These are Ron Houp’s posts

What can Calvin & Hobbes teach us?

Imagination… Creativity… Vision… when I hear these words, I think about Calvin from Bill Watterson’s famous comic strip. Calvin and his tiger friend Hobbes certainly found some creative ways to pass time during snow days, crashing through a town of fake snowmen being one of my favorites.

When we here at GO InterNational are not on foreign mission trips, we’re here in the U.S., working, living, in school, at the grocery store, driving, etc. – but the call remains the same here and abroad: engage the world and engage people with God’s good news, in word and in deed.

So, as Christians, how do we use our imaginations and creatively engage with the world in our local context – where verbal proclamations of the gospel are typically frowned upon in public, where people continuously try to force religion out of the public sphere, where we feel like people don’t want to talk about religion?

We’ve been encouraged by some creative stories recently of people who proclaim the gospel and show the love of Christ on short-term mission trips, and do the same thing in their day-to-day life at home:

  • A man who works at an Amazon warehouse during the day and drives a truck for another delivery service at night. He meets people and identifies their needs during the day, then prays for them while driving in the evening!
  • A young girl who works as a waitress at a restaurant shows love to her coworkers through her genuine joy and forgiveness (even after a co-worker stole money from her!). She also freely tells patrons that she is working as a waitress to get her through Seminary, opening the door to share the reason for the joy she has in Christ!
  • A father of a high school basketball player who develops relationships with other parents, modeling healthy competition and sportsmanship and finding one’s identity in more than sports. You can’t underestimate what showing forgiveness after a loss and genuine humility after a win does to bring glory to God!
  • A mother who hosts community potluck meals at her house, modeling Christian hospitality and identifying people in her neighborhood who need support and prayer!
  • A young couple who opens a coffee shop and sends as much profit as they can into holistic Christian ministries and development efforts in Rwanda and Nicaragua. The husband sits on the city council and the wife on the city beautification chair, using their business expertise as a platform to also have a voice in politics.

These people aren’t often called pastors or missionaries or evangelists, but they are no less living into the values Christ modeled for us in unique ways. The work of the Kingdom of God is not limited to pastors, or short-term mission trips, or physical places like churches… it is our future hope, but it is also here and now in the way the community of believers engages creatively with the world for God’s glory.

If you know someone who is creatively integrating their faith in their workplace, neighborhood, or general sphere of influence we would love to hear their story, or yours!

GO InterNational Announces New President

The Board of Directors of GO InterNational voted unanimously to appoint Ron Houp as President and CEO of GO InterNational, effective January 1, 2015.

Why do I go to Camp Meeting?

This is a great story written by Dr. Dennis Kinlaw about his experience of camp meeting as a young boy. His father was my maternal great grandfather. I am so thankful that he went to camp and that he responded to the Lord’s urging. It changed my family for eternity. This piece was published July 18th here . I’ve copied the full text into this post. Whether  you love camp meeting or have never been to one, you’ll enjoy this testimony!

by Dennis Kinlaw, Ph.D.

It was in the depths of the Depression, in 1933, that my father unexpectedly found himself in Georgia in Indian Springs Holiness Camp Meeting. One of the preachers—he was my father’s favorite—was Henry Clay Morrison, the president of Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary. My father died before I was able to hear from his own lips what that experience was like, but it evidently influenced him significantly. When he returned to his home and family in North Carolina, he said to my mother, “Sally, we have to take the family.”

The next summer he took my mother and my older sister with him and they went to Indian Springs. It was in that session that Christ found my sister and she was converted. I was only twelve, but it was obvious to me that she was changed and, from my perspective, it was for the better. The next year she came to Asbury College as a student, met the one who was to become her husband, and they spent their life together in ministry in the Methodist Church in Michigan.

A new pattern was established that year in our family. The camp meeting at Indian Springs became the anchor point around which our family arranged its schedule. Our family bank had failed and we never afterwards had the money for a family vacation, but my father found the finances to take us all to camp meeting for the ten days that it met in August.

