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22 posts from December 2009

December 31, 2009

Counting Down to Midnight

Tomorrow I will be posting the most important thing I've ever done to help me realize my dreams and passions for a new year. There's a call on your life to make a difference only you can make. Stay tuned! 

We've now received over $4,000 toward the $20,000 challenge to help orphans in Russia. We're counting down to midnight, and looking for $16,000 more to finish this challenge by midnight. We already can put $24,000 into programs that stop sex trafficking. We'd like to make that $40,000 by the end of the day.

Tomorrow is 2010.

Although the calendar moves only one day, a new year makes us feel as though the slate is wiped clean and we can start again anew.

In reality, very little about our lives change. And that's exactly what I want you to remember when you think about the orphans we serve.

The passing of one year to the next does not give a starving child a clean slate. January 1 is just another day of trying to find food, or eat grass, or worse

The New Year holiday in Russia is the biggest of the year. It's a time for families to gather together to stay up late and drink champagne while listening to the president's annual speech.

Do you think the countless Russian girls trapped in prostitution will feel any different tomorrow when the calendar changes to 2010? Probably not.

Being an orphan is a 24/7 reality.

The threats facing orphans do not stop because the numbers on our calendar change. Tomorrow our precious children will battle all the same enemies tomorrow--and maybe some new ones.

Our kids need you today, tomorrow, and for years into the future if they are going to make it. As one friend said recently, "If you are a Christian, orphans is your thing." I couldn't agree more.

Whether you give today or not is between you and God. We'll continue to fight extreme poverty and sex trafficking in 2010, and we want you to stand with us--battle with us--to protect and fight for these children who have been left parentless and alone.

Thank you, and may you have a happy, blessed, and prosperous New Year.

December 29, 2009

A Way to Change a Life Before the End of the Year

I've just received some amazing news.

A generous ministry partner has awarded HopeChest a $20,000 grant to stop sex trafficking in Russia and challenged us to match it by midnight, December 31.  Click Here to Give

 

Your gift supports programs that have rescued many girls from forced prostitution. These programs saved Katya, and may have saved her best friend Nadya. Sadly, Nadya's life ended while working as a prostitute at a truck stop. Read more about their stories and make a gift today. 

 

If we meet this challenge, we can release $40,000 to support programs that protect girls from forced prostitution in Russia. 

Take the Challenge Today!

 

Your gift supports our Ministry Centers, Family Centers, Independent Living Centers, and other specialized outreaches that protect orphans. Through caring relationships and proven program models, we can help transform them into beautiful and healthy young adults.

 

When you give, you are helping stop sex trafficking in Russia before it starts. You're helping HopeChest stay ahead of the prostitution rings that are targeting vulnerable orphans.

 

Imagine the horror of sex trafficking for a moment. A young girl leaves behind the rough orphanage life only to find herself tricked and trapped in sexual slavery--the worst of fates.

 

Stop Sex Trafficking Before it Starts

Our community centers and living programs in Russia offer not only a safe haven, but Christian role models to show the way. This network of people and places needs your support, and I urge you to help us meet this challenge and raise $40,000 for the children of Russia.

 

We can create these pockets of light in the darkness. Together, we can take back what the enemy has slated for destruction. The future of many young girls is at stake. They need your help today.

 

For the Fatherless,

 

Tom

Tom Davis

CEO, HopeChest

 

P.S. Please consider a gift to HopeChest to meet this year end challenge and raise $40,000 to prevent sex-trafficking in Russia. Make it a monthly commitment to help girls all year round. Click to Give.

December 21, 2009

The Companion of Christmas - Henri Nouwen

"God came to us because he wanted to join us on the road, to listen to our story, and to help us realize that we are not walking in circles but moving towards the house of peace and joy.  This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey.  The God of love who gave us life sent his only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles but always can trust that he walks with us.

The challenge is to let God be who he wants to be.  A part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain.  Often we hide from him precisely those places in ourselves where we feel guilty, ashamed, confused, and lost.  Thus we do not give him a chance to be with us where we feel most alone.

Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let him-whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend-be our companion"

- Henri Nouwen, Gracias

December 17, 2009

China's Forced Abortions

For those of you who have decided to utilize your influence this Christmas by joining Megaphone with a 1,000 Voices, these are the kinds of issues we must be in prayer about. Thanks for your passion and commitment to serve the least of these when so many turn their backs. I just read a comment about our how the West and the world view life that is fitting for situations like this:  

"A society adept at saving the trees and killing the children."

