Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How to Live Wisely Financially

by Randy Alcorn

I hear all kinds of financial advice in today's times. I've heard about investing and saving and preparing for the future (for example, saving for our children's education or retirement). What would you say would be the best financial advice for someone who is just starting out with marriage and children and really doesn't know what to do with their finances?

Thanks for this question. If you do just two things, you will have the cornerstones of living wisely financially.

First, commit yourself to regular giving to your local church and above and beyond giving to missions and other ministries. Begin by setting an amount—in my opinion, not less than 10%. Then stick with it, so that you are honoring God with the first fruits as Scripture commands us to do (that command is never rescinded in the New Testament). If you want God to bless your life and your finances, don't place yourself under the curse of disobedience.

Secondly, do all you can to avoid going into debt.

The New American Standard Bible translates Romans 13:8, "Owe nothing to anyone." This would appear to prohibit debt. The New International Version reads, "Let no debt remain outstanding." This translation would allow debt,but insists it be paid off as soon as possible.

Hudson Taylor and Charles Spurgeon believed that Romans 13:8 prohibits debt altogether. However, if going into debt is always sin, it's difficult to understand why Scripture gives guidelines about lending and even encourages lending under certain circumstances. If debt is always sin, then lending is aiding and abetting sin, and God would never encourage it.

Being in a position to lend money to others is a blessing, whereas being the borrower is a curse (see Deuteronomy 28:44-45). Unless there's an overwhelming need to borrow, it's unwise for God's children to put themselves under the curse of indebtedness. At the very least, Romans 13:8 proves that we shouldn't normally borrow, and should always pay off debt as soon as possible. The common practice of borrowing monthly and making partial payments violates this principle.

That "the borrower is servant to the lender" doesn't absolutely forbid debt, but it's certainly a strong warning. God says we're not to be servants of men (see 1 Corinthians 7:23). How can we be fully free to serve God when we're indentured to human creditors?

The choice to live under debt (except in manageable amounts, for example,with a mortgage payment that is modest and reasonable in a house well within your means) is ultimately degrading and deadening to the soul and to a marriage. It is always unwise to live above your income. More marriages are damaged by financial issues than anything else, and more lives are disengaged from a walk with Christ through unwise money decisions.

The effects on children are serious, in that the raised stress level of the home affects them, too (not to mention the bad example of unwise choices). We are raising a generation of young people who, statistics indicate, are not generous givers and who are addicted to the debt mentality. Who are they learning this from? We as parents need to intervene and change the example we are setting for them. Likewise, church leaders can help this by not taking on large indebtedness on the church. When churches go ten million dollars in debt for a new building, what example does that set for the congregation?

I am very pro-church and respectful of church leaders, so I want to be clear that I do not hold to the anti-church mentality that is poisoning many believers today. I love the church, imperfect as it is, but I do believe church leaders need to show the way by being generous in giving away larger and larger amounts to outside ministries, as well as avoiding crippling debt.

(I have chapters on giving, tithing and debt, as well as lifestyles,savings, and teaching children about money, in my book Money, Possessions and Eternity.)

Randy Alcorn


Friday, June 26, 2009

Serving the Community

(revised by Doug Nichols from Significant Living, December 2008, p. 23)

The secret to servant living is its simplicity, says Dave Workman, author of The Outward Focused Life. Noting that most churches do more planning than doing, Dave says his Church takes about three minutes to provide a few words of instruction before sending members out to serve others.

He asks. “How much training do you need to serve someone? It’s such a simple thing that people catch on right away.”

Simplicity means something that can be done in a maximum of 60 to 90 minutes. When the church handed out free water at an intersection, it gave away 300 bottles in 30 minutes.

Two other recommendations: Do projects in groups. Afterwards, meet for a debriefing session where volunteers can share the reactions they encountered, how others were touched, and pray for them and opportunity to share the Gospel and compassionate care.

“Make it part of the routine on the church’s calendar,” Dave says. “If you’re not doing it every week, maybe once a month, have an outreach on a Saturday morning.”

