August 29, 2011 – Aaron Bird
Rewind: What do you want? What do you wish you had? You probably don’t need more than a few seconds to come up with a whole list of things that you want: maybe it’s a car or a new computer or some cash. Maybe you’re more of a big-picture person and you really want world peace or the end of world hunger. Or maybe after a week of classes all you want is to pass your organic chemistry final this semester… But, what if, rather than another limited human being, God were the one asking you that question? Would your answer be any different? Would you be like Solomon and ask for wisdom?
… the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “…give Your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this… [and said to him,] “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart…” 1 Kings 3:4-6, 9-10, 12
In our culture, wisdom has become yet another watered-down term more likely to pop up in a conversation about the qualifications for Jeopardy contestants than in one about life goals. The problem with that is, quite simply, that wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. Knowledge is information based; it’s quantifiable and, when you’re in college, it’s what earns you a degree. But, knowledge, despite what you may have been told, is not what prepares you for a life of success and happiness. Wisdom, on the other hand, is a way of living, of walking in grace and righteousness. Wisdom is relational knowledge that comes from a growing understanding of the Lord. Wisdom is like a tree:
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she [wisdom] is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed… My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you… Proverbs 3: 13-18, 21-22.
In Hebrew, the word for wisdom, and therefore the word that embodies wisdom as a way of life, is YADA, and, as the book of Proverbs tells us, YADA is a big deal! So big, in fact, that it is compared with the Tree of Life. That tree is the reason why God sent cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the Garden of Eden, and it’s the same tree that John saw in his vision of Heaven baring twelve crops of fruit and covered in leaves of healing (Gen. 3:24, Rev. 22:1-2). The Tree of Life is precious and rare and God has seen fit to protect it and save it for His children; thus, the book of Proverbs is saying that in the same way that the Tree of Life provides an everlasting life with the Lord in Heaven, so too does wisdom offer us a way of walking closely with God during our life here on earth. Seeking YADA, a way of life with the Lord, is our purpose – it’s what this life is all about – and it effectively trumps all other endeavors.
Here’s a little YADA, courtesy of Aaron, to get you started:
Think ‘ripple effect’ before acting: Newton said it (every action has an equal and opposite reaction), Ashton Kutcher acted in it (The Butterfly Effect), John Donne penned it (“No man is an island entire of itself”), and your daily life affirms it: everything you do will eventually end up effecting someone or something else, so take a moment and consider the consequences, good and bad, before choosing anything.
Be smart about what you exchange your life for: Is what you did today, or what you’ll do tomorrow, worth exchanging a day of your life for, because that’s what you’re doing. Don’t waste valuable time on unworthy causes. Don’t be afraid to quit or change your mind. Make conscious decisions about what battles you’re willing to wage; don’t fight just because you can.
The grass may be greener over there, but it’s also covered in poop: (Ya know, because poop is fertilizer…) But, seriously, don’t spend your life wishing for what you don’t have. If you need it, God will provide it. If you don’t need it, then you really don’t need to spend time wishing you had it. When the world says everything you’re not is better than what you are, it’s generally a lie.
Unlearn things so you can continue to learn: When you start thinking you know everything, remind yourself that you don’t. God created a complex and mystifying world, and He’s the only one who has the luxury of spending even one day not learning.
Connect with more than a volleyball: Your name is probably not Tom Hanks, and you’re probably not stranded on a desert island, so Wilson (the volleyball) should probably not be your only friend. The only thing God ever deemed “not good” was man being alone, so go connect.
Be humble: If you’re thinking, “Check! Got that one covered,” then, I’m sorry, but you don’t. Everyone loves a humble person, they make other people feel good, and they often meet with success. Wise people are humble people (James 3:13).
‘I love you’ is the most profound thing you can say to someone: Love is so much more than what our mainstream culture says it is. It is something so much deeper, so much more meaningful, so much harder, and so much more complicated than what we are taught to believe. Love is a verb and a commitment, not just an emotion. Love changes everything.
