Tuesday, October 19, 2010


God is a boundless provider. I tend easily to forget this, and maybe even you do too, which quickly reveals the identity of the limited party in the relationship between humanity and its omnipotent Creator.

Much has happened since I last posted two weeks ago and reported a remaining need of $282 to meet the key $4,500 threshold to cover the start-up costs for the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program. It began on the morning after my blog entry posted, when a good friend knocked on our front door to deliver a check for $100 towards that remaining balance. He and his wife were also monthly sponsors but after reading the blog he felt compelled to commit additional funds to provide for the mothers and infants in Mbulu. It was an enormous blessing, but as I would soon find out, there would be more to come.

That following Saturday morning I received an unexpected call from my good friend Steve, explaining that he and his “Bible Club” were hosting a car wash that day and that 100 percent of the proceeds would be donated to the CSP. I was dumbfounded. Steve, who is a teacher in the Fairborn, Ohio public school system, hosts a Bible study for several of his students, and they had elected to focus on the Anslay CSP for their annual service project. He was previously unfamiliar with this blog, and knew nothing of the immediate need which made it that much more special.
I quickly explained the situation to him, and then drove the family up to see Steve and his crew at work. Steve had directed us to the Minute Lane Car Wash which had graciously agreed to donate 20 percent of every car being washed that afternoon towards the Child Survival Program. It was such a blessing to see these kids so hard at work: beckoning passing vehicles, toweling off windows and wheel hubs as cars exited, and asking for additional donations for those willing to give.

Later that day, I received a second call from Steve, explaining that it would be a few days before the receipts were tallied from the car wash itself, but that they had made more than $200 that day in tips alone! Just like that, a milestone was reached, and I was humbly reminded once again that these Tanzanian mothers and their children belong to God, and that He can accomplish whatever He wills far beyond any human effort and ingenuity. It’s all His, in case we’ve (more than occasionally) forgotten, and it’s because of His inspiration and grace that we’re able to come to this understanding in the first place.

The need continues and the opportunities abound for individuals or groups to partner with us on a monthly or one-time basis. Praise the Lord who gives each of us the opportunity to serve Him and seek first a kingdom that will never end.

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
Psalm 127:1

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Falling Forward

I apologize that it’s been so long since my last post, but I’m hoping to make up for it now with some truly encouraging news. As I’ve already reported, we were able to raise over $2000 at the September rummage sale at Concordia Lutheran Church, putting us within striking distance of the foundational $4,500 needed for the initial costs to set up the CSP. Additional donations have continued to come in, putting us a mere $282 from hitting this milestone! Would you be willing to help us meet this key goal by the end of this week?

At this point we still need a total of 92 monthly sponsors (at only $20 a month!!) to fully fund the Anslay Church of God CSP. We are hoping to reach this milestone by April 1, 2011, which will mark the one year anniversary since we kicked off this campaign. That’s a total of 15 new sponsors by the end of each month. We are excited about some wonderful opportunities we’ll have in the upcoming weeks to share the CSP story, but we will definitely need your help to meet this goal.

What can you do? The most important thing we would ask you to do is pray. One thing we are learning is that God is providing for the project in ways we would not have traditionally imagined. These Tanzanian mothers and babies belong to Him, and many gifts have arrived from unexpected sources in spite of our human efforts to “market” this message. This causes us to once again realize that He is the provider and sustainer of all!

As we work to reach out to individuals, groups and churches, we would ask that you join with us as we share with others about the ongoing needs of these African families. Do you belong to a small group or church body that you would like to be a part of this effort? Please feel free to e-mail us and we would be glad to come and share about the needs of this project and invite others to participate. As always, word of mouth is also greatly appreciated, so we would be grateful if any of our readers would be willing to spread the word through the various social media outlets such as Facebook or MySpace.

More to come soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Journey Ahead

It’s already Tuesday and our family is still reflecting with joy on the weekend that was, and thanking God for the tremendous success of this past Saturday’s Rummage Sale. As I last reported, we are approximately $600 shy of funding the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program’s initial $4,500 start up costs. Though this represents a significant milestone, it is not a stretch to say that in many ways the work is just beginning in our efforts to completely fund this program. Once this task is accomplished, the Anslay CSP will be able to fully accommodate and save the lives of mothers and babies in Mbulu, Tanzania.
As of today, we still need to obtain right around 95 monthly sponsorships at only $20 a month. We need your prayers as we ask the Lord to continue to open doors and hearts as we seek to meet this challenge. We have been excited to see this number continue to drop from our original goal of 123 sponsorships, and we thank the Lord for everyone who has chosen to partner with us.

