Aug 26 2013

We Live in a Bubble

As I am writing this, I am sitting here in tears after reading another chapter from World Vision President, Rich Sterns’ new book “Unfinished” and listening to Lincoln Brewster’sThe Power of Your Name.”  I thank God that I will never be the same after this trip, and I hope that you’ll join me on this journey. Lincoln sings, “I will live to carry your compassion, to love a world that’s broken. To be your hands and feet. And I’ll give with the life that I have been given. And go beyond religion to see the world be changed…”

I have come face to face with some of the 1 billion people who will go to bed hungry tonight, that’s triple the population of the United States. Sadly, more than ¼ of the World’s 2 billion children suffer from malnutrition, but even worse is that they become victims of human trafficking, the AIDS epidemic, other pain staking diseases and for 18 million of them, they face these things all alone because they are orphans.  

The more that we have traveled on this journey to take Love Around The World, the more I am realizing what a bubble most of us live in. The thing about living in a bubble is that you can see out, you can see the need, but you’re so comfortable inside the bubble that you don’t want to anything to burst it.  Comfort can be one of the greatest enemies we face as Christians, it can render us useless to God’s plans for our lives.  

Imagine what would have happened after Jesus left, if the Disciples would have went back to being fisherman, tax collectors and Pharisees.  Instead, they realized that Jesus didn’t call us to just sit inside a church building on Sunday, sing songs and listen to a good sermon.  He called us to go to the ends of the earth, to usher in His Kingdom, a kingdom that looks different from anything else the world has ever seen.  That call may cost us dearly, as it did the disciples, but it’s the call that Christ calls each of us to answer.

The comfort that we have become accustomed to has distorted our worldview.  C.S. Lewis cautions, “Prosperity knits a man to the world, he feels that he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him.”  In Luke, Jesus issues us this caution, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.”

Rich Sterns writes in Unfinished, “How can we compensate for the distortion within our worldviews? How can we hold in one hand the truth that Jesus loves the poor, widow and orphan, yet hold in our other hand the tickets to our Disney vacation?  Disparity makes us uncomfortable, especially when we know we could do something about it.  So what does our faith do in the face of this disparity? Again, if we are to build our lives on the foundation of God’s truth, we must learn to see the world as He sees it.  Should we not weep for what He weeps for and treasure what He treasures?  Should we not “seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness” rather than the kingdoms of our own making?”

Seeing human suffering always makes us uncomfortable, but we must ask ‘How does God want us to respond?’  Rich Sterns says it this way, “We, as followers of Jesus Christ, have failed to do this one thing that He commanded us to do.  We have failed to obey Christ’s commands to live radically different lives, to build and establish the kingdom of God, to make disciples of all nations and demonstrate His love to a hurting world. And in failing to do these things we have not only failed our Lord Jesus, but the lost and hurting of the World… And we have failed ourselves.  Christ did not call us to retreat from the World’s pain, but to enter it.  He called us to go. The twenty-first century Church has everything to finish the job… The resources, the knowledge and the mandate.  But the great commission given to us by Christ lies ‘Unfinished.'

Rich’s words cut straight to the heart because we find it hard denying the truth of what he says. He is right, and I will be the first to admit, that I have fallen short… I want to change!  I want to burst forth from this bubble and live a life for which the Lord can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant."

Aug 26 2013

A Tale of Two Children

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog, I hope that it encourages you to fulfill the call that God puts on each of our lives to make a difference for others.  I think many times, as human beings, we treat our faith like a buffet, where we pick and choose what we want to fill our plate.  The truth is Christianity doesn’t work like that, Christianity isn’t a buffet line; you cannot have an encounter with Jesus and stay the same.  Granted, we aren’t redeemed by our “works”, but rather our redemption is motivation for “doing the work” that Christ calls us to.  The book of James cuts to the chase by saying: 

“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? 

Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?   I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”  Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.  The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.”… Faith without works is DEAD!  

In the past couple of days we have met two very sweet boys, with two very different stories.  They only live a few minutes walk from each other, and they both have to crawl across heaps of garbage to get to school. But Top Raj, thanks to Gene, a K-LOVE listener from Chicago, has a sponsor, and he is receiving the help that his family desperately needs.

 Sponsorships like Gene’s means Top Raj and his family can dream about his future, Top Raj wants to be a policeman because he wants to help the people he sees hurting in his community, dreams that probably wouldn’t be realized without Gene’s help.

