There was a Rwanda fundraiser movie night that I was invited to, but I was reluctant to go because I’ve cut back a lot of what I’m doing just to survive. I usually receive invites to 1 or 2 events each week. I walked there and stayed for a short while, slipping in, and slipping out quietly. I walked home, it took a long time but all the lower calories and walking is helping me to lose fat and get into shape. I’m exhausted but always willing to support a good cause. I’m still giving a percentage of my income. I’ve always done that and I’ll always do that. Even if it’s $0.01.
Missions work is going very well, lots of great reports from everyone. So is the homeless outreach I do in Toronto. Street evangelism is also going well with the one downside of being threatened once in a while. My group was talking to a group of people about Jesus and a Muslim man listening threatened to “ruin my life.” lol. Church ministry projects are going very well. Work isn’t going so well, on the upside I’m enjoying the winter weather. My favorite season is Autumn, my least favorite is summer.
Overall, I didn’t make a profit this year. One business made money but the other lost, one investment went up and the other went down. When everything is all said and done, I lost money. I won’t know how much until an accountant preps my books but I’m sure it’s at least 5 figures. I worked like a dog. I worked all day. I took only a few days off. I pushed and pushed but it just seems like things didn’t work out. I’m exhausted.
Some of my notable 2006 expenses:
– $4,054 food
– $3,259 travel
– $3,086 banking
– $5,078 phone
Add that all up, multiply by 10 and I gave slightly more than that to outreach, evangelism, missions and new churches this year. Unfortunately I didn’t save anything, and I have a bad feeling about that.
So lets end this on a super happy note.
As I started driving out to Guelph for Dana’s wedding, it dawned on me again how fast life flies by. I met Dana online in 2002. We’ve become the best of online friends since then and met in real life in 2006. We only spent a little bit of time together in person, but hundreds of hours chatting online.
Dana’s dad and mom are pastors and missionaries. They’ve been all over the world saving lives. Their family and friends are missionaries as well. This kind of thing means the world to me. Dana grew up on the mission field and it’s molded who she is today.
The long drive to her city was a bit tiring for me, and I’ve done the drive many times to visit my sister at school. When I got to the church my jaw dropped, partially because from the outside it looked like it was sinking into the ground, partially because it looked like it was 1,000 years old. It was covered in beautiful wood and stone.
I met J for the very first time but I heard about him from Dana a lot. J’s family are also missionaries and J has been all over, especially Indonesia where he tells me his hobbies included swinging from vines in the jungle like Tarzan. I setup my camcorder and camera equipment and recorded the short and beautiful wedding ceremony. After, I gave Dana and J their hugs and went about my life for a few hours while the professional photographer took photos.
The reception was in a beautiful updated community centre. When I got to the reception we did more videotaping, we ate the most delicious foods from all over the world (seems like almost everyone was a missionary so they knew about all the different kinds of foods from all the different cultures). It wasn’t catered, people from all over the world cooked food. I had some delicious basmati rice with red curry. Most of the people there were white but collectively they had done church ministry work everywhere worldwide. The food was beyond amazing. The fact that a white person made curry better than brown people made me think.
I walked around and talked to men and women, children and adults, young and old. Many people were simply on break from a 2 year mission trip. Some were heading back to the airport in a few days to start a new mission trip or continue one. One young man told me he won’t be going into missions. “I’m going into business, someone has to stay here and pay for these missionaries to go do what they do, someone has to provide the money, it doesn’t grow on trees you know.” hahahaha! A man after my own heart. He was currently in business school and everyone in his family were full time missionaries. I had a good conversation with him. I talked to teen girls who weren’t into the latest pop music or celebrities but instead talked endlessly about 3rd world villages being transformed by the salvation message of Jesus. Can we trade some of these teens with our spoiled brat teens?
After the reception was over, I helped pack away the reception hall as is my custom, and to my shock all of the young people helped as well – without being asked. They were picking up and packing the folding tables themselves and doing it more efficiently than me. I was amazed and remembered again that missionaries have a lot to teach us. These kids aren’t concerned with what they can get for Christmas, but what they can give. I work with teens everyday and I’ve been trying and trying to teach them these values.
I said my farewells to everyone after it started getting late and I drove home that night in amazement of God. Even right now as I type this, I’m just floored. All those missionaries, in one room at the same time. If we could get them to stay in one city of Canada for 2 years they would transform the city. It’s one reason I’m happy to go overboard funding missions work.
