31 May 2006

a day in the life of a children's cup missionary

check out a cool thing the children's cup team in swaziland is doing with their blogs. they're all doing blogs that track an entire day hour-by-hour just doing what they do over there.

pretty cool view for those of us on this side of the globe who pray for them all the time - to get to see what life's like for them a little.

check out teresa rehmeyer's (then you can track from there to the others or visit childrenscup.org for a list of all the children's cup team blogs).

30 May 2006

brazil recap

i know it's a couple weeks late, but check out thie report from our elevate team that went to brazil earlier this month:

people came by canoe to the little church building on the river - no parking lot needed - just a place to tie off

healingplace_brazil - one of the campuses deep into the heart of the amazon

baptizing new believers in the amazon

Hey everyone,

I want to first thank everyone for their prayers and support for us in the preparation for the Brazil mission trip and the trip itself. Every moment of preparation was worth the life changing experience of the first ever full time mission trip to Brazil. We were able to serve two of the six HPC locations in Brazil. We were able to help build onto one of the locations in the interior (located 17 hours down the Amazon River by boat) and begin digging a well. The pastor there has built a beautiful church on the Amazon out of brick by hand. We also were able to host two worship services and two kids clubs in the interior. It was definitely worship HPC style- they same all the same songs just in Portuguese- this was one of our favorite parts. Lauren led One Way in English while their worship leader led in Portuguese. Language was not a barrier when we worshipped together. We were able to see 10 first time salvations and 10 people get baptized in the Amazon River.

In Manaus we were able to be apart of two services. The people there were so blessed to have the “Americans” come visit from HPC in the states. We got both campuses to say, “Jesus is here and anything can happen” to the video camera in Portuguese- they already knew the saying. We experienced first hand that when Jesus is here anything can happen- and that, that anything can be anything (losing luggage, getting sick, etc.) but that God can still receive glory and that we can stand through the fire- be prosperous and successful. It is all about perspective.

Everything we went through truly was a blessing in disguise- starting with not getting out luggage until after nine days. See God knew we could not carry that luggage (literally) to the places He brought us for those nine days- it was perfect. We all learned that we don’t need as much as we think we need. It would take forever to put into words all that God did through us and in us on the trip- it was just incredible.

Thank you for believing in us, praying for us, and supporting us. We just thank God for Pastor Dino and Delynn’s heart to be a healing place for a hurting world- b/c healing is occurring in the hurting hearts of those of Brazil. God is amazing!!!!! Thank you.

Michelle Gros

pretty cool stuff, huh? i love this church.

25 May 2006

what was up with meatloaf last night?

that whole song with meatloaf and katharine was just plain goofy. sorry - i'm not a big blogwhiner, but i just didn't get it. we watched it back several times on the dvr but it just got goofier every time. i'd love to hear what simon would have had to say about meat's performance.....

but the highlight of the night for me was ol' boy's reaction to clay aiken walking up behind him. that's why i have a dvr. rewind. rewind. rewind. my sides ached.

congrats, taylor.

Grocery Giveaway - Dream Center Church, HPC

check this out when you get a chance. my friend aley demarest posted about a deal they did at the dreamcenter this week. Grocery Giveaway - Dream Center Church, HPC

24 May 2006

april medical clinic update

ok - i know it's almost the end of may and this is an april update, but i really think this will encourage anyone who takes the time to read it.

it's the april update from dr. cheri leblanc who heads up the mobile medical clinic outreach at healing place church. maybe it's just me, but i think this stuff is really cool:

Greetings to all! Thank you for all of your prayers for this outreach. The Lord continues to bless our efforts. I would like to give you a quick update.

April 2006
4 clinics
96 patients
62 volunteers

I wanted to share with you about one of our patients we started seeing in April that demonstrates so dramatically why God has called us to do this.

There is a 37 year old man who was trying to get a better paying job. He was cleared to be hired if he passed his work physical, but his blood pressure was 220/120! He had no idea that he had any medical problems. He was told that he couldn't be hired until his blood pressure was treated and controlled. But he had no money to see a doctor or to get the medications. A friend told him about a free mobile clinic at a local church. He contacted the church and we saw him in early April. Not only are we treating him for his blood pressure and giving him his medications, but after meeting with our prayer partners he has starting coming to this same church!

