Monday, December 31, 2007

Adoption Process

“…that we might receive the adoption of sons…” Galatians 4:5

Over the past several years I have experienced an unexpected blessing. Families across the United States adopting orphans in China from the Jinan Social Welfare Institute come across my website when they search for information on the organization. They also find photos I have posted over the years of our visits to the orphanage. In their excitement at the “found” information they send emails and ask for more insight into the place their future children are coming from. I have learned through their correspondence this “adoption process” can be long, expensive, and frustrating.

Shortly before I left for India in October, I was again contacted by an adoptive family. The children at the orphanage in Jinan are all disabled in some way and over the years I have watched them grow with little physical therapy or treatment for their various medical conditions. The child the family told me they were adopting was a girl severely burned, her face badly scarred and without fingers on either of her hands.

At first, the news that a family would adopt this girl (Fu Bing) astounded me. The future medical costs, trying to help her overcome the trauma through years of counseling all seemed too much for anyone to be willing to sign up for. Then through the ensuing correspondence of Fu Bing’s new mother, I could see an unexpected and touching example of our own Adopted Father’s love towards us:

“…We are so happy to be her Mommy and Daddy!!! I can’t wait until she feels like a part of our family. I have been sending care packages to her and other adoptive parents have taken things to her. I think what I would like for you to give her from us is the knowledge that we will be there soon to bring her home. I wonder, like many adoptive parents of older children, if she knows that we are doing everything we can to bring her home. I want her to know that I would leave on a plane today if I could. I want her to not wonder if we are coming. WE ARE and with bells on as the saying goes…”

The prayer I will be praying for you and for myself in 2008, is that we come into a fuller understanding of how happy our heavenly Father is to be called “Abba”. No matter how disfigured, unworthy, unlovely, unwanted, we feel about ourselves and our “inner” selves, we have a Father who continually sends us “care packages” through others and through His indwelling Spirit:

“Long before He laid down the earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son….” Gal 5-8

I pray that through working together as ministry partners practicing “pure religion undefiled,” we can show many more thousands of orphans (real and spiritual) around the world, they have a Father, doing everything He can to “bring them home.” I pray through our visits, attention, outreach and humanitarian efforts, individuals know and experience, He is coming and He is reaching out to them with outstretched arms and an open heart. And I pray that we KNOW what we know.

Smiling as a favored child!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Returning Home


This is it!

I am finally on my way. Waiting in the Beijing airport that has changed considerably since the last time I was here just one year ago. The government is preparing for the flood of foreigners next year during the Olympics. Buildings and construction is going on everywhere. When I think of the manpower and the human efforts that have taken place to change to entire city of over 10 MILLION people it astounds me.

So much effort to "put on a good face" for the world, when 90% of the population looks for no world beyond this one!

Last night the last performance at the University was attended by over 300 freshman students. They were so receptive, understood all the English (even with my accent) and laughed hysterically at all the antics of a foreign "clown". But one girl in the audience captured my attention. She was sitting about three rows back right near the front and the whole time looked as though she was on the verge of breaking down into tears. I tried to direct my stories and message of hope to her, looking at her directly, touching her as often as I could, I wanted to say something to her after the performance but the students surrounded me for photos with their camera phones and the girl disappeared into the cold winter night. I prayed something she heard changed her despair and hopelessness into belief.

This time of year, many of the students are preparing for their exams. Here education is everything. Parents save their money virtually the entire life of their children, in hopes they will be educated and take care of them in their old age. If not - neither generation has hope. Many students here commit suicide in desperation and shame at disappointing their parents. I prayed this girl was not one of the statistics.

Little by little the world around us changes, whether it is in a foreign field or the person you ran into at the shopping mall and helped out. We DO make a difference. Your PRAYERS are significant. Your heart for seeing the lost come to the Kingdom are being heard.

We visited with the disabled orphans in Beijing and purchased high quality air cleaners for all of the bedrooms. The orphanage is located in an industrial area that must provide their own heating (coal) which is very bad for the lungs of the children. When the director told us the need he explained most of the children stay sick all winter long because of the air quality. Your contributions for this humanitarian relief will make a great impact in their overall condition this winter. New shoes were also purchased for all of the children and will be given to them Christmas day.

This trip has been a bountiful and ground-breaking harvest. Providing therapeutic equipment for the children with CP in Jinan, air quality for the orphans in Beijing, and special Christmas requested items for the orphans in Taian. You are practicing pure religion this season - by providing for orphans on the other side of the world.

Let's keep up the good work for 2008. The year of new beginnings. I can't wait to see what new and exciting places and faces HE is interested in sharing and showing us in the coming days.

You have been partakers in the bringing down of centuries old strongholds and the enemy does not take the battle lightly.

Remember - we are MORE than conquerors. We are riding in with Him - His name Emmanuel is our hope, our future, and our promise.

God with us
And we can be sure He is smiling!
Flying - in His service

Saturday, December 15, 2007

HIS-STORY part of History

Greetings from your "foreign correspondent" in Jinan.

This is my last night here at the hotel and perhaps my last email from China. Today we drove "over the river and through the woods" but we were not heading to "Granma's house". We arrived at the Taian orphanage amidst much fanfare and television crew and cameras.

You might remember this is the orphanage that last year celebrated their 90th anniversary, and I appeared there at the invitation of the Chinese government. The orphanage director and chairman escorted our party (of 14) to the main meeting room for a special presentation. Inside the building (separate from the orphanage) there are many signs explaining the history of the orphanage, with archival photos of the two Assembly of God missionaries who bought the land and established a house for orphans and widows in 1916. The missionaries put the land in perpetual trust and it can never be used for anything else.

