About Me

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New Orleans, LA, United States
Family from South Africa, Born in New Orleans, Lived in South Carolina. Married to Annabeth since May 2004. We have three boys (Bolt, Mack, and Birk). Currently living in Uptown NOLA and serving as Lead Pastor of Vintage Church and Camp Pastor of Student MissionLab.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Myanmar Day 1-Saturday March 28th

First let me tell you who is on the trip with me.
Scott and Wendy Duke are the leaders of the sports organization. I have known Scott for a couple of years, but this is my first time meeting Wendy. Jonathan is from Greenville and is currently living in Spartanburg. We supposedly played ball against each other in high school. Sean and Rob are members of Vintage and good friends. Sean is a high school teacher/coach in Chalmette and Rob is a freshman at Tulane. That’s it. I thought we were going to have a couple others, but I wasn’t mad. It meant that we had less subs for the games.

We arrived in Yangon, Myanmar this morning around 8:00am. I have done a lot of flying around the world, but this was one of the most intense journeys. 1hr to Houston. 11hrs to Moscow. 11hrs to Singapore. 2.5hrs to Myanmar. Over 25hrs of flying! Singapore Airlines is great, however they don’t know how to keep a plane cool. Dang it was hot, but I seemed to be the only one that struggled with it. I’m always hot. I probably slept a total of 10hrs of the flight, watched 3 movies, wrote over 5pgs of Vintage notes, and read almost 2 books on my new kindle. Everyone else did great on the trip. Sean had a little allergy issue, but survived.

When we finally got to Myanmar, I got a little shock. Looking on my passport, I found my Myanmar stamp from the trip that I took back in the fall of 2005. I had told the guys that the airport was extremely ghetto and hot. Not the case this time, they had built a complete brand new airport with air conditioning. Our government guide for the week was waiting for us after the passport check (which is not as intense as the one in ATL). His name is Arthur. Arthur served as their guide on the last trip that they took. He is a very friendly and gentle man, which is typical of most people in this country.

All our bags arrived and we went outside to wait for our taxis. As soon as we stepped outside the HEAT SMACKED ME IN THE FACE. This place is HOT! March and April are the hottest months in Myanmar. I think I am going to lose some weight just from being in a constant state of sweat.

Our journey to our hotel was amazing. It brought back so many memories from the first trip. Crazy drivers, no set road rules, driver on the wrong side but driving on the right side. I love it. I also got a quick reminder of the dirt and the poverty in this country. Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia. And from what I have been told Yangon is one of the richest parts of the country. As we drove the streets I immediately began to reconnect with an intense burden over the physical and spiritual status of this country. G you have to intervene with groans that cannot even be expressed.

Our afternoon was pretty chill. We checked into the Summit Parkview Hotel, got some lunch in the middle of town (I got some stuffed chicken meal and some S-prite. That is how they say it), and then rested at the hotel. I am rooming with Rob this week and we decided to not nap like the others. We instead lifted weights at the gym and took a dip in the pool. It was very refreshing.

Around 4, we headed off for our first basketball scrimmage. After almost losing our lives on the road again, we parked in front of an amazing open-air gym. Kinda had a Hoosier feel to it. The gym was packed with kids watching and playing ball. As we entered the gym an immediate buzz entered the room. The Americans have arrived. Let’s play ball.

We played against a pretty decent team. I love their style of bball. Run and Gun. They are scrappy and never stop moving. The first two minutes caught us by surprise. We found ourselves down 8-0. Fortunately, we woke up and after 6 quarters of bball we won 98-78. It was a lot of fun, but man I was tired. In between quarters I connected with a lot of friends that I had made on my first trip. I will tell you more about some of these people later in the week. I also entered the crowd with some clapping and goofing dancing. The gym was packed with spectators and you could see that they loved having us.

The rest of the night was recovery time. Shower, Dinner, and then of course the massage. However, this time it was a little different. Instead of getting a massage from a recliner, we all had our own beds. These little Burmese girls bent us in positions that we have never been bent before. It hurt like heck, but I loved it. We got a full hour, full body massage for $8. Not bad.

