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14 posts from February 2009

February 27, 2009

February Food Drive: Update

UPDATE –  Your gifts are on their way to 120,000 meals to children in Ethiopia and Swaziland.  The first shipment has arrived in Ethiopia and is in customs, due to be released the first week of March. As far as I’m concerned, it can’t get there fast enough -- please continue to pray!

Thank you so much for your compassion – and for acting to provide direct help to these precious children.

In just four days, we received $13,125 toward our February Food Drive. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

The children live with such great need in these countries. These meals will keep thousands of kids alive and participating in Children's HopeChest programs. These programs provide health care, education, Christian discipleship and so much more.

We are considering a similar project next month in Uganda, as we have become aware of similarly critical needs in one of our orphanages. Over 300 children are at a similar risk of losing their source of food and funds for education. I will report back next week on this opportunity, please leave a comment or e-mail me if you'd like more details.

P.S. I invite you to consider connecting with one of the kids we serve through sponsorship. Your monthly support and the gift of a consistent relationship makes such a difference for a child. Our goal is to increase sponsorship by 2000 children in 2009! Click here to become a sponsor today.

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family Retires

Colorado Springs, CO (LifeNews.com) -- Dr. James Dobson publicly announced on Friday that he is retiring as the chairman of the board of directors of Focus on the Family, one of the nation's biggest pro-life groups. Dobson will continue to play an integral role in the organization but will relinquish his administrative duties.

The 72-year-old psychologist has been seen for decades as the face of the pro-family group and the move is a first step in letting someone else replace him.

Dobson told fellow members of the board of directors of his decision on Wednesday and he informed the nearly 1,000 Focus employees on Friday morning at a staff worship service.

Though Dobson will not be as involved in an administrative role, he is not ending his relationship with Focus on the Family entirely. He will host the group's long-running radio program, write a monthly newsletter distributed to millions of pro-life advocates, and speak out on key issues.

Dobson talked about the need for a leadership transition in a statement about his decision.

"One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority," Dobson said. "Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do."

Gary Schneeberger, a Focus on the Family spokesman, told AP that Dobson "will continue to speak out as he always has — a private citizen and not a representative of the organization he founded."

Air Force Lt. Gen. Patrick P. Caruana, a longtime board member, replaces Dobson as the chairman of the Focus board of directors.

Dobson has been very involved in promoting pro-life candidates and endorsed John McCain over pro-abortion Barack Obama.

After the election, Dobson lamented Barack Obama's victory and forecasted significant promotion of abortion. He says Obama's election could set the pro-life movement back 35 years.

Dobson told his listeners he is "in the midst of a grieving process" over Obama's election victory but only because of the impact it will have on the fight to protect human life.

"I'm not grieving over Barack Obama's victory, but over the loss of things that I've fought for 35 years," he said.

Dobson said he wished he could have voted for the nation's first black president but couldn't bring himself to do so because of the million of unborn children who will be killed in an Obama administration.

"But to be honest, I have to say that his win causes me enormous concern, because he will be the most committed pro-abortion president in our history, even supporting infanticide for babies who survive botched abortions," Dobson said.

Dobson worries Obama is "going to appoint the most liberal justices to the Supreme Court, perhaps, that we've ever had." Article from Lifenews.com

A Beautiful Adoption Story

DelRay and Joy are incredible people. They have eight children of their own, including four special needs children they adopted. Their story will bring hope and inspire you to be even more courageous for the fatherless. This is chapter four of the Fields of the Fatherless DVD series. Watch all the Videos by clicking here.


February 26, 2009

Poverty and Justice Bible

When I was in England, my friend Ian gave me a copy of the Poverty and Justice Bible by American Bible Society. It's amazing with over 2000 verses outlined regarding poverty and justice. If you have a heart for helping the poor and being a part of ensuring Biblical justice on the earth, this Bible is for you. Click here to go directly to Amazon and purchase the Bible.


Justice Bible

February 25, 2009

Begin a Season of Reflection

Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the season of Lent - 40 days of preparation before Easter. I didn't come from a Christian tradition that celebrated the church calendar, but I have found practices like this deeply spiritual. It's a time of reflection, fasting and prayer that helps me to focus on spiritual things I typically neglect. I would encourage you to take part in this season, even to a small degree. Here are some places to help you: Sacred Space - Lent 2009 and Per Christum - Lenten Resources Online. Here's a prayer by Henri Nouwen to start you out:


Dear Lord Jesus,

Today the Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, human respect, pleasure, power and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are no times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life which you have prepared for me.

