bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After The Event

Some people move into our lives and quickly go.
Some people stay for a while and move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to a new understanding, leaving their footprints in our hearts,
And we are never the same.
~ Author Unknown

These words were printed on the back of our shirts. As helpers at the event, we all wore red short sleeve t-shirts with gold lettering. On the front of the shirts was a banner design with the words—Sarah Fest, Family, Friends, and the phrase “Fajita Cookoff, Benefit, and Bike Show.”

I was there as a guest of my sister. She’d asked me to come up for the event to help enroll people in the bike show and be available for various “grunt work” that might need the expert handling of a “grunt work expert.”

Since I’m a sucker for anything my little Sis asks me to do a charitable cause, I agreed and decided to ride the Harley up to Lubbock for the event on Oct. 1, 2011.

I dig bike events. I’m a fajita connoisseur. And I’m always up for a fundraiser when a worthy cause is involved—this cause seemed uniquely worthy.

At the time of the fundraiser Sarah was 28 years old. She had two babies, ages 4 years and 8 months.

Sarah had been diagnosed with cervical cancer 6 days after marrying John Perez on October 9, 2010. By the time of Sarah Fest the cancer had moved to her right lung. Since that time it’s been found in her liver as well. Please read more here.

It doesn’t get any more worthy than that!

What really made this event special to me was the level of talent, dedication, planning, and respect that went into putting it together. This wasn’t an organized charitable organization with experienced volunteers. This wasn’t a local church rallying around the family. This wasn’t a group of civic leaders pulling together support from the community to honor these folks. This was an event initiated, sponsored, supported, and facilitated by an outlaw biker group known as The Bandidos.

However, Sarah Fest was specifically advertised as “open to all”. In other words, The Bandidos operated the event for Sarah and her family without labeling it as their event. They graciously stepped aside and pushed the Perez family out front as an offering of honor and support.

There was a bike show (My FXDL won first place in the “I Just Ride It” class). There was a dunking booth. There were grills cranking out delicious varieties of fajitas. There was an auction. There was an outdoor stage for the band. There was a raffle.

The food was donated. The shirts were donated. The venue was donated. The golf cart to carry Sarah around from one end of the event to the other was donated. It was all top-shelf and carried out with the fervency and enthusiasm of people taking direct ownership of this event. Every person I encountered working this event, cooking fajitas, being dunked in the booth, and overseeing each area seemed vested in the success of Sarah Fest.

More than a dozen area mc’s (motorcycle clubs) from as far as 200 miles away rode in to support Sarah and her family. Groups showed up with envelopes of money collected from those that couldn’t attend. Unknown motorcycle riders travelling down the highway nearby were waved in and asked to join the festivities. Music pumped out of the PA system. Kids threw balls at the target trying to dunk friends and family into the murky water of the big tank. Items donated for the auction were scoured over and hasty mental notes made about how much was going to be bid for specific items.

Folks bought entry into the bike show and then paid for each vote that they cast. Others paid money to name the person they wanted to have sit on the dunk tank seat while the targeted person was allowed to offer money to buy their way out of the tank. Raffle tickets were sold. Tickets for each fajita plate were sold. Tickets for beverages were sold.

All day long men and women in red and gold shirts directed incomers to available parking, hustled supplies, ran messages back and forth, administered complex events, and poured themselves into the event we called Sarah Fest.

But not one volunteer that entire day exhibited any noticeable tendency towards a selfish agenda. No one that I watched ever tried to share any of the spotlight. No one I was ever near seemed the least bit interested in listing all the ways in which they were giving of themselves to ensure the success of Sarah Fest. People just served—plain and simple—they just did what had to be done and reflected any appreciation people tried to give them toward Sarah and her family.

It was a day that defined BENEVOLENCE.

Respect, honor, loyalty, and love—you can say what you like about The Bandidos, but you cannot say that they don’t live these things out at a level outshining most of the folks who would never attend an event like Sarah Fest.

See, we get so caught up in the mechanics of the thing. We worry about the perception of others that might associate us with “those folks.” We forget that the ends to the means is to provide more than just money…it’s to provide a fleck of hope to a dying woman and her family. It’s the kind of hope that assures a dying mom that her children will be loved by a larger community of folks than she’d ever dreamed possible. The hope that her babies will grow up in an environment where the REAL things that matter will be modeled for them and that they will grow up knowing that to love means to serve and to serve means to be willing to die in place of even when the situation seems without any hope at all.

Through Sarah’s suffering she had given us all the opportunity to come together for a common cause. She has given us all one of those magically rare moments to experience each other’s appreciation for life, suffering, and resolute commitment. Sarah’s illness has given all of us the impeccable glimpse beyond one another’s tats, patches, political convictions, and social biases. Sarah gives US hope that we are not all as selfish as we pretend to be most of the time. Sarah reminds US of our respect, honor, loyalty, and love for one another. Sarah needed to remind us of these things because we are being left as caretakers of her babies. Sarah needed to make sure that we have our shit together before she trusts us to look after her family once she is gone.

