Where Are They Now?

Where (1)I’ve had a few requests for updates on what’s going on with past Advocate & Pray kids. Tracking down how their stories have progressed can be difficult, but I did my best to do so with some of the kids. I may do another similar post in the future if you guys like this one.

Aris (November 4, 2013) — Aris is no longer visible on the Children’s Hope International website. I emailed someone I had talked to previously and she said that not much is happening in Ethiopia. Several families are stuck in the adoption process, matched but unable to actually bring the children home. They aren’t sure they’ll be able to continue to Ethiopia program. Pray that Aris will be well cared for, whatever happens.

Min Kyo (November 18, 2013) — Min Kyo is no longer listed with Heart Gallery, LA. I don’t know what that means, but hopefully it’s good news.

Sunny (December 2, 2013) — I can’t even find the initial post that mentioned this young lady who was about to turn fourteen and become too old to be adopted from China.

Xiao (December 17, 2013) — I was unable to find Xiao’s listing on the agency website where I originally saw it, but some searching turned her up on the protected photo listing on Rainbow Kids. The information on her profile has not changed since my post a year and a half ago. (If you would like to view Xiao’s profile, you can register for an account with Rainbow Kids.)

Vitalik (January 6, 2014) — In an update on March 3, 2015, I mentioned that a missionary in Ukraine let me know that a friends of her’s adopted Vitalik! You can pray that he is doing well with his new family.

Greta (January 13, 2014) — On March 31, 2014, I posted to say Corine Lucas (one of our readers) posted on Facebook to let me know a family was seeking to adopt Greta. This family is still in process. Updates on the family’s blog are few and far between, but if you’d like to follow their journey, you can at Obedient 2 His Command.

Tristan (January 27, 2014)Tristan’s profile now says it is not available for public viewing. Not sure what that indicates as far as him finding a family…

Angela (February 10, 2014) — Angela is no longer listed with Doorways to Hope.

Candy (February 25, 2014) — Candy was another young lady about to age out of the adoptable age range in China. She was listed on Gladney’s, Asia Waiting Child blog. Beyond that initial blog post, I was unable to find further updates.

Margaret (March 10, 2014) — Margaret was listed with the same agency as Aris, and is likewise no longer listed.

Olexander (March 24, 2014) — Olexander is no longer listed with Doorways to Hope.

Jacques (March 21, 2014) — Now eight years old, Jacques is still listed with AdoptUsKids and has a new profile picture.

Olive (May 5, 2014) — The original post on No Hands But Ours is still available and her profile is still listed with Bringing Hope To Children.

Zack (May 19, 2014) — When I clicked through to the No Hands but Ours post linked to on the TIO post, one bold printed line had been added to the top of the post. Update: My family has found me!

Did you like getting an update on the kids we’ve prayed for? Have you followed any of their stories more closely?

Teens In Action: Earrings for Life

Earrings for Life

This ministry first came to my attention through a post on The Rebelution. As I was brainstorming ways of making Teens in Action posts more regular here on TIO, Brooke’s ministry popped to mind, and I messaged her on Facebook. This post is the result. Hope you enjoy what she has to say. Don’t forget to check out the earrings!

~*~

When I was asked to write this blog post, the first thought that came into my head was “Me? What? Why? I’m not an author, surely I can’t blog!” But as I continued to think about what I wanted to write, I was reminded-that’s just it. God does not call the equipped, but equips the called! So, here’s a little bit about when God called me.

I am only sixteen now, but when I was eleven, I started making earrings. Because I was (and still am!) a little entrepreneur, I immediately thought of the basic idea to sell these hand-made earrings and give the money to my local crisis pregnancy center, which helps young women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. I began by selling a couple of pairs to my family—it was not much, but it was something, and I praised God for each dollar raised. After promoting my ministry, which I named Earrings for Life, through my church, I was able to raise about $100 in the first year, and I remember being absolutely thrilled!! And that was just the beginning….

