Tuesday, 11 December 2012


(I should have posted this last month... oops)

The other day, I was a zombie turkey. "Why on earth were you an undead fowl, specifically the type of fowl that represents the plenty and bountiful produce of our existence which we celebrate annually?" is what you're probably asking me in your minds right now.

Why? Let me tell you.

For those of you who don't know, Thanks-O-Ween happened upon us on Nov. 4th. This isn't the most celebrated of holidays, but it's on the rise (at least in Nairobi). We took the first Sunday of this month to celebrate the combined holiday of Thanksgiving and Halloween by opening up our recently finished (but not yet refined) climbing gym to the HighSchool and MiddleSchool youth in Nairobi. Why am I telling you this? Because this was a great time of thanks, and what better time to give thanks than during this the season of Thanksgiving.
I looked around me at all the kids God had brought into the rock gym, into his domain, and I was thankful. I was tired. We had 41 MiddleSchool kids running around our gym. But I was thankful. I can't find the words to describe how I feel in the midst of ministry. Sometimes, it breaks my heart. Other times, I'm elated by the knowledge that I am doing what God created me to do. More often than not, those feelings float by me, good and bad, and I forget to give thanks. So bear with me as I share my thanksgivings to the Lord with you. You need to know the things that bring cause for thanks.
I'm thankful for the space God set apart for us to declare his kingdom in the midst of the darkest place I've ever lived. Every day on the way to the office, I see beggars and orphans walking the streets. I walk past a little hindu temple tucked into a corner shop. I walk past gods available for sale not too far from that temple. I hear the Islamic call to worship blaring over the food court bathing the entire complex in a reminder to pray to Allah. I go up to our floor and enter into Rest. God is predominant in that place. I'm so thankful for it.
I'm thankful that God brings kids into his domain. They join us every Sunday, kids who know God, kids who don't care, kids who long for more, kids who just need someone to love them. All types. They enter into that place and know the love of God through our ministry. Whether they profess faith or not, they are meeting with the love of God. I'm so thankful for that.
I'm thankful for silly games like "toilet tag," which is really just freeze tag except you have to pretend to be a toilet when you're frozen and someone must flush you before you're unfrozen. They break down barriers and allow kids who otherwise would never interact with us, or each other, get over themselves and dive into life in community. 
I'm thankful that God decided to give me a lesser portion of shame. Self-Deprecating humor goes a long way when making new friends with MiddleSchoolers.
I'm thankful for God's continual, humbling reminders that our plans aren't always his. I'll lose it over the breakdown of a vehicle, or a bratty kid, who "I was in NO way like" when I was his age. But God, he uses those to his glory always. e.g. We have a great relationship with our mechanic & I'm learning what it was like for my youth pastors to love me when I was in MiddleSchool.  
I'm thankful for the prayer and support I receive from you, my friends and family back in the States! Being away from home for a year and a half has taken its toll on how well I know you, but even so I know you pray for me and the ministry I'm doing. I know I couldn't be here without your support. I'm so very thankful for you. Knowing I'm backed by the body of Christ to be here, spreading his Word and love is a blessing to me that I cannot describe. All I can say is that I'm thankful.

I'm also thankful for the opportunity I have to share with you my prayer requests. I often forget to share my prayers with anyone, so I'm making a special effort to include everyone back home in the goings on here in Kenya.

1) On a grand scale, Kenya as a whole is ridden with corruption from the top down. Pray for the Lord's work to transform the nation. It's a "Christian" nation, but that can only be said in quotes.
2) For BlueSky to be unified in its ministry. We have a lot of personalities on staff and that creates good and bad differences of opinion. Pray that no matter what, we unify under the banner of Christ.
3) Pray for confidence as we make our presence known on school campuses, but confidence in humility. Pray that we don't damage the name of Christ through our attempts at outreach. 
4) Pray for God to soften the hearts of these lost kids. They are hardened, callous hearts. So much of their lives are spent in transition that they almost never let people get close enough to hurt them when they leave again. We want to share with them the only one who is always with them. Pray for God to soften their hearts.
5) Pray for my personal support and BlueSky's as a whole. Right now, I still have some
reserves, but my monthly support is at about 40% of my minimum requirement. So, your prayers will be appreciated. Any special support gift during this time would be greatly appreciated! Go to our Website BlueSkyGlobal.org to find out how to support and to learn more about our ministry in Nairobi.

Thanks again for your friendship and investment in me and the work God has called me to here in Africa. 



Monday, 1 October 2012

"No Thanks, I'm Awesome."

