In this issue….
- IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE! (FRIENDS OF BRIGADA GIVE TESTIMONY)
- FOR THOSE LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE
- AUDIOCOMM READY FOR RETRIEVAL
- SHORT-TERM TRAINING SEMINAR
- WEB-WATCH: LATIN AMERICA MISSION (LAM) GETS A MAKEOVER!
- HOST YOUR OWN DISCUSSION GROUP
- TRAINING FOR TEACHING ENGLISH AROUND THE WORLD
- THE BACK PAGE: “I GOT IT! I GOT IT!”
- CLOSING STUFF
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE! (FRIENDS OF BRIGADA GIVE TESTIMONY)
On the “room for improvement” side, one reader expressed regret that recent issues no longer included the “Back Page” editorials. He mentioned using stories like the one on facing failure (with the coaching clinic), which he said came during a time when he was painfully working through failure his own life. He added, “I also used the one about home team advantage, complete with newspaper pictures from the World Cup, with our prayer group after we sent a short-term team to South-east Asia.” Okay — lesson learned. Somebody actually was reading those crazy stories. We’ll try to fire them back up — and write Brigada Today at a time other than midnight!
How does Brigada Today play out internationally? One participant wrote, “It has been a great resource for me, working as I do on the edge of the 10/40 here in the ____ Islands, but directed entirely into the 10/40. We are a small frontier church-planting team working with a Muslim Unreached People Group that had no known believers when we started 8 yrs. ago, but now has several. B.T. has really enabled us as strategy co-coordinators to connect with many people and fine tools out there, so far removed from us here on our wee isolated island! Thank you Brigada Today.”
Does it still have room to grow? Indubitably. Example: One reader asked that we drop the reference to the number of readers. He felt it sounded too much like a hamburger chain… “10 million hamburgers served!” Ouch.
Does Brigada Today help only mobilizers? Apparently it’s not limited to that. One field worker wrote, ” After returning home from the field to care for my cancer dying father, I found myself slowly losing my drive for missions. A friend began forwarding me not only Brigada, but also Advance, and the Friday Fax [sister publications]. Shortly thereafter I linked up for myself. I eat these word for word and will continue to do so as I return to the field on April 5th. My new field of labor will be _____, West Africa. …
Does it help on-field missionaries? One wrote, “Brigada Today and the other services provided by this wonderful ministry have kept me current and motivated in my ministry since it was first launched five years ago.”
One wrote, “Missionaries have fun! I never knew” Another added, “Please continue to labor in His field, and know your labor is much needed and appreciated. This is one missionary that has kept her focus over a very long period of sadness and stress.”
Thanks again for these and other encouraging words. We’ll eventually try to knit a few of them together into a brochure for telling people about Brigada. But for now, it just feels like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life! (I just keep waiting for Clarence to get his wings!!! )
FOR THOSE LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE
AUDIOCOMM READY FOR RETRIEVAL
SHORT-TERM TRAINING SEMINAR
WEB-WATCH: LATIN AMERICA MISSION (LAM) GETS A MAKEOVER!
HOST YOUR OWN DISCUSSION GROUP
TRAINING FOR TEACHING ENGLISH AROUND THE WORLD
THE BACK PAGE: “I GOT IT! I GOT IT!”
Yesterday we faced the Fern Creek Blast, a great team from the other side of town. Emotions were running high. (They walloped us last season. ) At the 27-minute mark, one of their defenders reached out and blocked a shot from one of our forwards. Trouble is — he used his hand! Everybody, even the ref, immediately recognized it as an illegal handball. As the whistle blew I heard an authoritative and familiar voice yelling, “I got it! I got it!” In the time most players needed to figure out for sure what was about to happen, our player #13 had hastily retrieved the ball and carefully positioned it on the penalty spot, then backed up 3 or 4 steps in anticipation. I guess you’d have to call him eager. Player #13. My son, Chris. Yikes.
