Some wise words from Jean Vanier during his acceptance speech for the 2015 Templeton Prize.
For peace, people must meet across differences. I say to meet people, not just to send them money and offer better professionals. All need to change. Fear must be changed into openness. Those on the rich side need to change and open their hearts to those on the other side. Those on the needy side also need to change; from anger, anguish, depression and a sense of being victims of a society, they must become agents of hope and of love.…It is only as we meet and share together person to person, eye to eye, and heart to heart that we discover what it means to be human and to discover the joy of being together, working together towards a common mission of peace and unity. It is only moving from winning and loneliness to collaboration, and from hostility to seeing enemies as friends, that we discover the real meaning of peace.
How's this for a birthday present... an unexpected note from a 19 year old young man that I received on my 59th birthday. Grateful and fulfilled.
Mike! I only see you a few times a year, but I want you to know how much my family admires you! My dad and his brothers and sisters all have stories that they passed on to their kids about how you have changed their lives in amazing ways! God is working through you so much and we are so thankful for what you do and the role model you have been for us! You're a wonderful person that I love and respect! Have a great birthday!
The losses in our lives are both big and small, and cover a range of experiences. We leave home. We experience physical illness and disabilities. We struggle with vocation and finances. We may long for a spouse or child. We lose people we love to addiction or illness and death. Following is a video featuring my dear friend and colleague Beth Slevcove talking about her new book Broken Hallelujahs. Below is the endorsement I wrote for the publisher, IVP.
"The beautifully fashioned sentences throughout Broken Hallelujahs summon deep contemplation and provoke a wrestling with the realities of our mysterious lives. What is truly refreshing about Broken Hallelujahs is the absence of sentimentalism. However, with a timely cadence, this book moved me to tears – tears of grief, tears of loss and lament, but also tears of joyfulness and gratitude. Beth’s willingness to be vulnerable and to call a thing what it is gave me permission to sink into the profound truth that Jesus Christ shows us it is truly human to sometimes cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Broken Hallelujahs ministered to my soul like a Balm of Gilead. I often say, “Wouldn’t it be great if Christians were known in our culture as the people who set aside syrupy platitudes and told the truth about pain, loss and death.” Death is the enemy, but that is not the end of the story… I love this book and hope you take care of your soul by reading this astonishing story."
Mike King, President/CEO, Youthfront; author of Presence Centered Youth Ministry; Twitter @MDKing
I spent some time reflecting over the weekend on what a great year 2015 was. For me, the year was EPIC. Here are the top ten reasons why 2015 will be long remembered. I did not list these ten in order of significance (that would have taken several more days to contemplate that) although #1 is pretty much #1.
#1 – Vicki and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We were high school sweethearts and got married at semester break during my first year in college. I married my best friend and she is still my best friend today… that makes for a great life.
#2 – I celebrated my 40th anniversary of being on the staff of Youthfront. I came on staff part-time right out of high school and soon became a full-time staff member while I finished college and earned two Masters degrees. I am so fortunate to get to work for such a great organization with amazing and wonderful friends.
#3 – Our oldest granddaughter, Lexi, attended Youthfront camp this summer for the first time as a camper. That was awesome.
#4 – Our son, Daniel married Mariel, this year and we are happy to have her as a daughter-in-law.
#5 – The San Francisco Giants paid travel and lodging for Vicki and me to come to the Giants final game of the season at AT&T Park to be with the Affeldt Family on the field for a forty-five minute retirement celebration ceremony for Jeremy Affeldt. I met Jeremy when he played for the Royals and we became close friends and partners in ministry. Our friendship survived Jeremy being the winning pitcher in Game Seven of last year’s World Series when the Giants beat the Royals. Jeremy was the first to call and congratulate me when the Royals won this year.
#6 – Several days after returning from the amazing experience at AT&T Park with Jeremy Affeldt and the Giants, the Royals called and informed me that they were honoring me for my 40 years of public service by having me sit in the Buck O’Neil seat behind home plate. The Royals produced a video of my Youthfront ministry highlights, provided premium seats for my family, and treated me like royalty. And this all happened as the Royals won game five against the Houston Astros. Watching Johnny Cueto pitch his masterpiece behind home plate was extraordinary. Twice during the night they put my family on the Jumbo tron and ran the video about my ministry. What an amazing night.
