Globalization: Re-uniting the Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:9 tells us that “the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” He did that because their purpose was to make a name for themselves and not to accept that God is the One for them; being part of His Kingdom…

Starting in Acts 11:19, the Bible tells about the confused and multi-culture people who reunited in Christ. “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” So, Christ brought back the world to reconcile them to God, and as a result they reconciled to each other as one People who belong to God.

Like Willow Creek says, “Only God” can do that! The miracle of reconciling people together happened when Jesus was recognized as their Lord. It’s awesome to see how God can gather people from different languages, cultures and beliefs; to form one family that worships Him.

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The Pencil of God

I was watching the movie “Mother Teresa” last night and it was very inspiring. The priest who came to check on her request to start a new congregation, orginally didn’t even want to step out of the Kalkata airport. He wasn’t interested in the vision Mother Teresa had, he didn’t see it. Even Mother Teresa told her pastor that she’d been living in the city for years, and it’s like this is her first day there!

God gave her a vision to help the poor, help the people she’s living with and not worry about her status. She believed that when she cares for them, she cared for Jesus Himself.

The Bible talks exactly about that. Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ ” Matthew 25:34 (NIV)

When the priest finally met with her, he came out and said, “Who are we to stop the pencil of God?!” I love that! When God gives a vision, He will give the resources to get it done. He will also tell others that this vision is from Him. He will open the doors, as long as, we keep the faith that He wants us to do this, and that ‘it’s not about me’!!! It’s an excersice to always remind ourselves that it’s about God. The more we remember this, the more we give Him space to do His miracles.

I’m excited about using the pencil of God! Hold the pencil and watch Him write!

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“Their memories are short”

President Obama replied in his speech to the skepticales reminding them their memories are short. They’re saying that the message of hope is too grand and that we can’t accomplish all this vision.

It reminds me of how we forget about God’s faithful when we run into crisis. That’s the age old issue that makes us sink into our current problems, get overwhelmed and forget how God has been faithful to us during our last crisis.

I know about short-term memory, my calendar has to be stuck to my phone, which has to be stuck to me at all times. If I don’t have that phone, I forget most of what happened during my day; I need to email myself quick notes in order to remember. I have to write down numbers, so I don’t forget them by the time I get to my destination to type them somewhere! That’s another reason I like technology, because it enables me to overcome some of my issues!

I’m very excited about the times we’re living in, where we can have hope that freedom will bring respect and human dignity to all. I like the statement Obama made about telling leaders everywhere, “your people will judge you by what you build, not what you destroy.” You bring it to yourself, by making poor choices of power that are selfish and forget about the people you’re leading. It’s like that saying that helps us when we’re down, “when Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!” Leaders with integrity think of others before they think of themselves; they think of coming generations and their future. They’re selfless.

The reward of someone taking care of others has always proved high. Jesus’ reward was resurrection and life! That’s His promise to us also! That’s freedom!

I’m proud of America today and I’m proud to be an American.

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

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Throughout life, we learn about freedom:

  • Jesus sets us free, which means we’re not anxious about life’s mysteries, emergencies or surprises, because we know He’s in control and He’s faithful. The deeper our relationship is with Him, the more we experience His faithfulness.
  • Living in the USA, I learned more about freedom, human rights and respect, the economy and living together from many cultures and nations.

Living in this time as history is being made is an amazing experience. To see the events unfold as they are is a gift from God. Jesus said in John 8:31, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” He introduced authentic freedom. It’s our opportunity to embrace His teachings and believe in His faithfulness to be in charge of our lives.

Martin Luther King, Jr carried on that message and believed in the freedom Christ gives us. He had the courage to go out there and tell people about what freedom looks like. It was a dream, but he knew it could be true one day, because he believed.

This week, we watch a huge part of this dream come true. It’s a great honor to be part of this time to watch America respect all people from every culture and ethnicity. Regardless of whether we agree with the politics or some of the beliefs of Obama, America has gained a huge symbol of democracy all over again. America has told the world this week that democracy and unity is a great value that is enduring regardless of all the issues that are challenging our times.