February 24, 2009

FBI Recovers 48 Juveniles in Prostitution Raid

I'm currently writing and researching for my second novel, Sacred. The book focuses on the child sex-slave industry centered in Eastern Europe and Russia that stretches all over the world. One of the 'myths' I have stumbled upon is the belief that this kind of thing doesn't happen in the United States. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but I'm glad our government is doing something about it. Today, 48 children are free from this wretched industry. This article is posted on CNN.

(CNN) -- Law enforcement officials arrested more than 500 people, and took custody of 48 juveniles in a coordinated 29-city weekend sweep aimed at combating child prostitution, the FBI announced Monday.

Task forces made up largely of state and local police officers arrested and booked what authorities said were 464 adult prostitutes, 55 pimps and 55 customers on state charges. While most faced local charges, a senior FBI official said he expected there were would be some federal charges as well.

The FBI Monday said 19 searches were conducted, netting a total of $438,000 in cash, plus illegal drugs, cars and computers.

The four dozen juveniles were recovered in the third phase of Operation Cross Country, an initiative that seeks to help child prostitutes and crack down on people who control them and patronize them.

In the previous coordinated operations, authorities recovered 21 alleged child prostitutes last June and 47 in October.

In 2003 the FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children launched what was called the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address what had become a growing problem of children forced into prostitution. Many were young runaways.

Officials say the 32 Innocence Lost task forces formed nationwide have now recovered about 670 children in the six years, and seized more than $3 million in cash.

The most recent operation involved law enforcement agencies in several states including California, Alaska, Michigan, Georgia, Colorado, Oregon, Alabama, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Illinois, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota and Arizona.


February 23, 2009

Fields of the Fatherless DVD up on YouTube

We've been working on a DVD for Fields of the Fatherless  to help introduce each chapter for everyone doing individual or group studies. Here's the introduction. These are 5-7 minute intros of me talking about why I wrote the chapter. Click here for the Children's HopeChest link on YouTube that contains all the videos.


Here's a quick testimony from Kari Stewart at Timberline Church in Ft. Collins about the DVD series, 
"What an Excellent DVD and companion to the book study!!!  Really - WOW!
Tom - You did a great job sharing what God laid on your heart for each chapter and the personal stories and pictures really bring it to life.  We are coming into the final two weeks of our study and it is always amazing to see how God moves on peoples hearts as they are obedient to His voice and His call."
 

February 20, 2009

Orphanage Sponsorship Launch Weekend - Russia and Ethiopia

This weekend, Children’s HopeChest will launch two new orphanage sponsorships. I will head to Fargo, North Dakota to kick off Olivet Lutheran Church’s sponsorship of the Kolfe orphanage in Ethiopia. The video below was produced by Olivet to help launch their sponsorship of the 140 orphaned boys living at Kolfe.

Also this weekend, our director of outreach, Daniel Clark, will head to Hendersonville, NC to help First Baptist Church officially launch their sponsorship of Kirov #1 orphanage in Russia where 135 children live.

Children’s HopeChest is proud to partner with these wonderful churches and their members in helping sponsor nearly 300 more children. This year, we want to add 2,000 new sponsors. If you are interested in joining our family of sponsors click here for more information.


Kolfe Youth Orphanage/Olivet Lutheran Coming together from David Held on Vimeo.

February 18, 2009

Novels with a Conscience

A taste of Scared.

My first novel, Scared - A Novel on the Edge of the World, releases June 1st. It is available for pre-order right now on Amazon. The branding for the series is fantastic! It's classified under a new category for this 3-part series called, "Novels with a Conscience." We're talking about a book tour called, "Nights of Conscience."ScaredCover

I wanted you to have a 'taste' of the book so I thought I would post the prologue on my blog. After the prologue, the first chapter takes a radical turn and I may post that for you as well. Let me know your thoughts!

Prologue - Adanna 


    The last thing I remember before going to sleep last night was the pain in my gut and the question of what I would wear to church

this morning. These worries are for nothing, because I have no food and only rags to wear. Today is Easter Sunday. Pastor Walter calls it

“Resurrection Sunday.” A day of hope.