To be honest, I would have never been able to dream about all of the things God has done through me. Fast forward almost five years from that day I started selling earrings, and I am still blown away. So far, God has used me to raise over $3,000 just by selling earrings for $5 per pair! I have gotten the amazing opportunity to speak at small meetings, large gatherings, and churches. Gratefully, I have been featured on a website where over seven thousand readers were able to learn about Earrings for Life! AND now I am being asked to write blogs, which is pretty crazy and so humbling!

I chose to raise money for crisis pregnancy centers because it is an organization that is very close to my heart. Young women and couples choosing to kill their children just because it was not their plan hurts me. These sweet little children had so much promise and future…but their mother decided to do what was most convenient for her. The awesome thing about the centers I donate to is that not only do they come alongside young mothers-to-be and encourage them to save their children’s life, but they also provide counseling, parenting classes, and financial aid.

In James 1:27, it says the following:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

To me, living out this verse means to come alongside unborn children that have no one to fight for their lives and say to their mothers that these children are worth it. They are alive and deserve to live long lives!

Thank you so much to Leah, for allowing me to write for her awesome blog! If you would like to help support Earrings for Life, the most important thing you can do is pray for the ministry! Also, please check out the Facebook page–Earrings for Life—if you are interested in either contacting me or buying earrings. In addition, you can email me at earringsforlife@gmail.com. Thank you so much, and God bless!

~Brooke Graham

Sometimes when we don’t feel we have much to offer, we don’t do anything. But story after story shows that God can take our little and multiply it beyond anything we imagined. Can you think of some Bible stories where God took something small and turned it into something big? Share your thoughts and encouragements for Brooke below!

Guest Post: 5 Things Foster Families Want You to Know

5 ThingsI’m very excited to introduce you to Anna, the author of today’s post. She’s a friend of Amanda’s, and Amanda was kind enough to give her my contact information, which got the ball rolling for this post. Anna’s family is a foster family, and she has some great stuff to share. So, without further ado, here’s her post.
~*~
Foster care is like a rollercoaster. It’s exciting, sometimes scary, and always worth the ups and downs of the ride. My family got on this roller coaster about two years ago, and we’ve learned so much along the way. On this journey, we’ve both answered and asked many questions, and I’ve consistently grown in my own knowledge of the foster care system. There is so much more to know about it than most people do.

1. We (foster families) are not saints.

In my experience, I have often seen or heard people referring to foster families as “saints.” It’s often meant to be a compliment, indicating what kind, wonderful, selfless people we must be in order to do this. We’re not saints. We’re flawed, utterly imperfect human beings who make plenty of mistakes. Honestly, foster families are not as incredibly different as we may seem. We’re taking care of kids. Yes, these kids have been through a lot, and yes, they are not “ours,” but what we are doing is being a voice, a familiar face, and a family while their parent’s case runs it’s course. I once read an article that phrased it well:
“The idea of sainthood makes it impossible for ordinary people to do this – and the truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster parents.”

2. We do get attached.

“I would get too attached.”

I’ve heard that sentence many times throughout my experience as a foster sibling. People say this as if it is a bad thing. Yes, if you had children living with you full time, going through life with you and relying on you as their family, you would absolutely get attached. Getting attached is, in my experience, the most natural thing in the world. What a lot of people do not realize when saying this, is that you are insulting foster families. To say you would get “too attached” implies that we don’t. We absolutely get attached, but it’s worth it. It is worth it to show love to children who need it, regardless of how long they are with you. Memories last forever, and this experience has given me so many treasured ones.

3. There is a false idea that there are enough foster families and volunteers.

There seems to be a false mindset that there are already plenty of people involved in this ministry. There aren’t. It isn’t just foster parents that are needed. Teens willing to go help out a foster mom with young kids, spreading the word to your friends, donating your old things, all are simple ways that make a difference. Prayer is a huge help. It may sound like a silly, last resort kind of option, but we have had so many people praying for us throughout our journey and I can truly say it is so incredibly important. Don’t just pray for the foster families or the foster kids – pray for the case workers, judges, biological family members, licensing coordinators, and the many others involved. I can promise you, it is greatly appreciated.

