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My son is out walking the dog, so it is pretty quiet in here right now. Tomorrow at this time, though, will be a different story. We’re packed. Our passports are ready. I’m counting on God for great things when we go to Ecuador.

And yet.

When the time comes to go somewhere, I’m on everyone’s back about getting out the door “on time.”

What constitutes “on time?” I was raised, and later had this confirmed by the United States Marine Corps, to believe that on time was five (at least) minutes early and arriving on time was being late. In order to achieve this, I build in buffers for expected travel time, usually 20-30% more time is allowed for a trip than what I know it can be done in at speed limit (also known as Google Map’s estimated travel time). Needless to say, I get some places ridiculously early.

What does that have to do with tomorrow? We’re meeting at the church at 8:30. Taking the back way it takes about 12 minutes to get there. This early on a Saturday morning? I can get there in seven. You just know I’m going to want to be early (for no good reason, I might add — we’re stowing our luggage in the church bus tonight).  *Side  note — Chick-fil-a isn’t far from the church; maybe I’ll do breakfast there before we go.* We’re leaving the church at 9 to go to Miami International Airport. It’s a three hour trip (per Google maps). The last I saw, TSA recommends international travelers arrive two hours prior to their flight. This only leaves an hour for lunch and getting luggage checked in and stuff like that.

This is God’s trip. Not Jay’s. I need to pray about the time anxiety today. God has proven again and again in my life, especially as we prepared for this journey, that he can be trusted. It will work out.

At the beginning of this adventure neither my son nor I had a passport. Not only that, his birth certificate was missing and I had to order a new one so we could get his passport. The same day I realized this and looked up the cost ($50), someone sent us $50. A few days later it arrived and off we went to the Clerk of Court’s office, having received enough in the two days prior to pay for the passports. Well, more, as it turned out, because I over-budgeted for them, not understanding I didn’t need the card, just the book. But that was okay, too. A few weeks later I had raised — from my own pocket, through fund raisers and with donations from family and friends — about half the cost. That little extra from the passports came in handy. This past summer my ex-wife and I had reached an agreement about custody and child support that erased my back support debt, but I found out that her state didn’t close the case. This needed to happen if I was going to get my passport. I could pay the fee they demanded with the leftover from the passports. A few more donations came in after that and several folks told me they would send certain amounts. Great, that got us closer, but still left a pretty hefty sum to figure out.

That gets us to November 4th. A friend asked how close we were. I named a figure and he said that was how much he planned on giving us. Awesome.

Fast-forward to the seventh. None of the promised donations I was expecting had arrived, which meant there was a big gap again. One of my wife’s friends had told her she was going to donate to our trip and I saw her at church that evening. I had not discussed an amount with her and figured on maybe $40 or $50. I was way off. She paid the difference.

So, you see, I have all the reason in the world to trust God about this trip. I even knew it was going to work out this way. I said so to my wife, repeatedly, trying to ease her stress about it.

Which brings me back to time anxiety. I didn’t write all that just to share how awesome God is (though that was one of the reasons I wrote), but also to remind me I can trust him in all things.

Please pray for our team. There are 23 of us going. We’ll be working with Inca Link, visiting orphans in Quito and teaching children in the Amazon, as well as helping to build a school for preachers and missionaries in the jungle. Please pray for the children and families we will be in contact with. The orphans are orphans, in most cases, because their parents are in jail and won’t be back before the kids are grown, and they have no other family.

First Alliance will be focused on orphans this year for our Advent Conspiracy. With that in mind, I still have those bracelets available for $10 each. The proceeds of any I sell after today are going towards our project for Advent Conspiracy.

Twenty-four hours and we’ll be getting ready to go. I think I’ll be calmer now, too. Thank you to each of you who has donated, prayed, and shared this with your friends. Our God is an awesome God who has given me awesome friends, indeed. Thank you, Jehovah Jireh.

Did I say 23 were going? Make that 24. God will be there. Count on it.

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10 Days til Ecuador

Wow. Time is flying. This Saturday my church is hosting the Run4aReason and then Freedom Fest. A week later and I’ll be off to Ecuador.

My son, Noah, and I will be helping Inca Link by building a school in the Amazon and working with orphans in Quito. We’re still looking for help — prayers and finances.

Christmas is coming up before you know it and we are selling bracelets that would make great presents for many people on your list, especially teachers and others who teach, inspire and imagine a better world for tomorrow. If you’re not interested in a bracelet, but still want to help, you can still donate via PayPal using the information below.

Thank you!

