Saturday, July 17, 2010

She wasn't 2 she was 8...

She wasn't 2, She was 8...

More from the book, "It's Not Okay With Me" (about a little girl they rescued and took to the hospital):

When we arrived at Dr. Jumbi's office, we prayed over Lillian again, and then sat speechless as we waited to see him. He saw us within minutes. With permission, our team member, Stephen, video-taped the examination. Dr. Jumbi unwrapped her so that he could see what was under the cloth and Lillian's true status was revealed. He examined her as if she was a rare and unusual bird. He spoke to the camera and showed us her anemic eyes, her paper-thin skin, her malnourished arms and legs, her atrophied joints.
Then he turned her so that we could see every bone in her spinal column. The skeleton. He tipped her forward and pulled back the cloth to reveal her hip bone and the raw, bleeding skin that he called pressure sores where her own weight of sitting without movement had caused the skin to rupture. Her hair was almost gone and what hair she did have was an orangey-yellow color, again from malnutrition. Lillian had a terrible cough; one that Dr. Jumbi said was mostly likely tuberculosis.
As he examined her, he listened to the minimal family history that Mully had been given by the village people. He then continued to say that she could very possibly have AIDS (as both parents were young, died in a close time frame to each other, and it was thought that they were HIV positive) and likely had malaria and typhoid. There was a pause in the diagnosis, and I took the opportunity to ask Dr. Jumbi what the odor was that was coming from Lillian. It was not like anything I had ever smelled or hope to ever smell again. He looked at me and calmly said, "that is what we call the smell of death. Her internal organs are starting to disintegrate and she only has about twelve hours to live. If you had gone to Kipsongo tomorrow instead of today, you would have found Lillian dead."...
I went looking around the children's ward. It was empty. There was only one other child in the entire ward.
How could this be? The slum was full of sick children. The roadsides were lined with children who looked as if they should be in the hospital...
After some time Mully came back and Lillian was brought to a crisp, white, clean bed. The young girl who carried her took the dirty rags off her and wiped her with them to remove the feces that was covering her lower body. She was so tiny lying in that big bed, and she was absolutely terrified...
When I got home that night I wrote in my journal about the day. I recorded that we had found a young child who was approximately two years old. We later found out that Lillian was eight years old and weighed twelve pounds when she arrived at the hospital...
When I went back to MCF in July, 2004, I could not believe my eyes. There was Lillian, the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. She was alive. she was a child of God. She had been chosen. She was one child. She was worth the trip to Kenya and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Her accounts also said that Lillian ended up with not 1 disease...she had nothing wrong other than malnutrition. She also told that her 2 older sisters were found after they had been kicked out and all 3 were reunited and in a safe shelter at MCF.

The last paragraph above made me think of the starfish that washed up on shore and the little boy who started throwing them back. When a man came up to him and said, "You won't be able to save them all, you are wasting your time, you can't make a difference." And the little boy said, "I made a difference to this one, as he tossed the starfish back in the ocean."

We can make a difference. We can help 1. We can give supplies, give some comfort or a smile with clean water to some. We can give a jump rope, a soccer ball, a sucker to some. Clean underwear to others. If many would do a little...these kids, these mothers could possibly have a life.

Water cooler or "coffee talk" doesn't exist where I was in Africa...

Water Cooler or "Coffee Talk" Doesn't exist where I was in Africa...

From: "It's Not Okay With Me" by Janine Maxwell

"The morning after I got back from Africa, I was having coffee in our room at ONYX. I was off in my own world when a few of my office team members came in and started asking questions about my trip. Where could I begin to tell them what I had seen? How could I explain the raw situation of life and death in Africa over a cup of java? Water cooler or "coffee talk" doesn't exist where I was in Africa, not just because they don't have water coolers or coffee talk, but because what they talk about is important. I didn't once have a discussion or overhear a conversation with anyone in Zambia or Kenya that wasn't important. Some dialogues were about life and some about death. Somer were about food and some water. Some were about their God and some salvation. Some were about their past and some about their future, but none were about nothing. None were gossip or exchanges about the weather. When Africans speak, they have something to say. When they don't have something important or relevant to say, they are silent. Oh, how we could learn that lesson and keep our lives in peace.