4. Foster children react differently to certain situations that many would not perceive as stressful.

As a result of trauma, foster children often react to circumstances in ways you might not expect. A “fun” trip to Disney could be incredibly stressful, and family gatherings could result in a meltdown. Trauma changes the way the brain works. Many kids have developed the tendency to “fight, flight, or freeze” as a coping mechanism for stress. New situations are often triggers for this. Not every child is affected this way, but these issues are highly prevalent in the foster care community. Sensitivity and education is key for those coming into contact with children who struggle with this.

5. All of this is worth it.

From the outside looking in, I’m sure we look insane. My parents had two daughters, both of whom were old enough to be fairly independent, yet they willingly took on some very needy toddlers. All of a sudden diapers, nap times, and tantrums were back on their radar. As a family, we were once only four and are now a party of six. Our car has two car seats in it, with only one unoccupied spot. Life is hectic, slightly nuts, and at times, rather unpredictable. Looking beyond that, life is also full of giggles, bedtime stories, and tiny, noisy feet. Our house would feel so empty without the two crazy boys we’ve been blessed with. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
People know so little about foster care. Society needs to understand what these kids go through and help make a change. Teenagers, you can make a difference. Offer your time, prayers, and knowledge. As I said previously,  teenagers are the next generation. We are the next set of volunteers, advocates, and foster parents. No matter how old, young, or experienced you are, you can affect many. Educate yourself, pray for those involved, and lend a hand for change.
What did you learn from Anna’s post? Share your thoughts, comments, and encouragement in the comments!

What Does Intercession Looks Like

IntercessionThe title of this blog is Teens Interceding for Orphans, but what is intercession?

Over the past month, several posts here on TIO have focused on the concept of prayer. One of the “visions” cast in the post, Renewing the Vision, was a dedication to praying for orphans, particularly those posted biweekly in the Advocate & Pray posts. We looked at how to use the prayer chains and how to use Scripture to pray for those we don’t know well. These posts have been practical, how-to type posts. This post is intended light a flame of enthusiasm for prayer.

Prayer is something each and every one of us can be active in, but we need a vision for it or else it just won’t happen. Prayer is hard, and it can seem boring. We need determination and diligence in prayer. This sermon casts a vision for filling the gap by being willing to stay behind the scenes, on our knees, engaging in battle through prayer. If you don’t have time to sit in front of your computer and watch the message, you can download the mp3 to your mobile device and listen on the go. Will you be the man under the stage for orphans?

Want to hear more of Mr. Ludy’s messages on prayer? There are lots of them!

How to Pray Scripture for Orphans

How to Pray ScriptureTwo weeks ago, in the post How To Use the Prayer Chains, I told you to keep your eyes open for a post on how to pray for children you don’t know much about. This is the post.

The concept of prayer scripture was introduced to me several years ago by a visiting speaker at my church. The speaker, who is also a friend of the family, created both a book and a pamphlet containing scriptures to pray. In the pamphlet he explains,

While spending time in the Scriptures, it is pretty easy to find prayers that have been made on behalf of others. I thought to use those requests and thoughtfully make them my own as I prayed for my brothers, my sisters, and even for those who are still in their sins.

Now, an exhaustive Biblical study of that would require a much bigger “menu.” 🙂 [The pamphlet is titled “The Apostle’s Sandwiches” and is laid out like a restaurant menu.] What you have in your hands is the result of looking through Acts and the Epistles.

Once I began to use this, I found over time that I didn’t need to have the “menu” in front of me as frequently because I had learned the wording, the phrases of the Scriptures, and was able to make the requests by memory. How wonderful to know the language of Scripture and use it in our prayers!*

The concept of praying Scripture stuck with me and has become my favorite way to pray. James 4:3 says,

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Prayer Scripture is a wonderful way to keep our requests aligned with the heart and will of God. It also makes it much easier to find requests of substance to offer up on behalf of orphans and other individuals we do not know personally and don’t have a prayer requests list for.