Right before we passed out we went to Scott’s room for a little devo time in the Big Book. G spoke to us about having a strong compassion for these people and believing the unexpected and impossible can happen.

What a first day! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week will hold.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Myanmar, Here We Come

It is 2am and I just finished packing up my stuff. It was an amazing night where I was reminded of God's grace and blessing upon my life and Vintage Church. Maybe one day I'll tell you the story.

I leave in the morning for Myanmar. Holy cow, this is going to be a beast of a trip. Here is our flight schedule: NOLA to Houston, Houston to Moscow, Moscow to Singapore, Singapore to Yangon. I am staying up so that I will be sleepy and the flight will go by faster.

I have heard that I will have access to internet at our hotel, so it is my plan to write a quick blog after some ichat time with the family each night. Before I go, I wanted to give you a few stats of the 10/40 region. I will be serving within this area.

10/40 Window: across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator.

• Center of population:Two-thirds of the world's population -- more than 3.2 billion people -- live in the 10/40 Window.
• Unreached and unevangelized: 95% of the people living in the 10/40 Window are unevangelized.
• Good news: There's a difference between unreached and unreachable. In 1989 there were only four known Christians living in Mongolia. That country now has an estimated 10,000 indigenous believers.
• Poverty: Eighty-five percent of those living in the 10/40 window are the poorest of the world's poor.
• 865 million unreached Muslims or Islamic followers in 3330 cultural sub-groupings
• 550 million unreached Hindus in 1660 cultural sub-groups
• 150 million unreached Chinese in 830 groups
• 275 million unreached Buddhists in 900 groups
• 2550 unreached tribal groups (which are mainly animistic) with a total population of 140 million
• Forming a smaller -- though important -- unreached group are the 17 million Jews scattered across 134 countries
• Good news: Missions researcher David Barrett says the country with the most rapid Christian expansion ever is China where there are 10,000 new Christian converts every day.

So...you’re bored with Jesus. So...that weekend party is more important right now. So...you’re gonna wait till you get married and have kids tilll you get serious about Christ.

• 66,000 people die every day in unreached poeple groups around the world, never having heard the gospel of Christ.
• Over 160,000 believers will be martyred this year while trying to preach Jesus.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Series at Vintage: Seven

This Sunday, Page Brooks will launch our new series called "Seven: A look at the 7 Churches in Revelation". We will spend 7 weeks walking through a greater understanding of these 7 churches. It is our prayer that we would be inspired to learn and apply the truths found in God's Word. Here is a video intro to the series.

7 / The Seven Churches of Revelation from Vintage Church on Vimeo.

You can listen to these messages at www.vintagenola.org/podcast

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Myanmar Blog (Day 10-Prep)

Day 10 (17 days till Myanmar)

Spiritual - It has taken me a couple of days to process what our church heard this past Sunday at Vintage. My Uncle Buzz took us through a foundational understanding of what a Spirit-filled life looks like in the Gospel of John. Trust me, you want to take some time and listen to this message. Click on this link: www.vintagenola.org/podcast. God is using my uncle in an amazing way in the Huntsville marketplace. Check out his website, www.murraywiltonministries.com. Here are a couple of challenges from Sunday:

  • Christianity is not about DUTY or THEORY...it is about LIFE.
  • God does not want slaves, he wants children.
  • Christ came to give vibrancy to dead souls!
  • If you follow the law, you are on a stair-stepper not a step-ladder. At the gym, a lot of people are doing a lot of work but getting nowhere.
  • Key to following the Spirit is understanding the heart of God.
  • Jesus humbled himself to find the height of human righteousness.
  • Where is Christ today? Seated at the right seat of the Father. Where is His body? We are His body filled with His Spirit.
  • Jesus said it was better if I go, the Helper is coming.
  • John 20:22 He breathed the Spirit on them.
  • The Christian Life is a DAILY EXPERIENCE.
  • Practical Advice: Praise the Lord, Surrender to the Lord, Invite the Lord.
  • The Holy Spirit is not a force, power, etc. The Holy Spirit is a person. Welcome Him daily into a Lordship over your life.
  • You can quench the Holy Spirit. It quenches someones Spirit when you reject them. The same applies to our lives in Christ.
  • Don't just worship the God out and up there, worship the God who is in here (within you).
After talking with my uncle, God has led me to continue this subject next week at Vintage. There are two aspects of being Spirit-led. One is all about your relationship with God. The second is all about your relationship with People. Hence, Love God, Love People. I am going to focus on the Spirit's work through His church. Can't wait.

Physical - I have certainly been working out really hard. But I am a little disappointed in my ability to eat right. I have very little self-control to Annabeth's goodies. Oh well. I am feeling good and healthy.

Myanmar Facts -
“Burma, a country of fifty million people, is ruled by fear. A military machine of 500,000 soldiers denies the whole nation its most basic rights.” (Burma Campaign UK)

With no known external enemies, the military government of Burma has been waging war against its own people for over50 years. Forced labour, confiscation of property, extra judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and absolute censorship in all forms of gatherings and media are just a few examples of the way things are where the citizens of an entire country are the casualties of war.

For those who are ethnic minorities in Burma, the ongoing war is an even harsher reality. Forced relocation and the systematic destruction of villages occurwith impunity. Rape is common and the Burma Army maliciously terrorizes its citizens with the strategy of placing thousands of land mines in and around villages in order to keep residents from returning. In 2006 alone, more than 25,000 men, women, and children joined hundreds of thousands of others who have been internally displaced in the last few decades. Most end up trying to survive in the jungle. Additionally, more than 200,000 have fled the country and are living in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border.

For displaced persons who are hiding in the jungle the situation is desperate. With little food, water, shelter, medicine, and no sanitation they are extremely vulnerable to sickness, disease and malnutrition. Malaria is common, especially among children. For women the situation is particularly difficult, especially for those who are pregnant. Many give birth prematurely or miscarry. Amazingly, most who are displaced want to return to their homes, villages, and rice fields; they simply want their lives back. With breathtaking precision, Burma’s leaders have managed to take what was once the “Jewel of Southeast Asia” and reduced it to one of the poorest, least educated, most corrupt, and mismanaged countries in modern history.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Myanmar Blog (Day 7-Prep)

Day 7 (20 days till Myanmar)

Spiritual - I have been meditating and memorizing Phil 2:1-11. I have vs. 1-8 down with hope of having this deep within my life as I go to share in Myanmar and in NOLA. Listen to the Word of the Lord.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Physical - Still doing pretty good. Played ball a couple of times and I keep working out at least 45min each day. Dieting is not my strength. Especially in New Orleans.

Myanmar Fact -
Adinoram Judson was an amazing man of God that was called to Burma. Here is a short bio of his life:

American Baptist missionary, lexicographer, and Bible translator to Burma. Born in Massachusetts in 1788. Helped form the American Baptist Missionary Union. In 1834 completed a translation of the whole Bible into the Burmese language. During the Anglo-Burmese War, he spent twenty-one months in prison. From 1845-1847, after thirty-four years in Burma, he took his only furlough to his native land. Returning to Burma, he spent his remaining years working on his English-Burmese dictionary. He died in 1850 and was buried at sea.