I was thinking about what she said much countless time do we spend talking about things that don't make a difference? I think of the things I've posted on facebook...why? Is it bragging, boredom, do I really think that my 170 + close friends really want to know...I think I'm hoping they do and I'm waiting for a response, (many times you see 20 responses on the funnel cake at SDC or the silly thing that the cat did...but, absolutely zero response to something about dying children...that statistic should alarm us). Maybe, just maybe if I busied myself with God's business then I wouldn't find a need to always talk about things that don't matter in eternity. Does that fun? I had to ask myself that question. I think no... I want to still have fun and enjoy my friends. But, what if the majority of my time was spent on important things? Focusing on the urgency of those dying with out Jesus. What if.

So, as I read another portion of her book...I thought...when are these kids "having fun" or getting on "facebook" to waste hours playing farmville or to type about going to Starbucks or the $100 new hair, or my newest vacation...when do these kids pack up and go on a vacation? Instead...this is what I read (and by the should get the book):

This is after Janine got back from Africa and was sharing w/ her co-workers and others about what she experienced:

"When she was a little girl both her mother and father beat her. This is very common in Africa, and every child expects to be beaten. Not spanked, but beaten, for any and all offenses. Beatings happen to someone in the house on a daily basis and when they commence, all who are not in that immediate beating, scatter to the corners of the hut to escape. African children are beaten with sticks, whips, pots, wire, or anything else that is close at hand. Elizabeth was used to the beatings and expected them. She was also used to her father having sex with her. This had been happening with great regularity for a couple of years before her sixth birthday. Again, this is not an uncommon occcurrence on the continent of Africa. What could she do? her mom had to know. the hut where she lived was tiny, and the land fairly sparse. It couldn't have been a secret. But, in fact, in many cases the mothers in Africa welcome their daughters getting to an age that their husband can have sex with the girl, as it takes pressures off the mother and lessens her chance of getting pregnant again or contracting another sexually transmitted disease. It was the girl's unspoken duty. And besides, she is young. She will forget. Life is hard in Africa. The earlier she learns that, the better.
Elizabeth withstood the beatings and the rape day after day. Many days, there was no food in the house, and those were the hardest days to endure the torture. At least with a full belly she could escape in her mind to her favorite tree, but with no food in three days, the forced sex was unbearable. One day when Elizabeth's mother was out, her father came to her again, but this time it was different. This time he brought her older brother with him. Together they raped her six-year-old body. When they were finished, she cleaned up and walked out. Life on the street had to be better than this. she walked out of her village, left her life behind, and headed toward Eldoret where she would find a new family who would feed her and care for her and maybe even love her. She would take her chances. It had to be better than home. Sadly, she quickly found out, it was not.
Ralph, (this was a man who was Janine was sharing her stories with), sat in stunned silence. He wasn't looking at me or at the green or at his Stella Artois. He just looked. He was empty. There was a long silence, and then there was more silence. Then he asked his practical lawyer question, "What are you going to do?" I told him about raising $25,000 and building a playground.
He said, "Put me in for five." Put him in for five? What did that mean? Five what? I too, was stunned.
"Five thousand," he said. Our fund-raising had begun, and my casual conversations over coffee at golf or at dinner parties had changed forever.

What if...just what if...all of our conversations changed. What if 90% or more was on the important stuff, the important stuff to God...what if? And what if many tore their hearts open and gave?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not sure I'm ready for it...

Not sure I'm ready for it...

I've ordered several books recently that are about Orphans, AIDS, Africa, Russia, etc. I want to understand exactly what the needs are. What our "America" doesn't ever deal with or go through.
I wanted to put "a name" on the crisis, on the orphan, on the one hurting. Without a name...there's just "some issue" going on in a far away land. It's something I can give too...but, really have never "got". I see the blurbs on t.v. of those starving...but, my life goes on. I have read that Americans throws away around 120 pounds of food each month. I've read the statistics of where we rank in the most wealthy...see at the bottom of this post for those statistics. But, it's sad, still with all of heart has never "been there". Really went across the ocean to the "real deal".

So, I wanted to journey into the unknown. Out of my pampered life and into the real world. I can't say, "I want to serve. Just don't ever send me to Africa." You see...a long time ago I told God with all of my heart, "I will follow you and go wherever you want." (That's called surrendering...if we aren't willing to surrender to Him...then do we love Him? It doesn't mean he'll call us away from our job or life as we know it...but, we should be willing.) I just didn't know what He had in store for me. I never thought it would be adopting from a foreign country or having my heart changed. My heart feel something for HIM. Yes, for HIM. Each of the people hurting is a hurting Jesus. He lives in them. He wants us to reach them.

