Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Archive for the ‘World Travels’ Category

Manzese Church in Dar es Salaam

This is one of the churches in Manzese that ICM helped to build. The video is of Manzese B Church. Manzese A Church was built in honor of my Dad, Poppa Qualls. He’d be so happy! I’m leaving on July 22, 2010 for Tanzania – an extended teaching trip. I plan to visit Dar July 31 through August 3 – at which time I’ll find Poppa Qualls’ Manzese A Church! I’m so excited!!

Manzese Church in Tanzania from ICM Videos on Vimeo.

Life In A Faster Line

It can get so quiet in an airport. As passengers, and in my case, would-be passengers, wait for a weather update from up north it can become quite still – very much like the sound, or lack thereof, of a professional golf tournament crowd when a contender is standing over THE crucial putt.

Today it’s quiet in the main terminal of the Southwest Florida International Airport – the airport that serves Fort Myers, Florida. Eerily quiet, considering just a few hundred miles to our north the sky is exploding. Last night The Weather Channel estimated that “tens of thousands of lightening strikes” and roaring thunder filled the airways from Mississippi to the eastern Kentucky state line. They predicted that today would be “more of the same,” and they were right. Right now a gigantic storm 800 miles long and 500 miles wide is saturating the flight corridors of the whole Atlantic seaboard, from northern Florida to southern New Jersey.

A single storm.

I’m headed north, into the teeth of the maelstrom. I’m now separated from my travel buddy – Becky. She was able to get out on the Noon flight. Me? I hope to catch US Airways flight 1810 – Fort Myers to Charlotte, North Carolina – that is supposed to leave at 3 PM but has been delayed another two hours, to five.

What if I miss my flight?

That would be inconvenient … requiring separate trips to the airport, just hours apart – the first to pick up Becky and the second to pick me up. And what if I’m delayed again in Charlotte? Will that put me into Richmond tomorrow? Will I lose a whole day because God scheduled reservoir-filling rain for today?

I’ve got another trip coming up. My departure will be right on time, with no chance of delay. I’ve had my ticket punched since the moment of my conception – when Claude’s sperm met Retha’s egg. “I was woven together in the dark of the womb” that God sees like it’s lit up with noon-day sun. “Every day of my life is recorded” in God’s book – the one He reads like yesterday’s news. And I’m on time.

While I’m waiting at the gate, how will I invest my time?

Here, at SFIA I can enjoy a latte, read up on the NFL draft, make a few time-filling phone calls … just waiting. Just waiting, waiting, waiting.

Or I can be more pro-active in my waiting – writing, praying, strategizing (while I drink my latte).

I have this sense that we’re all waiting … every man woman and child on planet earth … we’re all waiting at The Gate. And every person’s ticket is in order; no computer foul ups or human error complicating things. And every flight to The Wild Blue Yonder is right on time.

With only two destinations on the board, there’s no clickety-clack in the background like you’d hear in a European train station. Two long lines of human beings – men, women, children – are snaking in opposite directions, one headed for Concourse A and one toward Concourse B.

Today I’m thinking about those who have made the flight before me. I’m wondering if my waiting time is making a difference.

I’m watching people in the line I’m standing in leaving the queue, running over to some familiar soul in the other line, grabbing their arm, shaking them up with the news that there’s life to be had in one line and death in the other, and gently but urgently pulling them toward the other line.

Funny, I watch people from BOTH lines running to family and friends in the opposite line, and debating the pros and cons of changing lines. Both parties chatter. Both parties insist. “Sure you can change lines!” “My destination is set in stone.” “My destination is better than yours.”

Nobody talks about change fees.

There seems to be a faster lane. I wonder if that means anything?

Gearing Up for 2010

Thanks to all who’ve been supporting me, in every way, since I departed Trinity for points unknown.Leadership Training International

I’m still in uncharted waters, but confident that Jesus is directing my life.

Leadership Training International (or LTI) continues to excite me beyond words.  Since August I’ve become a “certified instructor” of the curriculum.  Not long ago I finished the highest level of teacher certification LTI offers – “Mobile Advanced Trainer” (or MAT).  That allowed me to travel to Lakewood, New Jersey and Washington, DC to participate with Neal Kelley (LTI’s operations director) in two exciting teacher training events.