However, as you can see, there is still much to be done, and we would ask you to join with us as we walk forward. Think about it. For just $20 a month you will actively play a part in saving the life of a new or expectant mother and her baby. Best of all, your gifts will allow the local church to minister to their physical needs and introduce them to the love and person of Jesus Christ. Though it may be easy to calculate the amount of your gift, it will have an immeasurable impact upon the lives of God’s children both in this world and in the kingdom to come!
Click here to become a monthly sponsor or here to make a one-time gift today!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

So Blessed!

Well, my wife and I woke up this morning feeling a little bit as though we'd been struck by a rather large truck, but neither of us was about to start complaining. I also have the sneaking suspicion that there were several other individuals who felt quite the same way today. It's hard to know where to start but if you've been following this blog, you know that we've been preparing for several weeks now for a large rummage sale that was being graciously hosted by a church in our neighborhood to benefit the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program.
I don't think that anyone who was involved in this process ever imagined the sheer volume of donated items, nor did we anticipate how great the response would be from our community. I'll begin with the results and let you know that our final count showed that we brought in a total of $2,055! That figure will likely change since we still plan to deliver several boxes of leftover books to the Half Price Books store as well a large elliptical exercise machine to a local sporting goods consignment shop. There are still a few other big ticket items we plan to sell on Craigslist, but in the end, this total puts us on the verge of a very significant milestone in our fundraising efforts.
For several months now we've been sharing that the overall cost to fully fund the Anslay CSP amounts to $29,500, of which is made up of a combination of $20 monthly sponsorships and one-time gifts. $4,500 of that total is needed in order to officially launch the CSP, and create the needed foundation so medical and educational supplies can be purchased to accommodate the influx of mothers and babies into the program. Well, yesterday's total puts us within a mere $590 of that $4,500 goal!! We are overwhelmed to get this close and feel so amazingly blessed to be involved in this incredible journey.

No part of this effort has been alone and we have been equally overwhelmed by the loving and gracious gifts of time and effort by so many who worked behind the scenes to make yesterday's sale become a reality. We want to extend our deepest thanks to so many who donated items, and for each individual who was involved in the hours it took to haul, sort, price, work the sale, and then finally deconstruct and haul away the mountain of leftover items to Goodwill when it all ended. The blessing of your servants hearts resonates with us still today!

To those of you who made a purchase, and perhaps are learning about the Child Survival program for the very first time, we extend our deep thanks to you as well. 100% of your contribution will go towards this program and will by God's loving providence and grace save the lives of many! If you like to do more, we would love to partner with you and ask if you would be willing to consider becoming a monthly sponsor. Your gift is an not only investing in the health and well being of someone in desperate need. It is an investment in eternity!
God bless you all!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spread the Word

For a couple of months now, we have been working with several friends, family, and neighbors to prepare for a rummage sale that is scheduled to take place this coming Saturday, September 11th, from 8:00AM-4:00PM EST. What was originally planned as a simple garage sale, quickly blossomed into something much bigger, as we began to receive offers for donated sale items, and a simple willingness from many to pitch in where needed.

A neighbor reached out to her church located just a few blocks from our house, and just like that Pastor Tony Sobocinski, and the parishioners at Concordia Lutheran Church opened their doors and agreed to host the event in their fellowship hall. It's been a true blessing and we are so grateful to everyone who has given of their time and their resources to make this become a reality.

With that said, if you happen to live within driving distance of Dayton, Ohio, we would love to have you visit and consider stopping by. Concordia is located at 250 Peach Orchard Drive in Oakwood, Ohio. 100% of all proceeds will go towards the funding of the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program!

Additionally, we will have a special table on display where visitors can sign up to sponsor the Anslay CSP for only $20 a month, and choose from a variety of premium gift items that will be available on that day. Also, the wonderful folks at Chik-fil-A have provided us with coupons that will go to the first 50 visitors who buy an item at the sale. Each coupon entitles the customer to a free chicken sandwich with any restaurant purchase.

For those of you who live out of state, we would love to have your presence with us on that day as well. Above all, we would value your prayers before and on the 11th and that the Lord would use this event to bring in the needed funds and attract new sponsors. If you are already a monthly sponsor would you consider making an additional one-time gift on behalf of the sale? If you're new to the program, monthly sponsorship is only a click away!

Lastly, as the sale approaches, would you also be willing to share the link to this blog on your Facebook account and on other social media outlets? We're looking forward to what this weekend will hold and continue to trust in the Lord's sovereign will. God bless!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Question

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about my grandfather, Norman. This is nothing new, but the memory of him always seems to be that much stronger as the fall approaches. It was nine years ago this month when he passed from this world into Heaven’s kingdom, and though this time of year strengthens my recollection, it is not the primary reason why he’s come to the front of my mind.