One of my friends is awesome. Whilst carrying a heavy load of whatnots, she was asked if she needed any help. Her reply was, "No thanks, I'm awesome."
       She was attempting to say, "No thanks, I'm good. You're awesome!" She's the kind of person that uses hyperbole to describe how she feels about people and life, and anything positive that just happened. But I'm glad she jumbled her phrases. This time she got me thinking about how I live.
       No thanks, I'm awesome. Where do you draw the line between arrogance and confidence? (Not to imply that she was being arrogant when she made that accidental claim, it just made me think toward this end.) For example. I'm terrible at Basketball. However, if I ever make a basket, I walk away from it like it happens all the time, but, inside my head, I'm doing cartwheels and jumping up and down cheering, "This time I didn't make a fool of myself!"(I've made a fool of myself quite often playing basketball.) That seems to me like arrogance, but if I were to act out the scene in my head, wouldn't it also be arrogance. Jumping up and whooping about how glad I am that I made the basket would seem an awful lot like rubbing it in peoples faces that I, the worst player on the court, scored against them.
       Maybe I'm thinking too much about that particular situation, but what I'm getting to is this:
I'm a sinner. When I do something right (i.e. when I glorify God rather than sin), what do I do? Do I keep it to myself, waiting for others to notice but not bringing it up until they do, or do I rejoice with anyone and everyone that I'm not always as screwed up as I know myself to be?
       I bring this up because I had to come up with a lot of things to say the other week. I spoke at both of the weekly youth group events on Sunday, gave the staff devotional on Tuesday morning, led a Covenant Group (A.K.A. small group) on Thursday, led another on Friday, and immediately went on the Rossyln High School retreat to be the speaker, on which I did two talks. It was a long week. How many times can I stand in front of people telling them about the love of God and how to live, when I don't succeed in lasting one day without forgetting what it means to be loved by God? This seems to me to be almost arrogance.
       After I speak, lead a covenant group, or tell people to live in a way better than I do, I don't know what to feel. If it went well, am I allowed to rejoice in that? If I feel like nothing I said was heard or worth hearing, am I allowed to hang my head dejectedly and mope? People come and say that it was a good talk, I feel elated, like I did something important. People don't say anything, I feel small and unimportant. And on top of all that, who am I to speak about the truth of the gospel when I fail so often to believe and follow?
       I'm seeking confident humility.