Finally, the pastor says to maintain a humble attitude. Remember that you’re not trying to sell anything, and if someone rejects the offer, don’t take it personally.

Here is a sampling of servant evangelism projects anyone can try, no matter where they live (for more details, go to www.outwardfocusedlife.com):

• Offer free gift wrapping for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, and so forth.
• Remove snow from walks for no charge.
• Provide shopping assistance for the disabled and shut-ins.
• Sing at a nursing home
• Give away soft drinks, water, newspapers, stamps, or hot chocolate.
• Put quarters in the machines at Laundromats.
• Offer doughnuts to local police and fire-fighters. Put together dinners, snacks, or care packages
for them. Write a letter of appreciation and deliver it with a gift basket.
• Pick up trash in a neighborhood.
• Mow lawns, trim hedges, clean gutters, or rake leaves.
• Sponsor a $1 car wash – where volunteers give $1 to the driver.
• Offer oil changes and minor car repairs for single mothers.
• Clean restrooms for local businesses.
• Pay for a meal of the person behind you at a take-out window.
• Give away coffee shops and restaurant gift cards, or gasoline cards.

Source: Significant Living, December 2008, p. 23

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Missionary Questionnaires

by David Hosaflook

When missionaries gather for fellowship, you might overhear them talking about the creative questionnaires they've had to fill out from supporting churches (or potential ones). Missionary men rant on together about the most awkward questions they've ever gotten just as normal men rant on about the biggest fish they've ever caught. Missionaries get some whoppers!

I don't think the problem is that missionaries resent questions or questionnaires. We actually welcome and want churches to get to know about who we are, what we believe, what we've done, what we want to do, etc. Obviously, it would be the epitome of arrogance to ask people for support and simultaneously resent them for asking questions that are important to them! Missionaries ought to have patience and humility. Nevertheless, here are some reasons why a missionary might sigh when getting a questionnaire in the mail:

Sometimes the questionnaires seem too rigid: yes-or-no questions can't always be answered yes or no without clarifications (and there's rarely an invitation to explain).

Sometimes they seem time-consuming and redundant: many missionaries have formulated detailed doctrinal statements and engineered websites which would answer a lot of questions beforehand.

Sometimes they seem too one-way: there is rarely any feedback from the churches about the answers the missionaries have spent time formulating.

Sometimes they seem too stressful: the questions are often controversial, and the poor missionary trying to raise support feels the pressure of trying to answer honestly but carefully. He's dying to get to the field; he's hoping his answers won't be misunderstood.

Sometimes they seem too culturally linked to the American church scene, focusing on issues pertinent to the regions of the sending churches. Missionaries on foreign fields deal with cultural issues like blood feuds or polygamy within the mission churches, and so when they get detailed questions about facial hair, music, or the appropriateness of bermuda shorts, they think, "You guys really need to get out more" (it would be wise for them not to actually express this cheeky thought, Proverbs 10:19).

Sometimes they seem too demanding and numbers-focused: "How many new churches did you plant last year? How many did you baptize last month? How many attended your services last week?" Of course, numbers are great in the sense that the higher the number saved, the more people glorify God and are rescued from The Fire; but the way these questions are phrased seem to turn missionaries off somehow, if they infer that they will lose (or not obtain) support if they had to answer: "0, 0, 23."

Sometimes questionnaires seem out-of-touch: missionaries have been out with their families battling Hell and getting shot at (often literally). They have been hacking through the thicket of new regions untouched by the Gospel and have been engaged in intense spiritual warfare and controversy--not with other Christians splitting hairs over some Biblical preference--but with witch doctors, demon-possessed crazies, radical religious clerics, etc. So when they come home and get asked to rank the level of fellowship they could enjoy with 50 American Christian organizations and Bible colleges on a scale of 1-10, they feel something like Gandalf returning to Middle Earth after fighting the flaming demon Balrog and quipping, "I have not passed through fire and flood to bandy words!"

Sometimes they seem too formal: question forms are no substitute for relationships. There is often little relationship enjoyed with the supporting pastors or the missions committee, just a bunch of formal questions that assumedly get processed and filed away somewhere. A deputee once told me "I don't do questionnaires." I thought that was on the arrogant side, but I think his point was basically, "if they don't want to get to know me personally or read my doctrinal statement, I don't want to waste my time rehashing it all for them."

