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12 posts from May 2007

May 28, 2007

Leaving for Africa

It's Monday night, I'm overwhelmed, not finished packing, have way too many loose ends, and have a laundry list of people I haven't called back (sorry)! Getting ready to leave the country for an entire month has its challenges. To top it all off, a very close friend of ours hit Gideon in the face with a closet pole and he ended up with 4 stitches (a total accident by the way). So, I spend most of my last day of preparation at the Doctor's office. Doesn't he look awful?!
Family_marmay07_019 So why am I writing to you when I still have a thousand things to do? Because all of you are so important to me and my family. You are our support system and our prayer covering - and we're very thankful for you! This will be a long trip. I'm excited on one hand, and apprehensive on the other. Normally, I just take off to a foreign land and 'do my thing.' This, will be different. A good different that I'm looking forward to embracing.

I will post as often as possible with pictures and video. I just picked up a new video camera with a hard drive system that is suppose to make it easy to email. We'll see. Make sure you've signed up for the blog and it will automatically tell you when I update.

Here we are on the night before our departure. The 'extra' is sweet Amanda from Birmingham is will be part of our family for the month. Pray for us, but please pray for the children of Swaziland. They are that country's only hope, and their only hope is that Jesus becomes real to them. We'll miss you! Talk to you in a few days.Family_marmay07_018

May 26, 2007

Anglicans in Swaziland

In three short days, we are headed to Swaziland. Looks like I'm going to be able to post some video on the blog! To keep you informed with the conditions and what is happening, here's a short article about what the Anglican church is doing and what is currently happening with the drought and coldest winter in years:

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is providing food aid to people in Swaziland after ongoing drought. The country has been struggling through one of its worst periods of drought in years.

In Swaziland, eighty percent of people are dependent on subsistence farming, although only 10% of the land is fit for growing crops. Drought, floods, and overgrazing has weakened the quality of the soil needed to produce crops for harvest. It is estimated that over 350,000 people, or 1/3 of a total population of 1.2 million, have been affected by hunger over the past four years.

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is partnering with the Anglican Diocese of Swaziland to distribute essentially food aid in Shiselweni, the region most affected by the drought. The food assistance includes bags of maize and beans and cooking oil for food preparation. Vehicles are also being provided to transport the goods to local communities.

“The Anglican Church in Swaziland is working to make sure that the most vulnerable, the orphans and those living with HIV survive this winter in the face of a decimated harvest,” said Janette O’Neill, ERD’s Senior Director for Africa Programs. Read the rest HERE.

May 24, 2007


If this presentation doesn't break your heart and change your life, there's no hope for your hardened heart! Watch this and let me know your thoughts (a few are graphic). Thanks to David for this. 5 more days until all 7 of us board a plane for Africa.
Watch FAMINE slideshow here.

May 21, 2007

One Week Till Africa

In exactly one week, I will load my wife and five children on an airplane and head to Swaziland, Africa. I can't describe to you the torrent of emotions I am feeling right now. It's one thing to plan to do something this big and another to pull it off! I'm thinking about the 16 hour plane ride with an eighteen month old, the danger that lurks in the corners of the city, the fact that my children will be in constant contact with other children infected with HIV. It's a lot to process.

The only thing I know is this: God has called our family to give a month of our lives to the orphans and widows of Swaziland, this is what Christianity for our family looks like this summer. It's His voice we are following and His Spirit leading us. I have to trust that He will protect us and lead us each step of the way. And, I'm banking on a life-changing experience for all seven of us!

I will be posting pictures, and some rough video on the blog so make sure you stay tuned. Some of you remember Wil Horneff, who stared in movies such as The Sandlot and Born to be Wild, right? Well, his brother, Jonathan, and sister, Samantha, will be joining us on this trip too! We have a very sweet friend, Amanda Slay from one of our partner churches, Westwood Baptist Church , in Birmingham, Alabama who will join us and be part of our family for the month. In total, we will have 100 World Racers (check out the site, you could win a trip around the world!) and 100 other people from America. There is redemption for Swaziland - God has not forgotten! Please join us in any way you can!


May 20, 2007

AIDS in Africa Made Real

If you're interested on what it is like to have your life completely decimated by AIDS, I'd like to recommend a book I'm reading. It's called, 28, and is written by a South African journalist named, Stephanie Nolen. She does an incredible job of digging into real stories of people living with HIV, describing their life, and explaining the devastation that has been left in the wake of this killer disease.

