loren Eric Swanson: January 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thai Elvis

Our last night here in Thailand before finishing up "To Transform a City" tomorrow, then catching a flight to Bankok. I find myself very grateful for the opportunity to be with such great folks that are intent on changing their communities.

In our hotel lobby every night we have had a Thai Elvis singing until 11pm each night. Tonight I thought I'd film him so you could see just another aspect of how great Thailand really is.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


For the past week I've been in Thailand teaching a class called "To Transform a City." It has really been a lot of fun and also been a great opportunity to be with Andy, Natalie and baby Jenda who is now walking and is cuter than ever! (Below is a picture of Jenda inspecting the "snack bugs" in the open market.). How great do you think it was seeing Ronald McDonald giving the traditional Thai greeting? Then to see a banana choco pie so mushy-chocolaty good that I needed a baby wipe after I ate it. The best food i discovered was "golden mangos over sticky rice." Unbelievably good!


For the past week I've been in Thailand with a very "iffy" Internet connection at the hotel. Thailand is a great country. Liz joined me a couple of days ago so we've both been able to hang out with Andy and Natalie and baby Jenda, who is now walking and absolutely cuter than ever.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mom and Dad in Colorado

For the past week, Liz and I have had the pleasure of having my folks (and my niece Allee--Soph from Chico State) here with us in Colorado and it's been great. They've been nordic stick walking nearly every morning--walking around 2.5 miles. Not bad for 82 years old. Of course we've been doing a lot of eating. My dad is on some type of medication where he can eat every and all of what he wants and still not gain a pound. It's like he has the metabolism of a 16-year-old. It's just been fun having them here. Last night we went to the Avs game. Tomorrow, after watching the Packer game (Dad and Mom are great fans) they will leave for California. Liz leaves for Dallas tomorrow and I'm heading for Thailand so all good things must end.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Going to Jail

Monday I spent a couple of hours with my friend Rick Murphy (on right at our Christmas Eve open house) who is chaplain at a local 1500 person jail facility. Rick greeted me in the reception area and soon we were in the middle of the complex walking down shining tile floors and Rick was introducing me to guards and minimum security inmates. The jail is broken down into 4-5 different wings and each wing has 6 pods, consisting of a bay (open space that has tables, a TV, and beds on the floor for prisoners who don't have cells). Prisoners where different colors of horizontally striped uniforms that differentiate their security level--green for "trustee" all the way to red, for maximum security.

It was time for church so Rick gave the signal to the guards behind the dark glass to open pod 1. He stepped in and announced that church was starting and men started lining up at the door. Each one had to show his ID at the door, Rick greeted each one by name, recorded each name, checked that name against his master list, then said, "You're good to go buddy" and each man went to the ad hoc chapel. Just getting the men from each of the 6 pods took 20 minutes or so.

So, what is church like in jail? It was pretty amazing. As I entered, 18 men were sitting quietly, listening to worship music that was playing on a small boom box. Rick welcomed everyone with a huge smile and told them how privileged he was to be with them. A single sheet of music was passed out and the fellas sang out "The Light of That City" along with the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

In this house we've built of make believe

Loved ones go long before, seems it's time to leave

But we will learn how to grieve, to forgive and receive'

Till we see them there in that city

Span of stars overhead as we walk this road

While this darkness remains, I will bear your load

And together we will tend the seed He's sown

As we walk along the road to that city


On that day we will sing "Holy, Holy"

On that day we'll bow down in the light

And then we'll rise and turn our eyes

To the Lord, Jesus Christ, on that day

Though my eyes can't see what is waiting there

Though my mind can't conceive all that He's prepared

There the blind will see the sun, what was old will be young

And the lame, they will run all over the streets of that city


On that day we will sing "Holy, Holy"

On that day we'll bow down in the light

And then we'll rise and turn our eyes

To the Lord, Jesus Christ, on that day

It was powerful. One thing I noticed. If you look around in church, most guys don't sing. In this jail all but a couple were belting out the lyrics.

Rick asked if anyone had anything to share. Ricky stood up and said that he had come to Christ in September here in jail and he had started a prayer meeting in his pod that week and several were joining him. Another shared about a buddy getting out in time to care for his mother. Rick encouraged the men, "even if you've been a Christian for a couple of minutes" to share the love of Jesus with others.

Rick had prepared a message of hope that day...as he does for every service. Every eye was glued on Rick. Rick frequently told of his own shortcomings and foibles. God was touching lives. Jail seems to be one of those "thin places" the Celts speak of, where Jesus shows up in a special way and he was showing up on that day. The service closed in prayer and with hope and expectation the inmates returned to their pods.

Rick took me around. "There are a bunch of folks I want you to meet." And we met guards and inmates. Lives were being changed.

When Rick and I were with Campus Crusade, Rick was one of the directors I supervised, before he left Crusade to be a church planter. I've seen Rick speaking and leading many times. His heart beats for people to come to faith in Christ and watching him made me think of how good God is to give him such a platform for loving and sharing the gospel.