Do something with Jesus Christ: The Gospel consists of the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John); it’s the Good News – the story of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. After reading about Christ, you have to decide: either He was crazy, He was a liar, or He is Lord. The one thing you cannot decide is that He was “just a good teacher;” if you come to that conclusion, you missed something. Go back and read it again; pay attention to the claims He makes: He wasn’t pretending or exaggerating to make a point; He meant what He said, and you need to take Him seriously. He said He was sent by God the Father (Luke 4:16-21); He said He had the power to forgive sins (Mark 2:5, Luke 7:47-48); He said He would be beaten and killed, and on the third day, come back to life – He said He would conquer death itself (Matthew 16:21 and 20:18-19, Mark 8:31, Luke 18:31). So, what are you going to do with those statements? Some people bowed down and worshiped – those people were healed and forgiven – and some people chose to walk away in disbelief and hatred. What about you? Remember, Jesus predates “Christianity”, and God existed before time itself, so you should make your decision based on the Word of God, not on the things you’ve heard about “Christians” or “religion.” Read about Jesus for yourself, and then decide how you are going to react to the Son of Man: are you His disciple or are you a scoffer; are you for Him or against Him, because there is no in between.
YADA, it’s a way of life; it’s wisdom, not knowledge; it’s walking with the Lord; it’s like a tree; it’s precious; it’s a refuge; it’s what you should be looking for. Go find it.
Pause: If you’re interested in leading a Christ-like life, meaning one that is satisfying, righteous, holy, happy, challenging, and fulfilling, you should probably check out some of the pieces of YADA written by Solomon in the book of Proverbs. A few verses a day can bring about some pretty big revelations, and really change the way you live.
“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” Proverbs 4: 6-9
“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. ‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment. ‘Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.” Proverbs 9:1-6
“Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22: 4
Push Play: So, you know how a square can be a rectangle (because a rectangle is a shape with four sides and four right angles), but a rectangle cannot be a square (because a square is a shape with four sides and four right angles, but all of its sides must be the same size)? Well, wisdom and knowledge have a similar relationship. Knowledge can be wisdom, but wisdom cannot be (just) knowledge…
Knowledge can be wisdom: it’s wise to be well-informed (“Wise men store up knowledge” Prov. 10:14). Human beings need doctors and engineers and writers and teachers and managers and leaders, and it’s very important that those people each know the information they need to perform well. In the same way, it’s wise to inform yourself about an issue before you choose your position, and to research your classes and professors when deciding what to register for each semester. Education is by no means a wasted endeavor; knowledge often plays a critical role in gaining wisdom. But…
Wisdom cannot be (just) knowledge: wisdom is something much bigger than just information. Wisdom is YADA; it’s a way of life. Wisdom may include knowledge, but it is not the equivalent of knowledge. Wisdom is a focused application of knowledge that serves to bring you into closer communion with the Lord. You may be the smartest person in the world, but if you don’t know Jesus – if you’re not living for Him and walking with Him and beleving in what He has said – then you’re not wise, you’re just really smart.
The comparison isn’t perfect, and I’m not even totally confident that I got the order right (maybe it should read “wisdom can be knowledge but knowledge can’t be wisdom”?), but I’m pretty sure you get what I’m saying. Educating yourself and earning your degree does not in and of itself make you a wise man or woman of God. Loving the Lord, reading, believing, and trying your best to follow His Word, spreading the Gospel, loving your neighbors, respecting your parents, worshiping Jesus – those things are what come together and begin the process of walking in wisdom.
“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” (Acts 13:47 NIV)
The University of Illinois is HUGE. There are more than 40,000 students here studying hundreds of different majors. We are a Big Ten university with the largest Greek system in the world. We boast over 800 registered student organizations (RSOs) and a vast number of intramural sports teams. We consistently have one of the highest percentages of international students in the whole world, which means you can make connections (and have a real impact) in every corner of the globe without ever leaving Urbana-Champaign. The U of I is home to a number of world-renowned professors and researchers, as well as some of the brightest students you will ever meet. Our football team may be hit-or-miss at times, but our graduates have gone on to, quite literally, change the world…
Smack dab in the middle of all the soy bean and corn fields of central Illinois await millions of opportunities for students to make the most out of their education and their life (all while learning how to spell I-L-L-I-N-I properly and cheering on a relatively non-existent mascot). But, there are also millions of temptations. Statistics vary, but it has been found that the majority of students who begin college already knowing Jesus, walk away from their faith within the first year, and there are many, many more who don’t have a faith to walk away from in the first place. We want to do something about that.