So many lives are being touched. One young man came to another clinic because of a nosebleed who had never been to this church, but had heard about the clinic. He was so moved by the compassion of the men (the prayer partners) that after prayer he opened up to them and told them about bondage that he was in. They were able to talk with him, advise him, and pray for him. That same night in the church was a men's bible study. (God's timing!) One of the men brought him into the church and he stayed for his first EVER introduction to the Bible. I know that this story is just beginning.

I could go on and on, but I want to share with you the miraculous day at one of the FEMA trailer communities for the Katrina evacuees that we had on Saturday May 6th. (This should be in the May update, but I just can't wait to tell you.) After much prayer, we arrived expecting to make a difference in the name of Jesus. And we were not disappointed. We only saw 25 patients that morning, but many more than that came just to talk to us and pray with us!! We had one man who accepted salvation right there!

One of the stories that had me crying in the clinic was a lady, Gloria, who lived at the other end of the trailer park from where we were parked. The government had closed the cafeteria down (where residents had been getting 3 meals a day) 2 days
before. One young man had been waiting outside the cafeteria on Friday which was close to Gloria's trailer. She saw him and went to remind him that there were no more meals coming. Gloria said that he was mentally challenged and didn't seem to understand. So, she fixed him some breakfast. This was Friday. On Saturday morning she couldn't get him off her mind, so she fixed him breakfast again with the little that she had and brought it to him. It was on her way to bring breakfast to him that she saw the mobile clinic (it's hard to miss Ele, the giant orange truck) and one of our team started talking to her. She began crying as she told me this story because she was out of some of her medications and had no way to buy them. We were able to give her 2 months of her medications. If she had not gone out of her way to bless this young man, she would not have been able to be blessed herself. As we both wiped our eyes and walked out of the clinic, the truck with pantry food items from Healing Place Church had just arrived. So we were able to have Gloria show us exactly where this young man lived so we could bring him some food and was able to give her some as well. Not only did God replace the food she had given with much more than she gave out, but she was also supplied with her medications. God is so good!

Well, I guess this wasn't a quick update after all. But I wanted to share
with you what your contributions and prayers are doing for us here in South
Louisiana. May God bless and refresh each of you.

Serving with you,
Cheri LeBlanc, MD
Healing Hands

Cool stuff - for His glory.

21 May 2006

church shooting here in baton rouge

wow. our police chief here in baton rouge put it right, i think. chief leduff said this is one of the worst days ever in baton rouge. a man walked into a church and started shooting this morning, killing several and putting others in the hospital in critical condition. our police were able to apprehend the shooter but only after he'd killed his wife at a nearby apartment complex. (here's the news on it.)

there's a lot of people who've seen stuff today that no one should have to see. they've lost loved ones in a way that no one should ever have to lose loved ones. families are hurting. a church congregation is hurting. honestly, our community is hurting. again.

i know this much, though. the same God that brought us through the loss of terry melancon and then a week later through hurricane katrina - He's still the same God today and He'll strengthen hurting hearts again. i truly believe that if the church (as a whole) isn't there to show God's love and grace to people during times like this then we are missing the whole point of why we exist.

please pray for baton rouge.

and pray for the church in baton rouge - that we'll recognize it when God opens a way for us to show His love to others in our community who are hurting.


this weekend at hpc we had a children's choir sing - the watoto children's choir from uganda. the children are all AIDS orphans - and if you've read much of this blog, you know that i have a strong interest in ministry to african AIDS orphans. much of my family lives in swaziland, running children's cup, a ministry that is having a lot of success giving hope to AIDS orphans in southern africa.

i posted a couple weeks ago about the 100 days of hope that is going on in rwanda with hillsong, joyce meyer ministries, delirious, etc. that my parents went out to. they met mark and darlene zschech (from hillsong) there and really enjoyed getting to know them, and joyce meyer ministries is a huge supporter of children's cup. well, i learned today that dad met gary skinner while he was in rwanda.

