Balancing Life and Work

Reading a scanned article that was sent by email, I was struck, not just by the funny comic, but also by these words. I have repurposed them for me, but it feels right:

I am willing to make tough calls in ministry. I am willing to be poorly thought of by some people. I am willing to give up my house and my relationships (except my husband as that wouldn’t be biblical nor loving, and why would I leave him behind? He’s my other half) to go across the world to bring this message. I will pay the price of leadership.

I so get the part where the article talks about ministry depression. I actually experience that here and there once in a while and in the past when I worked full time and served.

Rich Nathan said in this article, “I’ve come to accept that, following a conference or weekend of ministry, I will be subject to spiritual attack and feelings of depression. I try to give myself more time to be away from people.”

In 2015, I took a deep breath and said, “I can’t burn the candles at both ends or I won’t last. I. Must. Have. Balance.”

I like the reference of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:3-5. He had enough. I can imagine himself throwing his hands in the air. All he needed was a nap and something to eat to feel better. The Angel provided it.

However, my idea of rest is very different. I love isolation in the woods. I love doing photography and having the joy of sharing my good ones and bad ones with you. I love reading. I love spending alone time with my husband. I like watching brain-numbing tv shows or movies just to not think. I like writing. I like running. I like walking.

And sometimes, I even like people.

Anne Frank’s Influence

“Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year old school girl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank kept a dairy and she named it. My own diary as a child was nowhere near as poetic as Anne Frank. The choppy scribble of what friends I liked that week and what friends I hated pressed into the pages, curiously disconnected from my emotional state of self. My early dairies were reflective of two things: 1) How cautious I became, and 2) how undisciplined I was at that age. Now, years later, I revisit the idea of a diary.

In combing through hundreds of photos, I often wished the photographer had added his or her notes to the photos. Random photos of tea in the Middle East to a crowded marketplace stimulate my curiosity and imagination. Context would have helped me as I put together social media posts.

In looking ahead to possibilities of travel to places I have never been, I am thinking of a photo diary more seriously–a photo journal for each place I visit.

When I get home from wherever I have been, I can put those notes with the photos into a Shutterfly photo book, but also, add them to Dropbox and add some pertinent notes to it for the purpose of future social media posts.

How do you keep a photo journal? I’m looking for ideas.

The Death Toll in India

I can affirm the charity for India and the story as from a legitimate source. If you feel led, please consider making a one-time donation. This is an article by a fellow worker.

India just passed the 300,000 death toll of reported Covid19 related deaths. The real death toll, especially from rural areas, is unknown. The media continues to report that India’s emergency goes on and facilities are stretched beyond the breaking point. Christians are helping.

Kachhwa Christian Hospital (started by missionaries in 1897), near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, has been appointed a Covid hospital. Kachhwa Christian Hospital is one of many small hospitals now drawn in by the government as the country’s health system is in meltdown.

“People are dying in ambulances because hospitals have to turn them away,” says Ram Gidoomal, chairman of South Asian Concern. “These hospitals have been serving their communities, especially the poor and neglected, for many years. Now they face this frightening new challenge, with no oxygen. If we exceed the target, we will pass on the extra to our partner hospitals of the Emmanuel Hospital Association’s 19 hospitals.” All monies donated will be used to help with this ongoing emergency, purchasing oxygen generating machine, ventilators, and other Covid-19 related needs.

Here are two things you can do:

  • First of all, pray. We need a spirit of wisdom, generosity, and discernment for governments.
  • Secondly, if you can, please give. Donations for the appeal can be sent to South Asian Concern by cheque (payable to South Asian Concern) via please visit our Give.Net page here; or by bank transfer to South Asian Concern at CAF Bank, Sort code: 40-52-40, a/c no 00099484. Please indicate that your donation is for the ‘KCH oxygen appeal’ (by emailing to celia.avinash@southasianconcern.org).

Note: This is a United Kingdom Charity. It is in “pounds”, not dollars. Probably no tax deduction on this in the United States. Please check with your tax accountant if you have any questions about overseas charity.

