Friday, September 27, 2013

Daddy-Daughter London Trip, and its Application to the LTI Speaking Team [SK]

Facebook deleted the original post, so I'm re-posting it here...

September 2013

Dear Friends,
It’s the middle of the night and I’m typing away somewhere over the Atlantic. My coach seat is cramped and if the guy in front of me reclines, my screen is toast! Nevertheless, I’m not the least bit grumpy. How can I be? I’m once again on my way to London!

I love the city. Samuel Johnson once said that when a man tires of London, he tires of life. I won’t go that far, but I will say that each time I visit, I’m too excited to sleep on the plane ride getting there. This particular trip is even more joyous. Thanks to frequent flyer miles, my wife Stephanie and daughter Emily Rose (age 12) are flying over to join me once I’m done speaking. What a vacation it will be!

This will be Emily’s first trip to England, an event she’s dreamed of for two years. During that time, we’ve had daddy-daughter tea parties with real English tea and real English squash. We’ve reviewed photos of my past UK trips--the most recent with son Michael. Last month, I taught her to count British currency and together we’ve learned the first two stanzas of “God Save the Queen.” During 6th grade, she carried a Union flag backpack to school nearly everyday. And we haven't forgotten safety: To reinforce the necessity of looking right rather than left when crossing streets, we created a corny line: “When visiting London, you should drink squash not be squashed.”

Lord willing, the two women I cherish most will arrive Sunday morning at 7. I’ve meticulously planned Emily’s first sighting of central London. (Stephanie has been there before.) After dropping bags at the hotel, we’ll take the Underground (Tube) to Westminster Station. Just before exiting the station, I'll direct her to a short set of stairs leading up to street level. As I usher her up the final steps, I will take her hand and make her close her eyes. Once at street level, I will say, “okay, look up, girl!” Right there, she’ll take-in a dramatic view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The scene will blow her mind! Indeed, that first glimpse from Westminster Station impresses on the visitor an undeniable truth: You are in London!

Yes, I want the city to grip her like it’s gripped me. But as a Christian, I want more for Emily. She must know that her first London sighting points to something far grander than what transpires at Westminster Station. No matter how special that daddy-daughter moment is, it pales in comparison to the day when her Heavenly Father takes her hand and ushers her into His city.

Here over the Atlantic, I’m pondering another ushering, this one involving our LTI speaking team. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t ask myself, “Why would anyone in his or her right mind take a job where you must raise your own support to convey truths that win you zero applause from the prevailing secular culture?" I distinctly remember giving my Churchill speech to Jay and Mike: “I have nothing to offer you but blood, sweat, toil, and tears. Oh, and you get to raise your own funding should I fail to scare you off!”

And they took the job anyway. They did it in large part for the joy of ushering students into a whole new worldview.

The challenges are many. Unlike Emily who was prepped to engage London, many of the students our speakers journey with have not been equipped to engage the ruinous culture lurking outside their own Christian homes. Soon they will arrive on university campuses ill equipped to defend what they claim to believe—especially on pro-life issues!

Some come from homes where the “a” word is unmentionable, perhaps because one or both parents have participated in abortion and have yet to experience the forgiveness found in the Christian gospel. Others attend good churches where Scripture is revered, but pro-life training is non-existent or limited to an annual announcement about the upcoming pregnancy center banquet.

Our speakers meet these students in assemblies and classrooms across the country and usher them into a new realm of understanding. There’s 15-year old Brittany who told us, “I thought pro-life was just plain stupid—and then you showed that video clip.” There’s Jonathan, a 12th grader who couldn’t thank us enough for providing rational arguments. There’s the skeptic’s club at U.C. Berkeley who thanked me for debating abortion intelligently and whose members stuck around for 70 minutes to ask questions. And there’s Audrey, who had an abortion two years ago and cried through the presentation made to her Catholic high school—but afterward wrote to say she’s stopped making excuses and is now trusting Christ to forgive her past.

