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8 posts from January 2008

January 31, 2008

Hello Again from Swaziland

It took me twenty minutes to load my blog page, but I am determined! Hello to everyone and thanks for the many prayers and inquires from all of you - it is appreciated more than you know. Obviously, my heart is full with so much to tell you about our trip. Every single person who has traveled with us is changed forever. The suffering, the lack of basic necessities, the death and disease, have all been a tremendous load to bear.

We have driven all over Swaziland and spent time at numerous carepoints. One of the highlights for me, was too see Pastor Themba's carepoint.  This is the one we visited as a family in June where people were literally starving to death. Orphans are everywhere because the area has been decimated by AIDS. It was wonderful to see the kids eating everyday and a the shell of a building that has gone up and will be completed. This will serve as a church, training center for education and HIV counseling, food storage, library - an all purpose building in every sense of the word. This place is truly an "Oasis in the Desert," and we have visions for a well, gardens, school, playground and kitchen. This place is a beacon of hope for the people which reveals to them that God has not forgotten and that there is hope.

I must admit that seeing children suffer and die in the dirt, literally, is a very difficult thing. Their life or death comes from what we share with them from the crumbs on our table. For all of you sponsoring churches and individuals, I want to thank you for your faithfulness. The life change that is occuring because of your love is indescribable. A little goes a long way here and our efforts are working. This is an investment that will yield HUGE returns in the Kingdom of heaven.

The needs continue to press in on every side. The more people realize that we are faithful, keep our word, and deliver real help, the more they are running to us begging us for food and sponsorship. Of course they are begging, they are desperate and needy. They've been so let down by numbers of organization who have promised help and never followed through. For those of you who desire to get your church connected to sponsorship, please contact us and we will help immediately. Email Hannah at hannah@hopechest.org and she will get you started.

Today we are headed for one more carepoint and to do a 'Blessing Service' and ministry time for the widows who so faithfully serve in Swaziland. These women literally carry this country on their backs.

I'm hoping to upload a few pictures in South Afriac. Love you all!

January 28, 2008

The Suffering Jesus

Today, I saw Jesus suffering in the eyes of an orphan named Nothando living in extreme poverty. She's also malnourished, uneducated, and has little hope of a future. Then, I saw the face of Christ in a man who is dying of AIDS. He cannot get up and lives in a 4 foot by 4 foot shack with nothing to eat - just waiting to die. It broke my heart.

Our other team was in the Low Veld today getting their hearts wrecked. I just got off of the phone with them and they told me they visited eight orphans living all alone, no food, water, and little hope. Two of these orphans are crippled and sit in the dirt all day. The widow who was taking care of them just passed away two weeks ago, now it's just the children.

The needs of Swaziland are so many. The pastor who preached on Sunday morning entitled his sermon, "We are dying like flies." They are. It would be hard for me to believe if I wasn't here and seeing it with my own eyes.

The hope here comes in the form of the faith you see in the people. The pastors, like Pastor Walter and Pastor Sam, who are being Christ to these orphans and widows. They are planting churches in places everyone else refuses to go. They take food to the hungry, everyday and as church they do home visitations to the dying as a congregation on Sunday mornings before service begins. Amazing people who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Please pray for us. The ministry here is heart breaking, but our presence here is important and needed. God is doing great things in the midst of the poor in this country. Thanks for your love and prayers. Internet is bad here, but I'm updating when I can.