Here are a couple of great resources to check out:

Christian Biography Resources: http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/biorpjudson.html

Wikipedia Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adoniram_Judson

John Piper's Online Biographical Message - http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Biographies/1528_How_Few_There_Are_Who_Die_So_Hard/

Great Book (this is a beast!) - To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adinoram Judson
Buy it on Amazon by clicking on http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Shore-Life-Adoniram-Judson/dp/0817011218

Book for Kids - Adinoram Judson: Bound for Burma
Buy it on Amazon by cliking on http://www.amazon.com/Adoniram-Judson-Bound-Christian-Heroes/dp/1576581616/ref=pd_sim_b_3

Thank you Jesus for the Life of this Great Missionary.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Myanmar Blog (Day 3-Prep)

Day 3 (24 days till Myanmar)

Spiritual - Check out my previous blog, "The New Methodists". Also trying to memorize Phil 2:1-8 with my boy Matt.
Physical - Wrapped up my fast at 5 with a great home cooked meal from my wife. I grilled the chicken. Good choice minus the three cookies that I ate. Needed something sweet.
About to go and lift weights and play some midnight basketball. Not a huge fan of playing so late, but I need to reps.

Myanmar Fact -
-The leader of the opposition party, Aung San Suu Kyi, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She has been kept under house arrest since 1990. Pray the voice of the people would eventually be heard and that there would be political and religious freedom and justice in Myanmar.
-The military regime has tried to wipe out the Church, but it still continues to grow. Pray that Christians would be able to stay faithful to God as they are persecuted and have courage to share their love of God with others.

"The New Methodists"

Growing up in New Orleans as a professor's kid at NOBTS had many bonuses. I loved living near a gym, I loved living with other kids that were PKs and MKs like me, I loved messing with the campus police (that still hasn't stopped). On top of all that I loved getting to grow up with adopted Uncles and Aunts like the Stevens, Corvins, Taylors, Foleys, Pounds, Kelleys, and many more. Drs. Chuck and Rhonda Kelley have always been like family. Below is a picture of them with Bolt. They are two of the most incredible people I have ever known. Both of them serve NOBTS with everything that they have. They have invested their lives into this institution and city for the cause of Christ.
I haven't been on campus much this Spring because God led me to take a semester off in order to focus on planting Vintage Church. This past weekend I got a text from "Auntie" Rhonda asking me to pray for Dr. Chuck and his message on Tuesday morning. This has never happened so of course I wasn't going to miss it.

This morning I went to chapel and listened Dr. Chuck Kelley pour his heart out to his seminary, denomination, and Christian brothers and sisters. Dr. Chuck delivered this message with great passion, conviction, brokenness, and humility. It was truly an inspiring and prophetic word. The title of his message was "The New Methodists: A Look at the SBC Today". The following bullet points are some of the notes I took from this message. In defense of Dr. Kelley, not all of these points are exact quotes. I tried my best to write as accurately as possible. You will probably find this message soon at http://www.nobts.edu/chapel/Archives/Spring2009.html. I will follow these notes with a few personal reflections of my own.

  • 1940s and 50s was a time of great harvest in the SBC. Salvations and Baptism increased significantly.
  • Farming Analogy (Old McBaptist had a Farm) 1) Farmers matched the climate with the land. (indigenous church planting) 2) Farmers planted the seed in the soil. (intentional Gospel planting in communities) 3)Farmers cultivated after planting (Sunday School was intended for discipleship and outreach) 4)Farmers harvested when the crop was ready (Revival Meetings). SBC had a GREAT farm!
  • The key to all of the above was the genius of the SBC, not the methods. Programs were not the drive of the success.
  • Since 1955, the SBC has never baptized more than 450,000 people in a year.
  • We are more like gardners working the window boxes, than farmers working the fields.
  • What happened? Money IS NOT the crucial issue. Message IS NOT the crucial issue. Discipleship IS the crucial issue.
  • We are not anointed by God. Conversion and Revival are a work of the Holy Spirit. Neither are found in the SBC. We are so not anointed that we think it is normal.
  • We have become atomized. Our focus is upon methods and programs instead of the process. Sowing and reaping cannot be separate.
  • We are becoming the "New Methodists". There was a time when the Methodists were a leading part of a worldwide movement of God, but today is a different story. Methodists have set records for decline.
  • Proof that we are the "New Methodists": 1) Universalism is setting in 2) Tolerance is overtaking conviction 3) Behavior is blending with culture 4) Plateau has become Decline
  • 11% (which is generous) of SBC churches are growing.
  • Biblical worldview inspiring evangelistic discipleship has DROPPED b/t SBC generations.
  • We need DISCIPL-ISTIC (Discipleship and Evangelistic) churches!
  • We, the world, and our neighbors...do not know who we are.
  • WRONG FIGHT: teaching people how to witness. RIGHT FIGHT: teaching people how to live and be like Jesus.
  • The Lesson: Aggressive evangelism without discipleship will eventually undo itself.
  • God is calling us to 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, 19-20.
  • Western Wall Illustration - people daily longing for the restoration of the Temple
  • If we do not repent...to what wall will our children return to weep and remember what the SBC was.
  • I don't know what God would do in anyone of us, but anyone of us is what God needs.
  • As for me, the war starts here.
Dr. Kelley concluded his message by inviting Dr. Nix to lead our seminary in prayer. He was so moved that when he finished his message he left the chapel stage. A lot of people came to the front in humility before God.