Thanks, Sarah.
We won’t let you down.
We’ll look after your family.
We’ll look after our own families.
We’ll remember that the dunk tank is NOT what life is about.
We’ll remember that the music, food, laughter, and love of one another are what life is REALLY about.

Some people move into our lives and quickly go.
Some people stay for a while and move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to a new understanding, leaving their footprints in our hearts,
And we are never the same.
~ Author Unknown

If you are interested in supporting the Sarah Perez Memorial Fund, please let me know and I can get you the necessary information.

I'm not trying to redefine anyone's definition of "MISSIONS" with this post. I just wanted to show what the flip-side of the coin looks like to me. One side is the Alaskan Funk--the other is After The Event. If this isn't an example of a successful STMission effort...I don't know what is.

What do you think?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Alaskan Funk—Short Term Mission Gone…Meh…

Last week I spent 5 days in Alaska on a mission trip. Our goal was to finish up a lengthy punch list of projects intended to get part of the hosting church’s building closer to an initial building inspection. Stairs/handrails brought up to code—electrical conduit run—drop ceilings installed in kitchen areas—vent-a-hoods and exhaust fans installed—all the stuff that city inspectors and fire marshals require in order to operate any type of commercial facility.

10 men ranging from ages 20 to mid-60’s from South Texas flew 4200 miles (one way) to donate our construction skills and time in an effort to “advance the kingdom.”

I don’t really know what “advance the kingdom” means, but it seems like a good fit.

So, we’re fed three hearty meals a day at the church. We’re separated into groups of two or three to stay at different church member’s homes. And we’re only asked to do inside jobs because, let’s face it, we’re all from South Texas and this is Alaska in November…those things aren’t even close to the same.

The hospitality was fantastic. The food was delicious. The homes that we stayed in made us all feel like we were part of their families.

So, this is the part of the tale where we metaphorically land on the carrier and announce “mission accomplished.” This is where I’m supposed to talk about the bonds that we formed within the workgroup and what a wonderful experience we had enjoying the magnanimous hospitality of these wonderful Alaskans. This is where I’m supposed to thank God for the ability to go—serve—interact with folks that I might not have ever had the opportunity to share life with had it not been for this short term missionary opportunity.

After 4 days of contemplation and analyzing this trip, I find myself increasingly disillusioned. I know we went there to meet a need. I know we went there to offer help. I know we went there to minister to the needs of this small congregation. I know that we went there with all the right motives. I know that the work needed to be done to further their project toward completion. I know that it was all seasoned with the best of intentions and that we exceeded their expectations.

Why do I feel so funky about all of this?

Oh, wait! I know why I’m jacked up over this trip. It’s probably because over $4000 was spent on airfare to get us all there and back.

It has something to do with the fact that the part of the building we were doing work on was 12 years old and had never been occupied because of a lack of completion.

I’m certain it has something to do with the observations that this all took place near downtown Anchorage (not out in the wilderness) where there were 5 churches within a 3 block radius.

And…you know…if I’d known that these folks were potentially competing with the mission across the street instead of partnering with them…Oooo…let’s not go there.

Call me na├»ve, cynical, overtly zealous, or just plain stupid if you like, but here’s my analysis of the funk:

·         You partner with other churches in the area, thereby, developing long-term relationships with your neighbors to collectively meet the unique needs of the community that you share.
o   You DO NOT ask a group to front the bill for airfare in order to get free labor from men that you’ll never see again. It’s the missional equivalent of a “one night stand” (the term missionary position should be worked in here, but I’m not that clever).

·         You analyze the needs of the community and weigh out whether or not the facility you’re trying to complete has any tangible value in relationship to those needs. If not, you leave it be (it’s set for 12 years—couldn’t be that critical to the overall mission of this particular church).
o   You DO NOT prioritize the completion of a building which has never been used simply because “we have to finish what someone else started” or because someone in the congregation offers a large sum of money to facilitate the completion of a portion of the project.

·         You determine what the direction of your church is and how God intends to use it BEFORE you engage in costly renovations without any concrete ideas about what you’re going to do with this structure once it’s completed.
o   You DO NOT repeat the mantra, “someday God’s gonna give us some direction” or “once this is complete our mandate from God will become self-evident.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There was a crazy homeless guy that was around the place quite a bit. He was allowed to sleep in the church’s van and camp out inside the building sometimes while we were there. He was obviously deranged and easily agitated. He was tolerated, but never welcome. Most of the members of the church avoided eye contact and relied heavily on one or two people to control / direct the crazy homeless guy.