Here’s one prayer from “The Apostle’s Sandwiches” that you could pray for an Advocate & Pray child.

The John
Heavenly Father, I pray that _________ may prosper in all things and be in health. I pray that You would give Your mercy, Your peace, and Your grace.

A concordance and/or Bible software will be great tools for praying Scripture for orphans. If you don’t have a Bible program on your computer, I would highly recommend The Word, which is free and has lots of fun study features. You can also get YouVersion if you want an app for your mobile device.

My personal preference for praying Scripture is to spend some time finding appropriate Bible verses, usually four of them, and then writing them out before revising them into a prayer. Here’s a prayer I wrote out in my journal for Aris back in November of 2013.

A father of the fatherless and a judge of windows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families. (Psalm 68:5-6a)
Lord, please provide a family for Aris. Prick the heart of a member of Your body to be Your hands and feet to her and to love her as You love her.

…he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)
Lord, please be ever constant in Aris’ life. Never leave or forsake her, but keep Your hand on her life.

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14)
Lord, please bring Aris unto You. Let her come into Your arms. Place Your hand on her head and pray for her. Make her one of the children of the kingdom of heaven.

And Jesus beheld them and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthe 19:26)
Lord, with you all things are possible, even the adoption of a twelve year old girl who cannot see or hear. Please work this miracle for Aris.

One of the challenging aspects of prayer is that we often can’t see how it’s working … or if it’s working at all. However, there’s no question that prayer is an essential Biblical principle, and something we can all do to involve ourselves in carrying for orphans. As you can see, the Bible provides plenty of verses you can employ in your prayers for the fatherless. No need to fall victim to “prayer’s block”! 😉 Finding those verses might take some practice, but I encourage you to give it a try! I think you’ll find it well worth the effort.

Can you think of some verses you could pray for orphans? Share them in the comment section below!

*If you would like a copy of “The Apostle’s Sandwiches,” let me know. Our friend has a note in the pamphlet inviting people to contact him to request copies.

Letter Writing Challenge: Getting Started

LetterIn my post, Renewing the Vision, I mentioned an idea of doing a monthly card challenge. While I’m not quite ready to launch the first challenge, I would like to get some opinions, ideas, and help from you!

To begin with, if you know of a missionary working with orphans or an adopting family that would be uplifted by receiving some cards of encouragement, please tell me about them or link to their website/blog. My biggest concern with this idea is actually finding folks to send the letters to.

Second, how do you think this should work? Would you rather write actual notes to these people, or create scripture cards (something like this and this) and bookmarks to be included with one overall letter? Do you think it would make more sense to mail your letters directly to the recipient, or mail them all to me (perhaps with some extra money towards postage if it’s going overseas) and send all of them to the recipient in one package?

Please, share your ideas! This idea has plenty of potential, but it’s also a bit overwhelming to try to figure out.

Want an idea to do this month? Amanda Beguerie shared a link to “Messages from the Heart.” Follow the link to find directions for sending a note to a child in Tanzania.

Praying for a Heart

Praying

Enjoy this guest post from Carolina Gwartney. 🙂

~*~

Sharon was born on January 1, 1997 in Uganda, and I was born the next day, January 2, 1997 in Singapore (my parents were missionaries there).  About a year later, my family moved back to America where I lived until I was eleven-years-old. In 2008, my family moved to Good Shepherd’s Fold Children’s and Babies’ Home in Uganda.   My eyes have been opened to a whole new world.

There are many medically fragile kids at GSF whom I have watched fight for their lives.  I have watched God help countless kids win their earthly battles.  And I have come to know that the six kids (and many other people in the village whom we know) who lost their earthly battles are living victoriously now in heaven.  I’ve stood in disbelief as I learn that a friend in the village has had untreated epilepsy for about fourteen years.  I have listened with feelings of sadness and defeat to stories of a teenage mother whose husband just died, and she can’t care for her children. It feels overwhelming at times, but in six years I’ve learned a lot. Yes, my eyes have been opened to much suffering, but more importantly, I’ve been reminded over and over that in the end, God is victorious. I’ve learned the power of one person following God’s lead and choosing to focus on just one person or one cause. God put on my heart that Sharon was one of the ‘ones’ I should intercede for.

