Friday, October 5, 2012

NIGHT OF NETS 2012: How God Chooses the Unlikely to Bless Those He Loves...again, and again, and again...

The final chapter of my Zambia Project book is about how God chose to bless my life and my family's life in a most incredible way in our transition to Cornerstone through the relationships we have built with the coaches, families, and players connected to the men's soccer program at CU...they continue to be a remarkable source of joy and community and encouragement in our lives...and God has even seen fit to connect my global passion for justice and living out the Gospel in word and deed to this crew of guys who love to knock a ball around a grass pitch every day...

And now God is writing the next chapter of the book...in people's lives inside our team and more and more outside that group at CU...and of course in the lives of our friends and brothers and sisters in sub-Saharan Africa...the next piece of God's story took us to Zambia this summer and introduced us to new friends we fell in love with, and broke our hearts meeting families and children affected by hunger, HIV/AIDS, extreme poverty, and a disease not seen in America called malaria...and God's Spirit blew fresh and caused me and this generation of students to once again wrestle deeply with how we are to respond to what we know is taking place in our world as people in a position of blessing and influence and resources...

We sat in a small guest house room one night in Lusaka and talked about what we had seen one day in a village community...and decided that this little soccer event/project called Night of Nets could no longer be small in scope or size...because God's heart for His people demanded that we be a voice and an advocate for those who often suffered out of the radar in our world...and who simply needed a mesh bed net to save the lives of their kids and help create a new future for the church and the country of Zambia...

So we decided we had to blow up this malaria bed net project and get thousands and thousands more bed nets than we had ever provided before...simply because Alex's family deserved it...and we were without a shadow of a doubt one of God's responses to their cries and prayers...but we had no idea how we would make something 5 times bigger than it had been the year before on our campus...

So we made NIGHT OF NETS grow on the calendar and decided we would pray and lead and personally give and engage because we knew we were called and now responsible to do whatever we could for those sleeping without a bed net while mosquitoes around them threatened their lives...

And I still doubted and wondered and questioned if we could really do something big on a college campus...and in the midst of my petty doubts God surprised me as He has over and over again...random students dropped hundreds of dollars on my desk, elementary schools in other states adopted the project as their own, young kids sold Gatorade in cups on hot days in their neighborhoods, and soccer players and volleyball players invited those they knew to come to their matches and change lives through the games they played...

We even had one of those nights you think only happens on big screens as our team defeats its biggest rival on a golden goal in overtime before record crowds who give generously to our cause way beyond our wildest dreams...and I sit on the sidelines watching it all happen as my 9 year old son bought 3 bed nets on the way into the match and sprinted on to the field to join a bunch of college kids in an impromptu goal mouth celebration...silently praising the God who loves making dreams come true...and using soccer players on a small college campus to help end a disease that kills more people than any other in our world directly today...

I mean really, how does a little fundraising idea sparked by the ideas of a few college guys who love the same game as their African counterparts grow to become a can't miss calendar event, a major culture shaping force in our community where a million other things compete for our resources, our attention, and our hearts...

400 students and family members are now wearing NIGHT of NETS shirts around campus...and well over half of our campus has been part of a bed net campaign they weren't aware of not so long ago...

And over 4000 bed nets from over $25,000 donated will be given to families desperate for one on the other side of the world through college athletes and students in a west MI world...and I rejoice along with Jesus at the next chapter, the story that simply will not end, because God's still at work in the lives of those who the church has written off and the world has pushed out of their sight...it's a story I love watching being written in full color...and it's a story I know is not even close to getting to the END...

That's been the last 10 days of my life...I wouldn't trade them for anything...this is what God dreamed of doing all along...that's our NIGHT of NETS story for 2012...can't even imagine what NON 2013 might bring...


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