Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Child Will Lead Them

Two Sundays ago, Epic had the privilege of having Mike and Jill Lowery, missionaries serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, share during our worship service. When Jill came up to speak, she spoke directly to all our kids who were sitting in their usual seats in the first few rows. She told our kids that the women in Congo knew them as the To Lingana Kids ("love one another") because of the Sunday school campaign to raise funds for new sewing machines. You see, these enterprising Congolese women were starting a restaurant but needed to sew curtains and such for the restaurant's interior, but had no way to do this without the proper equipment. At the beginning of the year, our kids had raised enough money through their own efforts that Jill was able to purchase a first sewing machine and have enough spare change to repair several others.

But what Jill really wanted to communicate was that she in turn shared about this small Sunday school program's efforts in a newsletter that is circulated among supporters. After reading about our kids, other Sunday school classes were so inspired that they followed suit. Less than a year after our kids responded to this need, Jill said they had received enough money to purchase 9 sewing machines to date. She told our kids that they had started a movement!

As I sat listening to this amazing story, I was reminded of the prophet Isaiah's eschatological vision of the coming Messiah who would reign with righteousness, justice, and peace for all the earth and among all the nations. Isaiah said that this Messiah would come to God's people as a child and that this "little child would lead them" (Isaiah 11:6). I couldn't help but see how true that was in this moment: The children of Epic were leading us adults in the act of thoughtful and generous giving.

It also happened to be the final official day for Kristy Prince as our kids director. It ended up being a nice way, I think, to honor her by hearing publicly of the tangible fruit of her ministry with our kids. That might have been the sweetest thing of all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


This list and following comments were part of my message on community given at Epic (9/18/2011). I got feedback that people wanted the list, so here it is:

What's the point of church? One argument is that we can’t live out the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, without a community.

Speak truth in love (Eph 4:15)

Bring things into the light (Eph 5:8)

Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)

Build one another up (Eph 5: 29)

Carry each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2)

Resolve conflict with one another (Matt 18:15)

Discern and make decisions together (Matt 18:18)

Eat together and partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:33)

Confess our sins to one another and pray for each other (James 5:16)

Encourage one another (Heb 10:24)

Love one another (Heb 13:1)

Extend hospitality (Heb 13:2)

Forgive one another (Eph 4:32)

The ethical invitation to live in the kingdom of God assumes gathering, relationship, that we know one another, that we are in each others lives. We can believe the right things, but we cannot actually follow Jesus without belonging to a distinct, real, visible, community. It is impossible to truly live as a Christian or function as the church outlined in the New Testament without a deep commitment to the body of Christ.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Letter to Time

I resonated with the aspect of missed opportunity in Kurt Andersen's back cover story, "Terror Has A Half-Life" in this week's commemorative 9/11 edition of Time magazine. So yesterday I wrote the editor the following letter:

Dear Time,

I appreciated Kurt Andersen's back cover story (Beyond 9/11 Issue). Having visited Ground Zero just a month ago, I came away with similar reflections. What if instead of entering two wars as a response to the 9/11 attacks, we had invested that $2-3 trillion on what makes America so resilient in the first place: its people. Not only could President Bush have made the urgent call to wean us from oil, but the opportunity was there to inspire all of us to invest more heavily in education, the arts, technology, and housing for the homeless - or to volunteer - all investments in citizens by citizens that would have made us stronger as a country. In the end, our top political officials governed by the very thing they wanted us to overcome: fear.


Kevin Doi
Diamond Bar, CA

Postscript: My response ended up being published in the 9/26/2011 edition of Time (Rick Perry cover).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

102 Minutes

I had the privilege of visiting Ground Zero less than a month ago while on vacation to NYC. Next week on the 10th anniversary an unveiling of the memorial pools will take place, but construction dominates and looms large as surrounding buildings near completion. At the visitor center, this is one of the few books that I assumed met stringent standards and was worthy of offering. And I can see why. Written by reporters from the New York Times, it is at once haunting and beautiful. 102 Minutes recounts the fate of those inside the twin towers from the moment the first plane struck until the last tower fell. It is enthralling reading (I couldn't put the book down). At turns both horrifying and heroic, the authors effectively expose how decisions - both small and large, by employees and politicians - made in seconds or over decades - saved or doomed thousands of lives during that hour and a half. Right up there with Devil In the White City and In the Heart of the Sea as absolutely riveting accounts of history.