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!!!


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?

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?

Living Streams Worship ::: February 20-21/2010 Weekend Recap

On Saturday morning Pam & I were invited to come sing at talk about our work with World Vision at the Living Streams Seniors Ministry lunch.  I like to sing, I really like lunch and I love to talk about the work World Vision is doing, so this was a no brainer.  Even though there were only 23 people there, it was really exciting to see 4 kids get sponsored.  So cool!

Sunday I flew to Dallas with several guys on my team to attend the Gateway Worship Conference.  Sitting in the Phoenix airport we saw Scott MacIntyre from American Idol, season 8.  Had to grab a (blurry) pic for the kids…HA!

For the Saturday night service, I decided to go with a pretty basic band.  It was nice to let the sound breathe a little and give space to the three players and two vocalists.  Sunday morning services was pretty much the opposite.  We had a full band with both piano and synth, two guitars, bass, drums and two vocalists.

Here is the set list from the weekend:

All Because Of Jesus – A
My Savior Lives – A
Be Thou My Vision – E (with new chorus by Andy Allen, recording not yet available)
Revelation Song – D
You Are My King (Amazing Love) – D

Hope your week is amazing!


Sandy Cove, MD ::: Couples Conference

Pam & I were invited to lead worship for a Couples Conference at Sandy Cove Ministries & Conference Center in Maryland this weekend.  Our good friend Stephen Weaver works at Sandy Cove and it was a bonus to spend some time hanging with him.  There had been two blizzards the week prior to us arriving, so there was about 4 feet of snow on the ground.  A fun change of pace from the desert…but freakin’ cold!

The 250 people here were ready to worship and encounter God together.  It was totally encouraging to be with a generationally and ethnically diverse group of people who dove head first into worshipping God with all their souls.

Because this was a Couples Conference on Valentines weekend, we did a concert of love songs Saturday night.  We performed several “crooner classics” and did a couple originals.  One highlight of the evening was seeing the crowd go crazy when we played our tongue-in-cheek rendition of “Pants On The Ground” as a tribute to the parents of teenage boys.  It was hilarious!

We also talked about the work World Vision is doing, the huge needs out there because of HIV/AIDS and shared the opportunities available to help through child sponsorship.  It was exciting to see 10 kids sponsored this weekend.  Lives changed forever!

These are the songs we led in the worship sets:

Holy Is The Lord
Everlasting God
Mighty To Save
The Stand
Here I Am To Worship
Jesus Paid It All

I want to say thanks to the entire staff at Sandy Cove.  This was far and away the best team of people I’ve seen working at a conference/retreat center in all the years I’ve been doing this.  If you get the chance to go to Sandy Cove, don’t miss out on the opportunity.  You’ll love it.

Happy Valentines Day –


Living Streams Worship ::: January 16-17/2010 Weekend Recap

I spent a lot of this week staying up on everything that has been happening in Haiti since the earthquake there.  It is amazing to watch people respond when we see our brothers and sisters underneath the weight of tragedy.  I’m struck by how quickly most people will rally together in the reality that we’re all connected in our human condition.  I’m also struck by the idiocy of some who would try to be a voice for Christianity and completely miss the chance to extend hope and mercy to people in their greatest hour of need.

I was watching CNN and saw a man who was trapped under the weight of a concrete building.  While his friends and neighbors worked desperately to free him as no rescue crews were there, a reporter asked him what was going through his mind.  The man said, “As I’m a Christian, I say ‘Jesus, my life….my life is in your hands.'”  I can’t imagine for a moment that the blanket condemnation and judgement issued every person in Haiti by Pat Robertson could have been more off the mark as this man, literally facing death, solemnly declares his faith and hope in Jesus.

I would be remiss not to direct you to a place where you can help.  I’ve worked with World Vision for over 10 years and know that they are one of the largest, if not the largest, groups on the ground in Haiti serving the disaster victims. World Vision has been working in Haiti for more than 30 years and has 800 staffers there….they are some of the first responders and you can help by donating and praying.  You can click on this link, or Text to 20222 and make a donation.

In our weekend services we also talked about the work going on in Haiti.  We prayed for the people there and had one of our Elders talk about the work Food For The Hungry is doing in Haiti.  It’s somewhat surreal to know there is so much suffering in our world while we continue to go about our usual routines.  Another reminder of how much we have and what we take for granted living here in the US.

Here is the set from this weekend:

Hosanna – G
Today Is The Day
– D
– A
I Surrender All – A
(Traditional Hymn)
How He Loves
– A (Saturday only)
In The Secret
– G (Sunday only)

Praying for Haiti –


World Aids Day

I’ve been working with World Vision since 1998.  In 2000 I began to work specifically with World Vision’s Hope Initiative to help people in our world who are vulnerable because of HIV/AIDS.  The need is HUGE!!!  Here are a few stats:

  • Every 90 seconds, another child becomes infected with HIV
  • Most children living with HIV acquire the virus during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
  • Without the right care, HIV positive moms have a 1 in 3 chance of passing the virus on to their children.
  • Every day, 740 children die because of AIDS – one child every two minutes
  • Without treatment, nearly half of all children living with HIV will die before their second birthday.
  • Sponsoring a Hope Child will transform the life of an AIDS affected child. Your monthly gift will provide access to basic life necessities and give your sponsored child, his or her family, and their communityhope for a better future.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Sponsor A Hope Child
  2. Call Your Senator
  3. Donate

Visit to learn more.

Thanks for helping out!