After the first of the year the “I” in LTI becomes part of my experience.  I’m traveling to the Dominican Republic, to meet with the leadership of a denomination that has already purposed to use our Foundations for Emerging Leaders curriculum (all 12 modules) to train DR pastors!  I don’t have to “sell” them.  They’re SOLD!  I’m going with my buddy Neal, to meet the people we’ll be working with for years to come.  Neal will then stay in the DR for another week, overseeing our super training event.  Because LTI’s materials are in Spanish (and English, Russian and Romanian), these pastors will learn to teach our curriculum in their own language.  That’s invaluable!

I mentioned that Neal and I will part ways – Neal stays and I fly to Phoenix, Arizona, for the Tommy Barnett “33rd Pastors and Leaders School.”  Once again they’re expecting over 7,000 pastors and church leaders at the “school” – an intense three day event (February 1-3) that challenges conventional church thinking and methodology.  It’s all about “The GREAT Commission,” isn’t it?

Well, more updates will follow.

If you’d like to be one of my partners, write me at revgolf@gmail.com.  I’m looking for people who will enthusiastically share my travel expenses.  Donations of any size are welcome, and air miles would be great!!   I’m incurring costs almost daily now, and I’m serving LTI at no salary … so … any help would be wonderful!

The Cry For Leaders in Eastern Europe – “After The Wall”

At the end of this video there is a challenge given – to raise up and train leaders.  Help me – help LIT (Leadership Training International) partner with Campus Crusade for Christ and other ministries … to bring Christ and Christian leadership principles to Eastern Europe and “to the uttermost parts of the world.”

Thanks, Rich and Barb Leary – CCC leaders in Ukraine, for sharing this video with us and the world!

Why So Complicated?

I’m just back from a phenomenal trip to the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.  For three weeks my family absorbed as much as we could of eight cultures (in Spain, Monaco, Italy, Vatican City, Sicily, Greece, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany).  We visited sites that were meaningful – not only to the local population, but to Mankind in general; sites such as Monserrat, the Casino in Monte Carlo, the Duomo of Florence, the leaning bell tower in Pisa, the Vatican, ancient Corinth and Olympia, the walls of Dobrovnik, the canals of Venice, the museums of Vienna, Prague’s palaces and parks, and Germany’s rural beauty.

And, in every city – from Barcelona to Rome to Messina to Navpalon to Venice to Vienna to Prague to Wiesbaden – we toured Cathedrals.  Cathedrals are ginormous Christian houses of worship where a bishop has his “seat” of authority, and where he exercises the duties of his office.

While in Austria my eldest asked me, “So, what do you think about when you enter one of these huge Cathedrals?”

Whenever a person enters one of these Christian monuments the sheer size is the first thing one notices.  Then, you might begin to pick up on the opulence – there’s gold, silver and precious works of art everywhere.  You’ll see depictions of Christ being crucified.  You’ll see a lot more of Mary – she seems to be the beloved hostess of the place.  Finally you can’t help but notice the statuary – there are many, many, many statues … I dare to say all of them priceless examples of medieval sculptors’ skill.

Back to the question my son asked me.  What I think about most is complicated, made more complex by the environment created in these European churches.  So, that’s what I told him.  “I think religion makes simple things too complicated.  The word that comes to my mind when I enter one of these beautiful buildings is ‘complicated.'”

COMPLICATED.  If you didn’t have a clue what “Church” was all about, and you walked into one of these massive buildings, it would be very hard to figure out who was “the star.”  You’d have a hard time, if you knew that the building was erected for worship, just who was being worshipped (or celebrated, or recognized).  Is it the woman holding the baby?  (Again, Mary’s everywhere – and there are more candles flickering in front of her altars than any other.)  It must be her, right?  Or maybe it is one of the many men or women cut out of or into stone?  I bet a Christianity-ignorant person would never pick the man with the crown of thorns, the nail-pierced hands and feet, and the sour look of one resigned to an undeserved death.

I don’t think “Church” becomes less complicated in American store-front churches or suburban church campuses.  The star is the one in the spotlight, right?  The man or woman who is singing and leading the band – they seem to be the object of adoration, right?  Or the man (usually this is the case) whose picture is on the church sign and who stands behind the podium – he’s the focus, right?