No one engaged him.
No one made eye contact with him.
No one gave any indication that he was present.
Everyone tightened up a little with fear when he was present.

Would $4000 and the attention of 10 Texans have made a meaningful impact in this man’s life? Probably not.

Would an institution devoted to feeding homeless folks like this man every week have benefitted from $4000 and the effort of 10 volunteers for a week? Most definitely.

Will the money, effort, and time consigned to this Alaskan church’s building ever be justified through service to the community? Well, at last check, no one seemed to have much of an idea.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Can we just cut through the BS?

Anchorage has a huge homeless population. Why in the hell are we riding the non-committal fence of “praying that God will lead us to understand what our unique mission is in this community?” FEED THE HUNGRY—not feed the overweight Texans.

You’ve got 20,000 ft2 that hasn’t been used for anything other than a 12 year draw for mission groups from the lower 48? LET THE HOMELESS IN OUT OF THE COLD—not let the Texans avoid the cold with inside-only projects.

Anchorage seems to have as many churches as any small city in the Bible Belt. Why aren’t these churches working together for any other reason than to eliminate the $4000 captured by Delta and forgotten like it was just spare change found between the cushions of the pews? BE GOOD STEWARDS OF OUR BENEVOLENCE FUNDS—don’t waste it on frivolous self-affirming travel agendas.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All the men and women involved with this endeavor were good people. They had good intentions. They probably feel very good about how it all turned out and the means by which it was carried out. There were good things that resulted from the trip.

But there are far greater needs in this world than the fixing of stairs and the running of conduit. It’s an appeal to the lowest common denominator. It’s a lazy way to serve and it’s an inefficient use of time, energy, and money.

It’s leveraging a nice destination in order to gain free labor. It’s fun, it’s somewhat beneficial, and it generates a good feeling among the participants. We exceeded their expectations because their expectations were too low.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Final shot of Bruce Almighty is a gradual close-up of a dirty homeless guy holding a sign. As the shot grows closer the man’s face begins to morph into the face of Morgan Freeman (who plays God). The visual message is that God IS the least of these. God IS the crazy homeless guy with a short fuse and a mean disposition.

How dare we ignore the crazy homeless guy! How dare we avoid eye contact with the dirty disenfranchised! How dare we heat a building for 12 years while the homeless sleep on park benches throughout the Alaskan winter which lasts a really long time! How dare we complain about the length of the flight or the width of the seat on the plane or the lack of leg room as long as God is hungry, cold, weak, and lonely!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Last week I spent 5 days in Alaska on a “mission” trip. Our goal was to finish up a lengthy punch list of projects intended to get part of the hosting church’s building closer to an initial inspection. Stairs/handrails brought up to code—electrical conduit run—drop ceilings installed in kitchen areas—vent-a-hoods and exhaust fans installed—all the stuff that city inspectors and fire marshals require in order to operate any type of commercial facility."

I’m ashamed that I ignored the homeless guy in order to work on a building.

I’m ashamed that I ignored God.

I’m ashamed and confused about what to do next.

Are we really meeting needs or are we nurturing our self?

Where do we go from here?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Walker

The Walker: An Anonymous Blur on the Horizon

via Red Letter Christians
by Morf Morford

"Even though virtually all of us have seen him as he wanders relentlessly, day and night, across and beyond his home town, few know his name. 
Those of us who know him call him the Walker. That’s what he does. He is well over fifty years old and has not had an established home for years. 
His mail is delivered at the local rescue mission (where I used to work). 
He walks."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

System Dynamics (4)

Occupy Wall Street, the Church, and the Apocalypse

"It’s not so much that the 1st world church isn’t busy with the tasks before it, but rather, what is before it is its own personal care. The church has become chaplain to itself rather than chaplain to the world. And I mean, world, in the Christian sense. It’s nourishing itself rather than nourishing those who are outside its fold. It has ignored a missional call, exchanging it for self care. 
We are taking care of those in the 1st world church who are unhappy in spite of wealth, stuck at jobs where they feel like a cog, suffering from diseases that are the result of a fast-paced lifestyle filled with unhealthy foods, stress, and environmental toxins, with minds crippled by the parade of consumer goods and unrealistic lives we watch on television to calm ourselves after a day that leaves us strangely unsatisfied. 
And are we nourished? Are we yet strong enough to act in nonviolence as the hands and feet of Christ in this world? Or are our muscles atrophied from disuse?"

System Dynamics (3)

Is Spaceship Earth Close to Environmental Collapse?

"According to the United Nations, the world population will reach 7 billion people this week. No one really knows the exact date, but the announcement has sparked a round of commentary, most of it pessimistic. The doubling of the world’s population over the past 50 years is the most rapid in history. Demographers expect another 3 billion at least before global population finally peaks early in the next century and begins a gradual decline. Can we make it until then? Or will our overburdened spaceship earth suffer environmental collapse?"