    I think about what hope means for the people in my village. I try to imagine them rising up in glory, as Pastor says. But I only see twisted bodies, bones poking out of paper skin. They do not rise.

They lie in mounds of yellow dirt. I think of my own body, wasting away because I haven’t eaten for days.   

    Sometimes I wonder if the gods don’t like me. Maybe it’s because I am dirty and stained, like old rags. I’ve been told by Pastor and Momma, “Easter means new life.” But our lives never change.

Stepping outside my home, a shimmering road unfolds in front of me. It is smooth, like a gift wrapped in gold.

    Voices from ahead call out to me, and one foot hurries to catch the other. The sounds are beautiful, like a choir, their voices layered in perfect harmony.

    I’ve never felt a road so smooth. It’s like walking on cool water.

    The roads I know are brown and rocky.

    A magical energy flows through every part of me from my feet to my head, refreshing my tired body. How can something so unfamiliar feel like home?

    But this place is nothing like home. The horizon blazes beautiful, glowing colors—violet, blue, and amber dance like giddy fairies. The land is on fire with color.

    I turn and see rows of trees taller than any I have ever seen. I could swing from their branches. I would write poems about their splendor. The leaves are leaping for joy. The apples hanging from the trees look like red balloons. One could feed me for a week.

    Here, people do not pick up moon rocks and die.

    My throat is parched, so I run to the banks of a river. The water is like crystal. It is so perfect I do not want to touch it, but I cannot help myself. I cup my hands and thrust them down to

get a drink.

    When I pull out my hands, they are no longer brittle and cracked. They appear soft, even glowing. My hands are new.

    Thirst spreads from my mouth to every cell in my body.

    I jump.

    I glide through the water like the colorful fish around me, swimming free. Forgetting I am underwater, I suck in a breath. I expect to choke, but I do not. Taking another breath whisks me out of the water and onto the bank.

    The jagged scar on my arm has disappeared. I feel new. Not hungry or sick. Even my scars on the inside seem to be gone. In the distance a marvelous light pulsates, lustrous, pure, and white. What shines so warm and soft?

    “Adanna.”

    The voice sounds like a thousand mighty rivers, a thundering boom. But I am not afraid.

    “Who are you? And how do you know my name?”

    “Adanna. Come closer.”

       I move toward an illuminated man. He is sitting in a golden chair. The music of many villages rises from where he sits. Love pours out, giving life to the grass, the trees, and I feel it growing roots in

my heart.

    “Are you the ruler of this world?”

    “I am. This world and many others. I’ve waited a long time to be with you.”

    “I do not know who you are.”

    “I have known you, Adanna,” he chuckles, “for a very long time. I have watched you grow. I have delighted in seeing you play, and I have rejoiced over how you have matured. My love has always

surrounded you.”

    Maybe he is one of my ancestors.

    “I’m not one on your ancestors, but you are one of mine.”

   How did he hear me?

    “I do not think I have ever met you.”

    “Oh, but you have. Come closer, Adanna. I want to show you something.”

    Cautiously, I step forward. He is inviting me with his smile. He stretches out and opens his hand. On it there is writing.

    “That is my name, but how did it get there?”

    “I put it there.”

    “But why?”

    “Because I have always loved you.”

    “But I am nothing special.”

    “Adanna, if you only knew the greatness inside you. You must trust me; I will draw out of you what the world needs to see. Here is your gift. Use it wisely. It will make the way clear for you, and it will

save many of your people.”

    He extends a white scroll made of lamb’s skin and hands it to me. I reach up and receive the scroll.           “Thank you, sir. I am most grateful. May I ask who you are?”

    “You will know, soon.”

    “Can I stay here?”

    “Not now, but the time will come. Just remember this: No matter where you go, I will be there to help you.”

    “What is your name?”

    “Whatever You Need. That is my name.”

    “I do not understand.”

    I take the parchment in my hands. I untie a silk ribbon and unroll it.

    My eyes open, and the thatched roof of my hut shudders in the wind.

February 16, 2009

Online Communities Caring for Orphan Communities.

