Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How do I Get Home?


As I prepared to leave for the Warrior Getaway, I wrote "Obscured." It covered my thoughts on the fact that just because things are not always clearly seen does not mean they are not there (referring to Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as God's direction for our lives).

For the last five days tens of thousands of travelers across Europe have been stranded due to volcanic ash from Iceland spewing into the atmosphere. They are all asking the same question, "How do I get home?"

I have been watching the BBC News each morning for updates on air travel and wondering how this will impact my trip to Russia (May 4-17). Having been stranded at various airports across the world for a variety of reasons (ranging from snow storms and 9-11, to just plain somebody forgot to pick me up) I am empathetic to the realities faced by the weary, just wanting to be on their way.

It is interesting to hear about ferries across the English Channel, rental cars, trains and hitchhiking, all undertaken in the effort to reach their destination. It isn't that they are lost - they are stranded.

Life leaves us stranded and asking questions about our circumstances, in suffering and sadness. Where is the goodness of God who loves us beyond measure?

"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth... God is not ashamed to be their God, for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11: 13-16

Life may leave us stranded but we are not without direction or destination. My heart as a sojourner in this world is to show others the Way.

My first visit to Voronezh, Russia was in 1998. It is hard to believe many of the children I met that first trip are now grown men and women. The young man featured in the photos now lives at the Hope House with Ann and Robert Fuqua, along with several other young men who have graduated from orphanages in the area. It has been a great blessing to be a part of their lives for so many years. I have seen the promise of the Father fulfilled, "plans to prosper you... to give you hope and a future."

The only way these orphans would have heard about hope is that people were willing to go, and you were willing to send.

The young men and women who are being discipled through the ministry of the Fuqua's (see www.fuqua.eastwest.org for full information) and those living at Hope House, now have a ministry of their own. They return to the orphanages they grew up in and share the love of Christ with the next generation of children stranded in a system of institutional care.

Thank you for your years of faithfulness to the ministry of Sunshine After Rain! Thank you for providing funding and prayers to keep us going and sharing the Good News. I know times are tough, but there are countless souls asking, "How do I get home?"

God seeks the lost. He sends the willing to share with the weary the Direction - "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life..." (John 14:6) The Father tells us how to practice pure religion undefiled (and please Him) is to visit the orphans.

I am ready to make Him smile - will you join me?

RUSSIA - Calendar of Events

MAY 4
Depart USA

MAY 5
Arrive in Moscow
Overnight train from Moscow to Voronezh

MAY 6
Arrive in Voronezh
Orientation Lunch

MAY 7 - 14
Orphanage Programs
Teen Transition Center in the evenings

MAY 15
Overnight train to Moscow

MAY 16
Arrive in Moscow
Depart to USA

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Photo of Warrior Getaway


I hope you are able to view the delight and joy on the faces.

Smiling with those who fight the good fight

"Immersed in Tears...

...yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many, having nothing, having it all." 2 Corinthians 6:10 The Message

Paul writes on, "Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open spacious life... Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!"

This past Sunday, listening to the Warriors share how much the Joni and Friends Getaway meant to them, I felt the same for you (my support network). I want you to live an expansive life of faith and knowledge of the wonder of our salvation through Christ. I pray that you don't take your freedom for granted. I speak not of just "patriotic freedom," but the freedom we experience as the redeemed of the only Son.

I was immersed in tears watching grown men and women, wounded for my freedom, cry tears of gratitude for what they had experienced during the weekend. For many it was the first time they had been free from worry of doctor's appointments, military roll calls and responsibilities of daily life. They were given a "getaway" from all the "new normal" activities they are dealing with.

This weekend they heard inspirational messages (brought by Dave Drvecky), rode horses, played golf, got manicures and pedicures, learned to dance like native Hawaiians (at the Saturday night Luau) and even attended an impromptu wedding ceremony! Who could have imagined this wide-open life. Their hearts openly shared their pain, as the joy and love that was poured on them nourished their wounds with healing and redemption.

Each family received a copy in their gift bags of "A Good Reason to Go" when they arrived. Throughout the weekend, I would hear, "We can't believe you would do this! We could never..." These were men and women who had sacrificed health, family life, comfort and security to provide for MY freedom; for every American's freedom regardless of race, religion or color! We live in a country where free speech reigns; opportunity knocks and hard work pays off.

