Skip to main content


I have recently read Three Cups of Tea, a book about Greg Mortenson and how he failed an attempt at climbing K2, the second highest mountain in the world. I want to find someone whose faith is similar to mine and discuss the book. It's had a strange impact on me.

One of the things that fascinates me about Greg Mortenson is that grew up a missionary kid in Africa. MK's are a unique breed. They are third culture kids. They never really belong to the culture they are from and always seem to stand out in the culture they go to. I loved working with the MK's at the Christian college I worked for and have officially adopted two of them, Chris and David. Chris and David grew up in the jungles of Ecuador. They are two white boys who speak perfect Spanish. One is from Maine, the other is Canadian. They came to a private college in California without a concept of American pop culture. Using lines from movies and television shows popular when they were young are lost on them.

The school I worked for was fortunate to have a couple who were parents and missionaries in Africa. They saw the difficulty of kids coming 'home' and not fitting in. They grow up as outsiders in the culture they are reaching and are citizens of countries they don't understand when they return. The couple started a ministry to help these students. The had a dream and the Lord blessed it. They eventually had a large home they ran as houseparents for MK's who wanted to come 'home' to go to college. Students from all over the world lived in the house and had support as they tried to matriculate in a culture that might as well have been from Mars. Janet and David, the couple with the dream are amazing people. I miss them.

There is a big difference between Greg Mortenson and the MK's I know. The MK's I know are solid Christians. They have their own ministries and continue the Lord's work even though they might not be missionaries in the familiar sense. Greg Mortenson seems to have a finely honed sense of integrity but not a drive to serve God. He is a brilliant and accomplished man who has managed to open more than 50 schools in Central Asia (Pakistan and Afghanistan). What's more he has done it with the blessing and help of the Muslims who live there, even though they considered him an infidel.

Mortenson came very close to losing his life on the failed attempt at climbing K2. He was lost and rescued by locals who extended him hospitality in the Muslim tradition. He was quite taken with the way they lavished what little they had on him. Mortenson was a trained nurse and spent some time helping the villagers with the meager medical supplies he had. A compassionate and respectful man, his heart was broken as he saw the children of the village trying to educate themselves. Their government would not pay for a full-time teacher nor a building to house the young students. That didn't keep the children from going to school and practicing their homework, using sticks to write in the rocky soil. It was the only way they could work on the problems they were assigned when their teacher was there. The contrast between American kids loathing school and doing anything they can to play hooky, and these Muslim kids sitting outside doing their work without a teacher was striking.

A similarity between the MK's I know and Mortenson is the way they understand the abundance available to the majority of Americans. Also shared is the ability to do without things. A greater sense of need vs. desire is theirs which is something we privileged Christians could all stand to learn. Mortenson promised his rescuer host that he would return and build a school for the children. Three Cups of Tea chronicles Mortenson's adventures as he keeps that promise and makes many, many more.

I can't help but to marvel at the way God has orchestrated this. Greg Mortenson's failure to climb K2 has launched the opportunity and legacy of a lifetime. No doubt his early years as an MK in Africa gave him the skills and abilities to embrace his hosts and appreciate their cultural differences. He also watched his father build teaching hospitals in Africa, so he had perseverance and vision modeled for him. I have such mixed emotions regarding the successes of Mortenson's work. Lives are being changed because of educational opportunities now available to the children who have benefited from the schools Mortenson started. At the same time eternal opportunities are being missed as souls are being lost to hell. But...miracles have occured that have allowed Mortenson's dream of making a difference come true. I don't know what to make of it all. Part of the reason Mortenson has been so successful has been his respect of Islam. At the same time that respect and his apparent lack of faith in the sufficiency of Christ renders Mortenson useless in the eternal scheme of things. It is a conundrum only God can sort out. I just wish I had a solid Christian with whom to discuss the book.

Isaiah 55:8-98 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.9 "For {as} the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 115:33 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.(NAS)


Mike Pitzler said…
I'm not sure I'd read the book, rozie, but it's true that everyone wants the things of this world, some sort of peace in this world. The kids want to succeed. Mortensen wants meaning. No one wants God, and God saves whom he will. It is sad, isn't it?

Popular posts from this blog

Procrastination- Propaganda- Profundity

When I am studying something that bothers me, I do just about anything I can to stall. In doing so I stumble upon a lot of odd information. I love history and any student of history will tell you that most everything we are familiar with has had an odd beginning. Sometimes there will be different odd stories regarding the genesis of a myth, folkway or idiom. Somewhere in the mix the truth can be found. You just have to look.

While I lived in Australia I went to a visit a little town on the Murray River called Echuca. Echuca has a wonderful history and boasts the largest collection of paddle steamers in the world. It also has a coach house and carriage museum. It was during my visit to the carriage museum that I was told the origin of the expression to 'drop off to sleep.' According the docent, the carriage cheap seats were the ones outside and on the back. You had a platform to sit on and a rope or rail to hang onto for dear life. During a long trip a poor unfortun…

Sleep Snorkel Surprise

Summer colds. Blech! Is there anything more annoying that being too hot and having your nose run like Bridalveil Fall? Probably but nothing comes to mind right now. My nose is red and raw from all the sneezing and blowing and I have been using Puff's. Imagine if I had some generic sandpaper tissue instead? I could probably die from the pain. Death by runny nose rough tissue rhinoplasty.
I went to bed very early last night because I was feeling miserable. I have sleep apnea and therefore sleep with a bipap machine that keeps from crumping in my sleep. Now, I love my little bipap machine. I got it after my near death experience a few years ago when the nurses in the ICU turned me in to the doctor because I never slept. Once I was released from the hospital they sent me for a sleep study. I had to do it twice because they wait for you to fall to sleep and monitor your breathing in order to decide if you need a machine. Generally they try different types of machines and differe…

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome / Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder FAS/FASD and the Need for Biblical Counseling Material

On January 31, 2008, I wrote a post on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FAS/FASD).  That was nearly six years ago. A lot has happened in our world during those six years. I honestly expected to find some biblical counseling information on FAS/FASD.  Unfortunately, among those who are foremost in providing resources for biblical counselors; those who publish scholarly articles in the Journal of Biblical Counseling; provide resources for NANC, and write books that help us look at the problems in our lives through a biblical lens,  there has yet to be an article, sermon or book written specifically on how to help someone with FAS/FASD.  I am hoping using their information will lead them to this article and they will consider changing this. We need material on FAS/FASD from a biblical perspective.

Recently I have been contacted by a couple of different people who stumbled upon my blog looking for biblical counseling resources specific to parenting children with…