check out what dad wrote in his blog about it here.

dad and ben are planning to attend the "hope for africa's children" conference later this fall at kampala pentecostal church (a 13,000-member church in uganda) where gary skinner is the pastor. brian houston (pastor of hillsong church) is one of the speakers at the conference.

gary skinner is also the founder of the watoto children's ministry.

sometimes it seems like there's someone out there orchestrating all the encounters we have with people. hmmmm.... and it's all for HIS purposes. i can't wait to see how God puts all these pieces together.

a neat thing about it is that all these people are cool. they're not weird. even my dad. he's just a real man, with a real life, with a real passion to help hurting people. and that's what everyone else here is. just real.

and that's real cool to me.

internet church

healing place church on the left (watoto choir singing) and lifechurch.tv on the right

this weekend i continued my investigation into the dynamics of setting up an internet campus for healing place church. i am continually seeing more and more how huge the potential is for "church in the internet." nothing will replace the total experience of being at a church like hpc or lifechurch.tv in person. but there are a lot of people who will check it out online before they come in person. and there are a lot of people who simply cannot physically attend on a given weekend. travel, work, sickness, family sickness, or even shut-ins. internet church changes all that. now there's just that many fewer reasons why someone would have to miss out on church.

sure, the goal is still to connect with people and that is best done in a live person-to-person scenario. but what a great way to open the door for a personal contact! and what a great way to help people stay connected when they have to be away.

i'm totally sold on the idea. i can't wait until we get our live webcast converted into a full-blown online church experience.


okay, i'm way behind in posting about the missions trip plans for this summer with my daughter tori. originally we were going to go to peru, but we switched to mexico. still going in late july, but now it is destination: mexico.

we've already gotten enough support financially to cover the cost for both of us (thank you, Jesus - and thanks to all of you who helped with that). ironically, all of the support we received was from americans living overseas who read our blogs. (i know what you're thinking - but only one was family.)

we had a training day yesterday - the first time we had really gotten together like that. my job on the trip is primarily photographer, videographer, and writer. (chaperone is somewhere on the list, too.) anyway, in line with my role, i shot some pics and stuff yesterday (some thought i was just avoiding doing the choreographed signing to the song, but i really was just doing my job).

i started a team blog for the mexico team - check it out here. it's a great place to keep checking back for info about what the team is doing and how you can be praying.

i'm totally convinced that the greatest need this team has is prayer. it seems to be a great bunch of kids and a few really cool adult leaders (like danny musso, to name just one). i've been involved in missions enough to know that having a strong, serious prayer base back at home is vital. fundraising, team coordination, logistics, etc. are all important, and have to be done well. but building a strong prayer base is the ultimate need.

so, i'd love to ask you to enlist as a prayer team. all it takes is a commitment to begin praying for this team - about 10 weeks of praying for us and we'll be sure to communicate to you about the prayer needs we have and the "wins" we experience. if you want to enlist to be part of the prayer base for this team, just leave a comment here saying so. that's it. no meetings to attend, no pressure, no fees, no tests to take. just comment and start praying and keep reading the blog.

i'm convinced that this trip will be a turning point for some of the kids (and maybe even some of us adults) on this team. i've seen it happen many times before. getting outside our own american world opens our eyes to the world around us and the opportunity we have to be a blessing with we have been blessed with. we are not here just to sit on our blessings but to pass them on.

20 May 2006

geaux tigers

i know it's only may, but lincoln got a foam finger today...

i hope he still knows where it is when football season starts. either way, he's too cute not to post this picture.

i love this kid.

18 May 2006

mourning elliot's departure

this is my daughter tori after watching elliot get dropped from idol. i felt the same way but i'm not agile enough to get back up from a position like that, so i just mourned standing up.

i think the final four in idol are actually going out in reverse order from what i wanted. i bet katherine wins - that'd wrap up a complete reversal of my pick for the final four.

i really loved the piece they ran on elliot's trip home. i love that he de-hatted himself as he passed the flag and thanked the soldiers holding them.

he deserves to do well in his career in music.