When we went into the big meeting room, there were signs and boards (in Chinese) all along the walls. Many of the signs had photos of all the trips I had made over the past seven years to the orphanage, as well as photos from 2005 when we delivered wheelchairs to the elderly and disabled children. OUR MINISTRY is now a part of the incredible history of the orphanage.

The director and chairman, went into great detail about our friendship and how much these visits have meant to the children. Then they presented me with the best Christmas present I have ever received. It was a printed book, with CARE EE on the cover, and photos with the children throughout the years. But the best part about the book, was the handwritten notes the orphans (many who are now University students) had written in the book, some even in English, about how happy they were I was there during their "formative" years, and special for them to know they were loved during this time. WOW! What at blessing.

After the performance and the photos, the television crew interviewed me for the local Taian news station. They asked the "usual" question of "why" these children are important to me, and what has kept me coming back so many years. I answered with the boldness of the apostle Paul in chains - Jesus is the reason. As a Christian, the Bible instructs us this is the way to please the God we love and serve: visit widows and orphans in their distress. How could I not return? As I paused for the interpretation, my translator hesitated - but then he too - boldly proclaimed the message of Christ at Christ-mas. The best gift of all. There was not one "sound byte" they could use that did not "lift up the Name"! All words and sentences carried the message of hope and truth.

As many of you awake to read this I will be struggling to sleep and find peace my last night here. You might recall, after the mountain top experience in Taian last year, we returned to the campus and my friend was struck by the car. I confess since leaving Taian several hours ago, my "PTSD" has been rearing it's ugly head and the enemy is fighting to rob me of the joy of the day, the words of the orphans, the pleasure of my King with the fear of his attack.

PRAISE God that many of the children knew the name of Jesus and the story of His birth and life through the visits we have previously made as well as the many foreigners who have access to the orphanage through our goodwill visits.

PRAISE God that a work began 91 years ago remains to be harvested! His word does not return to Him void. The ground that was CLAIMED for the orphans and elderly remains sacred ground!

PRAISE God that we are part of HIS-story of the work going on in Taian and across China. History is being written in the hearts of children, and the world here is changing.

Thank you for all your encouragement, your faithful intercession, and your obedient participation practicing "pure religion undefiled"!

To God be the Glory - great things He has done, great things He will do - for true are His promises!

Shaken but still smiling

Thursday, December 13, 2007

O Come All Ye Faithful

Joyful and triumphant!

Our program is complete here in Jinan. We finished at the University seeing over 200 Doctoral and Master's Degree program students. Each session closed with a question and answer time. In every classroom, students would ask "Why do you go?" This question allows me to answer freely, issues of faith, belief in God, what God asks His followers to do (minister to widows and orphans) as well as speak of the Bible as the guide for a Christian's life.

Today, the Jinan television station interviewed me for their "documentary" on my work here in the city. Because the producer is a believer, she specifically directed the questions to provoke faith and belief in God as the answer. This documentary will be completed before Christmas and shown during the holiday. As with Sunday's televised performance, the potential audience is tremendous. Even one percent of the city is over 60,000 viewers! All hearing the message of hope, love, and truth, driven and inspired by the love of God.
Tomorrow we will travel to the Taian orphanage. It will be a great reunion, seeing the children (many now grown who return for the day to see me again) for the seventh consecutive year.

Sunday, I will leave for Beijing and have a performance in the orphanage on Monday and a large University performance (over 400) on Tuesday. It has been a full two weeks of harvest work, sowing, reaping and praying for the Lord to bring forth the fruit.

Keep up the prayers for the Harvest is HUGE and the workers are few but growing in numbers.

Smiling and farming in His service

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Murphy's Law vs. HIS Law

Murphy's Law: what can go wrong will go wrong.

This afternoon's scheduled performance had plenty of Murphy's at work. Up until 10:30 last night arrangements were being made, rescheduled and thoughts on what could and could not be said were the topic of every exchange. We arrived at the hotel and were escorted into a side room of banquet hall where the performance would be held. The program was originally scheduled to begin at 3:30 then changed to 2:30 then again another change to begin at 2 pm. We arrived around 1:30 to avoid the crowd seeing the "surprise" guest.

At 2, when the moderator had not arrived and the crowd outside (over 300 adults and children) was growing restless - we started making phone calls. "No the program starts at 3" replied the moderator who was home taking a NAP! Murphy started laughing somewhere in the background as he enjoyed our frustration.

The program finally got underway (at 3) with the children from the registered church singing Christmas songs to begin. I took the stage to much fanfare and media coverage. I felt like - Brittany Spears (not really) but a celebrity none the less. Film crews were following my walk through the crowds, the flash of cameras was blinding (sort of) and the crowd went wild. All of the messages in the performance were meant to focus on the TRUTH of Christmas, the message of hope, the real gift of Jesus. My interpreter, kept failing at a loss for words, and we would have to stop and repeat, and stop and repeat. Murphy apparently fumbles vocabulary with words as common as "boat" and "box".

The children in the front rows kept rushing the stage every time I would reach for something in my bag (apparently thinking I would bring out some gifts). And we would have to stop and wait until they were corralled back to their seats.

But Murphy's Law is not His Law.

The TRUTH was presented clearly. The Gospel message was given in full. There were three television stations as well as several of the provincial newspapers taking pictures and writing about the Big Story. The Name above all names was repeated over and over. Even the children from the Sunday School were shouting out the name of Jesus (all captured on film and broadcast for the television stations).

In spite of all the mishaps, mistakes, and miscommunications of the event. The promise of the Word remains - it does NOT RETURN TO HIM VOID. As we were leaving the building (having escaped the throngs of people) and calculating the "math" of the message broadcast across the region today, we rejoiced. Even if only TEN PERCENT (10%) of the people of the city of Jinan hear the message of the truth of Christmas, the birth of Christ - it is 600,000 people! Even if only ONE PERCENT (1%) of the people of the CITY (but the news is broadcast over the region (92,000,000) respond and ask questions or show up and make inquires at a registered church - that is 60,000 people!