Based in Johannesburg since 2003 as that rarest of western correspondents -- a full-time Africa scribe -- Nolen has set herself the task of keeping AIDS real for the rest of us back home. She's trying to open our eyes to what British novelist John le Carre has called "the brave, suffering, human reality of the African AIDS crisis." In her new book, called simply 28, Nolen tells the stories of 28 people fighting the disease -- one story for each of the million people infected.

People like her friend Siphiwe Hlophe, of Swaziland, whose work to organize help for orphans and home care for the sick in her country is typical of countless heroic community efforts throughout southern Africa.

What does a little country of 1.1 million look like when nearly half the adult population has HIV? It looks like Siphiwe's family. Of her 24 siblings, six are still alive. One died in a car accident, the other 17 died of AIDS.

Read the rest by clicking here.

May 16, 2007

Publishers Weekly

Time for a little shameless self-promotion. I really couldn't believe this and am quite humbled. My publisher is extremely committed to Red Letters and it's getting great press so far. This is the May 14, 2007 edition of Publisher's Weekly  My hope is that it leads to thousands of people taking the needs of Africa and HIV/AIDS seriously enough that they get involved. (Click the image to enlarge)

May 14, 2007

Africa Bound

In exactly two weeks my family will be heading to Swaziland, Africa, for the month of June. Yes, you heard right. All of the kids from Hayden, 10, to Hudson, 18 months, for 30 days (Anya's in bootcamp for the Army). Before you think we're out of our mind, let me tell you a quick story. Hayden was with me last fall in Africa. He was playing soccer out in the middle of a field with a bunch of orphans, having the time of his life. I turned around to see his white, shining feet next to Michael Black's white feet as they continued to play, not missing a beat. They were so moved by the poverty of these kids, they gave the Nike's away. How much is that experience worth?

Swaziland_2 There will be about 100 people joining us on this adventure including Vanguard Church, Rob and Theresa Flanegin (a VP at Focus on the Family), his wife and kids, and Brett and Nicole Irwin and their kids. It will literally be a family affair! We are really looking forward to seeing our close friends Gary and Lisa Black and their kids too.

We covet your prayers during this time, we will certainly need them! I'll also be posting blogs and pictures to keep you updated from Africa so you can follow us on the way.

May 11, 2007

Five for 50

In the Nashville airport on the way home after 3 days of heavy traveling. I'm tired just thinking about it! Had an incredible time speaking at The Orphan Summit hosted by Family Life and Focus on the Family. I saw so many people I have only spoken to by phone over the years, as well as many friends from around the country. This was an incredible event and I was truly inspired to be around so many amazing people doing great things for orphans around the world. Today, I was at Coca-Cola Nashville launching a sponsorship program in Swaziland, Africa.

I NEED YOUR HELP! Recently, I told you about a new campaign I am starting in conjunction with the release of Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds in THIS POST which explains the details. We have a sample of the micro-site up for your review which includes the new logo for Fivefor50 you can view here. This is in the initial stages, but I could use your ideas and suggestions. What do you think?

May 08, 2007

The Global Fund

I'm off today to Washington DC at the invitation of DATA to participate in a special lunch. The lunch is hosted for the partners of The One Campaign to meet Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, the new director of  The Global Fund. The title of our gathering is, "Together We Can Achieve More," and the focus is to help the faith based organizations involved with ONE to receive funding. This is a critically important step for us at Children's HopeChest as we continue to expand our ministry throughout Africa. Global Fund specifically funds programs that help to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria - killing over 6 million people a year. This is obviously a huge focus for us and will continue to grow in the years to come.

May 07, 2007

Canadian Weekend

What a great time to be with some amazing people in Canada over the weekend. Here's a shout to my new friends under the banner of the maple leaf. My publisher for Red Letters, Cook Communications Canada, set up my speaking for the conference including the next one in Vancouver for Unite Productions. You should come, it will be an awesome time!

Reconnected with an old friend, Chris Seay, who is a prolific author and pastor of a church called Ecclesia in Houston and one of the founders of the emergent church movement. I haven't it seen him in quite a few years but it was really good to re-spark an old friendship. His church is doing significant things to help the poor of the world and focusing on the needs of others instead of just what's happening inside the four walls of his church.

Brian Doerksen, was one of the worship leaders I was able to spend some time with. He's written worship songs such as Come, "Now Is the Time" and "Light the Fire Again." An amazing man with an incredible heart for orphans and the fatherless. I'm looking forward to spending time with him in July when he's in Colorado Springs for a concert. Please pray for us at Children's HopeChest, as we get our Canadian status up and running.