Sharon_3When she was about a year old, she got sick – very sick.  She had strep throat and because her family is very poor, they didn’t take her to the hospital until it was too late.  Sharon had developed heart problems. While I was learning about the suffering in the world, Sharon was experiencing it first hand.  When she was sixteen, her heart got worse, and she was taken to the government hospital because her family had no choice.  They left the hospital with bad news and a big debt.  With the condition of her heart, Sharon would have to go to India for heart surgery.  Since her family could never afford that, Sharon has had to make the three-hour journey every month to get medicine to help.  She enjoys making mats and sells them to pay for her journey.  However, she has a hard time selling them and must sell six every month in order to pay for her transport and medicine.

In August, Sharon’s baby sister was put on GSF’s feeding program to keep malnourished families together and in December, my mom heard her sing at the program’s Christmas party.  After finding out that she had heart problems, she asked for a report on her.  When I heard Sharon’s story and that her birthday was the day before mine, I knew I had to fight for this one. On Thursday I finally got to meet Sharon.  Even though I had previously only seen her picture, the first thing I noticed is that she has lost a lot of weight.  The government hospital has also told her that she can no longer go to school because her ‘heart is tooweak’. Sharon’s situation has become urgent and we need to get her to India for surgery as soon as possible. Would you please consider joining me in helping Sharon get to India? Here are some ways you can help.

Sharon_2

•       Give – While not everyone can give, you can also help raise money. You could hold a bake sale, or offer to shovel snow out of people’s driveways and donate the money you raise to Sharon’s heart project. You could also mention it to your church or school and ask them if they would be willing to share (or let you share) Sharon’s story with
the youth group, Sunday school classes, individual school classes or the whole church or school group and ask people to give.  The goal is to raise $10,000 to pay her debt at the government hospital and send her to India for surgery.  We have raised about $1,500 so far.  To give, click this link, click on ‘Gwartney family’, and make sure to put in the comments (or note to seller), ‘Sharon’s heart project’. 100% of your donation will go to Sharon’s fund.  If any extra is collected, it will be used for medical projects for other people in our community.  If anything should happen to Sharon before her heart surgery, any remaining funds will also be used for other medical projects in our community.

•       Share – You can share this story or the original post from my blog on any social media sites you have or your own blog.  You can also be watching for updates on my blog, caralinag.blogspot.com.

•       Pray – You can pray that we will be able to raise the money quickly – Sharon’s need for surgery is getting urgent!  Please also pray for her heart to stay stable until she can get the surgery.

Carolina emailed me yesterday letting me know that someone is working on designing a t-shirt as a fundraiser and working on securing a matching grant. I’ll post an update on that as soon as we have the links. 😉

How To Use the Prayer Chains

Prayer ChainsThe Advocate & Pray posts on this blog are our most consistent and lasting feature. What kind of orphan care and adoption blog wouldn’t want to raise awareness for individual children in addition to discussing orphan care in more general terms? The very first post was about Aris, a deaf and mute little girl in Ethiopia. Of all the children shared, Aris is the one that rests most consistently on my heart and enters my prayers most frequently.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Prayer. Prayer is a word that gets batted around a lot, but is rarely given the attention, focus, or esteem it should be. Because of that, I’ll be making several posts about prayer this month.

One of the features of the bi-weekly Advocate & Pray posts is a prayer chain. The point of these is to wrap each particular child in daily prayer for the two weeks they are featured on the blog. Praying is an orphan care opportunity wide open to ever age group and demographic, and it’s one of the most important ministries you could apply yourself to.

So how do the prayer chains work? Let me walk you through the process.