Axiom is just one of the many RSOs on campus, but we have something different to offer than the majority of them, something “of greater worth than gold” (1 Peter 1:7). We have faith in Jesus Christ, and we want to share that with the world.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe… and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47 NIV).
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll fill you in: Axiom is a Christian ministry located on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. We have a house on the corner of Lincoln Ave and Oregon St in Urbana where some of the guys in our ministry live, where our staff works, where our students gather and fellowship, and where we host English Corner every Wednesday evening from 5-6pm. This year our worship service is being held everyMonday night at 8pm in Mumford Hall (on the south quad), room 103 – you should probably check us out some time; we’re nice, our band is AWESOME, and our ministers are pretty cool too.
Axiom is a campus ministry that desires to support students as they run towards their passions, and more poignantly, to encourage them to be passionate about Jesus Christ and who He is calling them to be. We, at Axiom, are constantly looking for new, unique ways to reach out to our campus and to meet the needs of the students who find themselves at U of I, Parkland College, or in the surrounding areas. In the last few years, God has been moving in some truly incredible ways on campus and within our ministry. Axiom has been experiencing unprecedented growth and some big changes; God has really been challenging us to place our trust in Him and dream big dreams. It’s all we can do to keep up, but we’re loving every minute of it!
Currently we have four wonderful, Christ-minded ministers at Axiom: Aaron Bird, Mary Baird, Rebekah Songer, and Gary Umphrey. I can say with full confidence that each of these four individuals not only has a heart for God and for His work, but more specifically, they each have a heart for God’s work on this campus. We, as students, are incredibly blessed to have such a wide range of life experiences from whom to draw advice, guidance, support, and friendship. In addition to our lovely staff, we also have seventeen students on the Servant Leadership Team (SLT). As you’ve probably deduced, these guys and gals are student leaders who, along with our ministers, are in charge of a variety of outreach activities within our ministry, such as service projects, the worship service, bible studies, and English Corner (you can find out exactly who’s who at the Axiom website – www.illinoisaxiom.com – under the “Contact” tab). Each member of our SLT is desperately in love with Jesus, and is looking for ways to pour out His love on campus.
Now that you know a little bit more about us, maybe you’re wondering about our name: what in the world is an “axiom,” anyway?
An axiom is: an accepted, established, and self-evident truth; Jesus Christ is an axiom. In fact He is the axiom. It’s like what Paul said: “…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Ro. 1:20). The truth of our Father’s eternal goodness and our Savior’s unending love is undeniable, and as plain to see as the sunrise, as easy to feel as a breeze, and more beautiful than the stars. Christ is the only reality. Thus, Axiom, notice the capital “A” here, attempts to be a representation of that truth and that reality.
As humans, it is so easy to get caught up in the world we see all around us; to be sucked in to thinking that we are a big deal. Distraction is everywhere. At any given time there are a million different things asking for, and sometimes demanding, our attention: school, work, friends, family, bills, deadlines, grocery shopping, your sorority/fraternity, your honors society, your volunteer organization, your roommates, TV, video games, the internet, the bars, parties, and, especially when you’re a student, sleep. Now, I’m not saying that these in and of themselves are negative distractions, but the point is, sometimes it gets a little difficult to remember what it is that we’re doing here.
