Christianese -Written by Louis Liss

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

I adore intellectualism. I lavish wading in the waters of hyper-cognitive conversations and am filled with a bolt of adrenaline at the opportunity to debate any given topic that pops up in daily dialogue. So when the Holy Spirit illuminated the Great Commission for me in high school as being imperative for my life, I felt uniquely equipped to stand in the middle of the courtyard and watch as my words brought down tongues of fire onto the campus. You can imagine how stunned I was when my incredible oratory and prowess in verbal sparring bore no fruit and sowed a lot of dissension towards not only myself but God in general. For some bizarre reason my puffed up pride did not convey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beyond my arrogance, the greatest barrier to Jesus was the language I was using, which to me was clear and deeply significant. To my post-modern classmates the words, “Justification by grace through faith,” not only had no meaningful impact, but had no meaning at all. Though I had a comprehensive command of the theological principles of the road to salvation this did not impress my classmates enough to give their lives over to Jesus nor did they appreciate being dragged brain first across the threshold of salvation. So I stumbled through constant clumsy evangelism into college. It was there at our InterVarsity campus ministry that we played a game where we had to make a list of words that meant nothing or something completely different to our non-Christian neighbors. We made a long list of words including, for example, atonement, sanctification, and blood. Then we were asked to flip over the page and answer the following question without using any of those aforementioned words: What is the significance of the cross in your life? Jesus’ death on the cross was and is the most important manifestation of Christ in my life and so I feverishly began to write with growing fervor. I soon found that I was doing far more erasing than I was writing. I realized that I had become fully dependent on explaining my deep and passionate love for Jesus in a way that only I and those select few fluent in Christianese could understand. I then received a far deeper revelation from the Holy Spirit. I had been clinging to these insider terms during evangelism because I had placed my identity in my intelligence and not in Christ. I thought that it was more important that people were impressed by my knowledge of God than by God, and to bring the illumination to its completion the Holy Spirit finally told me that my amazing oration had drawn many people to myself but very few were then drawn to Him. So I began to take a John 15 set of shears to my language. I started to systematically reevaluate all of my beliefs about God and if it included any of the post-modern taboo words that I had listed then I moved it from the evangelism part of my brain to the discipleship section. I began to realize how deeply difficult this truly was. I found my post-modern friends were in no way interested with whether or not Jesus was true in what He said, but they were intently fascinated by whether or not these truths worked practically in my life. With my high church armor stripped I found myself exposed. These words had protected me from having to engage about my own struggles and failures. I now stood bare before the world with nothing but Jesus and my personal stories of his daily actions in my life. I sat one day in my hockey locker room surrounded by several guys I have known for well over 15 years. They would frequently recount the debaucherous exploits of our youth. After several months of stories a newer player who knew that I had been present for all of the depicted events asked me how it was possible that I could be a character in these stories from the past and now be a pastor and missionary who continued to consort with my former teammates. The characters in these tales were comprised of heroin addicts, a multiple rehab attender, a drug dealer whose family had to flee the state because of death threats, a prisoner for illegal pornography, adulterers, drunkards, three lifetime ban holders, and a rap sheet full of assaults to round out the tales that come to mind. Even as I began to speak I looked at my teammates through a haze of pot smoke. “How did you end up like you did after spending your life with these guys?” he asked. “I was lost, running in darkness and filling my life with anything that could make me not think about the pit I was in. I tried to pull myself out so many times and never could shake the darkness. Then I was invited to come to a youth retreat where Jesus met me and broke in with such amazing light that all of the darkness in me fled and all the venom in me was drained out. I was a new person with Jesus in my heart, and as for these guys. There’s no place that Jesus would rather hang out than in a hockey locker room. We all need that light in our lives.” The locker room that usually sounded like, well, a locker room was silent. One of my old friends leaned over and said, “Thanks Lou we need someone like you in around us.” Everyone agreed and as we were going out to play the game the new guy approached me and asked if we could talk more at the bar after the game. Of course I agreed and we had weeks of amazing conversations about Jesus and His light. While I am amongst someone who hasn’t yet taken that unfathomable leap into the arms of Jesus I now confess to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. It has transformed my life, my ministry, and truly proven to me that God was right when He spoke about all we need in Revelation 12:11, “They overcame [the accuser] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” Amen and Ahmeen

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We Have Arrived In Lebanon

We’re here at last! As soon as we got to Pierre & Gigi’s apartment Davy was off and running to play with Rami. They are having a great time together. This morning Rami didn’t want to go to daycare so that he could stay and play with “Baby David”. They are attached at the hip already.

