Catalyst 09 Day 2
I was able to attend even less of the sessions on the second day of Catalyst than I did on the first. However, that's okay. Because what I was able to experience was especially great. They basically boil down to five highlights. 1. The Catalyst Compassion Moment
You guys know that I love Compassion. I believe wholeheartedly in what they do and have been an active participant as a sponsor and advocate for a number of years now. Through their ministry I am not only able to be a part of changing the lives of Luis in Ecuador, Akena in Uganda and Mey in Thailand, but am also witnessing firsthand how my relationship with each of them is changing me. I don't have the time to fully go into all of my thoughts on Compassion, but you can find a lot of them here.
Anyway, Compassion has been one of Catalyst's many partners and supporters for awhile now. Over the past few years their presence at the event has steadily grown. They've even been using edits of some of the videos Student Life has been producing for them to play during one of the sessions, like this one:
Anyway, the past couple of years a graduate of Compassion's program has been able to share from the main stage. They haven't just given them the microphone, but have instead had them be interviewed by Ken Coleman. This year was no different. Jimmy Wambua was able to share a bit of his story. Jimmy entered the Compassion program as an eight-year-old in Kenya and went all the through their CDSP and LDP program. He is now a student at Moody Bible Institute and plans on returning to Kenya as soon as he's finished.
So, there's Jimmy, telling a bit of his story. He gets to the point where he's going to talk a little about his sponsor, and pulls out the actual first letter he ever received from his sponsor. Evidently, his sponsor, Mark, began sponsoring Jimmy when Mark was just twenty-years-old. He was a relatively new Christian, was at an event where Compassion was presented and chose Jimmy's packet. Mark wrote Jimmy about how glad he was to have a new friend in Kenya, and also about how they shared a mutual friend between them in Jesus. From that letter on, Mark sponsored Jimmy for the next eighteen years, all the through LDP, and the most contact they'd ever had was through letters written back and forth between them.
Well, after Jimmy finishes talking, Ken asks him if he had ever had the opportunity to meet Mark before. Jimmy replied that he had not, and then Ken said something like, "well, we'd like for you to be able to do that. Please welcome Jimmy's sponsor, Mark." And Mark comes walking across the stage.
Let me pause here to say that Catalyst is really good. I love attending, and it is obvious that the team behind it knows what they're doing. Every moment on stage and screen, regardless of how spontaneous it may feel, has been deliberately and methodically planned out and orchestrated. They have to be in order to pull off that kind of event. However, knowing that doesn't diminish the fact that this was the most genuine moment that occurred the entire time. I'm sure some will think it was manipulative, but it wasn't. It was pure.
Words fail me to continue trying to describe to you what took place. So, let me just say that it was a true picture of the impact one person can have on another through the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Many of the people in attendance got that, too. Compassion ran out of the 1200 packets they had at the event because people wanted to be able to do for a "Jimmy" what Mark did.
I know I periodically say this on here, but let me say it again... if you don't sponsor a child with Compassion, please do so and be a part of releasing them from poverty in Jesus' name. It's really easy to do and costs just $38.00 a month. You can do it right now, in fact, just by clicking here.
I hope to be able to post some video of the moment just as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, let's move on to...
2. Adoption Challenge
Immediately following the Compassion moment was a series of videos and stage features that focused on adoption. As many of you know, Liza and I both have had the desire to adopt since before we even knew each other. We are truly miraculously blessed to have Story in our lives now, but her birth hasn't diminished the desire for our adopted children. If anything, it has strengthened it, especially for me. I'm dying to get the process started. So I was really looking forward to this section of the conference.
I eventually just had to walk out. Between witnessing Jimmy and Mark meeting each other and being confronted/burdened/convicted/impassioned/broken by the challenge to care for the orphans of this world, I was an emotional wreck.
I can't put all of my thoughts about adoption down here. Maybe I should do a series of posts where I try to do so. What I will say, though, is that Romans 8 makes it clear that we who are believers and followers of Christ have all been adopted by the Father so that we are no longer slaves or enemies but are princes in the Kingdom, co-heirs with Jesus. Knowing that defines the world "awesome" for me. It is overwhelming. To think that I have the opportunity to do that for a child here on Earth is truly honoring and humbling.
However, I believe it is not just an opportunity or a challenge or a call. I believe it is a command. James 1:27 reads, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God is this: to care for widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself untainted by the world." I'm not ignoring the widows or the need to keep myself untainted, but I am focusing for the sake of these few paragraphs on the care for orphans. If I am not caring for orphans I am not being obedient and the actions that witness to my faith (my religion or practice of what I believe) is empty.
The question the good people at Catalyst put before all of us on Friday morning was simply this, "are you open?" Are you willing to be care for orphans specifically by ensuring that they are an orphan no longer? Are you willing to welcome them into your family? Will you adopt? Won't you adopt?
According to the stats they were using there are over 143 million orphans in the world. That's a lot. It's a daunting number. However, there are approximately 2 billion Christians. We are to be the answer to the problem of orphans, and it's well within our means.
For more info on what Catalyst is presenting, check out 143million.org. It's just a starting point, but might provide an avenue for you to get started.
3. The Old Guy
Catalyst began as a leadership conference for "next generation" leaders. It was basically a young man's game, i.e. under 40. The age requirement has been made a bit more lax, but it still retains a bit of a "younger" vibe in the sense that it's a bit edgy and definitely trendy. Those of us in the SL booth even had a contest that involved trying to guess how many people were wearing Chucks purely for the reason that they helped them look cool. But that's beside the point.
The line-up for the main-stage often features "young" thinkers along with some... let's say more seasoned individuals. However, the honest truth is that the old guys are often seen as a chance to go check out the booths around the arena. Not so this year when Catalyst honored Chuck Swindoll with their lifetime achievement award. I wasn't terribly sure what to expect from him, but I was blown away. Here, briefly is a summary of his content.
- It's lonely to lead.
- It's dangerous to succeed.
- It's hardest at home.
- It's essential to be real.
- It's painful to obey.
- Brokenness and failure are necessary.
- My attitude is more important than my actions.
- Integrity eclipses image.
- God's way is better than my way.
- Christ-likeness begins and ends with humility.
And a couple of quotes: "Tradition is the living faith of those now dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of those still living." AND "We must be willing to leave familiar methods without disturbing the biblical message."
4. Good Friends
There are some people we get to "do life" with on a daily basis, people we trust, we rely on, whose friendship is irreplaceable. There are others with whom we hardly get to spend any time, but who once were like the first group and whose impact on our life made such a difference that just being around them again continues that impact. I'm lucky enough to have a few of those types of people, and I was able to spend just a little bit of time with some of them while at Catalyst. There's nothing like the guys at Connect Ministries and Wayfarer. If you don't know them, you should. You'll be the better for it.
And that brings us, last but not least, to...
5. Professor Splash
As shallow as it is, one of the ultimate highlights of the day was watching a guy break a record by diving 39'9" into 12" of water. I videoed it with my phone, but this is better.