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The IPM Newsletter

July 3, 2015

Volume 7, Issue 2

Circulation: 356

Remain In Me

As we prepare for the eighth A Tour of Roses project, that will take place in Budapest, I am increasingly aware that whatever we hope to accomplish through this project is far beyond our own abilities.
After every detail that can be foreseen and prepared for has been laid to rest, and we finally board the plane for Hungary, my realization will be, as it has been all along with ATOR, that it is only in humble dependence on God that any fruit will come through this project.
None of us can move mountains, change hearts, open the eyes of the blind, or just stand in a place of mercy and love under the glare of someone’s contempt. All the strength, energy, focus, clarity, anointing, power—and most of all unconditional love—that we need will be available to us as we remain in the vine.
Please keep us in prayer as we gear up to go. Pray for eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to soften before the One who goes before us.

                   Sally O'Connor

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” 

                          —John 15: 4


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Thank you.

                     —Michael & Sally


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My Near Miss First Kiss

by Michael O'Connor


"Have you ever kissed a boy?"
The question, innocent enough, came from our youngest—thirteen-year-old Shannon. We were driving home from church and the thought seemed to have come from nowhere.
"Have you ever kissed a boy? " Shannon asked her twenty-year-old sister, Bonnie. "Or been kissed?" Shannon added.

I was driving and unable to gauge Bonnie's facial expression.
"No," she answered flatly. I could hear the ambivalence in her response. As a child of the sexualized culture she'd been born into her peers might think her a freak if they knew she had never touched lips with a boy or young man at this point in her life.
On the other hand, here was a young woman who had made a conscious choice as a little girl. Bonnie was going to wait and bestow her first kiss on the man she married.
How that plays out in today's world is anyone's guess. Does she wait for her wedding day for that precious kiss? Does she gamble and bestow the blessing on the young man she is certain has been sent from God?
If he turns out not to be The One after all—does she seek out a Catholic priest to have the kiss annulled?
I kept silent for several minutes. It seems Bonnie has been yearning for the man of God she feels has been promised to her, but is also torn by the thought of the world—or at least the parade—passing her by.
I knew all too well the dilemma she was facing. When I was sixteen, and a junior in high school, I faced a moment like she may one day.
I was at a party. It was not a wild party. To this day I'm not sure I've ever been at a party that's escaped its axis and began careening about the neighborhood.
This was a speech party. The attendees were members of the school forensic squad. These were debaters, poetry readers, humorous interpreters. The rest of the school referred to us as speech geeks. (Think band geeks and then move 3-4 rungs down the socially awkward ladder.) How much ruckus could we possibly raise—even if we had known how?
I had been nursing a soda for the better part of an hour. At one point someone got the bright idea to play Spin the Bottle. Today I imagine Spin the Bottle either doesn't exist or they use some exotic appliance as the spinner.

But in 1971 Spin The Bottle still employed, thankfully, a recently-drained Dr. Pepper or beer bottle. Equal parts teenage boys and girls began gathering in a rather large circle. How I got drawn into the mix I'm not sure. It wasn't voluntary. For I had a secret similar to the one my daughter would harbor some forty-four years later.
I had never kissed a girl.
On my 16th birthday my mom brought out my cake which read: "Happy Birthday, Michael—Sweet 16 and Never Been Kissed!"
Looking at the small forest of burning candles I was incredulous. Why not just hire a crop duster to write the words, "MY SON, THE VIRGIN!!!" across the sky? Why would a mother think that highlighting a son's sexual inexperience was something to advertise like Diet Coke or corn flakes?
So whether it was a random debater or just peer pressure that drew me into the circle of saliva, I was aware a potentially embarrassing situation lay just ahead.
The bottle spun and couple after couple walked off to the coat closet with shy smiles or lascivious grins. The circle kept getting smaller until there were just six of us left.
"Do we need a snack run—or more sodas?" I offered with a bit of speech geek desperation. Supplies were fine I was assured almost exactly at the moment the head of the bottle pointed toward me and stopped.
Oh, no. Oh, gosh. Oh, gee. What was I going to do with a girl in a coat closet? Well, I was soon to find out as the bottle was spun a second time to find my "Mystery Date." When it stopped spinning my heart nearly stopped with it.
To say Linda Bridgeman was the prettiest girl at the party would be doing her an immense injustice. So far as I could tell she would be the prettiest girl at ANY party.
Oh, man. Oh, wow. Oh, n-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o . . .
We looked at each other shyly. We had spoken a few times but she was a senior and I was a junior. Junior girls (and lower) went for senior guys but it NEVER happened the other way around. I understood and respected the class barrier that was about to be breached, if only superficially.
A big whoop spread across the room as we both stood up and headed to the Closet of Love. Verbal leering from the guys and sweet "Awwwwww"s from the girls underscored the great divide between the sexes at that station in life.
As we closed the door I gave a big thumbs up and a wink. I sure talked a big game. But I knew there was no way I was going to deliver the goods with The Lovely Linda.