New! Photos

My photos are available to use under these conditions:

If you are a publication, my photos are available to use for a donation of any amount to worldventure.com/nhahn.

  • Go to my Instagram account and find a photo you like. Or private message me on Instagram to ask about a specific photo.
  • Make a donation of any amount to worldventure.com/nhahn.
  • Forward me a donation receipt with your questions or description or screenshot of a specific photo you like.
  • The original photo file will be emailed to you.
  • Send me a hard copy of the publication that uses the photo or a link to the digital publication.

If you are a church, photos can be used as bulletin covers.

If it is used as a bulletin cover or with other church publications, and byline is given on the inside cover with a link to worldventure.com/nhahn encouraging partnerships to the mission, the photo does not require a donation. It will require a hard copy mailed to me and permission first.

Virtual Prayer: A Step-By-Step Guide

I just added a new post to WorldVenture.com for the Church on Mission posts. I hope you find this helpful. If you would like to know more about digital discipleship, please let me know.

Face-to-face prayer, phone call prayer, and virtual prayer share the same ingredients—consistency, compassion, and patience. The difference between them are the tools we use to convey the “prayer and emotional support” that practicing Christians are seeking today. In fact, on a spectrum of interaction where face-to-face prayer is most personal, virtual prayer is a step above a phone call because we can see each other on video in ways that we cannot over the phone. Continue Reading…

The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel: Lessons in Social Media

The real tragedy in The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel on Netflix was how internet users became ruthless in their pursuit of “truth.” In this four-episode series, two characters emerge–Elisa Lam and the Cecil.

Elisa was a Canadian, a student, and a Tumblr blogger. She micro-blogged in the same way many of the early bloggers did when blogging was young—transparently, authentically. Her Tumblr was self-expression and connection. This is refreshing, considering that most blogs now are about selling you something. We are led through strange events, including the history of this Skid Row hotel.

Live interviews from a former manager, a former maintenance worker, police, the coroner, psychologists, Youtubers, bloggers, historians, and other “web sleuths” led us through the Cecil Hotel’s dark history and the strange journey of Elisa. The series seemed to present the story similarly to how the public heard the information as it was happening. This is good story-telling, giving us the right ambiance.

When the last episode plays out, and her body is found floating in the water tank, you are left feeling sad for the family who endured the media coverage as well as the victims of assumptions made by people online.

Morbid, a death metal musician, was mobbed online with hateful messages and death threats as people assumed by his music and his stay at the hotel that he killed Elisa. Hundreds of death threats and messages peppered his Youtube account. The Mexican FBI even briefly visited him at his home. This drove Morbid to an unsuccessful attempt at taking his life. To this day, Morbid said in the interview, he has trouble getting back into his art. He says no one apologized to him for the cyberbullying and the pain it caused.

From this, I felt we could learn some lessons from the Vanishing…

  • Hotel Cecil was located in Skid Row and housed people like Richard Ramirez. Elisa Lam was under-medicating as bipolar 1 and hallucinating, acting out, and being strange. No one thought to question her behavior or get help because it was the Hotel Cecil—a hotel where the unknown was an everyday occurrence.
  • Always Google map or Google earth a hotel before staying. Stay on Main, and Hotel Cecil shared the same elevator. It was not two different hotels, just two distinct hotel experiences to gain more business. It was still dangerous for a tourist.
  • The police do not share all their information, and the media is usually wrong or has an agenda.
  • Do no harm. Having a social media platform is a form of power.
  • Don’t obsess over bloggers or any other social media personality.
  • Think of the family of the one who vanished or died. I can’t even imagine how they felt watching all this unfold online and on television.
  • Use social media to connect and help each other.
  • Your words on social media will live long after your time here on earth is over. Make it count.

Some still believe that Elisa Lam’s accidental drowning was some kind of conspiracy. The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel very thoroughly debunked any conspiracy theories. She wanted to see the world, and instead, lost her life in Los Angeles. However, her words on Tumblr live on.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

A New Email Service Opened

It’s tough these days to keep a good attitude. I want to help.