It was in 1935, when I was thirteen, that I found myself headed, not too happily, to a religious event that meant five religious sessions for me every day for ten days. My attitude during the trip home was completely different from my attitude on the way down. I was not only in a different mood. I was in a different world. I had met One that actually changed my life. And his name was JESUS!

I had heard about him before, but now I had actually met Him. And the center of my existence had radically changed. Instead of being centered in myself, He was now not only with me, He had captured the central spot in my inner being. Instead of a deep and rather terrifying existential dread at the thought of ever actually confronting God, I found myself in an intense and joyous love affair with Him and his Father and even the Holy Spirit. And for the first time that I could remember, I felt clean—real clean—inside.

I was in a different world.

One’s world is pretty small and fragile when you are only thirteen and you alone, in loneliness, reign in the center of your own little kingdom. What a difference when you find yourself filled with the Presence of that One who is larger than the whole world of which you are a part. At thirteen, you may not know much about the extent of that kingdom, but somehow your borders are gone and you sense something that later you will call infinite and eternal. And, inexplicable as it all is, you know that this is where you belong and you are suddenly willing to give your life and even yourself so that others may find such as their own, too.

It was not that I had never heard about Christ before. The third pew from the front on the left in our Methodist Church was the Kinlaw pew and nobody else ever sat there. Everyone in the church knew that it belonged to the Kinlaw clan. And I knew as I grew up that after Sunday School in the morning and Epworth League in the evening, I was to be with the rest of my family in that pew. But it was all in the third person. It was about Another whom I had never really met. But now that world had changed, too. I knew not only what it was all about, I knew who it was all about. And He was not only real to me  now, He was a permanent part of my inner person, the central part, the friend of all friends, the key to everything. I wanted to share the glory of it all, so I told my pastor. I was sure he would rejoice with me and tell me how glad he was that I had finally caught on to what it was all about. I was caught off guard when I sensed that he was a bit apprehensive about this thirteen year old. His comment was, “Well, Dennis, you don’t think that this has to happen to everybody, do you?”

Years later, in a moment of mutuality, I shared all this with a Jesuit friend. He responded, “Dennis, that is beautiful, but, you know, we don’t think that such is for everybody.” In both cases, my thoughts took me back to Indian Springs, for it was there that I came to know that God loved His world so much that He gave His one eternal Son on Calvary so that the emptiness of a thirteen year old’s heart could be filled with the very life that that Son sacrificed on that cross outside the city of Jerusalem. Somehow, I knew it had to be for everyone.

During those high school years, it was almost impossible to find anyone who understood what had happened to me in my world. Years later, at Princeton in a course with the philosophy professor, Dr. Emile Cailliet, in which he asked us to tell the story of our spiritual journey, I shared. His response was simply, “Beautiful! Now can you intellectualize this?”

During those next lonely years in high school I certainly would not have been able to intellectualize it. There were some things, though, that I knew. The One who had found me was the One who made the whole world. He loves the whole world. His offer of Himself has to be for the whole world. That love precludes any other possibility. He, being who He is and loving with the love with which He loves, is not in the exclusion business. And now because He was in my heart that same universal love was flowing there. I did not know the promise in Rev. 21:25 about the Holy City, the eternal Bride of Christ, that its gates will never be shut, nor Frederick Weatherly’s conclusion that the gates of that city are never shut so “that all who would might enter and no one was denied.”

A thirteen year old has a massive amount yet to be experienced and learned, but I suspect a thirteen year old may be as smart as he is ever going to be. A decade later, for three years following my seminary education and before I was ordained, I travelled from church to church in evangelistic meetings around the country offering the Good News that I had discovered in Christ to any who would listen. The force that drove me during those years was the same as that which I found stirring in my heart on that trip home from my first year at Indian Springs.