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon in China!

PRAISE for HIS-STORY was told tonight here in Jinan - the gates of Hell have not prevailed!

Laughing and smiling right back at old Murphy
For I am in His service

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Going Public!

We have a story to tell, we have a job to accomplish and we have been sent in behind the lines into dangerous territory. The registered church here has arranged to have a "Public" performance in a hotel tomorrow with every form of media present and every local TV station represented. There will be over 300 in the live audience, many hearing the real meaning of Christmas for the first time. Not only with the 300 people present "hear" but portions of the show will be broadcast all over the province (92 million) as well as the city (close to 6 million). Now of course of with all those big big numbers not everyone has a TV or an opportunity. But even if only ten percent of the population of the CITY (the capital) watch the program (for their children's sake") that is still 600,000 people!


Many adults will be bringing their children to the performance but for the first time they will be exposed to a "message" of hope, truth, and love.

Pray for the translator to communicate without fear and for me to speak with discernment but not hold back His story to make HISTORY here in Jinan.

Today was my fifth year to visit the disabled children's home in Jinan. Many of the children have grown so tall, they all were so excited to see me again (last year my visit was canceled after the accident) We sang together, took photos, and they heard the story of CHRISTmas with the help of an old fashioned flannel graph.

I will close with a letter from an American family who adopted a little girl from the orphanage over a year ago. They contacted me via the Internet before the adoption while I was in Sri Lanka when they found their little darling girl's picture on my website. Their message brought to mind HIS promise "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." His plan for every person (orphans or not) is for us to know His love. Our future and only hope was once surrounded by shepherds and animals, lying in a manger. He did not come down a chimney or say "ho ho ho."

"Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take them to heaven to live with Thee there."

Boldly smiling in His army



FROM Adopting family in New Jersey

We were so pleased to see you are once again visiting our daughter Ruby's orphanage in Jinan. Our prayers are with you, you seed sower. We have been home with Ruby just over 15 months and she has accepted our Lord Jesus as her Savior. She is in the hospital this week recovering from surgery to enhance her speech due to cleft issues. She has been telling everyone how comes into her room about having Jesus in her heart and praying for her surgery. Keep sowing the seeds and His harvest shall be great.

Please let the Jinan SWI director know that FU SHAUNG YUE sends her love and misses them, that she is happy in America and prays for placement for all the children waiting.

God Bless You

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Son is Rising in the East


Last night as I drove the familiar streets through the University Campus, thoughts of last year's tragic accident came flooding into my mind. I was tired and flight weary, the dark of the night, the cold of the winter wind, and the memory of crouching over my badly injured friend unsettled me.

So much of China, and the activities here are very familiar. But just as I think they are familiar and I know the "program" something new, challenging and faith building occurs. With all that has happened in the past year I nervously prepare for what I cannot be prepared for. As much as people ask me "how can you do it" my answer remains unchanged "I surrender." There are no guarantees for what will happen in the days ahead, but to each and every opportunity and occurrence I say "I surrender all": health, home, happiness, position, wealth, companionship, and comfort.

This time of year is a great time to be reminded why we are are asked and must be willing to surrender. Just think of our King's surrender: Health - He endured human flesh, hunger, sickness, heat, cold, thirst, and walking from one place to the next. He gave up His home a place that cannot even be described in human terms to arrive in a manger and live without a roof over His head as a wanderer. He gave up His happiness and complete fulfillment to see how humans struggle, He wept! He gave up His position as supreme authority over all to endure the indignity, on trial, accused, spit upon, beaten without reason. He gave up His wealth and ownership over all creation to have no possessions, traveling from place to place dependent on the generosity of others to supply His need, He did not have a heavenly bank account He could draw on for meeting His daily needs. He gave up the companionship of the Father, the intimate contact with Him to walk with us, become God with us, so we could enjoy the future with Him as One. There was nothing comfortable about the life of a carpenter in first century Israel. There were no "spa" moments or retreats - there was life lived one day at a time.

His example, His birth into our lives, His hope of our future - must keep us marching and serving, and singing all the way.

As I read through the responses to my "Arrival in Beijing", my heart was filled with knowledge of the "Body" of Christ responding and ACTING on behalf of the lost. Fighting to get through the "lines" and "strongholds" that hold a nation in darkness.

Arise and shine - a Light has come into this world - and His name is WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, ALMIGHTY GOD, the EVERLASTING FATHER, the PRINCE OF PEACE!

We are rising up for the battles that lie ahead. We are more than conquerors!

Smiling, armed and dangerous in His service

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Arrival in Beijing

Yours, mine and our prayers have been answered. I am in the domestic terminal of the Beijing airport and all my bags are checked through to my next flight to Jinan - NO CHARGE! The men behind the counter kind of shook their heads at the luggage, but my "sky cap" negotiated and they went right on through.

I had the opportunity to sit next to a Chinese man flying home to be with his dying mother. He was eager to engage me in conversation and told me many stories of his mother's tragic and dismal life when she was a child. I got a good history lesson through her life and times as well as a spiritual one. Through the whole discourse of his sharing all that had happened, he related how his mother had horrible life and now she was dying. I kept praying for an opportunity to ask about faith issues, but did not have the discernment to go ahead and do so. It appeared he just needed someone to share the oncoming grief, the life, and his loss and what to do with that.

It made me terribly sad for the millions who die without hope, without the promise of a future. Living a life of a series of good times and tragedies to overcome with stoic indifference. A life without a Savior is a tragedy indeed.