Monday, 10 September 2012

This One Ties It All Together


Sometimes I think there’s nothing like a good, swarthy sailor greeting. But that’s not why I’m writing to you. I want to tell you a story.
Months ago, I went to a play at the International School of Kenya. For those of you that don’t know, ISK is the school that I have been visiting at lunch periods and coaching at for the past year so I can get to know the students better and share my life with them. This particular play was filled, not only with kids (not goats) that I had met at the school, but also with some of the kids (also not goats) that came to camp the previous year, some of whom stayed in my cabin. The focus of the story is not those kids. The focus of this story is Elbar. Elbar, cousin of Omer, older brother of Yatir and Liav, son of his parents, all of whom are Jewish, all of whom came to camp. But I’m getting ahead of myself... Where was I? Ah yes!
So, I walk into the ISK Middle School production of “30 Reasons Not To Be In A Play” and quickly find a seat. Low and behold who should sit behind me, but Omer and his cousin Elbar. I had talked with Omer quite a few times during lunch visits in the past, but I’d never really spoken to Elbar for any length of time before then. I struck up a conversation with Omer that gradually turned toward the topic of Camp BlueSky. I was relentless as I spoke of all the great things that would be going on there. Apparently I did a good job; not only was Omer’s interest piqued, Elbar was leaning out of his seat with excitement. (I later came to find out that that is how he almost always looked, but at the time it was quite encouraging.)
Skip ahead a bit. Over the next few weeks as I came and went from ISK on lunch visits or days when I was coaching, I would see Elbar walking down the sidewalks and ask if he had signed up for camp yet, generally met with a hesitant “Not yet.” Followed by a “Will there be any other high schoolers there?” He really wanted to go, but I was never sure if he would.
Camp begins. Session two rolls around, which is the week for all the ISK students to show up. I’m flipping my lid. All around camp are students that I’ve been pouring into for the last year. I love these kids. I’m so excited to finally be able to speak the gospel to them. All those lunches were pointing toward this week. God is working. Elbar walks into camp with nervous excitement not knowing what to expect. I remember, he asked me, “So when you guys pray before meals, what should I do? Just stand on the side?” I laughed and shrugged off the question, not really knowing how to answer him. I had no idea how he was going to react to camp.
One of the awesome ways that God decided to work that week was to put one of the high schoolers that meets in my small group, Brian, into his cabin. Short note on Brian: he is a solid young man of God, whom I have come to respect more and more the longer I’ve known him, and he can play the drums like no one I’ve ever met. Brian plays a big part come Wednesday night of camp.
What happens on Wednesday night is a scripture reading and a brief drama of the passion of Christ. Every other night of camp is fun-filled and personal story oriented from our camp leadership team, but this night is much different. We sit the kids (still not goats) in their age groups, ask them not to talk, and play music with a solid gospel message as their counselors pray for them for a few minutes outside of our meeting room. It sets the mood so that they have no idea what’s happening, but know that it’s important. As the scripture is read of Jesus’ trial and beating, one of the leadership team (who looked more like Jesus than any of us) would play the role of our previously beaten Lord as he carried his cross to the front of the room. As he walked, those of us that didn’t have a particular Jewish bent to our features would walk beside him whispering insults and gradually raising our voices till we were practically yelling at him that he was going to fail and die. When he reached the front of the room, he would drop the cross and we would show the clip from the Chronicles of Narnia where the White Witch kills Aslan. Afterwards, all the campers would go sit beneath the stars thinking about what they had just seen as counselors would walk around explaining what had just happened and what it means in one-on-one conversations. I never imagined the power that night would have each week.
I walked into the field, after having carried out other duties, to see if I could find some of the kids I’d come to know and love. As I approached the very outskirts of the field, which was scattered with whispering groups, I saw two people waving at me to come near. It was Brian and Elbar. As I sat down, Brian looked at Elbar and said, “You can tell him, he’s cool.” Elbar, sheepishly grinning, responded, “No, you tell him.” “Are you sure you don’t want to?”Asked Brian. “Yeah, you tell him.” Said Elbar finally. At this point, I kind of picked up on what was happening, and my heart started doing cartwheels. Brian told me, “Elbar prayed to believe in Jesus!” I threw all pretense of thoughtful quietness to the wind and started laughing while I tackled Elbar in an embrace. I hardly knew this kid. I spoke to him maybe five times, and now he is going to be partyin’ with Jesus and me for eternity! I told him right then and there that he was going to have to start praying with us at meal times. And then Brian went and made me love him even more when he invited Elbar to join our small group. God was working in a huge way that night.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more like I was where God wanted me to be then I did right there in that moment. All of it lined up. It was beautiful.
After that Elbar started telling us not to tell anyone because he was afraid of what his family might think. We assured him that we would let him tell his family on his own time, but that we would be there with him for whenever he needs us. Later that night, Yatir, Elbar’s sister, told me that she had become a believer. Well what do you think of that? Elbar was gaining allies by the minute. I didn’t get to talk with Omer or Liav that night, but I know I will see them when I visit ISK, and furthermore, God is already at work within their families. As the evening came to a close and the Leadership team gathered to retell stories of the recently found lost, our battle cry became “God Redeems Families!!!!” It was a sweet time of worship.
The rest of the week finished strong. We told all the campers of their sin, what the price was for it, and how to live in the light of that Truth. So many more stories of impact and life changing moments came from that week alone. If I were to try to write out all the stories from camp, my fingers would give out, but I needed to share that story. I needed to share that story for more than just so you can rejoice with me in the work of God. I’m also telling you because I promised Elbar that I would be here for him for one more year. But I’m running out of support.
I had told you all in my first support letter that I would be here for only 15 months. But I’m realizing more and more that God wants me to be here longer. There is still work to do. The only problem is, I can’t fund myself. The price of living is increasing, and as it does so do my support needs. For this next year, I will need to raise $1,500 a month. That’s more than what I was asking for last year, but I truly believe this is worth it.
He is still using me to bring his kingdom into this dark city. Lives are being changed, kids (even now, not goats) are confronted with the gospel for the first time and seeking more. I am confident that God has called me to be here with them as they try to figure out who God has called them to be. He is bringing the Kingdom. Please help me to be a part of this truly awesome work.

With love,


Ways You Can Support
(or The Cliff-notes Version of the Above Letter)

  1. Pray for the students in Nairobi. Pray for their families, for their time at camp or various other activities during the school year, that they would hear God’s word and know God’s love. Pray that the gospel would take hold of their hearts.
  2. Pray for Camp BlueSky and all the other avenues of ministry that BlueSky provides: Adventures, Climb, and Youth. Pray for the support needed for all the staff. Pray for safety throughout the year. Pray every time you think about how Blue the Sky is. Pray whenever you see a giraffe, zebra, or lion on the TV (or real life). Pray!
  3. Support financially. Give a one time donation or go for the long haul and commit to giving $100 (or some other amount) monthly until August 2013. You can give a couple different ways:
    1. Online: at www.blueskyglobal.org there is a link to “Give” which will allow you to give either a recurring amount, or, if you scroll further down, a one time amount. You can use paypal or use a credit card. Make sure to specify it’s for me (Bryce Wilkins) in the “specify person or project” section.
    2. By Mail: Send a check to this address:900 Westpark Drive · Suite 300
      Peachtree City, GA 30269
      Fill it out to “BlueSky” and make sure to put my name (Bryce Wilkins) on the memo line.

