and strengthen the individuals’ relationship with God so they know how to cultivate the kind of world and “kingdom” that God and Jesus speak about in the Bible. Essentially, how to build community. The program focuses intensely on nurturing your own spiritual walk and faith in God so that you live the life that God has called you to.

 Why is the Experience costing you so much money?

It’s a training experience that is literally, experiential. This involves travel. A bulk of the expense is traveling abroad for a mission project – either in Haiti, Guatemala, or Honduras. However, we also will be getting housed, fed, and taught, all of which require financial commitments. To donate please visit the following link:

http://kbm.donorpages.com/TheExperience/HeatherNewell/

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