Friday, November 28, 2008

Nuru Celebrates Christmas For Kuria

The video above was edited and put together by a friend of mine named Doug Scott. He took the raw footage and put all of this together on the ground in Kuria, Kenya in a dirt floored staff house where he and three other friends have been living the last couple of months. Doug used to work for Willow Creek Community Church, but for the last 3 months he has been volunteering for Nuru and designing incredible videos, taking amazing photographs, and designing the content and layout for the Nuru website. This video is the first of a handful of videos he has produced while serving Nuru on the ground in Kenya--I thought you might enjoy this video, and perhaps you'll see a familiar face as you watch. ;) If you blog, or have facebook, or like to email your friends with cool videos, etc., then copy this url and send it to some friends. Or you can just point folks to my blog--that would work too. I'm trying to get the word out about nuru to as many people as possible--will you help?

Oh, and there's a reason I'm posting this video and writing this blog today. I just looked on youtube and 89,000 people have watched this video. By taking three minutes to watch the video, you can help make the video even more popular on youtube, which will mean even MORE people will watch it and find out about this great organization.

Beyond that, today marks the commencement of Nuru's Christmas campaign called "Christmas for Kuria." There is a page on the website where YOU can leave YOUR greeting for the children of Kuria, Kenya. Click here, and send your Christmas greeting. Right now these children and their families are getting ready for the growing season, but the cost of seed and fertilizer is skyrocketing. Today, you can join Nuru in helping this community by making a donation to help purchase seed and fertilizer that can be loaned to the people of this community.

My buddy Willie's two children were the first to contribute to the campaign using paypal. They didn't give a lot by our standards. They gave a dollar each. That's more money than the average person in Kuria, Kenya makes in a day. And it was a lot for these kids too.

I'm really proud of them for their giving. I didn't ask them--they asked me. They asked their dad too. We were in awe of their willingness to give. "The Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Will you join them in their generosity this holiday season?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Teamwork, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I had to write this. Simply because I’m astounded at what teams of people can do when they are united with one mind toward a cause that’s bigger than themselves.

First, I want to brag on the team that put on the 58 conference. None of us had any idea what a HUGE success the conference was going to be when we started planning it this summer. I’m in awe of what God did this past weekend through the efforts of so many of my friends. Lives were CHANGED. I entered into the work I’m doing because I wanted to change lives. I had no idea how much more powerfully that work is accomplished by working together with others. My friends at Chestnut Ridge Church put on one of the most phenomenal conferences I’ve ever been part of. I’m excited for our future teamwork on many more endeavors.

Second, I want to talk about the grassroots team that I’ve been able to work with to get the word out about Nuru. These men and women have helped mobilize thousands of people through facebook and other media. They’ve raised several thousand dollars to bring an end to extreme poverty one community at a time. And they constantly fill in the gaps amid my many flaws. There is simply no way Nuru would be in the place where it is without the men and women who make up our grassroots team.

Finally, I want to mention the kind of teamwork that happens when organizations work together. I’ve already mentioned my new friends Kyle and Conner with Dry Tears, but I loved the fact that this weekend we were able to talk about a few ways we might be able to work together to multiply the effectiveness of both of our organizations when it comes to mobilizing others to make change in the world.

Teamwork makes a huge difference, and there’s a synergy that’s created when we bring our gifts to bear together. Maybe that’s what Paul was getting at when he talked using our gifts. We were meant to work together. We need each other to accomplish anything of lasting significance. No one is an island.

Whatever you are looking to accomplish, we need each other. We need to be on a team. I think Jesus knew that, and that’s why he longs for us to be of one mind, but to each bring our unique strengths to bear for the ultimate goal—our lives completely used to be a sign of the Shalom of God in His world.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Parking Lot?

Parking Lot?, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I've got quite a few blogs to write, but for tonight, a little food for thought.

While I was at the University of Michigan I saw this "parking lot" in the middle of the law quad.

It's pretty cold in Morgantown right now, but I've seen an increase in the number of folks using bicycles to make their way around the campus.

What would happen if more of us took the initiative to start riding our bikes around town to run errands. Or better yet, what if we started walking.

