Category Archives: Missions

Reaching out to others.

Vision for Africa!

What would life be like if you had blurry vision all of the time? It would be normal for you, because you never knew it could be any different. Suppose someone gave you a pair of glasses, and you could see for the first time? Would you be excited? You bet your eyesight, you would!

In 10 short months, our Uganda Mission Team will leave for Africa with a medical professional to lead Eye Clinics. There, we will measure for visual acuity and fit patients with prescriptions for sight. In a five step process, our team will evaluate different levels of eye health.

It reminds me of the story in Mark 8:22-25 where Jesus healed a blind man in stages. My NIV footnotes say this two-step process is indicative of our blindness: “Many persons with normal eyesight are spiritually blind.”

What has blinded me to Truth? Ego, pride, an independent spirit? I’m praying for new eyes to see the hand of God at work.

Did you know young adults in Third World Countries struggle with cataracts because of the intensity of the sun?

Would you do two things for us?

~ Pray for the Team traveling to Uganda March 3-16, 2018.

~ Collect glasses, readers & sunglasses & mail them to Busti Church of God 996 Forest Ave Ext. Jamestown NY 14701 before November 1 so that we have time to label the glasses with prescription strength.

Thank you for partnering with us!

To Uganda or Bust!!

Sally

Book Review: Kisses from Katie

 

This book is profoundly disturbing. And it shakes me to the core. Kisses from Katie is the story of a high school senior who travels to Uganda and subsequently invests her life in the people she meets there. Katie Davis says her life is not extraordinary, but she goes on to describe extraordinary ways the Lord shows up in desperate circumstances.

Katie Davis came with no formal training, no formal backing and no formal plan. She was compelled to get involved, and took the first step. She used her hands and feet to show God’s love in practical ways, and became known in an impoverished land as “Mommy.” Indeed, at age 18, she fed, schooled, applied medical help, housed and eventually adopted. Now, ten years later, Katie’s nonprofit has a Board of Directors, farming education to sustain life, food outreach, a self-sustaining vocational program and sponsors over 700 children.

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Katie says, “Jesus wrecked my life.”

I’ve run into that phrase before. It means she became uncomfortable with her comfortable life. And her words create discomfort with the way we’re doing things in Western society.

Katie found a paradox in Uganda: “amazing, breathtaking beauty juxtaposed against immense poverty and desolation.”

She says, “Materially speaking, the people who began to fill my life were the poorest I had ever met and yet they overflowed with the riches of the heart. They lived in houses of sticks or stones and mud; they slept on hard dirt floors. But they did not blame God for this or ask Him for more. They knew their circumstances were due to the brokenness of this world and they simply praised Jesus for keeping them alive through it all.”

Katie saw children dying from preventable diseases and knew she had to find help. She began to contact people in her hometown of Nashville, TN in search of those willing to come alongside her. She described the need, not as statistics, but as “people I know and love.”

Katie’s approach to her life and work in Uganda might be considered radical, even controversial. She gives to people who cannot repay. She helps those who should be able to help themselves. Yet, the message is an important one. We must get involved. When God’s people reach out to others, that love will transform people, one life at a time.

If you want to stay comfortable, don’t read this book. It gets under your skin. However, I challenge you to get your own copy and a pen. Highlight ideas, quotes and values. Let two worlds merge in your own heart as you seek how the Lord will lead you to be obedient, as a missionary, right where you are. And, in your imperfect, inadequate efforts to serve Him, you will find new release as you lean on Christ.

Sally


Out of Africa

I still weep when I look at the pictures from Uganda. How can a trip to another continent render one so utterly speechless? Maybe it’s the culture shock, but, would you believe culture shock is harder coming back home? If you have running tap water in your house, you have more than most people in Third World countries. You are wealthy! 

One of the home visits we made was to a widow’s in Gulu. She takes care of her grandchildren because their parents, her children, have died of aids. Her home is a tiny mud hut with a thatch roof. Inside, she had a rocking chair and a fire pit. She was thrilled to invite us in, and brought a bench inside, just so she could host us in her home.
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There’s no welfare from the government in Africa. People survive off the land and the love of others who have compassion on them. We brought gifts of lotions, soap and shirts, and small toys for the children, as well as beans and rice. You would have thought she received great riches, her gratitude was so profound.
One organization that is making a difference in their lives is Children of Promise, a child sponsorship program of the Church of God. The program they developed for the widows is called TAPP, and is described this way,
“Tumaini Aids Prevention Program is a holistic social program that reaches out to those infected and affected with HIV & Aids. It provides training, Home Based Care, income generating projects, education and social support for a hopeful life which encompasses the entire community.
The Church of God child sponsorship office is located in the Kasubi area, in the city of Kampala, Uganda. As the office doors would open each morning, more and more families were showing up needing assistance. The need to care for families affected by HIV was overwhelming. Soon it was obvious that a separate program should be created. They called this program TAPP. ‘Tumaini’ is a Swahili word meaning ‘hope’ and became the vision of this program.”
We have long been associated with TAPP through the beautiful beads made by the widows. They create the beads with strips of paper rolled into tight balls and strung together, and this is one of the ways they support their families. Take a look at their work here.
Read more about our home visits here.
In his book, Something Beautiful For God, The Classic Account of Mother Teresa’s Journey into Compassion, Malcolm Muggeridge says this about encountering impoverished people:
Accompanying Mother Teresa… to the Home for the Dying, to the lepers and unwanted children, I found I went through three phases. The first was horror mixed with pity, the second compassion pure and simple, and the third, reaching far beyond compassion, something I had never experienced before – an awareness that these dying and derelict men and women, these lepers with stumps instead of hands, these unwanted children, were not pitiable, repulsive or forlorn, but rather dear and delightful; as it might be, friends of long standing, brothers and sisters. How is it to be explained – the very heart and mystery of the Christian faith? To soothe those battered old heads, to grasp those poor stumps, to take in one’s arms those children consigned to dustbins, because it is His head, as they are His stumps and His children, of whom He said that whosoever received one such child in His name received Him. (pp. 52-53)
Indeed, we met our brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews in those huts. And we were blessed.
Sally