I pray for President Obama, that he have the wisdom that only God grants to keep the country united, peaceful and advance us to the next level of freedom.

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Team Work!

I was supposed to put this up about 2 months ago, but I guess better late than never! In the begining of November, a team of 7 wonderful people went on an adventure to install and setup a VoIP phone system at a Camp in the deserts of Egypt, called Wadi Sports Camp. It was a wonderful adventure and an awesome experience.

Earlier in 2008, we officially started WePartner, a non-profit organization, to help with project management on projects that impact a local community and help build new relationships. That in itself has been an adventure of faith and excitement of what God can do when He puts a vision in front of people!

We were asked by the Camp to setup a phone system for them in their new building called “The Hotel”. From its name, it’s designed like a hotel, to host coaches from all over the world to help with sports camps for the children and youth of Egypt.

Team Phones

There are 66 rooms in the hotel, plus the reception, some offices, etc… Our team met weekly over gotomeeting for about 2 months to pray, eat, discuss plans, purchase equipment, assign tasks and think of whatever we could think of to accomplish this project. It was a great experience of bonding, building trust, building relationship, and building community!

When we arrived in Egypt, they spent 5 days working very hard to setup the whole system. We had 6 local professional electricians waiting to work with the team, which helped so much in the implementation. They had run cable for us already before we arrived. They also fixed whatever wasn’t testing successful. It was great to have them for prompt response.

Terminating Wires

Cultures Building Community

It was great to have a local team work with our team from the USA. Building community among them was an awesome experience. They learned from each other new skills in technology and electrical. They learned about each others’ cultures and built relationships among each other. They communicated with skill, since they didn’t speak each others’ languages! It was such a great experience to see the relationship being built that way. It was great to see that it’s not just about technology, or cables and phones…

The team that went from the USA was a mix of people from different backgrounds and different skills. What was common between them, was that they saw the vision and followed to the fullest of energy that they had. It was a great pleasure to get to meet each and every one of them and work with them on this project. When you travel across the ocean with people, you learn so much about each other and you take the risk of trusting each other. I would travel with them anytime!

I want to thank Jeremy Hoff and Brett Rogers for their extra dedication in leading the team and setting up for the project. I want to thank everyone who donated for this project, the team volunteered their time and paid their own way all the way to Egypt and back! The sacrifice they gave was outstanding! Also, there were individuals and organizations who donated money and equipment to accomplish this task. Thank you!

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The World is Flat; Globalization 0.1

So, Thomas Friedman talks about 2 dates: 11/9 and 9/11… I have a third date! Genesis 11/9… “That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

Globalization was at its fullest pre-Genesis 11/9. In fact it’s never been like that since. People spoke only one language and with a common speech; no other language even existed, and there were not even different dialects. They lived in peace, worked together for a common goal. The problem is that their goal wasn’t very godly! So, God confused their tongues and scattered them all over the earth… He actually divided them!

I’m not a theologian, but here’s what I’m thinking. It’s almost 2009, we have the Internet (common language), most of the world can speak English, we have so many goals in common, like the global economy. We depend on each other so much that if a bank crashes in the US, another follows in Europe and China and other places… There’s also scrambling and scattering: Viruses, Internet security, multi-platforms, all the bad stuff we use the Internet for, terrorism, hatred, people just don’t understand why others are doing what they’re doing… and on and on!

What I’m learning from all this, is that we need to make sure God is in the center of all this. If we’ll learn from history, which I think we try to in general, this is a good lesson to learn from. If we only depend on each other, and forget God, we’ll stay scattered and confused. That’s what happened in Genesis 11/9… He binds us together.

We can use technology for so much good, and God has given us a perfect opportunity to use it for good. So, we have so much work to do!

Got a lot o’ work to do! Bye now!

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The World is Flat

I’ve been reading Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” on and off. Haven’t finished yet, but I’m enjoying it. He talks about a couple dates, 11/9 and 9/11… 11/9/1989 was the date the Berlin wall was opened and the world was introduced to new possibilities of partnering, innovating and globalization.