Well, I thought I was "getting into the groove"...understanding all of that until I picked up this new book. It's called "Red Letters" by Tom Davis. I knew it was about learning to live out the words Jesus has said in the bible...I just never thought it would make me defensive.

I didn't get very far into the book. It was only the intro. THE INTRO! Maybe this book was a waste of money. As I read the intro. and thought..."That is not true." And I quickly closed it. I sat and thought about what Tom Davis said. And I began to "get it".

Here's the intro.:

An Apology...

"The Christian church owes an apology to the almost fifty million individuals in our world currently infected with HIV/AIDS.
Those of us who claim to follow Christ's teachings should be ashamed for what little we've done to help the countless millions of women, children, and orphans who have died or are dying. Entire nations are going up in flames while we watch them burn.
Bono and the supporters of the ONE Campaign are right to use words like "crisis" and "emergency" when talking about the situation in Africa. The continent is on fire with AIDS, and unless drastic action is taken, entire countries will be wiped off the face of the planet by this disease.
Sadly, the church has been slow to act in response to this crisis. Like the priest and Levite of Jesus' parable, we have passed by the man on the side of the road, too busy or too "holy" to involve ourselves in lending a helping hand.
Africa is indeed on fire. But as we argue or fuss about how it started and who should be save first, thousands more children are orphaned each day. Every hour, another one thousand children will die. Did you know that you are just a short plane ride away from a world where eight-year-old girls prostitute themselves for food?
The true state of emergency lies within the church--it lies within us. It's our problems. We can't leave Africa' children lying by the side of the road as we pass on by." brakes just screeched to a halt when I read that.

I thought, "Our church does a lot. We have a HUGE missions program." I thought..."So, does many other church's." SLAM! Book closed.

But, as I sat and thought about it...God spoke to my heart. "Jennifer, you are the church. Each Christ believer and follower is the church. If you are following will follow me into the slums, the AIDS orphanages, the streets where the children are living in homes made of trash." That is me. THAT IS ME JENNIFER! What have you done to reach me in the last 30 years since you were transformed into my image?." Wow! Yes, I've given to missions. We've increased our missions giving each year during the missions conference. I've given! So, there! "No, what have you done? It's not the few you give too! Those few can't possibly reach every dying one. That is irresponsible for you to think that! The "missionaries" aren't responsible for what I've asked you to do. I've called YOU to DO SOMETHING. You've been called no different then the ones who actually put action to their calling. You should be ashamed." These are all the thoughts that were streaming through my head while I sat in Great Clips waiting for Lauren to get her hair cut.

I think it's true. I should be ashamed.

He did go on to say that things are looking up a bit...Christians are starting to respond more, but, we have a long way to go.
I flipped through and in chapter 7 he quoted Bono again. This is what was said, "This is not about charity in the end, is it? It's about justice. The good news yet to come. I just want to repeat that: This is not about charity, it's about justice. And that's too bad. Because we're good at charity. Americans, Irish people, are good at charity. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can't afford it.
But justice is a higher standard. Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality. It mocks our pieties; it doubts our concern, and it questions our commitment. Six and a half thousand Africans are still dying every day of preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity: This is about Justice and Equality."

That really hit me. Because I've heard so many say, "Well I reach those in America. Or in my community." 1st I find it hard to believe just how many do this, (we let the government take care of them or we don't put money out our window, questioning the motive of the one on the corner). I know I don't spend enough time reaching those in my own area or America...So, I just have a feeling most do not, (not judging...just my gut feeling). When was the last time you worked the local feeding center? I know it was high school for me...the "Kitchen"... (praise God for those few friends I know who do reach those in our community). But, I thought...dang it! It is not about "our own soil"...frankly I get a bit tired of hearing that kind of stuff. I love that I was born into America as much as the next Red-Blooded American. But, it's NOT ABOUT US! That is what was screamed at me today. Why I was born here I don't know. In many ways I think it was a disadvantage because I don't fully understand the needs of others that are really suffering (but, who's fault is that...ummmm...Mine...I need to get off my comfortable butt and go, and do, and see, and feel, and be, and love...not just let others...yes, giving to Corbin & Lauren or other projects is also important, it's an awesome start...the same as we have gave above and beyond our missions giving to help missionaries with needs or to help someone in our church with a need...but, after that...we should want to "do more"...have our hearts turned inside out for God). Every single human in this WORLD is equal. God knew each of them before they were in their mother's womb, He created them in HIS image. And He doesn't see global boundaries.