Religious people of the Christian persuasion have – since the original eleven disciples of Jesus died – made finding God really hard.  Jesus has been marginalized.  Mortals who sit on thrones in the Vatican have been elevated.  Charismatic preachers and teachers, be they male or female, have been lionized.  

Is Christianity meant to be so complicated?  Is understanding “the Gospel” intended to be complicated?  Are the truths of the Bible meant to be discovered only after an eight year undergrad/seminary/M-Div or D-Min education?

If Jesus, the cornerstone of The Church, said a child could get what IT is all about, was He talking about the church I attend or did He have something else in mind – something much simpler?

So no one reading this gets the wrong idea, I love Cathedrals because I can wade through the mess Man has created and find Him.  Jesus comes to Cathedrals.

The building is not the problem!  WE are.  Religious Man.  We love complicated.  We love secret handshakes and secret codes and complex doctrine.

I wonder … is my life like one of those Cathedrals?  When someone comes into my oikos – my sphere of influence – can they figure out that I worship God, and why?  Do they see Him anywhere in me?  And what about His Son, Jesus?  Is He so present in my life that it is crystal clear to whoever that He is the One I worship?

I’m pretty concerned about me.  What about you?  Are you simple or too complicated when it comes to God?

Think about it.

What Does “Aloha” Mean?

img_0658.jpgWhat does “Aloha” mean?  According to To-Hawaii.com, “aloha” can mean hello, goodbye, love and affection.  But its meaning goes well beyond any definition you can find in dictionaries.  In Hawaii, you hear aloha all the time and you are treated with aloha everywhere.  (Hawaii is called the Aloha State, and for good reason.)  Aloha express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people.  It was the working philosophy of Native Hawaiians; they felt it was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii by one of their ancient gods.

The literal meaning of aloha is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.”  (It’s interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Genesis, when God created Adam He “breathed into him the breath of life,” and Adam “became a living being.”)  The word “aloha” comes from “Alo,” meaning presence, front and face, and “ha,” meaning breath.  

According to the old kahunas (priests), being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of sending and receiving positive energy, or living in harmony.  Aloha was and still is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect.  

Inspired by the philosophy and the wisdom of the Spirit of Aloha, nowadays many institutions and businesses in Hawaii carry its name:  Aloha Tower, Aloha Stadium and Aloha Airlines.  Many Hawaiian singers write and perform songs about aloha as well.

 

Believe it or not, Aloha Spirit is considered a state “law.”  Although the word law sounds too strong and strict, Aloha Spirit is not a type of law that will get you in trouble if you break it.  Having “the Law of Aloha Spirit” on the books serves as a reminder to government officials (while they perform their duties) to treat people with deep care and respect, just like their ancestors did.   Aloha Spirit is more a lesson than a law.   By learning and applying this lesson to real life, government officials can contribute to a better world, a world filled with aloha.

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So by now you may understand that “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell, or a salutation.  Aloha means mutual regard and affection, and is a reminder to extend warmth and caring for others with no obligation (payback) in return.  Furthermore, aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person.

Queen Lili‘uokalani said, “Aloha is to learn what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable.”

I greet you in the Spirit of Aloha, and pray that you will discover the “breath of life” found in the Person of Jesus Christ. [Both pictures by Lowell Qualls, Maui – 2008 (c)] 

Resurrection On Maui

maui-sunset-small.jpg Joy!

This morning I was in the ohana (a Hawaiian name for “family room”) getting a cup of coffee, this cozy and welcoming little room being located close to our condominium.   Every morning Rick – our host – makes Kona.  The smell of the coffee was wonderful, deep and rich.

A minute or two later I was returning to our place, walking past the pool, and just luxuriating in the warm, fragrant air, listening to the Mina birds chirping and turtle doves cooing.  The sun was just peeking over the West Maui mountains, causing the clouds to glow light yellows and oranges.  Almost heaven.

A man I had never met came up the path leading to the ohana, heading for the coffee pot I had just left, and he greeted me.  “Happy Easter.”  I replied, “He is risen!”

I’m back in our place, sitting on our lanai, and my son just pointed toward the ocean.  “Rainbow,” was all he said.

This joy that is welling up within me is so pleasurable, so intense.  And I wonder, “Why do we concentrate so much on the problem of pain, and never wrestle with the problem of pleasure?” 

