Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's going on with the Crawfords...

Part II of II

The Thorn

Every year around Easter, New Life Church here in Colorado Springs puts on a production called ‘The Thorn’. It’s the story of Jesus in theatrical form, and covers a brief synopsis of the history of the bible with the focus on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Last week, I went to see it while Alisha took the boys to a similar but rated-G version of the production called ‘The Crown’.
I have to say, it was one of the most powerful things I’ve experienced. The quality of the production was on par with Broadway – I couldn’t believe how well done it was, with a cast of nearly 400 and professional dance-fighters, pyrotechnics, and other special effects.
Seeing the reenactment of Jesus’ flogging and crucifixion in person was something I’ll never forget. In the production, Jesus wore a lead vest to protect him from the whipping, but apparently, it doesn’t protect him from 100% of the blows. Anyway, it was very graphic and violent so it was certainly not for kids, but the overall message of hope in the production was very moving. It really brought the story of the gospels alive for me and for that reason I am very glad I went. Alisha and I actually returned the next night so she could see it too.
For some reason, seeing Jesus depicted as a normal guy, with excitement, anger, a sense of humor and passion had an impact on how I view him. I think too often we see Jesus portrayed as a meek and ‘holy’ person, but an honest reading of the bible shows much more of an everyday guy, with sarcasm and wit often mixed into the stories he told. I guess I’ve always pictured him to be kind of like a young pope, but I think that’s not at all how we was and seeing him portrayed as a normal guy in ‘The Thorn’ was a good visual reminder for me that Jesus was fully God and fully 'man' - not fully pope! I’m even convinced if he were living on earth today he’d be a Manchester United fan, and possibly even an Oregon Ducks fan too! ...Ok, I sense that I may be getting a little carried away.

Church
We’ve decided to make New Life Church our regular church here in Colorado Springs. It’s a giant church (around 10,000 members), but both Alisha and I feel that the teaching of the pastor Brady Boyd is a good fit for what God is doing in each of our lives at this time. If you’ll remember, this church has gone through two major ‘death blows’ in the past 5 years – first with the widely publicized moral fall of its founder and head pastor Ted Haggard, and then with the shooting one Sunday where two people were killed (three including the young gunman).
But Pastor Brady (though he asks to be just called Brady) came in about 3 years ago, up from Gateway church in Texas, and has really done a great job of bringing humble leadership and a very down to earth preaching style that we both really appreciate. Our boys really like the children’s program too, which was of utmost importance to us coming back from Uganda. Finally, looking ahead, they have a very active and impressive junior high and high school student ministry, so we are happy to have landed there. Actually, it's the first church we tried and we really didn't feel compelled to look around much (we attended one other church for a Sunday, which was also good but not the 'fit' we were looking for).
We weren’t necessarily looking to be in a mega-church, but with intention we have started to meet people and are excited to get involved with serving. Last week was our first time at a couple’s bible study at the church, so we’re excited to finally be meeting some people our age with kids of similar age.

Soccer
All three boys have started soccer practices with games on Saturdays. Alisha and I are playing as well, together in an indoor league on Saturday nights, and me on an outdoor mens’ team Sunday afternoons. We can’t complain too much as we do all love soccer, but the past couple of weeks have started a new phase of craziness in our lives as this is the first time that we have all three boys signed up for different teams. Brodie and Jonah each practice twice during the week and Graysen practices once, and on Saturday’s all three boys have games. I had to make up a spreadsheet for the game schedule to figure out how we get all three to the right fields at the right times! We’re not too excited about the sudden busyness of our schedule though, and we are ever mindful of our intention upon returning to the U.S. to not get caught up in the hecticness that plagues so many families in our culture. We thought that limiting each boy to one activity at a time would be a good strategy, but this soccer schedule has shown even that to make for a challenging schedule.
Beyond soccer, Alisha and I have each been mentoring an EMI intern this semester. Alisha’s intern is a young, engaged civil engineering intern so they’ve been able to connect a lot about her upcoming marriage.

Strategic Development
I am a part of a team of 6 or 7 EMI staff who are working on a 15-page document that will outline EMI’s new strategic development program. Initiatives that we are researching include: providing professional development for developing world design professionals; implementing sustainable/renewable technologies in the developing world; poverty reduction projects; emphasizing working with asset-based mission organizations; and expanding our roles in both relief and development projects, to name a few. The EMI board of director’s has requested us to produce this strategic plan for the next 10 years of EMI as we look to improve and significantly broaden our involvement in ministering to the poor around the world.
Specifically, I have been tasked with researching the state of design professionals in the developing world and reporting to the committee on what trends exist in that realm. We’re looking at that to determine what further areas EMI might be able to assist and what some appropriate steps might be that we could take to implement some of the initiatives we’re considering.
I know this sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, so a way of summarizing all of this is: EMI is looking at two things - how we can do what we do more effectively, and how we can do even more to help bring both the gospel and physical relief and development to the developing world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What’s going on with the Crawfords these days...