  1. Pray even more. No matter how much financial support we have, our ministry is pointless without prayer.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I would love to talk with you in person or through any other means of communication.
Cell Phone: +254787433729
Email: bryce.wilkins@blueskykenya.org

Friday, 20 April 2012

Turbid Times On The Tana

       It's 10:00am on Saturday morning. Kids and parents are already milling around, waiting for the show to begin. The air is crisp with precocious excitement as we wait for the bus to be loaded. Kids clamber on to the bus, fighting for prime seats in the back. A handful of kids clamber back off of the bus after being reminded to exercise their bladders. We are going rafting! And not only that, but white water rafting.
       21 Middle Schoolers confined in a bus for two and a half hours. It was going to take raging rapids to release all the pent up energy. The inevitable pop songs brought life to the cacophony of the bus as we pulled out of the parking lot. It was a joyful beginning to the weekend retreat. We had kids from Rosslyn Academy and a couple from the International School of Kenya. We were all itching for a little adventure on the River Tana.
       We got to the campsite without a hitch, set up camp, lathered up in sun cream and got briefed on what to expect while rafting. The sun fought its way through the clouds bringing just enough heat with it to make for a pleasant afternoon trip through the rapids. My boat was filled with all but one of the guys on the trip. It was an unspoken rule that we would have the most fun. Christening out raft the S.S. Taco, we rode the turbid waters of the Tana exemplifying what it is to be Master Raftsmen. Every once in a while, our ear splitting cry of "AYAYAYAYAYAYAYAHAHAAHAAHAAAA!!!!!!" would shatter the serenity as we rammed our trusty floatation device into any unsuspecting river craft (and sometimes a rock or two). Watching the faces of the boys in the raft as they transitioned from anticipation to enjoying life in the moment was one of the reasons that makes this job the best. Adventure was coursing through our veins as we risked life and limb and, in particular, fingers while we paddled fiercely between the craggy rocks of the river bank. I looked to my right to see Martin, a sixth grader from ISK, beaming delight and exclaiming how he couldn't believe that more of his friends didn't sign up. 
       Martin is a great kid. I hadn't met him before that morning. In fact, no one on the team had. He heard about the trip and signed up. He only knew one other person on the trip: Robert, another sixth grader from ISK. I was really excited to see those two jump into the activities with vim and vigor. We were hoping to have more kids from ISK sign up, but a lot of them bailed at the last minute. Hearing Martin's unbelief at his friends from school not being able to come was an incredible encouragement. The kids from Rosslyn come mostly from solid Christian backgrounds. To hear and see Martin and Robert living life and enjoying creation within the BlueSky setting was a moment of affirmation. God has placed the kids from ISK in my path, and, although we didn't have too many on the trip, it was as if he was saying, "Keep it ip! I'm working in their hearts in ways you cannot even imagine."
       We spent the rest of the day on the Tana laughing, screaming, and ransacking the other rafts. Floating into the campsite marked the end of our time rafting, but we still had the evening for fun, games, and the gospel. The theme for the weekend, in a word, was "Home." I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with the kids about what it means to live in a broken world while knowing that it wasn't always this way and it won't always be this way. Jesus was sent to fix all things. And while life still seems hopeless, he has sent his Spirit to live with us. Not to take us out of the trials we go through, but, rather, to provide the support, encouragement, and strength to stand up under the weight of it all. Our home is broken and not right, but Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23) 
       The next morning, we awoke and breakfasted. I spoke again on our theme. We cleaned up our campsite, packed some lunches for the road, swam a bit more, loaded up our bus and headed home. It was a phenomenal weekend trip. It went without a hitch. The kids loved it. The leaders loved it. God was present throughout (even on the drive home).

       And thus ended our adventure on the River Tana.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Reflections On A Calling

One night at camp last summer, I awoke in the middle of the night. It wasn’t too loud, but I guess it was enough to disturb my dreams. I heard him from across the room whimpering in his sleep. I guess he was overheated from sharing the bed with his brother. He had thrown the blankets off in his slumbering fit. I rolled over. He was going to be fine... I, on the other hand, couldn’t get back to sleep. The mosquitoes started flying in and out of my ear holes...
In the morning, I awoke to find my room filled with kids from all over Kenya. But it was OK: they were supposed to be there. Some were Indian kids, who had grown up their whole lives in Nairobi, some were Missionary Kids, who had grown up in the countryside surrounding Nairobi, and some were the children of businessmen and women who moved to Kenya knowing that they would leave within a year or two. But, for that week, they were all just kids. And God had put them in my cabin.
That’s the calling God has given me. He’s placed me here to work with the kids of Kenya. Not all of them are Kenyan, but they all need to know Jesus. My calling is to spend time with the kids here, sharing stories of Jesus and sharing stories of who he has made me. Sometimes that means living in a smelly cabin with 7-12 kids for a week. Other times it means leading a Bible Study at 7:00 am with 4-6 kids before school starts. And still other times it means going to countless basketball, soccer, field hockey, rugby, and volleyball games, just to show the kids that I care for them.
It’s not always fun. It’s often quite challenging. A lot of these kids have spent little to no time living in one place for longer than two or three years. What that means is, they don’t have long term relationships with almost anyone except for their family. What that means for me is, they don’t just want to be my friend as soon as I meet them. I have to earn their trust, or break through all of the hurt feelings they have built up from past friends that they left or left them. And on top of all of that is the ever present knowledge that I am going to leave in a year or two. Which means I will be leaving them just like everyone else.
That’s why I have to share what I know about Jesus with them. For the rest of their lives, people will come and go, and they will have to make friends and say goodbye. But Jesus will be with them even beyond the rest of their lives. My calling is to share the complete and everlasting love of Jesus with kids who spend their lives seeking acceptance, or, on the other hand, never even trying to be accepted for fear of getting hurt again.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Boys Will Be Girls