System Dynamics (2)

Greek crisis, other global financial woes crash the G-20 party in Cannes

 "As the Group of 20 convenes its annual summit on Thursday, the rhetoric will — as usual — focus on the benefits of cooperation and the strides nations are making to further it. But in terms of concrete action, this might be the meeting where an organization meant to nudge the global economy in a more efficient direction recognizes its limits."

System Dynamics (1)

World Population: 7 Billion

"On October 31, 2011, the United Nations is expected to announce a projected world population figure of 7 billion. This global milestone presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the planet. While more people are living longer and healthier lives, says the U.N., gaps between rich and poor are widening and more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity and water shortages. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date that we will hit the 7 billion mark - the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March. In the last 50 years, humanity has more than doubled. What could the next decade mean for our numbers and the planet? In this post, we focus on births, but we'll be back with population-related content including it's affect on the environment and our food supply. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

System Dynamics

Economically, Environmentally, and Spiritually everyone seems to be engaging the question of, “where are we headed and what will it look like when we get there?”

Economists continue to hope for 2.5% annual growth in the first world countries.

Environmentalists tell us that globally we are already operating at 140% capacity of the planet.

Christian church leaders continue to blame the mass exodus of younger generations on a secularization of Christian nations.

Is it possible that we’ve finally hit that mark in time when sustainability has been eclipsed? Is it possible that we reached the apex of the sustainability graph decades ago and are now witnessing what the downhill slide feels like?

I’m not necessarily talking “doomsday” scenarios here. I believe that we, as a people, have proven throughout the ages that collectively we possess a phenomenal amount of drive, ingenuity, and resolve to change and adapt. However, these changes are NEVER initiated during the warning phase. As a society, we never start applying pressure to the brake when we see the yellow light. If anything, we speed up when we see the yellow light. We do not apply the brakes until we see RED. This has the profound effect of creating violent and jarring change all in a very short period of time.

Heaven forbid we begin to slow down when the yellow light is lit by scientists projecting the death of entire fisheries in the next several years. Why would anyone think to remove the foot from the accelerator when economists are forecasting continued decline internationally on a rapidly increasing pace? And why in the world would the Christian churches ever consider the possibility that “business-as-usual” is dead.

Everything is changing in ways that defy analysis of past periods and events. Energy, Financials, Population Growth, and Environmental Changes are all part of a new and never before experienced Ecology. With this realization comes a graphically changing environment of spirituality which HAS TO transcend the current modes of educational Christianity. Gone are the days of discussing, studying, and teaching behavior modification in the comfy settings of a brick and mortar building referred to by many as “the church.” Say hello to the future of a Church designed to serve, support, and rescue on a global scale so far outside the thinking of most of us that it’s impossible to fathom this early in the game.

We’re not talking here about proposed changes best suited to address the changes coming in the next 20 years anymore. These changes are here right now and they DEMAND change. There is no choice in the matter. It’s already happening. We have to understand the visceral unrest inherent in the OCCUPY folks. We have to open our ears to the criticism of all those folks we, as Christians, have rejected and labeled as “unholy” and “unworthy.” We have to open our eyes to the humanitarian disasters happening all over the world. It’s not enough to discuss human trafficking, starvation, genocide, and hate. We have to engage these things full throttle.

My best guess is a Christian Church void of brick and mortar operating collectively regardless of theological divisiveness. Maybe more like a Greenpeace type of NGO. An NGO with real political clout focused on spotlighting the human tragedies and atrocities around the world even when those tragedies do not affect the economic bottom line.

The point being that if we think we are seeing human suffering on a global scale now, what do we think it will look like if the environmentalists, scientists, and economists are right about witnessing a global awakening of unsustainability RIGHT NOW?

The worldwide Christian community stands in the unique position to step up and partner with others to serve, heal, and rescue. It’s time to feed the lepers. It’s time to rescue the children. It’s time to give a shit about more than personal growth. The planet is dying. The global financial system is breaking apart. The global population is increasing exponentially. Resources are finite. Energy is the drug that we all crave.

The light is red RIGHT FUCKING NOW! Let’s engage with that resilience, ingenuity, and resolve we’re capable of weilding. Let’s define ourselves by what we agree upon instead of by what we disagree about. It’s all interconnected. It’s all interdependent. The climate, the fisheries, the GNP’s, the humanitarian efforts, the Church…they’re all tied together.

But what do I know? Several paragraphs ago I wrote something about varying Christian organizations partnering with each other as well as other religions behind the effort of a global humanitarian effort forcing action where only talk has prevailed. We are ACTUALLY closer to eliminating abject poverty on the planet than we are to achieving cohesiveness and cooperation among multi-denominational sects within the Christian community. So, obviously, I’m insane…