This week’s Advocate & Pray child is Felicia. (She’s got an awesome smile in her profile pictures!)

  1. Start the process by reading about her and learning as much as you can from the limited information available. For example, Felicia is learning to stand on her own, is only partially sponsored, and needs a wheelchair. These are all things you can pray for.
  2. Click on the prayer chain link. This will bring you to a spreadsheet divided into time slots. Right now each 24 hour day is divided into 15 minute segments. Starting next week, we plan to reduce it to hour long segments to make the spreadsheet cleaner and less overwhelming.
  3. Sign up! Type your name into a slot to make a commitment to pray for the child for the next two weeks (or whatever remains of the child’s two week focus on TIO). NOTE: You don’t have to pray for the full time. You are simply committing to pray for the child sometime during your slot. Feel free to customize it. If 7pm works for you every day except Thursday because you have orchestra practice on Thursday, type something like “Leah Good, every day except Thursday.”
  4. Pray! Be diligent to pray for that child every day during your time slot for the period of time you signed up for. Keep your eyes open for another post offering ideas on how to pray for someone you know so little about.
  5. BONUS POINTS: Ask your friends and church to pray for the Advocate & Pray children too.

Do you have any questions about how this is supposed to work? Any suggestions for making it better?

P.S. Thank you so much to the 5 people currently signed up to pray for Felicia. This is the best week we’ve had in a while. 🙂

Renewing the Vision

Renewing the Vision_3

Where there is no vision, the people perish: –Proverbs 29:18

The dictionary definition of vision is, “the faculty or state of being able to see.” The Strong’s definition of the word used in the verse above is, a mental sight. Over the past few months, my vision for this blog has floundered. Coming up with post ideas has been a struggle, and too many times I’ve decided to just ignore the fact that it was time for a post. After talking with a friend about my frustration concerning this trend, I realized it might be a good idea to step back and redefine the purpose of TIO.

Sharing Involvement Ideas

When I first started this blog, I wanted to offer teens and young adults a resource to find ideas on how they could become involved in orphan care. This stemmed from my own frustration that most opportunities seemed geared for adults, and I had struggled to find such opportunities myself. This is still a huge goal. Many opportunities are listed on the Ways to Help page. Finding a steady stream of involvement ideas to post about has proved challenging, but I’m hoping to spend a little more time finding and sharing them with you guys.

One great way of finding ideas is to share what other teens are doing. Because of this, I’m hoping to step up the quantity and consistency of Teens in Action posts. My goal is to post one of these projects each month. If you or anyone you know of is working on an orphan care project, PLEASE tell me about it. Two readers have volunteered to help locate these projects in the blogosphere but they often get buried, so don’t hesitate to share. We will be very grateful for your assistance.

Another feature I’m hoping to add to the blog is a monthly letter writing challenge. The positive response to the Compassion Correspondence Sponsor post and the tremendous outpouring of support (largely from teenagers) for the Valentines Day Card Challenge indicates to me that ministering through cards is a great opportunity for young people. PLEASE tell me if this is something you will be interested in participating in. My hope is to feature various missionaries, adopting families, and perhaps even organizations and orphans that we can send notes of encouragement to. If you know of a missionary working with orphans or a family in the adoption process, let me know!

Advocate & Pray

These biweekly posts offer you guys a chance to get involved right from the blog. Prayer and advocacy are two orphan care areas wide open to teens. Unfortunately, the prayer chains haven’t been getting many sign-ups, and that might be because you don’t quite understand how they’re supposed to work. Be on the lookout for a post explaining those a bit better. If you have a Gmail account, you may find some useful tips in this post about Using Google Calendar to Pray. (Don’t despair if you don’t have Gmail! Using the calendar to remind you to pray each day is absolutely not required for participating in the A&P prayer chains.) If there is something you don’t understand about the prayer chains or if you have ideas on how to improve the format of the A&P posts, PLEASE let me know.

