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9 posts from March 2008

March 29, 2008

Jesus the Renegade

I'm doing some research for a new book project and couldn't help but share this quote with you by Richard Rohr. It comes from a book titled, Adam's Return:

"Most of the time we see Jesus operating outside official sacred space, which is very telling. He does most of his work on the streets, in private homes, and in the country-side. He is comfortable with body contact with people in general and women in particular, with dead bodies, with sick bodies, with public and private sinners, with lepers, and with the ritually impure."

March 21, 2008

Ex-Soviet Leader Gorbachev Admits He's a Christian

For all of you who love Russia, this article will be an encouragement to you. Every time I travel to Moscow (over 50 times now), the words of Leo Tolstoy ring in my ear, "Moscow is a city filled with demons." With the troubles Russia has faced regarding Christianity over the years, it's good to see that a former leader is a devoted follower of Christ. Thanks to Mike Todd for the link.

"Mikail Gorbachev, the last communist leader of the Soviet Union, admitted publicly for the first time Wednesday that he is a Christian.

Rumors had circulated for decades that Gorbachev was a “closet Christian,” but it was only confirmed yesterday when he made a surprise visit with his daughter Irina to pray at the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy. The former communist leader spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb.

"It was through St. Francis that I arrived at the church, so it was important that I came to visit his tomb," said Gorbachev, according to U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper.

"I feel very emotional to be here at such an important place not only for the Catholic faith, but for all humanity."
Read the ChristianPost article here

March 20, 2008

Our "Daughter" Is Getting Married!

Many of you know that we have two Russian adopted daughters. Lena has been in the United States for a year and a half and is marrying Greg Winn on May 4th. We are all so excited at what God is doing in their lives and the joining of our two families. I'm headed to South Bend, IN, in April to spend some time with Greg's parents. Thought you all would enjoy this video on YouTube of Lena talking about Russian orphans:

Radio Broadcast on Red Letters

For those of you who were not able to listen to the interview I did on Midday Connection in Chicago, (click to listen online) you can download it here. Download 2008-03-18_MiddayRedLetters.mp3. Thanks!

March 18, 2008

Adoption Becomes More Difficult

When Emily and I adopted Anya from Russia in 1997, the process was much more simple. In fact, we did the entire thing ourselves. The dossier, INS papers, translation, everything. You would think in our modern age this process would become easier not harder with over 143 million orphans in the world. Not true. This new report released today proves it is becoming harder in places like China, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Kazakhstan.

Road to Foreign Adoption Becomes Harder
KRISTIN COLLINS, Staff Writer
It seemed like a simple transaction when Tamara Lackey brought her adopted son from Ethiopia to Chapel Hill four years ago: The child had been living in a spartan orphanage, and Lackey was willing to provide a loving home. She filled out paperwork, and five months later her bright-eyed, smiling baby was home.
Hundreds of other families in North Carolina and around the country are discovering that it's no longer so easy to take in the world's neediest children.

Just as international adoption has become a mainstream way to build a family -- helped by celebrity adoptions such as those of Angelina Jolie, who has children from Cambodia and Ethiopia -- the practice is in crisis. Allegations of baby-selling haunt some countries, and some say international adoption's popularity may be creating a worldwide backlash.

Adoptions have recently become difficult or impossible in China, Guatemala, Kazakhstan and Vietnam -- four of the main countries that send orphans to the United States. Hundreds of adoptions are in limbo.

"Everything is so volatile right now," said Gail Stern, founder of Chapel Hill-based Mandala Adoption Services, which arranges inter-country adoptions. "If you called me today and wanted to adopt a child, I would tell you to sit on it. We cannot in good conscience tell people that if they start today, things will be smooth."

Concerns about corruption have previously halted adoptions from Romania and Cambodia. But Stern and other experts say they've rarely seen so many countries having problems at once. On Monday, Kazakhstan unexpectedly shut down adoptions with little explanation.