Praise God for giving me the opportunity for the last seven years to come and share the Life, the Hope, the Way, the Truth, and His love to hundreds of University students and orphans. It is a testimony there is more so much more than what we see.

It's Christmas time in the city, here, there and everywhere - go out and share what the REAL Christmas story means to you.

I'll be sharing here.

Smiling, tired and flying on

Friday, November 30, 2007

Clown on the Go Go Go

Time flies when you are having fun, it also flies when you are in the air flying! And here I am off again with only a few more days in the comfort of my home. I am not counting the shopping days until Christmas, I am counting the days I have left until I make my way across hills, valleys, mountains and a big, big ocean.

December is viewed as the best time of year for those serving in China. The Christmas holiday has really taken hold of the nation that provides our homes with most of the Christmas lights and many of the toys and other gadgets purchased and wrapped beneath the tree. Santa Claus figures are everywhere and even holiday songs echo in the smallest restaurants. It is a time to ask those caught up in the "celebration" of gift giving, if they know the REAL reason for the season. I will never forget hearing the testimony of one of my interpreters when she told of being invited to a foreigners house and learning of the meaning behind the Christmas. She said with tears in her eyes, "to receive such a gift, such a sacrifice of love - I couldn't believe it, and yet I knew I had to believe it. I accepted Christ into my heart and called my mother immediately when I got home and told her the Good News. She said, "I don't understand all of what you have said, but if this Jesus loves you like that - then I must love Him too."

It is an honor to return to China for the seventh consecutive year, and have the access to over 250 orphan children as well as 150 Doctoral Program students at the University. We never know how long the doors will remain open, or the opportunity to share matters of the heart (when questions are asked) will vanish.

Tonight, I attended a Christmas concert featuring Michael English. It was a wonderful and intimate small audience as he shared his trials and his triumphs over many hardships. He shared Christmas favorites (including his hit "Mary Did You Know") and one of my childhood favorites "The Little Drummer Boy". As he sang the familiar words "I had no gift to bring - parumpapum pum, that's fit to give a King..." I thought what gift would I give to my King this year?

It did not take long before I remembered the love song a young Indian boy sang out to me just a few days ago, (translated "I will love you forever,") the laughter of a baby held in his father's arms while he chased the bubbles floating on the village breeze; or would I bring the joy shining in the faces of the first Joni and Friends Camp "Clown School Graduates"; or the dance of young African school children who received their "Operation Christmas Child" gift box, all I picture as His presents to me, that I will one day return to Him. My heart beat harder, and my love for Him grew deeper as I recalled face after face in far away lands I have shared with this past year.

There are many gifts we can give to those we love, but during the hustle and hassle of the season, the reason we celebrate often gets lost in the shadow of tinsel and the din of ho ho ho's. Your faithfulness has been an abiding gift you have to offer back to Him - a Praise offering to the One we serve.

Oh, what a gift we have to celebrate. Oh what a gift we have to share.

My humblest thanks for your active participation through prayer and financial giving,
My biggest smile
And my assured commitment to His service

CHINA - Calendar of Events



DECEMBER 5
Depart USA for Beijing via San Francisco

DECEMBER 6
Arrive Beijing
Flight to Jinan

DECEMBER 7
Unscheduled Visits and opportunities with old friends

DECEMBER 8
Jinan Orphanage Program

DECEMBER 9
Sunday School Program with Children
Public Performance

DECEMBER 10
University Program

DECEMBER 11
AMUniversity Program
PM University Program

DECEMBER 12
University Program

DECEMBER 13
University Program

DECEMBER 14
Meeting with Friends

DECEMBER 15
Program Taian Orphanage

DECEMBER 16
Travel to Beijing

DECEMBER 17
Beijing Orphanage Program

DECEMBER 18
University Program

DECEMBER 19
Return to USA

Your Life is a Journey You Must Travel with a Deep Consciousness of God.
1 Peter 1:17 The Message

I have been home 7 days as of today (November 24), I feel rested and physically well, as I prepare for my trip to China. This morning I read 1 Peter 1. In The Message the first verse translates “an apostle on assignment by Jesus …writing to the exiles scattered … Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has His eye on each of you.”

I had to smile, thinking “I am writing, but I am the one typically scattered to the ends of the earth.” I smiled thinking of the thousands of children, orphans and widows I have seen over the past year that He is keeping His eye on. Their faces are etched in my memory, but what brings me peace and joy is knowing they are “written on the palms of His hands” (Isaiah 49:16)

I am humbled and honored by the privilege and responsibility to carry the Good News to distant lands. Your prayers and emails of encouragement during our assignment in India inspired, comforted and fueled us each day to press on. Our days are numbered by the King we serve. We must be about His business, adding to the Kingdom, bringing glory to the Son, exhibiting our love for Him in acts of kindness and service to the disenfranchised, the hopeless, and the helpless in this world. We are ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, and there is no greater way to do so than in practicing pure religion undefiled (James 1:27)

Pull out your Prayer Passport, make sure you have your Intercessor’s Ticket and join the work He is doing through Sunshine After Rain Ministries in China. The Harvest of 1 Billion souls is ripe – beseech the Lord of the Harvest!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

DISASTER!


I am sure with that headline you were quick to read the email and see what exactly has happened here in Nellore. We have many praises for our days so far.

During the time we were in Machilipatnam we ministered to over 800 children and adults, including a village of "untouchables" where we were also to provide some relief assistance with winter blankets, food staples and clothing for the children (many of whom were naked).