There was a wisdom in Henry Clay Morrison and those who were leaders in the camp meeting movement that I have understood better and appreciated more with the passing of the years. I had no comprehension of it then. It was never mentioned by them. It seems that they just assumed it as if it were to be taken for granted. They seemed to feel that a certain fullness of grace is as available for a thirteen year old as for a veteran saint. The sermon that was preached by Morrison for the most determinative evening of my life was on what he called entire sanctification, or “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” All of the theological terminology was new to me, but that did not keep a profound message from coming through to me. I was a three-day-old Christian. My sense of the forgiveness of my sins, His acceptance of me, and the fact of His presence with me was all very real. But the word that came through to me that night was that He now wanted me to tell Him He could have all that I knew of my heart. But beyond that He also wanted me to give Him the key to my heart so that He could claim for Himself even that which I did not yet know about myself. I was told that if I gave Him that key, He would take me, possess me for Himself, and then fill me to the full with His Spirit. Somehow I knew, unwittingly I think, that it was not so much me giving myself to Him as my permitting Him to take, to possess, me fully for Himself.

It was only later that I realized that this put me in the Wesleyan tradition. It was only later that I would understand that time and human discipline are not necessary additions to the sacrifice on Calvary and for the realization of the promise that is implicit in Pentecost. It is that filling that will enable one to learn much more about Him and His ways and a whole lot more about oneself. Those around may not perceive what is on occasion happening in the thirteen year old in a good camp meeting but, apparently, heaven does and likes it. I do, too.



Measuring Results

My mom tells me that one of my grandfather’s favorite books was the biography of Adoniram Judson,  To the Golden Shore.  I have long known about Judson and have even had the privilege of visiting Burma and seeing first hand the impact that one man had on a nation.

I came across this excerpt recently and wanted to share it. I hope it will encourage you in your work or ministry.

The American missionary Adoniram Judson arrived in Burma, or Myanmar, in 1812, and died there thirty-eight years later in 1850. During that time, he suffered much for the cause of the gospel. He was imprisoned, tortured, and kept in shackles. After the death of his first wife, Ann, to whom he was devoted, for several months he was so depressed that he sat daily beside her tomb. Three years later, he wrote: God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I cannot find him.

But Adoniram’s faith sustained him, and he threw himself into the tasks to which he believed God had called him. He worked feverishly on his translation of the Bible. The New Testament had now been printed, and he finished the Old Testament in early 1834.

Statistics are unclear, but there were only somewhere between twelve and twenty-five professing Christians in the country when he died, and there were not churches to speak of.

At the 150th anniversary of the translation of the Bible into the Burmese language, Paul Borthwick was addressing a group that was celebrating Judson’s work. Just before he got up to speak, he noticed in small print on the first page the words: “Translated by Rev. A. Judson.” So Borthwick turned to his interpreter, a Burmese man named Matthew Hia Win, and asked him, “Matthew, what do you know of this man?” Matthew began to weep as he said,

We know him—we know how he loved the Burmese people, how he suffered for the gospel because of us, out of love for us. He died a pauper, but left the Bible for us. When he died, there were few believers, but today there are over 600,000 of us, and every single one of us traces our spiritual heritage to one man: the Rev. Adoniram Judson.

But Adoniram Judson never saw it!

And that will be the case for some of us. We may be called to invest our lives in ministries for which we do not see much immediate fruit, trusting that the God of all grace who oversees our work will ensure that our labor is not in vain.

Adapted from Julia Cameron, editor, Christ Our Reconciler (InterVarsity Press, 2012), pp. 200-201

Serving in India

I am serving this week in Mysore, India. I was honored to preach yesterday to a congregation of several hundred. We sang worship songs in four different languages, English, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi. What an experience! I think that must be what heaven will be like when every tribe and tongue and nation worship before the throne.

Our host, Tim & Karla Shamala pastor the church here and operate the school and crisis center. It is an amazing place that is a always a flurry of activity. Their school has 500 children each day, the church is planting multiple congregations across the city and the crisis center is ministering to the needs of the very poor.

I am amazed at what God is doing in India. Our plan is to partner with Tim and Karla to help fulfill the great commission here in Mysore. I hope you will join us.