Philip Yancey asks, “If atheists insist there is no God because of all the pain and suffering in this world, why aren’t they held accountable for the ‘problem of pleasure?’” 

“Should not atheists have an equal obligation to explain the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness?” he writes, meaning that if Christians must defend the existence of God because there are so many painful experiences in life, shouldn’t atheists have to defend their beliefs because there are so many pleasurable experiences, too?

Why is sex fun?  “Reproduction surely doesn’t require pleasure,” Yancey goes on.  “Some animals simply split in half to reproduce … and … why is eating enjoyable?  Plants and animals manage to obtain their quota of nutrients without the luxury of taste buds.  Why are there colors?”  All good questions.

Back to Easter morning on Maui.  As I look around, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth itself puts God’s creative genius on display,” says David, the song writer of ancient Israel. (Psalm 19)  I get to enjoy all that I see and taste and feel because there is a God in heaven who created me to enjoy creation.

I’m a happy camper, and a joy-filled human being today!

Jesus is risen indeed.

Think about it.

(By the way, I took the picture above last night … looking out of the Pacific, toward Lanai.  Wow!)

Aloha From the Three Amigos!

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Some friends have been asking about an update on the whereabouts and activities of my sons, Brandon and Chris.

Brandon is continuing to live on Maui, Hawaii – working for a roofing company five-plus days a week, and a restaurant two nights a week.  He’s never had a problem with work, always willing to do whatever it takes to put bread on the table and keep the rent current.  He’s got a ton of friends (as you can see from the photo at right),img_0152.jpg and when he’s not camping around the islands he’s surfing.  One of my favorite things to do is meet up with him at one of the awesome surf breaks on the island (Honolua Bay, Ironwood, S-Turns, etc.), and while I’m watching the sun set I’m also watching him catch wave after wave.  I try to photo and video every time he’s up.  I’m making a short DVD for him – I’m taking it to him on March 18th.  He’s a blast to watch, and the smile on his face after an hour or two of surfing can light up a room.

Chris is still living in China – Beijing actually.  He’s continuing his studies in Mandarin.  His loves include camping and riding his motorcycle off-road (it doubles as his daily mode of transportation).  He’s super active in the “ex-pat” community (ex-patriots – people from other nations – living in and around Beijing).  Beijing continues to prepare for this summer’s Olympics, so it’s bustling with construction and modernization projects.  When the Chinese government encouraged the nation to become the next economic super-power (surplanting the US and the EC), the people took to the challenge in amazing ways, and with amazing results.  It’s incredible, watching this country of 1.5 billion people change from crippling communism to energized Chinese-style capitalism.   Chris is right in the middle of all this growth and change, and he loves it.

img_0296.jpgOne cool thing that Chris told me and Brandon about recently was one of his off-road adventures in north-central China.  Two of his buddies were traveling with him; the three were traveling pretty close to the Great Wall, taking in the sights.  Suddenly they stopped dead in their tracks!  They had inadvertently trespassed onto a military base.  They were surrounded by soldiers with AK’s, being asked what their business was.  Since they were foreigners, the soldiers weren’t kidding around.  They were let go, a little shaken but with an awesome adventure story.

I’ll be seeing Brandon and Chris again soon, and I’m really excited about it.  The boys are meeting me in Barcelona, Spain – and we’ll be together for about three weeks, exploring the Mediterranean, and ending up in Prague (the Czech Republic)!  We’re planning the last part of the trip now, going from Venice, Italy, through Austria, to Prague.  Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Creation – God Loves to Blow Our Minds

  

Enjoy!

This is one of the best photos I’ve ever taken … and for it to be of Quomulongma (Mt. Everest) humbles me.

I was very blessed that day. I had my two sons with me – Brandon and Chris – and they enjoyed this trip of a lifetime immensely.

Pubu, me, Chen – and Mt. Everest

With PuBu and Chen at EverestThe patch I’m holding in my left hand is from “Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.”

I gave them a few pictures of the mountain, with their logo patch in the foreground.

If you go to their Midlothian, Virginia – Chesterfield Towne Center (Mall) store, you’ll see one or two.

I hope to return to China and Tibet sometime in this lifetime. If not, then the next.