Category Archives: God and Love

Malaki Eoin MacAllister – What’s In A Name?

As some of you know, poor dear Malaki was born without a name.  We had a girl name picked out, and the boy names narrowed down to a select few.  Amanda was concerned about not being prepared with a boy name, but I reassured her that if a son did pop out, the sight of his face would strike us with inspiration, and we would instantly know what his name was destined to be.

…But that didn’t happen.  So there we were, confined to our recovery room prison, unable to leave until we bestowed upon this newborn the single most important gift all parents must give their child, the gift that can be a child’s pride or shame for the rest of his life: his name.  And boy, was Amanda mad at me.

But enough with the melodramatic narrative.  You want to know what Kai’s name means!

The name “Malaki” started as a joke.  Malaki MacAllister has such fun consonance, but we thought it too superstar-sounding to be practical.  But Amanda really liked the nickname “Kai” (the Hawaiian word for “ocean”) and although we thought Kai by itself would be a little too bland, wanted something that could be shortened to that.  We considered Mordecai, even Chimera.  But we kept coming back to the name that just rolls off your tongue – Malaki MacAllister.

In the two days following Kai’s birth, while we were still searching for a name, my mother, grandmother, and Amanda all independently suggested the name “Ian.”  It wasn’t something I was particularly attached too, but thought it interesting that it kept coming up in conversation.  Additionally, my mother suggested the name Jonathan, a name she had considered for me before I was born.  Another name that didn’t exactly pop out at me.  I wanted something exotic, but also meaningful.  My grandpa MacAllister has gathered amazing records about the genealogy and history of his family, and had sent me a huge packet of documents and charts.  As baby and mommy were sleeping in the hospital one night, I was going through the Clan MacAlister information when I found the name of one of our ancestors, Eoin Dubh, from which our Gaelic clan title is derived: Mac Iain Duibh.  Looking into the name Eoin further, I found that the modern-day pronunciation is “Ian” (“Owen” is also commonly used).  I also found that the name is the Gaelic form of “John,” as in St. John, and means “God’s grace.”  Having found a name that was beautifully spelled, exotic, significant in our family, pronounced “Ian” and meaning “John” – I knew I had found what I was looking for!

Amanda was happy with “Eoin” as well, but we both quickly agreed that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the boy’s first name – too many potential mispronunciations, one of the worst being Éowyn, the shieldmaiden of Rohan.  So we decided to go with Malaki after all.  Our spelling of Malaki was still up in the air, however.  The traditional spelling, “Malachi,” is also the spelling of the book of the Bible (and the name of the prophet that the book is about).  But mispronunciation seems likely with this name as well, and we thought the spelling with a ‘K’ was a bit safer.  Also, I found that I just don’t like the letter ‘H,’ so best to get that out of the name altogether.  And we even found out that “Malaki” is the Hawaiian spelling of the name Malachi.  Our family cruise in the Hawaiian islands this summer was an important experience for us, so we thought that was a nice touch too.  And that’s how we arrived at Malaki Eoin MacAllister.

Finally – one last tidbit.  Kai’s initials are MEM.  I figured I would Google the acronym and search for any hidden meaning there.  My findings?  Mem is the thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and signifies “water.”  13 is Amanda’s lucky number, and I love swimming in the ocean!  Coincidence?  I’m sure it is.

Defending My Beliefs

My sister wrote to me late one night about a difficult discussion she had with someone at college.  This person was a former Christian, and he was arguing that there is no way to know that the Bible is truly inspired by God.  As this is a topic I’ve struggled with myself, I felt that my response was worth sharing.

I think that’s one of the most challenging (and scariest) aspects of our faith – apologetics. Having faith in God is a personal and intimate thing that we can’t always explain well in words, and exposing that to someone who is critical of it can be very crushing. Also, I don’t think the types of churches we were raised in do a good job of preparing us for that sort of defense.

Different people of faith believe for different reasons, and the reason you believe may not hold any water for the person you’re talking to. For example, some people are more logical, and have faith because there is good evidence that the events of the Bible took place, and that Christianity makes sense as a whole (in terms of the purpose for our lives, among other things). Others believe because of events they’ve experienced or emotions they’ve felt (often times the Spirit working through them).

It sounds like the person you talked to is more interested in the logical side of things. He’s right, there’s no way to know for sure that the Bible is God’s word. But like I said before, there is lots of corroborating evidence to back up the events in the Bible, ESPECIALLY those surrounding Jesus. Also, another point that I find particularly convincing is the fact that pretty much all of Jesus’ early followers were persecuted and executed. None of these guys would have committed their lives to spreading the Gospel if they weren’t totally convicted. And we do know historically that these guys died for the Gospel. Now sure, people die all the time in the name of Islam or other religions, but those people don’t claim to have met God directly; they’re simply convinced by others that they will receive rewards in heaven. But the apostles saw Jesus do amazing things in front of them, THEN died to tell other people about it.

