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?

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!


The Hole In Our Gospel

The Hole In Our GospelI’ll be honest, I approached this book with a bit of an attitude.  Having worked with World Vision since 1998, I have read a lot about previous WV presidents, and heard many people sing the praises of these fine leaders.  I’m not really one who is enamored by people and their positions, and I expected this book to be a big Rich Stearns promo…my assumptions were completely misplaced.

Rich writes in a very conversational and accessible style.  The transparency in telling his story is powerful.  I was particularly taken with the way he honestly admits where he has missed it, and how he’s doubted God at times.  I was deeply impacted by the way God brought him to take his position with World Vision, and the character of a man to give up so much material and positional success to serve the poor.

Beyond a discussion of the statistics and great need in our world, I feel that Rich uncovers some truths in how the Christian church is missing part of our missional and faith mandate to share the whole gospel of Jesus.  The challenge to give more than just money, but to invest our time and our talents in serving the poor, the widow and the orphan is clear.  And the reasons to do so are far deeper than feeling guilty because we have more than people living in poverty; our motivations should be fueled by a passion and obedience to our calling as followers of Jesus.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in discovering more about the huge needs in our world brought on by poverty and disease.  It will also prompt Christians to consider where our priorities lie, and just how passionate we are about living out the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.

Publisher’s Info:

“Preach the Gospel always.  Use words if necessary.” – St. Francis of Assisi

It’s 1998 and Richard Stearns’ heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda.  His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa.  It took answering God’s call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America’s finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith.  Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world.  Stearns believes it can happen again.

World Vision Artist

World Vision Artist AssociateI realized that I haven’t really taken the time in this blog to go into much detail about our work with World Vision.  I’ve been a World Vision Artist Associate since 1998.  When we tour, perform, and lead worship, we take time to talk about the needs of kids in our world who are vulnerable to extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS.  At our shows, or in services, we give our audience a chance to be part of the solution in reaching out to the widow and the orphan by supporting World Vision through Child Sponsorship.

God has been so gracious, and we’ve seen 2,500 kids sponsored over all these years!!!

Traveling with World Vision, I’ve been to Africa twice (Pam came along on one trip), and to Central America.  Witnessing the poverty in our world has changed us completely.  There are 13 Million orphans in Africa alone, because of HIV/AIDS.  The need is huge….but HOPE is bigger.

It’s also important for me to share that we aren’t out talking about World Vision to do an advertisement or plug an organization.  We are fans of World Vision because of how they approach their work, and the way they serve people in need.  We’ve seen first hand the impact child sponsorship can make, and how loving on kids through sponsorship helps them realize and actually believe they are valuable.  Most importantly, World Vision does this to share the love of Jesus with people all over our world.

Sponsoring a child, you will be making a real difference in the lives of real people.  If you have any questions about how this works, send me an email and I would be happy to talk with you.  If you are an artist and would like to represent World Vision in your shows, let me know and I’ll connect you with the Artist Associate office.

Please take time to CLICK HERE and consider sponsoring a child today!  Your generosity will change that child, and change you!!!

God Bless –