17 May 2006

waiting for a cd to burn and a double-overtime game to finally end

i need to go to bed, but i'm waiting for a cd to burn and i'm glued to the now double-overtime game 5 between the suns and the clippers. (pulling for the suns.)

while i've been sitting here i've been thinking about some of the less important things i tend to never really write about in my blog. like this:

why did chris get voted off american idol last week?

why do i even care, really?

i love the new gatorade ad with the star athletes with tiny little bodies but big heads.

i also like the new identity theft ad with the weightlifter dude talking with a weird girl voice.

why can't shaquille shoot free throws?

why does watching shawn marion roll his ankle make my legs hurt - not my ankle, but my leg?

i also love the ad where the basketball court is a swimming pool and the guy hangs from the rim and drops into the water.

how did i ever make it without a cell phone before?

why did i spend so many years hating macs?

why don't they have microsoft access for macs?

where's the walmart for people who live in washington d.c. and walk everywhere they go?

why am i sitting here at 1am asking these questions?

why are you still reading this post, whatever time it is that you're reading?

ok - i promise not to post like this much. but sometimes, you've just gotta clear the shelf of all those probably-unanswerable questions.

thanks for enduring my ramble.

10 May 2006

what it's all about

check out this post my mom just put up about their trip to the hope rwanda deal with joyce meyer, delirious and a bunch of great folks from hillsong (among others):

dad and mom in rwanda

p.s. i was pretty excited when mom told me they actually liked delirious' music. they're pretty much die-hard gaither trio people, so that's saying something good if delirious can pull them in. not that the gaithers are evil or anything. i grew up on them. "i am a promise, i am a possibility, i am a promise, with a capital p, i am a great big bundle of potentiality..." yeah, you know it. sing it with me....

ok don't.

one more thing: if you want to get a copy of the new children's cup magazine coming out in a couple weeks, lemme know - i'll make sure you get added to the list. this issue will include their report from rwanda.

09 May 2006

ever had one of those meetings?

i took this picture in a meeting i was in today with dino rizzo, marc cleary and johnny green. about five minutes into it i had this overwhelming sense that what we were about to experience was something terribly significant. i even said as much (although at that point, it seemed a little awkward).

i've been mulling (that's a legal thing to do) some thoughts on mission/outreach lately, and i'm planning on sorting out some of those thoughts and writing about it later. i don't want to write it now and only get the thought half-developed and end up blowing it. suffice for now to say that a host of thought has been running through my heart and mind lately about it.

so dino starts talking about mission/outreach and who we are at hpc and why we do what we do. now he does that a lot, that's certain. but this time he was talking about it with the same sort of twist that has been stirring in me the last few weeks. i got on IM during the meeting and told vicki how i was in this "moment" where i knew God was starting a significant something or other. i couldn't see through the tears to type for a few minutes. not like i always go into meetings with dino and cry through them, but man, i'm telling you this one got me.

i know this day will be a day i'll look back on for the rest of my life as the day that some of the way we do things in the future began. this was huge.

i'll write about it soon. got some work to do now. there's a great report from rwanda that my dad just wrote that i get to lay out for the next children's cup magazine.

07 May 2006

glad to be home, photography, and buffer-duels

i loved the trip to d.c. i think my last three posts will bear that out. but man, it's good to me home.

one more thing about the buzz conf. my fuzzy pic of brad abare made the church marketing sucks website (take that, all you great photo-artists out there).

this morning i'm doing an interesting experiment - at 10am i joined into the lifechurch.tv internet campus, and at 10:30 i rolled into the hpc live webcast in another window. i'm pioneering a more-than-new trend. the new things are live church on the web, and multi-site church. well, today i'm doing multi-site in a way i doubt many have been goofy enough to really try. actually it's not working so well. i'm finding that i'll hear craig speak for a little bit then dino will take over and the lifechurch.tv window buffers a little while. then dino freezes and the hpc window starts buffering and craig starts coming through. i'm guessing dual live church online isn't something my bandwidth here is gonna support. sigh.

i've got a lot to say about the potential for internet campus as a tool for churches to reach out. but i'll save it for when i can say it and not just ramble about it. suffice for now to say i love it.

so for now - i'm heading back to the live buffer-duelling dual webcasts....