The first thing I noticed in the fairly spacious hall closet was the inordinate number of coats separating Linda and me. A party in November will do that to a fella.
We looked at each other. Or at least where we thought each other was for it was pitch-black in there. I didn't so much have a deer-in-the-headlights look. It was probably more the truck-driver-when-he-sees-the-deer-in-the-headlights-on-a-two-lane-highway facial expression. Had Linda been able to see she would have known I had no idea what I was doing.
Linda seemed surprisingly calm and receptive to her surroundings which included ten coats, two tennis rackets, a bowling ball bag and a life-sized cardboard cutout . . . of me.
"Well, should we get started?" she prodded as she swept past the coats and stood next to me. "We only have a few minutes."

A few minutes? Lifetimes can happen in a few minutes. History can alter irrevocably in a few minutes.
"Get a grip, man," I thought. "There are 1,500 guys at our school who would kill to be in the closet with Linda Bridgeman right now!"
"Well?" she said, as she placed her hand on my shoulder. I looked into the deep pools of her eyes—or at least where I imagined them to be—and realized there was only one course of action.
I whimpered.
"Linda, I need to tell you something."
“O-kaaaaaaaaaaaay . . . "
"I know this probably isn't the best time to bring this up . . . you see . . . I've, uh . . . never kissed a girl before."
"Uh-huh?" She sounded confused but seemed to be encouraging me to finish the thought.
"Well, I always thought the first time I kissed someone would be special. I always wanted the first time to be memorable. And see . . . if we do this now just because those kids out there expect us to . . . well, someday I think I'll probably look back on this moment and think that it was nice and all, but somehow less than it could have been if I'd waited."
"Please believe me, any guy would be lucky to kiss you. Hey, I'd be lucky to kiss you. But if we're doing it because some bottle told us to do it, well, that would be pretty stupid, I think."
Then she did something I did not expect . . . because bursting from the closet and being enraged was what I expected.
She gave me a hug.
Then she said, "I get it. And that's about the sweetest thing I've ever heard. Someday some girl will be lucky to kiss you, Michael O'Connor."
At that moment I was overcome with emotion. A sort of puppy love or at least something from the animal kingdom began moving from my head down to my heart. Something was happening. A connection was being made. Maybe we were going to kiss after all. Maybe that would even be the greatest thing that had ever happened to me.
I remember leaning toward Linda at the exact moment she opened the door and burst out, leaving behind a bewildered young man.
There was another round of obligatory leering from the peanut gallery as she pulled me out by the hand. And then, in front of everyone, she gave me a big, wet kiss on the cheek.

I couldn't take my eyes off Linda the rest of the night. In a short span she had given me a great gift—two of them, actually. She had allowed me to maintain my integrity, my dream of the Perfect First Kiss. And with her patience, her understanding and eventual kiss on the cheek she had bestowed her imprimatur, her Linda Bridgeman Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on a sixteen-year-old boy struggling to find his way with all things romantic.
There are so many ways those four minutes in the closet could have gone, but only one of them could have left the lasting mark that has stayed with me all these years.
So I was able to reflect across several decades and share with Bonnie and Shannon the story of my near-miss first kiss. I hope they understand that even though they live in a time that offers sexualized education in some public schools as early as kindergarten . . . there is no real hurry. I hope, more than anything, they find a way to fight off the idea from television, billboards, Internet films that love is easy, cheap, and free.
Believe me, when it's easy and cheap it's never free.

Hebrews 13:4 tells us "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."
Certainly a harmless kiss, passionate or chaste, does not rise to the level of sexual immorality. Certainly few parents would advocate their children abstain from kissing until after marriage.
When we were going together Sally and I never held ourselves to the stricter standard. When they were age-appropriate we told our children we had fallen short of the Hebrews 13:4 admonition. As non-believers Sally and I hadn't waited. 

But, after coming to faith, we began to better understand the value of what we had so easily discarded for the sake of a moment's pleasure.
We shared with our girls how in so many ways we wish we had waited.
Perhaps that is why our two oldest daughters made early decisions to each wear a purity ring—that piece of jewelry by which the wearer makes the silent statement, "I will practice abstinence until marriage."