I have some friends who are living in a community of 5,000 people in Kenya right now. That's about the size of Buckhannon, WV. There's only one car in the entire community. There's a handful of bicycles. Most people in the community live on less than a dollar a day.

We've got the privileged life here in the states, and it's very seldom we realize it. Imagine the positive environmental impact we could have by not taking advantage of some of these costly privileges.

What if our parking lots were smaller because there were more people on bicycles?

What if traffic was less congested, and folks were more fit because they rode bikes and walked more often?

Just a few thoughts I had while contemplating this little parking lot in ann arbor.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dutch Memories

Dutch Memories, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
As I was driving back from Michigan, I found myself behind this coffee truck. It brought back memories of being in Amsterdam. You see, as I left Amsterdam the first time, I brought back vacuum sealed packs of this coffee for everyone (along with chocolate and other sundry yummy gifts).

I don't know if it is still true, but back then, this was the official coffee of the church in Amsterdam--they brewed it for any social/church functions. Well, this and Max Havelaar.

Anyway, there's a strong possibility we may be taking a team to Amsterdam in March of 2009. If you are interested in being part of that team, email me, or comment on this here blog.

It's been a long time sense I've been able to visit and support my friends in the Netherlands, and I'm looking forward to being part of what they are doing. Will you join me?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Anaheim Hills Fire

The above photo was taken by Mark Boster for the Los Angeles Times.

Another round of fires has hit Southern California, and this one is close to home. Well, it's close to my brother's home. Right now my brother and his family are packed up and waiting for word from Emergency Services as to whether or not they will need to evacuate their home.

I ask you to pray for my brother and his family as well as for the many families who have already lost their homes. Right now the fire is three miles from my brother's house. They are praying that the winds would be minimal and help to contain the fire. They are waiting and watching.

If you want to read more about the fires, here's a recent LA Times article (approximately 4 hours old at the time of this post).

Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Autumn Forest

Autumn Forest, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I took this photo a few weeks back while hiking with my dad. It was good to be able to spend time together. I've been pretty busy the last few weeks, and haven't been able to connect with him as much, but I cherish those moments. (I actually got to spend the day hanging out with him on election day and it was GREAT!!!)

But that's not what this blog is about. This blog is about days like that autumn day. This blog is about days like today in Morgantown. The weather is beautiful here. It is unseasonably warm for late november. The sun is glowing as it reflects off the remaining leaves on the trees.

My brother sent me a blog that John Piper wrote a few days ago. I'll let you read it, and reflect. it's pretty short, so you can check it out by following this link. Some good food for thought . . .

Gas Under $2?

Gas Under $2?, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I think I finally figured it out. Why would John Beilein and Rich Rodriguez both move from Morgantown to Michigan? After my recent trip to Ann Arbor, the answer is obvious. Gas prices. What I remember of both of them while they lived in Morgantown is that they drove SUVs. SUV's don't get very good gas mileage. Just like the rest of america, escalating gas prices drove them to make some lifestyle changes.

The photo above was seriously taken on Thursday. That's where I bought gas to head back to west virginia yesterday morning. They couldn't get me to discard my loyalties just by saving cash on gas--that's why I drive a hybrid--it takes away that temptation.

Back in Morgantown the prices were significantly higher. $2.39 when I came in town yesterday. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I understand that prices are somewhat market driven and vary from location to location due to factors beyond my understanding.

Regardless, gas for less than $2 was a treat. But I don't plan on making the trip back any time soon for that treat. It's a nice place to visit (and buy cheap gas), but I just love these west virginia hills too much.

Of course life is more than gas prices, right? I hope you can enjoy the little things as your week comes to an end, but at the same time--remember that's not your treasure!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dry Tears

Dry Tears, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
I've had a lot of stuff I wanted to blog this week, but I forgot my camera cable in West Virginia and I was in Michigan for a conference with GCM during the week (more on that later). For now, I'd like to introduce a couple of friends I met during the 58 conference . . .