Once a week, beginning next Monday, I will be opening up to you a new email service.

Catch Your Breath: Your Weekly Encouragement will be a quick read filled with encouragement and Scripture. You do not have to be of my faith to sign up and receive them. You can reply to this weekly email if you do have prayer needs or have questions. This is different than my regular ministry emails.

Sign up by clicking here.

How to Prayer Fast and Encourage Others to Join You

According to one blogger, there are about 77 references to fasting in the Bible. My favorite is this verse,

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16

CRU describes fasting as,

“…abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Simply going without food because it is not available or for medical reasons is not biblical fasting. There must be a spiritual motivation to qualify a fast as biblical.” 

One of the wrong motivations is to be “…seen by others.”  Social Media can quickly become a popularity gauge or misunderstood because of its visual nature. If someone posts a good deed or that they are fasting, someone immediately assumes it’s to “…bask in their admiration” of your spirituality. Examine your motivations.

My experience with a prayer fast is not eating from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in one day, only drinking liquids. I wear a bracelet that says “Pray”, given to me by the hostess of a home I was staying at, as a physical reminder to pray and not to eat. The gnawing hunger in my gut and the discomfort remind me why I am praying and the rawness of a situation. Because social media is visual and simultaneous with face-to-face life, I live by example. I post that I will do a prayer fast and invite others to join me in the cause. My motivations are to inspire others to take the world’s brokenness seriously and give it to God.

So, post about your prayer fast…

  • Post a picture of a verse you highlighted in the Bible, and invite people to join you on a prayer fast.
  • Paint or draw, or have your kids draw, something that shows a prayer fast, and invite people to join with you when you post that picture.
  • Use your social media as a journal. After a prayer fast, maybe done in secret, post your thoughts on fasting that day with a nice photo of where you were as you were fasting.
  • A fast may not be avoiding food, but maybe it’s an electronic fast? Or a social media fast?

What other ideas can you come up with to inspire people to join you in a prayer fast? 

Fasting Resources:

The Anatomy of a Bridge

How to Cross the Divide of Polarization  

The Golden Gate Bridge was built in stages. It wasn’t expedient, and it cost more than $35 million after construction began in 1933 ($523 million in 2019 dollars). Eleven workers died constructing it. It took four years to build. It bridged an almost two-mile section of the bay. Bridges are necessary, costly, and take time to create, much like building bridges between people today.

We Start with the Foundation

All bridges need to be secure at the foundations and abutments. In the case of a typical overpass beam bridge with one support in the middle, construction begins with the casting of concrete footings for the pier and abutments. Where the soil is especially weak, wooden or steel piles are driven to support the footings. After the concrete piers and abutments have hardened sufficiently, the erection of a concrete or steel superstructure begins. – Encyclopedia Britannica on Beam Bridges

The “soil” is you and me. We must prepare ourselves, the “soil”, to construct a bridge or several bridges. It will be costly. It will hurt. Occasionally, you may make someone angry or offend another. God may ask you to do more than you are willing to do or give up more than you are willing to give up. But, the “soil” must be prepared. Bring in some wise counsel, those steeped richly in biblical wisdom.

Proverbs 19:20-21 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Wise friends are our “supports”, “foundations”, and “abutments”. They are our concrete piers as we seek to build a steel superstructure.

The people I call friends come from many different backgrounds and their experiences help me make the decisions I need to make going forward. However, I start with God as my source of strength and joy, and in my online work, I move ahead in prayer over whom I may meet and the words I need to use at the time.

The Building of the Bridges

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are many different bridge types: Beam Bridges, Arch Bridges, Suspension Bridges, Cantilever Bridges, and Cable-Stayed Bridges, but each one has something in common. Besides a good foundation, the bridges are connected from one spit of land to another, crossing chasm, a canyon, an ocean, or a river. Each bridge operates differently according to how it was built and serve a purpose.

