Gene Ort's Blog

Archive for May, 2009

The Apprentice

by on May.31, 2009, under Spiritual

I have been reading a book for a long time. It’s called “Renovation of the Heart” by Dallas Willard. It’s the second book of his I’ve read. I decided shortly after starting the book that I would not read it, but instead, study it. This was in part due to complexity. It often takes me two or three re-reads before I actually could comprehend what he was saying. My technique was to read until something something jumped off the page, then I would highlight it, or underline it or both..  I actually used up a brand new set of highlighters half way through. When he suggested a scripture passage, I read it..or multiples.. it nearly always launched me into some extensive bible study. This was even more interesting to me because I was using a brand new bible that Mary (with Rachel ) got me for Christmas. It is the Message translation. Wow..  I was completely blown away. I had read little bits here and there but I never had really spent any time with that version. All those years reading the same translation had made me a little to familiar and maybe a little numb to what the verses were saying. This forced me into re-reading for the first time again. A single verse that Dallas would refer to would often lead me into some serious rediscovery of the word.

There was a theme in the book from very early on that referred to Christ followers, disciples as “apprentices of Jesus”. I like that imagery. I came from a blue collar family and was familiar with the idea of apprenticeship. In my world it meant working really hard, for reduced pay, for an extended period of time in order to learn a trade. It was pretty much understood, as an apprentice, you would start at the very bottom and slowly work your way up and over time you would gain the experience needed to actually get paid to perform the trade. 

When I was young, I “apprenticed” to be a welder in Kalamazoo Michigan. When I started, I knew nothing. This was not an official apprenticeship, but one that came about through a series of unusual circumstances. I had to practically beg a coworker to teach me. He was reluctant but eventually agreed to help me. The mistakes I made in the early days of that training were many and often costly. I always had to fix my own mistakes. I had to endure harsh correction, my teacher was no boy scout. There was no shortage of expletives to insure I understood his displeasure when I screwed up and cost him time. I had to shut my mouth, swallow my pride and do what he said. Eventually I earned his respect and his friendship. 

As an apprentice of Jesus, what is it we hope to learn?  

What trade are we sacrificing our time and energy to master?   

What does God expect to see in us when we have completed our apprenticeship?

As an apprentice of Jesus, the goal is to know Him, Love Him and to become like Him.

We are to be transformed into the image of Jesus.

The benefits are priceless!

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This is a test.. the trouble is not in your set.

by on May.30, 2009, under Gene

In order for me to be prepared for this trip, I have to test every piece of equipment I take. I also have to test every process and that includes capturing video, posting it to vimeo and linking it to my blog. So thats what this is.. This is also testing video transfer to my lap top for the first time. I am really wondering about the internet connection in India as well. On my last trip, is was hit and miss. I am hoping for better this time.

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by on May.27, 2009, under INDIA

Not long ago I edited a video with the help of Ben Sanders and Marty Friend. Both Marty and Ben went to India in late December 2008 and came home in January 2009. The three of us had planned on going together. Just a few days before we were to leave, my youngest daughter, Rachel Leazenby was killed in a car accident. I was not able to go. While Marty and Ben were there, they video taped several on going ministry efforts including improving the water supply for an entire village. This involved repairing a well and installing water purification systems. Here is the video that focuses on the water ministry that took place.

The Sheep and the Goats
Matthew 25:  31-33″When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
 34-36″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why: 
   I was hungry and you fed me, 
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, 
   I was homeless and you gave me a room, 
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes, 
   I was sick and you stopped to visit, 
   I was in prison and you came to me.’
 37-40″Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

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A Little Taste of India 2007

by on May.25, 2009, under INDIA

I produced this little video to try and capture in a minute or so the look and feel of India as we experienced it. I hope you enjoy.. 

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A Favorite Story from India July 2007

by on May.24, 2009, under INDIA

Here is a story from my trip in 2007. It was an evening I will never forget.  

The Church

Day 7, August 4th, 2007. 

As Jack and Raj headed off to the church dedication some 5 or 6 hours away, that left Jodi, Brandy and myself to stay back in town with Samuel.  I might mention that Samuel, the church planter we were assigned to, is one the hardest working people I have ever met.  Not only does he pastor this church of 500 plus (in what would easily be described as an often hostile environment ) he leaves town every evening and travels into the surrounding villages every night and goes door to door ( really it’s hut to hut ) and often does not get back home until 1:00 am after catching dinner ( rice and whatever) usually around 11:30 or so.  I was the slowest in my group for grasping the Tamil explanations of the food.  

After Jack and Raj hit the road, Samuel asked us to attend a mid day bible study/vision casting meeting with the church staff and key volunteers.  When we got there, Samuel asked that we give our testimonies and tell the group about our lives, work and families. Samuel was our translator. I got to be first and I was very happy that my wife provided me a picture book fold out of my whole family.  As the pictures made there way around the women’s group first ( the women set on one side of the room and the men the other )  they were buzzing with excitement and pointing and laughing.  It was the first time for me having to think about my life and testimony in a way that would translate well in another language.  It was exhilarating. The girls, Jodi and Brandy followed right after me. One question that came up several times was, what do you do at GCC church ? It was fun trying to explain what I did in context with the mission, vision and purpose of GCC folded in.  One of the most surreal moments I encountered was seeing the villagers in tiny little hut homes (half cement and half thatched roof) studying the GCC core class materials that had been translated into Tamil. 

