Monday, November 26, 2012


Now that Team FCC Honduras is safe back in the States I can’t help but reflect on our time away. It is evident that God did not just call the 15 individuals who traveled to Honduras but it was the collaboration of hard work and selfless acts from an entire faith family, our denomination, another congregation, CASM (the local agency in Honduras) and many others. But it is important to know a little bit about those who actually made the trip. There was some who were in a very dark season of their life. Some were struggling with relationships, financial stress, work place overload, and anxiety. There were some who were searching for direction and discernment in their life and in their faith. There were some representing the next generation of God’s servants who stepped up to serve God with a new sense of conviction, enthusiasm, and vibrant energy. There were some of an older generation who did not let their physical limitation keep them from experiencing doing missions. There where parents who were busting with pride as they got the opportunity to see their children live out their faith in a very relevant way. There were some who left their young children behind for the first time to step out of their comfort zone to do something that would change a stranger’s life forever. Then there was a close to burned out, grey haired, fat minister who made a ton of promises. He promised a lot of money would be raised, travel would be safe,(not comfortable but safe) and if the group would be open to God’s spirit, they would witness and experience the Holy presence of God like they have never experienced before. While we are fresh off the journey and have not had enough time to process it all it was a journey of faith.

I am reminded of what James, whom some scholars believe was the brother of Jesus, writes about how do we are to “do” our faith. James writes: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26-27

James reminds us that we are not only to use our words but our actions to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. Team FCC Honduras’ mission was to traveled to Copan Ruinas Honduras to build stoves, that we did, but God had another unforeseen plan for us. On Sunday we visited Angelitos Felices. When we arrived at Angelitos Felices the first thing that hit us was the stench. A repulsive smell that made everyone’s stomach turn. Angelitos Felices is a home for children who have been abandoned because their parents were no longer capable of taking care of them. The group stood nervously at the door while the mass group of children took their seats. We lingered in the door way because of the stench. With over 24 young children and one or two adults to care for them one can imagine the amount of help needed to keep the children clean. Just by mere ratio of children to adults changing diapers is constant. There are children who at the age of two or three found themselves on the streets, abandoned, thrown out like garbage and having to fend for themselves. The children were not use to physical contact with anyone. Then it began to change. It began with a hug, a song, a round to two of the Hooky Pokey, as we began to intermingle their smiles began to rain down on us like a hurricane. They began to embrace us, hug on us, climb on us. You could not give out enough love to curb their enthusiasm. Then the stench was miraculously gone. Was it because we loved them or because they loved us? But for a brief time something mystical, magical, and indescribable happened. I believe it was a brief glimpse of the kingdom of God.

That was how our week began. Our week ended by returning to Angelitos Felices. We fixed their broken beds, brought some sheets, Dr. Rhonda examined all the children, and we took them on a picnic. For that day they got to be regular children and we got to be parents. Nothing we did was big but children and adults sharing an acceptance and unconditional love. Strangers up until that week but now connected forever in our hearts. What about that repulsive smell?

I will never forget that smell because I believe Christ doesn’t want me too. If you study the life of Christ you will notice that Jesus tolerated the rich at best but was drawn, went out of his way, to be with the poor. Christ’s heart was with those who by no fault of their own cannot take care of themselves. I strongly believe that in the stench, Christ was saying poverty stinks, abandonment reeks, and neglect is repulsive. It stinks that there are so many precious people in this world who have so little when I have so much. It stinks. But it is in the stench is where we find Jesus. Many times it is in the most undesirable conditions we find the unconditional love. In the most remote place we find our glimpse of God’s kingdom here on earth. There at Angelitos Felices, which is translated as Happy Angels, we will never know if it was the love we gave the children or the love the children gave to us be we are sure without a doubt we felt a love, peace, hope, and joy like nothing here on this earth. Maybe it is in that place where we find God’s happy angels in the form of children at the place where my hearts longs to return.
Shalom, Tommy

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

After the 2012 Election is OVER, NOW What?