05 May 2006

buzz day two

another FULL day today in D.C. at the buzz conference at ncc. here's a brief rundown from my day.

8am - blogger's breakfast - got to meet a bunch of great bloggers. some of my favorite blogs were represented there. i did think it was kinda weak not to see gary lamb there. he said he slept in. psh. weak. but whoever had the idea of doing that breakfast had a stroke of genius. very cool laid-back opportunity to connect.

then it was off to the regular sessions - great teaching from mark batterson, and some way incredible guitaring from babyface russell. got to run into a friend of mine from WAY back - richard green - from my bible college days - he's planting a church in iowa city. got to spend a good bit of time talking with john hasler, who volunteers at ncc - great guy - really great guy. he runs a bunch of outreach to the many homeless people in the union station area. his heart and his passion for social justice and caring for hurting people just pours from him when you hear him talk. and what i love so much about this dude is how he's the one that stood out to me when i first got here - he was working like crazy getting chairs set out for everyone who was coming in late to the theater church forum deal. may not sound like much, but if you had seen the energy and the heart he put into trying to take care of people, you'd know that it was much deeper than just getting a chair out. i love that guy.

then i went to lunch with mark kerner, who is at a church in my old hometown springfield missouri. wild to meet him and get caught up on the old stomping grounds. he's also quite a food critic aparently (wish i'd realized that before i offered to buy him a mcD's lunch. oh well, just being myself. authenticity.)

brad abare

then it was over to the afternoon sessions - brad abare was there - from church marketing sucks - talking about marketing, etc. this dude's resume of what he's currently doing is like what most people list for what they've done through their whole adult life. communications director for the foursquare denomination, cheif honcho for a company called personality, as well as the top dawg for church marketing sucks. amazing individual. spent some time talking with him later in the day - he's chock full of great ideas that i think as he's able to put flesh on them will be instrumental in the continuation of the revolution of how we do church today making use of advances in communication technology. simply put, he's smart and has a touch of God on his life.

david russell and me

then i got to spend some time with david russell and a friend of his from 'bama, byron berry. it was really cool to spend some "live" time with them - i've known david only via blogging and a couple phone calls until yesterday. he gave me the "insider's" tour of the d.c. sites i hadn't been to yet. the metro - my first non-airport subway ride inside the united states. and to the declaration of independence (yeah, i was reliving nicolas cage national treasure). pretty cool. then it was over to 1600 pennsylvania. walked like 47 miles today. plus, david bought my kids some d.c. t-shirts - what a guy. thanks david. you are incredible.

mark and me

then we went to the batterson home (great place, mark and laura - thanks for opening it up to us) for a little cinco de mayo dinner with a few of the buzzers. the dudes from granger were there - got to talk with tony morgan and moby (tim stevens) a little bit. bunch of cool people. we kicked off the dinner by singing the doxology together as a prayer for the food (i thought it was pretty cool). lance did his george w. impersonation - actually did really well with what had to be a really rough crowd for that kind of an off-the-hip entertainment gig. most cinqo de mayo party entertainers have audiences that are buzzed in a different way. proud of ya lance.

i'm so impressed with how ncc pulled this conference off. i'm impressed with how they've shattered any concern about whether northerners can show hospitality. i think they're all closet southerners really. incredible. i was encouraged and challenged by the teaching sessions. i was refreshed from the connections i made with others here. and i was inspired to never ever settle but instead to continue to dream, to learn from others, and to go for it like there's no tomorrow.

joel schmidgall and me

a quote that sums it all up for me was one that went something like this: "God doesn't regard the magnitude of our acts but the magnitude of the love with which they are done."

thanks mark, joel, david, dave, heather, tim, john, and the tons of other ncc'ers that helped swing the bat on this home run. you guys are awesome.