Originally published August 28, 2014 at sallyswords


Book Review: Possible by Stephan Bauman

Possible
Does poverty, injustice and world suffering bother you? Get ready to be bothered more. Stephan Bauman has written, Possible: A Blueprint for Changing How We Change the World, with a look at the worst our generation has been offered. But Bauman also offers hope, by presenting a blueprint that will ignite a new approach to problem solving.

Bauman is the president and CEO of World Relief, who has lived with feet on the ground in developing countries struggling to fight AIDS, trafficking and factions. He says, “We owe it to subsequent generations to honestly ask ourselves if we are responsibly stewarding our moment in history.”

But what does it mean, to steward our moment? Bauman says we need to step up to use our skills and abilities to find solutions to the problems that plague our world today. He provides tools for groups to access what their unique contribution can be and invites all to lives of radical obedience marked by sacrificial love. He says the invitation of Jesus to be vulnerable is one way of accepting glorious grace into our lives.

Bauman says reformation begins with a complaint. When we care enough to get upset, then it can turn into prayer. Prayer galvanizes courage. Courage fosters commitment. And commitment becomes the foundation for action.

Bauman sends the clarion call to abandon narcissism, self-absorption and insecurity in order to take up a higher calling to pursue a relationship with God instead of addiction to ministry. Indeed, Bauman says our world’s problems are all relational. People will change when they experience a love that collides with their belief systems.

Possible is a compelling book. It awakens the call to more, by asking hard questions about character and motive. I believe this generation is ready for change, and this book helps us to see that change is Possible!

Sally

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
 

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Book Review: Freedom’s Stand

Freedoms Stand

What would it feel like to live in a Muslim country? J.M. Windle has captured the essence of a life that is ruled by Shariah Law and the cultural morays for women who are bartered like property. Freedom’s Stand is the story of a relief aid worker who clashes with an ancient society and with her own expectations of what it means to make a difference. As she strives to build relationships with women of Afghanistan, Amy Mallory is faced with her own inadequacies. The struggles of faith and humanity are real and believable. The reader gains understanding of how it feels to have daily language barriers in trying to communicate needs, and then feeling mistrusted in the process. The dilemmas reveal genuine soul-searching as characters insert their own beliefs about God’s involvement in the human element. And the storyline is an eye-opening look at the different forms justice takes, in the application of it around the world.

Who is J.M. Windle? Jeanette Windle grew up in South America as the daughter of missionaries. Her home included six countries and served as fuel for the imagination of a gifted storyteller. She shares about the details of research on her blog.

The world is becoming a smaller place; people move to other countries with job opportunities, and then find the challenges of being in another culture overwhelming. When we study the behavior of other people, even in the form of fiction, we better understand the methods they use to cope with daily life and survival in their lands. We are also seeing more about Shariah Law in our own country. The web brings news of laws being changed to accommodate our Muslim neighbors. How will that effect life in the USA? How will we respond to injustices around the globe? We can’t be vocal if we don’t invest in the learning process.

Grab a copy of Freedom’s Stand, and its prequel, Veiled Freedom, and immerse yourself in a riveting story that includes danger, romance and far away lands!

Note: I received this book as part of the Tyndale Rewards Program. I received no compensation for this review. Do you want to get free books too? Here’s my link.

Sally


Christmas Eve

presents

The 24th is my favorite date in December. We’ve arrived home from the 11 pm Christmas Eve Service. The frenzy of the month is over. The kids have received their first present (new pajamas) and everyone has gone to bed. I have the moment to hold in my hands as I put the last of the bows on the packages and place them under the tree. There’s a serenity that fills the night. Another author captured it by saying, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

Funny, how the two stories have become so intertwined in American folklore; Santa and The Christ seem to get equal billing in our media. Only, Santa is portrayed as a living, breathing, jolly old soul.

And Jesus? He’s a lawn ornament, a plastic figurine with peeling paint.

When did Santa and The Savior reverse roles? Now, we’re saving the North Pole, and Christmas magic, and telling kids, if we only believe, Santa will rescue our Christmas dreams. How do we help the world discover the One who really came to rescue us at Christmas?

A few weeks ago, Hubby and I attended a Steven Curtis Chapman Concert in Elmira, NY. As Steven Curtis Chapman shared a video about their program, Show Hope, he told us, “Some children do not want presents this Christmas. They want someone who will become their own forever family.”

These children have unfulfilled Christmas dreams. And here I am, with an abundance of presents under my Christmas tree. It’s difficult to reconcile the two worlds. We clash by what we do and don’t have. And it’s a stark reminder of our need for a Savior.

So, here I am, beneath my tree, remembering the carols sung less than an hour ago, of a baby in a manger. And angels bringing news of peace on earth. And wise men who recognize the Hope of the world.

Will you kneel before Him?

Will I?

Sally

Luke 2:1-20