M25 Mission Camp in Atlanta

The Cornerstone M25 Team

The team on the last day as we prepare to head back to Auburn

There are several entries that have been sitting in my drafts for a while that I’ve trying to get posted, and this happens to be one of them. M25 Mission Camp is a youth missional organization in Atlanta that works with the homeless in a way I’ve rarely seen over the years. It wasn’t the first youth trip for me, but it was the first one in a while, and I was amazed with every aspect of the experience, mainly because it changed perceptions and perspectives on life and serving others well. This video we produced can explain it better than I can here. For now, there are some images that shows a little of the week we spent trying to love others well.

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Seeing Our Next Team Off to Uganda Today

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Cornerstone Church Uganda Team Leaves for Atlanta

Today instead of going on the trip to Uganda with the team from last year, I got to see them off to the Atlanta airport. It was a sad goodbye for me personally since I’m staying behind, but I know God is going to work among these eight people pictured above over the next week in Uganda. This team is going to build on so many other teams that have already gone and come back, intent on sharing the love of Christ with others in a culture and context far different from the comfortable life we live in the western world.

You can see a little more about what the trips are like from my previous posts in the Uganda tag, and if you want to follow along with this particular team you can follow April Olive’s blog as she updates throughout the trip. I can’t wait to hear about their trip, it is quite an experienced group of travelers with a heart for the people of Uganda.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

Children's Remand Facility in Uganda Africa

A teenager watches others play at a children’s remand facility in Uganda

As soon as I read the topic for this week’s photo challenge I immediately thought about several images I took at these so-called remand homes in Uganda (to read more details and see more photos go to these two posts They are Hidden but Not Forgotten and The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness). These two images presented here for this week’s post were taken 24 hours apart from each other at two completely different areas in Uganda hours away from each other, at a place defined by solitary from the rest of the world. The desperation for children who sometimes get stuck in here for years ranges from joy in just being alive to actually dying from malnutrition.

There is a missional group called Sixty Feet who have a team on the ground there 24/7, and they do some fantastic work over there with these kids. Since these images were taken, Cornerstone Church has sent several teams to visit these facilities to try to provide a little hope to those who find themselves in this situation. We have another team leaving this coming Tuesday (see updates on this blog) with plans for several more teams over the next six months.

As a part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge on Solitary I would challenge everyone to take a look at Sixty Feet and just see what they are doing in Uganda. Even if you have no intention of partnering with this group at all, just check out what they are doing in Uganda and make yourself aware of what life is like for some of these children. They are in a desperate situation, but many had more joy than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world within the most unimaginable situations.

Children's Remand Facility in Uganda Africa

Child looks on at a children’s remand facility in Uganda

Our Next Team Headed to Kampala Uganda is Leaving Today

Uganda Team June 2012

Today our church sent off the next team that heads over to Uganda. This is our second group to go over to Uganda this year, and we have 2-3 more teams headed over to Kampala Uganda in the coming months. This team is a great group of seniors who have saved, found donors, and been preparing for months to get to the point of this photo above. In just about 24 hours they will put their feet on that red Uganda dirt, and somewhere in the back of their mind I know they will be thinking, whoa, we are in Africa.

I’m really looking forward to hearing all about how they are able to partner with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Uganda. If you would like to follow along as they post, you can head over to Rusty Hutson’s blog. If all things go as planned, Rusty will be sending blog posts over to the church as often as possible once they get on the ground and get to the house. Their first day is going to be a five hour drive out into rural Uganda, so once they get back from that first day on the ground we should start to see some new posts. To see more about past trips just click here or Uganda in the drop down menu at the top.

Project 365 [Day 155] Time to Get Down to Business in Uganda

Project 365 [Day 155] Business Mission Trip to Uganda

Today we (Cornerstone Church) sent off two staff members (Brian and Jack in the red and green shirt center above) to Uganda for a short business trip. Right now as I write this they are high over the Atlantic on their way to Amsterdam then on to Africa. This has pretty much become an annual planning trip for our church to prepare the way for our mission teams who will travel to Uganda later this year. For the last several years we have sent 3-4 teams a year to Kampala, Uganda to work in and around Kampala, Gaba, and Buloba. Most recently we have partnered with a mission group out of Atlanta called Sixty Feet who are trying to work in a few remand homes in Uganda (see Uganda photos from a previous trip of mine).

This year, once again, we have 3-4 teams including the one above, who will head over to Uganda to partner with our brothers and sisters in sharing the love of Christ with others. Today this photo is my Project 365 image for Day 155 (full gallery here), can’t think of a better photo of the day today than this.