And odd experience occurred yesterday. I try to visit the International School of Kenya a couple times a week. Yesterday I probably should have opted to not visit.
Unwittingly, I walked onto to the MS campus to hangout with the guys I normally see only to be confronted by most of those fellas dressed as fellettes. Some were merely wearing the addition of a wig to their average everyday clothing choices, but those were the wimps. When it came to the bold and daring, some had dressed to the nines, donning tutus and painting their nails.
Being home schooled, I have never felt comfortable in schools. Walking into them always makes me feel like I don't belong and never will. It's something about teachers and how they look at anyone as if they're a predator if they don't recognize them. I guess that's healthy, but it always makes me feel like they think I'm a creep. Furthermore, all the intricacies of school society have been, are, and will be foreign to me. My daily school/social interactions were completed by the time I had greeted my family at the breakfast table. Walking up to a table of kids that I only ever see in a school setting, and trying to play it cool like I belong is a challenge for me. I may never get the hang of it.
Walking up to a table of kids, who are dressed in the clothing of the opposite gender and taking liberties to act on their clothing style, is one thing that will never make anyone feel comfortable.

O the frivolities private schools in Kenya allow...

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I Was Under The Impression

I was sitting in a chair surrounded by people I know, a lot of whom were kids in my small groups. I'm not sure if I was talking, but I'm pretty sure I wanted to. I didn't know how I wanted to say what I was thinking. I didn't know what I wanted to say. I could feel the pressure building up. There was a song in the background playing the whole time, but I didn't notice it until it got to one point in particular. The song is called "Kids" and it's performed by the band MGMT. It's not the most profound song. I think it was only in my dream because of the way it sounds. It has a fair build up, which leads to a fade. The fade turns into the sounds of children playing, but is cut short by the sound of one child screaming, which, in turn, is the segue back into the rest of the song.
Where was I? O yeah, I remember.
The song "Kids" is playing in the background when it reaches the scream. As soon as I recognize that portion of the song, I look up and scream along with that child. I scream as loud as I can.

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me how dangerous impressions can be. Similar to assumptions, we can never be sure of them and they are frequently making us look foolish. At first sight, one impression may seem to be this, but then turn out to be that. E.g. If one is under the impression that life is simple, upon taking up that philosophy, he will stagger under the weight of the impression of a complex life. When his ignorance is revealed and he sees that he is under the wrong impression, he may seek to find the simple impression he once thought he perceived, but it will come to no avail. You see, that was a trick impression. Life is both simple and complex. That poor guy is never going to get out from under there.
Furthermore, the application of many impressions can soon lead to the destruction of one's perception of reality if one is caught beneath said rapid fire practice of impressions. E.g. Think of your perception of reality as a big bowl of playdoh. Think of impressions as the mold we mash our perception of reality into in order to give it shape. One, seemingly harmlessly, begins to impress the molds into his playdoh. One, like a child, enjoys this thoroughly. But he overlooks an important aspect of the mold-to-playdoh relationship. You see, he doesn't take time to reshape his playdoh once the mold has been removed. Mold after mold shape and reshape his once healthy ball of doh until all the qualities of retaining shape are absent. He gets frustrated as he tries to clean out the pieces of dirt and dust (and the occasional hair) that have helped the molds turn the doh into crumbly bits of something once useful.
In addition to the first two dangers, I have determined a third. Aside from wrong impressions and being too impressionable, there is "crushing impressions," the weight of which you do not want to be under. Crushing impressions, as you may be able to gather, tend to stamp so forcefully that their weight leaves no room for further impression. I.e. They leave one unimpressionable. E.g. For this mental exercise I ask you to imagine your healthy moldable mind as a reasonably sturdy wagon. If you choose for it to be a bright red and gleaming Radio Flyer or if you choose for it to be of wooden make, it makes no important difference. But I would choose the Radio Flyer if I were you. And now, if you would indulge me, imagine impressions as neighborhood kids. As everyone knows, children do not spend all of their lives in wagons, but they can, if given the opportunity, spend as much time as their heart desires. Impressions, like children in a wagon, are not permanent, but they can take their time to leave. Sometimes, One allows too many neighborhood cronies into his Radio Flyer. The addition of one crony without removing the other causes great stress on this once sturdy, now dangerously weighty wagon. The scene plays out as we all imagine it will, and the wagon folds under the weight of too many chubby, little impressions. The children run, leaving One with a useless wagon.

