Roughly 5 months ago, the way I thought about my life changed. For months now, I’ve been listening to messages from JP Pokluda at The Porch in Dallas, in which the messages happen on Tuesday nights and are uploaded the following Wednesday. As you can imagine, no topic piques the interest of a non-married Christian between the ages of 18 and 30 quite like the topics of singleness, dating, and marriage. I’m sure I’ll comment on how I see these topics specifically at some point, but it is JP’s message on singleness which plays the biggest role in this story. One of the main things that keeps me coming back every week is the fact that JP pulls no punches and steps on toes when he has to, saying what needs to be said to people.1 In his words to the masses of single Christians that attend, stream, or watch recordings of The Porch, he implores and practically begs them/us/me to not waist this time, using 1 Corinthians 7 in the Bible. This passage has been taught countless times, and in 22 years of singleness, there’s no real reason why this one should have been soul-changing, but God, in his divine mercy, decided that now was the time that the whole “being satisfied in your singleness” line would actually take hold of my life. I feel JP possesses and practices the spiritual gift of prophecy2 as God permits him to reveal aspects of the Bible in ways that most other teachers may not be able to.
He insisted that, while it may sound absolute, that so many of us have been wasting our singleness by simply waiting to no longer be single. As a thinker, the “feeler” aspect the Christian faith is rather shocking and borderline unwanted when it makes an appearance in my life, but did it ever show up when I heard those words. Those words were me. I’ve spent almost all of college telling myself, “If I can yell ‘LOOK HOW SATISFIED I AM BEING SINGLE, GOD’ to myself enough times, I’ll start to believe it.” But I wasn’t, and I never did. Take a look and the first few books of Acts, and you’ll see that Jesus chose to gather and reveal part of his glory to a predominantly young adult demographic in order to commission and begin the early church. Now take a look at me my junior year of college sitting at my house playing video games in an attempt to pass the time until it was time to no longer be single.3 Those two pictures were polar opposites as I thought about them in the desk chair upstairs in my house that evening 5 months ago, and the conviction (overused Christianese word that has lost the levity of its meaning a bit) in my soul that followed could only be expressed in the form of soul-breaking tears.4
Over the next few days, I began asking myself, “Ok well what now?” One of the advantages to being a thinker is that I always analyze spiritual events that occur in my life, rather than just chalking them up to a “cool experience” (not saying this is how “feelers” are in the least bit). I felt God wanted me to block off my summer in anticipation of helping the world in His name, and thankfully, the company I work for is filled with godly men who not only agreed but were also excited for my decision. So starting in late September of 2015, I waited. And waited. Then I waited a little more. But then after all that waiting, an angel appeared in my room and showed me which country I wou…nah, not really, I still kept waiting. Quite frankly, I didn’t (and still don’t) know what one even looks for in that situation. March 1st rolled around, and I still was just the typical millennial college kid that wanted to go see the world [for Jesus], but had no concrete plan. Then one Tuesday night at Breakaway in College Station, Ben Stuart unintentionally provided some clarity. It wasn’t even a main point in his message, but he said, “For centuries, Christians have looked for a need in the world and then gone to meet that need.”
Help the neediest people. Wow. What a groundbreaking, mind-bending, innovative theological discovery. No idea why it had never occurred to me previously. After thinking of my plan in that way, it was almost as if God had been screaming, “THERE’S BILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP OUT THERE, WOULD YA JUST PICK SOMETHING?!” As Shane Claiborne says in his book The Irresistible Revolution:
“There are times when we throw our hands up at God and say “Do something!” and if we listen closely, we can hear God respond “I did do something. I made you.” Sometimes we are waiting on God, and God is waiting on us.”5
So I have, and it’s the most publicized need today. I will be leaving in early July for a week in Spain (“wow, can I come suffer for the name of God, too?”) for OM’s Transform conference to train with other Christians. From there, we will then be placed in a Near East country (we probably won’t know which one until after training) for two weeks, then onto Greece for roughly 4 weeks to serve the Syrian refugees as they flee the country to escape civil war and ISIS. excited to “come and see” as Jesus instructed when he called on his first disciples in John 1:39. So that’s what I’m going to do. Finances, timing, and planning will work themselves out, just as they do for the birds and the flowers every day (Luke 12:24).6
I’ll place an area on the left here at some point where you, too, can play a role in the lives of these refugees by donating to fund my trip. However, and I mean this as honestly and straightforward as I can say it in this kind of communication medium, give or do not give as you feel led. Sincere prayer over this will provide much more for this thing that earthly provisions can, though. Honestly it’s taken me awhile to even believe that sentence I just typed. Growing up a Christian, I always felt like people included the “if not, please pray for my trip” part so people had a scapegoat for not If you are a Christian, I beg you would pray not only for my own trip, but for the trips of those I will be serving with. It is tempting to think of these refugees as “Syrians” as the media and politics refer to them, which feels so distant from us here in America.7 But I urge you to consider how these terms are so limiting. To borrow a concept from Pascal here8, there are only two real9 people groups in this world are God’s people and not God’s people. As Paul says in Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
If you are not a Christian, I’d be interested as to how you view the refugee situation. Obviously non-theism is not just one uniform worldview. Philosophy is a messy thing. But if we are all merely biological accidents, how can things like charity and the denial of basic survival instincts be justified? Or perhaps they can’t! Perhaps the way of life that I, as well as countless other Christians devoted to mission work, gladly accept simply cannot be justified through a non-theistic worldview. So I would ask this:
If no greater theistic purpose exists, is there any reason to sacrifice physical or financial safety for another person? Why or why not?
Thanks for tuning in.
1This is a common characteristic of most of my aforementioned favorite speakers. “If you can’t say amen, you ought to say ouch,” is a favorite line of Voddie Baucham. That line will certainly make more appearances.
2Typically, when people think of “prophecy”, they think of Old Testaments dudes like Jeremiah, Nathan, and countless others constantly beating the whole “turn to God or you guys get to be slaves again” drum. However, in New Testament terms, the gift of prophecy simply (yet complexly) refers to God using a particular Christian to convey the meaning of His words to other people.
3I’d really like to expound on this subject more, but let’s right the ship here.
4As I mentioned earlier, I’m a thinker. Crying is not something I do and, honestly, I still think its embarrassing (for me, not for when other people do so). I could count on two hands the number of times I’ve cried since my grandfather’s funeral in 2011. This was one of them.
5Funny thing is I hadn’t even read this part of the book until I started writing this.
6“I thought you said you were a financial planner. That doesn’t sound like much planning to me.” Sure, planning on all three facets (money, time, and planning) will be made, but neither of the three will prevent me from doing this.
7By the way, it’s ridiculous that the “Christian nation” that many seem to want us to be is also the nation more adamantly against accepting these refugees than almost every other country. I don’t like politics, and I already promised there wouldn’t be any specific political rants on my part here, but here’s a video of the terrifying people that many of our country’s leaders (surprisingly the [self-proclaimed] Christian ones) are devoted to keeping out of here (there’s some strong language, there’s your disclaimer).
8 “You must either believe or not believe that God is (that is, exists)—which will you choose?”
9What I mean by “real” is what is actually important. Being “American” or “Canadian” are terms that humans invented and tie the meanings of these terms to. Thus, in my mind, the only people groups that actually matter are the people of God (what we call “Christians”) or not the people of God.