#7 – The Kansas City Royals win the World Series. I’ve wanted my family to experience what it’s like to win the World Series like I did thirty years ago in 1985. The parade in 1985 was great but the celebration in 2015 with 800,000 people gathered downtown was EPIC.
#8 – For the last couple of years I have served as a Senior Advisor Consultant for the Museum of the Bible that will be opening in Washington, D.C. in November of 2017. Recently, I secured a significant and generous planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation on behalf of the Museum of the Bible. I will be able to lead a process to explore the issue of science and the scripture as literature. Here are excerpts from the executive summary, “A narrative has developed in the Western world that scripture and science are incompatible. Many believe science has shown the Bible to no longer be relevant and even responsible for holding back human progress. There are also those who believe that scripture necessitates an adversarial position against science. While elements of this narrative are certainly understandable in our current cultural milieu, we believe they are mistaken and damaging. The MOTB has an opportunity to help overcome these misleading views. This project will produce a detailed plan for compelling exhibits focusing on science and the Bible and create a fully developed proposal for the John Templeton Foundation requesting support to implement the plans. We believe the stakes are high if the presentation of the Bible and Science relationship is not informative and intelligent.” I feel this has potential to change the conversation about the relationship between scripture and science.
#9 – In June we completed a four-year, $4.5 million capital campaign at Youthfront Camp West. This will go down as one of the biggest highlights and most significant accomplishments of my lifetime. My spiritual life was transformed at this camp forty plus years ago. I’m so thrilled that the facilities are so amazing and well constructed that young people will be transformed at Youthfront Camp West long after I’m dead and gone. I feel so fulfilled and blessed by the success of this campaign and construction completion.
#10 – There were too many other great things from 2015 to just pick one, so here is my miscellaneous category. * I made my 22nd visit to the Middle East in May, this time on a VIP trip with a small team from Museum of the Bible. * The Chiefs make the playoffs. * In December, Vicki and I visited Micah and Samantha, who are now living in Cabo San Lucas. * In January, I attended the International Association of Youth Ministry Educators Conference in Cambridge, UK. * Featured in a Cover Story in the Youthworker Journal. * Just about every time we are with our grandkids is a GOOD TIME.
Being on the field with Jeremy Affeldt at AT&T Park for his retirement ceremony two weeks ago was a dream. Well the dream continues...
Yesterday, I got word from the Kansas City Royals that they are honoring me at tonight's Game 5 ALDS against the Houston Astros. They are providing tickets for my immediate family and I will be sitting in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat.
The Buck O'Neil Legacy seat is behind home plate, just down from where I sat with my father for the last time at a Royals game a few days before he died. I know my father would be really proud of what's happening.
A little over a decade ago, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel to a group of youth workers. My fellow panelists that day were Royals great Mike Sweeney, youth worker Dana Nearmyer and Royals' pitcher Jeremy Affeldt. From that moment on, Jeremy invited me into his life as a pastor, theological conversation partner, spiritual guide and most of all, friend. We have been through a lot together with lots of valleys and mountain top experiences. I helped Jeremy with his first book, To Stir a Movement and welaunched an initiative called Something to Eat, which has provided nearly 4million meals to those struggling with hunger.
A year and a half ago, Jeremy started talking a lot about retiring. It wasn't because he was struggling with his performance. (I should have pressured him to retire at All Star break last year and then he wouldn't have pitched against my beloved Royals and getting the win as a pitcher in game seven.) He talked of retirement because he loves his family and grew increasingly sad about missing time with them. His three boys are growing up quick and he hates not being with them more. There were a couple of times earlier in the season that he thought about quitting abruptly.
A couple of weeks ago the Giants front office called and asked if Vicki and I would come to be a part of a special ceremony honoring Jeremy at today’s Giants’ game. I am honored to be here and grateful to the Giants for spending the money to bring family and some friends to San Francisco to pay tribute to Jeremy who helped them win three World Series Championships since 2010.
I look forward to what God has in store for Jeremy and Larisa in the years ahead. It has been a highlight of my life to watch Jeremy develop as a player (just look at his postseason stats, putting him in the company of legends like Mariano Rivera and Babe Ruth), even more, to see him grow as a follower of God in the way of Jesus. He is committed to come along the “least of these” (Matthew 25) and to stand up as a leader to call a thing what it is. Perhaps most of all, Jeremy has become more than a friend. The Celts had a phrase to describe what I’m talking about. Anam Cara, is Gaelic for “soul friend” and that’s what Jeremy is for me.