When I awoke from my dream, I think I was feeling the weight of what I can only assume were impressions. What was I impressed with? Good question. Let us consider...

I believe one impression I was under could have been that I was in control. Another option, or perhaps, in addition to that, I was beneath the impression that I was secure in my walk with the Lord as a solitary pilgrim. I'd been feeling pretty good about who I was and where I was. So I pulled my wagon along with Solitude and Control sitting happily inside and occasionally grabbing snacks as they rode along and got fatter. My wagon's journey didn't end there. You see, Control and Solitude kept calling their friends to join them, and the weight continued to impress upon my Radio Flyer. I didn't think it was too many until it was too late. I recall thinking that I didn't even know all of those kids as the axel snapped and I watched their chubby, little legs scuttle off into the distance.

The weight was too much. Removing the weight didn't fix the situation. I scream as loud as I can.

I think what brought the break was the death of one of my friends from the school I attended for a year in Wisconsin. Shannon Norman was killed in a car accident. Instantly, I could see Control ducking behind some bushes, pulling Proximity and Friends along with him as they hid from me. A blur caught my attention, and I turned to see Invincibility clear a fence as he continued at a sprint to abandon me. I stood there confused as more of my so called companions cleared out. Only Solitude stayed for any length of time. I guess he thought he could help. In actuality, his only solution was to once again apply himself to my poor Radio Flyer. His reapplication broke further the already busted fragments of my once wholesome wagon. I realized his uselessness and kicked him out.

Impressions are dangerous.

Now I have to piece my perception of reality back together. I've spent time alone. I've gotten angry. I've been sad. I've craved other people. I've craved to be where I cannot. It's not helping. I need truth.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Not A Robot, But A Ghost

So, the Youth Room progress is booming. I haven't been to the office in about a week and a half, so when I walked into what will be the Rock Gym this morning and looked to the section where the Youth Room will be, I was amazed to see what looks like an actual Youth Room. At least, it looked like the skeleton of a youth room. But either way, it looks like it will be exactly what we want!

If you look carefully, you can see a Kenyan man having a nap.

This place is going to be sweet! But it will take some more work. That dank looking cubby hole underneath the balcony will eventually be our youth office, tucked back in the wall to right where you cannot see. Still underneath that balcony and not tucked into the wall, but opposite of the office, will be a pretty chill hangout area where I will probably spend a fare amount of my office time. We may or may not get a dart board. I haven't brought it up with the others yet, but I have high hopes.
The Balcony will be the obligatory pingpong/foosball section of the youth room. I'm not sure how we are going to get those most essential youth room items, but the Lord will provide.
Those groovy lookin' steps you see are the way up to the Balcony and the way to the Student Seating Area, which brings me to my next portion of the room to point out.
Those bench looking steps, which are, in fact, made to be both a bench and a step (more the former than the latter, but we all know people will walk up and down them), will be our Student Seating Area for when we have a talk or a skit.

We're all really excited as the it get's closer and closer to reaching completion, but we have met some road blocks along the way. A lot of the necessary accoutrements (i.e. paint, carpeting, lights, sound system, etc. ...) are beginning to add up to be more expensive than we initially anticipated.
I don't want to say that this is hindering our ministry, but it's kind of hindering our ministry. We expected to have this room ready to use by last October, but with all the legal hoops that we had to jump through and all the monetary issues we are currently running into, we have been set back to it being finished in the month of...? We finally got through all the legal stuff and now are held back simply from the financial side of things.
Now let me explain myself when I said it is hindering our ministry to not be able to use this space. I am not saying that God cannot work through other means. What I am saying is that God has given our team a vision for our ministry here, which includes in a major way the youth room, and we really want to see that vision come to fruition. Furthermore, meeting in one person's house, although great for the kid whose house we are meeting at, is not great for everyone else. Our offices are in the middle of Diamond Plaza, which is a pretty good, central location for students to gather. Also, it's not someone's home, so there won't be the awkward feeling of "I don't even know the people whose house it is, so I'm not going." All that to say that we feel it will greatly advance our outreach opportunities.

For those of you who got lost as I was describing how and where our Youth Room will be set up, I have edited the above photo to give you an idea of what I was writing about. The edited picture is as follows:

For those of you who were wondering what my post had to do with robots & ghosts, it doesn't. I am currently on an Andrew Bird kick musically and that song is one of my new favorites. Look it up. It's worth your time.

For those of you who like to pray, please keep us in your prayers. We just sat down to map out what this semester's events will look like, and we really could use a consistent meeting place that we can call our own. Oh, yeah! And when you're praying, remember to thank God for the progress he's already granted us. We are very blessed!

