Aug 27 2013

Life In The Cracks

As a Christian, you’re called to surrender yourself to God’s plan for your life. World Vision President, Rich Sterns says, “being a Christian isn’t about simply being a “decider,” living a dumb downed Gospel just so you can get your “get into heaven” card.  It is about being a “disciple” and making Jesus Lord of your life.”  Christ cautions us about living any other way.   

Billy Graham said it so well, “God leaves us here because He has a mission for us to fulfill.  We aren’t here by accident; neither are we here simply to enjoy the good things life has to offer.  We are here because God put us here, and He has a sovereign purpose in keeping us here.  It’s true for us as individuals, and it’s true for His body, the Church, in all its fullness.  As Jesus prayed just before His arrest and trial, “I am not praying that You take them out the World… As you sent Me into the World, I also have sent them into the World.” (John 17:15,18)

As we set out on this journey to take “Love Around The World,” our World Vision host, Steve Quant told us to “look in the cracks, for it is in the cracks that you see poverty at it’s worst.”  And boy has he been right, in every city, in every country and on every continent that we have traveled to, we have seen that. Lurking in the shadows of skyscrapers, hotels, apartment complexes and homes, we have discovered those forgotten by society, those who live in the cracks, those that we so often ignore. 

“Looking in the cracks” has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire life, within those cracks lie some of the sweetest, kindest and most humble people I have ever met.  Within those cracks lie hopes and dreams clinging to life, hopes and dreams that God calls us to breath life into.  I have said it before and I will say it again, we have met the “least of these” living in these cracks, the very ones that Christ, himself, calls us to care and look out for.

For twenty-six years, Andrea has lived in one of these cracks with her 5 children, forgotten, alone and desperately poor.  Her home consisted of a space literally in a “crack” between two buildings, thrown together with whatever scraps she could find, a wooden pallet here, a piece of plastic there.  A roof that leaked like a sieve when it rained, leaving her home soaked, full of mold, that constantly kept her and her kids sick.  In the 12 years that Steve Quant has worked for World Vision, he says it one of the most heart wrenching and worse living conditions he has ever seen.  I am happy to tell you we didn’t see it, thanks to World Vision’s work in Andrea’s Sao Paulo neighborhood, she is no longer forgotten, her family has a new found hope.  Andrea is now dreaming about her kids’ futures once again!

They still live in that same crack because they simply have no money and nowhere else to go, but thanks to World Vision’s commitment to change kids, families and communities; and the help of her church, Andrea’s crack will have real walls, a real floor and roof that will keep her and the kids safe and dry for the time in twenty-six years.  

Andrea has had a very difficult life, she is very quiet and soft spoken, but when she shared what a difference World Vision child sponsorship had made, her face filled with hope and gratitude poured forth from her lips.  For what you spend on a monthly manicure or pedicure, a trip through a drive thru with your family, or on a trim for the dog… You can change the life of not only a child; but their family and their entire community.  Everyone in Andrea’s neighborhood has seen what love has done to bring forth new life.

This shouldn’t be something that we have to mull over, and pray about, in hopes of God letting you off the hook; Over and over and over again, the Bible tells us this is what God EXPECTS of us as Christians, as “disciples!”  There are more kids, like Andrea’s, that are still waiting for YOU to make them a part of your family.  Start that relationship TODAY!  Just click the link to find your child… 

Aug 27 2013

Poverty Has Become The New Leprosy

Mother Theresa wrote, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.” 

Today we met a woman named Hannah in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia who found herself just as Mother Theresa had described.  She was a widow with two young boys who not only found themselves naked, hungry and homeless, but unwanted, unloved and uncared for.  They were without hope, living in under a sheet of plastic on a street when World Vision found them and reached out to help.  

Since that day Hannah and her boys, Masfin and Yeabsira, have hope.  World Vision has helped Hannah and her boys find a home, granted, it’s made of mud, dung and straw and is smaller than the bathroom in my hotel room, but it’s a home.  Sponsorship has helped the boys enroll in school, and dream about what their future holds, Masfin, in fact, shared that he wants to be a doctor, because he wants to help take care of others.  This is a dream that now lives because someone thought Masfin was worth investing a dollar a day in!  

Clive and Martina, World Vision sponsors

Those people are Clive and Martina, his sponsors.  When I asked if he knew his sponsors, he proudly reached for a picture that was kept in a place of honor in their home with all of the other family photos.  Hannah expressed the love that they had for them, because their kindness was changing their family’s life and giving them hope!

World Vision sponsorship is much more about, “Teaching a man to fish and feeding him for a lifetime; than giving a man a fish and feeding him for the day.”  Yes, World Vision is making sure that Hannah and her boys have what they need, but they are also making it possible for the boys to do well in school.  They have provided a means to making some money by purchasing Hannah a washer and dryer so that she could start a business, which is now flourishing in her neighborhood.  The ability that Hannah now has to help provide for her family has built her self-confidence.  She and the boys are still living on less than $2 a day, but they are so grateful that the love from people like Clive and Martina, are giving them hope and dreams for the boys’ futures.

Mother Theresa, who spent her life caring of the poor and the leper, said it so well, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, Feed just ONE!”  You feeding and pouring into just ONE boy like Masfin can make a World of difference!  Clive and Martina’s love for this ONE boy, has transformed his entire family.  Their love for this ONE boy has sparked dreams of a life beyond the slums of Africa, a life lived helping those less fortunate.  Thanks for taking time TODAY to find the ONE World Vision child that you’ll invest in!  Let’s CHANGE the World, ONE Child at a time, visit today!

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."