Missionaries love being asked about their work, but I've often wondered if there is a better way to handle some of these questionnaires. Then, out-of-the-blue, we received one that was so refreshing, so rare, that my wife and I literally wept. Sure, it contained a lot of info-type questions which a church really must ask, but it also showed a heart for missionaries, an understanding of missions, and a desire for relationship. Later, they sent an additional questionnaire. I am posting some of the text for you, for the benefit of local churches desiring to really connect with their missionaries.


Questionnaire #1

Your brothers and sisters at our church are most concerned about how you are doing. Please know that we understand missionaries are people just like the rest of us, and we do not expect you to be to be a super-hero. Please take the time to share with us an accurate description of what the past year has been like for you and how you are doing currently.

Please take as much space as needed to describe your personal walk with God during the past year. (Include things He has taught you or ways in which He is changing you. Share with us honestly what has been happening in your own personal Bible study and devotional life, including prayer times.)

Who are your close friends and accountability partners on the mission field? How are you “encouraging one another day after day, so that you do not become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13)?

If you do not have close spiritual friends on the mission field, do you have other people that you keep in touch with and share your heart with on a regular basis? (If yes, who are they and how is that working? If no, please suggest some friends from our church whom you would like for us to connect with you for such a purpose.)

Please describe for us any cultural or emotional struggles that you are having in relationship to where you are living.

How is your physical health and the health of your family members?

Your brothers and sisters at our church recognize that the families of ministry leaders are often under immense pressures, and we are very concerned about the health of your marriage and your family. We recognize that these areas are sometimes the most difficult to share, but we want to encourage you to give us a honest update so that we can respond with prayers, love and even help, if necessary.

Please give an overview of how you are doing in your relationship as husband and wife, and explain how you contribute to the priority and deepening of this relationship in the midst of your ministry.

Please describe both encouragements and concerns for each of your children. Be sure to mention if there are any issues with your children specifically related to being on the mission field.

Do you believe your family needs any direct attention in the area of marriage or parenting? (If yes, please explain how you believe we might be the best help to you in this area.)

Your brothers and sisters at our church whole-heartedly believe that while some “plant” and some “water,” it is God who gives the increase. We look to Him as we pray for spiritual fruit that will remain in your part of the world. While we do not want to put pressure on you by counting conversions or baptisms, we do want to stay knowledgeable about what is happening specifically in your ministry, and we request you complete the following questions, using the back if necessary.

Please summarize how you have seen God leading and working in specific areas of your ministry during the last year.

Please explain your vision for ministry in the coming year, including any specific goals you have established.

Please share some ministry highlights and reasons for rejoicing from the past year.

Please share any ministry disappointments or discouragements from the past year.

Please share any specific training, materials, etc., that you believe you need to more effectively reach your ministry objectives.

Your brothers and sisters at our church consider it a privilege to partner with you in the work of the Gospel by supporting you financially. We recognize with you that our faithful God ultimately provides for our needs, and we enter a new year trusting Him to do that for you and your ministry. In an effort to best serve our missionaries, we want to be both informed and responsible in handling the Lord’s money that He has entrusted to the church mission board through the sacrificial giving of His people here. Please respond to the following questions that will help us better understand your financial situation and the way we may most effectively partner with you in this area. Thank you very much.

Please attach or write out below the support budget established by your mission board or sending agency. (By month or by year—either one is fine.)

Please write out a detail of the current monthly support commitments to you and your ministry, including both churches and individuals. (You do not need to list out personal gifts or special one-time gifts.)

Please circle the amount of our church's support in the listing for question 2, and offer additional written explanation of how these monies are being used if they are for purposes other than contributing towards the budget presented above.

Are you falling short in your monthly income, based upon the comparison of your monthly receipts and your monthly needs during the last year? If yes, how much are you short? What are your plans, if any, for raising more financial support?

Please share with us any financial needs you anticipate during the next year related to special ministry projects, travel, equipment, etc.