img_3743buildingLater that evening we headed out toward the outer villages, one in particular that was not receptive to Samuel’s advances in the past. It was already very dark by the time we arrived.  We parked near a small government cement building that had a sort of street light and parked.  Within minutes, there were villagers coming out to see what was going on. We were led back into the village to a home where an elderly women invited us in. We all took off our shoes, (as is the custom where ever you go) and entered her home.  I hit my head as I entered, one because I had my eyes on the video camera ( that was running almost all the time) and the other reason was the door opening. Many of the people we met were under five foot tall.  Samuel spoke with the women for several minutes and then we prayed for her and her family. I think Jodi prayed and Samuel translated.  After that we found ourselves in a small sort of  ” quickmart hut “. The man invited us in and asked for prayers for ” good business” (a prayer I have often prayed myself ).  I prayed for him and Samuel translated. He then asked us to come to his home and pray for his daughter who had a bad leg. More about that later.  We then headed back to Samuel’s jeep like vehicle where we met with a group of children and some of there parents. 


 Samuel’s worship leader from church had them all  singing a worship song in Tamil.  Then Jodi and  Brandy taught the kids, “Jesus loves the little  Children” in English.  That was a truly awesome  experience.  The parents stood around the outside  and smiled as all parents do anywhere in the world.  It was magical to hear the children learning and  sing these words for the first time.  





After the worship time with the children we left for an adventurous trek down a narrow and rugged road that was bordered on both sides by a river.  The ride had a sort of primeval feel to it.  There we were, nine thousand miles from our home, driving down a bumpy, narrow , rut filled, dirt road in the middle of the night singing, Jesus Loves the little Children with Samuel, his worship leader and a young woman named Blessie. It was the only song we could sing together.  The moment was filled with a sort of innocence and wonder. I could sense the love of God for all of us.  About half way down this one lane trail, we saw headlights.  This was not a good thing.  As we approached the oncoming vehicle it became clear to me that they were bigger than us. The rule in India is: the biggest vehicle wins.  It turned out to be a large farm tractor with a trailer load of locals in the back.  We had to back up a ways and find a slightly wider area to get out of the way. The tractor then pulled by us leaving no room to spare. I was nervous about the whole process, but Samuel seemed very comfortable with everything so I pretended like I did that sort of thing every day. 









Soon we arrived at the home of the shop owner and had to use ropes to enter his home. It was a room about 10′ by 16′. Inside, the little girl, her grand parents and the mother and father greeted us. The father showed us the little girls weakened left leg. She was pretty frail and she could not walk.  We prayed for her healing and for God’s blessing on the whole family. 

After jumping back into the TATA (kind of a Indian manufactured jeep of sorts) we headed of toward dinner.  It wasn’t long before we were on a much larger road filled with the Indian version of semi trucks. Samuel drove for a while looking for somewhere to eat.  I was thinking we were taking part in some kind of Asian mafia, B movie.  I fully expected to hear gun fire and see people scrambling for cover at any second. It did not happen. 

img_3773restaurantWe pulled into a “restaurant” where we stepped over piles of bricks and junk and set down at a table.  There were no walls, just cement block half walls and a thatched roof. The ” kitchen” was in the same room.  I had a fairly high level of food paranoia before I got to this place, but this place creeped me out completely!  I told Samuel, that Raj would be angry with him if he killed the American’s.  It turned out to be some of the best food on the trip!  The service was excellent and Fried Rice Veg with Chicken 65 was awesome. 

img_3774bedporchI was exhausted and full by the time we were done eating and can’t really remember the rest of the trip back to the church. But as I had done the night before, I made my way to the front steps of the church where there is a large, granite, open air porch. I rolled out the bed ( a 1/4 inch thick mat of reeds ) and my high tech air bed to spend my 2nd night sleeping under the stars. I think I prayed for all of 60 seconds before falling to sleep. My last conscience thought was: God has taken me to India, let me see His hands reaching out to lost people, I am sleeping in the open air, on the front porch of a church. What could be cooler than that?


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Through Rachel’s Eyes

by on May.22, 2009, under Rachel

Rachel's Eyes Captured Wonder

It seems only fitting to me that the very first picture on my new blog is one of Rachel’s. She loved nature. She was crazy about Hawks. On the way to church the other evening we saw a hawk that Rachel used to see as well.  She was sure ( as I am ) that Hawk sightings were a gift of God. Now, I long for a Rachel sighting, that would be a gift of God !

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Inadequacy = God’s perfect solution ?

by on May.17, 2009, under Spiritual


In the last few weeks I have been considering the young man talked about in the gospels who had some very plain bread and fish that he was willing to share with Jesus. My pastor at church used him as an illustration for what God can do with our “little” resources. It’s a great picture. Last night’s bible class addressed Moses in pretty much the same way. On one hand, an obscure, unnamed boy with a sack lunch ( he probably had a good Mom, she provided for his care and sent him off to learn from Jesus ) and on the other hand, one of the most famous people in all of history. Character flaws : murderer, orphan, massive insecurity, likes to argue with God, excuse maker, conflict avoider, speech impediment .. etc. God chose to use them both. 

I am surrounded by what I consider to be brilliant men of God. For a recovering approval addict who still can recognize the ever lurking presence of insecurity within, that can be more than a little intimidating. They are all well educated, successful etc.. you get the picture. All that said.. my inadequacy might just equal God’s perfect solution. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Message)

7-10Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, 

My grace is enough; it’s all you need. 
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

That makes me ponder.. I wonder what God is planning for me ?

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