Pictures of Martina’s Home….In Progress!

Shared by Drea Thiele and Cindy May
Hi Drea,
Martina has a different story to tell in Koch Goma. Every day people come to see whether the house built is really hers, at her advanced age.
We are going to put in a water harvest tank for her. There is no bounds with the joy Martina currently curries. Many thanks and abundant blessings to the faithful donors for this incredible life changing experience in Martina’s family.
Hugs,
Experito
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In a couple of weeks, a small team will be traveling to Koch Goma to visit Pastor Experito and his family, as well as Martina.  We always like to take gifts, and asked Experito what they would enjoy.  If you’d like to purchase any gifts, please see the list below and email us to let us know what you’d like to donate.  Items can be dropped off or mailed to the Thiele home in Surprise, Arizona.
Hi Drea,
Thank you for your usual concerns in that you have always come to Africa NEVER empty handed. Much as our thoughts matter in making it possible for you to know what might be a priority to put in the suitcase for your other family in Africa. Experience has taught me that you have always been much in the spirit and have done much more than what would be our shopping list. However,we have never lost appetite for both creamy and crunchy peanut butter, kids wear and their no tears Top to Toe Wash has been amazing!!!  The Adult and kids lotion are another story…..undergarments as well as outfits, bring another flavor to our life. Suits and t-shirts are a tale always to tell.
Many Thanks,
Experito
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Martina’s Joy Update

Shared by Cindy May and Andrea Thiele

You may remember the earlier post about a widow named Martina.
Thanks to your gifts, we have had the privilege of sending $5,000 to begin construction on her home.  This isn’t just a larger home with room for 15 children to sleep.  It is clean water.  It is health.  It is opportunity for schooling.
The iron sheets that will eventually be installed as the roof of her home will collect rain water in a large tank.  The water will then be filtered for use. (This is the same system that Experito and Justine now have…again thanks to your generosity!).  Because the water will always be filtered and clean, health issues will be greatly reduced.  And because the children won’t have to haul water, they will save precious calories and have time to attend school.
A little love goes a long, long way.
Enjoy this video!  Pictures of construction will follow soon.
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Faith in Action

Shared by Andrea Thiele

I had a SKYPE call from Cyrus 2 days ago. His heart was broken from caring for 10 children from Naykembene. He said that if we were there we would surly cry. He found some kids by the river and the children had nearly starved to death, and have no clothes and are very dirty. He took the 10 home to feed them and bathe them. I began to pray about it after our call, and found myself in tears. We don’t “face” that kind of tragedy on a daily bases, or on a yearly basis for that matter. We are hidden from starvation, abuse, homelessness. It is rare that we see a child sitting on the side of the road, begging for food (I have never seen one, except with a parent and then maybe only 3 times in my life in the US). I had to cry out to God, literally.

He is the only one who saves! God you are the one who provides what these children need, help us, help them! I asked myself the question, “What would I do, in Cyrus’ shoes?” I would do the SAME thing. I would bring the 10 children home and then ask, no beg, humbly for help from Jesus and my Christian comrades who had more than enough to help me and the kids. There is no way I could turn my back and leave them in that condition, Cyrus couldn’t either.

I asked the Lord to provide in every way for these children, then began to tell him the task is so BIG. Who are we? Kenya, Uganda, Africa is so big full of hunger, homelessness and disease. Who are we? He reminded me, we are to take steps of obedience, he loves these kids more then me, more than Cyrus, MORE! He just wants us to obey and trust Him. To me the task seems so daunting  at times. Then he reminded me that Abraham’s faith was accredited to him as righteousness, and was made complete in action! Romans 4:3, Hebrew 11:17, James 2:22

I say all of this to encourage you for the task at hand, so that we don’t become weary of the calling. Sometimes I know that I can become weary of trying to figure out where the money is going to come from, or how we can do one more thing. This was timely for me today, hopefully it will encourage you as well.

Blessing to you dear friends,

Drea

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Transformation in Kochgoma- Part 2 of 2

Shared by Cindy May

Lawrence Ogwal, age 12, loves animals and wants to be a veterinary doctor. His parents are too poor to pay for schooling.

Lawrence Ogwal, age 12, loves animals and wants to be a veterinary doctor. His parents are too poor to pay for schooling.

Peter Ogwang is age 14.  He stopped in 5th grade, unable to afford to continue.  He is currently digging to support some of his 8 siblings.

Peter Ogwang is age 14. He stopped in 5th grade, unable to afford to continue. He is currently digging to support some of his 8 siblings.

You may have heard Experito mention in the video yesterday the long-range vision for Kochgoma: a complete school kindergarten through high school. We have been praying about and for this school for several years. The nursery school/kindergarten built a couple of years ago is the beginning of this project.

* Nearly 1000 children in Kochgoma are not attending school…because there is not one within a reasonable distance to attend. Most are hungry or sick. And all are affected by the 20+ year war.

* The dream we share with Experito is that all 1000 children could not only attend school and be educated about health care and learn how to provide for themselves, but also be trained in Worldwide Perspectives/Pathways during their high school years.

* We pray, trust and hope that this school would become a launching pad for sending well-trained students to take the gospel into the un-reached areas of northern Africa (which is in the 10/40 window).

Lawrence and Peter are two of the 1000 children living in Kochgoma who are currently not attending school.

The estimated cost of building the school (including planting food, providing school uniforms and shoes for everyone, building latrines and showers, and providing dormitories to students who are too far to safely walk) is $1,100,000 or about $1100 per student.

One-time “Sponsorship”

You can sponsor 1 child… or 2 or 5 or 10…or more :)  By sponsoring a child, you will be contributing to the cost of building the school and providing the children with uniforms and shoes and other schooling needs. The sponsorship amount of $1100 per child can be given all at once or over the period of a year.

RADICAL Challenge

The Church at Brook Hills, where David Platt pastors, took one year to join forces and take the RADICAL challenge. The challenge is–for a period of one year– to make a plan to forego our comforts to meet the needs of the world around us. The goal is to spend as little as possible and give as much as possible.

Remember the Poor is planning to provide funding for Martina’s home ($30,000), and funding for the school for 1000 children in Kochgoma ($1,100,000). All 15 of Martina’s children are included in the 1000 who need sponsorship. 100% of your donations will go directly toward these projects.

If you, your family, your small group or your church will be joining Remember the Poor for a RADICAL challenge during 2013, would, you let us know by leaving a comment or sending an email? We’d love it if you would share your ideas on what you plan to do to to cut back on comforts to make more available to give. We’ll compile ideas and share them in a later blog post.

As I was writing this, I was reminded of Paul’s encouragement to the church at Philippi. They had been giving to meet Paul’s needs, to “share in his troubles.” He reminded them: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” As we give, we can do so with confidence that God will meet our every need.

To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Philippians 4:20

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Transformation in Kochgoma- Part 1 of 2

Shared by Cindy May

Frank and I count this man, Pastor Experito, and his family, among our dearest of friends. Immense thanks to Pastor Jonathan Celoria of Palm Vista Church for putting this video together. The children you see in this video are sitting outside the kindergarten school in Kochgoma, the structure funded by RTP donors.

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Martina’s Joy

Shared by Andrea Thiele, Cindy May & Pastor Experito

Bryan and Drea Thiele and a group of three others visited Pastor Experito in Gulu in October.  They asked to meet some of the families who live in Kochgoma, whose children can attend the school, as the school grows.

Oct 6 (Drea Thiele):

Today was a long day full of joy, sorrow, sad stories, some victorious, some with no hope. Kochgoma is about 2 hours in the bush outside of Gulu (Northern Uganda). The people here have been so affected by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and most have nothing. No food, one pair of clothes, no soap, no work, no land and no home. The children are mistreated or unwanted due to a parent’s inability to provide for them. Some have no parents at all.

Today I met with Martina, a widow, whose husband died years ago. She had three children, 2 boys and a girl. Her daughter died last month of HIV/AIDS. She now cares for 15 children, as her daughter-in-laws and their children also live with her, and her two sons leave often. She has been seriously affected by the war and the LRA rebels. She is having a hard time because she is old and can’t work and farm like others can. Her small garden is dried up, and her hut leaks. She has very little food and only the clothes on her back. Her daughter’s grave is just a few feet from her mud hut, with a simple home-made wooden cross.

Martina’s hope is Jesus. She became a born again believer when she was young. She lost most of her relatives in the LRA rebel war, and grew up virtually alone. Her heart was so troubled, but the Lord spoke to her and said, “Don’t be troubled, you will make it through.” Her miracle is “JOY” she says.  Even looking at the cross where her daughter is buried, she still has joy.

Her grandchildren cannot attend school because they have no money for school fees, but Martina still has joy!

Her granddaughter, Prisca, spent the majority of her day with me. She was leaning on me, playing with my fingers and cuddling with me. I learned later that it was her mom who had just died.  I was so blessed to be able to give her love and attention as she has to be mourning the loss of her mom.

Today the Lord has filled us with unspeakable joy! Joy to do His work. Watching these glorious servants of God, fills us also with hope! Hope to keep going, hope to know that this life is for one purpose only, hope to be the hands and feet of Jesus, the whole earth filled with his glory!

Upon Bryan and Drea’s return to the U.S., we have had ongoing communication with Experito about how we can best help him and Justine and their church serve this widow and her grandchildren.

Experito Nov 1:  Helping Martina would be one of the most burden lifting moments for her and quite yoke breaking. She has been one of the families we help weekly with foodstuffs because of her limited ability to cultivate sufficient food supplies for such a huge extended family!  Martina spoke to Drea about her leaking grass thatched house. Apparently it wears her down to keep looking for the scarce grass to thatch her roof seasonally.

For several years we have been talking with Experito about a Habitat for Humanity type project in Kochgoma.  (The community and residents provides the labor, and others, like us, provide the money for materials). It is his desire, and therefore ours as well, to see the community freed from the chains of slavery to finding and hauling clean water.  The best way to do that is through housing that has iron sheet roofing.  Water is channeled from the iron sheet roof, down the rain gutters, into the water tank. They use this for their water source, rather than walking miles to pump it, and walking miles to haul a few gallons back to their hut.

We therefore asked him if a house would be appropriate for Martina and her 15 children.

Experito Nov 2: We thank God that he has brought you in our way to partner that we can together do whatever we could for the economically vulnerable. My wife has always been praying for them to have a better living condition. I must confess that you are stepping in as an answer to Justine’s daily heart cry.

Please Drea you have made us to genuinely appreciate the unfathomable love of God by feeling what we have been feeling for the least in society. It encourages us more to know that we are not alone but an army of God to bring the goodness of God to whom it had been denied. It sometimes emotionally drains us to see that we are helpless. However, praise be to God who cares. A house shall  take Martina leaps and bounds with her extended family.

Experito Nov 8: I was able to visit Martina and her grandkids.  They are supposed to be 15 in her care but the two had been taken to hospital because they were sick. They were not available for our camera and conversation. It was only 13 available as you can see in the picture.

About the house, I shared the opportunity to some members of the community and they have showed interest to come and provide manual labour when time comes for construction.  Martina is currying this burden of these kids because five of them have no father and mother. Three of them the mother is dead but their father became mentally derailed and his father is as well very ill. The other kids have mothers and the fathers whose whereabouts are unknown. Justine and I are praying that Martina will receive good-hearted people to help uplift her state of living conditions as well as the little kids get educated.

And when we asked what amenities the house should have, Experito wrote:

Experito Nov 12: We will be extremely delighted to see Martina’s family advance to a good standard of living. The house is intended to have 4 bedrooms. There will be a pit latrine bathroom outside. The house shall be built with bricks, doors, windows, and iron sheets (for roofing). It shall be plastered and painted, with a water harvest tank constructed as well. With the size of Martina’s family, a house of $30,000, which shall include a water harvest tank, might be appropriate.

100% of any donations go directly to Africa.  If you would like to donate toward Martina’s home, please send a note with your donation.  100% of your gift will go toward her home.  We’ll be taking pictures and hopefully video to provide updates on progress.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

Martina with her daughter in law….you can see the fresh grave of her daughter in the back ground.

Martina and I saying goodbye, until we meet again 🙂

Martina and 13 of the 15 children in her care.

Justine (Experito’s wife), Prisca (whose mother just died), and Martina

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I Get The Best Thank-You Notes!

Shared by Cindy May

I receive some of the best thank-you notes! Many Ugandans have a lovely way with words and Fred is no exception.  Fred has helped us with RTP’s sponsored children.  You may recall reading his thank you-note that we shared earlier this year.  When Drea and Bryan take teams of people over to Kenya and Uganda to introduce them to the ministries with which we partner; they and the team members fill their suitcases with gifts and items needed by the ministry leaders. One of the items we never travel without is good ol’ Skippy or Jif Peanut Butter–the 3-pound Costco-sized containers.  Fred was the recipient of two such containers of peanut butter.  I enjoyed how he expressed his delight over this item, new to his palate.  The thank-you extends to all of you, as we either receive donated peanut butter or purchase peanut butter with donated funds.

Here is the thank you letter from Fred….

Once again I am blessed to be communicating with you my dear madam Cindy. How are you and the gentle Frank May doing over there? I pray you are good. On my side I am good and moving on with life. Dear madam Cindy, the essence of this mail is basically to say thank you for what you sent me.

I received two tins of peanut butter. It’s so delicious and sorry for how I am going to sound, but the fact is that you are tempting me to eat a whole loaf of bread, one kilogram in size, given the delicacy of the butter! For sure we do not have that here, for if it was, then I could ill afford to buy it.

It is so delicious and dear madam thanks! For sure I get lost words to express my gratitude. For you always get me introduced to new things. I am grateful dear madam and may the good Lord bless you and your entire family. How I wish to thank you face to face, for I believe, it’s how I can show my gratitude.

Regards to Frank and tell him I miss him.

Love you: Fred Bukenya

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Confessions of My Stubborn Heart

In 1996, Frank and I learned that we could not have biological children. That was the very first of my plans for my life over which I lost control, and it was the first event in a series of events that began a 16 year process of me learning to let God have his way in my life.

When we were in Uganda in 2006, we attended a wedding celebration.  It is quite an extraordinary event in comparison with American weddings.  Gifts are brought by the groom and his friends and presented to the bride’s father.  The gifts ranged from shoes and clothing and sugar and grains and vegetables and drinks to live-stock.  As we sat and looked on, the groom’s friends brought the final gift–a goat– down the long dirt hill into the event tent where the bride’s father and all the guests were seated.  The goat was not happy about this.  At the top of the hill, he dug his heels in, and was dragged, heels dug into the dirt the whole way, down that dirt hill.   It certainly brought laughter from the guests.  That goat paints a pretty good picture of me for the last 16 years.

We did decide in 1997 to adopt children, but for a variety of reasons, we have not yet.  God began teaching me some new things: some from His Word, and others from the words or actions of those around me.  Four such instances stand out in my mind as pivotal.

First, my friend Nikki, who adopted 2 little girls from Russia, shared with me that before they had been assigned their first child, she and her husband had decided they would take the first child offered to them. In other words, they would not wait for the child they thought they wanted. They would let God choose for them. “Daring”, I thought, “but, I don’t intend to relinquish that much control.” Later, I passed up the first little Russian girl offered to us simply because she was diabetic and slightly overweight. As God would have it, the day after we declined, Russia closed their adoptions for the next year. At the time I thought little of it.  Years later, I think I was much like the prophet Jonah who did not want to follow God to Nineveh.  And Russia threw me off the boat.

Second, our adoption agency director, Ron Stoddart (Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency), talked with me on the phone one day. He told me about his family: two biological children, and two adopted from Russia.  He was answering some of my adoption concerns–how did their children adjust, had they overcome whatever trauma was in their past, did he have any difficulties with them now? He told me that if an outsider were to sit at their dinner table with their 4 adult children, no one would know who was adopted and who was biological.

He went on to say, “Did we meet their needs? I think so. Did they meet our needs? Well, that’s not why God gives us children.” I heard that, but I couldn’t comprehend or absorb it. I wanted children who were cute and sweet and healthy and young, and looked like Frank and me–i.e. Caucasian. Previously, we had also turned down the opportunity to adopt 3 children from Sudan because they were the wrong color and size. The children were a little older and I thought, having never been a mother before, that I would feel like a camp counselor and not like a mom.  At the time, it seemed reasonable to me to consider my own needs and feelings.  It also did not occur to me that the God who IS love could create in me anything was lacking in maternal love, or that His strength could be perfected in my weakness.

Third, my friend Drea has 9 children– 4 biological children, and 5 adopted children (from Russia, China and Ethiopia). One day several years ago, we met at Starbucks. I was explaining to her my very logical reasoning of why I wanted Caucasian children. You see, Drea has biological children that look like her and her husband. But I don’t. I wanted children that looked like they could have been biologically mine. I thought that was a very reasonable desire. I thought little African children were some of the cutest babies on the planet, but they don’t look like they could be my children. Drea said to me, “Sometimes God’s ideals are not our ideals. Is it possible that your ideals do not match God’s ideals?” I think it was that day, or maybe that week, that I decided she was right. Frank of course had long been wanting to adopt at least one child from every continent on the earth. This was just my issue.

So with that, I was finally ready to adopt children from Africa. We were involved with ministry in Uganda, so it just made sense. I decided that I would like to adopt a sibling group–after all, Frank and I are getting older and how many couples are willing to adopt a sibling group? I thought this was good progress…until…

I read my friend Amy’s blog.  She and her husband decided to adopt a child from Ethiopia. They wanted to adopt a baby. One day as I was reading one of her posts, I read these words: All along we thought we’d wanted an infant boy from Ethiopia but God started to change and move our hearts with what we saw in Uganda. So much so that I started to check out the Waiting Children’s List on our agency’s website. (For those of you new to adoption lingo that just means kids who are waiting for adoption due to older age or medical conditions…as my friend Sarah pointed out – the least of these.)” (As a side note, the post Amy wrote a year later about their son Tariku, is one of my all-time favorites.)

When I read what Amy had written, I knew. I knew I had rejected the “least of these.”  All this time my stubborn heart had wanted to choose my own child(ren). I even wanted to choose my own sibling group, and I had rejected Jesus himself when I rejected “the least of these.”  I was willing to adopt, and from a human point of view, that’s not awful. But it’s not complete surrender. And anything less than complete surrender is awful—because it’s not God’s best.

Over the years, as I’ve watched several friends of mine take orphans and widows into their homes–the Hublers, the Custers, the Richards, and Katie Davis (whom I have not personally met, but whose blog I have read cover to cover). I’ve learned that there are more complete ways to surrender, better ways to love, more things to let go of. Katie, at age 18, said yes to God and adopted an 11-year-old girl…and then adopted 12 more children after that. If anyone had the right to feel like a camp counselor and refuse to take in children, I think Katie could have claimed that right. But she embraced the children who needed a mother and I learned from a teenager how to be a better woman. I’m thankful for the challenging words that were sown in my life by each of these people and families. Whether they realized it or not, they were teaching me. I’m ready now to take any child. To say yes to God. Anytime, anyplace. YES.

A final piece in the puzzle of surrender fell into place for me when reading David Platt’s book, Radical Together. He wrote:

“I will not soon forget the day in August 2005 when my wife, Heather, and I fled New Orleans. It was the day before Hurricane Katrina struck. We were used to hurricane warnings, and it was common to leave the city for a couple of days and then return.

So we grabbed some extra clothes, hopped in the car, and drove out of town. Little did we know that this would be the last time we would see our house—and our neighborhood—in the same condition.

Two days later we were serving at an evacuation shelter. We had set up a projector and a screen so people could see the news coming in from the city. After we had arranged everything, we sat down to watch the live feeds. That’s when we saw it. As the news helicopter flew over one drowned neighborhood after another, we suddenly recognized the gas station (or what used to be a gas station) just a couple of blocks from our house. As the camera continued to pan across the lake like landscape, we saw our neighborhood engulfed in water up to the rooftops. And then we glimpsed a rooftop we thought was ours…

We sat in stunned silence, our thoughts racing. Home for us had just been swept away.

Like others who lost everything in the flood, Heather and I experienced shock and disbelief. Then we felt confused. In the days that followed, we talked and we prayed and we wondered when “normal” was going to return.

But now we see it in a new light altogether.

For us, the flood depicts the radical call of Christ to Christians and the church. When Jesus calls us to abandon everything we have and everything we are, it’s almost as if he is daring us to put ourselves in the flood plain. To put all our lives…, all our property and all our possessions, all our plans and all our strategies, all our hopes and all our dreams in front of the levee and then to ask God to break it. To ask God to sweep away whatever he wants, to leave standing whatever he desires, and to remake our lives according to his will. (pg 10-12)”

I read this just over a year ago and knew I had to do it–to let God sweep it all away–all my hopes, my dreams, my plans for my life. Not only my plans for children, but all my plans. I think what Platt was communicating with this story is similar to what Peter was instructing when he said, ” Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I had set my hope in part on my future with Christ, but Peter doesn’t suggest partial focus. He suggests full focus of all of my hope on the future salvation–not on the children we will have or not have, the color of the children, the age, or the health of the children. Not on my dreams of the timing of if or when we will adopt them and finally have our own family. Not on my plans for our business or my plans to earn income.  Not on my plans of where we will live or how I think we should serve God.  Not on my plans for how I use my time.

Since reading those words from Platt, it has taken a year of surrendering plans, one at a time. I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever surrendered my hopes and dreams willingly. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, and I have seen the kind hand of God in my life.  He has allowed circumstances (for my own good) that facilitated surrender. I feel that finally, this year–actually just last month–I let go of the last plan that I was clutching as “mine.”

I don’t know why I struggle against God. The freedom that comes once I follow Him is so amazing. It’s not worth digging my heels in and screeching my way down a long dirt road.

In the devotional “My Utmost for His Highest,” (which my friend Nancy gave me in 1988, and which I have read daily for at least 5 of the last 25 years–amazed that it still continues to challenge me in new ways each year), Oswald Chambers said in 1915:

“Surrender is not the surrender of the external life, but of the will; when that is done, all is done. There are very few crises in life; The great crisis is the surrender of the will. God never crushes a man’s will into surrender, He never beseeches him, He waits until the man yields up his will to Him. That battle never needs to be re-fought.” Sept 13

I write notes in the margins each year as they apply to me. In the margin of September 13th, I wrote, “YAY!!! 2012, this battle is over.” Other battles have been won in the past, and there will be more battles in the future. But for now, I am thankful for the respite from this battle and the encouraging words and wisdom from Chambers, written nearly a century ago: that this specific battle of surrender of the will, need not be fought again.

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Francis Chan and David Platt– Nov 9 or 10–in your living room or your church

Shared by Cindy May

Attention everyone! A Free Webstream event is taking place and you don’t want to miss it!  David Platt and Francis Chan will be speaking live from Birmingham, AL or San Francisco, CA. This is something you may want to watch with your small group, your friends, your church or your family.  Trust me you wont be disappointed, please register by clicking here.

I am sharing this webstream with you because in 2009, Frank came home with something he wanted me to watch. He had read an article in Christianity Today about David Platt, the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. After reading the article, Frank watched the message that Christianity Today had dubbed “the most powerful sermon in the history of the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Convention.” Frank watched it again with me. Later Cara Murry came to visit and we watched it yet again. Then we watched it with our board members, and I just watched it again today. I don’t know how many times I have watched this sermon over the last several years, but every time I hear even the beginning of it, I am fully engaged and ready for more.

After watching this message, we then delved into Platt’s message-series, RADICAL and Faith Works, which are gripping, compelling, and anything but boring. David Platt unapologetically speaks truth. We think so highly of these message series that you will see links to them at the side bar at the right side of the web site.  We would encourage everyone to watch just one message, and see if you aren’t drawn like a moth to a flame to watch more 🙂

Below are Platt’s SBC message and one of Chan’s most famous messages.  I hope you’ll have time to enjoy these with your family or small group.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.  If you only have a few minutes and you want to worship, listen to the first 3 minutes of Platt’s message and hear Psalm 148 through 150 like you’ve never heard it before.

David Platt’s message to the SBC convention:

One of Francis Chan’s most famous, funny, and entertaining (but not empty) messages.  Lukewarm and lovin’ it:

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Christ in the Crisis

Shared by Experito

The harvest has not only helped us feed the starving kids around us, but it has also helped us stretch our hands to the nodding disease victims in Kitgum and Lamwo. With the recent challenge of Ebola, taking our attention, we couldn’t close our eyes to some of the brethren in Kibaale.  So we sent a team with rice in order to help the people in need. We were also able to bring some disinfectants to enhance and sanitize the place, which is now under quaranteen!

I know the pain of being isolated as a result of Ebola. In the year 2000 when Gulu was hit by Ebola nobody wanted to come close to any of us! Hence our support was diminished for those who desperately needed it!

It is through crises like these, that we are seeing Christ revealed!!!! Your prayers are earnestly coveted.

Hugs and Blessings,
Experito

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A Transformed Life

Shared by Andrea Thiele

Maria came into the picture about a year ago when we met her in Uganda. She is part of the Karamojong tribe that lives in Moroto, Uganda. This tribe can be very violent to get what they want from people. Traditionally they are animists and believe that all the cattle in Africa belong to them. Therefore they steal cattle from neighboring villages and sometime kill the people who get in their way. The Karamojong spend a lot of time drinking and high on drugs. Women will put their kids on the street to beg. The mothers will stay in the village and the young children will walk miles a day to beg for money by themselves. This is the state that I met Maria and her children, (Phillip, Angela, Longoli and Michael (whom I have never met)).

Maria’s husband had been murdered and she was left alone in the slum to care for her four kids. One day while Philip (7 yrs) and Angela (1 yr)  were on the streets begging, the police came, as they commonly do, and picked them up and put them in the “Children’s Prison, ” a place for kids who beg. The police are trying to keep the streets clean of beggars and the Karamojong. Angela was very sick and she and her brother Phillip, had to be removed from the prison and ended up at a ministry that helps sick kids. Maria, over time, found her children by word of mouth and by the popular ministries, the locals in this region, know about.

When I met Maria, she was a hopeless woman, filled with fear, anger and sorrow. She sat on her mat day and night. She was angry and mean to her children. She didn’t cook for them or clean. Sometimes she would slap Phillip and Angela in the face and yell at them. Maria did not know Jesus but had heard of him. She only spoke her language, Karamojo and a small bit of Swahili.

As God would have it, on my trip I got very ill from the beginning. I had big plans for my 2 1/2 week stay, to visit Uganda and Kenya. First, I had a bad stomach bug and then Scabies. Pastor Cyrus (in Kenya) had come down with a bad case of malaria and could not travel either. So we were stuck. I spent many days with Maria and the kids using sign language, singing and playing. But because we were leaving in a few weeks, Maria became even more hopeless with no plans for the future and no one to look after her.

In the mean time, brother Cyrus, decided that he was going to come and see me regardless of his health. He spent a few days with me and got to talk with Maria. After some discussion we asked if she could live with Cyrus. She had nothing and no one, and her kids were going back to the street so she could earn money. Cyrus agreed and asked Maria, she agreed as well. We packed up the few belongings that Maria and her children had and took them all to the bus station and saw them off.

Maria and the kids have been in Kenya with Cyrus for one year now. At first she would ask for alcohol and drugs, they of course refused her. She has lived on the compound with Cyrus and his wife Eucabeth working with the kids, serving meals, cleaning and helping where needed.

When I arrived in Kenya just a few weeks ago, you can imagine my excitement to see our African “family.” I was seated in the back of a ten passenger van. Maria, saw me and begin to yell “Mommy, Mommy!” (That is what we call each other). I managed my way out of the car and joined her, jumping up and down for joy!

Over the next week I saw something that only God could have done, transform a life. The Karamojong are a hated people among the other tribes. They are not easily welcomed among others. Not only did a miracle take place with her transformed life, it took place in the lives of others who excepted her! Everywhere we went people of the community talked about what a wonderful person Maria was and how they were so please to have her in the community. The family in the compound treated her like she was one of their own. They loved on her kids, just like they loved on the other kids in the orphanage, and loved on Maria, just like she was a sister.

Over a weeks time, I also noticed that Maria had pure joy deep down in her. She was happy, sang songs, played with the kids, helped them bath, dressed them for school and kept up with the duties of the compound. Her kids were smiling and interacting nicely with the other kids. Maria had life in her like I hadn’t seen before. She is completely free from drugs and alcohol. Her life has purpose and she is a hard worker! She sings songs about Jesus with the kids and wears a smile most of the time. She is still a little stubborn (according to Eucabeth) but is loved by Cyrus and Ecuabeth and a vital help to their ministry.

God has so graciously changed Maria’s life and the life of her children! He has also mercifully changed the hearts of the people working with Pastor Cyrus. God is so good all of the time. Maria and her children will be worshiping at the feet of Jesus and I am praying, that I am kneeling right there next to her!

(In picture left to right: Maria, Drea, Eucabeth, Paleigh, and Edward)

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For the Next Generation

Shared by Jill Florant

I was nervous when I stepped out of the van for the first time. Just hearing the words ‘street kids’ made my heart sink and the weather definitely matched the mood. It was as if teardrops were falling from heaven as we stepped through the mud toward the tiny, rust covered shack, on the side of the street. Although it was dark inside, I could see their faces. About 30 sets of eyes were focused on the white people who had come to meet them. These were the eyes of the street kids; Children, all boys and one girl, who are living on the streets fending for themselves in Kiisi Town, Kenya.

Our dear friend Cyrus wanted us to meet the kids he has been ministering to. Children he feeds as often as he can each week. He said there were even more that didn’t show up that day. Pastor Cyrus who was called by God to help children and be a leader in his community, is the director of The Helping Hands Orphanage in Kiisi, Kenya where we sponsor two little girls.

By the time we stepped out of the old, rusty shack, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining again. My eight year old son is taller than some of these kids living on the streets in Kiisi Town, fending for themselves. This was our first stop in Africa. One that I will never forget!

Cyrus- pictured on the far right and his wife Eucabeth, take care of about 40 double orphans (children with no parents) in Kiisi with the help of his parents and financial support from Remember The Poor. Together, their mission is being Christ’s hands and feet – focusing not on their own life, but the lives of the next generation – children. This theme would continue to show itself over and over again in Africa – through the lives of the leaders we met in Kenya and Uganda.

“He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Cor 5:15

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