Snowy Cactus

I keep up with golf, and yesterday was one of the weirdest days I can remember. The Accenture Matchplay tournament had to cancel its first round yesterday because of snow. That may not seem strange, considering it’s February, but it is. The Accenture Matchplay takes place in Tucson. Arizona. Southern Arizona doesn’t look like this:

That’s not supposed to happen, right? I bet the golfers didn’t land at the airport in Tucson thinking they’d need snow boots.

Weather is a weird and unpredictable thing. Just when you think you have it figured out, it surprises you. That’s why it’s so important to prepare for unexpected events. It’s important to be prepared for tornadoes if you live in the midwest, and hurricanes if you live on the gulf.

Sometimes, no matter how much you think you’ve prepared, it doesn’t matter. You can’t prepare for losing everything. Organizations like TWCD realize that. We know it’s hard to rebuild and restore everything to its rightful place. We know the most important thing in a crisis is a helping hand. We try to respond to disasters because we know how much it is needed and appreciated. We take volunteers with us because we know how much it can change their lives to be appreciated.

Sometimes it snows in Arizona, and nothing makes sense. Sometimes a family loses its farm to a fire in Australia. That’s where we want to be: lending a helping hand and showing hope to people who need it.

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Called

What does it mean to be “called” to do something? Does it mean we feel we are going to be a success? Does it mean we are going to become famous or well-liked?

What if being called simply means acting in ways we know we already should act?

Today, Donald Miller wrote a blog post that made me think about what TWCD is called to do, and how we help people do what they are called to do. Being called means loving people, and TWCD wants to be an organization recognized as loving people and helping others love people. We exist to take people on trips because they want to help others.

Being called means doing small things in order to help other people. At TWCD, we know our impact may not be huge in the big picture. We may not be able to help everybody who is impacted by a disaster, and we definitely won’t be on CNN, but for the people we do help we are an answer to prayer and have a huge impact. There is nothing like the feeling of helping someone who is in need. Nothing beats it. That’s because it is what we are all called to do.

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Fire in the Sky

Today was a weird day in world news as a meteorite struck Russia, injuring a few hundred people in its path. I’ve never seen a meteor strike in person, but the videos are incredible. I can’t imagine what I would do if I was driving and watched a ball of fire fall out of the sky.

I think this event shows how unpredictable life is. One minute, you’re driving to work and then a rock falls from space in front of you and shatters your car’s windows into a million terrifying sharp bullets. No one expects his office windows will explode from the sonic boom caused by an asteroid while he sips his morning coffee.

What if this happened to you? What would you think if all the sudden you saw fire in the sky? I think I would want someone to come alongside me to tell me it’s going to be O.K. I think I would want help, hope, and compassion to be there with me while I processed this event.

TWCD isn’t planning to go to Russia, but we are planning to continue helping people around the world who are picking up the pieces from the unexpected realities of life on this planet. These things happen. Tsunamis come, fires burn, hurricanes destroy, but we have the opportunity to do something about the aftermath.

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Giving Up

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Christians all over the world are sacrificing luxuries for the next 40 days in order to reflect on the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross. It is interesting that we are asking for donations for our trip fund in order to help victims from around the world during this important season of the Christian year.

We have so much in this country. Lent gives us the opportunity to experience what life would be like with less, and through that we recognize how blessed we are. In the same way, a disaster can show us how little we control, making us more thankful for each day we get on earth.

This season, please think about giving up a luxury item and donating that money to Trinity West Crisis Dispatch. Imagine the difference a cup of coffee a day could make in the life of a farmer recovering from bushfires in Tasmania! Five dollars a day for 40 days adds up. With your help, we can make a difference. We can show hope and love to a broken world and shine light in a dark situation. Prayerfully consider making TWCD part of your prayers this Lent season. Your prayers are felt by our teams in ways we can’t explain. Your partnership through donation fuels our tanks both literally and figuratively.

As we approach Easter, let us take seriously the challenge to live like Jesus, to be salt and light, and to bring the new Kingdom onto earth.

