- World Vision http://www.worldvision.org/#/home/main/christmas-gift-catalog-items-1-1271 World Vision is probably one of the most well known and largest Christian humanitarian organizations there is and they do great work. While you may know them for their sponsor a child program or their relief work, they do SO much more than that. Poke around their website and see if something doesn’t stir your heart.
- Stop Child Trafficking Now http://www.sctnow.org This organization fights child sex trafficking within the US by going after and convicting the predators. To understand more about the magnitude and frequency of child trafficking in the US click on one of the news links under “”Latest News” on the right hand side of the page.
- Freedom Firm http://www.freedom.firm.in/ This organization rescues female child sex slaves in India. Read one of the girls’ stories and you’ll probably start to cry.
- Hope of the Nations http://www.hopeofthenationstz.org/casey-finch/ My dear friend Casey Finch is a missionary for Hope of the Nations in Tanzania and you would not believe the things she has done and experienced, you would be amazed at the spiritual warfare she has encountered, and you would be awestruck at the lives changed because of God working through her. Please pray for her.
- Charity Water http://www.charitywater.org/ Charity water is an awesome and necessary organization that drills water wells in villages in developing countries so the people can have access to clean water that won’t make them sick or kill them.
- African Children’s Choir http://africanchildrenschoir.com/ Yes, this is the amazing, famous, made-me-cry-for-a-half-an-hour-before-I-could-get-a-grip-on-myself African’s Children’s Choir. The money raised by this choir, comprised of some of the neediest children in their respective countries, goes to fund or help fund quality schools and orphanages in seven different countries in Africa, giving superb, free, educations all the way through the University level. The kids at these schools represent the hope and future of Africa.
- Ascent Ministries http://ascentbase.org/ My friends Jeff and Natalie (married) are a part of this ministry. They voluntarily live in a house they bought inner city Kansas City surrounded by gangs. There, they primarily minister to the young men around them. Jeff is a volunteer football coach at the local high school where he reaches out to many of the young men on the team, after school a lot of the neighborhood guys come to hang out at their house just to be in a safe, peaceful place where they will be loved. It is dangerous, but God is protecting them and the stories they share in their quarterly updates have God’s fingerprints all over them. I write all of this b/c their website does not share this, perhaps to protect the people they are ministering to.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
My Grandpa Will died August 22nd, 2010. He was 77 years old. He led a good life here on earth. His current, and permanent, residence is in Heaven where he is happily and energetically praising God night and day. The following are my unedited thoughts upon my grandpa's death.
I don't think I have very many memories of my grandpa. Perhaps if someone told me about something that happened, then I might remember it, but I can’t remember on my own. I do remember, vaguely, going to his seed corn warehouse once, riding with him on his riding lawn mower, and playing baseball with him once or twice when he was in good health. Of course, every Christmas we would get together and I remember how he always had food on his chin while eating the Christmas meal, how he always started opening his presents first before the kids could even have a turn, and how he was always the first to be ready to go home, as if he and grandma were in some kind of a real hurry. I also remember that when you’d shake his hand he would grip your hand very tightly. Is it pathetic that I call that a memory? I’m sorry, but I cannot remember much else. It is not his fault. For the past eleven to twelve years, after his brain aneurism, he’s been without much of his original personality. There was never seemed to be much to talk with him about. If I asked him a question, I may get a one-word answer back. If I asked him a question about selling seed corn or farming, perhaps I’d get a sentence response, but I didn’t know anything about these subjects so there wasn’t a lot I could think to ask him. If I asked him how he was doing, his automatic response was “Good, and you?” I don’t remember if I answered back “good” or if I took the time to tell him what was going on in my life. I hope I would have done the latter.
Apparently before his brain-bleed he was more interested. He’d watch the news, go to the college football and basketball games, and go to my cousins’ baseball, soccer, and basketball games, but after, it seemed he lost interest in all that. Perhaps that’s why he never came to one of my high school or college tennis matches. Perhaps he also didn’t come because he didn’t understand tennis and therefore it wasn’t exciting for him. I did live over and hour away from him, and he was never the type to leave his small town to go to the “city,” perhaps that is why.
For my grandpa’s memorial service my mom asked me to read something she had written. It was kind of like a poem of memories with every line ending in “you were there.” I found it ironic that I was reading something that proclaimed how my grandpa was “always there” yet I remembered so little of him. When was he there? Several people told me at the visitation or after the memorial service how he had been there for them and for my family. I’m glad he had been there, and it made me feel good about my grandpa to hear it. People flew in from all over the place to come for the funeral; my grandpa must have meant a great deal to them. Still, despite my mom’s memories, despite people’s praise, despite the large number of people that came to honor my grandpa and hug my grandma, I could not reconcile how he could have “been there” for me, his granddaughter. But then, a half hour before the memorial service, as I was nervously rehearsing what my mom had written, I began to realize how he had really been there for me all along and, in a way, continues to be there for me. The second to last line of my mom’s poem reads something like “When we needed a father to pray for us and our families, you were there, on your knees each and every night.” Apparently, a few months before his death, my mom had asked my grandpa if he had been praying for his family when she had seen him kneeling at his bedside every night as she grew up. His brief answer was a swift, “You bet.” There is no doubt in my mind that my grandpa and his prayers are in part to thank for my wonderful family. I am enormously blessed to have the family that I have. My grandpa’s faithful prayers have helped to shape our lives thus far, and his prayers will continue to go with us now and in the future. In this sense, he really will be “always there.” Thank you grandpa for always being there for me even when I didn’t realize it. Thank you that even though we didn’t always have a lot to talk about, your love was always with me.
I love you,
Thank you for my family! Thank you for my grandma and grandpa, for my aunt and uncle and cousins, for my mom and dad and brother, for my husband Scott, and for Scott’s family. You have blessed me greatly!!!! Thank you. Please be with us all, let us come into your presence and rest, may we not be too prideful and refuse to give you our burdens to carry, may we know and experience your infinite love and your peace. Let us have teachable hearts so that we can learn from your wisdom and follow your ways. Let us serve one another humbly, love each other selflessly, support and encourage one another, and forgive each other readily. Let us live in peace as far as it depends on us. Thank you. I pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
"Sin? Me? No, not often, not in a 'bad' way anyway. I am a 'good' person after all." That is what I normally think, and that is why, in my "heart of hearts," I am jaded to the wonder of the cross. I don’t think I’m all that bad. When a youth group of the church that I attended in my hometown asked random people in a coffee shop if they thought they were a “good person,” almost everyone said yes, with a few people that identified themselves as Christians saying “no.” If we think we are good, then we have no need for a savior and Jesus doesn’t make sense. At most you might think it is noble of him to sacrifice himself for others, offering himself as the perfect atonement for everyone’s sins since he led a sinless, perfect life. You might tip your hat to that, say “thank you kindly sir” and be on your way. I’m guilty of it. I’ve known it for a while. I can praise and thank God for my life and the people in it, I can praise him for each breath he gives me and I have no problem doing it sincerely. What I can’t do is begin to understand the greatest gift God has given me in my salvation until I understand the gravity of my sin (and the sin of humanity in general).
The other night I saw the movie “The Green Mile” for first time and wow did it move me. I couldn’t go to sleep that night because my mind was still whirling from the movie. In the movie, the character of John Cauphy (not sure if I’m spelling the last name right, all I know is that it is “like the drink, only spelled different”) is on death row accused of raping and murdering two little girls, however (Spoiler!) he is wrongfully accused. John is blessed, or perhaps cursed is a better word, with two amazing gifts: he can heal people by momentarily taking the sickness/evil upon himself and suffering before “coughing” it up, and he can also see into people’s hearts and know what they’ve done. The movie does a great job portraying the wickedness that exists in man and when John says he has had enough of this world you understand why. When Tom Hank’s character (the death row guard) asks John Couphy if he should let him escape or proceed with the execution, John says he will be executed and he is ok with it, in fact it would come as a relief to him. You get the sense that John is a lot older than he appears to be, and the hurts and pains caused by evil that he has witnessed and taken upon himself grieves him terribly and has worn him down. It is when John explains the pain that other humans have caused that I began to understand my own sin and the necessity of Jesus. Jesus too was wrongfully accused. Jesus too died in place of other peoples’ sins. Jesus bears the hurt in pain of everyone as a compassionate and loving God. Jesus, as the Living Word, has been around for eternity and has seen more injustices and felt more pain than we can imagine.
The thing that I realized is that I, as a sinner, hurt Jesus too. Whenever I sin I rarely only hurt myself. Is it possible to sin and only hurt yourself? Often I will hurt others with my pride, by being judgmental, by being bitter, with my selfishness, etc. I am so guilty. Even though I may not have physically committed a terrible crime in the world’s eyes, like murder, there have been times when I’ve been so angry and frustrated I have thought some terrible things in my fit of rage. In the Bible, Jesus says that thinking things is just as condemnable as doing them. (Matthew 5). The Bible also makes it clear that your sin is not relative to other people’s sins. For example, I might think that I am not that bad of a sinner because I have never done anything thing “really bad” like murder, stealing, adultery, etc. but that would be comparing my sins to other people’s sins and you can always find someone who is “worse.” Instead, our sins are relative to God’s holiness, which thus makes every sin about the same in severity because the amount that they are separated from God is infinitely farther then they are separated from themselves (if they are indeed separated). When we understand just how far we are from God’s holiness, then we can understand more of God’s love and what an amazing thing Jesus did for us on the cross. How do we understand the difference between God and ourselves? Study the Bible. The more I read the Bible/the Word of God/what Jesus personified, the more I see my own flaws. It isn’t fun always, but it does bring me closer to God, humbles me, and allows me to praise God even more.
If you can’t see your own sin, deny it, make excuses for it, then you are deceiving yourself, as well as harming yourself (though you may be too stubborn to realize it). “5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” 1 John 1:5-10
With confession comes healing. With the beginnings of understanding the cross, comes the start of a great adventure--with a happy ending. ;)
“1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-
18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.”
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
We also got to do medical ministry with our doctor. Below is a picture of the line of people waiting to see the doctor. He was able to see about 120 patients everyday for 5 days. People would start forming a line at 5 am just to see Doctor Len who comes at 9am after morning devotions, worship, and chai. The team and I would also hike everyday to more remote villages surrounding Igalula. Sometimes we hiked two hours to get to our destination, preached and did door to door, then hiked two hours back. But their was so much fruit. I really enjoyed talking to many people outside their house about my love for Jesus. “For the love of Christ compels us…” –2 Corinthians5:14.I even got to sit down with a group of Muslim men and tell them that I loved them and that Jesus loves them as we sipped some coffee. We had some pretty interesting conversations. And many people gave their lives to Christ. We brought around 50 bibles to the village. The problem is they still need so much more. Many Christians there will go their whole lives without bibles. Even pastors and leaders in the church don’t have bibles. So, they always remind us to bring bibles with us when we visit. And they cherish the Word. When we gave a bible to a Muslim man who heard about Jesus he sucked it into his chest and held it against his heart, thanking us. It was so cool to see. Please pray for the Word of God to spread in this place. Igot to talk with a man named Fanwel and Imanuel about Jesus. They still weren’t sure if they believed the whole Jesus story so I continued to visit them. Finally one day Fanwel told me he was ready to receive Jesus, so he and his wife prayed with me. Pray for him too. I’ll never forget his beautiful smile.
Above are some mamas we met on our walk. Left is a creek we had to cross to get to the villages Rukoma and Buhingu to preach. I am standing with my friend and translator Rashidi.
At night we were able to bring a small generator and projector to show the movies: Passion of the Christ, Jesus film, Muslim testimonies of dreams of Jesus, and a testimony of AIDS. It was so amazing to see 300 people come out to stand for two hours and watch these films. They have never seen a TV in their life, let alone a big screen movie of the Passion. Here is a picture of Harold and Gabriel the translator leading people in prayer. Many many people prayed to receive Jesus that night as Gabriel translated. Thank God! Pleasepray that they will get connected to a church and continue to learn about Jesus. These villages were “spiritual warzones”. We would hear drums beating at night in the distance as we lay in our tents. These were drums the fishermen would beat at night. They like to use witchcraft to help them catch fish and they were calling the spirits to come. Then we would wake up in the middle of the night to the Mosque’s call to prayer. Also, many homes in the village have a tiny little grass hut in the backyard. These are supposedly homes for their spirits to live. Needless to say we prayed a lot, and God moved powerfully. Then Casey continued to write what I've posted above.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
August 22, 2009 10:20 AM
Enjoyed this Aaron. And then going the next step you suggest of the challenge to "Run to Jesus", can be a real dagger, and I believe is, for many us who confused running to the religion of Christianity versus Jesus. One runs to the things surrounding Jesus (religion) and not Him (relationship), ends up in a worse situation than before. Trying to substitute one form of sedative (accomplishments, thrill, numbing of pain, etc) with another sedative (religious activity, ritual, traditions, cultural interpretations of Christ, etc) only serves to scream to us of worthlessness and emptiness. And how easy that is to confuse. The more I seek Jesus himself, the more I am both at peace and challenged - and it is all good. The more I seek things claiming to represent Him, the more I am frustrated and disheartened - and even more so inclined to wonder what life is all worth. Thnx for your words and they are a reminder this morning to run to Him alone, and not the things that are man made images of him. Appreciate your efforts amidst his body to point people to the living and satisfying Bread.