I'm ready to put a name to those hurting. It's not okay with me!

The story in Janine Maxwell's book, "It's Not Okay With Me." literally made me want to vomit. Why? Why? Because it is so horrific and because millions are sitting in their comfy chair doing nothing...that is the answer I heard. Here's the story in her book (she's the multi-million dollar marketing person gone missionary):

"That night was the first night of my life. I knew nothing before that night. I didn't exist. We left late in the evening as the children do not "bunk down" until after 10:00 P.M. At every corner we saw large piles of garbage lying along the sidewalk in a strange yet orderly fashion. Chite pulled over and stopped beside one of the piles.
The night was very dark and I squinted to see what I was looking at. As we stepped out, my eyes focused and I saw the garbage move. It was just a rustle--a flash of motion and then it was gone. Were they rats? Was it a snake? And then at the other end of the pile, another movement. And then I saw it. A head. A tiny little jet black head poked up from under the pil. This was not a pile of garbage. These were children, carefully wrapped in garbage to keep the cold away...I did not know until later that night that it was estimated that there were 75,000 street children in Zambia alone.
At this site, there were in total, a dozen boys lying together. they were so drowsy they could hardly wake up to speak to us. this journey has one of those "don't try this at home, folks" warnings attached to it. These boys are very dangerous. They steal, they stab, they kill, they rape, they destroy. But they are boys. they are children, few of them above the age of fifteen, some as young as seven.
As it turns out these boys could not wake up because they were in a drug-induced sleep. You see, the kids will eat from garbage bins and steal food to survive, but the money that they can beg from strangers is held exclusively for bostik, their warm blanket on a cold night. We were ablt to rouse a couple of them long enough for them to tell us who they were, how they came to the street, and what bostik was.
Bostik is a "wonderful" combination of gasoline (petrol) and glue. This magic potion is critical to their survival. (Sounds crazy doesn't it? but it is.) Bostik helps the children forget. They forget that they have not eaten in two days. They forget that they were raped twice yesterday and three times the day before. They forget that their skin is crawling with lice and fleas. They forget that their father died in front of them after their mother had sat and nursed him day and night. They forget when their mother was too weak to get up and go to the bathroom and when they had to fetch water and clean her private areas for months until she finally dies. But, bostik will never let them forget the day their mother died. And that they only had two or three cups of Nshima, enough for a few days if the didn't eat much. And then what would they do. Seven children under the age of ten. Alone. and two of the little ones had bad coughs and couldn't eat much..." "Bostik was "good". It was a magic drug for these children. Even after we learned what it was, we wouldn't dare tell them to stop taking it, though we knew it was frying their brains and killing their bodies. Who would be so cruel as to leave them alone on the street with their reality and their memories without a crutch? Not me."

In the book she then tells about meeting a boy named Kantwa. Here's some of the accounts:
"We later found out that this was also the night that Kantwa was raped repeatedly by the older boys as he became their sex slave. He would be the one stuffed through small broken windows to let the older boys in the front doors to rob the houses..."

Is this really their life? Boys raping boys? You know it just breaks my heart. I had to think about this Western world. Instead of this being an epidemic here, (and yes, it happens here and those child molesters...errr...that's a different topic). We have boys not much older...high school, college and on...enjoying this type of behavior. But, what stops AIDS from being an epidemic here? Condoms. Sorry just being real. We have medicines, we have condoms. Even what happened on the above mission trip...even with these boys being rescued...(and yes Kantwa and 3 others were taken to a home 3 days later and taken off the street)...if they have AIDS...they will just die. Nothing of their own fault. Where's their choices? But, they will die. If they get married and want a happy life or they become Christ followers and turn their lives around from the sadness they were living...they still have the disease. Is condom's the answer? Of course not. Christ is the answer (for both here and there). Compassion and not judgment is the answer. Help is the answer. I was just saying...the reason we have not had a "crisis" here in the U.S. is because there's access to "protection". All the luxuries at a fingers tip in the USA. Keep sinning. So, sad.