Mission SitRep

Twenty-four days from now I will be boarding a plane to Ecuador with my youngest son and a group of people from our church to assist IncaLink and the Christian and Missionary Alliance in reaching the Quechua people of the Amazon.

Noah and I feel called to do this. I’ve wanted to do missions since I was his age, if not younger. We are reaching out to ask for your help.

1. Prayer. Please pray for us, our team, the missionaries on the ground already, and the people were are going to. Pray for our hearts to be prepared. Pray that we will move as God leads. Pray for repentance, revival, renewal, and rebirth.

2. Finances. It would be nice if we could travel for free, but we cannot. This trip, once all costs are considered, will cost more than $2000 out of pocket for Noah and I, something we simply don’t have. We are relying on God to move his people to support us in this mission. We fully trust in the LORD for meeting our needs. To make things easier, you can give via PayPal. My account is jlamborn3@gmail.com.

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We have partnered with Mudlove, a group that makes waterproof clay bracelets. The bracelets have your choice of “Teach,” “Inspire,” or “Imagine” on them and come with several different color bands (blue, yellow, black, brown, red, pink, orange, purple, or green). Your purchase will not only help us take our trip, but Mudlove uses their proceeds to benefit clean water projects in Africa. If you donate $10 or more to our cause please feel free to let us know which bracelet you would like and where to send it.

Whether or not you can support us financially, please comment below to let us know you are praying for us.

 

The Backhanded Blessing

Have you ever been the recipient of a backhanded blessing?

Laura Story covers this topic in her song, “Blessings,” with the whole “what if your blessings come in rain drops” bit.

Today my wife surprised me with a call shortly before her lunch period. “I miss you. Can you pick me up and we’ll go out to lunch?”

“Uh, yeah, sure. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

We really have no business going out for lunch. We need to be putting money aside for the mission trip to Ecuador and not being frivolous with it. Sadly, though, her masters degree program and my bachelors program have us living almost separate lives lately. We aren’t spending much time together, so it was a chance to just talk on our own for a few minutes.

We went to a local place we frequent enough to be friendly with the manager. As she was finishing things up and about to ring up our order, I went to the soda fountain. As cola ran into the cup, a bug ran out.

Creepy, a little gross, but stuff happens, you know? No big deal. We laugh about it, I throw out the cup and get another one. Meanwhile, Carolyn and the manager are chatting about crazy experiences at restaurants. I only heard part of the conversation, so I was surprised when Carolyn came to the table we usually sit at and said, “Lunch was free.”

I was confused. “Why?” I asked.

“The bug. She said we shouldn’t have experienced that.”

“Yeah, but no harm, no foul. I was okay with it.”

I wasn’t complaining though. God was on my mind and so I was thankful. I even saw the blessing in the incident. That’s not something I’m good at usually.

“Lord, thank you for this time to have lunch together. Thank you, Father, for the backhanded blessing. The bug was kinda gross, but you made it good for us.”

I really had no idea what else to call it. So “backhanded blessing” it is. Have you ever experienced one? Want to tell us about it in the comments?

Redefining 9/11: Don’t let hate triumph

There is a lot going on in the world lately. So much that it makes my head spin.

  • Commemoration of 11 years since the events of September 11, 2001
  • Ambassador Christopher Stevens killed in a terrorist attack in Libya
  • VA cost-saving measures resulted in one of my appointments being cancelled
  • A thousand children have died of malnutrition since I started typing this

And it’s all connected.

No, I’m not some conspiracy theory kook. I mean that these things are all tied together by how we, as Americans, view the world.

September 11 of every year since 2001 has been an opportunity for Americans to renew the call to battle, to call out for the blood of the Muslim, and renew the vigor with which we pursue security in the name of liberty. Somewhere in this mess a number of Americans put on the “Christian nation” mask and talk of religious war, as if the Bible is the book that calls for jihad.

Let’s be clear on this. The message of the Bible, in its entirety, is not one of hate or war, but of peace and love. If America is a Christian nation, why are we trying to solve our problems with guns and bombs? The Gospel of Jesus Christ should be such Good News to us, and so true to us, that living it out — and possibly dying as a result — should not be a fear of ours.

Yes, we are at war, America. Let’s not forget that. It may not disrupt the majority of our lives, but it is there. We should be supporting those who are sacrificing so much in this endeavor. At the same time, though, we need to be honest with ourselves: how much longer does this need to go on? Have we accomplished our stated objectives? Are we pursuing those not accomplished in an appropriate manner? The answers to these questions are very important because the lives of young American men and women hang in the balance of how we answer it.

