Our final CML Update

About 10 months ago we moved to Tulsa to work at a new church, live in a new place, meet new people, and see what God has for us as participants in the Certificate in Missional Leadership program. You might remember that the program lasts 10 months…which means we are done. Its been a good 10 months, we have learned a lot, experienced some new things, met new people, seen different ways of doing ministry, and grown in our understanding of ourselves.

It’s kind of hard to sum up 10 months into an email, so we are not really going to try. We do want you to get an idea of what we have been doing though, so we each did a little project that tries to capture a bit of what we have been up to. Beth’s project is a pdf that you can download. Ben’s is a video which can be found here: http://vimeo.com/13713546. The video is about 30 minutes long…be warned!  If you want to get a good idea of what the last 10 months have been like for us these are a great way to find out…or, stop by sometime, we would be glad to take you out to coffee and talk about it.

The big question we have been asked a lot recently is “what’s next?” For now we will be staying in Tulsa. We will both continue to work part time at Garnett Church of Christ. Although at the beginning we were a bit unsure of what our time with Garnett would look like, and even wondered if we’d enjoy worshipping there on Sundays-we are excited to stay involved. We have been blessed by Garnett & were welcomed in right away as members of their family. Beth will also be working for Chris King doing administrative work for CQ Missional. She will be focused on a program called GPS Tulsa (http://www.cqmissional.com/gpstulsa/). Ben will be doing a couple of things, including freelance graphic design and working for Challenge Quest (the “CQ” part of CQ Missional) on their new zip line canopy tour at the Buffalo River in Arkansas (http://www.buffaloriver.com/blog/default.aspx?id=136). For now that’s the next chapter.

We really do want to thank you for the support you have given us over the last year. Your financial support, prayers and encouragement have been a huge blessing to us. We are very thankful for all of the people who are a part of our lives, and are honored to count you among our community.

We are excited about the adventures to come, we will continue to blog at http://www.benandbethwest.com, and we might send out occasional emails. We would love to keep talking with you!

Thanks again for your involvement in our lives! We will keep you up to date as we continue to work here in Tulsa, or wherever God takes us.

Ben and Beth

100 Faces of Uganda

Freedom Rodriguez is a friend of ours from Siloam Springs. Freedom spent some time in Uganda at an orphanage & has fallen in love with the children there. To help raise awareness & share their stories he has painted over the covers of 100 discard children’s books with faces of the children he met over there. Freedom was here at Cafe Mosaic last week with all 100 books. It’s truly a beautiful project that he’s done…and it’s so much more than simply a “project.” It is his heart, and God’s heart & inspires others to love & care. I think that’s a good thing.

100facesbookmark

Here’s short word from Freedom about this project:

The desire to paint 100 faces is an expression of the life changing memories I have of my visits to Africa. With this collection, I hope to raise awareness of the needs in Africa and help fund our full-time arts ministry. These faces represent the increasing burning in my heart to serve those in need.

Each painting is done in acrylic on old discarded children’s books. The series represents the millions of orphans that have been discarded or abandoned. Many have been given over to orphanages for the chance of a better life. Nevertheless, these children need to feel and know that they have a story still worth reading about. No matter what they have gone through, God still desires them to live fully and with the purpose God created them for.

Here’s a link to Freedom’s website

water4

Greg, the pastor at Garnett Church of Christ, is headed to Uganda with his family, part of what they will be doing is taking a well kit from water4.org. We have talked about water4.org on a little bit before. They are an organization that is doing some really innovative work in water wells. If you have any interest at all in providing clean water to the developing world you should check out their web site. It’r really cool to see how God has brought several people an organizations together to make all the right connections to make it possible for the Taylors to bring a well kit to Uganda.  Check out this sort video explaining the kit and why they are willing to carry it half way around the world:

Won’t you be my neighbor?

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a neighbor. He came over and said something along the lines of:

“I had to come over to your yard 3 times last night to chase off homeless people, just wanted to let you know…so be sure and close your gates and stuff so they can’t get in. We have been working hard to keep the homeless people away, just wanted to let you know.”

I have been thinking about this some. So, here is my question. What happens when “love your neighbor” conflicts with “help the poor”?

I don’t think that this particular situation is so mutually exclusive, but what if there was a situation where you had to choose?

Cell Phones

Yesterday I was downtown talking to Margin. Margin is homeless, although she does have a lot of resources through friends. Somehow we ended up talking about cell phones. She has a cell phone, which is an asset to her in terms of finding a job, staying connected to people, stuff like that. This is actually kind of a big thing: how can those in poverty have access to communication tools that will help them find a job, stay in touch with family, etc. Cell phones are one tool that is important (although not universally accepted as a good thing i suppose). Community Voice Mail is an organization that works in this area as well. CVM does not deal in phones, but does give people a voice mail box so they can receive messages.

Margin mentioned that one of the hard parts about having a cell phone is being able to keep it charged. So, i think that if i ever live or have a business in an area where it makes sense i’m going to put a couple power outlets and a bench outside so people can charge there phones.

It’s kind of crazy, the things we never really think about that become hard when you don’t have a permanent roof over your head that is not a bridge.

A Short Trip to Colorado

CQMissional recently took a trip to Colorado…we had a great time!

We stayed at Silver Cliff Ranch, where we helped out around the camp, and had lots of time to play in the snow.

We shoveled some snow:

Cleaned some cabins:

Helped serve meals:

Went snowshoeing (we also went skiing):

we even drank chocolate milk:

It really was a good week of relaxing, playing in the snow, and just hanging out. Someday we might just go to Colorado and never leave…

On Yesterday

Three posts in one day? This blog is getting down right chatty!

Yesterday I spent about 4 hours making conversation with people I don’t know. Now, if you know me at all…im not big on just having conversations with people. It is exhausting to me. I had a headache the rest of the day.

But it was good. Basically I spent the day hanging out with a lady who lives under a bridge, a lady who lives at a shelter and a guy who lives with a pastor we know. I was privileged to be allowed into their community for a few hours. There were a lot of things that we talked about, but here are two that i thought i would share:

Community is everywhere: This is nothing new, but yesterday I saw a great example of this.  If our only idea of community is centered  around small groups at church then our view is way to narrow. Everybody needs people to live life together with, and even a fiercely independent woman who lives on the streets recognizes that in her life.

Programs don’t work: I have a limited perspective on this right now, but for these three the programs, rules and systems that have been built around the homeless in Tulsa don’t work. All of them are taking active steps in their lives to change their situation (working jobs, doing the paperwork to have a nursing licenses restored, taking GED classes, etc), its not that any of them are looking for a system to save them. However, in the eyes of these three, the system in place has not helped them move from where they are now to where they dream to be. I don’t want to paint to broadly here, I know there are some people who the systems in place have helped, and I am only seeing a very narrow view right now.  Greg has something to say about this.

Any way, that’s enough for now…