Thank You, Outreach Magazine!

Every year, Outreach Magazinefiles celebrates some of the “best outreach oriented books and curricula by honoring them as Outreach Resources of the Year.”

What a great surprise and a wonderful honor to hear from my publisher today  that Sent was named to this list for 2014!

You can find their review of Sent here.

Thank you, Outreach Magazine!


Where Are They Now?

Since so many of you have asked..

In our beloved home in Southeast Asia, there are only two words representing only two ways to answer when someone asks about the status of something. One word will let you know if something has “already happened,” or “not yet happened.” One would never answer with just a “no.”  I love that because “not yet” is so hopeful; it never gives up! For example, when asked, Are you married?, your choices are “Already,” or “Not yet.” Even a single, never before married senior citizen would answer “Not yet” to that question. Isn’t that great?!

I frequently get asked about the spiritual status of the Southeast Asian friends I talk about in “Sent.” While I am thrilled to tell you that there is an incredible church planting movement happening right now in the vicinity of where we lived, when it comes to the friends that you met in “Sent,” their status as I know it today is “Not yet.” The key word there to me is …yet. As we wait, here is an update on where they all are today.

Natalie continues to live in our province where she works for another believing ex pat family. Her dream of someday owning her own home has come to fruition, though the last update I got indicated that her house was not yet complete (and may not be for many years which is typical in a place where work gets done as money is available). She didn’t move far, as her new home literally touches the home she had previously lived in (which belongs to her mother). Natalie’s two children both graduated from high school this past summer, a wonderful achievement considering she ended her formal education in middle school, and her husband, who is illiterate, never went past second grade. Natalie was hoping to send her kids to a local college, but corruption in the province interfered with the selection process, so only her son can attend right now. She has not yet had another child. Molly and I are hoping to go back to SE Asia this year to visit her. It’s time.

Lee finished medical school, moved back home to her parents’ city, married a man that she was arranged to by an imam, and now has a year old daughter. Following graduation, she briefly worked for an insurance company but quickly grew disillusioned when she saw all of the corruption around her. Her joy now is in being a mother and volunteering at a local hospital after having that modeled by so many teams from the States who came to help following the tsunami. Her leg has never improved.

Glen is now in the States after receiving a one year scholarship to attend a college on the west coast. He is loving his time here and has enjoyed experiencing his first American holidays, Super Bowl, and seeing snow for the first time in his 29 years. When he returns home this summer, he hopes to get serious with a young lady he is interested in marrying.

Usher left our city and returned to his home village where he is always looking for work. He is also seeking a wife.

Adele has been hard to get updates on. The last I heard she had moved out of the province to a major city. She still spends time with believing friends.

Many of you have also asked about my kids and if Molly is still dancing…

Jordan is now a senior at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA, graduating in May. A history major, he is now discerning where God will send him after graduation. He is considering a stateside internship with RUF, as well as positions in North Africa and the Middle East after joining Curt on trips to work alongside church planters over the last 4 years. He is a discipleship coordinator for his dorm, active in his church choir, and loving playing his trumpet again in a church ensemble and at Covenant basketball games. A deep thinker and a lover of good coffee, he reads Augustine, Martin Lloyd Jones, Calvin, Spurgeon, among others for fun.

Molly began training at the Ballet School of Chapel Hill following our return to the States under incredible teachers who nutured, challenged, and inspired her to continue pursuing her dream. She spent her senior year training at Duke University, followed by her first professional opportunity performing in Carolina Ballet’s Giselle. She is now a Ballet Trainee at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC, having been promoted to a second year student after her first semester. She is thrilled to be living in the West Village of NYC, and is actively involved at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and RUF City Campus Ministry.

Who is the Lady in the Picture?

A few months ago MTL “More to Life” magazine asked me to write an article for them. They published it in February! But.. with a picture…that..just for the NOT me.

Whoever this woman is, she appears to be the proud recipient of a couple of awards! The only thing I can make out in the background is “Birmingham.” Sure hope they mean, England, and not the city in Alabama, because then maybe THIS Hilary Alan has a British accent 🙂

Obedience is NOT “Radical”

I have been doing a lot of radio interviews lately for the promotion of my book, Sent.  Its been a lot of fun and reminds me of the radio shows I did in Southeast Asia.  No matter how many radio interviews I do in America, I will always remember that I got my “start in radio” in my beloved province on the other side of the world. 🙂 Except on those shows I was the featured “native speaker,” helping locals improve their English skills by listening to me talk about a particular topic, and then talking with the listeners who were brave enough to call in and practice their English on the air.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to talk to people around the country about my family’s experience in leaving behind a “comfortable” American life to follow God to the ends of the earth. But one comment keeps coming up that I take every opportunity to correct..

It usually goes like this..

“Wow, what a story! What your family did was so radical in selling your home, quitting a great job with a prestigious company..” etc.

And I always answer with this..

Obedience is NOT radical. Its a response. A response rooted in love. From a right understanding of a relationship. That relationship being mine with God. Who He is in relation to who I am. To be perfectly clear, He is God and I am not. He is Lord and I am not. He is my Father and I am His child. He is my shepherd and I am just a dumb sheep. He is all knowing and I know nothing. I think you get the picture..

A Christian is someone who repents, believes in, trusts, and obeys Christ.  A Christian is someone who has surrendered their life to Christ. So does it even make sense that you wouldn’t obey and follow someone you had surrendered your life to? How can we say “Jesus is Lord” and not then put our YES on the table to go where ever He tells us to go, and do whatever He tells us to do? If that YES comes with conditions, then there is a misunderstanding about who really is Lord.

In the simplest terms, if Curt and I ask Jordan and Molly to do something and they then do it, would we say, “Wow! You kids are so radical for obeying your parents! That is awesome!” Sorry, Jordan and Molly but you know you would never hear that response from me and Dad 🙂 Its what we expect from them, based on a right understanding of our relationship.

The other wrong I want to right here in this one blog post is the idea that somehow we made some kind of  “sacrifice” in doing what we did.

Obedience is never a sacrifice.

The only one who made a sacrifice was Jesus, who laid down His life so we could be reconciled to God.

Following the Lord in obedience to Southeast Asia was never a sacrifice. It was a privilege, an honor, a blessing. God did us a favor when He called us away from SAS Institute, from our big house, from our self absorbed, materialistic, superficial cultural Christian lifestyle.

The bottom line is obedience is easy when you believe and you trust. It doesn’t mean the process of obedience will be easy. Mine sure wasn’t. Believe God is who He says He is in His Word. Trust that God is who He says He is in His word. And then put your YES on the table. That’s obedience. It is not radical and it is never a sacrifice.