Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Baby is Proof, wk1

Click here for a free PDF copy of my message text.
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By Tuesday afternoon an audio version shows up here.
Or you can open iTunes & search for "Oakbrook Podcasts"

Will the month ramping into Christmas be:
A 4-week shopping trip
An intimate relationship?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How am I Doing, Really?

It's now a week later after the attack on our apartment in Haiti by six armed gunmen. (Click here for the Oakbrook recap of it.) A natural question for people is, "How are you doing?"

Let me answer that by first taking you to my myopic view of the ordeal. I awaken to the siege in progress. I walked out of my bedroom door into a struggle just a couple feet away at our exterior door; bad men trying to rush our door. Chris Herr, Jason Braun, Bruce Donaldson, and Brad Downing were holding an unlatched door closed; unlatched because they had lodged a crowbar and other items in it.

Jason shouts, "Morg, get on the door!" From there Jason and Brad run to work on a plan B. They settled on plan C, Jason jumping out the window for help. Bruce hung in there by the door until he yells, "I'm shot!" He goes for a towel for the blood that's flowing from his arm.

The rest of the 25-30 minute assault it's Chris and I on the door. The entire time the Haitians trying to rush it. I turn my head towards Rex as he screams as he's shot. It's getting crazier and bloodier. More desperate. I'm scare to the depths of my soul. I have cotton-mouth to a ridiculous degree. I'm shouting prayers. Gunmen are shooting. Glass is breaking. There's no power; it's dark. I hear them reload. A round shoots through the door. Had I not moved seconds earlier it would have hit me in the chest.

I feel an intense heat on my left thigh. I say, "Shit. I'm shot! Shit, shit, shit. I'm shot!" I only know that because Rex told me later. I had no recollection of saying that. In my mind, I simply realized because of the heat and feeling the blood rolling down my leg, that I'd been shot. I never felt the slightest pinch of the bullet.

Chris and I stay on the door. I know I'm shot but my leg seems to still work. It only makes sense to stay with Chris on the door. If they get in it's over for sure. I'm not thinking; I'm simply reacting. At what feels like the utter desperation point, I start yelling as loudly as I can, repeatedly, "STOP SHOOTING AT US!"

Shortly thereafter there is no rush upon the door. Are they reloading? No. They have left.

At this point an unbelievable peace and assurance washed over me. Time slows down back into real time. I need shoes. I need help walking to get my wound tended to. Joel and I share a worship chorus. I ask Joel to help me walk because I may be standing only because of adrenaline; perhaps my leg will buckle as I settle down.

I am relieved. I am only shot. Nothing like the more terrifying thoughts I had moments ago. I get to the back bedroom. Several people are there in various stages of shock and emotion. It's clear that I need to stay calm and help calm others. I make a joke about not being able to drum tonight. More than bandages, I want a drink of water. Maggie almost drowns me.

I'm laying on the bed while DeeDee puts a towel on my bloody leg. I turn my head to the left and see my sister (ok, she is like a sister to me) Julie sobbing in front of Shelia. I call her over. I pull her head into my chest, put my hand on her head and say in a repeating whisper, "It's ok. We're all ok."

This may sound odd, but I've been ok ever since the gunmen left our apartment. That's not to say I haven't been sad, worried, troubled, mad and a host of other emotions, but I have had peace.

I think one of the questions that has nagged at my soul all of my adult life is, "Do I really have what it takes? If it hits the fan, will I freeze or be able to stand?" I've had bad dreams where I couldn't speak or move.

But it's as if in the calm of the gunmen's exit, the Holy Spirit said to me, "Let's not ask this question any more. You held the door. With a bullet wound, you stayed on the door then kept a cool head. You have what it takes."

To be incredibly clear, I count everything I was able to do as grace and provision from God. All of us were in the places God wanted us to be. I didn't make any decisions that night other than staying where Jason asked me to be.

At this point I consider myself blessed to be more whole than I was before this hideous ordeal. I ran how I was feeling about all this past one of our trauma counselors. He said that there is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that we often hear about. There is also something called Post Traumatic Growth, where we grow or learn something positive having been through trauma. That's how I feel. I feel more like the man God made me to be.

How am I doing? By the grace of God Almighty I am more whole than I have ever been---even with two holes in my leg ;-)

Much love to the tons of people who've expressed love, concern and said prayers on my (and our) behalf. Keep praying for healing for our team!



Monday, November 7, 2011

Oakbrook Staff Learns from Scott Pitcher

From time to time our Oakbrook staff hits the road to sit under local leaders to try to learn and grow. Last Tuesday we were graciously hosted by local businessman and entrepreneur, Scott Pitcher.

In addition to being the driving force behind Kokomo having an attractive downtown, he's also been instrumental in Oakbrook's development over the years. Everything from wise advice to a young Mark Malin to offering us first shot at the land that is our current church home on Emerald Lake.

Here are just some of the things I took away:

"You gotta have a little bit of a mean streak and a lot of patience to survive in this business."

"Before I put together the front of the house for Cook McDoogals I had my secretary order every book Amazon had on Irish pubs..."

"Kokomo is now in a lateral market; when one business opens, another one closes...the housing market isn't coming back for a while. Now's a great time to buy."

"There's nothing new in architecture since the 3rd century."

"Everything cycles."

"I'm paid to be an optimist."

What do you have to do and what shouldn't you do for Fortune Management? "I have to set the quality standard on every job every day. The girls in the front office really run the company. I couldn't do what they do."

You've had lots of opportunities. You could have moved to other areas of the country. Why Kokomo?
"It's home...Kokomo is what we make's a good city--it's well run compared to lots of cities..."

What do you think about the future of Kokomo? "Since Chrysler's putting a billion in I'd say we're good for another generation...Syndicate Sales and Haynes are doing well...I think we're going to be fine...but there are always challenges wherever you go..."

I love being around Scott Pitcher. He's a colorful guy who's like an iceberg: much more to him than meets the eye. He's a tough businessman, a generous soul, a creative genius, an infectious optimist and when the history of Kokomo is written, there will be a chapter on him.

Bibles for Haiti UPDATE

How do you buy 48* Creole Bibles for Haiti at a cost of over $1,440? One or two at a time!

I published this post soliciting help purchasing Bibles on Oct 11 and they've been trickling in since. Mostly one Bible at a time. Sometimes two, a couple of times, four at a time.

They were purchased predominantly by people from Oakbrook but I know of at least one from a friend in West Virginia. They were purchased by 20-somethings to senior citizens and every age in between.

If people say that Facebook and Twitter are only noise, I have 48* reasons that say this isn't so. It was through social media that I was able to get the message out and how people responded.

We will take many of these with us this Saturday. I expect that we have enough Bibles to send some with subsequent trips heading down in the next few months.

It's important to note that there is a genuine desire to know God and His Word among the Haitian people. These will be highly appreciated and prized.

Cynics often ask, "Why take Bibles to starving people in Haiti?"

The answer is simple. We are trying to minister to them holistically--to their hunger for food and their hunger for God. Missions isn't base needs OR spiritual needs. It's base needs AND spiritual needs because people hunger for both. People need food to get through today and hope to want to rise tomorrow.

A huge heart-felt thanks to everyone who bought a Creole Bible!

One more request: If you bought one, pray for the future recipient of it... 

Our team will be there Nov 12-21. If you'd like to pray for us:
Jason & Cole Braun
Didi Petty
Brad Downing
Bruce Donaldson
Chris & Linda Herr
Shelia Miller
Julie Baldini 
 (of the "Flying Baldinis" circus fame)
Maggie Duncan
Monty Sanders
Joel Larison
Rex Byers
Morgan Young