China, the largest sender of orphans, has recently scaled back its program so severely that couples might wait more than five years, said Diane Kunz, a Durham lawyer who founded the non-profit Center for Adoption Policy, which promotes adoption. The country now excludes prospective parents who are single, recently divorced, over 50, on antidepressants or overweight -- restrictions that Kunz says ruled out about 60 percent of Americans looking for Chinese children.
Read the News Observer article here.

March 17, 2008

Prostitute in Eliot Spitzer Case Victim of Fatherless Home

It's a story we've heard too many times. A broken home that's abusive and a fatherless kid gone wild as she tries to find herself in a world filled with pain and disappointment. In my mind there are at least two very disturbing issues surrounding the former Governor of New York. One, this girl is old enough to be his daughter, and two, Elliot Spitzer is part of the billion dollar sex industry that exploits and abuses orphans, the fatherless, and the oppressed. And he was supposed to be the watch-dog protecting young girls like this? Sickening. Read the article from the Children's Rights Council

Governor Spitzer's resignation and public disgrace demonstrates two kinds of stress commonly ignored in this high pressure world of electoral politics.

1. The young woman Kristen, an aspiring singer who turned to prostitution and became the provider of services for "Client #9", comes from a broken home. She has never known her father, and her mother and stepfather have been verbally and possibly physically assaultive. She considers herself to have been an abused child.

"What happened to Kristen", said David L. Levy, an attorney and head of the Children's Rights Council, a 23-year-old non-profit organization, and Dr. Rona Fields, a psychologist and CRC spokesperson. "is all too frequently the biography of prostitutes, drug addicts and dealers and alcoholics".

Good Parenting is not an accident. "While parents who do not get along with each other have good reason to get divorced, the children of divorce need contact with both parents unless one or them is abusive and/or kidnaps the child."

They add: "More than 80 percent of convicted felons were raised without a father." When a child is raised in a situation of abuse and argumentation, the children have two strikes against them.

Fields and Levy point out that "When courts dissolve marriages there is even more reason to provide parent education for both parents and develop a modus vivendi that allows the child or children of the marriage to know and be loved by both parents."

2. The stress imposed on candidates like Gov. Spitzer can and often do lead to addictive disorders that become public scandals.

Often these are appropriately treated through intensive residential therapy followed by out-patient care. Most current health insurance programs do not provide this for ordinary people, although the Congressional system does provide these benefits for members of Congress. The current Mental health parity bill passed by the Senate and the House is currently in committee and needs to be enacted this year.

March 11, 2008

The African Boy in the Picture

Many people have asked me about the little boy I'm holding in the picture you see on the blog. I ran across my journal from the day I met this little boy when the picture was taken. So much has changed in Swaziland since then in a little over a year. Why? Because of people like you who care and are living the words of Jesus in a way that give them flesh, not lip service. This carepoint is now sponsored by Capo Beach Calvary in California. God, help us to do more. Here are my thoughts from that day:

"Today has been like no other. We went to Tembini carepoint – a very rural area outside of Mbani that feeds about 125 children.

They walk, for miles. Three years old and up. Some of them came with sweat dripping down their face. “We saw the vans and came running,” they panted. Some of the little girls arrived with even smaller girls on their backs.

The homesteads in this area were spread out across the mountainous valleys as far as the eye could see. Small mud huts and cinderblock homes littered the hillsides.

These children have experienced everything horrifying that you could imagine. Like watching their mother die of AIDS with absolutely no care and no medicine. But 8 year old Muteme would take care of her mother until the very end. Their father had already died from the virus, and mom was all they had left. Soon the mother gave up her last breath and left 3 vulnerable and innocent children behind. No money, no food, no way to work, they are just there.

So these children show up to the care center for food and some love from people who truly believe they have dignity and are a child of God no matter what their circumstance.