Part I of II

Winter Project trip (Uganda) update
Interns Phil and Alex have been working hard at finalizing the project report from our trip to Uganda in February. Our goal is to finish by mid May, but we are well ahead of schedule and should be done by the end of April. The volunteers did a great job of getting the majority of the design work done in country, so we’ve just been working on putting together all the drawing sheets, writing the written report, printing out the colored renderings and making sure all the different components are in place and consistent with each other. As we’ve been working on it, the ministry has been forging ahead with the work on site, so we’ve been feeding them individual documents such as the site grading plan to ensure that they can move forward while they are waiting for our final design report. It’s great to be involved with such a proactive ministry who has already started implementing our design!

Disaster Relief
EMI’s Disaster Response (DR) program is currently standing by to hear from some of our partners about the potential areas where an EMI DR team might be needed in Japan. At this time, there has been no formal request for help made to EMI. However, we have been in close communication with our relief partners and there is the potential for a future EMI DR team to be needed once the unique obstacles of this disaster are overcome. Some of these obstacles include: difficulty with access due to the limited number of Christian organizations operating on the ground prior to the disaster, a fuel shortage that is limiting movement around the country, the rapidly evolving threat of radiation exposure, the Japanese government’s control of the relief effort, as well as the difficulties with access due to the extreme infrastructural damage in the north.

The spiritual situation in Japan is quite unique. Though it is one of the most developed nations in the world, less than 1% of the Japanese people consider themselves Christians. It has historically been a very difficult place for the gospel to take root for a number of cultural and systemic reasons. The triple catastrophe (9.0 earthquake, 33 ft. tsunami wave and damage to multiple nuclear power plants) that is still unfolding in this nation of nearly 128 million citizens, though unthinkably tragic, is an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate the love of the gospel with the Japanese people in their greatest hour of need.

Our ministry with EMI
These first months in Colorado Springs, Alisha and I have been really seeking God’s will for our future with EMI, wanting to remain open to his leading in this ministry. As the months have gone on, we have really felt like God has given us a peace about being here for this time, and has given me some specific passions about my involvement with EMI. First and foremost, I feel like God is using my experience in the East Africa office to help improve the project work we do around the world. In a nutshell, amongst other things, that means phasing and refining our project designs so they become more applicable, efficient, get out faster, and encourage the ministries to involve us in the full life of their project so the designs we provide are most useful.

Also, with the new directions EMI is headed with our strategic initiatives, this will give us more capacity to explore and implement some of the exciting ideas now being researched. In short, a number of things have confirmed in my heart that EMI is where I should be for this time in life. Whether that means I’m here for 3 years or 25 years, I don’t (and really shouldn’t know) for sure. I am very excited about my developing involvement with our Projects department (more on that in future posts) as well as our HR department (more on that later too). I have felt that my involvement with our disaster response department is something I should pull back a bit on, so we are currently looking for a disaster response director who would largely take over my duties there (though I certainly could be involved in a DR trip at some point in the future).

Anyway, thank you so much for standing with us in this ministry. As an office, we have been going through a book called ‘When Helping Hurts’, meeting weekly to discuss what implications the book has for our ministry. It is a very insightful book which provides a good assessment of some ways missions-work needs to change going forward. I would highly recommend anyone involved with missions work to read the book. But as we’ve discussed this book in detail, I have become more and more convinced that the mission of EMI is uniquely situated to have a big impact on the greater mission effort of our time. I am constantly evaluating the work we do in light of what we experienced in Uganda as well as what we’re learning about missions work in general, and the more I learn the more I am excited about what EMI does and the double impact it’s ultimately having: 1) the spread of the gospel and discipleship amongst the nations; and 2) the global humanitarian effort aimed at relieving and reducing poverty.

Next project trip: Haiti, in June
My next project trip will be a first for me – the trip is not to Africa! In early June, I’ll be leading a team of approximately 10 design professionals to Limbe, Haiti, about 40 minutes west of Cap Haitian, on the northern end of the island. The Haitian-run ministry is called CEDAN (http://www.cedanmission.org/), Centre for Evangelism and Development of Acul du Nord. CEDAN operates several schools in the area and has a variety of different ministries in operation, including medical clinics, food programs for the hungry, and bible teaching. We will be designing a new multi-use building on their ministry base site. The site is small, about 1-acre, with several existing buildings on it. One building has been condemned (unrelated to the earthquake down in Port au Prince), so we will be designing a replacement building that will house a medical clinic, school classroom, ministry offices and other ministry functions. I am really looking forward to finally going to Haiti and helping this wonderful local ministry. (Sorry no pictures this time - we'll add some soon!)