From the Baltimore Sun:

We Can't Avert Our Eyes From China's Forced Abortions

November 12, 2009|By Kathleen Parker

One of the few incontrovertible assertions one can reasonably make is that no one supports forced abortion.

Yet, coerced abortions, as well as involuntary sterilizations, are commonplace in China, Beijing's protestations notwithstanding. While the Chinese Communist Party insists that abortions are voluntary under the nation's one-child policy, electronic documentation recently smuggled out of the country tells a different story.

Congressional members of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission heard some of that story Tuesday, two days before President Barack Obama was slated to leave for Asia, including China, to discuss economic issues. Among evidence provided by two human rights organizations, ChinaAid and Women's Rights Without Frontiers, were tales of pregnant women essentially being hunted down and forced to submit to surgery or induced labor.

Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of the Frontiers group, told the commission that China's one-child policy "causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth."

I met Ms. Littlejohn the day before the hearing. She is a petite wife and mother - as well as a Yale-educated lawyer - who gave up her intellectual property practice in San Francisco following a life-altering illness to become a full-time activist for Chinese women. She is remarkably buoyant considering what she has absorbed. Action, she says, is her way of coping.

Here's the question Ms. Littlejohn insists we consider: What really happens to a woman who doesn't have a "birth permit" and has an "out of plan" pregnancy?

The answer is simple and brutal: A woman pregnant without permission has to surrender her unborn child to government enforcers, no matter what the stage of fetal development.

Late-term abortions are problematic, but the Chinese are nothing if not efficient. On one Web site for Chinese obstetricians and gynecologists, docs recently traded tips in a discussion titled: "What if the infant is still alive after induced labor?" ChinaAid translated a thread regarding an 8-month-old fetus that survived the procedure.

"Xuexia" wrote: "Actually, you should have punctured the fetus' skull." Another poster, "Damohuyang," wrote that most late-term infants died during induced labor, some lived and "would be left in trash cans. Some of them could still live for one to two days."

December 15, 2009

URGENT: Stop Sex Trafficking Now!

      As you read this letter there are over 2 million children forced into prostitution and sex slavery.
 
      This can be prevented and we can do something about it. These girls need our help and there isn’t time to waste.

      Right now, pimps and prostitution rings are targeting our precious, young girls. They wait for them to leave the protection of the orphanage, and then offer them a "job."

     Many of the girls simply disappear: never heard from again by their friends.  But sometimes you glimpse this horror.

     Like the girl who was flung from the cab of a truck once her "client" was finished with her. She was paralyzed, never to walk again.

     Or the young woman the police found in a ditch on the side of a busy road. Killed at the truck stop where she worked as a prostitute.
 
      These were kids that could have been helped by our programs.

     One of these stories is too many...2 million children is unfathomable. This is a direct result of evil having its way on the earth.
 
     As Peter tells us, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8

      We can’t let him continue to destroy lives. You can stop this, and help reclaim a child's future.


      HopeChest stops sex trafficking before it starts. In Russia, we are taking girls into residential living centers and community centers to actively protect them from the commercial sex trade. We identify girls early, while still in the orphanage.  
 
       Our staff form meaningful relationships to role model what successful living looks like. And when that girl leaves the orphanage, she knows exactly where to go for help--to HopeChest. She is not alone.

       Amongst our girls, there is no sex trafficking. In fact, our transitional living homes have a 90%+ rate of helping girls find true independent life. This is the reality of God’s Kingdom in action.

      Right now these girls need you. Please go to http://www.HopeChestPartners.org and click the GIVE button to make a gift today.
 
      You can make a gift in honor of a special person this Christmas. Perhaps you will honor someone who mentored you as we are helping these young women?

      Help us stop sex trafficking now by reaching more girls in Russia today and into 2010.

Jesus Creed Sponsors Orphan Community in Swaziland

You can too!

Community to community sponsorship is one of the most powerful tools available to redeem orphans. It's a program that allows anyone's community, (blog, family, church, small group, school, etc.), to sponsor a group of orphans on the other side of the world. 

I'm happy to announce that Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University, and Author, is sponsoring the Mabanteneni Orphan community in Swaziland through his blog, Jesus Creed. To read more about it, click here.

The good news is that your community can do the exact same thing! We want to make it easy for you to connect with orphans in need. Children's HopeChest can help you pick a community of orphans that's just the right size to fit the number of people in your group. We can also customize a webpage for your community, where you can invite friends and family to participate in the project with you. To see the Jesus Creed page click here. You can sponsor a community of orphans this Christmas that saves lives and provides the means for a future. Interested? Email me at tdavis@hopechest.org and I'll get you going. 

