About a Girl

We’ve had a recent breakthrough at Rooftop. Our alpha patient, a term used to identify our first patient, has received the green-light for travel. We will buy her ticket tomorrow. Exodus, a 13 year-old burn victim, is traveling to live in Seattle for the next five months. Her scarred and deformed skin is being replaced with grafts from her legs. This won’t just give her mobility and beauty; it will give her life.

It’s not being melodramatic to describe her in this way. Americans are unexperienced with children who look like Exodus. Our culture isolates us in an unrealistic cocoon of beauty. Even the ugly among us could be considered attractive in many countries. Exodus’s injuries are too bothersome for most to lay eyes upon. If her injury had happened in the U.S., she would have received immediate medical attention. One year after her injury she would have hardly had any reminders of the pain inflicted by a terrible fire. In Liberia, with scars like hers, she has very little hope of working, playing or possibly even marrying.

I have a really difficult time expressing the emotions I feel of this girl. She is my daughter’s age. As I type this through tears, I try to picture myself in Exodus’s parents shoes. Hopeless and helpless, they are praying for a healer. They can’t take out a loan to pay doctors, and they can’t just show up at a hospital without cash in hand. There is no cavalry for rescue and no possible solution within reach. The sheer frustration of these two parents has the potential to drive them insane. It would crush me.

Now they all have more than hope. They have an excitement I can’t even begin to imagine. Exodus has a passport, a visa and thanks to some generous donors, a ticket on the way. A family in Washington is excited to welcome her into their home. Doctors in Portland are ready. It’s been about 18 months since we began dreaming about helping kids like this. Only by the strength of God have we come this far. We will treat Exodus. We will have a story to tell like non other. We will radically change her family and her community in Monrovia. To God be the glory.

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Big Changes, No Problems

I haven’t posted for over two weeks. I apologize. When I first started blogging, I figured a few friends and my wife would read, and maybe on a good day, I could get my mom to read. As it turns out, there are more of you reading that I would have thought. And now I’ve let you down. Please forgive me.

In October 2010, we planted a satellite campus of Puyallup Foursquare Church. This was a thrill for us; planting the first out-of-state satellite for a church we helped plant in 1998. We faced challenges, we were personally stretched, and Cheryl and I were greatly fulfilled in our leadership roles. The Lord is doing an incredible work here.

Several months ago, the leadership team at Puyallup Foursquare began working with us to make some adjustments. Through our planning and prayers, we determined as a team to plant a church under the Southwest District of Foursquare. Roger Archer and team encouraged and supported our decision.

I never purposed to become a senior pastor, and I’ve been very reluctant to accept the role. The pastoral examples I’ve watched over the last dozen years are charisma-driven and animated. I would call myself neither. After two weeks of careful prayerful consideration, I have pledged to become the senior pastor of Desert Foursquare Church. (Our denomination will still have to appoint me to this position).

At the age of 18, at Northwest Foursquare Church, a woman prophetically shared that I would be a pastor. Worship, teaching and ministry are all passions, but the responsibility of shepherding feels simultaneously constricting and freeing. This is not my comfort zone. Here I am, a willing, joyful servant who loves to see Jesus work in people’s lives.

The last several weeks have presented many obstacles. Our equipment is heading back to the NW to serve Puyallup’s needs (they have a very busy summer), and we are not incorporated as a 501 (c) (3). There are many other details, but I shared those two with a visitor to our church on the Sunday we made the announcement that we are transitioning to a church plant. I didn’t know this when the silver-haired couple asked me about our church that Sunday morning, but they used to pastor a Foursquare Church in La Quinta.

Dale and Patti Downs are their names, and they offered to connect us with the resources we require. The most important resources was the gift of their friendship, and the relationships they have here in the desert. Within two weeks of their visit, they connected us with many people in the desert that are excited and encouraged that we are launching this fall.

So for the last few weeks, my pastoral duties have just about doubled. Now we are going through the process of incorporating and building a team of people who will launch Desert Foursquare Church. We are excited to spend this summer incubating our core team of staff and members (about 30 people in all). This is a critical time for praying and seeking God’s will for our church. If you’re reading this now, please take a moment to pray for us in this journey.