Some “Christians” in America would rather offend, belittle, and agitate Muslims. People like Ambassador Stevens die as a result of such behavior. Behavior such as that attributed to Terry Jones, who seems to have made a film that Muslims feel belittles Mohammad, is not Christ-like. It doesn’t further understanding or foster relationships that reflect the character of Christ. The Enemy comes to maim, kill, and destroy. Jesus came so that all might be saved.

In our misplaced zeal we continue to put troops in danger, but to do so we are gutting the systems that care for them when they return. Many veterans are receiving mental health treatment via video conference instead of face to face meetings. Mental health is about building healthy relationships, not just with ourselves, but with others. It is difficult to do this when your doctor is on a computer monitor because the VA cannot afford to put a live person in the facility near you.

We are told that young men and women today want to be a part of something larger. They are finding many different ways to do so. Sadly, the mission field is being overlooked. Long-term opportunities to bring food, clean water, and the Gospel to those in need are being missed. One reason, I believe, is because the “Christianity” that many Americans see is self-serving, hateful, and hypocritical. The news often contains accounts of Christians, supposedly loving people, protesting military funerals to spread a message of hate about homosexuality. Other stories are about Christians belittling young women as they try to enter Planned Parenthood or abortion facilities. Then we hear about people like Jones who speak and act in hateful ways about other religions. This is NOT how Jesus asked us to live. We are people and we make mistakes, but we need to be honest about them. Most importantly, we need to stop living so comfortably and start speaking up with loving actions.

When September 11 rolls around again, I’d love to look back and see a year when love defined Christianity, as it should.

Mission To Ecuador

When I was about 12 or 13 I dreamed of being a missionary somewhere. Sadly I didn’t have the support that allowed the dream to grow and bear fruit. Instead I ended up pursuing a crazy, mixed-up pattern of mistakes that threatened to overwhelm and probably even kill me.

As Winston Churchill and some country singer said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” I’m coming out the other side now, if I’m not out entirely. My relationship with God is much like it was when I was young, but with some more mature elements.

Several weeks ago one of the pastors at my church told me about a parent-child missions trip being planned to Ecuador in November. My youngest, Noah, has a heart for God and has said he wants to be a teacher-pastor-missionary when he grows up. Well, he’s seen teachers and pastors at work. Now it is time to see missionaries at work, and join them in their work.

Noah will be 13 when we go on this trip and he’s pretty excited about it. It’s impossible for a 13-year-old boy in this day and age to be single-mindedly fixed on something, especially if they are as ADHD as he is. The truth is, however, that he does have a surprising amount of focus on this, which is exciting.

When our team, roughly 20 strong, gets to Ecuador we will be working with IncaLink, a mission started by CMA missionaries Rich and Lisa Brown. We don’t know yet what kind of work we will be doing, but some possibilities are working with orphans, working with the elderly, working with homeless populations, or helping to build churches.

Gustavo Cadena, president of IncaLink Ecuador, has even suggested we might work with indigenous peoples in the jungles, too.

If you visit the IncaLink website you will see how much need exists there. How can you help?

There are two ways you can help us. Noah and I ask that you consider both, but we’ll one or the other, gladly. First, please pray for us. Specifically, pray that we follow God’s lead in this endeavor and that He prepares our hearts for this work. Next, please pray for God’s provision. It’s not cheap to do something like this. I’ll have more about this in a bit. Pray for the people we will come in contact with, that God will work in a mighty way in their lives. Also, pray for our team, that we come together and work together and grow from this experience. Also, please pray that this trip brings Noah and I closer to each other and closer to God.

As you may have guessed, this trip requires money. God put this trip on our hearts from the start and we need to rely on Him and His people to provide for it. Please, as you pray, ask God whether you can support us. I have a PayPal account that you can send to. My email address is jlamborn3@gmail.com and you can contact me that way. Another way to send support is to mail a check to my church. If you do that, please make it out to First Alliance Church and make a note in the memo that it is for the Ecuador trip. Then contact me to let me know you did this and the treasurer can note that it is for my trip costs. Why would you do this and not put that it is for me in the memo? Tax purposes. It’s complicated, but if the check is for a ministry and not a person, you can make it tax deductible. The address is 20444 Midway Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL 33952.

When we arrive in Ecuador I will be filming and photographing our adventures in ministry with the hopes of posting daily updates to keep our family, friends, church, and supporters informed of our activities.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this. Your support means a lot to Noah and I. We are really looking forward to pursuing this dream of serving God together. Even if you are not able to support us financially, please pray and leave a comment below to let us know you’re praying for us.