On a silly note, while at the reception I was also honored to be the only colored person there. Everyone was white except for me. That is until 4 of Dana’s friends from school showed up late who were brown and black. After everything was finished I sat down with them and we all laughed about how cool it is to be a minority sometimes, especially when everyone else is so nice.
You know what, I can’t stop talking or thinking about this. I met over 100 amazing missionaries, yes I counted over 100 and talked to almost every one of them. I walked around the room shaking peoples hands and introducing myself. Dana’s whole family are missionaries for life and so are J’s. People of all ages, all educations, all kinds of skill sets, who have collectively been to almost every country in the world representing Jesus. Countries I’ve never even heard of! It was one of the most amazing experience for me to be in their presence.
Let me explain this better:
I was 17 years old. Summer. It was approaching evening. I had a home office packed with regular customers. The doorbell rang. 2 large black men came inside. They didn’t say a word. Both were carrying a Price Chopper grocery bag in each hand. 4 bags in total. They emptied the bags in front of me, on my fake wood coffee table.
$100 and $50 bills, Canadian, American and Euro currency. I stacked that money into separate piles of $30,000 each. It was so much I had to call my friend Steve to help. Steve was in the other room (my home office) dealing with some of our clients. When he saw the pile of money he was literally speechless. I mean literally. I thought he was going to faint. He stuttered a few words and then started counting. Steve’s been my buddy since grade 3.
We made over 30 piles, and counted almost $1 Million in cash. We sat there, looking at the money like it was a super hot girl. After we finished doing that, we packed the money neatly in a suitcase and rolled it over to the bank. The lady at the bank snapped at me saying “this line is for business only.” When we opened the suitcase a bit to show her, her mouth opened up so big I thought I could fit my head inside. Because of the sum of money some paperwork had to be done to make sure everything was in order, then we deposited the money just like we were depositing a paycheck for $400. Most of the money was then wired to Germany. When I got back home I logged into my dial up internet access, using my Cyrix 686 with 32mb of RAM and sent an email to a German company: “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Asif Zamir, and I’ve just wired you $XXX,XXX.XX Please send the shipping container(s) to this shipping port and address…”
I should take a moment to mention the following:
– the whole thing was completely legitimate and fully legal
– nothing illegal was going on
– i never have that kind of cash in my home
– the cash wasn’t mine
– the shipping containers were filled with food-commodities going to a developing country to be sold at retail.
– cash was being used because the business owners involved were used to dealing with only cash. Later on they switched to more updated payment methods.
– it only sounds very shady when I talk about it
Needless to say, that was an interesting day for me, a 17 year old boy. But this day, this wedding of my great friend Dana and the reception where I met and talked to and prayed with 100 missionaries, and having some of them pray over me – and hearing about hundreds of thousands of souls being won for Jesus, about communities being changed and lives being completely healed, about the expansion of the faith and hundreds of new church plants doing well – this is truly more amazing to me than all the money in the world.
Dana wrote this and is allowing me to use it.
Saturday’s adventure at the missions convention was the greatest! :) B and Jon accompanied me to Toronto to take in as many of the workshops as we could. While there we unexpectedly ran into some friends!!
Asif and I had been planning for a while to meet up, but somehow we ended up not connecting before I hit the road on Saturday. So, imagine my surprise when I see Asif appearing just ten feet in front of me in one of the isles in this huge exhibition hall packed full of thousands of people!! How awesome was that?! Well, Beck and Jon ran into a couple surprise friends and family of their own in this same exhibition hall (including our uncle, a pastor in the Toronto area), so as they chatted with some of those folks, Asif and I took off to look through the gazillions of mission organizations and information booths crammed throughout the hall. As an aside, I was absolutely famished at the time, but when I heard that a tuna sandwich cost $7.75 I decided to starve instead. As Asif later commented, if I wanted to pay that much for a sandwich I could have gone to the movie theatre instead.
I was glad to see so many health and development organizations represented here, Habitat for Humanity Toronto, International China Concern, Living Water Canada, Mercy Ships (Canada), and many more.
Cambridge friends: We ran into a number of church friends from Cambridge as well. Among them was Alan whose heart is incredibly dedicated to overseas missions – he’s truly an inspiration!! We also ran into H, a social work student from church who I actually just met for the first time at MissionFest! We hit it off really well, so I look forward to chatting with her some more in the near future. :)
Half the fun of these events are always these surprise meetings with likeminded friends and family. So seeing familiar faces really gave the day a community atmosphere – I loved every minute of it!