Now personally, all this evidence can be convincing, while still not being life-changing. There has to be a reason for me to care about any God at all, before I ponder what God or religion I believe to be right. Romans 2:14-15 says that all people, even nonbelievers, have the law [a way of living right with God] imprinted on their hearts. This is felt in the conscience, in compassion and love and respect. I really believe that people are made to seek understanding of a higher power and a higher meaning. If we were all just evolutionary biological entities, then how do emotions, love (the feeling, not the response to it), the search for meaning in life – how do these further enable us to perform our biological functions – to survive and reproduce and evolve? The screenwriter who was giving a talk yesterday said that Richard Dawkins, a famous “atheistic evangelist,” once said, “The Universe doesn’t owe you any meaning.” This makes a lot of sense from an atheistic point of view, but if that’s the case, then why does EVERY human being seek to find a meaning? Wouldn’t we have evolved without that supposedly fruitless impulse to search for the answer to life, the universe, and everything?

When Googling that topic I found this page: http://www.asktheatheists.com/questions/636-if-there-isnt-a-god-why-do-i-feel-as-though-life-has-meaning This page makes me very sad. Most of the atheists’ responses end up saying, “I’d rather make my own meaning than have a god tell me what to do.” The things they mention that can be their own meaning, educating people, understand things, inventing things, these are all such small aspects of the greater meaning God gives us – to exist in a meaningful relationship with Him and other people and creation. None of the stuff they mention matters in and of itself. Who cares if you invent something in a godless world? You might get a little respect for a while, then you die, and it doesn’t matter anymore. The reason that this page makes me so sad is that these atheists don’t have convincing reasons for not believing in God – they just have a resistance to obeying a demanding god that doesn’t exist in the first place!

So, I hope this is a little helpful and encouraging. Don’t feel bad if you weren’t able to think of good points during your discussion – I find it very hard to defend myself in a discussion setting without much time to think. If you want to read more of what I think, you could check out my “Why I Believe” page on my blog. It probably duplicates some of the points I discussed here.

Kenya Mission Trip

01Our trip to Kenya was a spectacular experience. One of the things I cherish most from this trip is the diversity of the people involved. We four Americans were joined by a number of Kenyans during our trip. Three Kenyans in particular traveled with us almost the entire time: Joseph the pharmacist, Amos the lab technician, and Frida the nurse. Each of these Kenyan friends of ours were from different tribes and backgrounds, and the diversity of our team reflected the differences we witnessed in the people and places we were introduced to along our way.

Arrival in KenyaAfter three long flights and twenty four hours of travel, our trip started early Monday morning with a stop at an established and thriving dispensary (medical clinic). This clinic in Murengeti was so successful, in fact, that they even had a computer for their record keeping! The computer was not well utilized, and frequent power loss rendered it unreliable, but this was the only dispensary we visited that had a working computer system.

20090302_0635451After visiting Murengeti, we spent the rest of the day working with a nurse at Uplands, another working dispensary. This is also where we picked up Amos, the lab technician. The patient load was light, so we left early and stopped at the girl’s orphanage in Limuru. This orphanage was built through the partnership of the Los Ranchos (America) and Limuru (Kenya) Presbyteries over the past few years. It’s operating now, and the girls there love to have visitors! When we arrived, swarms of girls grabbed each of us and dragged us to different areas of the school yard. They called us “Uncle” and “Auntie.” They braided Amanda’s hair, swung from my arms, and taught us all sorts of songs and dances that we didn’t understand. After a while of singing, we sat down in the grass. But the girls wanted me to swing them around again, and they started asking me, “Uncle, wake up!” I figured out that they were saying that to get me to stand up, but it was quite confusing at first!

20090302_063323 20090302_055910 20090302_071809

Kenya Medical Mission Trip Introduction

Amanda and I have been asked to lead a small medical mission team to Kenya, Africa. After much prayer and discussion, we’ve decided to accept the challenge. The team will consist of five Americans: Amanda the physician assistant, a lab tech, a physical therapist, a nurse, and myself as the non-medical leader. We will also pick up three medical personnel from Kenya when we arrive, who will tour with us. Our goal is to travel between medical dispensaries that have already been established in the bush, and to oversee and train the staff that has been hired there. We will be leaving for Kenya on February 28th, and returning to the States on March 15th.

You may remember that Amanda traveled on a similar but larger trip to Kenya in 2007. One of the goals of that trip was to help establish medical clinics (dispensaries), by setting up the facilities and training the staff. Like that trip, this one is handled through the Presbytery of our home church, Geneva Presbyterian. Our Presbytery has a policy that any mission funded by them must be self-supporting in 2-3 years. In line with that policy, our objective is to further the training of the dispensary staff, to help them to become more autonomous. We will also be establishing two additional dispensaries to ease the burden of the existing facilities.

As the medical leader of the team, Amanda will be spearheading the training of the nurses and clinical officers who work there. Though Kenyan patients are often eager to be seen by American health care professionals, we hope that most of the medical team’s time can be dedicated to working directly with the permanent Kenyan staff.

My (Jason’s) role will be more administrative. I will be in charge of overseeing our transportation between sites, communicating with the tribal chiefs about their people’s needs, and handling whatever I can to allow the medical personnel to focus on their specialties.