My thoughts and reflections:
  • Dr. Nix put it well. I believe that we witnessed an historic message. Dr. Kelley was obviously broken before God and obviously spoke exactly what God had called him to speak.
  • I was blown away by Dr. Kelley's message. He battled through every word showing amazing poise and passion, yet displaying true transparency and humility. He wasn't preaching at anyone, he was simply delivering a God-sent message.
  • I agree with Dr. Kelley on his emphasis upon starting first with personal repentance and renewal. The future hope of the SBC is dependent upon the individuals and the local church. That is the beautiful thing about being Baptist.
  • The Western Wall Illustration was extremely powerful. He showed a picture of the Western Wall in Jerusalem and asked us what kind of wall our children will be wailing at in a couple of decades. The generational discipleship process has dropped off.
  • I completely support the fact that the lack of Evangelistic-Discipleship is a major problem in the SBC. We have become so focused upon the programs and events that we have neglected the process of making disciples.
  • One point of difference would be upon Dr. Kelley's assessment of blending with culture. Contextualization plays a vital role in the advancing of the Gospel. What are the standards of holiness (being in but not of the world) is determined by Scriptural leading of the Holy Spirit within a particular culture. I feel like the SBC is not suffering because they are too much like the culture. I believe that a main reason why they are suffering is because they don't have a clue on how to connect the Gospel with a particular culture. This especially applies in the urban settings of North America. With the world flocking to the cities, we better learn how to connect the Gospel to a culturally diverse world. Just like the churches in the 40s and 50s learned how to connect the Gospel to the suburbs outside the city.
  • I am reminded of a statement by Ed Stetzer at the convention a few years back. I'm paraphrasing. The SBC idolizes Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong yet refuses to follow their example on our own soil. I believe that we need indigenous Christian leadership for every culture around our country and the world. I am praying for a mighty movement of God's Spirit through indigenous church planting.
  • One element that I felt could have been added was the element of "servanthood". Those of us in Katrinaville especially understand this. I believe it connects with what Dr. Kelley emphasized in regard to living and being like Jesus. We have found in NOLA that if you serve someone physically they will listen to what you have to say spiritually. The typical SBC church has developed a sinful "come to me" mindset. We just finished walking through a sermon series called "Be The Church". Throughout the book of Acts, the early church went out as the church. Too many churches in our convention sit back and watch their ministers do all the work. And unfortunately, most pastors encourage this mindset. Pastors, we need to get over ourselves. We are not that important. This model is unbiblical at its roots. All who have been saved by Christ have been called to "make disciples of all nations". This is not an option, it is a command.
  • How do we encourage "servanthood" throughout the SBC? I agree with Dr. Kelley. We need to emphasize true discipleship. We need to pastor our people through what it means to "Be the Church".
  • Lastly, God used Dr. Kelley's message in a powerful way to bring a personal conviction upon my life. "As for me, the war starts here." It has been like a broken record player in my life lately, but God continues to show me that I need to humble myself before Him. The only hope for our lives, our families, our churches, our denomination...is a dying to self in order that Christ might live. This past weeks text had us in Acts 28. Paul says in verse 20, "it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain."
  • God, may we be a people that are chained to the "hope of Israel" Jesus Christ. May we repent of all our plans and ambitions, and may we surrender to you alone.
Thanks Dr. Kelley for being faithful to God. I am praying that this message will spread to all Southern Baptists and that through the power of the Spirit true revival and reformation will result for the glory of Christ.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Myanmar Blog (Day 2-Prep)

