Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

Today was a very full day! The JAARS center’s biannual spiritual vitality meeting was in the morning, and I had a center tour, hangar tour, and general job introduction in the afternoon.

The morning’s speaker was Dr. Jim Garlow, who pastors a church in San Diego. His doctorate is in historical theology, and he’s written several books, with Cracking the Da Vinci Code among them. His primary topic was “The American National Condition”, describing the establishment, domination, and then marginalization of the church in the United States; he described the three primary assaults on the church as being against procreation, marriage, and gender specificity. This leads to the question – what is a Christian to do about this?

The answer, he teaches, is to be “in the world, but not of it”. Christians are obligated to learn the language of secular culture and form relationships with the people in it. He gave a few examples of how he had done this, and challenged us to form a friendship with the person (that we know) who was most directly opposed to the Christian viewpoint. He also reminded us that the Bible gives us moral authority, as long as we stick to it and not our own opinions.

He also pointed out that, often, the desire to please or not offend people makes Christians shy away from political issues. Unfortunately, the issues of gender identity, gay marriage, and abortion are now politicizing what were once strictly Biblical issues. He is adamant that one should “render to Caesar only that which is Caesar’s”,  and that these (now political) issues should be addressed from the pulpit. I asked him, during the break, about his views on separation of church and state. In our democracy, he responded, civil, church, and family government all have the Scriptures as their foundation; however, their jurisdictions are different. Civil government is the only body that may take life. I think I agree with this, but I also don’t think that this viewpoint (Scriptural foundation) would make much sense to an atheist, so it comes down to a fundamental clash of worldviews.

Over the course of the morning, I met Dee, a grandmother who’s volunteered with Wycliffe for 19 years, and Vic. Vic is a former pilot who now works in the aviation and transportation departments; if you’re trying to picture him, think Sarek from the new Star Trek movie, but without Ben Cross’s cheekbones. One of the projects that he’s working on is a biofuel still. In Guinea Bissau especially, he told me, cashew nuts are a huge export, but their fruit is largely thrown away and wasted. There’s not much electricity or clean water, so they’re working on a simple, sustainable method of taking the cashew fruit and turning it into ethanol to run internal combustion engines for ground transportation. It sounds pretty cool, and he said he let me know the next time they did an experimental run.

I had a center tour in the afternoon, which I may elaborate more on later, and then I met Terry at the hangar. I’ll be working with/for him – as long as we’re sticking with the pop culture references, think Gibbs from NCIS. He himself has done a lot of sweet design work – more on that later. They have five light aircraft in the hangar right now, mostly destined for Africa. There’s a machine shop, engine shop, sheet metal shop, paint room, and avionics shop. I get the idea that about every other person I run into is a former pilot – it’s apparently common for them, instead of saying “Could you repeat that?” or “Sorry?” to respond, “Say again, over?” It made me laugh when that happened between Terry and a mechanic.

I obviously have plenty to write about, over the next few days!

“The reason angels can fly is because they take themselves lightly.”  -G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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