So, I have finished neither book. I don't know what Janine is doing for the African country as of now. I haven't gotten deeper into Tom's book. But, I'm willing to have it all laid out there and do something. It's time.

Here's what Mother Teresa said,
"When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. I t has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. We have refused to be instruments of love in the hands of God to give the poor a piece of bread, to offer them a dress with which to ward off the cold. It has happened because we did not recognize Christ when, once more, he appeared under the guise of pain, identified with a man numb from the cold, dying of hunger, when he came in a lonely human being, in a lost child in search of a home.

I looked in the end of the book...there is a program called Five for 50. It is a plan to bring Christians from all across the globe together in solidarity with the soon-to-be fifty million people living with HIV. You'll have to get the book for a full outline...but, these are the Five steps:

  1. Give five minutes a day to pray for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
  2. Give five hours a week to fast for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
  3. Give five dollars a month to the Five for 50 Fund to support worthy causes.
  4. Give five days a year to travel overseas to help alleviate poverty and suffering.
  5. Give five people an opportunity to join you on your journey.
I think it doesn't have to be exactly about AIDS or that program, it can be about orphans in general. Many of the books I've read is not just about's about the horrible living conditions in the Russian orphanages. It can be about Street children. It can be adopting. It can be giving supplies...if you can't go right can let someone else directly take the supplies over. It might not be much...but, what about having a fresh toothbrush? Or more than one meal a day? It's a start.

I just can we expect just a handful of missionaries to do it all? Yes, they can be our base and we can support them while they do the work God has called them too. But, what about us being His hands and feet? I think this journey is changing me. The one's hurting in Ethiopia will be my child's family. If everything was child's birth mom would not have had to give up her child. In a right world we would help these women so they could keep their kids and provide for them.

I will continue reading this book...I "get it". I understand. I am the church. We don't have to wait for the leaders of the building where we attend weekly to put it all together, or to organize a trip...we can start something do something. Even our kids can!

I was thinking about the latest mission's trip our church body went on. I thought, "So, few went." Then I thought...what if all of the ladies that went to Beth Moore, (I was there and got so much from it and loved it)...would have chosen the mission's trip instead? What if. How many more could have been reached and helped. Hmmm. We do have a the USA we are blessed with that chose so many things. Africa...not many choices. Babies are raising babies and just trying to survive.

Here's what Janine Maxwell said at the beginning of her book, "It's Not Okay With Me."

"The book you are about to read is my personal journey from riches to rags, success to significance, or as my girlfriend said about me, "Marketing chick to African Chief in five agonizing years." I did not want to write this book. I did not want to tell you about my business successes and failures, my fears, my doubts, my depression or my disobedience. Frankly, I didn't think it was any of your business. But I swallowed my pride, was obedient, and wrote it. And somehow it got into your hands, so now it becomes your business."

The last sentence hit me hard. It's now my business. How can I turn away from what I need to be doing as a Christ follower? If I truly follow Christ...I will have to follow Him to the hard places...and that's not here. Cont. Below...

I thought I would always own my successful marketing company, always be making money, and always be designing creative campaigns. But now I am a missionary, of sorts, and designing a new kind of campaign. You are about to read the kick-off to that campaign. I am committed to telling the world the truth about what is happening to the children of Africa and trying to get people to do something. (Hopefully, this book might help to reach the goal a bit quicker). I want everyone to look into the eyes of an African child and see the hope that I do. I want everyone who says, "It's not okay with me either," to act! To do something to make a difference. It could be as simple as baking cookies or having an annual garage sale, or as big as recruiting your small group to go to Africa with you and help out for a week or two...
Although the book is my story, it is really a witness to how God is calling ordinary everyday people to step up to the plate and make a difference in the world. I always thought that it was priests and pastors and reverends who were supposed to be doing God's work. But apparently I was wrong. There are far more of us "ordinary types" than there are religious leaders. Each of us has the power to change the world. Imagine the transformation that could occur if we could put our pride aside and united together. Just imagine."

Good stuff...Lord, please change me forever. I see you in them, I really do.