Gene’s love and concern for Top Raj, through World Vision child sponsorship, means that he can break the cycle of poverty in his family.  I called Gene before we went and visited Top Raj, and he shared that he wanted him to know that he was praying for him. I shared that with Top Raj and his family and they just lit up!  Your encouragement to these families and kids means so much, if you already sponsor a child, please take some time this week to write.  Top Raj and his family had a hard time expressing just how grateful they were for how Gene has helped change their family’s life.  There are 600 more kids in this slum alone just waiting for you to step up and “be their Gene.”  These children need you!  

Then there is Kunel, a sweet, nine year old little boy, who has had a very difficult life.  Kunel is currently living with his elderly grandparents; his grandfather is too ill to work, his grandmother, makes less than $2/day, and works long hours.  The reason that Kunel is living with grandma and grandpa is because his mother abandon him and his father, Kunel’s father was so distraught, that he took his own life.  

So not only is Kunel faced with the depths of poverty, he is facing it without his mom and dad.  He is the kindest little boy, with a smile that lights up the room.  He told me that he wanted to play video games someday, well no time like the present, we sat down on the steps of his family’s one room home, because they have no furniture, and I introduced him to Angry Birds. Sitting there, laughing with him, reminded me of those days with my own children.  

That’s what sponsorship does, it allows you to invite a child to be a part of your family, to love them, as if they were your own.  His grandmother with tears rolling down her face, expressed deep concern for Kunel, she said, “I am worried about what will happen to him when I am gone.”  My heart just broke for her and for this sweet little boy, who has already been through so much.  I was fully prepared to ask you to step up and sponsor Kunel, but God has so burdened my heart, that I just couldn’t wait.  We are going to sponsor Kunel, we are going to love and pray for him like he were our own child.  I want his grandmother to rest peacefully, knowing that he is going to be OK and the God has a plan for Kunel’s life.  

 

Please join my family and Gene’s family in bringing hope to kids like Kunel and Top Raj!  There is a child who needs your help today, a child who is waiting for you to make them apart of your family. 250 different times, the Bible talks about the importance of caring for orphans and the poor, this is your chance to put “your faith to work”.  Help us show Love Around The World by sponsoring a child today!

Aug 23 2013

It's Not a Matter of How, but How Not?

Have you ever seen something that you will NEVER be able to ‘unsee’?  That is exactly what I have experienced in India.  My emotions are completely raw, I have just seen the worst poverty that I have ever seen in my life.

Thank you for watching the videos of our trip. If you haven’t already, they tell only part of the story. I wish there was a way for you to experience the smells of the Gatumpoori slum as you watch, it is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Sadly, what we saw was not even the worst of it.  

The families, in this slum, live on less than $1/day… Let’s be honest, it’s not living, it’s merely existing… People should not live like this!  

They don’t have to, YOU can invite one of these kids to be apart of your family TODAY, these kids desperately need your help!  Right now, ONLY 200 of the 1,000 kids we are hoping to sponsor, are sponsored. 

During our visit, I had to step away from the group for a while just to pull myself together because I was an emotional wreck.  A typical family home is smaller than our smallest bedrooms, for many there is no bed, only pillows, made from whatever they can find. A hot plate to cook on, no bathroom; open sewage runs down the street, and when it rains, like it did today, the streets are flooded with raw sewage.  

People pick through the garbage to try and find anything of value and something to eat, children barely eat here, much less, go to school.  So guess what happens, the cycle of poverty continues to grow!  1/3 of the World’s poor live in India, and the problem is growing!  I would really appreciate you praying about helping World Vision change these kids’ lives… The question isn’t “How can I do that”, but rather, “How can I not?”

I was just reading Matthew 25 again today. I think most are familiar with Jesus saying that when we cared for “the least of these, the forgotten,” that it’s as if we have done it for Jesus himself… I think most of us stop right there and think to ourselves, oh that’s nice, and politely move on. You REALLY should read on! 

In this parable, Jesus was sharing, about the ‘sheep’ (those who follow Him, doing the things that He calls us to), and the ‘goats’, (those who heard the Truth, but chose to ignore it, move on) and here is what Jesus said, 

“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

44 “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

46 “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

So the question isn’t “How can I sponsor a child?”

The question is “How can I NOT?”