Thanks for reading! If you want more to read, visit our blog at Adventure'sCalling!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Nature & Other Gods

       I was ambling along the other day and came upon a decision that ached to be made. Right or left? Throwing caution to the wind and royally spiting Bob Frost, I chose the sidewalk to the left. I was walking to not think, but it didn't help. You've had those days. You know what I mean when I say "overwhelmed with thought." This was a walk to forget. At least, I thought it would be. In fact, it turned out to be even more thought provoking than I anticipated. 
       The road I live off of runs straight past the UN and the US Embassy, both of which demand heavy amounts of traffic. Therefore the road is always being worked on or added to, as well as being driven on and walked on by all those who are on there way from A to B. What I mean to say is, the presence of man is blaringly loud. What provoked me toward what I thought at the time was unwanted thought was the proximity of this human cacophony to the unbridled wilderness that grew a mere stones throw away from it.
       After you get past the houses, roadside shops/shacks, various government or UN buildings, there is a Forest. It's got waterfalls, fields, dirt, and countless trees. And it's smack dab in the middle of Nairobi. My thoughts had been racing back and forth that day between this and that and other things that you don't really need to know. The only times it would pause were when I was thinking of excellent camping trips I had been on that I had experienced peace and contentment. I was (and am) craving to be out in the wild again. There is something about being out there that settles my heart. My thoughts came to this place over and over, probably due to the reading I had done earlier where men were talking about nature in a way that could replace the divine. I began thinking about how some of my best times were in nature, how they weren't that far from the truth, and then I found myself walking toward a Forest that truly is a haven in the midst of all the world's problems. 
       Occasionally, I would catch glimpses of the trees through all the buildings, or I would watch water running under the road trying to get away from the noise of these incessant people. Eventually I took the turn toward the forest that stretched for a 1/4 of a mile toward the Forest. As I walked, men were gradually filtered out of hearing by the trees that became more and more dominant the closer I got to the heart of the Forest. I was already shedding my anxieties and feeling more peaceful. Nature has that way about it. I didn't go far into the Forest before I realized that the sun was setting and I was 40 min away from home. I was hungry. I went home.
       The next day I read Psalm 74. This one's not a David psalm. This one was written and sung when God was not the only god in Israel. People all around the poet Asaph were not worshipping God. Worse, they were degrading him and tearing down his sanctuary. Imaging a crazy LumberJack (Is there any other kind?) swinging away at a big ol' tree, and that's the image you're supposed to get from Asaph regarding how people were destroying God's sanctuary. These people are the enemies of God, the followers of lesser gods. Their prayers, their sacrifices were overwhelming Asaph to the point where he had to cry out to God. These people were bowing down to images of gods that they made themselves. Images that they saw in nature, sacrificing to them and praising them for the blessings that they hoped they would bring. And can you blame them? They knew that they weren't in control so they prayed to the stuff around them that looked like it was. They're Pagans, livin' it up Pagan style. What else could they do?
It is interesting that they would worship these gods of nature. Asaph has a better grasp of the situation than they, and states the ridiculousness of the situation by singing various truths about God:

13 It was you who split open the sea by your power; 
   you broke the heads of the monster in the waters. 
14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan 
   and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert. 
15 It was you who opened up springs and streams; 
   you dried up the ever-flowing rivers. 
16 The day is yours, and yours also the night; 
   you established the sun and moon. 
17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; 
   you made both summer and winter.

       Who on earth are they praying to? Not the right God, that's for sure. God, why aren't you putting them in their place? Don't forget your people, your covenant. Don't ignore their noises, the noises of your enemies; those men revile you.
Asaph doesn't have a full grasp of the situation, though. He gets caught up in their misplaced worship and wants God to destroy them. He asks pleadingly, "Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!"

I took a walk beside a forest and practically worshipped it. Cool your jets, Asaph.

       I'm now sitting in the BlueSky offices, which are in the middle of a predominantly Hindu/Muslim building complex. Everyday, you can hear the Muslim call to prayer coming over the PA system in the wildly busy food court that surrounds the parking lot. On the way into the building, you pass a small temple to some small gods. The people here don't swing axes in their anger toward my God. They go the extra mile and tolerate him. Why destroy what you can degrade through toleration? They go home and sacrifice food to the small idols in their closets, or they roll out their prayer matt and pray to a God with no concept of grace. These people are the enemies of God. And some of them have become our friends.

Why do hold back your right hand, Lord? Why don't you just destroy them? Because you love them. 

       Anyone can fall to worshipping nature & other gods. You've put us here to show them the Truth. You've put us here to let them know that when they call out to whatever higher being they call to, that they're praying to the wrong gods. They yearn for the peace that only God can provide and they mess up when they try to find it. You put us here to help them find it. You've put us in the middle of a laughably non-Christian environment. Seriously, if any of you reading this make it out here, you'll know what I mean. It's the perfect spot to be a Christian.