Today we went shopping for our new apartment. First we measured and got to walk through and decide where we wanted things and then we went to buy a fridge, a washer, and a dryer. As I am typing this Louis and Pierre are off buying Davy his mattress and our water cooler. We are learning all about the electricity and how to work a gas stove.

We began to plan out our language route today as well. This is one of the methods that we learned about in our training that we are very excited to begin using. The idea is to take one day to meet as many people along a specific route as possible. Hopefully these are people who will be there every day. From the 50 or so people we try to meet that first day we will find 3-7 with whom we could visit every day along the route to practice Arabic (and later French). Shop owners are great because they expect people to come in and the chatting times are short so that we won’t be staying long. There are many shops right around our apartment, so we are going to begin working on our memorized dialogue to begin our walk once we move in and my walking blister from Rome goes away. A reason we love this language project so much is that it initiates relationships right away.

Upcoming Training

We want to let you all know about the training that we are going to this April. So here is a summary of the information pulled from the website (Click Here to see the complete website). We will be attending the Compass training from March 31 through April 26 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Compass is designed to help cross-cultural missionaries develop skills and attitudes to successfully make it through culture shock and adaptation. Many missionaries last a short time on the mission field because there is a lack of pre-field training, and there are huge expectations set on them. One of the ways in which Compass will help with this is by giving us tools to acquire new languages quickly, which will make us more effective immediately. This will allow us to connect with the people we meet in their heart language. We will learn techniques in entering a new culture in areas of stress, team dynamics, conflicts, Sabbath rest, and relationship skills.

Your prayers are essential as we experience this opportunity together as a family. It has been many years since we have attended a training instead of running it ourselves. Davy has never had an experience of being in daycare throughout the day as he will there. I (Annie) am very nervous about it all, but feel that the Holy Spirit has been calling me out onto the ledge, to live less in safety, and more in vulnerability. I want to find God in every experience instead of relying on comfort and routine. I am excited to see what God is going to do with us there, and how we will be able to change our attitudes and increase our hope and joyfulness in these times of uncertainty.

February Prayer Letter

5% Raised

4.7% of our $40,000 total amount to go and 5.6% of our monthly $5000 goal has been reached!Total in account: $1,889
Total monthly pledges: $280

Back in the beginning of this prayer letter we asked for prayers that we would not over-commit here while fundraising. While all of the ministry we are doing here in Arizona may be what God is calling us to do, we need better time management skills in order to make appointments with people and begin asking people for money. We have gone from Chayah, to baby showers, to Chayah, to Via de Cristo, to Tirosh with each of those being the main focus. Fundraising has been on the back burner and needs to be a priority.

At the same time, we see God’s great blessing in providing people willing to give. What a blessing each donation has been. Thank you to all who have donated money, time, hugs, love, or any other form of Agape. We are truly blessed to be in the family of God.

DONATE / VOLUNTEER

You can be a part of our ministry. To find out more about Horizons International and what we are doing, CLICK HERE.To give some money to our account or become a monthly contributor, CLICK HERE.

Make sure to use our names, Annie & Louis Liss for any donations.

We also still need someone willing to mail out a print version of this newsletter each month. I will provide addresses and names and you will donate postage, printing, and envelopes. This is such an important piece that we want to make sure is taken care of by someone in the USA before we leave. CLICK HERE to add this option to your profile.

