Goers, Senders, and Bringers – Which Are You?

Goers, Senders, and BringersMissionary mail stacks up quickly at my little church. As a member of the missionary committee, one of my jobs is to sort the missionary mail out from the bills. Sometimes it also falls to me to read the mail. Several months ago as I read through the newsletters and personal notes, I came across a brief comment that stuck with me.

Most Christian ministries currently lack two things: long-term workers and adequate financial support.

Since reading that, I’ve thought a lot about the need for senders (those who provide financial support to missionaries) and goers (the people who actually go on the mission field–whether that be in the US or abroad). In the realm of orphan care, there are also bringers (the people who bring orphans into their homes and families).

Each of these roles are of great importance as we try to serve orphans. As members of the body of Christ, each person has a different role that contributes to the overall purpose.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. –Romans 12:4-5

Which of these roles do you fill or can you see yourself filling?

Right now I’m a sender. I’m not currently in the place to be a bringer, and I’ve only been a goer for a very short missions trip. This blog provides a support role to orphan care, and I love financially supporting orphan care ministries whenever possible. In the future, I could see moving into any of the three roles. Each have their own unique importance.

Does one role appeal to you more than the others? What do you see as the pros and cons of the different roles?

Praying for a Heart

Praying

Enjoy this guest post from Carolina Gwartney. ūüôā

~*~

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‚Äôve 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‚Äôt care for her children.¬†It feels overwhelming at times, but in six years I‚Äôve learned a lot.¬†Yes, my eyes have been opened to much suffering, but more importantly,¬†I‚Äôve been reminded over and over that in the end, God is victorious.¬†I‚Äôve learned the power of one person following God‚Äôs lead and choosing¬†to focus on just one person or one cause.¬†God put on my heart that Sharon was one of the ‚Äėones‚Äô I should¬†intercede for.

Sharon_3When she was about a year old, she got sick ‚Äď very¬†sick.¬† She had strep throat and because her family is very poor, they¬†didn‚Äôt 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‚Äôs baby sister was put on GSF‚Äôs feeding¬†program to keep malnourished families together and in December, my mom¬†heard her sing at the program‚Äôs Christmas party.¬† After finding out¬†that she had heart problems, she asked for a report on her.¬† When I¬†heard Sharon‚Äôs 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 ‚Äėheart is tooweak‚Äô. Sharon‚Äôs 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

‚Äʬ† ¬† ¬† ¬†Give ‚Äď 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‚Äôs¬†driveways and donate the money you raise to Sharon‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄėGwartney family‚Äô, and make sure to¬†put in the comments (or note to seller), ‚ÄėSharon‚Äôs heart project‚Äô.¬†100% of your donation will go to Sharon‚Äôs 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.

‚Äʬ† ¬† ¬† ¬†Share ‚Äď 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.

‚Äʬ† ¬† ¬† ¬†Pray ‚Äď You can pray that we will be able to raise the money quickly¬†‚Äď Sharon‚Äôs 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. ūüėČ

Work with a Smile

Work with a Smile

With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: —Ephesians 6:7

At the beginning of July, my brother and I had the opportunity to go on our first missions trip. If you missed reading my first post about the experience, it’s titled Encountering the Fatherless. The main purpose of the trip was construction. While giving the team instructions, the missionary in charge said something that really made me think.

He told us that one of the most valuable things we could do was work with a smile. He told us to smile while we were making cement, cutting rebar, and playing with the kids. Why? Because when the people see foreigners not only working voluntarily, but doing so cheerfully, they wonder why? They ask why strangers would be so happy to come and help people they don’t even know. In turn, those questions would give the missionary an opportunity to share the gospel.

I think that concept is true throughout life. When people observe Christians working, serving, and worshiping with joyful hearts, they ask questions. Begrudging service is not attractive to anyone. We are to be lights in a dark world, and our smiles are tools to help that light shine brighter.

…he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. —Romans 12:8

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. —2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Missions Trip_2Working with a smile can be applied effectively to serving orphans. When we talk about orphans, does the joy of serving the Lord by helping the fatherless bubble out of us? Our smiles can show that others that we’re not doing this because we’re duty bound to it. We don’t love orphans simply because God told us we have to. We care because we love God and he loves them. We are happy to serve. We are investing of ourselves cheerfully.

All of these things can be communicated by working with a smile. People will take notice when that type of joy starts flowing out of God’s servants.

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. —Psalm 5:11

Do you serve the Lord cheerfully? Is your joy visible to those who see you? Have you ever had something special happen because you were working with a smile?