Our Church's Involvement
Your brothers and sisters here take seriously our commitment to partner with those who have gone out for the sake of the Gospel. We want to do more for you than send you monthly financial support. We want to keep you, your family, and your ministry close to our hearts. We want to invest in your spiritual and ministry success in every way. Please complete the following questions honestly to help us evaluate how we are doing.

It is our desire to faithfully pray for our missionaries as a church, and we highlight this privilege through a monthly missions prayer meeting. Looking over the past year, have you sensed that our church family is praying for you?

It is our desire to provide occasional communications from us to you. Looking back over the past year, do you feel that you have had contact from the people from our church?

We want to be faithful and responsive in supporting you financially. Looking back over the past year, do you believe that we have demonstrated that to you specifically?

Please share any insights or ideas that you may have about how we may better serve you in this area.


Questionnaire #2

1. How connected do you feel to our church while you’re away? I.e. how well do we keep you informed on what is going on here? What kinds of information would be helpful in this regard?

2. Do you feel supported and kept accountable by individuals in the church? I.e. is there someone in the church that you keep in close contact with regularly; someone you feel comfortable sharing with, and who understands your situation there? If so, about how often do you communicate, and who usually initiates, you or them?

3. What means do you use to communicate with people at our church? What is your preferred way of keeping people informed about what is happening where you are? Would any of the following be helpful if available: Email, Web Blog, Facebook, Skype, Twitter? Do you have any concerns about communication over the internet?

4. What suggestions do you have for improving communication between us?

5. How connected do you feel to our church when you’re back here? What would you like your experience to be like when you’re back? (Be honest!)

6. Have you ever been given the opportunity to share what you are doing with the church body?

7. On a scale of 1-10 rate how meaningful each of these would be to you:

Receiving great Christian books from time to time.
Receiving commentaries or Bible study tools from time to time.
Receiving periodic “care packages” with fun and practical stuff from “home.”
Having birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions remembered.
Receiving educational materials or supplements for home schooling.
Receiving good Christian music, DVD’s or other media from time to time.
Short-term visit from a friend or a small team of workers from our church.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Gift of an Engagement Ring

by Jeff & Mary Ann Anderson Missionaries with ACTION Philippines

Several years ago, Doug Nichols preached at Christ Commission Fellowship, a large church in Metro Manila, and mentioned the need of a former street girl who wanted to study Social Work and serve kids who grew up on the streets like she did.

Jenelyn was rescued from the streets by the staff of the Papa John Center several years ago. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of Gemma, the director of the Papa John Center and her mentor. However, the Papa John Center and Jenelyn did not have the funds to put her through this three-year course.

Doug mentioned this need during his message. After the service, a note and ring were given to Doug with instructions to sell the ring a sacrificial gift to the Lord to help Jenelyn. The note read as follows:

Pastor Doug, I never felt this strong command from the Lord - enclosed in this envelope is my engagement ring that is worth P23,000 ($500). The Lord is telling me to give what is precious to me and I can say that this ring is my wealth - I don't have money to give you but this. I also am poor and I am being blessed by the Lord through my fiancé, Andrew. I am surrendering this ring that will serve its greatest purpose and that is to send a child to school. All glory and honor to our Lord God and Most High!! My fiancé agreed to give this to you because he too was touched by the message of the Lord. - Mary

Later, someone heard of Mary's sacrificial gift and was so moved that the individual donated the price of the ring so it could be returned to her. We returned Mary’s precious ring to her and thanked her for obediently following the Lord and inspiring others to do the same. In my thank-you note to Mary, I encouraged her with Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”

Initial funds were given and Jenelyn was able to start school. We continue to trust the Lord for her total education which is approximately $11,903 for a 3 1/2 year course.

Mary gave what was precious to her to help someone whom she did not know, when she herself had very little. At a ladies’ church meeting, my wife, Mary Ann, gave the following challenge, "Are you willing to give up a manicure, day at the spa, or café latté so a street child can get an education, receive food and shelter, and have an opportunity to hear the Gospel?"

