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12 posts from March 2009

March 30, 2009

Orcas Island

After speaking at the Northwest Ministry Conference in Seattle (btw you can see a video I did from Ethiopia on the website), my family flew up from Colorado for a little vacation. It's been spring break for us and good timing. They barely missed the storm that dumped 18 inches of snow on our driveway.

We've been staying at a beautiful place on Orcas Island called Salmon Shoal. The deck and living room look right out into the bay where whales are migrating. Snow-capped Canadian mountains are also visible in the background. Very peaceful and gorgeous! I've posted some pictures you can find on Facebook by clicking here.

Last night our family had dinner with Len and Elizabeth Sweet and their wonderful family. If you want to be encouraged, Len has a podcast you should subscribe to called, "Napkin Scribbles." 

We leave tomorrow for home then I head to Orlando, Florida to speak for a few days. Just wanted to give you all a quick update. Hope you're well!

IMG_7752 IMG_7654

March 24, 2009

Pastors Breakfast in North Carolina

I've been in North Carolina with some great friends speaking today. Three times at three different events: one at 6:30 AM, 9:00 AM and 7:00 pm. Here's a bit about the pastors breakfast. Thanks to Jason Kovacs of Abba Fund for this post. Off to Seattle early in the morning for four more speaking engagements. 

tom-davis-photoThis morning ABBA  Fund,  Carolines Promise, and Weaving Families sponsored a breakfast for pastors and ministry leaders on orphan care and adoption. It was a joy to do this together as three ministries working towards a similar cause and hope to do more together down the road.

We had a local pastor share his story of adopting two boys from Ethiopia and how God provided financial assistance through Caroline’s Promise. We also had a local church share their experience starting an orphan and adoption ministry. 

For the main part of the hour Tom Davis, President of Children’s Hope Chest and author of Fields of the Fatherless, spoke on God’s heart for the orphan. Through his own experience, scripture, and what he sees going on in the church today Tom challenged us with God’s special care for the orphans and the fact that He has called His church to be the incarnate presence of Christ towards them today. He spoke about Barna’s research into the current state of the church today and how so many young people are giving up on traditional forms of church because they are not finding what they read in Scripture being lived out in their churches. Instead folks are turning to online communities to connect with fellow believers who share similar passions for the poor and orphaned. He quoted Amos 5:21-24 -

“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it.”

He then went on to quote Matthew 25:31-40, pointing out this is Jesus’ description of what will happen when we stand before him in eternity and he separates the sheep and the goats.

“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:37-40)

He ended by encouraging all those present who are people of influence in their churches and communities to not settle for neutrality (which he noted, fuels oppression and can be defined as evil itself) but to mobilize God’s people to live for justice and Jesus glory. 

I was reminded afresh that this is indeed at the core of what we are called too. And, what an incredible mystery and joy to actually care for Jesus through our care for the orphans and poor of the world. God is at work in this world bringing His kingdom and we have the privilege of being His instruments! What better thing is there to wake up in the morning too?

March 17, 2009

The Least of These - Jesus Creed

Scot McKnight recently wrote a post about this passage of scripture and tied it into my life and books. I strongly encourage you to check out his blog here and jump into the discussion on this passage. There are over 25 comments already. Scot is a professor and does a fantastic job teaching scripture. He had over a million hits on his site last year.

37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:37-40)

TomDavis.jpgTom Davis believes these words. I don't mean he has a high view of Scripture; I mean he thinks Jesus means business. He thinks Jesus means his followers really should do something about the poor. He not only assents to what Jesus says, he thinks we ought to practice what Jesus says.

There have been some huge shifts among evangelicals when it comes to justice issues like AIDS and orphans. There is much yet to be done. What are you seeing out there? What is happening at your local level? (I don't mind you mentioning your ministry, etc, but avoid more than one link.)

I quote Tom: "I believe when you strip Christianity down to its basics, this is what it means: to feed, clothe, and treat the fatherless as members of one's own family."

Tom talks about his ministry, 
Children's HopeChest, in two of his books and I commend both (or either) if you need a stimulus package to increase your compassion. One is called Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds and the other is called Fields of the Fatherless: Discover the Joy of Compassionate Living . It probably doesn't matter which one you read (or buy); either one will do the job. A wake-up call about the ravaging and savaging impacts of AIDS in the world and upon children. Millions of children are orphans today because of AIDS, and Tom Davis is dedicated to awakening compassion. His heart beats (and bleeds) for orphans in this world. A powerful authentic testimony.

It comes down, doesn't it, to whether or not we will not only assent to but also practice the red letters of Jesus. 

March 13, 2009

Rapha: We got what we got.

At just over $11,000 received by Children's HopeChest, we're going to wrap up this phase of fundraising. Right now we're meeting to determine how best to spend the funds we have received to meet the needs of as many children as possible. We pray God would multiply it for those kids at Rapha. If you want to give, please do.