There is one memory of him that seems to transcend all others and is practically woven as if with a golden thread through nearly every long-term encounter I ever had with this extraordinary man. As I look back on the times when I had the privilege to be alone with him, either driving in a car or on one of our family’s weekly Sunday afternoon visits, I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I would be asked “the question.” At a certain point during our conversation he would inevitably pause and then re-direct the subject to gently ask, “So how are you doing with Jesus?”

This was not an intrusive inquisition of my faith, but was instead a gracious and loving invitation to reflect upon and discuss the state of my daily walk and relationship with my Savior. I think back to those moments often, and vividly recall those times as a teenager and young man when I wasn’t especially proud of the answer I had to give.

Over the past couple of weeks our family has found itself in a season of uncertainty. We recently received word that the Rwandan government has temporarily halted all adoptions while it takes steps to update its process to meet certain international standards. The news is a disappointing pause in what is already a very long journey. Additionally, though the work has continued on in our fundraising efforts for the Anslay Church of God CSP (more on this very soon!!) there are admittedly times when it seems that progress is slow, and we feel as though we are running in place.

We know that both of these endeavors belong to God, but during these times it has been eye opening to learn just how much I have assumed a sense of ownership over each one. Work and duty has been the defining priority as we knock down each task and tirelessly pursue every goal. As worthy as these efforts might be, the relative stillness of the moment has been the cause for reflection, and the question once asked by my grandfather, returns as if it is spoken softly by the one he now walks with in a place that is just a breath away from here. “So how are you doing with me?” I hear Jesus ask.

As I have searched for my response I have seen a person who is eager to work but is often too busy for fervent prayer, or the extra time it takes to truly study God’s word. How quickly can we allow our work to distract us from the person whose love drew us to it in the first place? It’s a humbling reminder to return to where we were called to live from the start, but if a season of uncertainty is what it takes to bring us back there, then it may be the best thing that could ever happen to you or me. As you read the passage below, I am compelled to lovingly ask the question, “So how are you doing with Jesus?”

James 5:31-20
Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reaching out to our Community

Each year, our small suburb celebrates the end of of the summer season by hosting an ice cream social. It's a fun event which is taking place this very afternoon.

This past week we had some car trouble that ultimately forced us to cancel long held travel plans to visit family in New Hampshire. In the midst of the disappointment we began to make alternate plans and Julie soon remembered a phone call she'd received from a friend a couple weeks ago. Her friend had suggested reaching out to our local community center to ask if we might be able to set up a booth at the ice cream social to share about the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program. Booths typically house local businesses and craft vendors, so we didn't know if we would get the opportunity.

Julie's call ultimately paid off and we were given permission to set up shop. We don't know what to expect but we're excited at the opportunity talk to others about Compassion and what the Lord is doing through CSPs around the world. If you happen to live in or near Dayton, Ohio we'd love to see you. The social is being held between 3:30PM and 7:00PM EST at Shafor Park in Oakwood at the corner of Shafor Boulevard and Patterson Road .

More importantly though, I would ask any of you who are following this blog to take a few moments to lift up a prayer this afternoon as we seek to stand in the gap for moms and babies living and dying a world away. Pray that hearts would be open and receptive, and that above all God would be glorified and lifted up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Glimpsing the Future

As we partner with others to fund the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program, we are looking forward to learning more about the people who will be blessed through the collected contributions. As more sponsorships arrive each week, we move a little bit closer towards the moment when we can report that the project is fully funded. We've got a long way to go yet, but feel so encouraged as God continues to move in people's hearts to participate.

In the mean time I wanted to pass along a couple of true stories that describe how the Lord is at work in the lives of individuals and communities where CSP programs have already been established. Both give a picture of the care that awaits the families in Mbulu, Tanzania once the project is funded.

The first recounts the story of a Ugandan mother who received lifesaving care for her and her newborn child as a result of a local CSP. You can read her story here.

The second is a copy of a report from a CSP in Illimomen, Kenya. This report is typical of what you will eventually receive as a sponsor of the Anslay project, and it provides a helpful summary of the actual number of mothers and infants that are a part of the program, a list of prayer requests, and photographs of the families. Since each CSP is managed and facilitated by a local church, the report also contains an interview with the project's pastor. You can read a copy of the report here.