Come Join The Cornerstone Church Food Drop 2012

This year at our church to celebrate Christmas, instead of doing fancy decorations and traditional garland we have been planning for quite a while now to do a “food drop” for the Auburn area. So if you were to walk around the church right now you will see boxes everywhere. A Christmas tree made out of boxes, presents made out of gigantic boxes, and the filled and returned boxes we started to give out this past Sunday. The way we have tried to communicate this on our own website is that we are never more like Jesus then when we serve others. And throughout the month of December, Cornerstone members and attenders (or anyone who wants to be a part giving back to our community) will be given the opportunity to serve others using a simple box.  We are asking everyone to:

  • Pick up a box and packing list from the Cornerstone lobby.
  • Pack the box full of food for families in Lee County.
  • Return the filled box to the church by January 1, 2012.
  • Saturday, January 7, gather at Cornerstone and pack the SUV’s, minivans and pickup trucks with these boxes and head out to specific communities to pass out these boxes to families in our area. (We will work with the Food Bank of East Alabama to target the communities in the greatest need.)

This is an opportunity to make a tangible difference in someone’s life by offering basic necessities that many of us take for granted. We can make the New Year great for our community with our simple gift of a box of food, and we are trying to have over 1,000 boxes filled by January 1st. For more information you can also visit the Cornerstone Food Drop 2012 info page, or visit Lee’s blog post as well.

If you are reading this and saying to yourself, I don’t go to Cornerstone so that’s nice and all but who cares… well, you don’t have to, but you can still participate. If you are in the Auburn-Opelika area, just come by the church lobby and pick up a packing list and a box and return it before January 1st.

Either way, whether you participate or not, I hope you can make it a priority this Christmas to go beyond the normal gift giving and remember others who are not as fortunate. I love that about Cornerstone, and I love seeing the church be the church. We need to think, learn, study, and understand God’s word, but we also need to go… and do. How can we say we believe what the scriptures say unless we actually do what it says. I hate the commercialization that always goes along with this time of year, but I love this. Hope you will help make it a success as well.

Mission Theology and Being a Multisite Church in Auburn

I love being part of a local church body that takes the GO in God’s word literally, and seriously. Last week I spent as much time as I could studying about mission theology and how it relates to the nature of God for an international missions paper. Even though my study was under the context of international mission, much of the study of mission theology relates to the mission that is being lived out through our local congregation here in Auburn, and local churches all across the country.

Sunday was our very first meeting and worship service for the new multisite location, and it was amazing to see about 150 people there to kick off the new site. With 150 people or more who have committed to making this new site a success it is already bigger than about 80% of the churches in the country. But more importantly, the people here have a huge heart committed to serving people in our area who have never walked into a church before, and that is exactly what scripture talks about through mission theology.

Throughout the Old and New Testament scriptures, God’s mission is deeply related to His own nature.  In fact, the two terms are so deeply related to each other that mission can be defined as being part of the “nature of God.”  The Latin term missio Dei is often translated as the “sending of God” or the “mission of God” and is derived from the very nature of God himself,  “encompassing everything God does in relation to the kingdom and everything the church is sent to do on earth.”[1]  When we examine scripture in context we see that “God is the initiator of His mission” sent to redeem his people through Christ, and then through the Church.[2]

While mission is not the only “nature of God”, the nature of God can’t be separated from mission. It is in God’s very nature, and is played out from the calling of Abraham, to the exile and exodus of the Israelites, to the coming the Son of God the Messiah. It can be seen in the setup of the New Testament Church in the book of Acts, and on into our modern day evangelical churches like my own where our leadership long ago decided that this church would not sit idle while “someone else” did the work of mission.

The very mission of God, which is to receive the praise and worship of all nations, is so closely woven together that neither could exist without the other. In modern day cultural terms, mission is not often thought of as a theology, and is rarely related to other aspects of theology.  But, when scripture is closely examined, we see God indeed calls all nations to worship him, which then makes it “natural to build a theology of mission at the core of all theological studies.”[3][4]

All that to say, this is an exciting time here at Cornerstone as we move ahead with being one church in multiple locations. We are one of very few multisite churches in our area, or even the state, who are moving through a plan to reach people in our area through more than one location, and doing so with missio Dei as the focus.


[1] McIntosh, John A. 2000. Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, ed. A Scott Moreau, s.v. “Missio Dei.” Grand Rapids: Baker.