So, with that I ask...will you give to Corbin & Lauren's fundraiser for the orphans (the info. is on the sidebar and the blog below this one...when we go over for our 1st trip for our adoption, our 10 & 12 year old want to go and take supplies to the orphans...their idea, their project...will you give to buy supplies and get them there)? I typed none of this for that reason. This was all about my day and my God speaking to me. But, we have a chance to "do something"...and hopefully it will be a part to help a nation in crisis. We can be a nation of Christ followers following Him out of luxury and to the hard places. Where He is

Here's where we rank in the most wealthy in the world:
Consider this: in the United States, the average income is $38,611 per person or $105 per day. And that’s just the average – we all know people with incomes that are a multiple of that amount.
Out of the 6.7 billion people we share this planet with:
  • 60% or 4 billion live on less than $4 a day
  • 38% or 2.6 billion live on less than $2 a day
  • 15% or 1 billion live on less than $1
As Stearns puts it, “brace yourself for the good news” – you’re rich!
If you make more than $25,000 per year, you are in the top 10% of the population. If you make $50,000 per year, you’re now wealthier than 99% of the world’s inhabitants.
That fact has the potential to dramatically change how we see the world.

My Kids hearts desire!

My Kids Hearts Desire!

You know you always hope as a parent that your kids will grow up to do something great for the Lord. But, sometimes we forget that they can do something right now.
Isn't that an awesome thing!

When Corbin came to me with his desire to raise money for the orphanage and America World's transition homes where his baby/babies brother/sister will come from...I thought wow...they are not to young to do something big.

I pray that many will give to this project. Along with giving to the supplies side of things they are wanting to travel to Ethiopia on our 1st trip over and deliver the supplies themselves. What a way for their hearts to be forever changed. This could be the trip where God shows them their purpose in this world.

Will you help? We feel blessed that we have most of our money to complete our's not a cheap process (25,000 to 40,000...depending on airfare and 1 or 2 babies). But, taking the kids is an extra expense that we were not prepared for. We still have bed's, baby stuff, dr. visits, etc. that will be coming with this new extension to our family. But, we know that God will supply the money if this is what He wants.

To the right you will see the paypal button. You can specify in "notes" how you want the money distributed (if only for supplies, if 1/2 to each, or just to their trip).

On a personal note...just being out there and honest. I never thought it would be so hard to ask for "friends" to give to our kids. I feel almost embarrassed...but, I know that if you don't ask, you don't receive. And as with selling those "girl scout cookies" parents can be relentless to help their child have the biggest sale so they can win the, I have to get over being embarrassed and remember that the more that give the more orphans will have supplies!
I just pray that our friends will come through. I'm feeling like the kids are asking and friends are just hitting the delete button, (thanks to those who have gave). We've just had little response as of now. I guess I'm just surprised. Darren is just a natural giver and he'll buy anything and more than one many times from any kid for any reason. I just think of buying "trash bags" for a school fundraiser...trash bags really? lol, entertainment books, coupon things we've never used...over and over and over for school fundraiser's...I just didn't think this would be so hard. It's interesting. So, I have just gave it to God.

I am praying that we will have a huge success and our kids won't doubt the power of friends and community coming together. They are so hopeful. I heard the statement yesterday, "I know we'll get the money...look at all your friends we've contacted, we know they'll give." I pray that is true. :)

Anyway...I'm proud of them and pray that this experience will change them forever!

I also am praying for all of those raising money for their adoption...I can't imagine the stress of trying to accomplish their goal of tens of thousands. I don't know how they can stand the worry and stress. Praying friends :)

God will bless those who give...after all it's giving to the fields of the fatherless. Aren't we just so blessed to have families unlike so many in Ethiopia and other countries.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Does God Look Like and a portion of my friends blog who adopted from Haiti!

What Does God Look Like and a Portion of My Friend's Blog Who Adopted From Haiti...

What Does God Look Like...From “Fields of the Fatherless” by Tom Davis

“Being in God's presence had a powerful impact—it literally changed Moses' physical appearance. His face was shining so brightly, he had to put a veil over it. The glory of god was so strong, the people couldn't bear to see it.”

