Why I Go…

Why I go…

By summer’s end, Man Up will have sent 11 teams to Africa serving literally thousands of men, women and children since the inception of Man Up in 2011.  This summer will mark my fourth Man Up trip and 3rd as a Man Up leader.

Friends, family members, and acquaintances often ask me, “Why do you go?”  My simple answer is, “I LOVE IT!!”  But the reality is that there are a lot of reasons why I go and serve.  I would love to say that it is because I am going to be the next Mother Theresa or world changer, but the honest truth is that many of the reasons that I go, I actually consider somewhat selfish in nature.  Here is my list for why I Man Up and Go.  It may not be an all-encompassing list of reasons, but it is pretty close.

Friends, family members, and acquaintances often ask me, “Why do you go?”  My simple answer is, “I LOVE IT!!”  But the reality is that there are a lot of reasons why I go and serve.  I would love to say that it is because I am going to be the next Mother Theresa or world changer, but the honest truth is that many of the reasons that I go, I actually consider somewhat selfish in nature.  Here is my list for why I Man Up and Go.  It may not be an all-encompassing list of reasons, but it is pretty close.

  • Obedience:  It is unfortunate that this term has a negative connotation in our politically correct society, because it is an important piece of our Christian walk.  All of us are biblically called to joyfully serve others and be obedient to His calling, whatever that calling is (mine is to Man Up and Go to Africa). In Matthew 10, Jesus says, “freely you have received, freely give.”  To me, this speaks volumes.  He commands us to freely give of our time, resources, money, and talents.

Recently, I was on vacation and was reminded of this very thing.  As I sat next to my wife parasailing above the ocean, I was in awe of the beauty of the clear ocean water, white sandy beaches, gorgeous amenities that surrounded me, and the amazing women next to me who has committed her life to our family.  As we peacefully floated through the air, I could feel God’s presence in my life.  Times like this make me appreciate the blessed life that the Lord has given me.

With all that I have received, I am motivated to give by serving those who don’t have the same opportunities to feel God’s love.  I don’t serve out of obligation, rather, I joyfully serve as a sign of my faith, just as James 2 calls us to do.

  • Disconnect:  I am a typical man in America.  My day is consumed with phone calls, text messages, emails, deadlines, reports, meetings, projects, and hopefully a few minutes at the end of the day to love on my wife and kids.  All too often, I get to the end of the day and wonder, “Where am I supposed to find time to exercise, read the bible, meditate, and appreciate the simple pleasures of life.

Every summer when I go to Africa with Man Up, I get to disconnect for 2 weeks and really enjoy life.  There is no cell phone reception (unless you want to pay a lot for it), limited internet access (we do have enough to check in our families), and there are no deadlines to meet.  Our meetings with our ministry partners are on “Africa Time.”  Meaning, our meetings happen when we get there, regardless of the time of day.  We have optional morning workouts for the Man Up team.  We have daily devotionals.  We get to slow down and enjoy the simple things around us.  All of the things that I can’t seem to find time enough time for at home are included every day on a Man Up trip.  This refreshing disconnect is an amazing reset to my life and I return refreshed with new passion for the important things in my life.

  • Fun:  I can’t deny the fact that we have a lot of fun on our trips.  Putting a group of like-minded men (with a few women) together in close quarters often resembles a college road trip among good buddies.  Every team has the opportunity to stretch themselves and experience some of the great adventures that Africa has to offer, such as visiting the source of the world’s longest river in a wooden boat, driving through the Ethiopian bush in the back of a Land Rover, bungee jumping in Uganda, white water rafting the Nile River,  or riding four wheelers through the Ugandan jungle.  The truth is though, that the most fun times are always at unplanned moments.  They occur while playing with kids, laughing with our African brothers, or telling stories to each other at breakfast each day.  Fun is a huge part of why I go.
  • Learn:  I think that most men seek knowledge on a regular basis.  We look for ways to get better at our jobs, be better fathers, or learn who will give us the best shot at winning our next fantasy football game.  Every Man Up team teaches me new things about myself, my God and who I want to be.

As an example, I learned a lot from the African men we met on last year’s Ugandan team.  On that team, Man Up watched over 750 African men participate in our 2-day leadership conferences.  To watch that many men show up and passionately worship our savior taught me how I should worship.  I need to seek the Lord with the same passion, excitement and appreciation that these men do.  Overall, the people we serve are happy, proud people who love the Lord, despite their lack of material wealth.  They are a relational society, meaning their time spent getting to know you is much more important than anything else they have going on that day.  Their approach to life is humbling, inspiring and educational.  Every time.

  • Educate:  Most Americans (especially our youth) really don’t have much understanding of the world around them.  I don’t say that to be mean or demeaning, because I was there a few years ago.  In our daily lives, it is hard to think that if I make $40,000/year (below the US household average) that I’m right around the 99th percentile in the world in income.  That means that by living in this country, you are one of the richest people in the world.  God has blessed America with unbelievable wealth.  Because of it, many of us are ignorant to the poverty and orphan crisis that surrounds us.

By going and visiting orphans and widows in their need (James 1:27), it allows me to educate those around me, including my children and the young college students that I work with every day in my job.  Through my experiences, I am able to model servant leadership and teach them the importance of serving others and how much joy it brings being the servant.

As the spiritual head of my household, it is important that I serve as I lead.  Jesus is the ultimate servant.  He had no competition for anything on Earth.  Yet, he chose to joyfully serve…over and over.  While I know I will never reach His level of servant leadership, it doesn’t stop me from striving to be like Him.