I could write a book about our adventure, but I’ll keep it short for now. I’m happy to respond to questions to this post, so feel free to ask any question. Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters who are praying with us.

Reading through the Stewardship Study Bible

About 4 months ago I purchased the Zondervan NIV Stewardship Bible. The idea of stewardship comes from the realization that at no time throughout scripture does God relinquish ownership of anything. Operating our lives from this standpoint is vastly different than the idea that God gives us ownership of what we have or who we are.

One of the most profound readings I’ve read is a commentary on Pride being one of our biggest obstacles to good stewardship. Pride puts us in the owner’s seat. It is impossible for God to be the Lord of our lives and for us live pridefully at the same time.

Pride of: Accomplishment, intellect, possessions, appearance, elitism and influence. Each one vies for us to create subjects, and each one gives Satan a foothold in our lives. He is the prince of pride. His reason for falling was pride. Pride in our lives gives birth to other sins, and ultimately to death.

Our lives are a struggle between master and mastered. Understanding our place helps us to submit our flesh to the one who owns our very being. This is what I’m wrestling out in myself… I’m dragging me out of myself. What do I own? Nothing. God is offended when I take any part of creation as unto my own. The Stewardship Bible is helping me to understand my role in stewarding my relationship to God, self, others and creation.

One of my favorite quotes is from Watchman Nee. “That strong self-assertive will of mine must go to the Cross, and I must give myself over wholly to the Lord. We cannot expect a tailor to make us a coat if we do not give him any cloth, nor a builder to build us a house if we let him have no building material; and in just the same way we cannot expect the Lord to live out His life in us if we do not give Him our lives in which to live. Without reservations, without controversy, we must give ourselves to Him to do as He pleases with us.”

This study Bible has quotes and commentaries from Larry Burkett, Dr. Scott Rodin, Randy Alcorn, Chuck Colson, John Piper and many more. It also provides an incredible index on savings, charity, the poor, debt and more. I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of this incredible resource, but it is already doing more than just scratching the  surface of me.

Why We Moved

In October of 2010, my wife and I partnered with a core team of people in the Coachella Valley in Southern California to begin Desert Foursquare Church. This is the first time in my life that I’ve lived further than 10 miles from the hospital where I was born. It’s the first time we have uprooted our children from their cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and the school they’ve attended since they were three and five years old. It doesn’t take an expert to do what we’re doing; it takes a calling.

II Timothy verse 2: “To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord”. Grace, mercy and peace. You’ll need those in abundance, regardless of the path God chooses for you. Here’s how God is choosing me.

In the summer of 2009, I was working for Cascade Christian Schools as the Director of Development. A wonderful, secure, comfortable job with phenomenal people (that I miss terribly). That summer I had a $250,000 construction project that I was overseeing. The sports fields improvements were entirely donated, and I had a responsibility to our donors to ensure that things went according to plan. When my window for a vacation came up, my wife and I booked our trip and hoped on a plane two days later. It was a high of 116 degrees for each of the seven days we were in Palm Desert. It cooled down to 100 degrees at night.

At the end of our stay, I was really looking forward to coming home. We didn’t know anyone in the desert, and I can’t say that I have a natural affinity for the area. I like cool weather, rain and the rich green of the Northwest. Driving towards the airport, my wife began to cry. “It feels like we’re leaving home!” was all that she could say. I couldn’t understand that at all.

Over the course of the next several months, we began to pray about whether or not the Lord was calling us to something new. By October, we took our second trip down to the Coachella Valley. Several friends came with us, and we met up with some friends that had just moved down to Palm Desert. After several days of seeking the Lord, fasting and praying in the Spirit, we knew that we knew. We flew back on Saturday and I submitted my resignation on Monday (one of the toughest things I’ve ever done).

Because of my involvement in several sensitive areas of work, we chose not to announce my departure until January. Even my children weren’t aware of our decision until after Christmas. Of all the things I’ve ever achieved in work, leaving CCS under the best of circumstances, with the best possible hand-off to an incredibly anointed successor was my greatest career highlight.

