Monday, November 10, 2014

Celebrating Heroes Today!

As I heard the news for the first time yesterday evening, as each name that was said of the men and women on board of the aircraft and the eardrums delivered the message to the brain, it felt like someone stabbed me in my heart repeatedly. The news numbed me...I was in shock to hear that Dr. Myles Munroe, his wife Ruth, my friends Lavard and Radel Parks...their little son and unborn child and a few others on the plane were no longer with us. Just last Sunday I saw them and I felt such a loss knowing that I took that time for granted, not anticipating that I will never see them again.

The more the news sank in, the more I felt overwhelmingly sad for our country and for the families. We all lost incredible people, visionaries, leaders - HEROES! The authenticity of the messages preached and taught by Myles Munroe were a direct download and revelation from the Lord. The way he impacted people of all ages and backgrounds, believed in each one of them without prejudices, speaking wisdom with love and at the same time, with so much authority - he was a walking and talking image of Christ. He led by example of character and integrity. The men (and women) who were under his wing are the true godly men who are the future in our Bahama land and who will continue to carry out his vision, many already doing that. These are the men that we need to multiply through mentorship. I pray that the legacy will never die, that this time of grief and sadness will be an instrument of change and inspiration for the Bahamas, the Caribbean  and the world!

He taught the truth, the principals of the Word of God. Although I am not a member of BFM, Pastor Munroe has been one of my spiritual mentors for years through the countless sermons I have heard when I visited his church, but mostly watched online and on TV. The books that he wrote are life-changing. Words cannot cover the magnitude of all that this man has done in the time here on earth. The hurt and pain of the loss of our brothers and sisters who were in that plane are going to leave a mark on the hearts of this nation. I hope and pray that the words and teachings will leave an even greater mark! All of us who have been impacted by the influence of someone as great as Myles Munroe, his wife Ruth, Lavard, Radel, pastor Pinder and others who were gathered to go make a difference at the Leadership Conference in Freeport - let us stand and live out the vision, stand up and lead, reach our full potential, and make sure we die empty as they did!

With everything that pastor Myles taught, he was a messenger of someone who is even Greater and He is still alive and lives forever! The same One who gives eternal life to all who know Him and accepts Christ as His Son and the Saviour of the world. We follow pastor Munroe because He followed Christ, so let us take the message seriously, let us carry out the vision of the Kingdom! We are not of this world, we are all here but aliens - we are of the Kingdom of God and we have a responsibility to bring His Kingdom here, while we are here. The only way to do that is to discover your purpose and live out the principals without compromise and RISE UP. We must not settle, we must BE the world changers. We must be the leaders that produce leaders, the disciples that produce disciples. We must not be ok with only hearing the great messages, we must be doers! It's our turn!

Last night we did not say good bye to our was only 'See you later!'

...and for that I am thankful!

"Rise up, Bahamas...
Rise up!
This is the time to rise up as a nation and be reminded of all that has been taught by the great men and women we mourn this day. Above all, let us be reminded of who they pointed toward and gave their very lives for His mission!
Let this tragedy serve us all as a reminder that each one of us can rise up and be a leader in this Bahama land, fulfilling our potential and raising up more leaders, passing the baton to the next generation, as pastor Myles clearly saw in his vision. True disciples MAKE disciples. All of you who were impacted by his teachings - rise up, unite and let's make a difference in our land. This is the time to shine with the knowledge and wisdom you have received! 
Rise up! Get mad as the injustice, not at your neighbor or brother! Bring all the young people you know into this conversation and execute the plan and a vision for peace and leadership making! 
Rise up people of God! Let us keep our eyes on Christ and continue the Kingdom work, building this nation. Together we can make it happen! 
Rise up!"

~Iliana 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ambassadors of Peace

This evening I attenders a Peace Rally that was organised by Dr. Allen. It was held at the QC Auditorium and the attendance was good, I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged. There was even a panel of leaders who one way or another are making a contribution to the country. Each took turns to share their stories and their insight on the current crime situation in the Bahamas. The sentiments went from the power and need of prayer, to need of persons to get involved in the programs that focus on the fatherless youth who are on the street, to making the government accountable for not being more proactive, to making suggestions that we need outside help from abroad to help us with this crime situation which is getting out of control. 

Afterwards, people were given an opportunity to come to the mic and share their thoughts and comments. Many shared either personal stories of their first hand experiences with gang violence, being victims of crime, some shared their testimonies of being in the gang, even ex gang leaders came forward to share their stories. 

I am so thankful that Dr. Allen took the initiative to bringing the people together to have an open forum to have eye-opening conversations and empower people to speak out, reminding them that they have a voice. That is the best thing that I took away from this evening’s gathering, and for what it’s worth - I believe that was his vision and the main idea behind The Peace Rally. However, I must admit, I was hoping for more. 

It was a mixture of frustration and a bit of disappointment for me. The reason being is that with the momentum that was created in the room, I believe the rally did not provide the followup on how to carry out this vision further, which is why I am hoping that this was only an introductory Peace Rally gathering. The main motivation for the assembling of the rally, I believe, was due to the mindless and heartless killings, robberies and rapes that began to happen in the areas that caught people’s attention, such as Blair. “If this can happen in the crime watch area such as Blair, it can happen anywhere”, someone pointed out. 