Think and pray about Mary Ann's challenge.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Checklist for Evaluating Worship

W. Robert Godfrey, in his book Pleasing God in Worship, poses the following questions, which we may well use to help us assess if our corporate worship conforms to God's Word, or better still, if we are worshiping God "acceptably with reverence and awe" (Heb. 12:29):

√ Does my church love and believe the Bible?

√ Is the worship of my church filled with the Word of God?

√ How much of the service is given to the reading of the Bible?

√ How much of the service is given to biblical prayer?

√ How much of the service is given to singing that is biblical in content and character?

√ What is content of preaching?

√ Is preaching a substantial part of the service?

√ Is the Law of God clearly present in the service?

√ Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly present and central in the service?

√ What is the role of the sacraments [baptism and Lord's Supper] in the ministry of the church?

√ Are there elements of the service that are more entertaining than biblical?

√ Are both joyful thanksgiving and reverent awe expressed and balanced in the service?

Source: Faithwalk, Vol. 3 No. 1, 2003, p. 15

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saturation Praying

by Rev. Will Bruce, Minister-at-Large

Overseas Missionary Fellowship
10 West Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120-4413
Telephone: 800.422.5330 or 303.730.4160
Fax: 303.730.4165
E-mail: info@omf.org

I. Saturation Praying is praying in which we share, unite, and zero in on the target with specific and full coverage.

Luke 11:1 "Lord, teach us to pray." We are commanded to pray: 1 Thess. 5:17. We are invited to pray:John 14:14. We are the losers if we do not pray: James 4:2b.

We talk to God, the Father through Jesus Christ, the Son, helped by the Holy Spirit. We talk with God simply and naturally as we would talk to others, yet with reverence.

It is hard to change old habit patterns and adopt that which would prove to be more effective in relation to answers for ourselves and for others. Involve the whole family or group in praying--no spectators, all participate. We move on from panic or crisis praying to protective praying.

God loves us, accepts us and cares for us. He will also forgive and cleanse us as we repent. "We are His workmanship." Ephesians 2:10. He is a living God who hears and answers.

II. General Rules:
Brief--back and forth
Only one formal opening and closing
Avoid simply "Lord, bless so and so."
Specific. Not shotgun praying. Luke 11:5,6.
Saturate one subject at a time.
Pray in agreement.
Everyday language but not crude.
Honest and open.
One step at a time.
Then move on to another subject.

An example of saturation praying for a missionary coming home on furlough. Items for prayer will include: extra strength for the multiplied duties prior to his leaving; handing over the work to others; health problems; travel arrangements; safety in travel; needs of the family (change of schools, new friends, culture shock); relationships with family members at home (including unsaved or bereaved ones); a place to live; a ministry in the home church; deputation opportunities; need of a car, furlough studies; ability to communicate the challenge of the field, etc.

Evelyn Christenson has an excellent book on prayer and a leader's guide for teaching prayer. She suggests these 6 simple steps:

1. Subject by subject.
2. Short prayers.
3. Simple prayers.
4. Specific prayers.
5. Silent prayers.
6. Small groups.

III. Five suggested steps for praying, with full freedom to move back and forth between steps:
1. Tune in: Psalm 46:10; Ps. 27:14, and think of:
a. What He is.
b. What He has done for us.
c. What we are in Him.
d. What we have in Him.

2. Praise Him (worship): Phil 4:4-7; 1 Thess. 5:16, and thank Him for:
a. Who He is.
b. What He has done for us.
c. What He will do.
Be specific. Give thanks for NEW LIFE, HEALTH, FAMILY MEMBERS, ANSWERS TO PRAYER, etc.

3. Share personal needs: James 5:13-16. In honesty, in openness, with reality. Use "I" for expressing a need or in confession, not "We."

4. Bear one another's burdens: Gal. 6:2. Have a real concern for and understanding of one another. Use your imagination concerning the needs of others. Ask God for guidance.

5. Reach out in earnest, specific, in-depth prayer for other Christians and those without Christ in your neighborhood, nation, and world.

IV. Benefits:
1. A new awareness of one another.
2. A new sense of being loved.
3. Timid ones begin to participate.
4. Praying is more thorough, therefore more effective.