Pastor B (Pastor J's brother) met us at the airport in Chennai (he drove over 5 hours in a CYCLONE) and made our transport to Nellore quiet comfortable. During the three hour trip on Tuesday he explained that Nellore (our destination) had been hit by a "cyclone" and many villages and people were affected. Over 100 people dead and 25,000 displaced. We were shocked that he had braved the storm, to reach us and bring us to his area. He explained the reason we were traveling in a huge bus was it was the only safe vehicle to travel across the water covered roadways.
As we got closer to Nellore we could see evidence of the flood waters everywhere. Many washed out roads and fields totally covered with water. People were sitting on the sides of the roads in front of collapsed huts. Men could even be seen fishing from the road, since the fish have now come down streams. The main roads in Nellore were covered in close to two feet of water. People on motorcycles and the little taxi cars were up to their knees trying to get through the water. It was an amazing and frightening site, as we would look down the side roads to see rivers where there should have been streets. It made us thankful for all that we have in terms of social infrastructure.

There may be many complaints when disasters strike in the US, but what is a person, a family, a child to do when your entire community is no more, and there is no one to help or offer assistance? Pastor B explained that our plans may be changing as many of the villages we were scheduled to visit have been totally cut off and isolated by the flood waters.

As we were driving, his cell phone was ringing constantly. Each time he would say, "this is another Pastor telling what has happened in his village. One of the church roofs has collapsed. There is no assistance for them..." With each ring, we would utter a prayer and wonder "what now, what next?"

We asked about the children at the orphanage, and our program time today. He said, "no problem, all the schools are closed because of the flooding, you can have all the time that you need with them."

Today, the weather has calmed (after the storm) and we made our way to Jane's House Orphanage. The children were waiting for us and were excited to see visitors, especially after 10 days of heavy rains. They loaded on to the bus and we went to the Pastor's house for the program as it has a larger area for the children to be seated. We did our program, had crafts, Polaroids, and special action dance songs from the kids. By the time it was over, they were all happy, smiling, distracted, and interacting with us, showing us all they had created for the day. They set off to walk back to the orphanage with their "goodies" (a fairly short distance) and we packed up to head back to the hotel for lunch.

In a few minutes, one of the little girls came running back to the house accompanied by two of the older boys. We thought she had forgotten something. The Pastor smiled, as the girl handed us to small pieces of candy. "It is her birthday, and we have a tradition to give candies to people when it is the day of celebration.". We smiled, she smiled, and we thanked her and sang "Happy Birthday" to a warm response.

Then the Pastor told us her story. She has only been at the orphanage for 5 months, after they found her (and another girl) abandoned at the train station. We had learned last night - many of the children at the orphanage are "train station" children. Abandon by parents for a variety of reasons, many as young as 1 year old. It seems her father had left her mother, and now was being courted by another man. However, he wanted nothing to do with her children. So the mother took the girls younger brother and crushed his skull on the floor, killing him. When the girl saw this she ran away, and finally landed at the train station where she was rescued by the orphanage workers.

DISASTER.

Can you imagine? We certainly couldn't. Even last night as the Pastor was explaining how the children wound up at the orphanage, and he told us these stories, it was hard to imagine how a mother could abandon her own child to a life at a train station where many suffer dismemberment being caught on the train tracks sleeping, or worse. And here in front of us, with a smile across her face for her ninth birthday was a girl whose last image of her own mother was that of her murdering her brother!

The Pastor shook his head saying, "Sisters all of these children have such tragic stories, you can not even imagine."

We cannot imagine the pain, the hurt, the deep wounds this causes in the hearts, souls and minds of these so very young. As we drove through the streets, already a picture of poverty and suffering, covered with flood waters, we could not imagine how things were going to get any better for such a "world".

He can imagine.

This is the reason He sent His Son. This is the reason He sent us here.

As you may remember, this was not our "Plan A". Nellore was added to our itinerary only after we did not receive the paperwork in time to travel to Imphal. We arrived in the aftermath of disaster, reaching and touching those affected in life by disastrous plans of an evil enemy seeking to destroy hope, joy and love.

In the face of such overwhelming disaster, our "program" seems so small. But He showed us today, the smiles on the faces of the children are large. He is singing over us and waving His banner of love. He is also singing happy birthday to a beautiful nine year old girl through some strange light-skinned girls who showed up after the storm.

God bless the intercessors who are providing bullets in the battlefield of India.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Do the Work of an Evangelist


I would be going it alone, so V could try and rest and recuperate enough for the journey to Nellore and flight tomorrow. Loaded with props and tricks, we struck out as the sun began to set across Machilipatnam.

This village was the farthest away from the city and Iknew we would only have a few moments of dusk to conduct the program before the spotlights would go and the invitation to ten thousand bugs would go out.

The Sunday School children shared several songs before I began, but soon enough the program got underway. I wasked the over 100 children gathered in front of me if they had ever seen someone who looked like me (white skinned). They all covered their mouths and laughed while answering, "NO". There were a fair share of village men standing outside the gathered children on the road who would probably say the same thing.

With each "trick" or story, they responded with great clapping and enthusiasm. I presented the Gospel clearly (using a "chage bag") scattering seeds in what appears to be ground ready for a future harvest.

"A sower goes out to sow his seed, some fells by the wayside and the birds came and ate them up. Some fell among the rocks, where there was not much soil, sprouting and then dying because they had no depth. But other fell on good ground and brough fort fruit. Some 100 fold, some 60 fold, and some 30 fold.

Who has ears to hear... " Matthew 13:3-9

Dyed-in-the-Wool

DEFINITION: Not fading no matter how many washings

When I got back in the van as our car careened down the dirt road with its consistent honking warning pedestrians, bicyclists and cows to get out of our way, I just had to break into song:

"Oh victory in Jesus, my Saviour forever, He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. He loved me err I knew Him and all my love is due Him. He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood."

The song, often referred to as the "Battle Cry of the Baptists.", there was nothing my soul felt more fitting for this Sunday's experiences.
We began the day with worship at the local church and were informed on Saturday, we would be giving the whole message. "ready in season and out", I turned and said to V. She just gave a smirk, followed by a cough, she had acquired somewhere along the way.