04 May 2006

buzz day one is almost over

buzz day 1 probably will be over by the time i get this posted. okay, so it was over closer to 9pm. we started at 9am and went pretty much non-stop to 9pm. long day, but full of good stuff. union station is really cool (imagine you church being in a mall/train station/borders/food court/theater) but ebenezer's is cool in a whole different way (a starbucks-has-nothing-on-this coffee shop with a downstairs church venue and offices upstairs and football on the roof).

today started off with a forum on doing church in theaters. i came out ready to start doing everything we do in the future in a theater. makes a lot of sense. i'm sure there's a lot more to consider than just whether it makes sense or not, but it sure seems smart.

then we went to union station for the main sessions - ed young jr. from fellowship was there in his own inimitable way. he did this impersonation of joel osteen trying to preach like td jakes. funnnnny. lots of great insights from his experience.

from there we went back to ebenezer's for a q&a with some of the staff. joel schmidgall was talking about how they do outreach and as he spoke, it was as if i was reminded just why it is that i really really like this guy. heather zempel (LSU grad was there, and then there was ncc's media pastor, dave clark - a singer, i just learned today. i'm impressed. and then there's david russell - newbie on staff, but what a win for ncc! he's "digital pastor" at ncc and he's one genius on the web as well as an "edge"-like guitartist.

after the panel did their q&a, we went into the film festival that hpc shoulda woulda coulda won - our guys are good enough to pull stuff together to win a thing like that. even with our line we've drawn to stay completely legal on our music copyright use stuff. but then again, the ones that did win were totally awesome. granger had one that was a review of a baptism service. really great concept (as well as technique and content). made me wanna go get baptized again. the other winner i really thought was impressive was sugar creek baptist. slamming stuff they turned in.

ok, ao now it's time to sleep. getting up early to roll over to the bloggers' breakfast deal - i think the gist of it is to meet the dudes (and dudettes) that are here whose blogs you've been reading but never met in person. pretty cool idea. i've already met for the first time a few: gary lamb, david russell, tony morgan, scott hodge, and heather zempel and i'm planning on finding a few others while i'm in there.

good job, ncc. all the hecticity is paying off! it is unignorable that you're making historicity.

my favorite lincoln of all

having seen the "original lincoln" earlier today - the huge monument in DC, i am reminded quickly that the best lincoln out there is my own. vicki took him to see "finding nemo on ice" at the river center tonight. he's sporting a shark hat and some really cool invention toy. he said he also landed a coloring book. sounds like mom's a softy. but who can say "no" to a face like that?

03 May 2006

the rest of the day in DC

okay - i know you're figuring (hoping?) i didn't only see lance's calves all day. well, i did find a few other interesting things to shoot pics of.

WARNING: some images may include a rather frightening image of my big ol' face in the very near foreground. i'm not on an ego trip. who could be with a face like that? i've included me just to personalize it a bit - even at the risk of striking fear in the minds of small children. now - on to the pictures....

the washington monument

the world war 2 memorial - i'm so humbled by what these great people did for us to keep our country and world free. i'll shake a vet's hand with a little more vigor next time. i was seriously moved by some of what i saw there. quotes inscribed on the walls, and the sheer determination and willingness to die for that passion - wow.

then there was the lincoln memorial
- what a great man he was. (and it is a little more of a special one for me because my six-year-old is named lincoln.)

and the smithsonian (mini-tour) had a few things but nothing worth showing pics of. our little mini self-tour was WAY too limited.

then it was some work time in the hotel, followed by dinner and then back to the hotel for some more work.

tomorrow morning, we're off to ncc's ebenezer's for the buzz. can't wait.

a day with the calves...

okay so we're in DC for the buzz conference. get here the day before and we've got some time to blow so we go walk the mall - smithsonian, washington monument, lincoln memorial, ww2 memorial, korean war memorial (lots more pics - but not for this post).

it's marc cleary, mike haman, lance leblanc and me. i'm not too sure what it is about lance's calves, but for those of you who are interested, here's some shots...