Vision Trip to China

20 05 2008

As I have watched in horror all the gruesome details of the earthquake that has rocked central China, I am sobered by the realization that just two short months ago, I was within 10 minutes of this epicenter, building relationship with Chinese students and working alongside a local ministry to communicate about our faith in Christ.

China is an amazing country.  More people than I can even begin to describe.  Steeped in rich history & culture.  The underground church has exploded the last several years and an awakening and revival has been taking place in this country that I could only dream about.

During the month of March (has it really taken me this long to update the blog?!!), I visited Chengdu with 4 others from the Atlanta area on a 10 day, short-term vision trip with Buckhead Church.  Although lightening fast, our time was filled with great memories, new friendships and a deeper understanding of each of our roles in sharing the life of Christ with the millions of people worldwide who have not yet experienced this amazing life change.   

John, Charles, Tashi, Emily & I had a blast.  We traveled 12 hours around the globe where we linked arms with a small team of “stinters” who are investing a year or more of their life into the ministry in China.






We made many new friends and were able to have several wonderful conversations pointing toward faith during our week in Chengdu.  We passed the baton of our relationships over to the stinters to follow up with these students and to continue the dialogue.  Although brief, we have prayed our impact was influential in the lives of the students we were honored to meet.










Our last couple of days we spent in Beijing exploring the home of the 2008 Olympics.  We hiked along the Great Wall, took in the majesty of the Forbidden City and tried to image how an athlete was going to be able to breathe easily in this city covered in smog!



























We left only slightly more than a week after we arrived.  We were tired but impacted deeply.  We took a part of China home with us, and especially now as we see the people in the area we visited hurting, dying and crying out for help, our hearts are broken and sad.  We are praying with our stinter friends still in Chengdu that through this tragedy, many will find faith in Christ.


Birthday??! Can’t a kid stay a kid??!

13 03 2008

Another year.  Do they come quicker as you have more?  Maybe it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill…once it starts rolling, it just picks up speed (until it crashes at the bottom! HA!). 

I had a great one this year.  2008 has started off great, fun memories, great friends in my life, wonderful experiences.  I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.

What better gift than for a singing telegram complete with birthday cake, balloons, pointed hats & some Heineken to show up at your door?!!  Now that’s good stuff.  Although I must admit, chocolate cake and beer don’t “leave” as quickly as they used to.  As I get older, I keep loosing hair and metabolism…if you see either of mine lying around, shoot me a note and I will come pick them back up and return them to their rightful owner.

 Singing Telegram - Chris & LV

Thanks to everyone who made my birthday a special day and reminding me how loved I am!!


2008 Annual Ski Trip

6 03 2008

I just got back from a 5 day weekend skiing with some great friends from Atlanta.  We stayed with Tom & Olga Griffin in Vail, Colorado.  They have graciously opened up their home to us the last three years for our annual trek out west.

This year’s trip was harder than most.  It has now been a year since I was at INJOY, and the majority of the guys on the trip are still working there. It really struck me how much I miss them and seeing them on a daily basis, working together to impact the lives of people.  I remain convinced that the Lord orchestrated my departure, and have been blessed with many wonderful opportunities and changes over the last year, but I found myself regularly reliving nostalgically times past.  It was great to spend some extended time with the guys and really just get away from it all and have fun.

Atlanta Boys Guys night at Garfinkel’s 

We spent our first day at Vail, skied Keystone day two (and even enjoyed a few hours of night skiing), and finished up Saturday back at Vail.  The weather was unbelievable.  Mid 50’s, so we were almost hot in all our gear.  The snow was great, and it was a perfect environment for me to continue to develop my less-than-stellar skiing skills!!!

 Mountain Top View David, LV & Reggie heading to the lift.

I managed to pick up where I had left off last year.  Greens were now fun warm-ups, and Blues were where I loved to stay.  As the time progressed, I was enticed to try a black.  We went to the backside of Vail and found a bowl screaming for our attention.  BIG MISTAKE!!! This slope was beyond steep, and the moguls were everywhere. It took me over an hour to painstakingly fall down the side of this stalwart of nature.