Though we don't yet know the people of Mbulu, we know that God certainly does and we love them and continue to pray for the Lord's provision as we move forward. Please consider partnering with us today. Your contribution may very well save a life, and in the process begin to release a child and a family from poverty in Jesus' name!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Witness the Power of One

What if you knew that the gift of your commitment to love and support another individual, could literally save their life and set it on a path that might bless a multitude of others for generations and an eternity to come?

It’s easy to rattle off statistics about third-world mortality rates, and to quote incomprehensible figures meant to paint a picture of the losses being realized each day in places where hope is a concept as inconceivable as a snowflake. Contemplating and praying over the plight of the masses is both right and necessary, but at its heart, the most compelling number of all is the life of one.

By supporting Compassion’s Child Survival Program you give a little one a chance at life, and once they are old enough, the opportunity to be a part of the Child Sponsorship Program where they can develop a one-on-one relationship with a sponsor who will love, support, and pray for them. It’s truly difficult to measure the power of this connection as countless stories of hope, rescue, and redemption are living proof of its incredible impact. Many children grow up to qualify to be a part of Compassion’s Leadership Development Program which provides Christian leadership training and tuition for Compassion graduates to attend an accredited university. Though I could point you to encouraging statistics about the number of children being rescued from the cycle of poverty, I’d just like you to hear the amazing story of one.

The video below introduces you to Jimmy Wambua who shares his incredible journey of survival and hope in the midst of great deprivation and heart-wrenching tragedy. His story provides us with an incredible example of what can happen when one is simply willing to reach out to another to share the love of Christ. Perhaps today is the day for you to stand in the gap for one who is waiting for their own journey begin. (Jimmy’s story begins at the 1:50 mark)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What is the Chief End of Man?

This is a worthwhile question whether you are student of the Westminster Shorter Catechism or not. It seems simple enough, but upon closer inspection one quickly understands that it is very plainly asking for a singular answer. It doesn’t ask for “a chief end of man” since the exclusivity of the word, “chief” simply renders it illogical. No, instead pierces to the heart of the human condition with the unflinching audacity to demand and assume the truth.

The paradox is that our difficulty with this question only comes when we operate under the assumption that we in our humanity are the source for obtaining a valid answer. Our predicament grows even further when we begin to look within and reason that there is no valid response. Our culture clings to the ragged myth that there is no absolute truth, though some of the brightest and well-learned intellectuals of our day claim to believe this absolutely. Under this tail-chasing assumption, the belief that we are intended to “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” is not merely an absurdity. It is an abomination of the highest order.

On the other hand, many who would agree with this statement, don’t allow its words to penetrate past the heart. This is what I wrestle with the most. Does my life glorify the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator of the heavens and the earth whose majesty is wrapped up in the triune Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Scripture unashamedly claims that truth is not only knowable, but that it is His and His alone. If I am to accept this along with God’s grace, and forgiveness, then am I not compelled by love to give Him more of my life than I already do?

This is difficult for us to swallow as we live in an age of bloated consumerism and an addiction to vain pursuits and platforms that turn the smallest of us into the gods of our own temporary universes. It’s tragically ironic that as our technology improves and our television screens grow wider and more defined, our vision of the world seems to proportionately fade and blur. What do we have time for, or better yet, what are we making time for? Though one much wiser than me wrote that out of the abundance of one’s heart the mouth speaks, I wonder how much louder our actions call out when we squander the opportunities and gifts we’ve been given on vain and worthless pursuits?

There are many ends to man, but only one of them is chief above all. May all else fall away as we dedicate our hearts to it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One-Time Gifts Revisited

Though it's been a little while since my last post I'm pleased to report that the number of needed sponsorships has dropped from our original goal of 123 down to 110. We've been thrilled and blessed to hear from a number of people who are passionate about saving the lives of children in Tanzania and we are thankful for every gift that's been made so far.

Though monthly sponsorships are a key element to sustain the program for years to come, we've also received some excellent questions about the need for one-time gifts. Already we've been contacted by individuals who have had garage sales, and also from others who have hosted birthday parties where donations to the CSP have been given in place of traditional gifts.

Almost every time the question has been asked, "Am I able to donate this money to the project?" Our answer, of course, is an enthusiastic, "Yes!"

We realize, however, that the link to Compassion's Anslay Church of God website appears to only offer the ability to give in monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual increments. However, the opportunity to give on a one-time basis is certainly available and is equally secure. Since I previously wrote about this back in June, I think the best thing is to provide you with that link which offers step-by-step instructions, complete with screen shots from each key portion of the website.

We are also available to answer any questions you might have about the site or any other aspect of the project, so feel free to e-mail us at thompsonwriting@att.net. We continue to feel so thankful as we partner with you to fund this project and share the love of Christ with so many who live a world away. It's even inspired us to come up with our own unique and creative ways to raise funds as well, and we'll be sharing much more about those plans in the coming days and weeks.

As always, this project is the Lord's "house" to build and these mothers and children belong to the One who sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father. We are confident in His abundant provision and grace as we continue to walk forward with you on this journey. God bless you and thank you for giving!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meet Emily Blake

Perhaps one of the most difficult things we encounter as we think about those in poverty around the globe, comes when we try to fully comprehend the actual scope of the need.

There may be a twinge of pain in our hearts when we hear that 25,000 children under the age of 5 die each day from preventable circumstances, but there is admittedly something that gets lost as our minds try to understand what this tragedy really means. This is a reality I seem to return to again and again.

Perhaps the Internet has truly made our world seem that much smaller, but even so, do we even think of these forgotten souls as our neighbors who God loves? Can we really be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who live an ocean and world away? Matthew 5:13-15 assures us, that as followers of Christ, we are indeed equipped to be salt and light in a world that so desperately needs it.

I would like to introduce you to the true story of a young woman who took these verses to heart, and who God used in an incredible way to save the lives of mom's and babies in a tiny Kenyan village. At age 12, Emily Blake was inspired to raise $40,000 to start and sustain a Child Survival Program in Embu, Kenya. Her story is truly remarkable and was the primary inspiration for our own family's commitment to raise funds for Mbulu, Tanzania. This link will take you to a PDF version of Compassion's Fall 2009 magazine. By turning to page 6 you can read her story which is titled, To Africa With Open Arms.

Though this is Emily's story, this is also a wonderful tale of hope for the mothers and children of Embu that allows us to witness the miracle of lives that are touched and changed when one is simply willing to obey.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Fruits or Bruised Bananas?

When it comes to giving-of time, of thoughts, of resources, of money-where do my priorities lie? What captivates my imagination and attention and where have I devoted my affections? These are questions I have found myself asking more and more over the past year, and maybe you have as well.

Though we might be quick to think that this surge in personal inventory is the outgrowth of a slowing economy, I would hope that it runs much deeper and personal than that. Perhaps God is working in my life and yours to draw our hearts closer to Him in the realization that our hope, our joy, and our fulfillment will never be found by treating His kingdom as if it requires a monthly supplement on par with a car or mortgage payment.

How many times do we check off the tithing "box" before moving on to the next obligation? I do more often than I'd like to admit. Do I seek out opportunities to give and do I even realize that having that opportunity is a privilege that the majority of this world's citizens will probably never realize? Am I giving God the first and the very best that He's entrusted into my care for His glory?

My wife Julie, who blogs about our adoption journey, captures the essence of what having this opportunity truly means in her most recent posting. Her words both blessed and convicted me to continue to seek our Lord's face and to continually look to give back what was rightfully His in the first place. I invite you to read along here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Call to Arms

If I saw the world the way Jesus does, would it change my heart towards those I can so easily ignore? Would I fully realize that there are millions who I am destined to worship alongside of in eternity who do not look, speak, or act like me? Would I grasp the scope of a battle that is being waged for the hearts and souls of men, women, and children, and then would I be willing to run towards the fight, and not away from it?

These are the hard questions I am facing right now, and as I submit to the One who died for my salvation, I begin to understand that I don't own the right to look away from those that He loves.

Yesterday, I came across a photo compilation on the ForeignPolicy.com website that is simply titled, "Postcards From Hell." As the site says, the editors have spent the past five years using a battery of indicators to rank the most failed nations of the world. Among the sixty that are compiled here you will find the names of states that are both familiar and vague, and though this is by no means a comprehensive list of the world's struggling countries, the sheer scope of it is frankly overwhelming.

Why am I going there? I wondered this myself as I clicked through photo after photo. Read through the descriptions and you'll see a pattern that goes far beyond the tragedy that is suffered through drought, famine, or natural disasters. You don't have to look too long to see a global landscape that is riddled with paranoid ruthless dictators, pirates, drug runners, warlords, and hoards of religious zealots driven by doctrine that is fueled by carnage and bloodshed. This list could go on, but at the heart of it we can easily begin to understand that something is at work here that goes beyond what our eyes can see.

Suddenly Paul's words come alive as he tells us that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph. 6:12)

Sin's curse is at the heart of each of these stories, and though we have the luxury of turning away from them, Paul implores us no to, saying that the Lord's "intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:10-11)

As followers of Christ we are called to put on the full armor of God (Eph 6:10) and declare his glory to the nations (Mark 13:10).

What can we do? Though these pictures might indeed personify images of hell on earth, we are assured that there is a heaven and that God's grace extends to these nations as well as those that didn't make the list.

I would ask that you would join with me as I pray for two of these countries each day, covering the whole list in a month's time and asking that the light of God's word would spread through each nation. Beyond that, I would encourage anyone who is willing to pray that prayer to then ask God to show them what He would have them do to advance His kingdom in the midst of these dark places. I don't know what this will ultimately mean for each person, but in our obedience we can be assured of a truth that will never pass away.

Romans 8:31-39
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Home of Hope

I am nearly at a loss for words as I submit this next post. Last night my wife forwarded me a link to a blog posting by an American lawyer who now makes her living doing humanitarian work in Rwanda. I am compelled to share it with you now as she vividly describes her visit to the Home of Hope Orphanage where, God willing, we will be adopting our son. Perhaps it is because we are on this journey, that I felt and still feel so absolutely gutted at the story of these tiny little souls in need of a simple touch. I would like to think that it’s much more than that. Perhaps in reading this, we would be moved beyond mere sentiment or emotion to cry out to God in submission to Him and whatever he might have us to do for His kingdom in response.

Though this singular story is about Rwanda, I know that scenes like this are being played out this very hour in places like Tanzania, India, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and just about every other corner of the Third World that we can imagine…anywhere else but here.

Here we fret over shrinking 401k’s, growing deficits, border security, the redistribution of wealth, and the great mirage that our fortunes will rise or fall depending upon the outcome of a November election. Here we worship at the throne of the 24-hour news channels and then tune in by the millions to watch a paper “king” tell the free world where he plans to bounce a basketball next season.

It seems embarrassingly understated to simply call this an outrage, but I suppose that’s the best description I’ve got. Outrage only goes so far, and trying to grasp the scope of this ongoing tragedy only reveals how small and helpless we actually are.

Maybe that’s right where we need to begin, weeping in repentance and submission at the feet of Jesus. As you read this it is my hope that you will pray with me, not only for these little ones in Rwanda and the babies we are seeking to save in Tanzania, but that you will join with me in prayer as we submit ourselves to the Lord’s call as Jesus commanded in Luke Chapter 2 when he said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

What is God calling you to do? This is a question I am asking Him myself. May we seek this answer with all of our hearts and may we then have the courage to do it without looking back. Not even once.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Countdown is On!

Well, much has happened in the past few weeks since we launched the campaign to raise funds for the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program, and I'm pleased to say that the initial numbers have begun to roll in.

As of July 7th, the number of one-time gifts and monthly commitments have combined for a total of 9 sponsorships, leaving 114 remaining needed sponsorships before the project is fully funded. We are so grateful to those who have contributed and would encourage others to prayerfully consider playing a vital part of this ministry.

We have some great things in store as we seek to take the message of the Anslay CSP to churches, Rotary Clubs, and Bible Study groups throughout our community. We are even planning a massive garage sale soon for those of you who live in the Dayton, Ohio area. I will be talking much more about this in the near future, but in the mean time I'd like to ask for your continued support.

How can you help? Though we continue to ask for financial gifts and sponsorships, this project begins and ends with prayer. I am feeling this burden more and more with each day and am reminded of Psalm 127:1 which says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain."

Perhaps you've already given or are even unable to give at this time. No matter where you find yourself, we would ask you to pray for the families in Mbulu. We serve a sovereign God who is not short on resources, and so we trust that He holds the lives of these precious mom's and babies in the palm of His hand. Together, our prayers can and will make a difference in the lives of people a continent away.

Lastly, we would ask if you would be willing to share the news about the Anslay Church of God CSP website, as well as this blog with a friend, family member or colleague, or by linking both to your Facebook or MySpace accounts. Word of mouth is extremely valuable!

In the mean time, I want to thank all of you for your continued prayers and gifts. Stay tuned... More great news is on the way!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ready to Risk It All?

The video below is one that we've shared often since we first saw it last year, but it's one we love to revisit and its message seems to only increase in relevance over time. It was given by Dr. David Platt at the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference in the summer of 2009 as he challenged his audience to devote their lives to pursue the kingdom and Glory of God. After watching this, however, you'll undoubtedly understand that this challenge extends to us all, and we hope you will take joy and encouragement from it.

David Platt: SBC Pastors Conference 2009 from Todd Thomas on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tanzania by the Numbers

It can sometimes be difficult to imagine the needs of those who live a world away from us. For those who have not had the opportunity to visit some of the more impoverished parts of the world, it's easy and perhaps even natural to almost think of such places as imaginary even though we know they are not.

When our contact at Compassion, Kirk Winter, told us that there was a need to start a Child Survival Program in Mbulu, Tanzania, I'll be the first to admit that it was difficult for this kid who grew up in an Ohio suburb to imagine daily life in a distant African village. Recently though, Kirk supplied us with a copy of Mbulu's CSP "Start-up Information Form" which gives a brief summary of the village's need along with several supporting statistics. It doesn't come with accompanying photographs, but I think you'll agree with me that the numbers paint a vivid and sobering picture of desperation and heartache that give the term "vicious cycle" a whole new meaning.

The form quickly reveals that in Mbulu the average age of first-time mothers is 15. Only 47% of these new moms give birth in 1 of the 2 area medical facilties due to the fact that they simply can't afford the high hospital charges. The natural result is that maternal and infant mortality rates are high because mothers are forced to deliver without the presence of a skilled health provider.

Should mom and child survive delivery, the realities that await them do not improve their odds for a better future. A young mother's simple lack of education exposes her and her new child to a greater risk of communicable diseases, and they often find themselves alone since it is the culture and custom of the village to shun unwed mother's, leaving them without a connection to their family or financial support. Fathers offer little help as so many of them disengage from their responsibilities and descend into alcoholism- out of work and out of touch. The young mother, desperate and alone, does whatever she can to survive and to feed her starving newborn by resorting to prostitution. The majority children who die under the age of 5 in Mbulu simply pass away because of malnutrition and starvation. It continues on and on and on...

I suppose the best and worst news I can tell you here is that this very real picture of despair is completely preventable, but the wait continues. Together, we can stop this. Education, access to pre and postnatal healthcare, nutritious meals, vocational training, and spiritual guidance and support are all available and are being delivered in communities around the world today. The stories of hope are just as real as those where no hope is in sight. I invite you to watch the video below to see what your contribution can do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Living Faith

There are moments in the Christian walk when our objective head knowledge about truth and doctrine collides violently with the reality of daily events, and the place where our capacity to understand God’s purpose reaches its limits. Our study of scripture allows us to learn that sin came into the world through humanity and that creation remains under its curse until Christ makes his triumphant return. We may claim to believe this, but absorbing the implications of this story requires something else altogether.

We may even claim to have hope, but there are moments when our faith is shaken beyond what we could ever comprehend. One can read about the death of 25,000 children a day under the age of 5 and feel a genuine sense of sadness, but there remains a part of us that can’t grasp the scope of this ongoing tragedy until we see it firsthand or until death itself approaches our very own doorstep.

Though God may allow the sun to shine on the just and the unjust, we are at a loss when we receive news of a friend or relative who is the victim or bearer of an unforeseen tragedy. A neighbor’s child is born with a rare disease…an automobile accident takes the life of a young mother…a brother receives news that tests reveal an advanced stage of cancer…an emaciated child in a third world country inhales their last breath because of starvation. How do we cope with or make sense of this kind of news which we seem to encounter on some level almost every day? Perhaps you and your family are walking through an unbearable heartache at this very moment.

Hebrews 4 contains some of the most reassuring words in all of scripture, as it challenges the believer to hold firmly to their faith. Verses 15 and 16 explain, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

How often are we tempted to abandon hope, faith and trust in the one who loved us so much he sent his own son to die on our behalf? If we only looked at Christ’s humanity then perhaps it would be that much easier to give up where He did not. However, he understood our weakness and allowed himself to be led to a cross, where death was defeated and we were given a place to anchor our faith with a vision towards a new and glorious future. This abundance of grace and hope is what we are compelled to share with others around the world, and it extends far beyond the meeting of one’s physical needs.

Today we can read Jesus’ own words of comfort to his disciples and know that their truth meets us today in a place where head knowledge is transcended by the understanding of the heart. Read on and take joy in the kingdom that is coming…

John 14:1-4
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Word About One-Time Gifts

Well, it's only been 4 days since we launched the campaign to fund the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program, and we have already been so encouraged by a number of e-mails and phone calls from those of you who have committed to support the needs of babies and families in Mbulu, Tanzania.

We have also received some excellent questions, so we wanted to take a moment to address one of them regarding the issue of one-time (versus monthly) gifts. Our initial e-mail stressed the need for us to seek out sponsors who are willing to commit to a $20 monthly donation. We chose to primarily focus on this aspect since the CSP's sustenance beyond the first year is absolutely vital for the ongoing health and developmental needs of mothers and their newborn children.