Sometimes when you start these projects, you don't know where they will take you. This past week, a reader of the blog contributed $8,000 toward a well project in Swaziland. This is a fantastic blessing for the Swaziland ministry, and one that we are thankful that God has provided to us.

As always, we'll have pictures and updates here of all our projects. The food for Ethiopia is still in customs...pray that will move out quickly!

Thank you for participating with us in this ministry to orphans. I'll be in Ethiopia and Russia this Spring, and look for special content during those trips right here on my blog.

March 11, 2009

A Child's Dream

Our youngest child's name is Hudson. He's three years old and a bundle of fire! Last night he had a dream I wanted to share with you. As you know, when young kids have spiritual dreams they're as pure as can be. There's absolutely no filtering system! I thought this would encourage you today and make you laugh!

Hudson's dream - in his words:
-Jesus was crying cause of the world
-He gave me 5 pieces of candy...a carmel, lollipop, candy cane, hot bubblegum...didn't remember the fifth
-A fox and a deer ran by
-Jesus was wearing a jersey like soccer or football
-He hugged me and I was crying too
-Jesus was awesome and big



March 10, 2009

Rescue for Rapha: We're Over HalfwayThere!

As of this morning, Children's HopeChest has $10,209 in commitments to Rescue for Rapha.

The gifts are coming in and we're now just $8,000 from our goal! You can push us over the top.


Want to meet some of the Rapha kids? One of the time-honored traditions of visiting orphanages is when the kids sing, dance, and perform for you. So in that tradition, watch this short video of the kids at Rapha.

As you do, please pray for these boys and girls. In this video they are happy and dancing--the way children should be. Much of that comes from other people--people like you--who have opened up your hearts to bring God's love into their lives. They dance with value and dignity. Enjoy, and thank you!

March 09, 2009

Rescue for Rapha: We're Making Progress

Thank you friends for contributing over $3,500 to the Rescue for Rapha project. We're about 1/6 of the way toward our goal of providing emergency food and education to 357 Ugandan children.

Check out this news story about four Ugandan kids who were kidnapped and brought to Kenya as domestic servants. Fortunately these children were recovered and returned to their parents.

But for many, many orphans in Uganda and around the world, this type of activity is commonplace. Your support of Children's HopeChest and Rapha helps children who would otherwise face situations like this.

Thanks for standing with us!

Uganda: Four Kidnapped Children Found in Kenyan Village

Kampala — FOUR children suspected to have been kidnapped from Nampanga sub-county in Sironko district, were on Thursday recovered by the Police from Amboke village in Siaya district, Kenya.

Monday Lokaula, 9, Amina Sharon, 8, Marion Kutusa and Evalyne Namboka were reportedly kidnapped  on February 22 by a woman only identified as Othieno and taken across the border to serve as domestic house helps.

"The parents of the girls reported the case to the Police. We liaised with our counterparts in Kenya after getting a tip off that the children were there.

"We found the children being used to do heavy domestic chores," Grant Tabo, the Mbale crime investigations chief, explained.

Muduwa was in Primary Three at Nampanga Primary School in Sironko.

Lokaula said her father is Pius Lotukei, while Muduwa's father is Aramathan Mafabi. Namboka's mother is Hannah Ameny.

The Police detained Othieno and another woman who allegedly coordinated the kidnap identified as Mary Namutosi from Nampanga.

"As a barren woman, I needed some children to help me at home as I carried on with my fish business. I lied to my husband that they were orphaned children from my sister back in Uganda and he accepted them at home," Othieno narrated.

March 06, 2009

Rescue for Rapha: From the Kids

As we join together to raise money for the Rapha school and orphanage, I wanted you to hear directly from the children who have been impacted by Rapha's founder (Ruth) and the ministry there:

My parents both died, leaving me in charge of my siblings.  I didn't know what to do until my auntie told me to come to Rapha because she heard of a lady that helps orphans and kids that are poor.  I came to Rapha and asked for a lady named "Ruth" and she asked me why and after I told her my story she said "I am Ruth, and we will help you".
I would probably be dead from if it weren't for Rapha caring for me my whole life.
I am so thankful for Rapha, they have taught me about God's love and loved me as their own!!

These are quotes from children who have been given a hope and a future. One of them now works for a television company in Uganda. Another works for an AIDS organization. It is possible to redeem orphans from their earthly circumstances.Together we can say to the 357 orphans served at Rapha: "We are HopeChest, and we will help you!" Thank you so much for your generosity and support

March 05, 2009

URGENT NEED: Rescue for Rapha

We've just received confirmation from our new Uganda staff director, Joseph, that 357 children in the Rapha community are out of food and at-risk for losing their school placements (due to inability to pay school fees).