Some recommended books on prayer:
Prayer Power Unlimited by J. Oswald Sanders
Born for Battle by Arthur Mathews
God's Powerful Weapon by Denis Lane
Prayer without Pretending by Anne Townsend
Mountain Rain by Eileen Crossman, The biography of J.O. Fraser. Gives an ideal example of what is accomplished on the mission field through prayer in the home country.
The Prayer of Faith by J.O. Fraser
Effective Prayer by J. Oswald Sanders

Overseas Missionary Fellowship
10 West Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120-4413
Telephone: 800.422.5330 or 303.730.4160
Fax: 303.730.4165
E-mail: info@omf.org

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blood and Money

Recently an acquaintance of the ministry gave Margaret and me a brand new $50 bill. Knowing the sacrifice that this must have been, Margaret and I prayed that the Lord would lead us to whom to give this. Later while I was having a medical appointment to draw blood, the nurse seemed to be quite depressed. I asked how she was doing and she responded, “Not too well. My husband has just lost his job.” She then said she even had to borrow money from her grandmother that morning to buy gasoline for her car to get to work, and I asked if I could help her by giving her a small gift to help. As I handed her the money, she was speechless, but very thankful.

As I drove back to my office, it dawned on me how quickly the Lord had answered our prayer – not just giving the money, but to someone in great need. God answers prayer for His glory.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quarreling Forbidden

Trying to shift blame from ourselves to another person is a common practice. Whether it is an extreme case, such as the Nazis on trial after World War II who said they were only following orders, or a less heinous situation, such as a young child saying that his brother made him steal a pack of gum, all people like to point the finger when they are caught in sin.

Jacob's sons knew that truth about what had really happened to Joseph would have to come out once they were charged with telling their father the good news that Joseph had not died. Remember that Jacob's sons lied to him after Joseph was sold into slavery, telling him that "a fierce animal" had slaughtered their brother (Gen. 37:31-35). To explain why Joseph was still alive would necessitate a full revelation of their betrayal. Though all (except Benjamin) were guilty of this crime on some level, the tendency to shift blame would create opportunities for the brothers to accuse one another of responsibility in hopes of being held less culpable for their act.

Joseph moves to prevent this arguing in Genesis 45: 21-24. First he moves to assure them that there is no need to blame one another through the gift of "a change of clothes" (45:22). The clothing each brother receives is an outer garment that is also used as a blanket. In other words, it is a tunic, recalling the coat of many colors that helped prompt the brothers' jealousy of Joseph (chap. 37). By this gift Joseph gives further proof of forgiveness and reconciliation, for special coats can now be given without any worry of inciting strife.

More important are Joseph's instructions for his brothers not to quarrel. For the first time in decades, Jacob's sons are at peace with one another, and nothing must trouble this accord. Today, we must heed these words as well and avoid foolish arguing, not only over blame, but over relatively minor matters as well (Rom 14:1). John Calvin comments: "We ought to imitate this kindness of Joseph; that we may prevent, as much as possible, quarrels, and strifes of words; for Christ requires of his disciples, not only that they should be lovers of peace, but also that they should be peace-makers."

Source: Thomas, Derek W.H., "Quarreling Forbidden," Tabletalk October 2007, page 30

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Children Are a Gift from God: Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children are a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them (Psalm 127:3-5 NIV).

Become Like Little Children: He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:2-4 NIV).

Welcome a Child: He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me (Mark 9:36-37 NIV).

Jesus Calls for the Children: People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…and he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16 NIV). [Pages 31, 32]

Source:Sylvia Foth, Daddy, Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidxana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Global Challenges Are Also On the Rise

Disease Threatens: Nearly 39 million people live with HIV/AIDS and the number is still on the rise. More than 6800 people are newly infected with HIV/AIDS every day.

Over 2.1 million people die each year of AIDS. This trend has left entire nations without enough adults to harvest crops, conduct commerce or raise children. It is estimated that 15 million children have lost one or both parents as a result of AIDS since 1981. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007.]