Encountering the Fatherless

Encountering the FatherlessHello everyone! The blog has been running without me for the past week and a half, because I was on my very first missions trip. It wasn’t a trip for orphan care (like I expected my first missions trip to be), but it was an awesome experience, and God gave me¬†a huge open door to work with fatherless kids.

Our team’s main purpose was construction, but the area where we were working has a huge problem with fatherlessness. The kids in the village don’t fit the stereotypical image for orphans. Most of them have a parent or grandparents to feed them and give them a place to sleep. They have homes, clothing, and food to eat. As far as I could understand, most of their father’s were absentee, not dead. But for all practical purposes, these kids were fatherless. They are growing up without the protection and guidance of a father figure. They fit¬†into the category of kids we talked about in Who Are Orphans.

Interacting with these kids for over a week made me think a lot. Two observations stuck out to me most.

1. Orphan care advocates need to look beyond orphanage walls.

IMG_6This concept has been hard for me to embrace. Reading books like Orphan Justice and The Global Orphan Crisis helped open my heart to this reality. Meeting the kiddos on this trip drove it home even more. Especially as Christians, it’s important to realize that helping orphans isn’t limited solely to bringing physical aid to recognized orphans. Orphan care as a Christian covers a much broader spectrum and includes a wide variety of ministries.

For example, evangelism is an important part of carrying for orphans because many cultures won’t value or nurture kids until Christ changes their hearts. Encouraging good work ethic, responsibility, and fidelity can prevent abandonment, disease, and social decay that leads to fatherlessness. My brother and I were talking on the way home about what a difference just a few solid male role models could make in the community we were ministering in. Our entire team was tremendously impressed by the impact being made by one local guy who¬†has a big heart for the kids and people of the village.

Those types ministries don’t¬†specifically target orphan care, but they can profoundly impact the orphan situation. And that’s something we need to be aware of.

2. Ways of Life that Lead to Adoption Hardships

IMG_2275Reading books is a great way to gain a foundational understanding about any subject, but experiences is usually ten times better than book knowledge. I’ve done a lot of reading about what causes behavioral issues in adopted kids. On this trip, I got to observe a very basic cause. The kids that we interacted with had very little adult supervision. Their parents/mother/grandparent expected them to spend the majority of their time out in the village doing their own thing. According to the missionaries and people we were working with, they experience very little discipline or rule enforcement. Those comments made me think of how adopted kids often test boundaries and act surprised when they’re disciplined.

The kids we spent the week with were adorable. Some of them were more demanding and manipulative than others, but for the most part they were very loveable kids. Yet if you transplanted any of them into a typical American home, there would be struggles. Very few of them have been taught obedience, respect of authority, compassion (especially towards animals…house pets beware!), problem solving, or diligence. They’re not bad kids, they just don’t have a working understanding of these things.

So, those were my basic observations from the trip. Or at least my basic observations that apply to this blog.

Have any of you been on missions trips that gave you a better understanding of orphans or orphan care? Do you have personal experiences that deepened your understanding of orphans, adoption, etc.?

Orphans and Evolution

evolution-steps_17-205021450Worldview plays an important role in every persons life, whether they realize it or not. Our perspective of the world and our role in it develops throughout our lives, shaped by our experiences, observations, and what we are taught.

Schools across the country and around the world teach children the worldview shaping ideology of evolution. If the concept of evolution is followed to logical conclusions, the resulting view of life is frightening. For example, if improvement of species happens through survival of the fittest, why should anyone protect orphans and other vulnerable people? According to survival of the fittest, these people must be lesser life forms and the human race will improve if they die.

A biology textbook published in 1914 and titled A Civic Biology Presented In Problems stated,

“Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other pants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites. If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading.”

Of course, most contemporary people who believe in evolution do not believe this. Textbooks have been modified to include only the politically acceptable components of the science they teach. However, the morally eroding nature of evolution still simmers below the surface.

The degradation of the sanctity of human life has already become prevalent with the acceptance of abortion and the push for euthanasia. Asked if they also support killing orphaned children living miserable lives, most people would react with horror. Of course they don’t condone such a thing. But the worldview is there.

The more I dig into the issues surrounding orphans and other vulnerable children, the more I realize how essential God is. Solutions not including God merely put a band-aid over the festering wound. God’s worldview is needed to change basic beliefs that undermine the value of these precious children. Rather than condemning the weakest of humanity as parasites, God gives them value as living souls made in His image and commands His people to care for them. He assures them that they are worth far more than animals.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

feed-the-children_2772820This is an area of orphan care that doesn’t carry an age limit. You don’t need to be a certain age, have a lot of money, or obtain complicated skills in order to tell people about Jesus and point out lethal flaws in what those around you believe. It may not seem like an important way to help orphans, but surgery and rehab take longer than slapping on a band-aid. It takes longer to see results, but the results last.