 In a Cantilever Bridge, “each new segment is supported by the previous segment…” We need each other as believers of the Jesus of the Bible. How can we build bridges that support the heavy loads life brings daily? We must love people we meet on their terms, not on how we want to be loved by them. In your online work, seek to…

  • Build something in common with others.
  • Earn their trust.
  • Withhold your opinions where necessary.
  • Listen.
  • Stop judging.
  • Let them get to know you online. Get to know other people online.
  • Be a better version of yourself. 
  • Pray.

A Bridge Often Needs Repair

Now that you have built some bridges that have fostered good conversations, there’s an aging bridge that needs new supports.

  • Apologize quickly.
  • Don’t hold grudges.
  • Forgive and ask for forgiveness.
  • Work together as believers.
  • Grace and mercy. We will all mess up.

Sometimes, bridges are dynamited. Don’t be so quick to dynamite a bridge before the new bridge is constructed and ready to use. In Genoa, Italy, 37 people died when, in 2018, a highway bridge collapsed. According to the New York Times, thousands of collapsed bridges since the early 20th century were investigated for possible poor construction.

Conclusion

Prepare the soil, build the bridge to connect across the chasms that divide, and keep that bridge repaired, so it endures through all kinds of storms and catastrophes. The Golden Gate Bridge was a historic feat that today, some say couldn’t happen in the time frame or the cost of when construction began in the ’30s. Many people online are blaming technology for the divides and dynamited bridges in their lives, but God won’t take our excuses in Heaven that “Google made me do it” or “Facebook made me do it.” We are each responsible for building and maintaining good bridges, but first, let’s prepare the soil.

Go to God today and ask Him to help you identify areas in your life that need changing.

Holodomor: A Lesson in Communications

“Holodomor” is a Ukrainian word derived from “holod” (hunger) and “mor” (extermination). In 1932 and 1933, 3.5 million people are estimated to have died during Joseph Stalin’s intentional starvation. He called it a natural famine, as did other journalists and governments, especially the New York Times journalist and later Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Duranty.  Duranty was stationed in Moscow, as were other reporters. Duranty said of Ukraine, “There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from disease due to malnutrition… conditions are bad. But there is no famine.” He never retracted his statement. Governments going through the Great Depression wanted the story buried.

Duranty wasn’t alone in Moscow. Among the reporters stationed there was Gareth Jones. A movie was made recently of his life (Mr. Jones, 2019). I watched it with some trepidation. As a frequent reader of the Holocaust, I was prepared for horror. It was a good film. A few other journalists also wrote about the Holodomor. Gareth snuck into Ukraine to see what Stalin was doing to the Ukrainians. According to the movie, Gareth was arrested by Soviet soldiers and released but pressured to not speak a word of what he saw in his travels through the Ukrainian countryside.

Environment and Society wrote, “The Soviet government banned any discussions relating to the famine until the late 1980s, and ordered historians to depict the famine as an unavoidable natural disaster… some scholars have compared the devastating event to the Holocaust.”

While it was considered to retract Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize posthumously, it was never revoked. Gareth Jones’ journalism career took him to Mongolia to pursue another story of injustice to which his guide, thought to be with the Soviet Secret Police, helped get him shot and killed a day before his 30th birthday.

The New York Times has a statement about Walter Duranty on their website. “Duranty, one of the most famous correspondents of his day, won the prize for 13 articles written in 1931 analyzing the Soviet Union under Stalin. Times correspondents and others have since largely discredited his coverage.” They also said, “The Pulitzer board has twice declined to withdraw the award, most recently in November 2003, finding ‘no clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception’ in the 1931 reporting that won the prize, and The Times does not have the award in its possession.”

Without eye-witness testimony or proof like the photos that came out of the Holodomor, people who claimed the unpopular opinion that the starvation was not a grievous famine could have been labeled “conspiracy theorists.” Before Gareth and a “few” journalists published their pieces, no one knew what was happening in Ukraine.

There is a museum that reminds people it did happen. You can click here to read it.

Resources:

Mr. Jones is not a movie for children.

Picture from the Museum page.