"He sent His disciples out two by two."

Our teamwork has been effortless and with familiar ease, V gives the "intro" and then I follow with a trick - back to her and a craft or song - back to me with a story, back to her with the Gospel presentation - the "Hope & Crosby" - "Laurel & Hardy" of "Abbott & Costello" of the rural evangelism circuit. A "straight man" and the proverbial "clown". Hey, what works - works well.

During the service V actually succumbed to her illness and had to cut short her message. AS she went outside for fresh air and ...

several children soon surrounded her - curious, but also sharing in her obvious discomfort and suffering. They were afraid to touch her, but she made for interesting watching.

Inside the church Past J explained how the "New Hope Baptist" was built after the tsunami swept away the previous facility. Now with a much stronger construction, if there was another such calamity, refuge could be sought in the steadfast concrete building.
"A wise man builds his house upon the rocks."

V had temporarily recovered enough after our portion of the program to take a drive along the Bay of Bengal beach. It was a unique experience considering our driver actually took us all the way down to the shoreline and traveled the length of the beach with the water splashing under the tires.

There were various forms of bathing attire - nude children, men clad in a wide array (and lengths of shorts) but all the women had on their saris as the waves washed over the long folded lengths of fabrics and wet the ends of their long braided hair.


We headed back to the hotel so V could rest and Pastor J and R and I went to the restaurant for our daily fare of noodles, butter naan, and water. We shared life stories, visions of great harvests to come and hope for the future. I did have a short rest before leaving for the evening village meeting.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Touched by Untouchables

I don't know the origin of the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words". Perhaps it was a marketing strategy used by Kodak to popularize the use of cameras as personal gadgets to mark your memories. But whatever the origin, tonight's collection of imagery was falling far short of a thousand.

Pastor J had sent photos of the Yannadi community to us prior to our departure. We had seen the pictures of thatch constructed housing, seen the faces staring at the camera. But those photos combined with ten thousand words could not have begun to adequately describe the reality of the living conditions of India's outcasts.

After a 45 minute drive outside the city, the road narrowed, the cars grew fewer, the number of cattle increased and even the usually crowed streets began to empty. As we drove through miles of rice paddies, an occasional afternoon napper could be seen stretched out on the side of the road. We approached a large industrial complex and came to a halt. Momentarily confused and unsure of what we were doing much less, what we were seeing, Pastor J got out of the car. It was only then when we really looked past the ditch by the side of the road we were about to cross, that the thatch huts came into focus.

Pastor J was trying to find a safe route through the steep, muddy and rutted shoulder that would take our vehicle closer to the village. The Yannadi began to emerge from their huts (mostly young women carrying babies) to see who had crossed the barrier from the world of the "counted" to their unnumbered, unnamed, untouchable dominion.


There was a garbage filled river separating the industrial complex from the village. Their houses sat on the banks, overlooking the only hope for food these people have. Amidst the huts were half-constructed concrete structures sitting oddly unfinished like ghosts of a better life. I asked the Pastor what those houses were there and who had left behind a such a rude, almost comical reminder in a community of temporary housing and temporary life?

He explained the government hires contractors to build houses for the people, but they are always taken advantage of; projects started with the money and hope soon stolen once again. "These people have no voice, there is no one who speaks up for them, or care for them,. That is why I am helping them to show God cares for them."

The women toting various ages of toddlers on their hips walked up to us curiously. Unlike the typical approach with outstretched hand or saddened faces, we were greeted with smiles and almost being "shown off" to their children, like creatures from a distant planet. They were encouraging them to touch us, to smile for our cameras, and when we brought out the "smiley face" balloons, they laughed with us, enjoying the attention we were showing them.

We were touching them, and they were touching us.

After the crowd all held their joyful yellow balloons, an old man came up and motioned for us to follow him back to the village. There was a young man who had been hit by a truck and was needing prayer. We got to the end of the housing and on a cot fashioned from twigs and twine, lay the wounded helpless man. The villagers surrounded us, and each offered a portion of his story. His wife was dead, he has 2 young children, and the doctors put a still rod in his leg held with two screws. At this point he produced the x-ray he had been laying on.

An x-ray is not worth ten thousand words either.

A woman emerged from his hut with a folded piece of paper and spoke quickly to the Pastor. He was explaining to us the villagers wanted us to pray. Vicki asked questions, "if he was in pain, if he had help with his children." She laid her hands on his ash-covered, scarred and damaged leg and prayed to the Great Physician. The God of all comfort, the One true God. Calling on all we know of Him to be true. Asking for mercy.

Amens were echoed in the end. Pastor J returned the folded paper, spoke softly and we all turned to walk away. He explained the paper was his prescription, he had been unable to fill because he did not have the money.

No pain medication, no antibiotics, no voice.

There are not enough words to describe the emptiness and silence as we made our way back to the car. The picture left in our hearts created more than a thousand questions.

Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian pacifist revolutionary, gave these people their name "Dalit". It means "Children of God". Up until then their position was not "so low" as not to be a named "caste" - their position was non-existent. Even their shadow could pollute a person of higher caste.

As we drove back across the ditch, back to the world of the counted, the touched, and the numbered, the people were still smiling at us. They waved as we left their untouchable world. Vicki turned to me and said, "I just wanted to touch them all. To let them know they CAN be touched, I don't look at them as "untouchable".

Coming from a place where self-worth, self-improvement, and self-help books, messages and classes abound, it is hard to comprehend a life that BY BIRTH proclaims you have NO worth, NO chance for improvement, NO help, for you are a "non-caste", uncounted and invisible "untouchable."