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:15-17 MSG)
After three years on this campus, exploring, making friends, and seeing what the U of I has to offer, Axiom is still the place where I am most reminded of my center, of my true purpose. It’s a place where I know that I have made friends for life because my friends have become my family. It’s a place that has been, and is continuing to teach me how to lead by being a follower of Christ. Axiom is where I go to be challenged, encouraged, comforted, poured into, loved on, and cared for multiple times a week – it never gets old. And, in turn, it’s where I go to be all of those things and do all of those things for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Axiom reminds me that there is a world out there that’s much bigger than me, and much bigger than U of I, and that world is desperately in need of Christ. Moreover, Axiom constantly encourages me to do something about that need. We are not a ministry that sits still and waits for people to find Christs on their own; we want to be a part of opening their eyes to His majesty by coming alongside and showing His great love to our campus. Monday nights are a breath of fresh air, Thursday night bible studies are a reminder that God ranks higher than any academic endeavor, and the people I’ve met are never shy about building me up, encouraging my passions, and offering Godly advice. What I’m trying to say, is that for me, and for quite a few others, Axiom is home.
On a typical Monday night, our worship service is filled with students who have gathered for one purpose: to worship our Creator and Savior. It’s one of the few places on campus where you walk in the front door and are immediately greeted with a smile, a handshake, and maybe even a hug (okay, it’s probably gonna be a hug; be prepared), from someone who loves you simply because Christ loves you. And the best part is that this love – Christ’s love – is the most real thing in the world; the only truth.
In case you were wondering, the point of this blog is to keep all of you up to date on the goings on at Axiom. And, yes, I am a real student at UIUC. My name is Taylor Pinion and I’m a senior majoring in History and double minoring in English and International Studies, and this will be my second year serving as the president of Axiom. Axiom found me on Quad Day of my freshman year at a time when I was in no way looking for a Christian ministry; I am so thankful that God saw fit to throw a frisbee at my head and open my heart to what it really means to follow Him! If you ever want to talk more about Axiom, or Jesus, or the university, or Napoleon Bonaparte, or Andrew Johnson (I’m a history major, remember?), please come find me – Monday night worship is probably a good place to look (8pm, Mumford Hall, Room 103).
Most entries here will be written by students about students and their pursuit of Jesus Christ (if you want in on that action, again, talk to me, or check out the “Get Involved!” page here on the blog). We hope that you are just as jazzed about what God’s doing on our campus as we are, and that you would be praying for our ministry and for our students- that God would always be our center, our guide, and our purpose.
August 22, 2011 – Aaron Bird
Welcome to the University of Illinois! If this is your first week on campus, I hope you’re finding your way around, enjoying the dorm food, befriending your room and hall mates, not paying full price for your books, learning the bus routes, loving your classes, and having a fantastic Welcome Week! If this isn’t your first year here, I hope you’re reconnecting with friends, nearly done moving in/unpacking, getting as much sleep as possible, and ready to start another great school year! For those of you who may not know, Axiom is no longer on Thursdays this semester; we have officially switched our worship service to MONDAY nights at 8pm in Mumford Hall, room 103. As such, last night was our first Axiom Service of the school year, and believe me, it was amazing – a truly great way to kick off the semester.
Just in case your reading this for the first time, let me tell you how this whole blog thing works… If you miss an Axiom service, or if you really loved the message, or if you didn’t quite understand the message, or if you want to share the message with your friends and family, you should check in right here Tuesday evenings (hopefully)! Here you’ll find my (Taylor’s) recap of Monday’s message, some verses to dwell on for the rest of the week, and a few thoughts on how to take what you learn on Monday nights and put it into action. That being said, here we go!
Rewind: What are you doing here? I know that’s a broad question, but it’s an important one. What are you doing here at the University of Illinois? You’ve probably been, or will soon begin, studying and taking exams and writing papers and completing labs. Hopefully you’re also enjoying the freedom and social atmosphere that comes with living on campus. Maybe you’re here because it was expected that you attend college, and U of I seemed just as good as anywhere. I suppose it’s even possible that you’re here because you don’t know what else to do right now, and college is, in a way, a way to buy yourself four more years to figure your life out.
Those kinds of answers are all well and good, but they don’t really touch on the question I was trying to ask, so let me rephrase it: what is your purpose here? Is it possible that, rather than being the reason, studying and test-taking and graduating are all side-effects of you being here? Don’t get me wrong, those things are really important and should definitely be a focus in your life, but could it also be that something much, much bigger is happening? Have you ever thought that you might be an Esther of the 21st century?
