Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My buddy.

This little guy was at the clinic with his sister. They were both SO cute (I took this shot). I wanted to take them home with me.

But if my family says I'm not allowed to get a puppy, I'm sure they wouldn't approve of my adopting a human child. Hmm.

Visiting the Mo Bay Locations

Today was simply amazing. I traveled with Miles and a team of people to visit the main sites around Montego Bay and see what Miles Ahead volunteers have been doing over the past few days. We checked out Farm School where the team built a wall to keep out intruders. In the past, men from the community would sneak into the girls’ bathroom and there was a serious risk of rape. Older children would also come on campus and steal money from the younger boys. This wall will stand to protect these kids for generations to come. The team also totally renovated the bathrooms, installing lights, cleaning and painting everything and upgrading all of the plumbing, giving the school flush toilets for the first time.

After that, we headed to St. John’s Church where a large medical facility was established. Miles Ahead brought over $5 million worth of medical equipment, care and pharmaceuticals. We heard story after story about lives being changed and some literally being save. One patient had a tooth infection that spread to his jaw. They were able to operate and literally save this mans’ life. The doctors said if the infection were allowed another 48-hours to spread, he would have died. There were also some really cute kids at the clinic that I was able to play with (I took the above photo of one of them…).

After the Med Clinic, we met up with the Street Evangelism team for a while and finally checked in with Flankers School where Miles Ahead was able to do a total facelift by painting the entire building and redoing some old murals.

I was tired today, having been on the road (and in the air) for over a week. But when I see what everyone else has been doing and the amazing things God has done in this city, I am excited, and feel honored to be able to do the work I do.

Miles told me towards the end of the tour that we could go home tomorrow and this trip would have been worth it. I totally agree.

… But the crusade is going to Rock, so I think we’ll stick around for a few more days. ;)

Tomorrow we have a number of VIP events including a meeting with the Mayor of Montego Bay, a meeting with “the Queen’s Representative” and dinner with major donors who have made this work possible.

All work and no play...

Monday, April 28, 2008

I see white people.

We entered the airport at Port of Spain and I was overwhelmed with the number of white people! Of course, they were all flying American Airlines. We walked right past those counters to the Caribbean Airlines desk where I am once again in the minority. This is so much fun.

"Toto, I have a feeling we are not in East Greenwich anymore." :)

I’m also beginning to realize how small some of these islands are. Stitchie, the Christian Reggae artist I met over the weekend is sitting in the row in front of me on the plane (I was NOT expecting to see anyone I knew on here…). At one point over the weekend, I called one of the Trinidad pastors. The woman who answered the phone told me I had the wrong number. I apologized and was about to hang up when she said, “but you’re only off by one number. Pastor Griffith’s number is 686-…” Not only did she know the pastor, she gave me the correct number!

This is a good place. There’s no doubt we’ll be back and I’m looking forward to it.

I'll be at the pool

Today is a travel and rest day. We flew from Port of Spain, Trinidad to… some other island (?) to St. Maarten and finally to Kingston Jamaica where we checked in to the hotel. Miles has an early morning TV interview (6:15am) followed by a press conference before we fly to Montego Bay to join the 280 people from the Rock Church who are going service projects before this weekend’s Crusade. This is my first and possibly only chance I’ll get to put on my bathing suit and hang out at the pool. Sure we’re in the Caribbean, but wow, is it a lot of work! It’s exciting but is far from the vacation my friends seem to think I’m taking.

The hour-long vacation I’m taking this afternoon will be more than enough for me. Then it’s back to work at press conferences, media appearances, service projects, VIP dinners (including one with the Prime Minister of Jamaica) and meetings with other local business, church and government leaders… I never said the work wasn’t fun an exciting!

When God Says, "Go Take a Hike"

Miles is working on his next book, and it tremendously exciting to see the process and work that takes place behind closed doors. The theme of the Rock Church is “Do Something” and Miles inspires every day to put their faith into action and step out to transform our communities and society with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I haven’t said anything to him yet, but this is right in line with the book God has put on the hearts of a few people very close to me. The story of my hiking the Appalachian Trail at 17 and trusting in God to carry me through the 2,168-miles of wilderness is exactly what we want people to do. We don’t have all of the answers. We don’t know why we’re supposed to be in certain places or situations but that isn’t our job. Our job is to listen to and obey God.

There are times when others will oppose what you feel God is telling you. That’s normal. But the exciting thing is, others that are in tune with God’s Will, will come out of nowhere and affirm what is being put on your heart. Before I moved to San Diego, I knew God was calling me to go there to work for a Christian leader making an impact on the world through San Diego. In my limited understanding, I thought that meant I was to work for Ken Blanchard (at the time, he was the only person I knew who fit that description).

But when things didn’t come together with the Ken Blanchard Companies and I was presented with an opportunity to connect with a major consulting firm in LA, I turned it down. I didn’t know the details, but I trusted God wanted me to be in San Diego, not LA. Three days later after telling thanking the firm for their interest but turning them down, Miles called me and said he wanted to talk.