Have you ever experienced a spiritual event that was so real, so dramatic, it changed who you are and how you live? One of those defining moments when you knew you touched the eternal?
I remember such an event when I was in high school. It wasn't even the happening that was so profound; it was the message it brought me.
I finally had what every sixteen-year-old dreams of: the coveted driver's license. Although the car my grandfather bought wasn't exactly the car of my dreams—a fifteen-year-old Buick Regal with a second-rate paint job—at least it was drivable. But most important, I was the driver.
One horribly humid Texas summer day, I was on my way to golf practice. I lived with my grandparents in a fairly affluent community where neighbors were usually helpful to one another. But on this day, everyone's Southern hospitality must have been played out.
As I turned a corner, I saw some commotion about a half-mile ahead of me on the side of the road. An older woman was standing by her car, trying to flag someone down. The two cars in front of me drove right past as if they saw nothing. But I pulled over.
After I climbed out of my car, I realized what this woman was so frantic about. She had been trying to get her elderly mother into her wheelchair, when the attempt went haywire and her mother fell over. The poor woman was lying along the side of the road, and the wheelchair had fallen on top of her. Several attempts by her daughter to get her back into her chair had failed miserably.
The helpless woman was nearly hyperventilating because she was so upset. I lifted her off the ground, settled her comfortably into the chair, and wheeled her safely into the house.
Those two women were so thankful! They thought I was the most darling young man in the world and were ready to nominate me for citizen of the Year. The daughter said they'd been there for more than thirty minutes, trying to get someone to pull over and help them. Everyone was just too busy.
I left there feeling on top of the world! I had done something to help someone who was in need-someone who was entirely helpless without my assistance. But I also felt something else: I felt like I had done something special to please the heart of God—that He was smiling at me and enjoying my meager efforts.
I think for the first time in my life I saw the face of God—I saw it in that elderly woman who was lying on the ground in need of someone who would show her compassion.
My actions that day thrust me into the realm of the eternal.

Jesus is Very Near

You may be wondering, How could you possibly see the face of God in an elderly woman on the side of the road? Allow me to explain. Or better yet, let Jesus explain.

In Matthew 25, Jesus paints a remarkable picture of what the end of the world will be like, and what will happen at judgment. In doing so, He reveals the importance of our actions on this earth and how they will affect our eternity. Beginning in verse 31, Jesus returns in all of His glory to separate the sheep from the goats—the true believers from the false believers. After the division, He tells the sheep—the true believers—to enter the kingdom of God He has prepared for them since the beginning of the world. And then he tells them why they are able to enter:

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I
was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prision, and you came to Me.
(Matt. 25:35-26 NASB)

The righteous who are listening to Jesus are confused. They can't think of a time when they did any of this directly to Jesus. How can you minister to Jesus and miss it? His answer is found in verse 40. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (NIV).
Suddenly their eyes are opened. When the righteous gave to others, they were giving to Jesus. Wow! If that's the reason Jesus gives for ushering us into His kingdom, it is surely a powerful statement as to what he's looking for from us.
What Jesus didn't say is almost as important as what He did say. He didn't say, “Whenever you help the successful people or the truly religious people, you're helping me.” No, the people Jesus was referring to were down-and-out, people who couldn't care for themselves, the helpless, the needy, Ministering to these people, Jesus said, is equal to ministering to Him.
This passage of Scripture reveals the heart of our Lord. He aches for those in pain, He sees the needs of the hungry and hungers with them, He hears the cry of the orphans, identifies Himself with their misery, and lowers Himself to their level.

God's Face Today

So what does God look like?
He looks like the Romanian orphan who doesn't have a hope in the world unless someone enters his life and reveals to him the love of the Father.
He looks like the little girl in Africa who has no father, who has watched her mother's body being ravaged by AIDS for the last five years, and has been crying over and kissing her since she took her last breath about ten minutes ago. Now she has nobody, she's only seven, and she's standing all alone on a dirt road as they carry her mother away.
He looks like the struggling single mother who is hanging on by and emotional thread. She is mother, father, protector, and provider, and to top it all off, she has to leave the child she loves so much in the hands of a stranger all day, just so she can work and put food on the table.
Jesus is hungry. Jesus is thirsty. Jesus is naked. Jesus is in prison. Jesus is sick. Will you do what it takes to minister to Him? For the joy set before for the treasure in earthen vessels. When you do, you'll find Christ Himself.”

