Vuvuzela & Cultural Distances

Watching the World Cup this past week has introduced me, along with many Americans, to the Vuvuzela.  This small, inexpensive piece of molded plastic is the deafening noisemaker quickly becoming the soundtrack in my mind for the World Cup experience.  The droning sound is the audio backdrop while announcers call the play-by-play as the world watches (and listens to) this exciting tournament.

As I watched the first USA match I was quickly annoyed by the sound, so I lit up a Google search to find out what the heck was up with that buzzing on my TV.  It was immediately clear that I was not the only one aware of the noise.  FIFA had considered banning the Vuvuzela but had opted not to because it is a large part of South Africa’s cultural engagement with soccer.  Fair enough, but I still find the sound annoying…just sayin’.

With the World Cup being played out in South Africa, this brings back memories of my trips to Johannesburg, South Africa and Lesotho with World Vision.  It was impossible for me to not fall in love with the people there.  They are absolutely beautiful.  I was thinking about the Vuvuzela and how I just don’t get it and that has sparked memories of a couple experiences we had in Africa.  These experiences really exposed how our different cultural backgrounds affect the way we perceive and approach an identical situation.

There were two similar occasions on our trips where we identified a real hardship within extremely poor communities.  Our teams quickly assessed the need and worked out excellent solutions for assistance…at least from our “logical” western perspective.  As we presented our plans to local humanitarian leaders, we were shocked to find that they strongly disagreed with our assessment, not of the need, but of the remedy.  They were grateful that we cared enough to help, but cautious to follow through with the aid only in ways that best served the culture and community.  I completely missed it.

From my enlightened and educated perch, I had observed adversity brought on by desperate conditions.  My ignorance was completely evident in my failure to consider what mattered deeply to the people I wanted to love and assist, their cultural perceptions and reality.  I’m very thankful for the lessons I learned and the people who gently guided me through these sensitive situations.  My tendency is still to rush into assessments and offer up solutions, but these experiences have helped me to find pause and work to consider things from another perspective.

So while I’m not really a fan of the incessant blowing of the Vuvuzela throughout the entire soccer match, I’m definitely cool with adapting and appreciating it for the celebration it is within the African culture.  It’s exciting to see the global community rally around this event and observe competition and kindness exemplified through sportsmanship.

At our house we’re screaming GO USA!!!

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14,000,000 Orphans in Africa Because of HIV/AIDS

14,000,000 orphans in Africa because of HIV/AIDS….What are you doing to be part of the solution? http://ow.ly/1YUEH

Moon Valley Bible Church Worship ::: June 13/2010 Weekend Recap

Welcome To Summer In Phoenix!!!

I kicked off Summer (OK, technically a week early) by leading worship at Moon Valley Bible Church this weekend.  I worked with their band and led at both the 9:00 & 10:30 AM services.  It was fun to have a gig close to home, literally 3 miles from where we live in Phoenix.

I wasn’t able to talk about World Vision because they recently sent one of their pastors to Uganda and they’re trying to sponsor kids from the project they’re involved in because of that trip.  Great to see kids getting help and people doing their part to help engage in the global community.

Here is the set list:

My Savior Lives (New Life Worship)
Your Name (New Life Worship)
Revelation Song (Gateway Worship)
You Gave Your Life (Andy Allen)
Today Is The Day
(Lincoln Brewster)

What are you doing this Summer?

Ted Haggard Starts A New Church

I just commented on a post from @POTSC about Ted Haggard starting a new church. Check it: http://ow.ly/1TNhG

Crazy Love

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I first saw Francis Chan speak a couple years back at a conference in Northern California.  I was completely taken by his ability to be honest, transparent and vulnerable while presenting a message with depth and substance.  Since then I’ve seen a few video blogs, heard a podcast and read a few articles of his online and really enjoyed his consistent authenticity.

This book definitely had it’s engaging and sleepy moments for me, but I really feel the overall message is brought home with a challenge to leave the safe and expected for the risky and crazy journey of faith and love we should be on as followers of Jesus.  His writing style feels consistent with the conversational and relational way he speaks and conveys his message in a live setting.  One fun thing he did with this book was to have video chapter introductions on the book website.  Definitely a cool way to connect with who the author is and get a more personal sense of his heart.

One thing I appreciate here was Chan’s willingness to embrace a bit of controversy in some bold statements throughout the book.  There may be people who will fully dismiss his message because of one or two sentences in this book, but I believe that would shortchange the reader from some great challenges and insights throughout this read.

Crazy Love ultimately prods the reader to evaluate if we’ve chosen the safe and comfortable American dream in place of the radical call to actually love people the way Jesus did.  Are we willing to sell what we have, give away our stuff, love the poor, serve with our time, let go of our money and hang out with our enemies?  To live and love like Jesus…it will radically change us and wreck the security we’ve been told is what’s important.  It’s not a condemning message…convicting, yes…but kind of a reality check to look inside and see where our personal treasure is.

Well done Francis.

::: Have You Read This Book?  Post Your Thoughts? :::

Publisher’s Info:

God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response?

We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not…we all know somethings wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions?

God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts—it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

It’s A New Day…It’s A New Doubt…

I read through something the other day that has gone and got itself stuck in my head.  The essence of what I read was this: when you have absolute certainty, you don’t need faith because you have knowledge.  Faith is only necessary when the outcome is in question…when doubt is present.  Doubt seems to be an essential element of faith and the two kind of work hand-in-hand.

I am just kind of chewing on this right now.  It seems like through my Christian life I’ve been taught that we need to have every answer to every question and can’t ever NOT know the answer.   As I mature and live I’m learning that God is mysterious and we CAN’T know everything about Him or even pretend to understand most things about who He is.   I think it’s powerful to be honest enough to say “I don’t know.”   There’s an appealing authenticity in saying “I don’t know” and maybe even “I’m not sure I believe,” or “I’m not sure why I believe that.”

Clarity is still outside of my complete grasp on this issue, but I’m really enjoying the process of thinking it through.

Your Thoughts???

CCS Worship ::: May 1-2/2010 Weekend Recap

Thought I would share a quick pic from the hotel we stayed at last week in MN.  I’ve never had a hotel give me a rubber ducky before and thought this was hilariously awesome!!!

So, now that I’m kind of in-between things, my schedule has opened up a bit for me to help out different churches as they’ve got the need.  Recently I’ve had the opportunity to get to know David Bauer, worship leader for CCS (Christ’s Church of Scottsdale) and this weekend I was able to give him a small reprieve and lead in his place.

It was treat to play with the guys in the band at CCS.  Pro players who were just a blast to hang out with.  Thats one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed in my time as a touring artist, getting to connect with so many great players.  I’ve also had the pleasure of working with a lot of not-so-great players too…but that’s a story for another day.

Here is the set list:

Today Is The Day (Lincoln Brewster)
All Because Of Jesus (Steve Fee)
Awesome Is The Lord Most High (Jon Abel)
The Stand (Hillsong United)
Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone (Chris Tomlin)
Back At My Heart
(Natalie Grant)

Hope your week is filled with rubber ducky’s!

Andy