Sunday, November 23, 2008

Prayers for a Son

During the Thaksgiving meal on Saturday, we had index cards spread out on the tables to be used for people who wanted us to pray for something specific. I watched as a young girl dropped her prayer request into the box. Then there was the woman who was in a wheelchair. She was adament that her friend get her close enough so that she could drop her prayer request on her own. There were all kinds of requests. People who have lost their jobs, lost their homes, and have no vehicle to get them where they need to go. There were people who were very sick and a man whose child recently died and he was missing him. Our hearts ached as we read these requests and lifted them each up in prayer.

But there were two that got my heart. They got to the center of who I am. These were prayers from a Mom for their Son...

"Pray that my son, James*, finds God. He is a good boy but he needs God."

"Please pray for my Son, Gary*. He needs the Lord and needs to right his ways and his soul. He has chosen the worng path and his wife has left him and taken their little boy. I haven't seen Gary for 5 weeks now."

I know that there are so many people who do not know God. I get that. But these two prayer requests really hit home. I imagined these two women laying in bed at night crying for the soul of their son's. I am sure they think about his first word, his first step. His first day of school. I am sure they wonder where they went wrong.

Please join me in praying for these two son's souls. I promised their mom that we would.

*Names have been changed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Am I At The Right Place?

We began working a few months ago on a local campaign centered around feeding people a Thanksgiving meal and sharing some love with them. With a partnership that consisted of six churches and another faith-based non-profit, we were able to feed 400 hot meals to some pretty awesome people in and around our community. We want to thank First Baptist, First Methodist, Liberty Missionary Baptist, Emmanuel Temple Holiness, Kingwood Church, Westwood Baptist and Manna Ministries. Four different denominations. Hmmm. I don’t believe denomination or skin color or where we live will matter when we all stand in the shadow of the cross on the day we are all called home. Hallelujah! We also want to thank our volunteers who did everything from food preparation to serving, from cleaning to praying and from delivering meals to homes to making phone calls. Our coordinators that represented all our partners did a fantastic job of inviting people to come and getting the food delivered. Kevin Derryberry Ministries donated hundreds of bibles and CD’s for us to give away. A very special thank you to Tim and Sharon Allen for their hours and hours of service to this campaign.

We were scheduled to send out the first home-bound meals at 11:00 a.m. and begin serving the sit-down meals at noon. At about 10:30 a guy walked into the building and walked over to me. By his physical appearance, it looked as though this guy was having a rough time. His clothes were worn. His shoes were taped-up. He was tired. I introduced myself to him and as he shook my hand he said, “My name.. my name is Paul. Am I at the right place?” Was he at the right place?? Thank you, Jesus! That was confirmation that we were all at the right place this morning! Doing Kingdom work. Being a reflection of God to people who may be hurting. People, our lives have to be a reflection. We have got to be about compassionate action!

Paul left with a full stomach... and a new pair of shoes because one of our volunteers lived out Matthew 25.

We asked people to share their prayer requests with us. There is one request, in particular, that we will share in our next blog. God Bless.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All Things New

We shared some pictures of ‘Love’ with you in our last blog – now I want to tell you why those pictures are so significant. When we first met Love in June, 2008, she was in pretty poor condition. She was malnourished, she had several burns on her little body, she had recently experienced some type of head trauma, her right eye was nearly closed and infected. She was a mess, at least in our eyes.

When we made her circumstances known to our friends, Kriek and Jumbo Gerber, they, along with one of their staff members, Dennis Brock, committed to ending the obvious neglect she had been enduring. I cannot tell you how fulfilling it was to see pictures of Love from this past Sunday. She looks like a different little girl. As my sister reminded me today, “God makes all things new.” That, He does!

This is an excerpt from an email Kriek sent me this week:

“So she was at the party on Saturday, walking around, just looking at everything. BUT she came to ALL of us (white people) and she wanted us to pick her up. She has never ever done this with us before! Jumbo and Julie picked her up once each, but she is so heavy that they had to put her down after a few minutes. They would put her down and then she would stand in front of them with her little arms raised, asking for more. It was so cute. Sorry, but I didn’t even try to pick her up!!! I just played with her every time she came to me! She also played with Jumbo’s car keys for a while; looking really interested in it. She even came to one of us with her sweater wanting us to help her put it on. It was amazing! But through all of this she never said a word or made a sound.

Sorry you were not there to be the one picking her up! I know you would have loved every moment of it.”

I was there, Kriek. My heart was there. God Bless.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Win is a Win

What does living out scripture in Matthew 25 look like to you? It has to be about action, right? It is one thing to want to help the poor or have the intention of helping someone. But to live out scripture has to be one of the most touching acts we can do.

Backpacks. Bibles. Clothes. Shoes. Medical supplies. Food. Prayer. That is what Matthew 25 looks like to me. We have been blessed by so many people who ‘get it.’ Through the generosity of many, we have been able to share some very tangible things with the ‘least of these.’ I am so thankful for people like Kriek and Jumbo Gerber and their Swaziland staff, Erika Bennett and Seth Barnes of AIM, Tom Davis of Children’s HopeChest, and the many supporters of Matthew 25 Ministries.

I believe, that by nature, most people like to ‘win.’ But in ministry, sometimes it is difficult to define what a win really is. Sometimes it is not difficult at all to define a win – a Kingdom win… Winning teams set very specific goals. If the goal is to win a conference championship then the team has to win a majority of the games it plays. When a player crosses home plate, she isn’t concerned about her batting average – she wants to win. When the pitcher allows fewer runs than his team scores, he isn’t worried about his ERA (earned run average). You get the point. To have a successful team, we have to give-up our individual stats when it helps the team win. Many baseball games have been won by a sacrifice fly ball. Many football games have been won ‘in the trenches’ where there is little glory or recognition.

Matthew 25 Ministries works to win. How do we win? We accomplish the goal. We strive to share the love of Jesus through compassionate action. When we can do that, it is a victory! It isn’t about self. It can’t be. This blog is about thanking our Board, our contributors, our supporters, our families and our prayer warriors. All of that being said, we are very grateful to you, God, for giving us this opportunity to share the Love you have given us. Thank you!

I hope you have read previous blogs about a little girl we call ‘Love.’ Here are some pictures of Love that Kriek Gerber emailed me yesterday. Enjoy the photos and I will share more with you tomorrow night. The first two pics are from June '08. THe second two pics are from this past Sunday. Thank you and God Bless -

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nokuhle Dlamini

Please excuse the camera being turned sideways right after this video begins. The main thing I wanted to share with you is the sound of Nokuhle's sweet, sweet voice.

Nokuhle is just one of thousands of Swaziland children who need our help. While we cannot do everything we want to do at once - we can, however, make a huge difference - one child at a time.

I am so thankful God has put us at this place. God Bless you, Nokuhle. And God Bless, protect and deliver the people of Swaziland.