When I was in high school I was not in the in crowd. I was mostly a loner with too much responsibility to notice what was going on around me. I was also in the video club, and the nerd club which was fine with me. One day I got an invite to a cool people party. I can’t remember what cool thing I did to get this invite, I think it had something to do with beating up a dirt bag that was mistreating a girl. If you know me you know that I don’t go to parties. Never have, never will. I did stop by this one to see what it was like because a girl asked me to take her there safely. It’s just like what you see in the movies with the booze and the making out and silly behavior. Super hot high school girls ruining their lives one boy at a time. Fast forward though to today and the people I knew from that party are mostly doing nothing with their lives. I do stop and chats with some of them at the mall and it’s just sad. Today I met one of them in a convenience store at the Westwood Mall and asked him what he’s been up and he said “staying high”.
Several times in my life, I have learned that the in crowd is the sin crowd. They are the crowd that most people strive to attain membership in, but the worst crowd to be a part of. Everything looks good on the outside. Smiles, friendship, even fun and love. But it’s not real. It doesn’t last. It breaks down. It’s not worth it. Plenty of backstabbing, plenty of gossip. Everyone wants everyone else to fail.
I’m trying out this new thing called digital cable. Basically you have a box you attach to your tv and you get more channels, plus movies on demand and special content. After enjoying it for a few days I was reminded that America has had similar technology for a while, maybe not digital though, in fact I rented a movie on demand back in the late 80’s or early 90’s in New York City. To my recollection it was either something with Hulk Hogan or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Why is Canada behind on these things? And why do companies market their technology as new when it’s been in existence and use for a long time? I don’t mean this about the digital cable but everything.
I watched my friend C give his life to Jesus in the late 90’s. I think 1998 or 1999. At the time he was about 6ft tall and maybe 275+ lbs. (dude if you’re reading this and I’m wrong about your weight, I’m so sorry) I was sitting way at the back and he walked from the very back all the way down the isle during an emotional church service, and fell down on the ground at the alter. He was crying hard. When others saw this they started crying. K brought him to church, I think that was his first time. Later we would be camping in Bancroft and we shared a tent. While I was trying to sleep, my other friend L came into the tent, and her and C chatted the night away. It wouldn’t be much long after that for them to get married, and I stood near him at his wedding as a groomsmen / usher. Fast forward to now, on April 4th I visited that old church again and took photos with C and L and their new baby boy. I held him while they took photos of me to. It was nice visiting with good friends that I haven’t seen for a long time. We all took photos and it was like I was always there this whole time. When God calls you away to do other things, it’s both exciting and terrible. But all in all everything will come full circle, in heaven we’ll all be back together again. The mission takes priority.
When I share the gospel with people, it’s just random people. Sometimes it leads to nothing because a person isn’t interested. Other times it leads to a person converting and living for Jesus, other times it leads to death threats including fists, knives and guns. From drug dealers who lost paying customers to bad husbands who’ve lost their punching bag, not everyone is happy to see people convert and be set free.
I remind myself, the mission takes priority. The mission takes priority.
Most of the missions / giving / church / ministry projects I do turn out very well. I aim for 1 major mission project a year and several small projects each year. If I’m feeling rather rich, I’ll do more, if I’m actually financially poor, I have to cut back and do less, but I always do something – even if it means cutting back, for instance not having a car for a year, cutting the cable, etc.
Some of the major projects can include digging a fresh water well for a village in a 3rd world country or sponsoring a 12 month mission trip. A smaller project would be sponsoring a missionary to go on a 1-2 week trip, making sure they have enough money and supplies to reach as many with the gospel as possible. One of my favorite missions project included this one where a team of missionaries would go into remote villages in India and setup a makeshift portable movie theatre and play a movie called the Jesus Film. It’s a film about the life of the Lord and the purpose is so that many people will give their life to Him. This isn’t as simple as it sounds.
My friend Wiebke went on this one where a cruise ship was converted into a ‘mission ship’. It traveled around parts of the world for 2 years (talk about a long mission trip), and they would play the Jesus film on the side of the massive sea vessel and evangelize in areas that are hard to reach by land alone. She told me about her many adventures. We try to trade stories and hers are usually better than mine. She’s been a missionary since she was born, her family has traveled all over the planet, starting churches everywhere.