[2] Sanders, Van. “The Mission of God and the Local Church,” in Pursuing the Mission of God in Church Planting, ed. John M. Bailey, Alpharetta: North American Mission Board, 2006, 24.

[3] Moreau, A. S., Corwin, G. R., & McGee, G. B. (2004). Introduction to World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (1st Edition ed.). Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Academic, 75.

[4] Bosch, David J. 1980. Witness to the World: The Christian Mission in Theological Perspective. Atlanta: John Knox.

Heading to Entebbe International Airport for the Long Ride

This is the last trip post before we get on the plane in a few hours. I will continue to post some photos from the trip over the next several weeks and months as I go through the thousands of images I’ve taken over this trip. I can’t reflect over this trip any more, especially since we really have no distance in time for all our experiences over the last 7-10 days. For now I will leave everyone with the photo above that sums up our awesome driver, who took care of us the entire time. Everyone who has been over knows what this photo means. We love Eddy.

In this post are some shots of us in the crazy fast Eddy van along with one of Olive we all just loved. She was a super nice lady who went with us just about everywhere. It’s hard to sum up this trip. I think I probably will find it hard to sum up the trip for months to come, but overall it was a learning experience, a humbling experience, and hopefully one where we lived out the love of Jesus.

Our Final Full Day in Buloba Uganda Today

Today was our last full day in Uganda. Tomorrow we will head over to a local market and have lunch before we head for the airport and a long long ride home. Today we went across Lake Victoria to the Bethany Village Orphanage in the morning, and back to Buloba to visit some sponsor children, put up some rain catches, and the woman were able to speak with a group of local woman. It was a very refreshing and uplifting day.

Tonight we had a wonderful last dinner at the guest house with our friends from 60 Feet. It was so great to have the two K’s over for dinner (their first names are Kelsey and Kirby), and I think we all enjoyed some casual discussions, along with African Renewal Ministries who came over as well. There were so many things we experienced on this trip that need to be followed up on, things that God pulled together for our team that became a great start. We understand as a team we probably can’t change the world, but we can continue to take some small steps forward that will collectively make a difference.

Tomorrow we head to the airport for our 11pm flight. Our flight leaves about 2pm Central Time on Thursday, and if our flights are on time, we should be back in Auburn late Friday afternoon. This trip has been incredible to say the least, and God put together a team that had so many different individual gifts and talents that only God could have brought us all together like this. As we head home we have so much to reflect upon, so much to process, but we trust in God to take care of the details and to use this trip to fulfill a purpose that will glorify God.

The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness

We have just about two full days left before we head back home. Today, at least I was thinking, was supposed to be a little easier than yesterday, but as when you try to plan for God, he often has different plans. This was by far the hardest day we have had, and as we met tonight we struggled with what we saw, and ultimately had to give it up to God and go to bed. There were 7 of us (out of the 9, the other two went to the University today) that went to the 2nd and 3rd children’s facilities today and when we got back to the guest house I think we all felt beat up and worn down. It was such a night and day difference between yesterday and today. We have compared and contrasted with each other for hours, struggling with what we can do, what we can’t do, and what we have to just give up to God and be ok with.

The photos in this post were only taken at the 1st place we went to today. The second place we went to we were told the government would not allow any photos within the facility, and for the first time, in perhaps years, I really had no desire what-so-ever to take a single image away from that experience. It will be forever burned into my mind as God showing me what His heart breaks for in this world today. With my camera stuffed in my backpack I was immediately taken out of my own comfort zone, behind the camera, and shown the realities and challenges our world can deliver. I’m grateful for that opportunity and I think I will learn from it for a long time to come. There were several team members who suggested that I write a short post and not put up any photos at all to correlate to the experience we had with the second children’s facility, but that was really only half of the day today. So, the other half of our day is shown in the photos in this post, there were none from the second half of the day. I love the shot of Amy Frye at the top. I think that pretty much sums up the day, but we are thankful for God’s love and that he is in charge.

The other two members of the team, Probakar and Emile, went to the University today and had an incredibly positive experience. Probakar was able to give a guest lecture to about 100 students and Emile explained her process of making clean water from sale and light. They brought back many new connections for future work that can be done and had a very positive and uplifting day.

We took away several positive individual stories from both places, and we have planted many seeds for our local partner church in Buloba or Gaba to pick up the work where we just barely got started. The team is really looking forward to tomorrow where we will go across Lake Victoria to Bethany Village Orphanage and then on to Buloba in the afternoon where the ladies will share with some of the woman from Buloba Church and the men, plus Amy Frye, will install some rain catches.