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The Tenth Anniversary of My Thirtieth Birthday

June 30, 2014

Today is my fortieth birthday. Perhaps more significantly, it’s the tenth anniversary of my thirtieth birthday. I’m not just saying that so I can avoid talking too much about being 40, although there is a bit of weirdness associated with being as old as I remember my dad being when I was a little kid.

So what was so special about my thirtieth birthday? Well, 30 June 2004 was the day we had our final party for the Mexico mission trip – you know, that “one last” time you all get together to swap pictures and stories, tell the inside jokes again, play “remember that time?” eat some culturally-appropriate food, and commiserate a bit about how weird it is to be back at home. MEX04

Even though I’ve traveled outside the country with other people’s kids ten times as a group leader/chaperone, there’s (still) something special about the 2004 Mexico trip. That was the first time Karen let me lead a group all on my own. And although I fell far short of being the mature, responsible chaperone I should have been, no one was very seriously injured (sorry, Meredith), everyone made it back home (much to their chagrin), and the Good News was preached to the poor. It was, to say the least, a very special experience.

And the MEX04 party just happened to fall on my 30th birthday.

I use a trite, cliché phrase like “very special experience,” but I should really just call it what it was: life-changing. That trip was the thing that really made me start seriously thinking, “How can I make the other 50 weeks of my year more like the two weeks when I’m dong stuff like that?”

Peru 2004Coincidentally, the other trip I went on that same summer gave me the answer to that question, but I didn’t quite put two and two together right away. That August, I also went to Peru with another six high school students, teaching Bible Stories in Spanish at rural congregations in the mountains. It, too, was an unforgettable experience, one that solidified everything I had begun to suspect about myself during MEX04. One of the places we stayed in Peru was a compound owned by Wycliffe Bible Translators – did you hear that? Bible Translators – but my first reaction was “Wow. That’s cool. But there can’t be too many languages left without Bibles. They must be nearly done…”

It took me another year to figure out that no, “they” don’t really have that almost done yet, and there are still thousands of languages without even a single verse of Scripture. And another fair bit of time to get myself in a position to be able to do something about it.

But the seed had been planted. The MEX04 trip had changed my life – or at least, it had changed me – and now, exactly ten years after that party, with the peanut butter tortillas, endless quotes, remembrances, stories, a soundtrack, commemorative t-shirts, and a silly powerpoint presentation, here I am in Zambia, serving full-time as the exegete and translation advisor for a project to translate the Bible into a brand-new language for the first time. Wow.

Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, he chooses to use completely ordinary ones. Today, as I celebrate 40 years of God’s amazing grace and mercy, I’m just happy he chose to use me for some of His awesome plans.

Thanks to all of you who have been a part of my journey all of these years.

Nope. "They" still don't have that done yet...

Nope. “They” still don’t have that done yet…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2014 9:06 am

    So young!

  2. Emily Mayer permalink
    June 30, 2014 11:37 am

    So many blessings to you and your family and your work! God is good and does take us down the paths he chooses to have us do the work he has prepared for us! AND he carries that work to completion so that the power of his gospel does not depend on our shortcomings but rather our shortcomings make us more aware of the greatness of his grace! God bless!

  3. Steve Lawrenz permalink
    August 2, 2014 11:03 am

    Saturday, August 3, 2014. Chris, Your email came during our furlough and I deal only with emergency emails at that time. So, today I read your posting. I am really happy about what you are doing for and with the Nsenga speakers to give them a much better N.T. than they have ever had. It delights me. It’s always interesting to see what gets a person going on a mission. Thanks for sharing that. What about me.? What was my impetus to go to Zambia, and then eventually, Malawi? Well, I never aspired to be a world missionary, but when they asked me (this is, called me), I said yes. That’s not so thrilling a story, is it? I’ll have to think about it. Maybe I can jazz it up. Steve Lawrenz, Blantyre, Malawi.

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