Regarding the Jesus Film missions project, aside from the ship, most teams have to carry portable equipment, including a power generator, by bike because there aren’t roads everywhere in the world. They go into remote tribal areas that haven’t been reached before, and the film is voiced over in most languages. People sit on the ground and the picture quality isn’t really good. There are dangers of being kidnapped, raped and killed. We do a small get together when people come back here safely and hear their stories about being spat on, stoned, beaten up, shot at, and sometimes worst. We consider a project successful when people give their life to Jesus and there are positive changes in the community. I get to hear this kind of good news regularly and then I share the good news with my friends. Interesting fact; wherever Christianity spreads, crime goes way down, economic problems go down, suicide, murder, rape, all goes down. Education, health, well being, quality of life all goes up. This can’t be said about other religions or atheism.
On the other hand, sometimes missions projects just don’t work. People take advantage and do their own thing, money goes missing, people misrepresent what they want to do. It doesn’t happen often, these failures are a SMALL percentage but when it happens it hurts everyone and can be discouraging if a lot of hard earned money and TIME was lost. When you are expecting lives to be changed and found out that instead of that – dope was smoked or a new wardrobe purchased or house was renovated, well it makes me furious and discourages everyone. Recently I wasted some valuable time and money on this exact thing, what can I do but say oops and move on?
My rant: When it comes to business I’m old fashioned. Develop a good product or service, and sell sell sell. I don’t like these magic vitamin companies or multi level marketing schemes or businesses that simply make money by recruiting people and have no real product or service. I can’t believe that smart people join up with these things, and I can’t believe they think I’m so stupid that I’ll join up with them. No, I don’t want to sell your magic vitamins. No, I don’t want to recruit for your multi level marketing business. No, I don’t want to pay $500 to sign up for your business venture. LOL. People fail and they want to drag others down with them.
I spent the day with some friends at a gigantic antique shop, which was out in the middle of nowhere. I mean it. There was a large mall sized antique / flea market style shop with over 100 vendors, and beside it a small bakery, and then nothing else for miles. I know this because I purchased a treat from the bakery, then walked a far way in both directions hoping to find something else. So I really had no choice but to spend the day antiquing, since…well they drove me here. There was some really neat stuff though. I was looking for an antique umbrella but couldn’t find one and I bought some nic nacs that I’ll give away the first chance I get.
Last year June – December I didn’t get to do as much missions work as I wanted and that wore heavy on my heart. Don’t get me wrong I always do as much as I can, but this year so far has been the opposite, I’ve clearly made up for all the missions opportunities I missed out on last year.
I sent a soon to be police officer on a life changing mission trip to South America
Helped a small orphanage do some much needed repairs
Participated in the digging of several fresh water wells
Helped a new church
My friends and I live in Malton, and a lot of people here have guns or easy access to guns. Unfortunately this includes teens. Well one day we went to play baseball after work and noticed a bunch of young black teens hanging around watching us, so I invited them to play with us, which they gladly did.
I can understand people carrying around handguns, but some teens carry around sawed off shotguns, and I met one young man who had a grenade. I didn’t bother asking if it was real, because I learned that curiosity killed the cat. Interestingly enough it’s not just males that are armed, females as well! Anyway you know me, each person got an invitation to church – and I’ve witnessed weapons surrendered to local authorities because of a new life surrendered to Christ. Although I can’t share details on everything, (partially because I can’t remember all the details anymore) just last year I participated in a youth event that saw more than 30 firearms handed over to the police.
Every time I write these it’s always late. Why? Because I wait until my day is done first. And my days seem to finish later and later. So it’s March, and I don’t think there will be a Y2K problem. The media went insane and I know several people who prepared for the worst including having emergency shelters in their basement, backup power, months of food and water etc.
My main concern in life is that I don’t become another nobody who does nothing for God and waste my life away, a sentiment that my superiors don’t agree with. Yes, I do a lot of ‘stuff’ but what am I achieving? I’ve been told that it’s not about achieving, but that’s a hard concept to grasp right now.
“We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:11
Usually I try to cut out ‘busybody’ type activities in my schedule so that I can get real work done, but that’s usually not even possible anymore because so many other people control most of my schedule. And when my work depends on someone else work to get done that makes everything worse, at least in my mind.
Recently God has lit a fire in me for missions work. I’ve been doing a lot here in Mississauga and I’ve participated in some really neat projects in the Sudan, Brazil, Ukraine but I want to do more. I think every single person who says they are a Christian needs to get involved in missions in one way or another. It doesn’t have to be “full time or part time” or anything like that. Even an hour a week adds up to big things. That’s all for tonight. – Asif Zamir