Alright, before you tell me I’m crazy because either you’re a dude (which would make it physiologically impossible to be ‘Esther’) or because you’re not living in ancient Persia, let me explain; you and Esther may actually have more in common than you think. For example, the Persians, who ruled over the Israelites during Esther’s time, LOVED to party (King Xerses once through a six-month-long party, followed by another week long party), and, here at the University of Illinois, whether or not it’s your scene, we also LOVE to party (the Princeton Review ranks us as the #11 Party School in the nation). Another thing you and Esther may share is being outside of the social norm; Esther was a Jewish woman living in Persia (not a Jewish nation, by the way), and long felt that she must keep her faith a secret to be accepted. Similarly, we are Christians living in an increasingly non-Christian environment, and you may at times feel that living out your faith separates you from many of your peers. Finally, Esther, like you, found herself in a place of great significance. Now, unlike Esther, you are probably not the queen of a country, but you are at one of the top schools in the nation, and simply by attending a university you are placing yourself within the group of people from which most world leaders arise!
Now that you realize just how much you share with Esther, and are thoroughly invested in her story, you should take a moment to read the Book of Esther (if you haven’t already)… Aaron went through the whole book on Monday night, and if I had the time, or if I really thought you had the attention span, I’d summarize the whole thing for you again, but, since neither of those things are true, you’ll have to click on this link here, and read it yourself… go ahead and do it now; it’s really not that long…
Wow! Did you catch all of those coincidences? First, out of all the girls who were paraded in front of King Xerses, he chose Esther, a Jewish woman, to be his wife and his queen. Second, Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, just happens to overhear the inebrieated guards plotting the King’s assassination and is credited with saving the King’s life. Then, on just the right night, the King can’t sleep, and his servant just so happens to pick the history book that has Mordecai’s act of loyalty written in it. Next, Esther is allowed into the King’s chamber even though she had not been summoned, for which the typical punishment was death. Oh, and then, just before the evil Haman can carry out his act of genocide against the Jews or the murder of poor Mordecai, the King decides to honor Mordecai, forcing Haman to take part in the celebration. Later, Esther is able to expose Haman and save the Jews all without losing the Kings favor. AND, in the end, Haman is hung on the gallows he had intended for Mordecai; talk about a twist ending!
Does it make you at all uncomfortable to write all of those things off as coincidence? Well, what if, rather than coincidence, we give credit for these events to the One who truly deserves it? What if we call them miracles instead of coincidences? We should be praising the Lord for protecting His people rather than breathing a sigh of relief at another lucky break for the Jews! If we do that, then what Mordecai said in 4:12-14 was true: Esther had indeed been placed on the throne for such a time as this.
What if you are here at the University of Illinois in August of 2011 for such a time as this? Would that change the way you think or the way you live? What if I told you that God has a plan for your life (because He does), and that you don’t have to wait for graduation before it kicks in (because you shouldn’t)? Don’t let your expectations limit your ability to serve the Lord by carrying out His divine purposes. So, what are you waiting for? Life begins right now; go figure out why you’re here.
Pause: The start of the school year can seem really hectic and out of control at times, especially during Welcome Week- everything’s new and slightly intimidating – but, you can trust that God has everything completely under control! If you feel yourself getting stressed this week, take some to time to read and pray about these verses.
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11-12 MSG
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 NIV
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” Isaiah 46:10 NIV
Push Play: How many times have you seen Dead Poets Society? You know the movie I’m talking about, right; you’ve probably watched it in high school English. It’s the one where Robin Williams stands on a desk and tells his students to “Carpe Diem, seize the day!” about a thousand times? Well, I’ve probably seen it 10 times, all while sitting in a classroom, and even though I’m being a tad sarcastic here, I love that movie. I know I’ve already made some pretty strange comparisons in this post, but the story of Esther really does make me think of that movie. Remember the hard-hitting pep talk Mordie gave Esther in chapter 4: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (4:13-14) He basically tells her not to squander her God-given opportunity to do something good for the Lord’s Kingdom; he’s telling her to seize the day!