When I first heard of the murder of Andrew Cartwright (may he rest in peace and may the Lord continue to comfort the family!) I was talking to a friend who lives across the street, then a friend of a friend who lives next door and heard everything that happened and even witnessed the crime scene. They were in such shock that they described their experience "as if this was happening in some movie rather than to them". As I was hearing these stories I was seriously considered to invest in a gun since I live around the corner. That was also the moment when I started to thinking of moving to the west, hoping it would be safer. All these thoughts came and suddenly I realised what was happening. Isn’t that what our flesh does? Isn’t that our initial intuitive reaction - to flee and find safety for self and family? The truth that Jesus spoke about is so evident - we increasingly becoming lovers of self. We tend to want to run away, buy a gun get behind the wall of a gated community and hope that it does not happen to us. "It’s ok as long as it’s not me”, "Out of sight out of mind" mentality. We are hoping to close our eyes for a moment and hang on to the threads of the feeling of safety, never actually thinking of the solution. But it is not going away and the problem is climbing over the walls, we cannot ignore it any more. 

That first instinct was quickly replaced with personal rebuke and then with righteous anger, which was the drive behind me showing up at the rally tonight. I believe people came for one of three reasons: either because (like me) they are fed up with allowing this to go on and also feel that righteous anger, secondly, they are feeling helpless and want to know what everyone else is prepared to do to bring justice, or thirdly, they have been in the crime field as a part of the solution and hoped to see some proactive movement happen from within the community. The latter are all too familiar with the problem and got very quickly discouraged and frustrated when the meeting became just another exchange of stories and a battle between what was better, prayer-or-action-debate. 

What I was hoping to get more out of the Peace Rally can be summarised in the following points:

  • The most powerful thing that can be done is acknowledging that we are as much a part of the solution as we are a part of the problem. Carlos Read pointed out the famous quote that “in order to get a different result, we need to do start doing things differently”. I wish that he stayed and shared more on what exactly that meant in practical terms for the type of audience that gathered there tonight. 
  • I was hoping that the focus of the meeting would have been geared towards presenting an opportunity for people to come up with some strategies that could be written down for further review and some type of followup would have been established. (even if it was volunteer based and volunteers recruited on the spot).
  • With the awesome turn out it would have been great to have all persons leave their contacts or for leaders from the panel to leave their contacts and specific information, such as where and how persons can come alongside various programs, organisations and initiatives that are already in place. 
  • The Rally would have a greater and lasting impact if it was made clear that although we do not have all the answers and all the solutions, this will be one of many Rallies and the goals and mission/objectives were clearly outlined at the very beginning as to why we were there and what is ultimately being accomplished. 
  • The main goal and purpose for the first Peace Rally, in my opinion, should have been bringing people to an understanding, putting everyone on one page and sparking up a Clear, Single-Mindedness in the way of thinking in such a way, that each person would want to take the conversation to their homes, their immediate groups and communities. That is the only way the change will come about. 

The beauty of a Peace Rally like this one is that we get people to come together. When we get people together for a Rally it is expected that there will be points of action that will be given to challenge each and every individual. It is also assumed that this ONE BODY will continue to move forward together as ONE, affecting change by sparking little fires of passionate hope for change wherever they go. The only way there will be a change in the crime situation we face in the country today is through the UNITY of the PEOPLE who are moved enough and challenged with specific action points to create a wave within their communities. That wave would then have to be constantly fueled through more empowerment through community prayer groups, community rallies and community events that would be guided by ONE VISION and ONE MISSION of that ONE BODY created through the Peace Rally, so that when another one is scheduled to transpire, more and more people would come and people will be joined as one. That is when unity of mind and collective passionate vision has a chance to overcome this situation as it grows. We cannot continue to operate in isolated corners, we need to unite! It is literally either them or us, except that our weapons are prayer and unity in love for one another and even those who are our enemies! People who are leading already - let them lead. Those who come alongside - let them operate in the area of their skill and giftedness. Those who can give - let them give. All, however, should be challenged to grow into leadership and train more leaders! 

There was so much truth spoken tonight, the only thing was missing is the conclusion and call to action. I love that the story of Rhode Island, NY was mentioned and the way Mayor Giuliani transformed the community which was plagued by crime, prostitution and drug trade in just two years in office by implementing some radical changes and investing in education and “civility” campaigns. He was truly a radical leader, and in that sense - the support of our government will be crucial! What will it take to stop this? 

These ARE the last days and we are NOT fighting against flesh and blood. The people of God must RISE UP NOW and stop waiting on the government to provide the solution. Together as a community we have the power and we can influence the government! We need to come together and implement what the Word teaches us for it is our Weapon and it is stronger that any other. We cannot compromise now and remain lukewarm, we must take it by force and we will only be able to do this when we first become obedient to loving one another and coming together as ONE! Together we are powerful and our unity brings glory to God who blesses those who obey His commandments. We are many parts, but we are still one body. There is much that we can do and it does not have to be a debate: some can pray, others with connections can approach the government, doe can give, yet others can go into the community and walk about, building relationships with the young and old who need to feel love. What we need is to pray and then to be empowered and motivated to step out in faith!

Whatever it is that each is equipped with - pour that into the vision of being the Ambassador for Peace! Tonight I saw the power that we can have if we truly come together with one mind and One Spirit, it was a beginning!

...and for that I am thankful!