IMG_2864a copy
 

December 14, 2009

The Best Christmas Reflection I've Read in 2009

Chuck Smith Jr. and I have been around the world together. I've always appreciated his depth and insight into the scriptures and into life. He is truly an amazing man. 

A little know fact is that Chuck also mentored and coached me through the writing of my first book, Fields of the Fatherless, and I will be forever grateful.  When I read this reflection he posted on his blog, it touched me deep in my soul. I needed these truths, I needed this Light, and I needed to be reminded of the reality of the Christmas message.

Reflexion #153: For some reason, after the Sun went down last Saturday, the world seemed especially dark. This was not lost on five year old Emily as we stepped outside to drive her home. “Ooh, it’s da-a-rk!” she said. Then she began telling us how she does not like “monsters.” (Unfortunately, her older brother, Noah, enjoys inventing stories of floating luminous orbs, sharp-fanged man-beasts, and other creatures that “go bump in the night.”)

Wishing to promote reason over superstition, my less than thoughtful response was, “Sweetheart, don’t pay any attention to that nonsense.” Grandma, however, knowing that it was not the mind of the little one that needed reassurance but the heart, said, “Emily, look at the Christmas lights on that house. What do you see?” Pointing to bright figures grazing in a neighbor’s yard, Emily said, “Reindeer.” “Yes,” Barbara said. And look over there; icicles.” Through her gentle prompting, Barbara calmed Emily’s dread of the dark and diverted her attention to the illumination of festive decorations.

As we drove along city streets and through neighborhoods, a voice from the car seat behind us sporadically shouted, “Lights!” Not a discovery or observation, but a jarring command. Emily found her Christmas joy.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overpower it. John 1:4-5

Christmas Lights

It was Luke who noticed the Christmas lights. There was the light of the angel who appeared to shepherds “and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk. 2:9). The even greater light was Jesus, “A light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of [God’s] people Israel” (Lk. 2:32). Both Matthew and Luke viewed Jesus as the light the prophet foretold, “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, / And those who were sitting in the shadow of death, / Upon them a light dawned” (Mt. 4:16; Lk. 1:79).

I pause at the words, “sit in darkness.” If you have ever been deep inside a cave or cavern and doused the lights, then you know it is best to sit in one place. Otherwise you will likely bump your head or stumble and fall. To sit in darkness is to settle into despair. For “the Gentiles,” it was religious despair. Paul said we were “strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ep. 2:12). There is also emotional despair, and I’ve spent a large part of my life sitting in that darkness, waiting for day to dawn and the morning star to arise in my heart (2 Pe. 1:19).

The dot of light in the sky that the magi followed from the east to Bethlehem was the dim light of a lamp compared to the greater Light. The arrival of Christ broke through the gloom and dispelled the darkness.

In the high church tradition, four candles are set out the first Sunday of Advent, but only one is lit. Then, each consecutive Sunday, another candle is lit until on Christmas Sunday all four flames shimmer in the front of the church. This is to remember and celebrate the dawning light of Jesus when he entered our world. Continue reading by clicking here.

December 12, 2009

If On a Winter's Night

Winter is my favorite time of the year. I love how the snow transforms the landscape into a Winter Wonderland. A Narnia of sorts. Turns out, winter is Sting's favorite season too. His new album, If On a Winter's Night is fantastic. Celtic, Folk, and Christmas music rolled into one. This short video on the album is inspiring. 

December 10, 2009

Why Christmas Should be About Orphans Like Hiatt

This little girl absolutely melted my heart. Her orphanage, Kolmbocha, is far from the capital city in Ethiopia. I asked the director, "When was the last time you had any visitors?" His answer? Eight years. My hope this Christmas is that sweet little girls like Hiatt won't be forgotten by my friends and family here in the US. This orphanage is available for sponsorship by your community. There's 100 kids waiting. Email me if you're interested: tdavis@hopechest.org.

Also, you can give a gift of hope this Christmas at HopeChestPartners.org. Make a gift in honor of someone special this Christmas--a gift that brings hope to orphans like Hiatt.

Meet Hiatt from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

This Will Change Everything in the Publishing Industry

This is one of the coolest inventions I've seen in a long time. Not only is it cool, it will revolutionize the way we read and absorb digital content. Michael Hyatt posted this on his blog today, and he believes it will make the traditional, published book obsolete. I would encourage you to jump over to his blog and read what he says. Watch this video, then tell me what you think. One this is for sure, the developments of technology will bring us to the shores of worlds we've never experienced.