When the Very Best Missionary isn't a Missionary at all...

This post contains sponsored links.

You know when you see a movie and you sort of like it, but you're also kind of bothered by it, so you can't stop thinking about it? Yeah. NOBLE is doing that to me.

NOBLE tells the true story of non-pofit founder, Christina Noble, and how her impoverished childhood, stolen youth, and abusive marriage eventually led her from her home country of Ireland to Viet Nam, in 1989, where she created a foundation that has since fed, clothed, educated, and protected thousands of orphans and street children. In short, it's an inspiring story of an ordinary woman who goes on a mission to serve the poor and vulnerable.

Except she's not a missionary.

And she's not that ordinary.

People are always asking me for advice about how to become a missionary, and, I've gotta admit, it always makes me cringe a little on the inside (and probably also on the outside, because I have a cringey kind of face). It's just that I don't want to dash anybody's passionate dreams of flying off to a foreign land where they'll walk the dusty streets hand in hand with a couple of dirt-covered brown kids they plucked from a trash heap. But also? I do. I do want to dash their dreams. I want to tell them they're delusional if they think that's how the world works.

Yyyeeaah. No

When people ask me how to get involved in aftercare for girls who have been rescued from sex-trafficking in South East Asia, I know what they're hoping I'll say is that all those girls need is for someone to “show up” and “love on them”. You should see the looks of dismay and disappointment when I give them my honest opinion, which is that they should go to school and maybe study therapy and social work, and then perhaps work in those fields for awhile, and then seek an organization overseas that needs a therapist or social worker and apply for a job with them – which, ideally, would be to train and equip nationals to offer therapy and social work for victims of sex-trafficking.

If you tell me you want to end slavery, I'll tell you to go out, into the world, and... study Economics! *womp womp* 
If you tell me you want to hold orphans in Africa, I'll tell you to stick around and study early childhood development.
If you tell me you want to bathe street kids in Juarez, I'll tell you I'll be watching, and if you dare touch a single child inappropriately, I will call the cops on your perv ass so fast, you'll be in a Mexican prison before you can say, “Our special hug was supposed to be a secret!”

Just call me Dream Crusher.

Can I be totally honest here? I don't think the world needs anymore social justice missionaries. We've had our fill of well-intentioned, but ill-equipped volunteers. Over the last 20 years, our sincere and valiant efforts to love mankind have wasted enough money, disenfranchised enough people, and created enough dependency to last a lifetime. Retrospect has shown us we can do better. We don't need anymore missionaries. We need actual teachers, and social workers, and business wo/men, and midwives, and therapists, and pastors, and farmers, and caregivers, and on and on and on... Because we have the greatest impact when we, specifically, send the right people, to do the right job, in the right place. 

I know. I know what you're thinking. You're like, “....but, but, but...what about all the good stuff we've done? And what about Mother Theresa? And what about that Kisses from Katie chick? And what about that one time when I went to that one place and that AMAZING thing happened? What about that?!"

And I don't want to discredit any of the extraordinary things that have happened in the name of missions these last few years, not at all, because, yes, there has been some good stuff. But most of our amazing missions anecdotes really are extraordinary success stories – as in not typical. And not advisably clone-able. Like, Katie Davis has done a beautiful, extraordinary thing, and I honestly believe God has used her in amazing ways - but that's not a good reason for every 20 year old white girl with a “heart for missions” to hop on the next flight to Zimbabwe or whatever.

Initially, as I watched Cristina Noble's story unfold on the screen, I was irritated by that very notion. Great. Another nice little Faith story about a white chick who “feels called” to “love on” third world rug-rats, so she shows up in their country, completely unannounced and totally unprepared, and then TA-DA! She saves all the children.


But Cristina's faith doesn't come across as all that nice. In the film it comes off as pleading, faltering, demanding, confused, and even a little bit scheming – kind of like my own. And her “call” is never really defined. She saw images of the war on the news. She had a dream. Then, years later, after her kids were grown and gone, she got on a plane. Do I think that's kinda weird? Yeah. But at least she let it stew for a couple of decades before she flew away. (And, yes, we could talk for days about white savior complex – but remember this was back in1989, way before posting mission trip selfies on Facebook was a competitive sport.) What I loved, though, is that Christina Noble's capacity to help the street-children of Viet Nam wasn't born simply out of wild passion or good intention, it developed in her over a lifetime. She drew from her personal experience in poverty, her time of homelessness, her distrust of God and the Church, and all the lessons of Motherhood. She was uniquely prepared and extraordinarily equipped for the task at hand. And, y'know, I don't know anything... but, maybe that's why she's been so successful in her efforts.

NOBLE is not the story of a missionary. It's the story of a woman who was the right person, doing the right job, in the right place. And the God who never forsakes us...

NOBLE will be in theaters, Friday, May 8th - Go see it so you can come back here and we can talk about it! Tell me all your thoughts...

This post contains sponsored links.


Giving Life to Life-Giving Work

Friends, I try to share things with you here that I believe are life-giving in some way.

I post links to funny things and creative things and spiritual things, things that remind us we're connected to each other, things that make us feel like we're not crazy, things that bring freedom and grace and wholeness, things that are inspiring, redemptive, healing.

This is one of those things...

Brian Chandler is my people. 