  • See Jesus:  A year or so ago I heard a missionary priest speak about his experiences serving orphans around the world.  What struck me in his presentation was when he said “I can see Jesus’ eyes in the children we serve.”  I can’t agree more.

In Matthew 18, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”   The children we minister to are the children that Jesus speaks of.  They aren’t warped by a society that promises happiness through money, possessions, sex, drugs, or technology.  They play the way I envision my grandparents did as kids, and they do it with innocence and enthusiasm.  These are the children that Jesus wants us to emulate.  If you look hard into their eyes, I promise you, you will see Jesus.

My Man Up experiences have rocked my world for the better.  They have made me a better husband, father, friend, co-worker, mentor and all around man.  And, that is the true reason I go.

If any or all of these things sound appealing to you, you are Man Up material.  Join us on our next adventure!!  I promise, you won’t regret it!

 

Help the Children of Africa: Man Up and Be a Doer!

The pastor at my local church has recently lead us into the book of James.  What an awesome journey!  God speaks (very loudly and clearly to me) through James.  James speaks of being a doer, giving specific instructions about performing works.  I recently heard it said that, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”  If you are feeling called to help the children of Africa, take at leap of faith.  God will equip you to complete the mission!

James 1:22:  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  Are you a doer?  Do you use the talents and gifts God has given you to the fullest?  The children of Africa need you.

James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  Read that one again…”to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,…”  Are you a 1:27 warrior?  Warriors battle on the front lines.

James 2:14-18: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”  How do your works show your faith? 

Maybe God is calling you.  Maybe this is your opportunity to be a 1:27 warrior and show your faith by your works.  Join the Man Up movement – we are currently taking applications for our Man Up Missions Trips this summer to Uganda.  Go to the children of Africa.  You will be forever changed. 

Fulfilling Purpose by Manning Up for Orphans

(Jason Clement with new friends at Return Ministries during Man-Up trip in 2011.)

Something odd happened during my morning routine before work the other day:  I was looking in the mirror while adjusting my hair, and I realized that my Dad was staring back at me.  This realization of ‘advancing age’ caused me to reflect, “What is my mission in life?”  As I enter the pending mid–life realization, I am grateful for no desire to buy a sports car or consider toupees.  However, the questions do come to mind: “Do I live a productive life?  How have I responded to the time I have been given? What is my purpose, and am I fulfilling it?”

What is my purpose?  God makes it clear within the Bible that we are not to get handcuffed and suffocated by the mundane of our worldly lives (Romans 12:2) by raising our optic to an eternal perspective. The New Testament is devoted to glorifying God by receiving His unearned grace through the acceptance of His son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord, Savior, teacher, and one true path to God.  If Jesus is truly our Lord, we are to follow his teachings and commands, and in doing so, demonstrate God’s glory through our lives.

God has provided me with time, resources, and opportunities with intention.  In Matthew 25:14-29, Jesus shares a parable of various talents given to 3 men by a master.  Two of those men utilized those talents wisely to which the master responded, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

God has provided all of us with talents, and I deeply desire to hear, “Jason – well done my good and faithful servant”.  I know He is pleased when I am utilizing the talents God has given me to impact His kingdom by being obedient to His “tugging” in my life.  One of the most influential ways this occurs for me every year is when I am in Africa spending time with orphans, God’s African children, and participating in international missions.  RESPOND TO HIS CALL TO GO…SERVE…MAN-UP AND LOVE THE NATIONS.

What does the Man Up experience mean?  It is the invitation to fulfill part of our purpose and potential in response to why we were created.  We serve African children, women, and men in Uganda, Ethiopia, and (hopefully) Kenya soon by:

1. Glorifying God in serving others.  Specifically orphans and widows (James 1:27).

Jesus’s example is servant leadership and Love.  We follow that example through international and Africa missions specifically dedicated to orphan care and African children, widows, and single mothers.  We play, sing, dance, and share about Jesus.

(Members of the 2013 Man Up Team at Home Again Ministries.)

2. Respond to Jesus’s call to make and teach disciples of all nations.

One of His commands often called “The Great Commission” is to “go and make disciples of all the nations” and “teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28:18-20).   While I personally fall well short of Jesus’s standard too often, I have great hope in my life thanks to His grace.  And in reflection, I have found that I am most encouraged, joy-filled, content, and fulfilled when I am following Jesus’s teachings and commands spending time with African children, encouraging our ministry partners in Uganda/Ethiopia, and investing the “talents” God has provided me within international missions.  In addition to spending time with the African children, we also participate in “men’s conferences” where those of us that are comfortable participating get to encourage and speak about the promise in Jesus and how He influences and leads us in our daily lives as husbands, fathers, and all that we struggle with as men.

3. Encourage one another to a rich and satisfying life in Christ.

Not just a productive life, not just good, but great – abundant – the best.  That is what the Lord desires and promises.  We often settle for average and mundane.  As we approach mid-life (or early or late life for that matter), we can find disappointment when searching for the fulfillment of our potential and promise.  God promises through the following of Jesus Christ – rich, satisfying, and abundant life (John 10:10).  I am thankful for the invitation from God to accept abundant life and the challenge to His command of encouraging disciples of all nations.  God has been faithful that for the past 4 years when I responded to his “tug” or “command” in world missions, Africa missions, and Africa children; the result has been an exciting and rich experience provided in the Man-Up trips.

(Jason Clement enjoying a view of the Nile River as part of the 2013 Man Up trip to Uganda.)

I encourage, invite, and challenge anyone wishing to experience abundant life by glorifying God’s name in responding to Jesus’s command.  Join us in the Man Up Movement!  We have exciting trips planned to Africa beginning in late May.