Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Send Us To Kenya

Dear Family and Friends,                      "I already know I want to donate" - click here

Greetings! We pray that this letter finds you well. We are in our 4th year of living in Nashville and who would have dreamed so much would happen in four years? We have seen doors open that we never imagined and opportunities presented to us that were pleasantly unexpected.
We would like to share with you one of those opportunities and invite your support. We have an incredible opportunity to engage with an amazing organization in Kenya, Africa called, Made in the Streets MITS (

Context For The Trip
Nairobi is the capital city of Kenya and home to over three million people. It is a city of contrasts. It is both an economic center in the nation and at the same time home to thousands of children who are on the streets with no parents, no homes, and no hope. Most of these children are abused, hungry, and addicted to substances - glue sniffing is a pervasive and destructive problem for these children who live in the streets.
MITS is a child development program that uses a holistic approach to address the serious issue of child homelessness and the related problems of abuse and addiction. MITS reaches out to children who are still on the streets. They identify children who are ready to leave the street life and offer them something better. Once a child is taken off the street, their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and clothes are met first. As children are able and old enough, they are given incredible opportunities in education and learning trades such as auto mechanics, sewing, woodworking, catering, hairdressing, computers or farming.

How We Plan To Engage
            Engaging with MITS as a family is a rare and beautiful opportunity. There will be two kinds of engagement during this trip.
The first kind of engagement is the children who have been rescued off the streets. This trip is unique in that the plan for the trip is to engage the unique qualities and skills of the Americans with the unique qualities and skills of the Kenyans. Chris will engage in some staff training (and getting training from staff) on child development and will be exploring how Positive Youth Development might intersect with the work of the program. Gail and Sierra will engage in the young women learning to sewing and singing. Canaan will gravitate toward the farming and computers. 
The second kind of engagement will be with children on the streets of the Eastleigh Suburb of Nairobi. We will observe and even participate in the outreach work done in the streets is Eastleigh. So, in a sense, we will see both the challenge that exists in the streets as well as participate in the existing programs that address these challenges. 

How You Can Engage
We would love to have your support in any or all of the following three ways: Prayer, Financial, Social Media. You will see more details for each on the following page.
Our financial needs include airfare, ground travel, lodging, food, immunizations, passports and visas. For each of us, the cost is roughly three thousand dollars for a grand total of $12,000.
We depart July 15, 2014 and return July 30, 2014.


Chris, Gail, Sierra & Canaan Gonzalez
Twitter: @fajitaboy


PAY TO THE ORDER OF: Otter Creek Church of Christ
STICKY NOTE: "Gonzalez"

Otter Creek Church of Christ
409 Franklin Rd.
Brentwood, TN 37027

Saturday, February 08, 2014

A Prayer for the Board of Trustees at Lipscomb University


Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus, we come to you today grateful for your generosity in allowing us to breathe another day full of breath, for the privilege of being alive. We come grateful for the responsibility of being situated as leaders at Lipscomb University. You have positioned us to touch the lives of students, their families, their friends, their churches. Everything we do vibrates across hundreds or even thousands of relationships, plucking the tender and resilient strands that hold people together. Let us now take off our sandals, for you have placed us on holy ground.

As a Christian institution of higher learning located in Nashville, in Middle Tennessee, in the Southeast, in the United States, in the world we have the choice either to close ourselves off and protect ourselves from the world and culture that swirls about us or to engage this world and culture.

May we resist the temptation to disengage as the Essenes did finding comfort and identity in separating from the world about them, settling into an insular seclusion as though we can somehow be separate from anyone else.

May we resist the temptation to engage as the Pharisees did finding comfort and identity in judging the world about them, settling into self-righteousness and spiritual pride as though we could be spiritually superior to anyone else.

May we resist the temptation to engage as Rome did finding comfort and identity in lording over others with power and authority, settling into domination and oppression as though the power we have was meant to control others.

Instead, guide us as we engage this amazing world around us. We seek to follow the way of Christ as he engaged the world. Let us make an incarnational engagement with this place, with everyone we touch. Let us be fully in this world while not being of this world. Let us be generous like Jesus, giving ourselves away without losing ourselves. Let us be an aroma that promises delight and let us be the delight to the world that we promise to be. Let us change this place by goodness not force, by kindness not judgment, by connection not protection. Let every single thing we do leave a generous and unforgettable experience for this world to ponder.

With the responsibility and privilege we have been graciously given, we ask for boldness. May we be bold. Truly bold. Not the imposing boldness that flows from arrogance, not the flailing boldness that comes from desperation, not the explosive boldness that ignites from anger, but rather the generous and engaging boldness that can only exude from humility.

With the responsibility and privilege we have been graciously given, we ask for wisdom. May we be wise in leveraging our collective experiences, wounds, successes, failures, skills, talents, deficiencies and personalities for the benefit and blessing of the world around us. And yet even with all of that, we ask for more wisdom. Give us wisdom beyond ourselves. Give us wisdom that we have not earned through experience. Give us divine wisdom. In your word you promised that a request for wisdom would not be denied and so we come expectant.

We are grateful for being blessed with the privilege and responsibility of Lipscomb University.

We offer up this prayer in Jesus name.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Grief Demands A Story

Grief demands a story. It is story inertia - story energy that sits heavy on the soul. It may be so heavy the soul can hardly pull itself out from underneath it. Early on, it simply can't. Grief is meaning that must be storied. Grief introduces piles and mounds and layers deep of meaning with no pre-programmed language or behaviors by which to tell the story. Grief does not ask for you to read lines; it requires that you write them - in a language you have never spoken. Grief, the relentless and ever flowing source of disquieting, disrupting, unstoried meaning, tires the body and wears on the mind, stress-fractures the soul, sets granite boulders on the heart and then says, "speak!" 

For my grieving friends, I know you are tired and weary and may be looking for a place where grief is not or a moment when grief sleeps - so you can also sleep. I also know such a place does not exist and such moments for rest are elusive. You may look at the days before you as an endless line of blank hours awaiting processing. 

It is my prayer that you can find some way in all the disorienting emptiness to story your grief. In words. In song. In dance. In tears. In prayer. In poetry. In mission. In art. 

And it is my prayer that you will have genuine and humble listeners. Real listeners. May listeners be near you when you can story your grief, the kind of listeners who are uninterested by anything else in the world but you, who are undistracted by any other care in the world, whose listening humbly invites more story.