So go take a walk in creation, think of the God who created it, and please keep praying for us. Make sure it's to the right God.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

What Would You Do?

       Imagine, if you will, a time and place like nothing you have ever experienced before. I know what your thinking. You're thinking, "Bryce, how can I do that? All I ever imagine is based off of previous experiences." And you're absolutely correct. You can't. So, I apologize for putting you through that useless mental exercise and now ask you to attempt something much more manageable.
       Imagine, if you will, a time and place that is similar, but different, to anything you have experienced. In this reasonable, but still exotic place, there is an endless amount of adventure waiting for you to simply stumble out into the wilderness. There are mountains here, with various routes and varying challenges. There are exciting creatures that you never get to see in your home country walking about in the wild. There is a whole realm of possibilities, which before now were not accesible. Now, add people to that time and place that are very different from you, but people that, although different, you would really enjoy getting to know better. There are people who are shorter than you, and people that are taller, too. There are people who have much more wealth than you, and people who are desperately poor. There are people who look similar to you, and people who you never imagined could look that way and still be human. There are people who you can't understand even though they are speaking the same language as you are. There are people who think they are speaking the same language as you are, but don't know that in actuality they are butchering it. There are people who you are getting to know better everyday, but still haven't gotten the feeling that you can have a deep conversation with. You just need a little more time.
       But, alas, this time and place will only last for a short time and you may not ever get to go back. It's not that you don't want to go back, it's just that you won't have the imagination or time to go back later on in life. And even if you did make it back, you would have lost all memory of the people you imagined since the last time you were there. (You might not know this about your imagination, but it has a pretty transient life style if left to its own accord.) It seems like you can't have your cake and eat it too. Too bad... it was a pretty awesome cake...
       Ok, now I want you to stop imagining that place and instead to just know that a lot of what you imagined is a real time and place, and I'm in it. And the place is Nairobi, Kenya. And there really are people who don't always look human.
       The more I'm here, the more I realize that I need more time. For example, I just spent the majority of yesterday with one of the guys in my small group. He comes from a confused background. I found most of this out yesterday. His Mom is a Jain and his Dad is Hindu, and he is not required by either of them to be a specific religion. He attends the Christian school near his house and the closest thing he has to an understanding of what Jesus has done for him is that, since he "became a Christian," he feels guilty when he does bad things. I don't know if he is a genuine heir with Christ, but clearly God is working in him. He comes to the early morning Bible study I have on Friday mornings. He came to the Christmas Eve service with me at the church I attend. He told me he will start coming to church with me more often. I see him almost every day. This kid is practically Screaming for the love of God, I'm just not sure he knows it.
       I don't want to leave. I'm starting to scratch the surface and it's been 7 months.

       I've seen different youth ministries come and go. I've seen different youth pastors come and go. I've seen great ministry happen in an amazingly short time. I've seen great ministry happen over the course of my life. Short term ministry has its time and place. I'm just trying to figure out if this is the place or time for me to think about extending my ministry.
       I'm going to let you in on a secret. I have thought about it. This is what I've come up with:

1) I'm 22. I have time to live in the states later. My parents are supportive of me living here (it means I'm not living with them). Besides friends and family (and citizenship), I don't really have any attachments to the US.
2) I do plan on attending seminary in the near future, so I won't be here forever. But what's to stop me for staying another year?
3) I have a job here. I could find one in the states, but I don't feel as though I'm being called back immediately.

       I'm going to let you in on another secret. That's not the full list. Some of it gets tedious after that point. But I also realize that living here is not merely a pros and cons decision to make. I can't just decide to stay here for my own selfish reasons. I need to follow the will of God. Part of how I know his will is through prayers answered or left unanswered. I've been praying about this. I've been asking other members of the body of Christ. I've talked with my coworkers. Now I want to ask you, who support me through prayer and financially, to consider supporting me further.
       I realize this is not a simple request, so please take time to prayerfully consider how you can support. Some of the people who read this might consider coming to work on staff for the summer. Some might consider joining the full time team (I know that seems crazy, but God could be working at getting you out here). Some of you I ask to consider continuing to support financially, while I ask that others would think about beginning to financially support. But to all of you, I ask that you would pray for the ministry being done here. Pray for the people that God reaches through us, that he would prepare our hearts and theirs as he teaches us to be his instruments and teaches them to hear his call.

       If any of you are interested in further participating or supporting in what is being done here, we recently have revamped our name and logo and tried to bring a bit more unity to the trifecta of ministry. Our new website is www.blueskyglobal.org. There is a plethora of information about Summer Camp if you are interested in that, and the general goings on thereof. There is a way to donate quite easily online if you feel that is where you can best support. There are numerous pictures of what goes on here (some are a bit old... but still good). Please check it out. Please Pray.