Category Archives: What’s on Our Hearts

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord

This has been the most expensive year of our lives.  Inflation, the value of the American dollar decreasing, paying the fees for the establishment of our non-profit organization, air conditioning unit dying, getting robbed of over $1,000 and a near $40,000 adoption are just some of the hands grasping for every cent of our income they can find.  It seems like we have been in a pool for hours, treading water to keep our heads above the surface, seizing every pocket of air that we can take in to stay alive.

Our strength is failing.  We are starting to sink.

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh” ~Jeremiah 17:5

The good and bad part of this is that we have come to realize that God is the one who has thrown us into the pool.  Good part being that He has a plan to exhaust us of all our own strength so that we truly learn to trust in Him.  Bad part being that if we do swim to the side of the pool and get out without His hand pulling us up, we will end up in another body of water, probably much deeper, in our future.  God loves us too much to leave us as we are.

In John 6, before feeding the 5,000 men (probably around 20,000 people actually), Jesus tests His disciples, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”.  He was trying to pull out of their hearts where their confidence was placed.  “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get even a little.”  Their strength was insufficient for the dilemma at hand.  The disciples failed the test because they looked to their own resources in order to solve the problem.  When the very One who created the heavens and the earth, in whom no resource is ever exhausted, the bread of life Himself, was standing before them asking the question.  He wants our confidence in Him as provider.

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
   whose confidence is in Him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
   that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
   its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit.” ~Jeremiah 17:7-8

For those who have made a commitment to helping the poor, our trust cannot be in colored paper, our nation’s GDP or economic stability.  The god of comfort and mammon must be forsaken and the Bread of Life made the aim of our confidence.  We must have an unshakable reality at the core of our being that we trust in the Father’s goodness so that we may actually have something of value to give to the poor.  That we could say with the apostles, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from Godwe were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us…” ~ 1 Corinthians 1

God is looking for trees to plant by the streams of water.  Fearless of heat and worry-free of drought, always bearing fruit.

God, we set our hope on you who raise the dead, create bread out of nothing and make us able to comfort those in any trouble because of your deliverance.


The Unborn Pygmy

The following is an email I received from a missionary friend with Iris Ministries in Africa.  The email touched my heart and reveals some of the bitter truth of the atrocities that happen in the ‘Heart of Darkness’ i.e. Democratic Republic of the Congo.  I wanted to share this with you all and ask you to keep this man and his mission in your prayers and to seriously think about supporting his work to ‘the least of these’…

“The least of these My brethren…The least of these My brethren… The least of these My brethren.

I believe the least of these My brethren is an unborn Pygmy girl in the Efe tribe of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I do not know her name yet.  According to my research, she has a one in three chance of surviving to five.  She will be pregnant by eight (yes, eight) years old.  If she does not die in childbirth (less than a 1 in 16 chance), she may live between 16 and 24 years (average life expectancy).  In her life she will be subject to rape, murder and cannibalism from rebel armies; HIV and other diseases, malnutrition, parasites.  She will probably grow to only about 4’6”; become a slave or underpaid worker to the surrounding taller people groups; never receive an education; never have an ID (not officially exist); and, never hear the gospel.

Except for the height of this as yet unborn Pygmy girl, can I make a difference?  Can I go there and change what would be her life. Yes.  I leave on Monday (Feb 14).

Why am I drawn to this particular, as yet unborn and unnamed child in this particular tribe? Because, the Lord has called me to the “LEAST of these My brethren” and “further north” and to go “lower still”.  He tells me this over and over and over.  It keeps me focused.

I know of no other people so low.  According to the Pygmy Fund, ‘The Ituri Forest Efé pygmies occupy less than 1% of the land preserved for African wildlife. Their numbers have been reduced over the past 75 years from 35,000 to about 3,000 individuals. ”. “Pygmies are the most ancient surviving human race”.  Over a century ago, there were millions. They are subjected to enslavement and endangered by the destruction of the pristine Congo forest on which their lives depend”. “To this day, there are places where entire pygmy families are naked because they have no clothing”.  Jean Francois Mombia said, “Hunting has become almost impossible, because the animals have become rare, having fled the noise of machinery used by the loggers,” and “Pygmy hunters are often forced to walk for a week before finding game, while their families starve.”

John the Baptist said, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

And James said, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”.  James 2:15-17

“Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga, governor of Orientale Province, said “…only two out of 1,000 pygmies had access to education”. Marc Mali, of the Pelican Centre NGO, said, “Girls and women are often raped or used as sexual slaves, and they do not resist for fear of being killed,” Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN’s Indigenous People’s Forum that during the Congo Civil War, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighboring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group known as Les Effaceurs (“the erasers”) who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation. Both sides of the war regarded them as “subhuman” and some say their flesh can confer magical powers.  In the Republic of Congo, where Pygmies make up 5 to 10% of the population, many Pygmies live as slaves to Bantu masters.

That is why I want to go to help an unborn Pygmy girl in the Efe tribe of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   If you pray and support me, I can do more.  Either way, I am leaving on Monday, February 14, 2011.”

(Email for information on supporting work amongst the Pygmies in the DRC)

Why We’re Adopting

The War That Never Was

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a place full of contradictions.

This country holds a treasure chest of natural resources and valuable minerals that are both a blessing and a curse.  The country’s vast landscape is not surpassed in beauty anywhere on earth, but neither is the country’s poverty.  A series of recent wars has lacerated the Congolese people and decimated their way of life.

Yet few have even heard of these wars, let alone know the massive scale of destruction and death they have caused.

I am realizing more and more  just how oblivious most of us Americans are when it comes to anything outside of our neck of the woods.  The DRC is a place I talk about everyday, whether in conversation with God, my wife or anyone that will listen.  Every time I bring up the subject to people, I ask if they have ever heard of the Congo wars. To my bewilderment, no one ever has. Dozens of people I have talked to are completely clueless of the wars.  Now it’s one thing to not know all of the history behind them, who all was involved or how long they lasted, but to have never heard of the deadliest, most violent bloodbath since World War II AT ALL is just plain shocking.

During the span of the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003, 5.4 million people died as a result of the conflict.  That is more individuals than the entire state of Minnesota.  There are currently 2 million internally displaced persons, which is 500,000 more people than the city of Philadelphia.  There is more sexual violence here than anywhere in the world.  Rape is used as a weapon of warfare by the different rebel militias and the government to rob dignity and spread terror.

Thousands of male children are abducted, brainwashed, drugged and forced to murder as they are “enlisted” into armies as soldiers.  Nine and ten year-old boys are seasoned death machines in the DRC. Boys not big enough to hold a gun are given merely a whistle and put on the front lines of battle.  Their sole responsibility is to make as much noise as possible in order to startle and scare the opposition and then, as a living blockade, get filled with the first round of fire in order to protect the soldiers with guns.

The government soldiers are as actively involved in the lawlessness as the different rebel factions.  If the government forces are as bad as the rebels, then where does one run?  What safe haven is there?  I can’t even imagine the daily tormenting fear and uneasiness of having to have a constant watch over your shoulder like the Congolese do.  These are all fearfully and wonderfully made human beings created in the image of God.  Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons.  They all have a story and were a dream in the heart of God, but their affliction goes unnoticed.

It is as if the war never even happened. How is this even possible?

I believe there are a few different reasons for this:

Continue reading

The Shanty of Prayer

A dream grips my heart.

As the great hand of time is ever-moving forward and making the days, weeks and months go from present to past, the grip gets stronger.  I have found that this dream has captured my thoughts and has fueled my prayers.  One might say that it is just that, a dream, a long-shot, unlikely and even impossible.  Maybe that is just the reason why I want to give myself to it.  To be able to look upon Matthew 19:26 and know that this verse is true.  “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Oh, to be able to partner with the living God  and to give myself to help establish something bigger than myself in this short time-frame  I have in this life!

I am longing to pioneer and plant prayer and worship centers with and amongst the impoverished of the earth across the globe.  A shanty of prayer, if you will.  Abodes where the destitute of the earth pledge their loyalty and love to the Father of heaven, that He may possess His rightful inheritance in them.  A place in which the beggared pursues the fullness of their joy found in the richness of Christ.  Where communities and villages persistently cry out to the Judge of heaven and earth to overturn injustices and stand strong on their behalf , instead of taking up arms and spilling blood in revolutionary movements.

In studying global economics and seeing the systems that are in place to keep the majority of the earth trapped in intractable poverty and then walking through countries like Jamaica and Haiti, a hopelessness can start crawling over one’s heart.  What can my wife and I really do?  There are already so many humanitarian organizations that are established, with lots of funds and resources and headline names backing and even leading them.  When nations have entire countries and regions toiling generation after generation for mere pennies in order to insure their empires stay in control.  The statistics of poverty, malnutrition and disease are so colossal, can we really turn the tide or make a difference?

In the despondency of the situation, the angle of my perspective shifts.  It is not about what we can do but in WHO we know.  Our human strength is very limited, yet we are royalty.  A daughter and son of the King.  Heirs with Christ.  Beneficiaries of a kingdom whose influence and increase will be forevermore.  I want to see earth as it is in heaven.

I realize that this dream that has gripped my heart is not just imagination aimlessly running about.  The dream was placed there by another.  The dream is God’s.  Not only is it His, but He wants its fulfillment more than I do!  The dream was always God’s, and He has allowed me to take part in it.  To be with Him where He is.

11 Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;
All nations shall serve Him.

12 For He will deliver the needy when he cries,
The poor also, and him who has no helper.

13 He will spare the poor and needy,
And will save the souls of the needy.

14 He will redeem their life from oppression and violence;
And precious shall be their blood in His sight.

15 And He shall live;
And the gold of Sheba will be given to Him;
Prayer also will be made for Him continually,
And daily He shall be praised.

Psalm 72