He is honest and raw and genuine and real and all the stuff we love around here. He just... gets it. He gets what it is to be broken and battered and abandoned, but he also gets Grace. And on top of all that? The guy makes music that makes me cry. He writes the kind of songs that find me where I'm lost and wandering, take me by the hand, and lead me home. 

I have no doubt Night Sea will be life-giving for many. 

But first we have to give it life.

Will you help me help Brian make music that makes us cry and takes us home?


I really don't ask for much. Only that, together as a community, we end modern day slavery, fight human trafficking, consume with a conscience, eat local, love well, and lean on each other. And this. I'm asking for this...

As of this posting, we are only 7 days and a little more than $3200 away from funding a project that I believe will speak Grace and Peace to the hopeless, the hurting, the lost, and the lonely among us. It would be so cool if you were part of it. Fund it, share it, pray for it - whatever - just participate somehow, if you can. 

Click here to give life to live-giving work: https://www.kickstarter.com/pro…/nightsea/night-sea-debut-ep

***If anyone was inclined to go over there right now and simply cover the remaining $3000-ish of this project, then I would be inclined to meet that person at the Night Sea release
party with a bottle of home-brew, a homemade Picaken, a custom Knives t-shirt, 
and a rare show of affection in the form of a two-armed, full-frontal HUG. 
I swear, THAT is how bad I want this record to happen.***


Let us Pray.

Ok. I know I have this whole missionary thing going on, and I'm married to a pastor, and I sincerely love Jesus, but, despite all that, somehow I found myself living a life without prayer. I mean, I still pray occasionally, like before dinner when we have company, but lately it hasn't been often, and it hasn't been very sincere.

I used to pray earnestly, with a deep sense of longing and appreciation to a God I thought listened. I used to pray daily, habitually, one might even say religiously, as an act of obedient worship and supplication to a God I thought cared. I used to pray intentionally, with a heart full of gratitude and wonder for a God I thought loved me.

I used to pray.

I used to pray and listen, listen and pray. I used to hear God, and He used to hear me, because I used to think prayer mattered, and that maybe when I prayed it actually made a difference in the world. Like many of the things that used to define and direct my faith, I used to think prayer was important to my spiritual formation. And like many of the things that used to define and direct my faith, eventually I started to question its value.

As I questioned and wondered and prodded for understanding, my prayer life went from being a rich, meaningful experience to a tool I use to fight insomnia. Prayer became the kind of mindless activity that is so boring and un-engaging, it practically induces a coma. Like counting sheep, or taking slow breaths -- if I can't sleep, I pray.

Initially, I was turned off by seeing so many flippant promises of prayer from people I knew wouldn't actually follow though. And by “people” I mean me. I used to do this all the time. Requests would be uttered, needs would be shared, sad stories were told, and I promised I would pray for them, but I rarely made good on my commitment. I almost never actually prayed for people after I told them I would. For me, “I'll pray for you” became like the Christian equivalent of “Take care.” It was simply a means for me to end a conversation with another person and walk away from them without assuming any personal responsibility for their future. Or their needs. Or their pain.

It was like a spiritual easy out.


A Missionary's Position on 50 Shades of Grey

For the record, yes, I read the book and, yes, I watched the movie. And before we get into my review of them both, I want to offer you this tidbit of advice from the bottom of my crooked little heart -- For the love of God, if you haven't already subjected yourself to either of these atrocities, spare yourself

If you haven't seen or read 50 Shades of Grey and you're not really sure what the fuss is about, perhaps because you were lucky enough to be stranded on a desert island for the past year or so, I wrote a brief summary, just for you -- Read it HERE, and come back -- We'll wait...

Ok? Ok. Let's do this.

First? The story in 50 Shades of Grey only “works” because Christian Grey is a hard-bodied Adonis with an insanely awesome penthouse, sleek cars, loads of cash, and, oh, a helicopterIf he was an ugly dude who worked at a gas station, rode a dirt bike, and invited a cute girl into a “play room” full of torture devices in the back of his doublewide trailer, we would all be disgusted.

It's true and you know it. 

Take away the male hotness and the buckets of money and suddenly 50 Shades of Grey is a book about an insecure, young woman who meets a controlling, manipulative stalker, and finds herself in a mess of her own conflicting emotions. She enjoys being the object of his desire, but she's also intimidated by his demeanor. She's not comfortable with the things he's asking her to do, but he's only asking because she's “special” and he wants to share special moments with her. He smothers her, but only because he wants to protect her. And he punishes her, but only for her own good. She knows he's not perfect, but surely, if she sticks with him long enough, he'll change. She's freaked out by the demands she must meet to be in a relationship with this guy, but how else can she show him how much she really loves him?

No one wants to read that book, no matter how hot the sex is, because THAT is not a love story. 

We all know someone who is living that story and we do not envy her

Most of us have watched painfully from the sidelines as a friend ignored serious red flags in favor of relationship - Any relationship! Even a super unhealthy one.

So why are we eating this stuff up? Do we really like the story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey? Are our ideas of love and romance really this broken? Or are we just choosing to ignore the oogy parts because we enjoy a raunchy novel every now and again?

Honestly? I would rather believe this stupid book blew up the way it did because it gave everybody and their sister a lady-boner, than because we are so dumb we can't see 50 Shades of Bullshit when it's right in front of our faces. The real life story of 50 Shades goes like this: Christian Grey needs a therapist and Anastasia Steele needs to grow a pair.