A seat on the front row podcast notes

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A few months back we talked about one of the scariest topics for Christian people.  See if you can pick out the scary word in these verses

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8

Did you pick out the scary word in these verses.  You shall be my witnesses. How fun does that sound?  You in?  Let’s get on our suits and our bicycles.  These are scary words for us.

The word witness doesn’t really mean any of those things.  It simply means to be an eyewitness.  To see something and then tell people what you saw.  This is what we as people are best at.  If you see a great movie you can’t help but tell other people about it.  If you see a terrible movie, you can’t help talking about that.  Same thing if you see a great comedian, an incredible play, cirque de soleil, a car accident, a fireworks display, a great game.  Folks, this is what we do.  We see something than we talk about it.

Here are some common witnessing topics

What’s the best movie this summer?

What was your all time best sporting event you’ve been to or watched?

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in nature?  (eclipse, shooting star, whale watching)

Have you ever seen an accident?

The reason why most people can’t tell people about Jesus is not because they lack the ability to tell a story.  You just don’t have any stories to tell?

Maybe it’s time to get some seats on the front row.

Jonathan and I both had the opportunity to get on the front row this last week.

Jonathan went to Belize and I went to Alaska on a mission trip.

Those places don’t sound like missions destinations

I once told a woman I went to Haiti and she said “Sounds nice. Did you take a cruise ship.”  People don’t actually take cruise ships to Haiti but they do cruise to Alaska and Belize. 

What do most people not know about Belize?

Belize is the 10th poorest country in the western hemisphere. 

The average GDP in Belize is $8400 per person.  That ranks them 125th in the world

Belize is the most expensive country to live in in Central America

Belize struggles to raise food enough to feed it’s population

43% of people in Belize live below the poverty line

Belize’s population is very young with over have the population less than 18 years old

Many Belizeans have to leave the country to find work

There are more Belizeans living in the US than Belize.

Belize is one of those countries that has some great tourism, but one mile away is poverty.

What do most people not know about Alaska

Alaska is roughly 1/3 the size of the continental US

Only 800,000 people live in Alaska and 400,000 of them live near Anchorage. 

Manhattan has 1.62 million residents but if it had the same population density as Alaska that number would drop to 16 people.

Minnesota is called the land of 10,000 lakes.  Alaska has three million lakes, only 3000 of which are named

Alaska was originally inhabited by a population of hunter/gatherers until the Russians arrived in the late 1700’s.  Along with the Russians came Old Word diseases that the native people had no immunity to and 80% of the natives died within the first two generations of Russian contact.

The US bought Alaska for 7.2 million dollars in 1867 and we attempted to transition the native population to align with American culture.  Children were pulled out of their villages and beaten for speaking in their native tongue causing deep wounds and loss of cultural identity.

Subsistence living is still a major aspect of life in Alaska.  The vast majority of Alaska is consider bush country and is inaccessible by road.  Many Alaskans have to have their food flown in by plane, barge or snow machine. 

(I shot a beaver with my 22 pistol.  One man talked of the pride he felt because his daughter fleshed a beaver pelt.)

Anchorage has the most diverse population in America with over 100 languages spoken.

Alaska is the least churched state in the US.  If all the Anchorage churches were full there would only be enough room for 5% of the population.

Alaska is among top states in illicit drug use but alcohol is still the primary abused substance

 Alaska has the nation’s highest rate of repeat child abuse  or neglect

These are dark places and yet it always seems like God shows up at these places more than other places.

What did you see from your seat in the front row in Belize?

Kelly Wilson.  Woman wandered into Frontline food bank on a day when they weren’t serving a meal and Kelly took over and took care of her.

We brought play.  Velcro suits, knockerballs, kids carnival, trip to reindeer farm

I led music for the first time in 25 years.

Kids who grow up in a rough background miss out on play.  One of the greatest things we can do is sit on the ground and play.  (Jesus is our example)

Unity as a team.  Like a week at camp.

God opened up conversations with our team that I never expected.

Yeah we saw Moose and glaciers and reindeer, but what God did was so much greater than that.

Get to a better seat.  Get yourself on the front row.