As part of the 58 Conference I had the privilege of picking up a couple of people from the airport. These guys names were Conner and Kyle, and when Conner was a freshman and Kyle was a junior in high school, they started a non-profit called dry tears.

Yep, you read correctly. While they were both in high school, they started a non-profit organization. It all started when Conner was reading a magazine article that was talking about poverty. You see, he found out that there were kids in our world who were so dehydrated that when they cried they didn’t form tears.

Conner and Kyle thought there was something wrong with that, ]so they started raising money and paying for wells to be dug. So far they have been part of over a dozen wells being dug. High school students—changing the world. Can you believe it? They’ve raised thousands of dollars and partnered with organizations like Blood:Water Mission and Living Water International to see wells dug in Sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve already started talking about a future collaboration between them and Nuru International in Kenya.

Beyond changing the world, Conner and Kyle are a couple of really cool guys. Conner is a senior in high school, and Kyle is a sophomore now at University of Georgia. They are passionate about following Jesus and making a difference in our world. These guys are both articulate and intelligent, and they also stayed at my house with me and my roommates this weekend.

Over the course of our time together, we shared a lot of laughs and some great stories. There’s something awesome that happens when brothers dwell together in unity, and with one mind.

I’m glad my friend Tiffany with Invisible Children told me about these guys, and we were able to get them to come to Morgantown. There’s something really motivating to a group of high school and middle school students when they see a couple of their own stepping out to make a change. And that’s exactly what Conner and Kyle are doing. They are making a change.

I know my life will be different as a result of meeting them. They inspired me. Check out their website, and spend some time with them, and I’m sure you’ll be inspired too. May more of our young people (and our old people) awake from the sleep that tells us that our contribution does not matter.

May this note wake you up to the crises in our world and motivate you to do something about them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

58 Conference: Afterword

This past weekend, we hosted our inaugural 58 conference at Chestnut Ridge Church, and it was truly amazing. What was it like?

It was like mobilizing over 90 volunteers to serve and connect with middle school and high school students from all over the state of WV.

It was like seeing these students hang out, connect, and discuss some life changing talks during the weekend.

It was like impacting an entire city as students and volunteers joined together to step out in faith and serve various non-profit agencies across the city of Morgantown during an early morning FAITHventure.

It was like changing the way a generation thinks about issues like hunger, clean water, and wealth.

It was like watching a generation of young West Virginians step up to make a difference in God’s big World.

Yup, it was a life changing historic weekend for us at Chestnut Ridge Church. We will be thanking our Creator for it for a long time.

Friday, November 07, 2008

58 Conference

For the last several weeks, a group of us at chestnut ridge church have been working furiously to put together a conference that culminates this weekend. The 58 conference is a call to follow in the footsteps of God the Defender and Provider. the 58conference is a call to defend the defenseless and to provide for those in need in our communities, our state, our nation and our world.

the 58conference is a state-wide gathering of high school and middle school students in West Virginia passionate about standing up for those who cannot, putting our faith in action, taking seriously the words of God, spoken through the prophet Isaiah…

“is this not the fast which i choose,
to loosen the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the bands of the yoke
and to let the oppressed go free
and break every yoke?

“is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into the house
when you see the naked, to cover him;
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

“then your light will break out like the dawn,
and your recovery will speedily spring forth;
and your righteousness will go before you;
the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”


In coordination with the conference, churches around the state have been participating in a state wide food drive to fill food pantries around WV.

Our goal with this conference is to see students come alive for God, and to see the great needs of our world, and God's desire to see them work toward bringing healing to the hurts of our world.

There are a number of great organizations who will be participating in the conference as well. These include,
Dry Tears--An organization dedicated to getting water to people who do not have access.
World Vision--an organization that works to bring compassion and justice to our world.
Nuru International--an organization dedicated to helping impoverished communities of 5,000-`10,000 people lift themselves out of extreme poverty for good.
Invisible Children--an organization dedicated to ending a 20 year civil war in Uganda.