You guys have proven that you understand the dire need for food in Africa where one meal a day is considered a luxury.  Just look at how quickly you responded to the February Food Drive!  These children are at risk for losing THAT one meal.  Currently, there is no food to feed these children.


How important is education? It keeps the older girls out of prostitution and sexual slavery. It prevents boys from becoming child soldiers and criminals. Without the school, the kids would find themselves working in the fields as child laborers, selling whatever they can find in the market, and exposing themselves to even worse exploitation. 

Ask an African child--which do you need more education or food? They always pick education. "If we have food and no education, we know we're dead anyway." I take for granted my own children's education here in the U.S. In Africa, it is about life and death for kids, and right now 357 kids are staring at a desperate future. If the Rapha school folds, 357 children will face the "orphan future" of drugs, alcohol, prostitution, slavery, crime, and suicide. We can stop all of that at Rapha today and set them up for a bright future.

These children had no hope for their lives before the Rapha school started. Ruth, the founder of the school, rescued these children the first time. Pulled them from abject poverty and provided for their food and their schooling. Now, that's all at risk. I can't bear the thought of a child leaving the Rapha school and turning to prostitution or crime to survive. I can't consider the potential exploitation of hundreds of young children. And it won't happen if we respond together.

Rapha is one of several Ugandan communities that is on track for full sponsorship later this Spring. However, present circumstances are now threatening 357 children. The founder of the Rapha school and orphan community died unexpectedly in 2008.  Since that time money's been tight, and the Rapha school and orphanage have been operating at a deficit. In fact, the teachers and staff at Rapha School are so committed to these children that they have been working for FREE for over 5 months (no money for teachers' salaries)!  HopeChest is ready to pick up this funding for the long term--but we need a bridge to get there. It's about $50/kid that we need right now...

Right now, Children's HopeChest is sending out the call to raise emergency funds of $18,054.

Along with the 55 orphaned children that live at Rapha Village, they have a school for 251 other children (Rapha Primary School) as well as pay for schooling for another 51 children (including 6 university students).  Total, they provide education and food to 357 children. Your gifts will keep the children's school fees paid and ensure Rapha has enough food to meet their need for the next few months.  Also, part of your gift will be used by Children's HopeChest to build a bridge toward sponsorship in Uganda.

Just $50/kid keeps a Ugandan orphan fed and in school until CHC can activate our sponsorship program...can you help?

Please put "Rescue for Rapha" in the notes section of the giving page.

You can help Children's HopeChest build a bridge to more consistent funding through sponsorship. If this is fully funded, it will rescue Rapha from their current circumstances, and also accelerate CHC's launch in Uganda.

Katie, a Colorado woman who lives part time in Uganda, had this to say of the Rapha school: Rapha School was a forest before Ruth came along to bring education, hope, and love through a school and foster village.  I have seen Rapha develop from a small papyrus school into a full primary school, farm, and foster family village.  The children in Rapha community prior to Rapha school were unable to attend school and thus continue the cycle of illiteracy in thier families! Now the next generation of Rapha community kids will have a chance to succeed in life!

March 04, 2009

Jesus Creed - Scot McKnight

I want to direct you over to Scot McKnight's blog - Jesus Creed. Not only is he a great author, he is a deep thinker. Specifically on what it means to follow Jesus in our day and age. I just got off the phone with him and he also has a tremendous heart for orphans. I think he's going somewhere in this latest post as it relates to James 1:27, and what pure religion means. Here's his post today:

Here are the words of James 1:9-11:

9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

James here uses, beginning at the end of vs. 10, a graphic image of perishing. Wild flowers could pop out and perish in one day. Some moisture, a cool night, some nice warm sun early -- and then some scorching winds and some powerful heat evaporating the moisture -- and the flower fades as its blossoms fall and then its beauty is history.

We're looking now at some anabaptist stuff and this is the kind of verse that has worked its way into the very fabric of anabaptist thinking and praxis.

Materialism in the issue now; materialism was the issue then.

The problem with materialism is not just materials. Possession of material things leads to a sense of power and pride. Both are intoxicating. Power and pride beget envy and greed, and they feed and fan power and pride. 

Furthermore, material things that lead to power and pride and envy and greed freeze the heart and compassion of a human when it comes to others. Material things can beget the conviction that "what I have earned is mine" and "what's mine is mine." The poor can pick themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Here we are face to face with the problem James faced: the rich were using their power to oppress the poor (read James 2:1-13 and 5:1-6). James warned them that the Day is Coming.

Well, what do you think this text says to us about the Western lifestyle? I do not believe James is exhorting folks to be poor or to become poor. He's in that kind of world where the poor are poor and there's not much they can do about it and the rich are powerful and are oppressing. What does this say to the wealthy Westerner?