Education

Knowing the ins and outs, the pros and cons of the orphan care and adoption worlds are a big part of getting involved in caring for orphans. However, it’s a little tricky determining which topics will be relevant and of interest to this demographic of readers. I am hoping to brainstorm and develop some helpful “learn more about this” posts to share with you guys. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about certain topics, PLEASE tell me. It would be so helpful to have some concrete ideas of what you all are interested in reading about.

Bible and Inspiration

The Bible’s directives to serve the fatherless is the foundation of my passion in this area, and I know it’s the same for many of you. Therefore, I hope write a monthly post that draws it’s inspiration from God’s word. These posts may be specifically about orphan care, or they may be about broader topics that can apply to orphan care, such as the recent post titled, 120 Disciples Turned the World Upside-Down. If you have ideas for a devotional type post or would like to share how the Lord is working in your life in this area, PLEASE let me know and we’ll work on having you write a guest post.

Resource Round-Up or Link-Up

This blog only makes a pin-scratch in the vast resource of information, involvement opportunities, and inspiration shared by like-minded people. I would love to make a way for all of us to share our favorite orphan care related posts with one another each month. One of the blogs I follow is having a link-up party today. It would be awesome if we could share orphan care posts in a similar manner, so I’m doing some research on that potential (WordPress.com can be a pain about allowing stuff like that).

So, that’s the “renewed” vision for TIO. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Are these categories of interest to you? Which category is MOST important to you? Is there something not mentioned here that you would like to see on TIO?

P.S. I did asked for feedback on a bunch of stuff in this post. You can share your feedback by commenting on this post (or any other post) or using the contact form.

 

120 Disciples Turned the World Upside-Down

120 Disciples

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) –Acts 1:15

Our church just started a study in the book of Acts. We’ve been working our way through chapter one for the past three weeks. Each time we read through the chapter, verse fifteen begs for my attention and contemplation. The very first time we read the chapter in our midweek Bible study, I turned my Bible sideways and penned in the margin,

By 120 disciples, the gospel spread for centuries. What impact could we have if we only tried?

Imagine those 120 people sitting together in the upper room. Most Christians in the United States consider a church with 120 members to be tiny. But, think about that number of people in a different setting. A business with 120 employees is a pretty large company. If it’s run well, those employees can be organized into a formidable workforce that can get a lot accomplished.

Now add God into the mix. Image 120 people working, not to advance a business, but to advance a kingdom, a purpose, a cause. And not working alone, but working with and for an all powerful, all knowing God. Ordinary people with an extraordinary hope and purpose. That’s the group that inhabited the upper room, and they shook the world.

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; –Acts 17:6

In the face of intense persecution, these first Christians spread the gospel to the corners of the world.

Guess how many followers this blog has? 137. That’s more people reading this post than the number of people responsible for beginning the domino effect that lead to us hearing the gospel, and (hopefully!) becoming followers of Jesus.

(If you haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation and want to learn more, use the contact me form to shoot me a message with your questions. I’ll do my best to answer them!)

Speaking of Jesus, the domino effect didn’t really start with 120 people. It started with one. It started with a baby in a manger. It started with a man who lived a perfect life, spoke the truth, and showed his love and justice to the people he came into contact with every day. It started with a corpse taken from a cross and buried in a grave. It started with a Savior, risen from the dead and extending the gift of life to the people he died for.

It started with One. And that One left behind 120 to carry on His work. And those 120 turned the world upside down with a message and a commission that continues to impact the world today.

Guess what? That One still works in and through people today. You could be one of the 120 of this generation. It might not look the same as it did back then, but God is still the same, and his calls and commands to us remain constant. Go to all nations and preach the gospel. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and mind. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Visit the fatherless and widows.

Next time you feel discouraged, whether it’s concern over the enormity and confusion of the orphan crisis, or simply feeling insignificant in the grand scheme of the world, remember the 120 in the upper room and the impact they had on their own generation and all the generations that have followed. It only takes a spark to get a fire burning, and God can set a life on fire.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. –Joshua 24:15

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. –Philippians 4:13