Day 2 (25 days till Myanmar)

Spiritual - Spent some great time in prayer to begin my day and end my day. This morning was with our staff. We looked at Psalm 121. God is our help in time of need. Our prayer is that God would break us to a place where we fall on our knees completely surrendered to His will and plan for our church. Tonight, I prayed with Sean and Rob at Vintage. They are coming with me to Myanmar. Every Monday night our church opens our doors for a time of prayer from 9-11pm. We are also fasting together corporately from 5pm-5pm. Our prayer was focused on the people of Myanmar, the missionaries that live there, and our team that is going. It was a rich time.

Physical - Of course I am fasting right now, so that helps. But I ate extremely healthy today. Plus I did 45 min on the Crosstrainer and played ball at Tulane with some friends for a couple of hours.

Myanmar Fact -
Official language: Burmese
There are 107 languages spoken in Myanmar
The whole Bible is available in 2 languages. The NT is available in 10 languages. Parts of the Bible are being translated in 1 language. 94 languages spoken do not have a Bible.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Myanmar Blog (Day 1-Prep)

I am heading to Myanmar (Burma) on March 26th with two of my dudes from Vintage (Rob and Sean). We will be on mission coaching & playing basketball with the Burmese National Teams as well as helping out local missionaries. This will be my second trip to Myanmar with the same ministry. Here is a pic of my brother and I on the trip.

I have decided to keep a short daily blog of my pre-trip prep, actual journey, and post-reflections. Here we go...

Day 1 (26 days till Myanmar)
Spiritual - We had an amazing day at Vintage today. Half of our worship time was devoted to prayer. After Paul gave a charge to the church at Ephesus, he was led to prayer (Acts 20:31). After being challenged by our "Be the Church" series in Acts, I have been overwhelmed by the need around the world. Christ has mandated for us to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Instead of strategy and planning, God is calling me and our church to a season of prayer. Stay tuned.

Physical (need to lose atleast 10lbs this month) - Weights (30min) CrossTrainer (30min) Treadmill (10min) this morning. + i ate no junk food today. Gotta start somewhere.

Myanmar Fact - Area 676,577 sq.km. Basin and delta of the Irrawaddy River ringed by a horseshoe of high mountains that isolates the country from India, China and Thailand.

Vintage Mardi Gras 09

Here is a video that my boy Mike Porforis put together. This past Sunday we had a blast hanging out in Uptown. We gathered at Valence St. Baptist Church at 9am for a time of worship. You can listen to our gathering at http://vintagenola.org/storage/podcast/Vintage02222009.mp3 or by subscribing to our podcast.

After worship we got ready for our outreach. Okeanos, Mid City, and Thoth came right by the front of our spot. It was great meeting so many people and being hospitable to our neighbors. We provided food, drinks, clean toilets, chairs, Mardi Gras music, and a great spot to watch the parades. This year New Orleans re-routed 7 parades to go right by the front of our church. It was definitely a God-thing. We were able to interact with literally hundreds of people over the Mardi Gras season. Thanks to everyone at Vintage Church for all your hard work (especially Edmund and his LIFEgroup for taking the lead). I can't wait for next year!

Vintage Mardi Gras 2009 from Travis Manint on Vimeo.

You can also check out some pictures at http://vintagenola.org/photo-gallery

Video can be found at http://vintagenola.org