Roman 12:1-2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Faith in Motion

A week or two ago,  I posted about human trafficking, sharing a few sites for your perusal. Here is another:

However, today I want to share a different organization that is just as worthy. We all have a story, experiences and hopes and friends who make us who we are. Some people feel drawn to support political candidates, changing the world that way. Some people feel comfortable serving in organizations such as The Restavek Freedom Foundation or any of the other organizations that fight human trafficking. Some people feel led to serve and support education initiatives around the world.

For those people, here is one option to get you started!

The idea behind the 410 Bridge is that most of the world's population lives within these lines of latitude. Most of these people are destitute. You've heard the statistics. The U.N. has developed a means of categorizing nations. The Least Developed Nations (LCDs) are those which meet the following criteria, according to

1. a low-income estimate of the gross national income per capita
2. weak human assets
3.  high degree of economic vulnerability

(I had to look up "weak human assets": this is based on nutrition, health, education, and adult literacy.)

The U.N. puts 50 countries in this category, and all of them are in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean. This is where 410 Bridge chooses to make its impact.

By teaching and providing the means for the people of a few communities in Uganda, Kenya, and Haiti to take care of themselves, they are hopeful -- and successful -- in showing neighboring communities it can be done. Before 410 Bridge came to Karagota, Kenya, a community which my church supports, few students passed the 8th grade exams, which determine a child's future: school, career, and economic status. Of course, wrapped up in those three, then, are access to health care and clean water, without which the cycle of poverty continues. Since 410 Bridge has come to Karagoto, the residents have access to clean water, women earn money by knitting and selling sweaters, and more students are passing their 8th grade exams.

There are many ways we can help 410 Bridge help these communities. Prayer and supporting a student financially are perhaps the easiest. However, there are also opportunities to go on missions trips, hold fund raising events, or host one of the Partners, specifically the Daraja Children's Choir of Africa. (These children are amazing! Your church or organization will be so blessed to watch these students sing and dance, and the money raised from the tickets of the performance helps 410 Bridge. I don't know the details so go to the website and check it out!) 

But why only Kenya, Uganda, and Haiti? These are only 3 of fifty LCDs! 

I've heard it described this way: 410 Bridge chooses to go deeper instead of wider. They take the resources they have and invest deeply in all aspects of a community, instead of sending little bits here and there and there and here, until lots of communities are barely helped at all. A farmer's crops need their roots to go deep in order for the plant to survive and make it to a time of harvest. Perhaps helping the Kingdom of God grow is like that, too. In fact, didn't Jesus teach that? 

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.  Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13: 1-9

Let's invest deeply.

Monday, July 8, 2013


We just spent a weekend remembering and celebrating our freedom as Americans. We ate BBQ and too much cake. We put our hands on our hearts as the flag passed during the parade. We oohed and aahed at the colorful fireworks.

We are free to express our gratitude.

We are free to express our displeasure.

And we are all aware that some people do not have this freedom. Many do not. But I do not want to talk about people under oppressive governments. 

I want to make you aware of the many -- far too many -- millions of children and young adults who are caught in the web of human trafficking. 

I was surprised to see, on, that the countries of destination -- the place where these children are sent -- includes the United States. The country that celebrates freedom perpetuates this evil. (Yes, that's some strong language, but I'm not backing down.) Statistics show that 21 million people are enslaved worldwide. That is more people than at any other time in history. In the U.S. girls as young as 12 are forced or coerced into prostitution. Many of these girls -- and boys, too -- are runaways. They have run from a bad situation and get caught up in a worse one.

But there are a growing number of groups that are fighting human trafficking, around the world and here at home. One of these is Abolition International. I appreciate this ministry's work because they not only fight for freedom but provide aftercare for the survivors. 

There is HOPE and HEALING available through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Psalm 27:10 says, Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

God promises restoration; in Jeremiah 31:13 He is talking about the sinful Israelites and how He will bring them back. But I believe it is a promise for these children as well:

Then young women will dance and be glad,
    young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
    I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

Please take some time to read about the work of Abolition International, and other organizations like it:

International Justice Mission:
Women's Resource Center: (This one is in Northeast PA, but they have many offices.)
Truth For Women:

Let's work as hard to abolish this slavery as our ancestors worked to abolish African slavery a century and a half ago.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Walking with God is a Spiral

Last week I met with a friend for lunch. Joan is a wonderful, wise woman of God. She shared something that I have heard before but had forgotten:

Walking with God is a spiral. He teaches us a lesson about, say, His faithfulness. Five years down the road, we come across the topic again in a new, more  in-depth way. A few years later, He teaches even more about His faithfulness. 

He does this when He teaches us about our character as well. Many years ago, in Bible college, I had a class devoted to the book of James. It is a wonderfully practical book. My project group created a skit to illustrate its teachings. It was actually a series of interconnected skits. For each chapter, two or three people acted out what we always do -- complain about trials and tribulations, show favoritism, criticize others, etc. One of the group then pointed a remote control and "paused" the action. The players froze. Then  the remote control player explained what James taught, hit "rewind" -- and the actors moved backwards and invariably got a laugh from the class -- and hit "play". The actors went through the act a second time, showing the godly way to act in each situation. I learned a lot from that class, even if I don't quite remember the details of the skit.

Now my church is spending the summer studying the book of James. This week's sermon was about chapter 3: 13-18, dealing with conflict.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

God helped me to look into my own heart. Usually that is something I avoid when I can help it. No one likes to look into a pit as dark as that. (I told Joan that sometimes I look at my life -- having been saved nearly 20 years ago -- and I wonder how much I have actually changed.) 

Pastor's main memory stick -- what I call that snappy little phrase that gives you an easy way to remember the teaching as a whole -- was "A wise person is a peacemaker, not just a point-maker". Looking into that dark pit I had to acknowledge that too often I am a point-maker. I want my own way. I know I am right and expect you to act accordingly. 

And then I wonder why I have conflict.

But, James says, wisdom that comes from heaven is sincere, impartial, merciful, submissive, considerate, peaceable, and pure.  You can be right, but the way you assert that isn't always. A friend of mine in college put it this way: "Do you want to be right or righteous?" Meaning, of course, that I can be right but if I pound you over the head with it, I'm not acting righteously.

So, God and I are on another level of the spiral. I guess as long as I am moving up instead of down, I'm moving in the right direction. God has promised that He will finish the work he has begun.