Throughout the Fall season, an ushering scene reminiscent of Westminster Station will be replayed with much higher stakes at Catholic and Protestant high schools in the U.S. And my team will be in the thick of it. I’m humbled by their willingness to serve along side me.

Pray God strengthens them. For my part, my first stop is this Fall is London, where I’ll train British pro-life advocates to argue their case persuasively. My second stop is Oxford, where I’ll discuss advanced pro-life apologetics with Summit students in that city.

Thank you for financially standing with us. You truly are helping us change minds!

For the King,
Scott Klusendorf

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Listening well [Megan]

At the end of August, I presented "The Case for Life" to 200 students ranging from grades 7 to 12. The presentation went well — it was the hour following it, during which students approached me at the front of the auditorium to ask their questions or offer their thoughts, that was nothing short of running the gamut.
I was reminded how very important it is for us, Christ's ambassadors, to be slow to speak, slow to anger, and — above all — to listen well.
I was reminded that I need to ask daily for God to grant me wisdom:
• For the young woman whose anger flared when I didn't answer her question the way she had planned;
• For the young man whose sharp and clever mind took meticulous notes and who came to me with a list of nine probing questions on his paper, and — though he expected each to undermine my argument — was mature enough to carry on a wonderful, 30-minute conversation;
• For the girl whose half-hearted question didn't even make it past her lips before she began to cry.
Each of these encounters could have easily been handled badly. I pray that what I said and did (all the while pleading with the Holy Spirit for help) was received as God intended.
As an advocate for life, you will run into encounters just like the ones above.
As for the first, the young woman was offended by the case I had presented. She attempted to undermine my argument with a personal attack.
You may be tempted to become angry, as I was — Don't. Rather, remember Jesus and his encounters with the Pharisees. There are times when the truth is offensive to some. That is no fault of yours or mine. It simply is.
In this particular scenario, I had an audience, so I felt it was important to point out, as graciously as possible, that her objection did not undo the case I had presented.
She left before I could ask why she seemed so angry. I wish I had had that opportunity.
The young man was a skeptic, probably not a Christian, and was obviously very bright. I got the sense right away that he gives his teachers a run for their money on a regular basis.
But I also got the sense that he was honestly grappling with some of the ideas I had presented, and that, if tempered with maturity and the Holy Spirit, he may one day be a mighty defender of Truth for the Kingdom.
With individuals like this, if you have the time, it is good to patiently handle each objection as it comes. Let your mannerisms set the tone for the conversation. I chose my words and posture carefully so that the conversation became as one between teacher and pupil. Even so, I had the sense that this young man needed to be treated like a young man and not as a child (which is usually the case when it comes to this age group).
The last encounter was one that ripped through me more than the others. It's the encounter you are certain to have if you regularly make the case for your pro-life views. It's the young woman who has just learned the hard truth about the decision she made in the not-so-distant past.
She tried to point out that the unborn have no memories, no conscious thoughts like we do, so doesn't that make them different? It would be worse, she said, to take the life of a toddler because it would be harder somehow. And then she began to cry.
Intellectually, it would have been easy to ask why memories or consciousness make someone more valuable and deserving of a right to life. What about those with amnesia? Or in a coma?
I could pointed out that her second point — that taking the life of a toddler would be harder — begs a question:  "Harder for whom?" Such an objection is selfish, though she didn't see that at the time.
But it was clear that she didn't need my intellectual response — not yet. (I did give it to her, gently, later. Even as I pointed out that I didn't really believe those objections reflected her own views.)
In that moment, she and I needed the very same thing. The Gospel.
Because it was the Gospel that would give me the strength to keep talking, and it was the Gospel that would offer her truth, forgiveness, healing, and more love than she's ever known.
So I took her hand and told her that I could see she was in a lot of pain, and I told her about Jesus, and how He has already fixed everything in the eyes of the Father if she would receive Him, and how we all need the same thing — Him. And I told her she is unspeakably valuable because of Him.
And then I did what may have been, for me, the hardest thing of all. When all of the students went back to class, I left. And I left what I had said and done in God's hands.
That's all any of us can ultimately do.