              Dusty and Bonnie model their purity rings

Sally and I are proud of the choice Dusty and Bonnie have made of their own volition. We like to think that frank discussions revealing regret over not waiting may have had some effect in their separate decisions. But, in truth, we understand God had the greater hand in their choice to stand apart from the sexual impurity of theirs and a hundred previous generations.
When I think back to those five minutes in the closet with Linda Bridgeman the "guy" in me sometimes kicks himself and wonders "What if . . . ?"
And that’s the battle. Because even though I know in my head and believe in my heart the choice to wait—then and now—is the better of the two roads, the flesh is always present, whispering its siren song just beyond the reef.
The man in me understands now, more than ever, there are some things not only worth fighting for . . . there are some things worth waiting for.
" . . . for God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."
                                                                      1 Thes 4:7

                                  ©Copyright 2015 

Improbable People Ministries


Dear Friends

As we are in the last 3 weeks of preparation for A Tour of Roses – Budapest, your prayers are even more coveted as we take care of all the last minute details here and there. If you want to keep informed before, during, and after the trip, please sign-up for the prayer letter and updates via email. Below is the team list and current itinerary:


Alex Pistyur
Marlys Nunneri
Amalia Lejbowicz
Esther McCartney
Emily Fry
Lauren Seitz
Sally Klein O’Connor

For more information on previous A Tour of Roses projects you can check directly on our website and Facebook pages .

ATOR Budapest Itinerary

June 29 – Monday
5:05PM Alex departs LAX on Lufthansa #453 to Munich, arriving 1:35PM on Tuesday.
June 30 – Tuesday
9:55PM Alex departs Munich on Lufthansa #1682 to Budapest, arriving 11:05PM (Terminal 2A)
July 22 – Wednesday
6:44AM Amalia, Marlys, and Sally depart LAX on United #1817 to Chicago O’Hare Terminal 1, arriving 12:59PM Terminal 1. Departing Chicago O’Hare, Terminal 1 @ 2:15PM on United #944 to Frankfurt, Germany.
July 23 – Thursday
5:45AM Amalia, Marlys, and Sally arrive July 23  at Terminal 1 in Frankfurt, Germany.
7:20AM Departing Frankfurt at Terminal 1 to Budapest on United 9006 (Lufthansa), arriving 8:50AM in Budapest

2000 roses arrive at Jews for Jesus

10AM - Settle into accommodations @ City-Hotel Budapest
11AM - Devotions
Noon – Lunch
(Roses arrive by Noon)
1PM - Clean roses/tie cards
6PM – Dinner
7PM – Clean roses/tie cards
July 24 – Friday
8AM – Clean roses/tie cards
11AM – Worship/roses on the street
1PM – Lunch
2PM – Worship/roses on the street
5PM – Dinner
6PM – Clean roses/tie cards
July 25 – Saturday
8AM – Clean roses/tie cards
11AM – Worship/roses on the street
1PM – Lunch
2PM – Worship/roses on the street
6PM – Dinner
7PM – Clean roses/tie cards
July 26 – Sunday
Roses on the street
5PM – Set-up for concert @ The Grund
Budapest VIII. Nagytemplom street 30.
6PM – Concert @ The Grund
July 27 – Monday
2000 roses delivered
8AM – Clean roses/tie cards
Noon – Lunch
1PM – Worship/roses on the street
5PM – Dinner
6PM – Clean roses/tie cards
July 28 – Tuesday
9AM - Devotions
Free Day
6PM – Dinner
7PM – Clean roses/tie cards (optional)
July 29 – Wednesday
8AM – Clean roses/tie cards
Noon – Lunch
1PM – Worship/roses on street
5PM – Dinner
6PM – Clean roses/tie cards
July 30 – Thursday
(1000 roses delivered)
8AM – Clean roses/tie cards
Noon – Lunch
1PM – Worship/roses on street
6PM – Dinner
7PM – Clean roses/tie cards
July 31 – Friday
8AM – Clean roses/tie cards
11AM – Worship/roses on street
1PM – Lunch
2PM – Worship/roses on street
5PM – Set-up for concert at church
6.00 PM @ Újpalotai Református Missziói Egyházközség
Budapest XV. Száraznád street 4-6.
8PM – Dinner
August 1 – Saturday
8AM – Clean roses/tie cards
11AM – Worship/roses on street
1PM – Lunch
2PM – Worship/roses on street
5PM – Dinner
6PM – Clean roses/tie cards (as needed)
August 2 – Sunday
Prepare the rest of the roses (as necessary)
10AM - Israeli Festival (Jews for Jesus) @ Szent István Park – JOM JESUAH day
A colourful summer festival of Jews for Jesus
5PM – Set-up for concert at Golgota Church
6PM - Evening concert @ Golgota Church/Calvary Chapel
Budapest VII. Erzsébet krt. 13.
9PM – Debrief
August 3 – Monday
9:10 Sally, Amalia, Marlys, and Alex depart Budapest on Lufthansa #5055 (Germanwings), arriving Dusseldorf at 10:55AM.
Departing Dusseldorf @ 12:45PM on Lufthansa #436, arriving Chicago O’Hare Terminal 5 @ 3PM
8:04PM Departing Chicago O’Hare from Terminal 1 @  on Lufthansa #9198 (United), arriving LAX @ 10:31PM

Budapest is 9 hours ahead of Pacific time Zone


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