THE REST OF THIS STORY:

Through the generosity of our ministry supporters we were able to leave funds to purchase 100 high quality blankets for the village before the onset of winter. All of the children will be provided with good quality clothing (many were naked or in rags) Each family will receive a grocery packet containing almost a months worth of food staples (rice,oil, flour) and of course they young man will have his medication provided.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Around the World

"Therefore go ye.."

The road was filled with people (and the usual fair share of farm animals) which was a good indication we had reached our destination. The van was quickly surrounded by the curious and anxious and we struggled to gather our program supplies, backpacks, necessary liters of water and our 36" inflated world!

Usually Pastor J wrangles the globe with a laugh at having the "world in his hands". Since it is the largest item (and most visible) in our arsenal of goods, it gets a good deal of attention. The Pastor of the church ushered us into the building where there were already a few parents cradling their disabled children. The Pastor explained many more were coming, but the difficulty in travel (complicated by distance and disability) was causing some delay.

V and I sat on the floor with the children, talking with them, stroking their disfigured limbs and watching how the mere sensation of being touched made them smile. We engaged the parents in simple conversation, asking the names and ages of their children (a variety of ages and disabilities) and waited as the room slowly began to fill with the infirm, the forgotten, and the rejected. The one thing they all had in common was they were all carried into the church in the arms of their parents.

As in many rural impoverished areas, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids are non-existent. As the children grow older, and heavier, their parents ability to transport them becomes more and more of an issue, an outing that takes a taxi or bus ride is a luxury they can seldom afford.

They were happy to be there, but I am equally sure, they would have been happy to be anywhere. Away from their normal environment, surrounded by others in similar physical prisons, had to be of some comfort. We were 20,000 miles from home in the house of the God of all comfort. We were happy to be there too.

One of the girls (afflicted with cerebral palsy) kept pointing to the globe. The big ball would be great to throw and hit across the room. We watched the world go flying above the heads of the other children, and basked in the joy of her laughter. When V gave the introduction using the source of the young girl's happiness, she laughed out loud, waving her arms waiting to play with these strange strangers.

The program was well received, wide-eyed gasps, at the non-magic "magic" of unequal ropes, caterpillars into butterflies, and a Bible that goes from "blank" to colorful pages, had them intrigues.

As always, the story is what turns their hearts. I know why Jesus always taught in "parables", because the "story" within the story is where lives are changed. I shared the story of the Apple Tree, with it's disappointment and frustration at being different - the looks of emotion registered on the crowd, holding very different and probably disappointment as well.

The end of our story is written by a Creator who is incapable of making a mistake. While the physical form we find our self in may tell a different story - as I shared with this special group - His Word, tells the truth of all human stories, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope."

Twenty thousand miles is pretty good evidence of that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"As My Father has Sent Me.."

"... so send I you."
Our schedule here in Machilipatnam is definitely easier paced than some of the journeys we have been sent on. We have a morning performance, lunch break, rest and then off to a local village meeting with a mix of believers and Hindus.




Our first village meeting was a test run of what to expect, what could be accomplished (crafts - yes or no), what could be shared (full Gospel presentation) as well as size of the crowd.

We drove around ten miles out of town, and the farther the road took us, the less road there was. Recent rains had created deep rutted routes in the roads caused predominately by ox carts and bicycles. We dodged dozing cattle, braked occasionally for wild boars running across the road and of course the incessant horn blaring every few seconds to warn any humans crossing our path was still an annoyance but obviously a necessary one.

Even before we stopped the car, we could see our destination. The road was blocked by brightly adorned villagers and children waiting in the drive leading to the church. As they saw our car approach, the children waved, jumped up and down and displayed the 3 foot floral garlands, waiting to be placed around our necks. We exited the bus to cheers and a hail of raining flower petals. The children and women each had fistfuls of loose flowers ready to mark our path like a bridal procession. It was humbling and reminiscent of the verse in 2 Corinthians 2:15:

"For we are unto God a sweet aroma of Christ in them that are saved."



A tent was outside the church hall and over 100 children and many adults quickly seated themselves to listen, to see what these strangers from a strange land had to offer.

There were many smiles, giggles and "ants in the pants" as we waited for the sound system. The church children stood and did "action" songs with abandon until they would look our way, notice our watchfulness ,and then they would dissolve into laughter, hiding shyly behind other front line friends and start again.

When our program finally began (without the sound system) our audience could definitely be qualified as captive. Adults gathered around the perimeter to see what was happening under this tented domain. The laughter was contagious and the joy spreading throughout the village. V shared the Gospel and Pastor J closed with a message of hope in the Living God. We passed out "treats" to the children and kept handing them out until the box of 150 packets was gone. Widows and elderly villagers were also able to partake in the abundance.

At the close, a diminutive elderly woman approached the table with hands folded in prayer, speaking quickly. the Pastor explained she was asking for prayer, which then created a growing crowd behind her, reaching forward all seeking blessings. Pastor J addressed the crowd and told them we would make a "Group" prayer. Pastor R interpreted the utterances of this humble fool for Christ, calling upon the only Name that saves.

The old woman would be interjecting as I prayed, and with each speaking "in the Name of Jesus" she would add her own verbal additions. When we finished, I was curious to what she had been adding, Pastor J responded, "she was speaking in tongues."

V and I exchanged a glance, simultaneously saying, "it is all speaking in tongues to us."

Friday, October 26, 2007

In a Land of Goliaths

...there are plenty of "David's"

Our travel days finally ended and we were eager to begin. Pastor J told us the children of Goodman Orphanage had been praying for our safe journey, knowing we had been on our way since April.

The city of Machilipatnam was not much different than other towns we have seen across India, probably less cars, more bicycles and its fair share of cattle sharing the road with all of the above.