Ultimately, orphans need people to see them the way God does, and to take action from there.

How do you think the belief in evolution has impacted people’s perspective on orphans?

For those interested, the train of thoughts that inspired this post began while watching the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. I encourage you to check it out.

Book Review: No Greater Love

No Greater Love

We felt overwhelmed, trying our best to understand how someone could love a child–dearly love a child, just as we did our own–and then decide to kill that child because of fear.

With his real-estate business crumbling around him, Levi Benkert receives a phone call. An old friend wants him to travel to Ethiopia to aid an effort to rescue children who’ve been sentenced to death by an ancient tribal practice. The idea is ludicrous. There’s no way he can go. Yet Levi soon finds himself on a plane bound for Ethiopia. It’s the beginning of a change that will dominate, change, and revolutionize life for him and his family.

I got this book for Christmas and the whole family got a laugh when I unwrapped it. I already knew what it was about, but I flipped it over to skim the back cover. As I did so, my mom said, “It’s a really good book. You need to let me borrow it because I’m half way through it.” That’s right. She’d been reading my gift before wrapping it! ūüėõ Anyway, she was right. I read it in one sitting. It’s heartbreaking. It doesn’t have a strings all tied up “happy ending”. (The ending is happy, but only after a heart rending close to the first part of the Benkert’s journey.)

One of the things Levi says in this book is that orphan care is inherently messy. This becomes obvious just reading books about it. It gets confusing. The last book I read about orphan care, Orphan Justice (great book!), really stressed how important it is for kids to be in real families…that orphanages aren’t the solution. This book shed light on how messy international adoption can be. Another documentary I watched shared the tremendous need for international adoption. It’s confusing! But it’s also really good to get all the different sides of the picture.

This book is definitely one of the best told/written orphan care stories I’ve read. Thumbs up for recommending it.

One of Those People

Girl SilhoutteI’m one of those people. One of those people family, friends, and random strangers worry about because of the big, crazy ideas we talk about. We seem like we want to change the world and we do. Some of us want to impact the whole world or at least our country. Some of us want to change the world for just few people. Some of us tell everyone we meet about our dreams, while some keep quiet, treasuring the hope inside. Either way, people know…we live on the bring of going off the deep end.

I’m one of those people who has a lot of learning to do. It seems like dreamers often need a lot of redirection and training from God before we get to the place He needs us to be. From what I’ve read, it’s often a difficult process. But I also hear it’s worth it.

children-of-ecuador-11I’m one of those people who sometimes gets discouraged. Sometimes it seems like my hopes and dreams can’t possibly be reached. Who knows, maybe they can’t. But it would be nice to get as close as possible.

Right now, I’m one of those people. Someday, I hope I’ll be one of those other people. Those people who went beyond the dreaming and took action. Those people who made it through the trials and reached the place God wanted them. Those people who keep learning. Those people who went despite discouragement and doubt. One of those people making a difference.

What about you? Are you “one of those people”? Do you hope to change the world in some way, but wonder how on earth you can?

Rahab’s Rope

You’ll probably hear me mention Orphan Justice pretty frequently on here. Reading it gave me a lot of blog post ideas. It also gave me some new ministries to look up. Rahab’s Rope was one of them. This ministry reaches out to victims of sex slavery. Please use discretion about watching this video, especially if you’re a younger teen. There’s absolutely nothing inappropriate. Just facts. But they’re hard facts. If in doubt, ask your parents.

Book Review: Kisses From Katie

Kisses from Katie

People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters.

Katie Davis had it all as an eighteen year old American teen, but God was tugging at her heart. When she and her mother took a missions trip to Uganda, her life changed forever. She convinced her parents to allow her to stay in Uganda for a year and at the end of that time knew she could never again be happy in the US.

The synopsis of this book made me nervous at first because it says, “What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president…to disobey and disappoint her parents…” As much as I love missions, I wasn’t too comfortable with that statement, but the book came to me highly recommended, so I gave it a try. So glad I did. Turns out she did disappoint her family (who wanted her to attend college), but she made every effort to obey their requests and gained there (reluctant) approval before following what she felt God was calling her too. Katie is a truly courageous young women with an amazing story.

Did you read this book? What did you think? If you haven’t read it, do you think you’ll give it a try in the future?

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