1. Plead with the Father for them. Matthew 7:7-8
2. Speak up for them. Proverbs 31:8-9
3. Give them what they need. James 2:15-16
4. Support those who support them. Hebrews 10:24
5. Provide them a safe place. Psalm 146:9
6. Go visit them. James 1:27
7. Give sacrificially to them. 2 Corinthians 9:7
8. Cheer them on. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
9. Give them a forever family. Psalm 68:5-6a
10. Mobilize your church for them. Matthew 28:18-20
Sunday, June 15, 2008
While in Central Asia, I was able to have “holy hanging around time” with kids at a feeding program. This is a place where kids who live at home in dire poverty can have a safe place to hang out and do activities and eat a hot meal. The Americans who work along side the nationals were in the States renewing their visas and I helped to fill their place in their absence. I also had the opportunity to administer the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and of Cognitive Skills to two missionary kids. They were great as they worked their way through test after test. They have lived in Central Asia for three years and their home school district in Georgia requires that these tests be given a minimum of every three years.
The couple who work with the feeding program have been great for the kids. They are a good example of how a marriage relationship should work. They love the Lord & love the kids. They have great ideas and even greater energy. Some of the kids have gotten a bus to travel to church and then go to this couple's house afterwards to help prepare lunch and hang out, playing Uno, talking, doing magic tricks and just being kids. When I left them last Sunday, to catch my flight home, there were four sad, puppy dog like faces staring at me. I didn’t want to leave.
Another opportunity I had was to visit a day care for special needs students of all ages. The day I attended, a friend, fashioned a splint for a two year old girl who had a severely deformed hand. It’s amazing what can be done with a little bit of supplies and a lot of the grace of God!
A man who dearly loves children is another dear friend. He has numerous ministries. I went with him to an orphanage where he has monthly birthday parties for the children. Because April was a busy month for the orphanage and the more than 350 children who live there, we celebrated the birthdays of children who were born in April and May. Children sang and danced, played and just “hung out” with us. They had a birthday treat and gifts were given out to the 60 or so children that had birthdays. Then, too soon, it was time to leave.
This man also works with Al Ateen. He knows each child & their story and loves them all. Most of these kids do not have a positive role model in their lives. George helps to encourage them, educates them and helps them break the cycle of alcoholism in their families. About 10 days ago he had a picnic for 100 of his kids. We went to the park, played volleyball, sang, ate hot dogs and ice cream, played around the lake and had a great time. And, when the kids thank him, he replies, “Don’t thank me, thank the Lord. He is the One who provides all of this.”
Another of his ministries includes opening up a new “coffee house,” a place where kids can hang out a couple nights a week, play, watch a movie and just be a kid. The place where this newest coffee house opened also started a weekly café where people can come, listen to Christian music (in a Muslim country), eat shashleek and just relax under the evening sky. This helps to defray the costs of the outreaches that the church is involved in.
The night before I left, I met with a group of six women who gather every week for Bible study. These women are Christians and want to learn more about Scripture and how to apply it to their lives. Typically, in this culture, a person has to know you for a long time before they show any physical affection. As I was preparing to leave Bible study, one woman came up to me and said, “You are my sister, and I would like to hug you before you leave.” What a gift! I’ll always treasure it.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I'm sitting in a hotel room in Norcross, GA at 3:47 AM wondering when I'll sleep normal hours again. I think of the people who shared my last few days in Central Asia with me. I have been blessed so much, especially those last few days. I was there to visit, encourage, test home schooled kids and to be an extra pair of hands. I believe that my life is richer from what I have experienced.
The love of God, expressed through His people, no matter what the cost may be to them, was so evident in the small things as well as the big things. A cup of tea shared, a fellowship gathering, times of study and prayer, times of just hanging out and just having fun.
I can't be more specific here, this venue is too public and Central Asia does not hold out open arms to Christians. But, I do want to say that saying "Good Bye" is hard to do. If it is God's will, I'll return and reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. And, some day, every knee will bow & every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.