Fortunately, I got through this disaster, and some friends pushed me to try again, this time a black without moguls.  Actually, on Saturday, since it was the weekend and the weather was exceptional, Vail was crowded worse that Six Flags in the middle of summer.  A few of us traversed back a couple of peaks to try to break away from the pack.  When we got to the far peak, my friend Mark mentioned that he “conveniently” forgot to mention to me that there were only Black slopes getting back.  Once I caught my breath, I decided, what the heck, let’s give it a shot.  As we headed up the lift and I saw my approaching destiny, my heart raced, sweat began to bead on my forehead, and I was slow of breath.  This wasn’t a slope, it was a 90 degree decent into the abyss.  After I managed to muster the nerve to get close to the edge, I began.  It was slow at first, then all of a sudden, it just became fun.  We zig-zagged down the hill, got to the bottom and screamed, “let’s do it again!”  Are you kidding me??  This wasn’t even a black diamond, but a DOUBLE BLACK DIAMOND!!! I had crossed over into a new era in my skiing, and I was on top of the world (almost literally, I have no idea how high we really were!!).

 Double Black Diamond

We ended the weekend at a great restaurant in Vail village treating our hosts to some wonderful food and a great time of fellowship.  That night, as a group of guys, we sat around the fireplace and shared with each other about all God had been doing in our lives this last year since we had been there before.  It was a wonderful capstone to a fantastic weekend.  I stepped back and reflected how fantastic it is to have great friends in your life.  I am blessed!! 

LV, Gary & Reggie 

Amberly’s Birthday Party!!

15 02 2008

What better way to spend Valentines Day (especially if you don’t have a Valentine!!), than celebrating a great friend’s birthday??!  Several of us got together to celebrate Amberly Sykes’ birthday on the 14th by meeting up at Ted’s Montana Grill for some great food, and then over to Regal Cinema for “Step Up 2 the Streets”.  This was an amazing movie…ok, maybe not amazing, but the dancing was pretty cool, especially the scene where the group danced in the rain!


It’s always a blast hanging out with great friends, having some good fun and enjoying a good dance movie together!  Amberly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY…YOU ARE LOVED AND VERY SPECIAL!!

 Amberly & Leigh Mandy, Kim, Chad & Mack Jill, Matt, Kerry & LV Reggie & Brad LV, Mack & Reggie

East Asia Team Retreat

10 02 2008

Just got home from a weekend retreat in Big Canoe with members of my East Asia missions trip.  Emily, Charles, John, Tashi & I had a great time getting to know each other, having a ton of fun, and spending time allowing the Lord to break our hearts for the people of East Asia we will be visiting in a few short weeks.



It is always amazing to me how God works details out perfectly without my intervention (which I sometimes forget he doesn’t really need!).  Our team, although small, is going to be a great blend of unique backgrounds and life stages unified around a central vision to be poured out to impact others.  We had fun dreaming about our upcoming trip, talking about strategies of how to effectively share our faith as we build relationships with students we will encounter.  We practiced talking and praying in “code” which is required in this area of the world where faith in God, and especially sharing this faith, isn’t always encouraged, to say the least!

Thanks to Chef Emily, we had wonderful food, but what would you expect from a dietician?!  We also went head to head with each other in some intense games of Egyptian Rat Screw (which by the way, I think I won about half of!!) 

 Egyptian Rat Screw


We had a blast with some great team building activities like the Trust Walk through the woods, and even were successful at putting a tent together with the guys blindfolded, only able to use one hand, and not able to talk (can guys actually survive like that?!).  The ladies were master’s at leading the way and creating a tent fit for a king!