Middle East Update

Louis feels strongly that he should update our supporters about the Middle East. However, our communication is still in a young marriage stage. Due to still learning about each other’s communication styles and needs this February newsletter has come out a little late. Please forgive us and keep praying for us. Great things are happening and we want to let you know all about them.  Therefore, the Middle East Update by Louis Liss will be moving to its own newsletter. This way Louis can update you as events occur or questions are asked instead of being restricted to a monthly letter. We have changed the options, therefore, on our sign up list. We promised that we would not burden your inbox with many emails, so you will not be automatically opted in. If you would like to receive Louis’ Middle East Update, pleaseCLICK HERE to change your preferences.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Louis and I have been together 8 years from beginning to date December 14th, 2005 to now. The challenge I want to present is to pause and consider this verse again: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. Often we pass over this verse faster than others in our readings because we know it by heart. Think on the sacrifice of Jesus to give you eternal life, an undeserved life better than your best day here on Earth. Yes, there is suffering, but God only requires momentary suffering of you; it will only last zero to a maximum of 120 years and then you will never suffer again. I have been reading an excellent book called The Well, by Mark Hill the lead singer of Casting Crowns. It reminded me this month that I am not entitled to anything just because Louis and I are still in America.

“Do you understand what you signed up for when you asked God to forgive your sins and save your soul? Do you understand who God is in your life? Do you understand you don’t get saved so life will be easier? Do you understand Christ purchased you with a price and you belong to him? You are not your own, and when you are not your own, you don’t have rights. On this earth, we are entitled to nothing but the hope of glory…Jesus didn’t endure everything he endured so we wouldn’t lose our jobs or not get cancer. We don’t need to be saved so we’ll be happy. We need to be saved because we’re dead in our trespasses and bound for hell. Believers still have some pretty cruddy days. But the anchor of the soul is the truth that Jesus walks them with us.” (pages 140, 141)This lesson has been extremely necessary to me this past month. I have not been that fun to be around because I have a list of things to do that keeps getting longer, my life isn’t entirely comfortable all the time, my plans fall apart. It’s tough in the middle of my circumstances to keep my eyes fixed on the goal for which Christ calls me heavenward. When I focus on the stresses of life it is easy to lose focus on what the big picture is: That God sent His only son for me and the battle is already won. Pray for us that we may remember that the Gospel is not only for us to share with others but an essential piece of our everyday practical relationships with each other, -Annie

First Babysitter: A 5-year-old?

The beautiful Liliana was David’s caretaker for an evening of missionary discussions. In truth we were with her the entire time, and it was amazing how much the two of them enjoyed each other. She told him stories and he smiled and laughed. She was overjoyed to change his diaper, and did quite a good job of it, too. I was quite amused and entertained by her joy and passion for caring for David.

However, more recently I had to leave my baby for the Tirosh weekend. It is all well and good to say that I have committed my baby to God and leave my fears at His feet until I had to leave my baby for approximately 60 hours. I was an anxious wreck leading up to Tirosh. Even when there was a plan, I didn’t feel better. Even when I had pumped enough bottles for him, I didn’t feel better. I kept telling people, including Louis, that I had given it to God, but I did not. In reading John again I realized once again the importance of not just “playing religion”. When the woman at the well tries to impress Jesus with Samaritan religious practices, and when the 5,000 come across to Capernaum and do the same, Jesus’ response is to draw them to Himself. I need to draw near to Jesus. As I realized this, I felt greater peace flood over me. I told David, “I want you to know that ministry is worth it. I want you to know that you are loved. These youth might not know that. I have years and years with you to tell you, show you, and even send you to Tirosh so that you know you are loved. These kids are only going to be in my ministry radius for a few days. You can show them Agape by staying with your Cadee while I show them Agape by being on the weekend.”

“Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Luke 4:35b-38
The youth who just attended Tirosh still need your prayers. When Louis went through Tirosh 13 years ago he received Jesus as his personal Savior a few months after the Tirosh retreat weekend. That could be the story for any of these kids. The time after a mountain top experience is often harder than other times, so please lift up these youth in your prayers. -Annie