I think that’s why the Book of Esther made it into the bible even though it never once makes a direct reference to God. Esther is God’s version of Dead Poets Society (stay with me here)! The story tells us that even though God may not always be obviously present to our limited human eyes, hearts, and minds, we can take comfort in His promise to always be there, and to always be good, and to always be in control. So, again, I’m going to ask you, why are you here? And, is it possible that you could be like Esther?
Don’t miss a God-given chance to change the world. He has brought you to this place at this time, and He does in fact have a divine purpose in mind. Sure, He can accomplish His purposes without you, but if He has chosen you (which He has) for such a time as this, do you really want to say no?
Hello dear friends! As you make your way back to our lovely campus in the next few days, I hope you find yourself well-rested, prepared, and excited for yet another wonderful year! Fall 2011 brings a few changes to Axiom, including a new time and location for our worship service, and we are pumped to get going! So, before you solidify your plans for Welcome Week 2011, take a look at our schedule, get psyched, and, of course, tell all your friends!
Sunday, August 21st – Ice Cream Social
What could be better after a hot day traipsing around the Quad than hanging out with Axiom and eating some super cold ice cream?? Join us at the Axiom House at 7pm for cool treats and even cooler people!
Monday, August 22nd – Axiom Worship Service
That’s right! Axiom’s weekly worship service will be held on Monday nights at 8pm this semester!! ALSO, our location is different this semester: we’ll be meeting in Mumford Hall (on the south quad), Rm. 103. We can’t imagine a better way to kick off the semester than praising the Lord with all of our friends, so we really hope to see you and all of your buddies there! *Afterwards, we’ll be heading back to the Axiom House to finish off the ice cream from Sunday night.*
Wednesday, August 24th – Burgers, Bags, and Bocci
Even after only a few days on campus, you’ll probably be missin’ mom’s home cooking, so why not let Axiom provide the grub? Grab your friends and head on over to the Axiom House at 7pm for some grilled deliciousness and lots of fun games! (If you’re already a part of Axiom, we’d really appreciate you bringing a side to pass – thanks in advance!)
Friday, August 26th – Date Night with Axiom
You’ve officially finished the first week of Fall 2011 and now you’re ready for the weekend! Join your fellow Axiom-ites as we head to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner at 6pm, and then back to the House for a movie (TBD). Who knows, you may even meet your future ‘someone special’ on this date night…
Saturday, August 27th – CANOE TRIP!!!!!
Best. Event. Ever. Seriously. If you opt out of this one, you will probably, if not definitely, regret it. We’ll be meeting at the Axiom House at 8:30am on Saturday morning to head to Kickapoo State Park where we’ll spend the rest of the day getting to know one another while canoeing, eating our sack lunches, and swimming in the river. The cost is $16, and you need to get that money to J.D. Maloney no later than Wednesday (*ahem* Burgers, Bags, and Bocci). This is definitely something your friends would love for you to tell them about, so, go do it (also, SIGN UP HERE)!
See you soon! (and Welcome back to school!!)
Wednesday, August 2nd, 2011, Bolingbrook, IL.
I just keep thinking, “what is there that I could possibly say that could ever adequately describe and satisfactorily conclude a trip that, for so many of us, changed everything?” I am convinced that not even the most talented wordsmith around (let alone me) would be able to write something beautiful enough, deep enough, or complex enough to communicate the impact Tinca has had on the lives of Te[am] Iubesc’s members. And yet…
We have been home for nine weeks now; we’ve gone through the hundreds of pictures dozens of times; we’ve told stories to anyone and everyone who’s been kind enough to listen; and we’ve thought about and prayed for Rachel, Dave, Michelle, Urb, Abel, Samuel, David, Naomi, Alex, Simona, Calina, Maria, Florica, and Mariana each and every day. We’ve been home for nine whole weeks, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re all still a bit heartbroken. I know am.
I’m heartbroken that I’m not currently spending my days digging holes and raking rocks and chopping wood and building showers and twirling kids and dancing with toddlers and holding babies in the sunshine and pushing kids on the swing as they shout “mai tare!” and learning firsthand from the amazing missionaries at the Isaiah Center.