Amanda and I have long known that overseas mission work would be a major aspect of our lives. What we haven’t been certain about is the extent to which we would be involved in missions. We see this upcoming trip to Africa as an excellent chance for us to test our planning and leadership abilities in the field, and as a guide for measuring the extent to which the Lord can use us in this particular area of service and evangelism.

We would love for you to be involved in this trip as well. We’ve witnessed the power of prayer in our own lives, and know that your prayer can have a significant impact on our mission. Please pray for our safety, and for the success of our trip. (Our definition of success often varies greatly from the Lord’s, so by this I mean whatever furthers God’s plan in the lives of those we are serving.) And most of all, please pray that God would be honored in everything we do there.

Of course, a trip of this proportion brings with it a heavy financial challenge as well. If you would like to make a monetary contribution to help cover the cost of the flight, lodging, and other expenses, you can send a check made out to ?Geneva Presbyterian Church,? and the memo should read ?Kenya ? MacAllister.? All donations are tax deductible, and will go directly toward covering our expected cost of $3000 ($1500 per person, after deducting the amount our church’s mission commission has donated). Please do not feel obligated to donate. Even in this uncertain economic time, I have no doubt that the Lord will provide for this trip.??

We thank you for having a positive impact in our lives. And thank you for your help in serving the Lord. For Jesus said, ?I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.? (Matthew 25:40). The Kenyans are by no means the least among us, but the poverty and sickness in their lives offer an amazing opportunity to noticeably improve the lives of many people!

In Christ,
Jason and Amanda MacAllister

Kenya Mission Trip Slideshow

Kenyan Children Playing

Mark Chapman and I made a slide show of pictures from the Kenya Missions Trip that Amanda just got back from. The slide show was shown in all three Geneva services today. If you haven’t seen it yet, or would like a copy for yourself, you can view/download it here. It’s about three minutes long, and 7 MB.

Also, Amanda still plans to upload lots of her own pictures that she took during the trip. We just have to sort through the 600 pictures available. Look for that soon!

Amanda in Kenya!

Amanda is now in Kenya, Africa for a two-week mission trip. I’m sure she’ll have tons of amazing stories and pictures when she gets back, but in the meantime, you can keep (somewhat) up-to-date with the trip by following along with their blog. They seem to update it semi-regularly, so check back often! Or set up an RSS feed, like that amazing Chris Owens fellow does.

A Busy Easter

So the daily update idea is out. No matter, I know you still love me. Here’s the deal with my work schedule lately.

I was planning to go on a mission trip to Mexico with our church high schoolers April 9-14. To do this, I had to get my current porting project done by then. I put forth a lot of effort and hours to get it done by the Friday before, but I wasn’t able to wrap it up. I thought I might finish mid-week and be able to drive down for the latter half of the trip, but I ended up working 12+ hours Thursday through Saturday to get everything done in time. Then Sunday night I found out that there were more bugs, so I had to go in at 10 to get things ready for the morning QA crew. Amanda came in and helped with some of the fix-testing, which enabled us to get done more quickly. By Monday at 2 we finally delivered. So now I’m taking today (Tuesday) off for a little recovery time.

So as you can imagine, I didn’t have much of an Easter holiday. However, we did take some time for church and a gift exchange. We went to a church service that combined the regular contemporary and traditional services, and it was great to sing classic hymns and modern worship songs back-to-back with the choir and worship band. It was our first major holiday without any family, though, and that was rather depressing. (Of course St. Patrick’s Day is a major holiday, Dad, but we had Chris here for that, and he’s almost family.) Here’s some pictures from our celebration of the Lord’s resurrection:

Professional Photos!  Yippee!AaaawwwwEaster BountyEaster Liliesimg_3888.JPGGift HuntGetting Warmer?Found It!

What Does Christianity Have to Offer?

Tonight I had an important revelation, with the help of the brothers at my men’s Bible study. Gabe pointed out that the Christian life is not usually a “happier” life than a non-believer’s, and that we’re foolish if we try to share the Gospel by convincing people they will be more satisfied with Jesus in their lives. So I wondered aloud what benefit we can offer to those who don’t know the Lord, if knowing Jesus will likely make their lives more difficult through persecution, struggle, and sometimes even disdain. After some more discussion, I found the answer. We’re not salesmen, trying to convince people that they need what we’re selling. Rather, everyone has the need to know the Creator and to be loved by Him. God designed us that way. That need is more evident in some than in others, but everyone is searching. This search comes in a thousand forms; in the search for love, or purpose, or understanding, or healing. The search for success, or the search for knowledge. Everyone is born with the question. Our purpose is merely to point them toward the answer.

Christianity Across Countries

I learned this in a youth leadership conference hosted by Group Magazine, and I thought it was fascinating. In Britain, only 8% of people attend church weekly. Fewer than 10% of British children attend Sunday School. Compare that to the 45% of Americans who weekly attend church. Also of interest is that 95% of Americans say they believe in God. So why do we hear so much about people wanting to keep religion out of our courtrooms, our Pledge of Allegiance, our schools? Anybody have any thoughts on that?

Why Were We Created?

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

James 2:14

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10