I think of this and think of my friend who adopted a Haitian boy and her post about “American stuff”. I also think of how my kids want to give to an orphanage and deliver the items to Ethiopia...not a vacation, a hard journey. I think of how between my friends post and the cost of the adoption and my kids desire to go to Ethiopia, (this could be God's calling of them to the Mission's Field or something else incredible), that when we think of doing something this summer...we say, “Oh, that money can go in the travel fund.”, and we've been giving up “stuff”. I think of how I had my hair done one last time with highlights that can grow out. Do I really need to spend that kind of money on my hair? It can go towards an orphan or beds for our baby/babies. I want to share my friends blog on a new perspective.
With that I want to ask my friends to give to my kids mission project, (has absolutely nothing to do with them...they are just the vessel that God chose to use for this time and has everything thing to do with you being a part of something that will change your life and your heart).
I kinda' have to laugh because facebook tells a lot about what our money goes too...there's much that can be given up to reach a starving child. I'm not saying we have to give up vacations, (we all need them), or special things or every dinner...but, we could give up one time of getting are hair done and give that to someone in need, (I was spending $70 + dollars for that). And as I read my friends blog...we could give up a lot more. Trust me, I'm gonna' be doing it every month for a long while, my hair might be a bit boring ya'all...But, I've realized that it's not that important compared to the “real world”. I have to say, “What's wrong with being honest about such truth's surrounding us in our world. How many kids have died right now from starvation? And we're having our 2nd cup of Starbucks today. We all can be a vessel and do much.
I think that's just such a cool thing. Isn't it time, (I know it is for this family), to be God's image and to reach Him by reaching His children?
Here's my friends post...check out her other posts...she is an incredible woman. I know she "gets it". As we gave them money to get Ronel home, she now is giving to Ethiopia and the kids project. That's just who she is, who her family is. They are forever it!

May 17, 2010
Ronel has changed me.
Having Ronel in my home has changed me. More than I thought it would.
Most days I am completely aware of my American over spending. Ronel is baffled by the cost of American things. Because of this, He always asks how much something costs. It is always too much. "Mama, that's too big money" He says. My shopping cart tends to be a lot less.
Our home is under 1800 square foot. Still he says "Mama, this house too big." I am now content in our small but still too big home. I wasn't before. Things that use to take up space in our home are gradually being moved aside. The importance I had on them is fleeting. The noise of TV is now a seldom sound. Instead, a lot of laughs, a lot of "Mama he/she did ______", and of course the hum of the washing machine. The thermostat in the house has even changed and with it our house was introduced to box fans. Our closets are thinner and meals simpler.
I lived in excess simply because I could.
Now, every day, my excess is examined through the mind of a thinking 10 year old.
Ronel wakes up early, completes his chores, eats breakfast, waters the garden, makes his lunch, all that before 8am. When he earns a few dollars he tucks them away in his wallet. He told E that he was saving to help us buy a car for him to share with Colt. In the same breath, He asked Colt if he was willing to save for the next 6 years. You can guess C's answer. R just responded with "I will save enough for both of us."
Colt is use to taking his few dollars and waiting for the ice cream truck, saving for book fair money, or (heaven help me) buying silly bandz. Nothing is wrong with any of that. The mind set is just different.
I was completely unprepared for how Haiti would capture my heart over two years ago. And now I find myself in much of the same place. Haiti has captured my heart over and over and over again. For this season, Ronel is Haiti. Ronel is the people of Haiti right at my dinner table. All my ideas and decisions are challenged.
I am challenged to love people more, to save and to give, to be willing to go, to live more simply, to be a mom, to not take that for granted. At times the wild adventure is pounding in my chest.
God is using Ronel, my son, to prune me.
."I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off
every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

Here's a link to her b log:

I know change is scary. We are so comfortable in this Western culture. God however never intended us to be comfortable. It's really not about Corbin & Lauren's missions project. It's about what Debra's time to be pruned. To think of more than our little life on our little block. I'm amazed what grit and boldness Ethiopia has given me. My heart is taken. It is there. I can hardly think of my child living in an Orphanage. Or if my child is not born yet...of a mother having to make the decision to give up that child, and is she getting a meal, does she have clean water to drink, is she dying of AIDS? It might not be everyone's thing to adopt. But, we all can reach out to the orphans, the widowed, the needy. Over 60 times in His word we are told too.
Won't you give today? When you look into the eyes of our baby/ will remember where you gave too.
Truthfully...I thought about orphanages and what Shelly was doing with kids in Tanzania...but, I never took it to the next level...a heart level. Once you hit that level...there's no turning back. Your life is forever changed in an incredible way. It all of a sudden stopped being about me and started being about something much bigger.