I am still heartbroken, and I have a feeling I always will be. And that’s OK.
You see, I left a part of my heart in Tinca… I couldn’t bring Abel and Samuel home with me; I couldn’t promise Iza that I would definitely see her again; I couldn’t stay and protect Davina from her bubble-stealing peers in the gypsy village forever… on May 29th, I had to leave Romania and begin my journey home along with the rest of my team. (At one point, Dave “the Man” Truss joked about ‘misplacing’ our passports so that we could stay a little longer; he was kidding, but I am not ashamed to say that I seriously thought about it.)
I learned so much about myself, and about God in the two weeks I was abroad. I learned that I, too, am indeed an incredibly selfish human being capable of thinking entirely of myself even when surrounded by the glory of the Lord. I learned that as hard as it is to put on an attitude of humility here in the states, it’s even harder to not judge the young woman who removes her shoe and hits her child over the head with it just because he wouldn’t leave her alone. I learned that kids are kids no matter where they come from or how they were raised: little boys like bugs and dirt and little girls like twirling and painting nails. I learned that I can in fact sleep in the same bed I just saw a bug crawl out of, much in the same way that I can get used to the smell of trash and human waste. I learned that I do not like eating sausage for breakfast, especially cold liver sausage; no thank you. I learned that language is not nearly the barrier to clear communication that it’s cracked up to be.
I came to understand more fully that true love is a commitment that has nearly nothing to do with emotion. More importantly, it is not just a commitment to the person you’re loving, but to the Lord; one that says, “God, I love You, and I trust You, and that is why I am choosing to act this way towards this person.” I came to understand more fully just how big our world is, and was subsequently confronted by the thought of just how big our God must be. I came to understand more fully that people matter, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, or how they treat you. And, since I’ve been home, I’ve come to understand more fully what it means to be restless – I have been convicted to live out Christ’s love in an active, rather than a passive, way; I don’t want to sit and just love the people around me – those within arms reach – but I also want to get up and go out and love those who are hard to find, and even harder to hold on to.
I think I will always be a little heartbroken thanks to my time in Tinca, but the way I see it, heartbreak goes hand in hand with loving and serving the Lord. When Jesus looks at His church here on earth and sees the hurt and the brokenness and the depth of sin, I imagine His magnificent heart breaks. Therefore, if we, as Christ followers, are really called to live our lives in pursuit of a life that is more and more Christ-like – then our hearts must truly be broken for the things that break His. I am, and forever will be, so thankful for my broken heart, just as I will be eternally grateful for my time spent in Tinca.
To Te[am] Iubesc: Ben, Conner, Emily, Heather, Val, Kelly, Jonathan, Sarah, JP, J.D., Robbie, Justin, Steph, Alina, and Tyler, I love you all so much! I am so blessed to know each and every one of you, and I am so thankful to have shared this with you.
To all of our supporters: You were just as much a part of this trip as we were! You, be it through prayer or donation, joined us in being Christ’s hands and feet, and loving on people in desperate need of hope. We love you all!
Update: Upon leaving Romania, we were able to give Rachel and her team about $8,000 (see, told you our supporters were a HUGE part of our trip!!), which was used to place a down payment on a new, large, piece of property where Rachel plans to drastically expand her ministry! Once stateside again, Ben sifted through our receipts, and the team collected a few more donations, and, together, were able to send even more mula to Tinca! Since then, thanks to God’s divine love, power, and grace, Rachel has been able to purchase the new property outright!! That means that, in addition to the current Isaiah Center, she now owns a house large enough to accommodate teams our size and even a bit bigger, and the land on which to build a brand new Isaiah Center where she can take care of even more kiddos! AND, the current Isaiah Center can now eventually be transformed into a community center where young adults can go to learn productive vocational skills and further chip away at the cycle of abuse and oppression within the gypsy community! Rachel is truly a visionary, and it is obvious that God is not done with her, her ministry, or the Roma of Tinca! He has not, and will not forget or abandon His children!