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Together in Heartbreak

Nothing is closer to our hearts than our homes. They represent family, comfort, and familiarity. We take pride in our homes, we brag about them, and we have entire stores dedicated to improving them. There is nothing more intrinsic to the American consciousness than the idea of home ownership, of having your piece of land, of being the king of your own castle.

What happens when it burns down? Homes aren’t made from the indestructible. These structures we ascribe so much importance to are made of stuff that burns. If you’re a farmer, losing your home means a lot more. When a farmer loses his home, he is most likely losing his livelihood. He loses his job. When fire destroys thousands of feet of fenceline, the farmer can’t afford to hire someone to fix it while he goes about his business. He has to rebuild his farm himself, losing months of work and thousands of dollars.

This is the situation facing Australian farmers right now. Many of them are feeling alone in their heartbreak. They have seen their homes and livelihoods literally burned to the ground. Here in America, we sit in our homes sipping coffee and rarely pay any mind to the plight of those on the other side of the earth. Now we have a chance to show hundreds of farmers they aren’t alone on this planet, and they aren’t alone in their heartbreak. Our hearts are broken for them because we believe in the principle we are all God’s children-part of the same family, connected brothers and sisters. Help us show our Australian brothers and sisters we feel their pain. Your donation goes to spread the ideal of six billion people looking out for one another. Spread hope and spread love with us.

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An Opportunity

Record heat, devastating fires, and families left homeless. Farmers trying to figure out where to turn when their livelihood looks hopeless. This is the story of Tasmania right now, but it is also the story of Texas a few years ago.

For those of us who lived in Texas while fires ripped up thousands of acres, we know how scary it can be. Fire is unpredictable, ruthless, and an indiscriminate destroyer of everything in its path. The more the news covered the story here in Texas, the more it seemed these fires would never end and that the people of Bastrop and Possom Kingdom might lose everything. When the dry summer months dragged on, we were amazed at how much support came to those farmers and how many people seemed to reach out to them.

Now it is our turn to help out another country. While we weren’t directly effected by the Texas wildfires, we know the feeling of hopelessness fires can cause. We have an opportunity to help farmers and regular people just like us who are feeling hopeless right now. We have an opportunity to be a light in a dark place.

More importantly, we have an obligation. Nothing is more clear in Scripture than God’s call for Christians to make things new, to right wrongs, and to be the hands and feet and body of Christ in the world. If we are the only body Jesus has on earth right now, shlouldn’t we show up when we are needed? I

Because we feel this way, we have to go. We must act, we must respond, and we must show the world there is a better way to live. We have an opportunity to help those in need and an obligation to show there is a connection between all people as children of God.

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Why We Go

When I was in seminary I got the opportunity to go with TWCD as a volunteer. At the time, my international travel experience was limited, but my desire to help other people was strong and I couldn’t miss an opportunity to travel to Australia. 

For two weeks in the hottest climate I had ever experienced, we worked. I helped a farmer re-dig an irrigation well, something I had never done, and as I squinted into the brutal sun through sweat pouring from my forehead I realized this trip would stay with me the rest of my life. Another farmer we helped took us in like family. We watched home movies with him, rebuilt his fence, and sang songs on his porch. His life was made a little easier thanks to the helping hands we provided, but our lives were changed.

My life was changed.

Heaven is often thought of as a reward. Live a good life, make the right decisions, and you will be rewarded with an escape from this world. What this trip proved to me is that heaven can be brought to this world through God’s people helping others. We made heaven on earth for several Australian farmers who were experiencing quite the opposite. In doing so, we were transported there ourselves. When we left Australia, I was upset. I had little desire to go back to school and responsibilities. Like Peter at the mount of Transfiguration, I just wanted to stay in that experience forever. 

What we do, what Trinity West Crisis Dispatch does around the world, is to take heaven to people experiencing the worst this world has to offer. We have an opportunity to go back to Australia to help more farmers recover from a bushfire, this time in Tasmania. My heart leaps at this opportunity, because I know what to expect. We can show hope to people in a hopeless place, and our lives will be blessed. 

We are looking for volunteers to come with us–people looking to work to make someone else’s life better. We are also looking for financial partners–people looking to invest in eternal hope. If you want to be a part of this–if you want to help us impact lives around the world–please go to www.twcd.us and become one of our partners. 

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