He sounded so . . . confident. It was as if he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he could make that shot. How could he be that way? I mean… here he was, standing in front of his 10 teammates, a sideline full of parents on the edge of their seats, and a coach — his Dad!. He had to feel the dozens of pairs of eyes, eagerly awaiting the kick. Surely he was nervous. I know there were a couple of players on our team with at least as much experience as he had . . . and some probably even had more. But he didn’t hesitate even for a moment! He wanted that kick and he believed with all his heart that he was the man for the job.
During the next few moments, as the ref positioned the opposing goalkeeper on the line, years of memories raced past my mind’s viewscreen. I thought about my own lack of experience as a player. After all, we really only took up soccer in earnest some 5 years ago. I was already 38 years old . . . and Chris was 7. Even with all those backyard games, he seemed so young. Sure I had attended clinics and little by little gained a higher level coaching license. But I’m not so sure I’ve recovered from the blow of having failed to pass the college- level licensing clinic last summer. (I’m still in the process of appealing the decision, but it doesn’t look very promising; unless things change, I’d have to retake the entire course.) I realized I could never have spoken those words so confidently in front of my peers, especially those with whom I play on my adult team. Most of them have played since they were 4 or 5. I would have never presumed to say, “I got it! I got it!”
But Chris did. And the ref’s whistle startled me back to reality. I could hardly watch. I was nervous enough for both of us. What if he failed? Would he ever forgive himself? Would the other players laugh or cry? Would they razz him during practices for the next few weeks? Would we lose the match? Would it shake his confidence or his love for the game?
I didn’t have to wait long to find out. With clinical precision, his shot rocketed into the corner of the goal, only inches inside the post. The keeper wheeled around and kicked the ground. Chris turned in triumph and leaped into the air. Then, as he ran toward our end of the field, he looked over at me and raised both fists in the air, smiling ear-to-ear. He had done it. He knew he could. He was a hero.
One of the new players on our bench turned to me and asked, quietly, “Coach, is he your son?” “Yes,” I replied. “He’s my son.”
We won the game and I’ve replayed that moment countless times in my mind. I keep thinking about how odd it is that someone so unsure (his Dad) can train up someone so confident (the son!). ‘Course, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s probably kicked that silly ball ten thousand times or more during the past 5 years. And believe me, not all the moments have been so triumphant. But in the end, I think one of the reasons he believed so strongly in himself was because I’ve trained him to focus on the process, not the outcome. I’ve told him over and over again that there are many factors outside his control. Which way will the keeper dive? How skilled is he? How tired is the kicker? These and several other questions are all futile bunny trails that take us anywhere but the net.
Instead, I’ve tried to help him focus on the things he can control. He can choose a corner and conceal his intent. He can control his approach, with his head down and his knee over the ball, then see the contact point and follow the ball with his gaze into the corner of the net. All those things are well within his control. If he does them all well, he’ll execute a good kick and the rest is outside his influence.
It’s like that in missions, you know. We carefully map out our strategy. We share the message of hope on a day-by-day basis through our life, our words, and our programs. But in the end, only the hearers can decide whether or not they want to respond. Even though the Holy Spirit might be convicting them of their sin and prompting them to change their hearts, if they choose not to listen or respond, there’s nothing we can do about it.
Many of us live our lives in self-doubt, blaming our mission, our church, and even ourselves for our lack of results. “If we only had a better plan,” we say. But in the end, I think we could all take a lesson from my 13-year-old. Sometimes I think we should just take the steps we know are right and leave the rest to God and to the incredible free will He’s given mankind. Our responsibility, according to Ezekiel 33, is to communicate the message. If our hearers choose not to listen, it won’t be our fault.
Hanging on the wall of my office is a picture of a lone soccer ball in the grass, with the caption, “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I’ll never forget my son screaming, “I got it! I got it!” But what will stick in my mind forever is the confidence those words exuded. Someday I hope I’m so confident on the soccer pitch. But more importantly, I hope I can always be so confident in executing the game of life for my Lord Jesus Christ. For I know that if I can only step through my part, He will be there to bring victory regardless of life’s challenges… because, all circumstances aside, the victory actually comes through my faithfulness to Him, rather than through some kind of “success” in the world’s eyes.
So… go ahead… seize the moment and say it. “I got it! I got it!!!” The victory is assured. In fact, it’s already in the bag.
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