Monday, April 26, 2010

Jonah - God said Go

I've been meditating for the past week on the book of Jonah. I went through it six times. Well, ok, so I haven't been in intense Biblical study, I've been hanging out with John.

John is an old friend with YWAM Canada's Word To Life Theatre Arts based in British Colombia. This was his forth year coming to Modesto for a little tour. John presents the scriptures through creative storytelling and Jonah is one of my favorite's so far.

John shared "Jonah - God said Go" at a couple of churches, a recovery group, a bible study, a retirement home, and a community youth group. We had a great week and I had the specific privilege of seeing all of them. John's presentation is funny, disarming, inviting and insightful. It was fun watching the different groups respond to John and the scripture. John's performance puts the old story in historical context and brings the message right back to us.

Why is it that we make people, dearly loved and longed for by God, our enemies? We can be so quick and reactionary to wish judgment on other cultures, nations, peoples, classes or even individuals. How easily our own comfort and ideas about who is in and who is out can get in the way of what God wants to do through us.

At the end of the story, Jonah is angry that God had compassion on the wicked, repentant Ninavites and he sulks under a shade vine that God causes to wither. And Jonah even pouts about the vine. And God speaks...

"You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

And that is the question that ends the story. And I think about Modesto, about gangs and the thug culture so prevalent here, about drug addicts and dealers, about prostitutes and johns, and even about how easy it is for our churches to miss the point. And I know that God loves us all. He is concerned with this great city.

And part of the message came to me through John himself, not just the story. This was his least lucrative trip yet. John does not charge a set price for a performance, but gives guidelines and trusts God that he will be provided for. Of course, most of the places I can book him into do not have a lot of money or resource. I even talked to him a week before he came to ask if he wanted to cancel as there just wasn't a lot of paid performances.

But he came anyway, to serve, connect and share his gift wherever he could. We had a great week together.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Upcoming YWAM Modesto Events! (woo hoo!)

Howdy all,

We've got some things coming up that we'd looooooove for you to be at. Here they are...

This Sunday Night, April 18! - John Wason from YWAM Canada's Word To Life Theatre Arts joins us at New Hope Christian Fellowship for morning and evening performances.

The evening performance is a community event and free of charge (with some love offering love available). Join us at the new New Hope on the corner of Haddon and Trask (CLICK HERE for directions) in Modesto for John's presentation of
"Jonah - God Said Go" at 7 pm. This presentation can be enjoyed by the whole family!

And coming soon - Justin Fox will join us live in the New Hope Chapel for a great night of music and sharing, Tuesday, April 27 at 7pm. Justin travels all over the country sharing his music and passion for God. You can check out his website at and come see him with us.

- John Wason will be with us all this next week of April 17 - 25 and his schedule is not filled up. If you have an event or church service (Sunday the 25th is open!) that you'd like to book him for, you can contact me, Chris at

- Amie Whitler is debuting a modern dance piece this week at MJC's Choreographer's Showcase (you can see her previous works HERE and HERE). The programs including her performances are Wednesday and Friday nights. The show starts at 7:30 and the box office opens at 6pm.

P.S.S.S - The Sustars made it back safely from Thailand last night and are taking a bit to recoup and get over jet lag. You can read about their adventures at their family site HERE.

Thanks and we hope to see you soon!

Chris Whitler
YWAM Modesto

Saturday, April 03, 2010

People from Fresno STILL rock!

Last year, we hosted a high school team from Fresno First Baptist. WE loved having these guys...they were so willing to jump in and serve with cheerful hearts. So when Jon (the youth pastor) decided to come back with another team, we were very happy to have them again. And once again, this team (6 that came last time and 5 newbies) was so fun to host for outreach. They brought life, laughs and light to whatever we did together. Here's a few pics...

They love playing games together whenever there's a free moment and they are quick to include others in the fun. This one's called 'Ninja'.

And they loved everybody on South 9th Street in our time there...everybody!

They served...

They sang...

They played...

They even flipped...

Art and dance were unplanned themes with this group. We spent time listening to local artist, Emilio Martinez, who has a heart to see his neighborhood change through creativity.

And we were able to take what he taught us to a group of kids from the same neighborhood...

They had an impromptu dance class from Amie...

And they danced...



Thanks Jon & Co. from Fresno First B. Thanks for loving us, our city, our church and our friends.