We arrived at the orphanage and were greeted warmly by the children, who were full of anticipation and grins. They laughed at the coloring book, and enjoyed Pastor J's rendition of the wise King, snoring in the garden. After a snack of cookies and tea, V shared the story of David & Goliath. With each question she asked ("Do you know the story of David and Goliath?" "What was different about Goliath?" "What did David do?") the children gave loud, accurate and enthusiastic answers. They even responded correctly (1 Samuel) to where the story could be found in the Bible. We were surprised, there probably aren't too many churched Americans who would respond with such surety.

But in a land with lurking giants of poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease and discrimination, in a small orphan home in Machilipatnam, there are ten children ready to stand firm on the truth of God.

A child can slay the giants scaring the rest of their world away!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arise and Shine

...and then some

After arriving at the "Best Western Hotel and Castle" well after midnight - we fell into bed with no bounce, covered our heads and tried to get some much needed rest while laying down - legs unfolded, neck uncocked, and the drone of the airplane engines a distant ringing in our ears.

A warm shower and fresh clothes took us to the breakfast buffet of "curry and curry and curry". I laughed, the "stranger in a strange land syndrome" is wearing on our white skin, blonde hair, blue-eyed bodies, struggling to communicate, "two coffees with milk, and bottled water." For some reason "cream" doesn't mean the same and our accent for "bottle" is always met with strange glances. Now we wait until our next chariot carts us back to the airport to parts even farther East. Vijawada here we come! Machilipatnam on down the road.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

O Brother Where Art Thou?

Tuesday into Wednesday also known as Dallas to Germany and BEYOND!


"Oh Mother!" followed by a chuckle, emitted from the mouth of my youngest son G who had been relegated the duty to take my friend and I to the airport. Three huge bags of varying weights stood upright in my living room. The previous night we exchanged phone calls, "How much is yours weighing in?", "Right now I have one 58lb and a 52lb and a 64lb." My heart uttered a Delbert like voice (from O Brother Where Art Thou):


"WHAT R WE GUNNA DUE?!"


The two 50 lb international limit is killing those of us who struggle to take in as much as we can get - crafts, games, and supplies that simply can't be purchased at a local store. So G laughed, manipulated all the big bags down the stairs, shook his head, and continuously questioned "What do you have in these bags?"


V's bag stood at a whopping 64lbs - even after she took out the aspirin and extra underwear (not that had to really lighten the load)! Oh well... we had money and were prepared to adopt our best missionary faces pleading to the inner humanitarian hidden under the blue Lufthansa uniform.


I diligently put my request before the King and everyone else, "I am OVERWEIGHT". We got results! They not only did not read the scales, they just set them on the conveyor belt, marked them priority and off they went! No matter what happens in India, the Father and our ultimate luggage handler just put $ in our account to cover what we may need.


We're awake, our plane is making a slow descent from 32,000 feet with an orange horizon beckoning out the window, "Wake up, the world is waiting. Wake up, your Master says, "Good morning", and He is singing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Special Assignment

God has a way through His word – one of comfort and encouragement. This morning I was reading 1 Timothy 1:1…”an apostle on special assignment for Christ, our living hope.” All packed up (over packed and over the limit) I am truly on this special assignment. Taking goods, humanitarian aid, fun crafts and games, that will draw a crowd and when the Name of Jesus is lifted up – the scripture promises He will draw them to Him.

Our biggest hurdle will be our flights inside India where the luggage is limited to ONE 40 pound bag. You do the math (I am too anxious) we have 2 50 pound bags and two bags close to 70 pounds. I’m sure you are thinking WHAT are those girls taking. 90% of it will be left behind at the orphanages and with the pastors and villagers. It is WORTH the expense to get items into the country they do not have the resources or availability to acquire.

We are taking no baggage – this belongs to the KING and He takes responsibility for getting it there. Please remind Him of that. We faithfully try to be good stewards and joyful servants without grumbling. He has faithfully sent us out two-by-two. To God be the glory in all we do!

BESEECH THE LORD OF THE HARVEST
The two workers are on their way to the fields!

Smiling, sowing and reaping
Bringing in the Sheaves (that one was for the smile on M Raley in Florida’s face!)

Monday, October 22, 2007

One More Thing from a Traveling Clown


This morning my Scipture reading was 2 Thessalonians 3. It is the final chapter of Paul's last recorded message to his friends and "co-laborers" in Thessolanica. The first verse hit a homerun to my heart, this final day in the United States and my comforts and sanctuary of home.

" One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master's Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response, just as it did amoung you. And pray that we'll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in..."

You can imagine how the last part resonated, caused me to take in a deep breath and realize our protection relies on YOUR participation through prayer! If the apostle Paul felt it necessary send a reminder for intercession - how could I not?

On Friday, the Director of Orphan Ministry at East West " http://www.eastwest.org/ " heard from our contacts in India we did not have the necessary documents completed for travel into Manipur (the cities of Ukhurl and Imphal). The decision was made to go to "Plan B" and travel from Machilipatnam to Nellore and spend three days with Pastor BB and the widows and orphans of his area. We will be conducting similar programs with the children and rural villagers. Still... we cannot question the battlefields we are commanded to go - it is after all a war.

Know this, we are fully committed, "all in", for whatever the days ahead may bring. There is nothing noble being about the business of the Kingdom, there is only obedience. A soldier does not question the battle tactics of his commanding officer. More simply put, the reality of a "servant'" is they cannot choose " where to serve". As slaves, our only response is "yes Lord."

I thought about the time change, and when I return there will be not one clock in my home with the "correct" time. I had to laugh. I am always on "His" time awaiting His orders. Here "WE" go again. It's exciting...


"... one more thing, friends: Pray for us."

Smiling, watching, waiting for the High Commanders orders!