Usually, one would expect peace to come with an event like that happens. But 9/11/2001 came and the threat against peace showed up! Has it been there all along, or did it just show up? It has been there, but it didn’t have to be. Working with technology, I see the benefits of globalization. Using the Internet to share and spread information is a wonderful ability that we didn’t have before. Before the Internet and Satellite TV, we relied on local TV, newspapers, the telephone and the postal service! Remember these days?

It’s amazing how fast information travels now, and how sensitive and important it is to use the Internet wisely. When we send emails, they travel at the speed of light! Before the Internet, when we would discuss a subject, we had time to process and respond. Now, with the Internet and email, if we don’t think wisely, we respond a lot faster and sometimes it’s too late! That email went out and it can’t be recalled! Matthew 12:34 says, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” When we give our hearts time to respond, our thoughts can be one of a peacemaker.

These days, we have to think so fast to keep up with the pace. Some of us are adapting to that, and others are resisting…

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“For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:10 NIV

The Willow Christmas service is amazing this year. It’s about The Light, who came to the world, and about us as light of the world. Christ’s light brings reconciliation between God and people. Relationship is restored and people can actually experience God first-hand. Also we can experience reconciliation with each other first-hand, because God first loved us and reconciled. He is our model.

I just experienced reconciliation with a friend today and I feel refreshed! It was overdue, and I’m glad God is bringing healing. I can’t imagine how God feels everytime someone reconciles with Him!

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Church Leadership in Action

I heard today that our church in Alexandria gathered some of its leaders and went on a retreat! They played the Team Edition videos of Bill Hybels, TD Jakes and Patrick Lencioni’s talks. They had a great time discussing what they learned from the sessions and talked about what they can do with what they learned!

I’m still excited!!!! This is actually happening! It’s great when leaders share with other leaders what they learn and dialogue on how to make ‘The Hope of the World’ bring real hope!

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Global Leadership Summit in Egypt

I’m still so excited! It’s been over a month now, and this post is way overdue!

On November 7 & 8, we had an amazing event that made up for any stress I had this year! After more than a year of preparation, we had our first Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in the Middle East! It was an event that I’ve dreamed about way back in August of 2001, when I first attended a Summit at Willow. The first time I attended the summit, I said to myself, “I’ve never heard anything like this before! We’ve got to take this to Egypt and the Middle East!” I learned so much that day, it was overwhelming to me. I was working at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena at the time and was struggling to learn about leadership and how to make technology a ministry that works for the Church and ministry.

GLS Egypt 2008 - Bill Hybels

Growing up in Egypt, I never heard the teachings of leadership the way I heard them at Willow. I decided to make it commitment to attend the Summit each year, and haven’t missed it since. Having the previlidge of working at Willow some 4 years later, I had the opportunity to meet the leaders of the Global Summit and share with them the vision of taking the Summit to Egypt. We started the Journey in the Summer of 2007, and in November 2008, we had 460 registered leaders from Egypt and other Arab countries.

We had the honor of Bill Hybels’ presence, who through his humble spirit and his valuable leadership lessons, gave us 3 sessions that were outstanding. Bill Hybels is an amazing leader, he has a Jesus heart that just listens to people and learns about their situation. He delivers talks that make people learn why they were assigned by God to do His work in the Church. He makes you just want to go back and start serving right away and not waste any more time! He is very passionate about Christ and seeing the Church be the Hope of the World, he is very contagious and inspiring!

Preparing for the Summit took so much energy, but because God is good and is in control, He lead us to the success of the event. I’m so honored to have worked with the WCA staff, Willow volunteers and KDEC staff and volunteers who have given so much of their time, finances and energy to make this event a success!

I’m looking forward to next year where we can expand the opportunity to more people. Leadership is a valuable lesson and life to learn. People anywhere should be excited about learning how to lead with integrity and skills that can advance the church and advance the community and advance government.

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