As sobering as these statistics are, the reality is that other preventable diseases cause even more deaths. Every three seconds, a child dies from the effects of unclean drinking water, malaria, or other preventable diseases. [UNICEF, World’s Children, 8.] With new strains of bacteria and new virus threats discovered regularly, basic health care and health education elude many.

Poverty: Eighty percent of the world’s population lives on under $10 per day. Over half of the world’s children suffer from poverty. As these children grow older, they often find themselves trapped inside a system that gives them little opportunity to escape the cycle. How will they survive? How will they grow?

War and Conflict: War is no longer only for the grown men of the world’s nations. Nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in conflict during the 1990s were children. [UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2004 (New York, December 2004).] At least 250,000 kids are forced to work as child soldiers. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007.] At least 14 million children and their families fled their countries because of nearby fighting and live as refugees. War impacts women, children, and entire populations. [Pages 22, 23]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Washing the Feet of Persecuted Pastors

Recently, ACTION PLD missionaries Bruce Ingram, Bill Sturdivant and Tom Crouse went to India to minister to 30 pastors from the heavily persecuted area of the state of Orissa. Working with ACTION missionary Joshua Pradhan, they saw the Lord do amazing things for His glory.

These Orissa pastors have experienced things that are simply hard for the average person to comprehend. As they gave their testimonies, it was shocking to hear stories of brutality, such as the one pastor whose brother was sliced open and killed.

During the meetings, the Lord moved in the hearts of the men to forgive these barbaric persecutors of their loved ones. As they heard the Word of God’s instruction that death is precious and truly is gain for His children. The pastors then realized that these radical Hindus had no idea they were actually sending people home to their Father, and it became clear that they were free to forgive. It was at that moment in the meetings that they began to weep and praise God for the gift of forgiveness for those they had wanted to take revenge. The men were then encouraged to pray for the salvation of the persecutors, which brought the worship to an even higher level.

This was only the beginning of the miracle God was bringing to these pastors from Orissa. The following afternoon the Lord laid it on Pastor Tom Crouse to wash the feet of these brothers. After consulting with Pastor Bruce and Pastor Bill, they decided to do just that.

That evening, Pastor Tom told the pastors that he was impressed by their love and concern for their people and told them that the Lord had impressed upon him and the other ACTION missionaries to wash these thirty pastors’ feet to honor them and show them that Christ loved them. The brothers immediately began to weep and one by one they were prayed for and their feet washed. It was an incredibly powerful evening.
Later in the week the pastors would give testimony to what the Lord did through the foot washing service, as well as the other sessions, and it was clear that there were some common themes. God had freed the pastors to forgive their persecutors, given them a heart to see them saved, and even had some that committed to go back to their villages even if it meant martyrdom.

To God be the glory for the great things He is doing among His people, particularly the pastors from Orissa!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lost Sheep Still Need To Be Found

Around the world today, we hear reports of more people than ever coming to Christ: more than 28 million per year! In Latin America, it is estimated that 18,000 are coming to Christ each day. [“Table C,”IBMR, p.30, line 40]

Missions leaders report that there is now a Christian presence in every political nation; [David B. Barrett and Todd M, Johnson, World Christian Trends, ed. Christopher R Guidry and Peter F. Crossing (Pasadena, CA: Williams Carey Library, 2001), 52.] however, there is much to do before we see representatives from “every people, tribe, nation, and tongue” before the throne of God. Over 6500 people groups (ethnos) remain unevangelized. [Joshua Project, “Global Progress.”] [Page 11]

Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Poor and Needy Still Need Rescue

Many of the unreached people of the world live in really desperate circumstances. Over a billion people are struggling to survive on under $1 per day. [UNICEF, Annual Report 2007] Nearly 31,000 children and young people are infected with HIV/AIDS every month. It is estimated that 15 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. [World Refugee Survey 2007, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants] In addition, 26,000 children die each day from preventable diseases like malaria and diarrhea. Nearly 14 million people have fled their countries as refugees, because of war. [UNICEF, State of the World’s Children 2008 (New York, December 2007), 21.] [Pages 10, 11]

Taken from Daddy, Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009