The really cool part is that Ken has mentored Miles for a few years now. I have met Ken and talked with him a few times on the phone. Miles will be co-hosting the Lead Like Jesus summit this October in Georgia along with Ken Blanchard (I’ll be going). I’ve been told that working as Miles’ assistant, I have better access to Ken than if I were hired as one of the three-hundred-something employees at the Ken Blanchard Companies.

We don’t know what God has in store. But that’s the cool thing, we don’t have to because He is God and we are not.

"No Cause for Alarm"

We just took off from the airport in St. Maarten, heading to Kingston, Jamaica. Before “blast off” the pilot came on the PA system and warned us that this was a full-throttle take-off with a sharp and immediate banking turn to the right. He assured us that it would be a rough ride, there was no cause for alarm. Somehow, the caution didn’t make me feel any less apprehensive about what was about to happen…

God Bless the Broken Road...

A few days before leaving on this trip to Sacramento, Trinidad and Jamaica, I met with a friend for coffee. He has experienced an amazing transformation in his life since he became accepted Christ. This former professional gambler, smuggler of sorts and all-around wild guy, shared part of his story with me. Like me, he had some rough relationships in the past (to put it mildly) but his perspective on his past was exciting and refreshing. He has a clear understanding that God used those experiences to bring him to where he is today.

Instead of thinking what he would do differently or kicking himself for mistakes made, he is thankful for the rough and rocky pack he has taken because it was the path that brought him to where he is today. That is the most powerful part of his testimony.

It’s amazing to see where I was a few short years ago. The “success” I experienced in school (3.6 GPA), hiking over 5,000-miles and setting a speed record in the process, being promoted to a full-time management job while still in college, having an attractive long-term girlfriend, and leadership positions in just about every organization I came in contact with - left me feeling totally unfulfilled, unchallenged and bored with life. It didn’t make any sense. And yet, that was what it took to make me realize there was something huge missing in my life and I can use that past to share Christ with others who may be in the place where I was.

There was a time when I wanted to go back and change some of the choices (read: mistakes) I made, but God’s plan is perfect and looking at where it has taken me and the path I’m on now, I wouldn’t change a thing.

No Time for Love

Looking in the rear-view mirror, the driver asked, “Pastor Brad, have you got any Kids?”

Laughing, Miles decided to answer this one for me, “He is still a kid himself!”

Thanks Miles.

Just before taking this job as Miles’ assistant, I was supposed to go out with a very nice young lady from the Rock. Darah asked if I thought it was a good idea to possibly complicate my life even more by perusing a relationship. Without giving it a second thought, I said, “yes, I think it’s a good idea…” (Seriously, what kind of a question is that?).

Whelp, God had other plans and has kept me single. Ha ha. He is good and as always, knows what’s best for me even when I may disagree at first. My sister made mention of the situation to Miles a week before I was hired. His response was, “That boy is not going to have any time for girls…” Miles was right.

On a cool / creepy side note, I’ve had an idea of what God has in store for me down the road. This idea is so “out there” it would have to be a God thing. Knowing that (and not wanting to sound like a crazy person), I’d only told two of my closest friends what I thought was coming down the road.

I could hear the hesitation in my mom’s voice two weeks ago when she asked my permission to pray for something. This “something” was exactly what I had told a friend about a year earlier… Fun stuff. I’ll be able to give more details later.

We're BFF

This is my new friend's website. His lyrics are AMAZING. Get Up Stand Up is my favorite. He sang it in Church Sunday.

I'm going to try to post the lyrics once I find them (it's fast...).

Jamaica Video #1

I've arrived...

It's the little things in life that excite me. After making that video, I went to crash on the bed and saw they each had the word "soft" or "firm" embroidered on the case... How cool is that? I'll probably use all four.


Trinidad Video Blog

Sunday, April 27, 2008

They keep calling me "Pastor Brad"

Hello family,

I had dinner with a group of pastors and business leaders tonight. A guy (I don't know his name - he just introduced himself as a Man of God) pulled me aside as I was walking to the car. He told me that noticed I was hanging in the back, helping out but being quiet. He said that while I'm in the background now, he said God spoke to him and said that I'm like David and that I will be lifted up and used for amazing things in my life.

I had no communication with this guy before the very end of dinner when he came up and said that out of the blue. It was very cool. This is SO much work but I'm learning a lot and really feel it's a time of preparation. We even met with a writer / creative person in Sacramento and the whole time, God was saying, "this work is getting you ready to write and share your story..."

Please pray for that - and for God's timing in all of this.

I also made friends with a reggae artist from Jamaica named "Stichie" [ ] (he's a big deal in the Caribbean) AND a pastor from South Africa who is going to come visit us in San Diego in July and possibly help us plan a crusade in South Africa in 2010 (2009 is probably going to be in Trinidad).

It's a really cool, exciting and tiring trip.

Oh yeah, and I haven't seen another white person since the airport. God's taken me out of East Greenwich, for sure.

Good night, I'm ready to crash!