January 22, 2008

Heading to Africa

The last week has been BRUTAL. A car accident, I threw my lower back out, I missed my book contract deadline, there are problems everywhere I look, I'm tired, angry, and border-line depressed. Just a typical week before I leave on a mission trip! Seriously, if anything could go wrong, it did. Crazy things always happen right before an overseas trip. There will be 25 people coming from Canada, Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio, goodness, everywhere - all sacrificing their time to help the orphans of Swaziland and South Africa. I especially covet your prayers while we're gone because it will be long (almost two weeks) and we need to get a ton done every single day. I will be updating my blog with pictures and news about the days happenings. Thanks again for all you mean to me, Children's HopeChest, and the orphans we serve. When I go on these kinds of trips, I genuinely feel like you are going with me. We get to do this together. Talk to you in a few days...Africasummer07_017

January 18, 2008

Confessions of a Good Christian Guy

My latest book, Confessions of a Good Christian Guy, is a available on Amazon and hits stores in February. Frankly, this was a difficult book for me to write. Not just because it's a bit seedy - dealing with real issues men face but don't like to talk about - but because it's about the darkness of my past. My real story about what occurred early on in my life that I'm not proud of. But hey, if I'm going to write a book encouraging men to live with NO secrets, I can't have any myself now can I? Hope you enjoy it. At the end of each chapter I've incorporated much of the leadership training I've done for Fortune 500 companies as a way for people to choose a different path and create a strategies for freedom. Here's a portion of the press release:
DEEPEST SECRETS OF CHRISTIAN MEN REVEALED
(Nashville, Tenn.) It’s not hard to define what a “good Christian guy” is, right? They are the men who seem to have it all. Good job—check. Loving wife and family—check. Solid relationship with the Lord—check. Most people would be shocked to learn that lust, greed, infidelity, substance abuse, pride, and materialism also can have deep roots in the lives of many Christian men. Life’s most challenging issues are not saved just for the faith-less. Even “good Christian guys” grapple with these difficulties on a daily basis.
Author Tom Davis is a self-described good Christian guy. He also is a sinner. He has wrestled with difficult issues, and admits that since coming to Christ, he has sniffed cocaine, been sexually promiscuous, and spent time behind bars. His life is by no means perfect. He is saved, but he is also fallen. In his new book, Confessions of a Good Christian Guy, The Secrets Men Keep and the Grace that Saves Them (Thomas Nelson Publishers, January 2008, ISBN: 978-0-7852-2806-6, $14.99), Davis explores the darkest corners of the lives of men like him—men who are outwardly upstanding citizens, church leaders, and pillars of their communities. His new book is not a lurid expose, but instead is an honest, thoughtful exploration of the damaging secrets that often lurk behind the perfect façade that some Christian men have so carefully constructed.
For some Christian men everything seems fine on the surface, but on the inside often there are cracks in the veneer, as they repeat destructive behaviors and succumb to temptations. Davis explains that sometimes inviting Christ into one’s heart does not immediately mark the end of the brokenness and pain that many men feel.

January 13, 2008

Brand New Fields of the Fatherless

This April, Fields of the Fatherless will be re-released in an expanded form. I've added new chapters, including a chapter on adoption and a Study Guide to be used in all kinds of study groups. What do you think of the new cover?! You can pre-order at at this address from Amazon.com. The number of stories about how God has encouraged people to adopt has truly amazed me. I hope orphans continue to find loving homes as this book is launched in every major bookstore and lands in the hands of those who need to read it.

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January 11, 2008

Real Life Red Letters

A good friend of mine, Amanda Clark, with America World Adoption Agency, just sent this to her staff. It's an incredible story of how God interrupted her Christmas and brought the Red Letters of Jesus to life. Enjoy!

I wanted to share a story with you and how Tom Davis’ book really spoke to me recently. I pray you are getting a chance to read it. Tom writes with a lot of authority and can be confrontational in some ways, but so was Jesus, huh? J

Okay, so over the Christmas holidays I went home with my boyfriend to Missouri. We left on Christmas Eve day and it was a 7 hour trip and I was eager to get there in time to make the Christmas Eve service and hopefully share dinner with his family. Our trip this day was also taking longer than usual as we’d stopped to run last minute errands on the way out of town. So, about an hour before we arrived to our destination, we saw a homeless man riding his bike on the side of the highway. Kevin, my boyfriend, suggested we pick him up and give him a ride…which I was not keen on doing AT ALL. For all the below reasons:

1. He’s probably really dirty and smells.
2. If he’s riding his bike on Christmas Eve, then he must know what he is doing…seems like a pretty intentional decision to me.
3. It is dangerous to pick up a man and put him in the car, with me, a woman and my two “ferocious” dogs.
4. We will miss Christmas Eve service, which you know is a wonderful tradition. You get to get dressed up and hold candles and sing pretty songs in a nice warm church with family.
5. I’ll miss eating Christmas Eve dinner with family.
6. It’s his fault he’s homeless anyway, there are plenty of opportunities here in America. This is not our responsibility.


Thankfully Kevin did not have these same thoughts. Funny, now, had it had been an orphan, I think my thoughts would have been DRASTICALLY different. Funny how we can have a heart for one people group and not the other.
Anyway, we end up picking the guy up and through a series of events we took him and paid for a cheap hotel room for him for the night. And to be honest, I was a little upset at Kevin for inconveniencing me like this. After all, I had all the above reasons to be mad and this thought pattern continued until mid afternoon on Christmas day as I was cozying up to the fire and reading Tom’s book. On page 38 of his book he spells out that poverty is lacking shelter and later says that we are doing unto Him when we give someone lacking shelter a room. And then earlier in his book he says, “Living out the gospel is hard work. It’s easy to talk about it. Any of us can sit in church and sing warm, happy worship songs that make us feel good. ..But it’s not so easy to actually go and do what Jesus said to do.” OUCH!

So, I had to eat humble pie and show Kevin what I had read and digest the truth of His word. And as I sit here drinking my non-fat café mocha from Starbucks that an adoptive family blessed me with, I have to be honest, I’m still not happy hearing this truth in my comfortable world here in cozy Nashville. Thankfully, God still extends grace to me and is continuing to work on my heart. I challenge you all as well to read Tom’s book and allow it to change your heart and perspective. Hey, I didn’t even think I needed any changing in that area, b/c after all, I work for an orphan ministry. So, be warned, you may be transformed by it.

January 05, 2008

Bringing Hope to Orphans

Daniel Clark is a friend, co-worker, songwriter, philospher, and fellow blogger. At Children's HopeChest, he's a madman at recruiting new churches into our orphanage sponsorship program. This summer, we sent his family to Russia for 9 weeks to lead summer camp trips. YouthWorker Journal asked him to write an article about his experiences which he titled, Bringing Hope to Orphans.

In the article, Daniel writes:

These children have become my friends, my brothers and sisters, my children. I have looked into their eyes, and I have realized what is most important in life. Despite the challenge and despair of their condition, they are God’s kids.

Daniel's right on, they are God's kids--as we all are. The full text of Daniel's article is avaiable here.

P.S. Daniel and Julie had a daughter right before Christmas--Lucina Miriam. Congratulations Daniel and Julie!

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January 03, 2008

A New Year and a New Start

The best thing I can do for all you who are my friends in blogosphere is to give you something proactive and productive to start 2008. I've done this little exercise for the past three years and it's one of best things I do all year. It's called New Year New Results and you can get it here: Download new_year_new_results.doc. This isn't just a feel good set of questions. It's a tool to analyze what all the good, the bad, and the ugly looked like in your life in 2007. If you do anything, take an hour and complete this. The ROI (return on investment) for your time will be ten fold. This is how I managed to write four books this past year!

Also, to get you started on some good leadership books, I have a few to suggest:
Deep Change by Robert Quinn - the best book I've ever read on leadership and changing your behavior.
Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney - a breakdown of a great 450 leadership organization - The Jesuits.
Celebration of Displine: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster - learning how to go deep in your spirituality.

C'mon don't just read this and sit there. Take action! Download this tool and put it to work. Get some of these books and apply the principles to your life and create change! Let me know how it goes.