There was never a single moment where I felt a call to “do” something in the desert. I had a lot of ideas… ways to make a living, things to accomplish, etc. The best way I can sum up our journey to La Quinta was that I was searching for who God wants me to “be”. This radical expression of our faith in God’s leading has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. We could not have scripted what this would look like when we started, but now that we’re here, I wouldn’t trade the adventure for anything. My purpose, meaning and identity are more complete in my weaknesses, which Christ is using for HIS purpose. That’s who Christ wants me to be. More dependent upon him and less on myself.

The story is just beginning, but the thing I am most grateful to God for are the relationships he’s orchestrated in ways we never could have anticipated. My closest friends are people I either didn’t know or barely knew just two years ago. Cheryl and I are much more dependent upon one another; more connected than ever. My children have a greatly increased appreciation for their family relationships, especially for their grandparents. Our lives are greatly enriched through our church relationships. We need lots of grace, mercy and peace, and we are increasing in our ability to be who God desires us to be.

I am burdened for the people of the Coachella Valley. Watching people come to our church and seeing them grow closer to God gives me an incredible sense of belonging. I wouldn’t trade my experiences with Rooftop 519 for anything. Thank you Jesus for your divine leading. May I continue to be your willing servant.

Rex D. Manley August 6, 1932 – January 10, 2011

Devoted husband, loving father, friend… a true follower of Christ.

Minutes ago, my dad breathed his last. This brief blog will give you insight into my relationship with my father.

Born during the throes of the Great Depression, my dad grew up among the hard-working blue-collar class in Eastern Washington. He is the younger brother of two siblings; a brother who drowned at nine years of age and a sister who succumbed to cancer about ten years ago.

Rex D. Manley was a racehorse owner, Air Force radar tech during the Korean War, salesman, business owner and dedicated volunteer at Northwest Foursquare Church (probably his favorite job).

One of my favorite stories is when my dad was in eighth grade. He and my grandpa cleared forty acres of trees for planting. Every hour after school, and every hour of every Saturday was committed to unimaginably difficult work. Years later, my grandfather apologized for working his 14 year old son so hard. My dads response was, “You didn’t hurt me one bit.”

Towards the end of his high school years, my dad bought a racehorse that had been kicked by its mother. The owners thought it was worthless. My dad loved that horse and trained it to race. The first time the bells went off, the horse froze. It had a late start out of the gate, and yet it managed to best six of the other seven horses.

The horse figured out how to get out of the gate on time, and it went on to take first place in the next 11 races. That equated to a little over $2,000 in winnings for my dad. Not a bad take for an eight-dollar horse.

More than the money, that horse helped to create a significant transformation in my dad. Until this fortuitous relationship, my dad was unusually shy. He would avoid new relationships at just about all costs. People scared him to no end. The life of a racehorse owner did more than bring him out of his shell. It launched him into the (very intimidating) limelight.

A quick rabbit trail: What does an 18 year old do with $2k? He walked into the Ford dealership to buy a brand new car. What does an 18 year old with $2k who gets snubbed by the Ford salesman do? He walks across the street to the Chevrolet dealership and plops down a wad of cash for his brand new car.

My parents were married for over 20 years when I was born. They had four kids in 10 years and one more (me) after another decade had past. I have known the blessing of a very good man I called “dad”. He made many sacrifices for my benefit, including sending me to a Christian school and teaching me a solid work ethic (it didn’t hurt me one bit either).

Dad hit his head almost exactly a year ago. A brain bleed caused a traumatic brain injury. It frustrated him to no end that he couldn’t make the rounds at the food bank. His body completely failed him, and he shared with me how badly he wanted to be with Jesus.

One of the highlights for my dad over the last year  was listening to the stories of me being a part of Rooftop 519 and becoming a Pastor . He would introduce me to his nurses as “The Pastor” or, “Mr. President”. He lived his life vicariously through me, pouring in encouragement and advice every time we met.

He’s with Jesus now, leaving behind a legacy of great relationships with friends and family. Thank you, Dad. I love you and we will all miss you. Until we meet again.