The courage and bravery each one of these individuals (soldiers and their families) sacrifice is humbling. I am proud to serve them and it inspires me to take full advantage of the freedom they fought for. I am "free indeed" (John 8:36) and I am eager to tell the world.

In a few weeks (April 4-17) I will be returning to Voronezh, Russia to visit the young men and women who I have known since they were children in various orphanages across the region. They are now part of the ministry of Ann and Robert Fuqua and the GAP program that provides a transition home, discipleship and love once they graduate. (Visit their website for more information: www.fuqua.eastwest.org )

Consider your participation through prayer and financial support for our ongoing efforts to "set the captives free" (Isaiah 42:6-7).

His truth goes marching on!
With a smile and a quick step
Charlynn

Sunshine After Rain Ministries is a 501c 3 organization. All donations are considered tax deductible. For more information or to make a donation by credit card online, please visit our website, www.sunshineafterrain.org

"You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone... They'll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession, for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, His gift. No language can praise it enough."
2 Corinthians 9:13-15

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Friday, April 09, 2010

"I was there..

...at the game!"

I watched as the soldier leaned over and whispered to his friends those words. The entire time the guest speaker (renowned baseball player Dave Drvecky), recounted his tales from Major League baseball, the young man had a twinkle in his eyes and an irrepressible smile across his face.

Here he was, wounded warrior, sitting feet away from his childhood hero, now a man with only one arm, a multi-million dollar pitcher who had lost his limb (and career) in the battle with cancer.

How could the child have imagined this day? How would the man have predicted their meeting?

"...before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." 2 Cor 1:4

The verse for the Warrior Getaway is based on Ephesians 3:20 - God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask for or imagine. A child may wish they could make it to the dugout to shake hands with the players of the game, but they could not imagine the future meeting that took place this day.

A young man goes off to war and returns home severely injured. He endures multiple surgeries, months that turn to years of treatments and physical therapies. He hears about a place where the wounded can have fun, fellowship, and a break from the routine of appointments and military roll calls. He brings his family. And one morning he sits across from a larger-than-life pitcher he saw play in a legendary game.

Moments like these, only a Creator could orchestrate!

And then we all shared in an impromptu surprise wedding that took place in the midst of our BBQ dinner. One of the returning soldiers brought her newly married 24 year old son and his bride. When I say "newly" I mean the day before. A small civil ceremony took place since the young man is about to be deployed to Afghanistan.

There just happened to be a wedding dress hidden in the "Imagination Station" costumes and the groom was tricked into wearing a referee shirt for the "black and white" effect of a pseudo tuxedo. I coordinated along with another co-conspiritor from the Joni and Friends Pennsylvania office and a wedding cake was purchased from the local Walmart. Soon, we enlisted flower girls, and commandeered a golf cart to decorate replete with tin cans and a chauffeur in a fuschia Hawaiian shirt and floral hat. Of course the army chaplain officiated while the rest of us celebrated.

Other than the traditional cake smashing, all else was about as unconventional as it could get. What a story they have to share with their future children! Baseball hero Dave Drvecky was at their wedding.

"Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you're willing to endure the hard times as enjoy the good times, we know you're going to make it, no doubt about it." 2 Cor 1:7

Feasting after the marriage supper
The Lamb was in attendance
Charlynn

Pray for Dave Drvecky's speaking tomorrow morning as he presents to Good News - life is not over no matter what you have lost

Pray for the volunteers and staff for renewed energy and refreshment

Pray for families to be refreshed

Pray for the teenagers to hear the love of Christ

Pray for the breakout sessions to be times of healing the unseen wounds

Praise God for our freedom!
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ascent