Team Building Activity Guys in the Tent

Trust Walk 

In all, we had a fantastic time and were most inspired by our last evening together where we opened scripture and were compelled with vision about faith as a mustard seed growing to see the impossible take place in the lives of those we will encounter.  One of our themes is “Great Expectations” as we prepare for a spiritual battle for the lives of those we will be sharing the scandalous truth of redemption with.


Please pray for us as we prepare for the trip.  If you would like more information, please email me at

“Are You Ready to be Offered?”

9 02 2008

I have been reading Oswald Chamber’s “My Utmost for His Highest” the last couple of months and have been reflecting on his insights about being “Offered”.

He writes the following over the course of a couple of day’s devotional thoughts:

“Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful–to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say–‘I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching and saying, ‘Well done.’ 

            It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people’s feet.  Suppose God wants to teach you to say, ‘I know how to be abased’–are you ready to be offered up like that?  Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket–to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served?  Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?”

I have been pondering these thoughts for a few days and remain disturbed at the conviction with which his questions prick my heart.  Am I ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket, so hopefully insignificant that I am never thought of again in connection with the life I served/serve?  Why do I do what I am doing anyway?  To be known, praised, admired, respected.?  Am I really in love with Him so much, so committed to His glory and impacting others that I walk in the hidden service of the cross?  Dare I answer this question with honesty & truth?

Chambers goes on to say that the process of moving to this complete abandon of self is a transaction of will.  He writes,

“Tell God you are ready to be offered; then let the consequences be what they may, there is no strand of complaint now, no matter what God chooses.  God puts you through the crisis in private.  Externally life may be the same; the difference is in will.  Go through the crisis in will, then when it comes externally there will be no thought of the cost.

            ‘Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the alter.’  The alter means fire–burning and purification and insulation for one purpose only, the destruction of EVERY AFFINITY THAT GOD HAS NOT STARTED AND OF EVERY ATTACHMENT THAT IS NOT AN ATTACHMENT IN GOD.  You do not destroy it, God does; you bind the sacrifice to the horns of the alter, and see that you do not give way to self-pity when the fire begins.  When the crisis arises, you realize that things cannot touch you as they used to do. 


This picture messes with me.  I like to be warm, don’t get me wrong, but I am not very comfortable burning!  But I (Reggie’s flesh) must burn; be fully consumed.  There is no other way if I want to truly be fully devoted and surrendered to Him.  What is my ‘way of fire’?  I am scared to ask, but my soul and spirit cry out from the depth of my being to try.  God, purge me deeply and let no dross be left in me.  Remove all that will stand in the way of me walking the road to Calvary with you, no matter the cost.  Let me hope in the resurrection, but to rise again, I must first be crucified.

Irresistible Revolution

4 02 2008

                I am just finishing Shane Clairborne’s book “Irresistible Revolution” and have so many thoughts swirling in my head.  This book was given to me as I began my month long stay in Africa, serving at a missions base and trying to figure out some greater clarity and insight about life, my future, where in the world the Lord might be leading me.  It could not have been more timely.


                In this book, Shane takes a deep stab at the complacency and apathy of the rich, comfortable, and insensitive American church.  I was deeply convicted as I read his accounts of times like serving with Mother Teresa and the believers in Calcutta helping dying Indians leave this earth well.  He traveled to Iraq in the height of the war and exposed himself to the families and everyday people that have been so horrifically touched by the results of the war on terror.  He lived in an abandoned church in the inner city of Philly sharing and doing life with the homeless, broken, outcast, impoverished.  In each instance, and so many more, he was touching real people and learning what real life meant.


                How am I living life?  What makes me uncomfortable?  Where am I touching real people struggling with serious issues like poverty, homelessness, war,  and also those of us that are bound by invisible chains of wealth, reputation, ambition and fame?  God break my heart for all people. Help my life to be laid down daily to allow You to touch lives in significant and truly loving ways.  Help me to love You well as I serve you by loving the “least of these“.  There is more to Christianity than the way I have lived.  Father, open my eyes and heart to the broken world all around me and give me the courage and wisdom to respond.