This little boy came up to me an grabbed my hand. He must have been about 4 years of age. Beautiful, amazing, sweet, but I could tell, very sick. His stomach was distended which meant that he lived with a very poor food supply. It wouldn’t surprise me if he only ate a mean a few times a week. He wouldn’t really smile. He just looked up at me with these haunting dark eyes that were so empty. I just picked him up, video camera in one hand, and him in the other. Just praying, just trying to love on him and show him the love of the Father. After fifteen minutes, he fell asleep in my arms sitting straight up, stiff as board. Almost like he couldn’t relax, didn’t no how to relax. I kept trying to put his head on my shoulder so he could rest, even for a few minutes. He didn’t know how to relax in someone’s arms. Maybe he had never been held with any kindness and tenderness, who knows? Finally, the love of God had its way with him and he laid his head on my shoulder as he slept. It totally broke my heart because that’s what this entire nation of Swaziland needs."

March 10, 2008

Who Mourns the Death of an Orphan?

A few days ago, I I wrote about the death of one of our orphans, Sergei Adveev. It caused me to think about who mourns the death of an orphan? Who cares about their life? Who loved them? Who will miss them? I'm thankful for our wonderful Russian staff who are those people. Below is an account of Sergei's funeral. Please join me in mourning the loss of his life and praying for orphans like him.

"We wanted to share more with you about Sergei's funeral. Natasha and I went to Sobinka on Friday, February 29 to meet two ladies, Irina and Lena, and to help with arrangements for the funeral. Both of these ladies knew Sergei well and played a big part in the last few years of his life.

We purchased clothing (a suit, shirt, socks, shoes, and underwear), a coffin, pillow, wreath, and a large wooden cross (as a grave marker). We also paid for the services the morgue provided, transportation of Sergei's body to the cemetery, for the digging of the grave and burial, and for the services of the priest.

We delivered the items to the morgue and waited for Sergei to be dressed. As is common here, a small bus served as the hearse and was the transportation to the cemetery. After Sergei's body was loaded onto the bus, we (Natasha, Irina, Lena, and I) got on and accompanied Sergei to the cemetery where the priest was waiting. Our CHC driver followed in our van. In all, there were only 5 of us and the priest at the service. Our driver, Sasha, also knew Sergei, and he had on occasion taken things to Sergei in the hospital or in his dorm since he lives in Lakinsk (which isn't far at all from Sobinka).

It was a shock, of course, seeing Sergei. It was so hard to believe that he was gone, and the ride to the cemetery, I think, was very emotional for all of us. Because of the nature of his wounds, the top of Sergei's head had to be covered, and there were some bruises and scrapes visible on his face.

That day a cold wind was blowing and the skies were overcast and gray - which really went along with the sadness and pain we were experiencing. At the point in the service where the priest began reading about Christ's resurrection and our future resurrection, something amazing happened: the sun came out and the wind stopped - just for a bit. When he completed the passage and continued the service, the sun went back into hiding and the wind started again.

During the sun's appearance, the Lord reminded us of the HOPE we have in the midst of sorrow and confusion. It was an incredible moment. We feel Sergei believed according to his ability and the understanding he had of the Lord."

March 04, 2008

Clinic in Las Vegas May Have Infected 40,000 with HIV, Hepatitis

You hear about the thousands that are infected every day in places like Africa, India and Asia. But something this catastrophic right here in the United States? Read this article the go to then Special Guests page to see how TV and radio affiliates are interacting with my book, Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds on this issue.

LOS ANGELES — The city of Las Vegas has shut down a clinic where up to 40,000 people may have been exposed to hepatitis C and the HIV virus through the reuse of syringes and vials, officials said on Sunday.

The clinic at the heart of the scandal, the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, "was served with an emergency suspension of its business license," city authorities said in a statement.

Officials are asking about 40,000 people to be tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV because of unsafe medical practices at the clinic.

Health authorities launched an investigation into the clinic after six former patients were diagnosed with hepatitis. Nurses at the clinic were told "to reuse syringes when administering anesthesia" and "to reuse vials of medication," the city said, citing a probe by public health agencies.

The local prosecutors' office said it was closely examining the case and raised the possibility of filing charges against the center.

"It won't happen tomorrow or the next day, but we are taking a hard, fast look at all the facts in the case," District Attorney David Roger told KLAS-TV.

Some former patients had contacted lawyers for a possible class action suit against the clinic, local media reported. Fox News article found here