In the aftermath of last night’s election results I have been called to respond in some way. The results of the election on exactly who holds the office of president of the United States does not have to be the totality of the outcome. Here are just some thoughts I have taken away from this year’s electoral season.

The 2012 election and any election is just a season. The reality of the process of any election is that it takes division to become victorious. One side must recruit, persuade, or manipulate you into thinking not only that their way is the best but the other side is dangerous. Please remember that this is only one season. Seasons come and go. People will get on with their daily lives, going to work, paying taxes, and raising their families. Those that are celebrating in victory, your elation will quickly pass. Those who are experiencing the agony of defeat, this too will change. There will be other elections, other candidates, other pressing issues, and other times of division so do not let this brief moment in time define who we are as a nation.

Relationships are always more important than votes or candidates. Yesterday I had a choice of casting just one vote for one of two gentlemen. I had to choose between two people whom I do not know personally, have never met, nor will I probably ever meet on a personal level. The two candidates were presented to me and I chose one that was the closest in line with my ideology, my theology, my ethical decision making, and my moral compass. Honestly neither was a perfect or ideal fit, so I chose the one closest to my own beliefs. It doesn’t mean if someone voted for the other that they are any less intelligent, compassionate, or informed than I am. It simply means, given a choice between the two, they choose differently. I cannot think of one person I would want to be president that would cost me a friendship or strain a relationship I had with anyone. Presidents come and go, they will be judged for their actions by our Creator just like I will. Win or lose I pray people can begin to repair any relationships that was damaged or strained during this electoral season. If one’s truly goal is the betterment of our country, we must be able to look past the office of president and into the eyes of our friends and family and begin to heal. We must be willing to mend relationships if we are going to heal our nation.

The outcome of any election has no relevance to my faith in God. I strongly believe whether my candidate won or lost the outcome has no influence what so ever on my relationship with Christ. In my practice of faith, for me, Christ does not tell me to vote for one guy or the other but he does call me to be compassionate, merciful, understanding, and open to all His children. If my dude won last night it doesn’t mean God loves me more than another. If my guy lost, it doesn’t mean God loves or favors me any less. Simply put, it was two political parties that went head to head in one election, not two religions. What does have an impact on my relationship with God is how I act moving forward. Do I gloat and put down my neighbor because I somehow feel victorious? Do I spread doom and fear to those around me because my guy lost? Jesus didn’t tell me to vote, he told me to love. My faith is strengthened only if I continue to love, not vote.

The day after an election tells more about the resolve, freedom, strength and unity of a nation than a leader they elected. As a nation, do we stay divided or come together to make our a better place to live. If we are to be strengthened as a nation we must work to make this a better place for everyone. We must continue to keep our elected official accountable but also not just throw insults because our team lost. We should first and foremost all want the best for our country, demand the best out of our leaders, but also do our best to make our own neighborhood a better place to live. We must be an example to our children and future generations as they are watching, learning, and will repeat our behavior and attitudes. Remember our children and grandchildren are reading our Facebook statuses, Tweeter post, and blogs and setting their moral compass by what we do. What better lesson we have the opportunity to teach our future citizens than unity after division, collaboration after competition, and resolve after battle. We all want the same thing and many times our most furious rival can become our best teammate.

I would like to be remembered by who I am as a person, husband, father, and pastor. In the totality of my life, I pray that I was able to make someone else life better. My goals and calling in life is to leave this world a little better than when I entered. For me, I am called by God and given a vision of how to carry that out each and every day. Each day God brings me opportunities to live out my purpose. I get to meet incrediable new people, I get the warmth of a hug, I get to share a prayer with someone who is struggling, I get to blesss children, join couples in marriage, and honor and celebrate the lives of those who have died, and comfort their loved ones. At the end of the day, I will find my peace, my joy, and my satisfaction on how well I lived that out each day and not who I voted for in a presidential election in 2012. End the end, with God’s help; I honestly feel I can bring about more change than someone that holds an elected office. So join with me in repairing any relationships damaged during this election, remember it’s only a brief season, live you faith not your politics and we all well be fine.
Peace, Love & Happiness: