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13 posts from January 2007

January 31, 2007

Everyone Needs a Mentor

I'm writing so much that I feel like I'm losing my personality. Locked up in a cave somewhere, not taking phone calls, barely checking email, and having major retina burn from looking at a computer screen all day! In the midst of that, God knows just what I need.

Wes Roberts, Wes' blog is here, is someone God has recently sent into my life as a mentor. Just when I need it, here comes Wes with an encouraging phone call, or an uplifting email at just the right time. You know when there are people brought into your life who are 'divinely intersected' for the right reasons? It's like you know they're supposed to be there and they will be there for the long haul. That's Wes in my life. And I'm so thankful for him.

We all need mentors. Many of us have friends, but we need mentors! People we allow to speak into our lives even when some things are hard to hear - because they want to make us better. They have a 'sixth sense' about when to pursue us and give our live a boost just when we need it. We rely upon their wisdom and their love to get us through to the next phase of life.

So, let's practice the "Be the change you seek to produce" model. Need a mentor? First be one to someone else. Call them, encourage them, speak life into them. Be what you need and someone will be what you need!

January 29, 2007

Living in a Community Infected by AIDS

If you do anything today, you need to watch this video from the good people at The Chronicle Project. They're the ones who produced Dear Francis , the film about Swaziland. It's one of the purest expressions of what it means to live like Christ I have ever seen. It also shines the light on what our response should be towards people who have AIDS. I'm in tears and I'm convicted. Go on this journey with this Pastor from Rwanda. You'll be changed at the end.

January 28, 2007

Under African Skies

Dan Snipes is an incredible photo-journalist and a good friend who lives in Southern California. If you'd like to see some of his photography, please click here: Dan Snipes.com. Dan went to Swaziland and South Africa with me this fall along with a group from his home church, Capo Beach Calvary. Check out their webpage and find out more about their Orphan Ministry in Russia and Africa.

Dan has put together and incredible video/slide show I wanted to share with you. You'll be blown away! Enjoy.

January 27, 2007

Shepherd's Keep

With all of the horrible things happening to orphans and children around the world, there are wonderful people doing incredible things! I want to introduce you to two of them. For those of you coming with me to Swaziland in March or June, you will have the privilege of meeting them!

I'll never forget when I met Robyn and Gerry Richter in Swaziland. They are the most wonderful joy filled with people you would ever want to meet. Robyn kept saying, “I'm just a common housewife who wanted to do something to make a difference.” What an incredible difference she has made! She and her husband have saved over 100 babies to date. Just recently, they knew a Swazi mother was pregnant and that she didn't want the baby. They had been keeping an eye on her and a friend saw her go into a house pregnant, and come out not! They ran inside, no baby. They ran outside to find a fresh pile of dirt. They dug down and found the baby alive with the cord still attached!  Here is a bit how they started the ministry in her own words:


In August 1992, an abandoned, 4 month old boy found his way into our home. He was extremely mal-nourished, neglected and deprived. He weighed only 3.4 KGs (7.5 lbs)! As I nursed him back to life, he found a very special place in our hearts and lives. When he was well and gaining weight and the threat of death had been removed from his life, we tried desperately to find a good family to take him in, as at this point we had 3 of our own children and a foster son, to care for.

 

When we realised that there was nowhere else for him to go, we decided to adopt him as our own son. In November 1993, another little, abandoned boy found his way into our home. This one was 12 months old and had been physically abused, also suffering from neglect and kwashiorkor (extreme lack of protein in the diet). After nursing him back to health, we realised that there was nowhere for him to go and so we adopted him as well.


Read the rest and go to their website by clicking here.

January 25, 2007

African Children Accused of Witchcraft

Still plugging away on the book, Red Letters, which is due in a week. Yes, you can pray for me.

Talk about kicking an innocent child when they are down. I was sickened by the information that's in this article. If it's not enough to be orphaned because of AIDS, imagine an innocent 3 year old child being accused of bewitching his parents to death by the people in his own community. To me this is an incredible case of mass ignorance and outright evil. God help our world...


Click here to enlarge image
©    M.Sayagues/PlusNews

It can take years to rehabilitate children accused of witchcraft

LUANDA, 13 Dec 2006 (IRIN/PLUSNEWS) - A three-year old HIV-positive child, who was also suffering from malaria, was accused by neighbours of using witchcraft to kill his parents and abandoned in a coop, where scavenging chickens pecked him, blinding him in one eye.

Other villagers, hearing of his plight, rescued him and turned for help to Rev Horácio Caballero, of the Arnaldo Janssen Centre in the capital, Luanda, but the toddler died while the paperwork was being completed for him to receive medical treatment in Spain.

Reports of children accused of witchcraft are common in parts of northern Angola: between 2001 and 2005, 423 children accused of witchcraft sought refuge at the Santa Child Centre run by the Catholic Church in M'banza Congo, the capital of Zaire Province, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while others fled their accusers, only to end up on the streets of Luanda.
Read the rest of the article here.

January 22, 2007

Kenya's Child Sex Trade Industry

Just received this article from a good friend, Rob Flanegin:

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's idyllic coastline of white sands and turquoise waters belies an alarming child sex industry, driven by widespread acceptance and even approval of the vice, a report said on Tuesday.

Up to 15,000 girls in four coastal districts are involved in casual sex for cash - about 30 percent of all 12-18 year-olds in these areas - according to a joint study by the U.N. children's fund UNICEF and the Kenyan government.  It said a further 2,000-3,000 girls and boys were engaged in full-time sex work, some of them paid to perform the "most horrific and abnormal acts".

Kenyans topped the list of abusers, accounting for 38 percent of the clients, while Italians, Germans and Swiss were the worst culprits among the tourists representing 18 percent, 14 percent and 12 percent respectively.

Read the rest of the article Here.

January 17, 2007

Living a Faith that Bleeds

More excepts from Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds.

"Picture Jesus walking down the streets of Jerusalem. What kinds of things moved his heart? Where was His compassion revealed? I think we can all see where his compassion wasn't aroused. For example, when people had turned His Father's house (which was supposed to be a house of prayer) into what he called a ‘den of thieves.’ The temple was turned into a place of business, a place that glorified human economics and not God. That set Jesus’ righteous anger ablaze. Or what about the time when the so-called teachers of the law decided that the law was more important than the people the law was meant to serve. Seems like I remember him calling them things like whitewashed tombs.

Clearly, what attracted Jesus and received his attention consistently was this: the needs of the poor, the down and out, that handicapped, the orphan, the prostitute, the sick, and the widow in need. 

I think of the man with the withered hand that Jesus healed in Mark chapter 3. Other times he came across large crowds and had great compassion on them. Then He would turn and heal all their sick like in Matthew 14. Over and over again, this is how Jesus poured out his life. What about the woman with the issue of blood? Or the lepers, he healed?  Or His compassion for the adulterous woman? He never did these things as a sense of duty or requirement. It was because his heart was overflowing with compassion for the needs of the people. It's who He was.  He made other men’s sorrows his sorrows and other people’s suffering his suffering. 

And we're supposed to follow in his footsteps.

January 13, 2007

AIDS Is a Serial Killer

To truly understand the devastation AIDS is bringing to Africa, and to our world, you must read this article. These are the kinds of facts that have driven me to write about HIV/AIDS in my new book, RED LETTERS: Living a Faith that Bleeds to be realeased in September of 2007. If this trend continues, AIDS will also detroy the societies of other countries like India, Russia, Ukraine, and China.

Read the article here at USAfricaonline.com. Here's a sample:

"AIDS has become the biggest producer of bereaed families - and the primary cause of death in Africa. AIDS stimagtised funerals add a sad regular rhythm to African life everyday. AIDS is on verge of destroying the productive forces of our society; it will cost the society 26 years of domestic and school age to produce a teacher, doctor or lawyer but it will cost AIDS only six years to destroy them. Children who left when their parents die of AIDS only add another complex dimension to Africa's epidemic, AIDS has created a generation of orphans in Africa."

January 10, 2007

HIV on the Rise in Russia

Russia has the largest HIV epidemic in Europe, and accounts for around two-thirds of the cases in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. There were an estimated 940,000 people living with HIV at the end of 2005 in Russia - up from 760,000 in 2003 - this figure looks set to increase even further.

It is widely acknowledged that Russia's official statistics represent only a fraction of the actual number of HIV infected Russians. Most experts estimate that the true number is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million - or over 2 percent to the population.

Epidemiologists warn that up to 8 million Russians, or over 10 percent of the adult population, could be infected by 2010. The epidemic is growing fastest among young people age 15-30, the same group that should be leading Russia into the 21st century. 

Many times when we think of HIV, we think of Africa. But this plague is killing millions throughout the entire world.

January 08, 2007

Hope for Africa

Tonight, I was watching a special on CNN about Oprah Winfrey. She was started a new foundation called, Oprah's Promise which help to start a school in South Africa helping 150 girls have a great opportunity for a better life. Now, I'm sure she'll be criticized for the extravagance of this place. But honestly, who cares? She's doing a great work. She's helping a lot of kids who would probably be dead in a few years without her love. Frankly, I applaud her work. I'm thankful for what she's doing. I wish there were more people like her. Bravo Oprah. Read more about her foundation here.

To take off from yesterday. What's life like in a place that's been devastated from AIDS? My new book, RED Letters will talk a lot about this, but let's get an idea together:

(1)There are virtually no parents. Ever heard of the term, 'head of household?' Well it's a real deal in Africa. Kids, 10, 11, 12 years old giving up school and a their futures to care for their younger brother and sisters because both parents are dead. They're hero's. As far as I'm concerned.

(2) Kids aren't going to school. Why? Because they have to work and do whatever it takes to feed the rest of the family. In many places, school fees are up over 1000% so even if they could go to school, it's an impossibility.

(3) The traditional understanding of family is gone. Without fathers and mothers, there's no one to care for the children. Children don't have the opportunity to have a childhood. They have to be parents at very young ages. There are no breadwinners. They have to assume that role. Life as they've known it is gone.

(4) There is little food. The AIDS epidemic adds to food insecurity in many areas, as agricultural work is neglected or abandoned due to household illness. In Malawi, where food shortages have had a devastating effect, it has been recognized that HIV and AIDS are fueling the country’s poor agricultural output. 13 It is thought that by 2020, Malawi’s agricultural workforce will be 14% smaller than it would have been without HIV and AIDS. In other countries, such as Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, the reduction is likely to be over 20%.  Read more about it here.

Sadly, this is just the beginning of the tragedy. We can all do something. The question is, "Will we do something?"