With that said, a base of $4,500 is also needed to officially start a program where a CSP does not yet exist. This is right where we find ourselves with the Anslay Church of God project. We can reach this number either by receiving a certain number of monthly commitments (19) or through the accumulation of one-time gifts. Both are certainly welcome, and this post is meant to serve as a brief tutorial for people who would like to provide a lump-sum gift.

To begin, interested givers would need to initially go to the Anslay Church of God CSP website. Once there, you would simply need to click on "Child Survival Program" in the sidebar to the left of the screen (illustrated in the screenshot below).

Clicking here takes you directly to a page (illustrated in the screenshot below) that allows you to securely make a one-time gift in any amount that you wish. It's as simple as that!

It is important for us to note at this point that your gift will go directly to the Anslay CSP even though no explicit reference is visible on this page. Gifts are automatically diverted to this specific project because it is directly linked to the Anslay Church of God CSP website where you initially entered. Though you are welcome to indicate special instructions by clicking on the box marked "I have special instructions regarding this donation" at the bottom of the one-time giving page, there is no need to do so since the information is already being tracked.

As always, we welcome your questions and comments, and we'll always do our best to respond to them quickly and accurately. This is an encouraging and exciting time, and we look forward to partnering with you in the days and weeks to come!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Little Is Much When God Is In It

“I don’t know where to start.”

This was my thought during a pre-dawn run late last summer that was meant for solitude as much as it was to beat the afternoon humidity. The daily routine gave me the opportunity to push myself physically but it also became a time to think through the day ahead and for prayer. I had grown to look forward to it, but this morning had been different, and a formless weight seemed to sit on my chest. I became convinced that God was working, or somehow trying speaking to me, though without clarity, and the notion effectively drained the energy from my legs and the wind from my lungs. My run slowed to a walk and I looked heavenward in the morning’s half-light and spoke the words that had already begun to repeat themselves in my head. “Lord, please show me what you want me to do, and then give me the courage to do it.” I said.

Later that night my wife said that she had something she wanted to talk about. There was hesitation in her expression as we sat facing each other, but her tears came long before her words ever could. When she spoke, she talked about feeling a tremendous conviction about the possibility of having a fourth child, but that she believed that God was leading us to adopt internationally. Adoption was not a foreign concept to our family, but the thought that it might be a path we might follow had never occurred to me. There was a momentary numbness and then sudden clarity as I once again heard the words of my prayer and a definite understanding that I had just received my answer.

I have used a lot of space to share how this journey began, but I can assure you that God has not only supplied courage, but he has filled our hearts with joy as we anticipate the arrival of a little person who have not met but who we love so deeply.

Looking into the heart of this troubled world can compel us to distract ourselves from the dire needs of the masses who may not look like us, share a common language, or even live nearby. I have discovered that doing so may not only fail to save a life, but it also robs us of the very purpose for which we were created. Perhaps you are also wondering where to start. No matter where you find yourself, you are not beyond the reach of God’s saving grace, and no service for His kingdom will ever be too small.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Welcome Aboard

Well, after much prayer and planning, the campaign to raise funds for the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program (CSP) is off and running. It's hard to believe that it all began with a simple phone call.

My wife Julie, who volunteers as a Child Advocate for Compassion International, receives regular newsletters and publications about Compassion's Child Sponsorship programs as well as its other key initiatives taking place around the globe. As I read through one of her magazines a few months ago, I came across a truly inspiring story of a high school girl who successfully raised funds to start a Child Survival Program for a project in Kenya.

I thought heavily about this story since we were well into the process to adopt internationally from Rwanda, and I began to wonder what it would be like to somehow give back to the continent that would give us our son.

"How awesome would it be to start another CSP in Africa!?" I wondered. Though Julie was as excited as I was about this idea, it was immediately clear that neither of us knew where to begin. That's when I picked up the phone and dialed Compassion's headquarters in Colorado Springs to ask for direction.

We would eventually be put in touch with Kirk Winter who is Compassion's North-Central Region Development Director. (As Kirk likes to explain, his responsibilities essentially cover the Big 10 states. This made things much much clearer for a Buckeye like me!) He listened to our story and took it to the organization to learn about the areas of greatest need before reporting back to us about the possibilities. He said that a project in Tanzania was still awaiting funding and asked if we would be interested in supporting the efforts to secure it. We, of course, assured him that we were, and the project was immediately off and running.

Over the past few months, Kirk and the Compassion team have worked tirelessly to develop a website that would allow people to simultaneously gain firsthand knowledge about the project and give directly to it at the same time. Our prayer is that this unprecedented opportunity will inspire many to give, and as a result, meet the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of babies and their families in Mbulu, Tanzania.

What an amazing difference that simple phone call has made, and what an amazing difference you can make with a simple gift.