ONLINE COMMUNITIES are now sponsoring entire orphanages in Africa and Russia. You can too, or you can be a part of helping a community that's already sponsoring. Please read this post from  Deb Gangemi  about how you can help the kids at Bevini in Swaziland:

"We have a story to tell and a request to make! Our older son, Anthony, is now 14 years old.  His “love language” is the receiving of gifts.   He looks forward to his birthday and Christmas with so much joy and anticipation!  But this year, three days before Christmas, at the height of his excitement over gifts to be opened, he asked us to return his presents and give the money to Children’s HopeChest for Beveni Carepoint (this carepoint is the gathering place for 102 vulnerable and orphaned children in Swaziland and is the place where many of them get the only meal they eat for the day).

While we didn’t have much money to spend on gifts, any gift would have delighted him.  But we also know he was hoping against all hope that we had bought a Nintendo DS for him.  With that hope very much alive in him, his request that we return his presents represented an enormous sacrifice on his part.

As we have learned about the abject poverty the children of Beveni live in, and how many basic needs are not met, we began to dream with Anthony about how God could grow his $200 gift into something much larger.

Now we are studying the life of Esther.  We’re aware you know the story, but want to share how it has come to galvanize our family to create the “Beveni Carepoint Christmas Sacrifice to Purim Challenge”.  Yup, a mouthful to be sure, but also a heart full!

Purim is the festival celebrating Esther, her obedience to act in faith and the result of that obedience.  In the spirit of Anthony sacrificing that which he waited an entire year for, and in response to the question Mordecai posed to his cousin Esther: “Who knows but that we have come to our position of royalty (as sons and daughters of the King of Kings) for such a time as this?,  the Gangemi family invites you to be part of a BIG adventure, one in which He takes the offerings of many to create something large enough to make a difference for the children. 

The challenge:

Beveni is in desperate need of basic infrastructure.  They have no electricity, fence, latrines, water system, kitchen or garden.  Many of the children cannot attend school because they aren’t able to pay the annual tuition.  A significant number of them eat only once a day.

But together, we can make a difference!

$5 can provide 30 meals for a child

$75 pays for a year of school tuition

$600 would provide a water storage tank

Look how our gifts added together magnify the benefit to the children:

175 giving $50 each would result in a kitchen for the grandmothers to cook meals in.

375 people giving $10 each will provide a garden for the caregivers and children to grow fresh food.

500 people giving just $15 each would provide an entire water system, including a well.

The current (and only)  Beveni building: scant shelter from rain or the extremes of hot and cold temperatures.

Our request:

Specifically, we ask everyone receiving this note to make a one time gift of $5.00 or more to Children’s HopeChest for the Beveni Carepoint by going online to Children's HopeChest (please put Beveni Challenge in the note section) or sending a check (with a note requesting the money be given to the Beveni Challenge) to:

Children’s HopeChest
PO Box 8627

Pueblo, CO 81008-8627

If you are able to give more, please do!

We believe in God’s committed heart for these kids, and in the reality that we are His Body, the one He provides care through.   Any gift you are able to extend to these children and their caregivers will be as life to them.  Every one of us has the opportunity to be part of making the difference.  Every gift given becomes part of something larger than what we can do alone.  These gifts will make a lasting difference to all of the children and their caregivers by providing them with basics we take for granted but they can only dream about.

We also ask you to share this challenge with people you know.  If you are involved in a church, small group, club, team or business, please consider asking them to partner with us in this challenge.

Please realize that when you share this information, you are giving people the opportunity to participate in the blessing of joy that comes when we care for the orphans and the widows

We ask that you make your gift to the children by Wednesday, March 11, the last day of Purim.  In reading Esther, we learn that Mordecai calls for two days to be celebrated every year, the days of Purim.  He gave specific instruction on how to celebrate, and included in those instructions the giving of gifts to the poor.  In giving to the children of Beveni, you will be giving to some of the poorest of the poor!  In the giving, we participate in the celebration of God providing for His people in a way that is near and dear to His heart. 

If you are interested in becoming hope to one of the 65 children waiting for a sponsor, please let us know.  We are the volunteer sponsorship coordinators for the children of Beveni, through Children’s HopeChest. We would be honored to help you find “your” child and to begin a relationship that will give hope and a future to a child."

In Him, with faith and joy!

Tom, Deb, Anthony and Aidyn Gangemi

bevenicarepoint@comcast.net