If you think about it, say a prayer for us and our participants. The kids who are coming to this conference will be fasting for 30 hours as part of the conference, and we are praying for this to be a life-changing weekend for everyone involved.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Hope, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Today, millions of American's are going out to vote. I was able to enjoy a free chik-fil-a sandwich as a result of exercising my civic duty. I love the fact that our government allows us to participate in the hiring of our leaders.

But you know what is frightening to me? It's frightening when we lose our perspective during all of the hype surrounding elections. Voting is important. Participating in the civic process is important. But the person who holds the position of an office like president isn't the person in which people of faith should place their hope.

You see, when Jesus was crucified and resurrected in 33AD, He established Himself as the greatest authority in heaven and on earth. And "the hour we first believed", we pledged allegiance to Him--He became our source of hope. And yet, when election time comes, it seems like we lose this perspective.

Don't get me wrong, elections are important, but I feel like there is so much hype around the events.

I want to offer a suggestion as the results come in from the election. Before we get frustrated or elated over a candidate, I think we need to ask ourselves what we are willing to do to make a difference in our world. No candidate for any office will ever be able to offer the hope that Jesus offers, and if you are a Christian, then that means you probably believe that Jesus' way of living is probably the best way of living.

So do you want things to change in our country? Do you feel like its all "going down the tubes"? Or that these are the "end times" being ushered in? I've heard all kinds of talk around the elections, and it's really astounding to me that people can get so hyped or depressed over something so temporal.

I think we're missing something. I think there's something to be said for standing up and making a difference in our world. I think there's something to be said for people like you and me choosing to passionately live a different kind of life during the 1460 other days when we aren't participating in a major national election. If we really want to see change in this world, We've gotta be willing to be that change. I've gotta start with me.

So rather than simply voting on a couple of issues, you and I gotta be willing to toe the line. I think what this world longs to see is a church that is willing to live as a sign of the reality of God's love being made tangible to our world.

I'm tempted to lay out what this might look like issue by issue, but I won't. There's far too many issues, and if you are like me, your attention span for reading online is very short.

I just want to encourage you to stand up and be a sign of hope beyond any election. I want to encourage you to live as a sign of the true hope we have in the Kingdom of Jesus.

May you, through your life, demonstrate to your friends, your neighbors, and your co-workers what life looks like when we live out the good news of Jesus in the world where we live.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Losing God: A Review

This morning I set aside some time to read my friend Matt Roger's new book. I have been carrying it around in my backpack for a little over a week, and i really wanted to be able to enjoy it. It's one thing to read and review books, but it's quite another thing to read and reflect upon something a friend has written. To start, I really enjoy Matt's writing because it's personal, it's vulnerable, and it's real. Too many people write books that look at problems clinically, or share their struggles from a distance, or talk about an issue in abstractions. Thankfully Matt doesn't write this way.

But sometimes reading authors like this is hard. Honestly, I felt like Matt was so transparent with his depression that it gave me new insights into the struggle. I have a few friends who each deal with depression on many levels. Because of Matt's book, I have a clearer picture of what it looks like to deal with the darkness of depression. Because of Matt's book, I can make a hearty recommendation of it to my friends. I have to warn you though if you read it that it is a bit serious and somber.

I learned a lot through it. I also thought it was cool to read his comments about my friends JR Woodward and Jim Pace as well. He really captured their personalities well, and the fact that both of these guys break the schema of what it looks like to be "pastors" or "ministers". JR and Jim have been great friends to me since I went on staff with GCM, and I loved his description/first impressions of both of 'em.

If you know anybody, family, friends, etc. who are struggling with depression I highly recommend you check out this book. At times I have grown easily frustrated with people I know who struggle with depression. This book helped me to have a better picture of how incredibly difficult it is for those who struggle. It also filled me with hope for others as well. There are some things in this world, and about God that we will never fully understand this side of eternity, and we need to learn to be alright with that.

I highly recommend this book, but I have to warn you that it won't leave you with warm fuzzies. If you or someone you know struggles with depression, this book might just be able to offer a ray of hope in the middle of a very dark time. I hope matt can produce an audio version too. I think his story would be great for someone to be able to listen to as well. The tone of his book is vulnerable and conversational. If you want to order a copy, you can probably find it locally, or you can order it here.