HOW TO BE A HERO
It’s not every day that you get to meet one of your heroes in life, but these last couple of days in Nairobi, I’ve been spending my time with one of the great heroes in my life. And the chances are very much that unless you’ve heard me mention his name, you won’t know him.
In fact to most people he’s a complete unknown. So spend a few minutes reading his story, because I believe that each one of us – unknowns though we may be – has the capacity to be...a hero!
The Making of a Hero
Have you ever wondered what causes us to label someone as a “hero”?
Yeah, me too. And yet when I meet with, talk to and talk about Bubahase Joseph – it becomes pretty clear to me.
Joseph has been working with the ministry of Christianityworks over the past five years and until the other day in Nairobi, we’d never met face to face. We’d chatted on Skype, by email, even on the phone, but we’d never shaken hands and sat together and talked.
Joseph lives in Rwanda. His job? He represents the media ministry of Christianityworks across East Africa. Through his hard work, some 19 stations now air our programs across Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, DR Congo, Tanzania and South Sudan.
So "What’s the big deal?" you might ask.
The Stuff Heroes are Made Of
Well in building those relationships and in delivering the program CDs to stations every few months by hand, Joseph regularly travels through war zones and faces dangers and hardships that simply beggar belief. We haven’t yet been able to afford to get him a good second hand 4WD to get him around, so he travels on long, uncomfortable, bumpy bus trips.
And yet somehow, to him, that’s all par for the course. It’s no big deal.
There’s never any grumbling or complaining. There are no tantrums, no drama, no histrionics, no demands. He just gets on with his mission to spread the Gospel through the media, by putting it all on the line for Jesus. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year.
The Impact of a Hero
And through those years of quiet, hard work and dedication, applying his gifts and abilities to build relationships with radio stations and church leaders...literally millions of people are now hearing the good news of Jesus every week across East Africa.
Okay, hang on a minute. Is that an exaggeration?
I sat yesterday with one Program Director from a station in Uganda who told me that over 300,000 people are listening to our daily 10 minute program – in fact advertisers are scrambling, he told us, to advertise either side of this Christian program, because of the size of the audience that the Gospel draws.
I met another Program Director today who had recently conducted a comprehensive audience survey – over 800,000 people listening just to the weekly half hour Christianityworks program!
And the truly staggering thing to me is that Joseph just doesn’t see himself as “a hero”.
Although I wonder if that isn’t one of the essential characteristics of a true hero. Here’s this plain, ordinary, unassuming young man – the quintessential “quiet achiever” – through whom God achieves absolutely extraordinary things. How? Why?
Just because the guy shows up each day and gets on with what God has for him on that day.
Becoming a Hero
When I think of Bubahase Joseph, this is the Scripture that springs to mind:
And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7)
Take that Scripture, let God write it on your heart, live it out in your life and you know something? I think each one of us has the capacity to become, in our own special, quiet, unassuming way, someone else’s hero.
Here’s to putting it all on the line for Jesus!
3rd July 2012
HOW CAN THE CHURCH GET IT SO WRONG?
On the 14th of May, 2012, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was awarded the Templeton Prize, one of the world’s richest individual prizes valued at around $USD 1.8 million.
The award was given for: his work in encouraging scientific research and harmony among religions. It was presented inside St Paul’s cathedral in London, after Buddhist monks spent time chanting and worshipping in God’s house.
So, how could the Church get it so wrong? Well, here’s how:
We’ve Misunderstood Pluralism vs Tolerance
Pluralism is the darling philosophy of our age. Anybody who denies it (let’s say...like someone who believes in Jesus) is decried as being intolerant. But tolerance and pluralism are two profoundly different things.
According to the Harvard Pluralism Project, pluralism is not a mere acceptance of diversity, but the energetic engagement with diversity – the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference. Pluralism is the fundamental belief that deeply different commitments and understandings (such as those found in the different world religions) can and should coexist and through dialogue, seek to find common ground so that they can work together.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but Jesus was tolerant – yet not in any way pluralistic.
When, during his arrest, Peter His disciple cut the ear off one of His assailants, Jesus told Peter to put his sword back in its sheath (John 18:11) and cried “no more of this!” – touching the injured man’s ear and healing him (Matt 26:51). That’s tolerance – He tolerated opposition, even at the cost of his own life.
But a pluralist He was not.
I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. (John 14:6)
Nothing airy-fairy in that about all religions being the same; about accepting a faith in something or someone else as being equally valid. In fact read the rest of the Bible, and that’s something God is very clear on. There is one God. One Saviour. One Way. That’s it.
So – should we again launch the Crusades with sword in hand, to wipe other religions off the face of the earth. Not according to Jesus.
Okay then. Should we instead adopt the enlightenment of contemporary thought, embracing pluralism, inviting Buddhists to worship in God’s house, marching arm in arm with all religions for world peace?
No! Because there is only one Way.
Pluralism and religious tolerance are two profoundly different things. There is a line between the two. A very clear line. And that line has a name. It’s name is – Jesus which is why it is a stumbling block to the popularist.
The Popular versus the Unpopular
The Dalai Lama has the luxury of proclaiming a popular message. In covering the fact that he was to receive the Templeton Award, the Indian Express reports that:
The ceremony will celebrate his long-standing engagement with multiple dimensions of science and with people far beyond his own religious traditions, which made him an incomparable global voice for universal ethics, non-violence and harmony among world religions,” organisers said. The Templeton Prize honours a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.
A popular message indeed. Ethics, religious harmony and an affirmation of life’s spiritual dimension. That’s three birds with one stone. That’s a message that many want to pull up next to...at least on the surface.
But it has nothing whatsoever to do with what Jesus is all about. This God of love sends His Son to die for us, but His Son makes it clear that not all would be happy with who He is, what He says and what He stands for:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. (Matt. 10:34-36)
In fact so unpopular and unpalatable was Jesus’ message that many disciples turned back and no longer went about with him (John 6:66). So unpopular was His message, that they nailed Him to a cross.
Just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it’s true. And that applies totally to the darling philosophy of our day, pluralism.
Something the Dalai Lama Can Teach the Church
Yes – there is something the Dalai Lama can teach the Church – especially its leaders. In a recent post, I decried the ineffective communication of church leaders in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus in the media over Easter.
Whilst I disagree with 99.9% of what the Dalai Lama says, and 100% of what he stands for – you know what? He is one of the most effective communicators on the world stage today (if not the most effective). And to be perfectly blunt, he makes most of our church leaders look like troglodytes when it comes to their inability to proclaim the greatest Message of all.
If there’s one thing we (the Church) can learn from the Dalai Lama, it’s how to communicate our message.
And just quietly, the other thing he has going for him is integrity – not a sniff of scandal. No systematic cover up of abuse.
So – effective communication and credibility. That’s kind of handy – do you think?
If nothing else, the Dalai Lama is a rude wake-up call to the Church. So Church - wake up!
16th May 2012
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