Every year at the time of the appointed feasts, Hebrews made their way to Jerusalem. The songs they sang on their way are known to us now as the Psalms of the Ascent (Psalms 120-134). They are songs of faith, community, and worship. They are as well known, oft repeated and as unforgettable as the teen road trip song "99 bottles of ...on the wall."
The road back to Tapatio Springs is now familiar to me. I've made the trip down from Dallas 5 times, and I enjoy the beautiful and scenic Hill Country roads. My heart sings its own "Song of Ascent."
I know many of the soldiers and their families. We have stayed in touch with each other over the two years since the Wounded Warrior Getaways began. I look forward to meeting the newcomers and welcoming them with the overflowing joy of the Lord.
The returning children look forward to seeing Care EE the clown, having their faces painted and playing with all the funny clothes, hair and hats. But I never cease to be amazed at the site of grown men, grinning from ear to ear as they try on floral hats, boas, and wigs that make them look like Rock Stars. It is better than Disneyland - and it is certainly like no place on earth.
Two new warriors came in our "Imagination Station." The husband and wife (both soldiers, both wounded) tried to take it all in while smiles of wonderment broke across their faces. A green haired volunteer began to make her "sales pitch." "Over here, you can try on one of these lovely outrageous costumes. Located on the shelves, fancy hats to assure you feel, well... fancy. And as you can see strewn across the tables against the walls - wigs of every color, length and style." Their heads twisted from side to side. They laughed. The wife put on a pink and white feather boa and topped her look off with a "Salvador Dali" style artists beret. Her husband started looking through the hair pieces and wigs carefully weighing each style. Care EE was quick to assist. "No, what I am looking for is something I can clip on." He was particular and purposeful. He finally found an elaborately braided clip on blonde hair piece which he attached to his safari hat. He flung his new found persona into Rock Icon mode. His wife laughed. They both posed for the commemorative photo.

She only had one leg.

He had suffered burns over 80% of his body.


Who could have imagined this day? Who would have predicted their laughter?

"We laughed, we sang, we couldn't believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations. "God was wonderful to them!" God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people." Psalm 126 The Message

Smiling of course,
Ascending to the mountaintop of His service,

"In Thy presence is the fullness of joy..." Psalm 16:11










Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Retreat

"...that's what's happening across the nation, and here's what you can expect..." Sam Champion, Meteorologist - Good Morning America

The Forecast, as unreliable as they often are, it is still a habit for me to listen to what the weather man says each morning. This morning was no different, cloudy in some parts, scattered showers, and spring breezes fading quickly into summer heat.

A little over a week ago, Jews around the world celebrated Passover. A guest or family member asks "What makes this night different," and the Exodus from Egypt is recounted. When the Messiah celebrated this same feast, it had been continually practiced for over thousands of years. It is still being practiced today, and believers now join in the ritual that we have come to call "The Last Supper." What is different about today?

The weather in the heavenlies is stirring; for surely there is a battle heating up. I leave in a few hours, accompanied by two friends from Dallas to head down to San Antonio to the 5th Joni and Friends Warrior Getaway. There will be a record 33 families served this weekend. The wounds of the warriors may be seen, but the wounding of the heart (by systems that fail them, people who disappoint and the pain of a fallen world) for them and those they love is unseen.

We will be there to pour the love of Christ over all. Pray for it to be abundant in supply, bring healing in unseen places, and claim victory over souls for eternity.

This week, East West received the message below from the Pastor in India we worked with last November. It was a sober reminder there is real persecution for our brothers and sisters around the globe. We are at war!

Dear Special People,
Please be in prayer for believers in Bartumuli village, Gouapur, Sonitpur District, Assam: Mising Tribe. As I write this prayer request,2 house churches have been destroyed, one belonging to an old lady. The non believers are on a rampage destroying believers houses. Till now no one have been hurt. Our team comprising of S from PCB Church and 3 of us had just paid a visit to these homes this easter Sunday. We were told that one of our lady believer got married with a hindu,the hindu family forced her to perform rituals to their gods, she became dumb at the spot and so the Hindu family sent this girl back to the Christians in their village. They prayed over her and she was healed!! Then she refused to return back to her Hindu husband. She went to the police for protection. The non believers got angry and took the law in their hands. This is the village where V's team got chased away when we were having children camp.

Please pray for the new believers to be united, strong in the Lord and display Christ's humility. Pray for the old lady (I do not where she will sleep tonight). That God will shelter her and provide her a new home. Pray that the Church Planting Movement will continue as a result of this. That more people will come to Christ and God's name will be glorified.

Pastor L
Assam, India

The time we spend with wounded soldiers and their families is not referred to as a "retreat." These few days are called a "getaway" because soldiers never retreat.

Now, let us ready ourselves for battle. We may have more than the popular TV show proclaims ("A Minute to Win It") but I will repeat what the contestants all say with great enthusiasm in response, "I'm in it to Win IT!"

Victorious in Christ
And still smiling

Monday, April 05, 2010

TEXAS - Calendar of Events

APRIL 7
Depart for Warrior Retreat

APRIL 8
Training and Orientation
Soldiers and Families arrive between 3-5 pm
Evening Program

APRIL 9
Full Day Children's Program
Evening Program

APRIL 10
Full Day Children's Program
Evening Program

APRIL 11
Worship
Return to DFW area