Saturday, November 5, 2011

Getting Closer

It's been more than two weeks since I asked for your prayers as we prepared to share about the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program at Apex Community Church,and we have yet to get over the overwhelming response that God provided!

More than 20 people made the commitment over that weekend to sponsor the CSP and help provide for the mental, physical, and spiritual needs of mothers and babies in Tanzania!  That number continues to grow and we remain so overwhelmed at God's amazing provision. 

As our opportunities have increased, so has the blessing of meeting with others in the Body of Christ and hearing their own stories of God's work.  Some have felt burdened to feed and clothe the poor in Haiti, while others are answering the call to put shoes on the feet and a Bible in the hands of our city's neediest school children.  Another owns a budding restaurant and catering business, and he is committed to donating a portion of his work and resources to help raise funds for missions efforts around the world.  It is an amazing thing to witness the power of Christ as he uses His redeemed to carry the gospel to the lost.

Some of the most special encounters have come from those who aren't even able to afford a sponsorship at all.  A few weeks ago a woman and her husband came up to the Compassion table in the lobby and handed me the money she had in her purse.  "I hope you can use this," she said.  "I'm afraid it's all I can give."

I assured her that is was more than enough in God's hands, and thanked her for her willingness to share in the ministry.  As a way of saying thanks, I handed her a copy of Dr. Wess Stafford's (the President and CEO of Compassion International) book titled, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most.  In this amazing book, Dr. Stafford explains that " children are too important and too intensely loved by God to be left behind or left to chance," and that there is no time to lose as the church must heed God's call to invest in the saving of their lives and souls.  This story is that much more poignant since he shares his own experience of growing up as the child of missionaries in West Africa, where he endured terrible abuse at the hands of boarding school leaders who were supposed to be caring for him.

Well, a couple weeks after I'd given the book to the woman, I saw her again and she walked straight towards me.  She started to speak, but her voice immediately caught as tears quickly filled in her eyes.  "Is everything ok?" I asked.  She nodded and was finally able to speak.

"When you handed me that book, I started reading, thinking I was going to learn more about Compassion's ministry.  I didn't see, I grew up being abused, and reading about his experiences opened up all those old wounds."

I was dumbfounded and the air around me seemed to grow still.  By God's grace, however, this was not the end of her story.

"I just wanted you to know that if it hadn't been for this story, then I don't know if I ever would've come to a place where God would allow me to forgive the people who hurt me.  God has used it to change me and break me free from all of my bitterness. I am so thankful."

This was an amazing and unexpected encounter, but that's just what our God does isn't it?  Jesus is still on His throne and is still seeking, saving, and healing his children both young and old all over the world.  It is, as it always has been, His work and His doing.  Righteousness and redemption cannot be claimed by any man or woman apart from Him and His truly amazing grace!

I am so thankful for His work that continues to be done both here and abroad, and would ask for your prayers as He opens doors of opportunity to share even more.  Since I've shared a little about Dr. Stafford's book, I'd also like to offer an opportunity for you to receive your own copy just by becoming a sponsor of the Anslay CSP.

To get a book, simply click here to go the Compassion website and walk through the simple and secure steps to become a sponsor.  Afterwards, send us a quick e-mail at to let us know you've become a sponsor and we'll send you a book.  It's that simple!  You'll be saving the lives of families in Tanzania while enriching your own walk in the process.

Thanks for your continued prayers and gifts!  God bless!

Jeff and Julie

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Giving Praise...Seeking Prayer

Hi Everybody!

This is just a quick update to let you know what has taken place over the past week, and to once again ask for your prayers.

I'm thrilled to share that the Lord has continued to raise up sponsors and as of today we are now in need of just around 55 more to fully fund the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program.  You can sign up to become a sponsor today by clicking here!

In addition, this weekend we have been given the special privilege to share about the CSP with our church family both at this evening's service at 6pm EST, and for each of the Sunday morning services at 9:30am EST, and 11:30am EST.

The following video will be played before the congregation at a scheduled point in the early portion of each service and then I'll be given the microphone to provide more detail about the CSP and to invite others to participate as sponsors.  We are naturally excited for this opportunity but our greatest desire is that Jesus would be lifted up and glorified as we dedicate the lives of these young families in Mbulu, Tanzania over to Him.

Would you be willing, after reading this post, to pray that God would work in and through us, and that if it is His will, that He might use this message to provide the remaining sponsors?  He is sovereign and we give Him the highest praise no matter what He has in store.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Days of Grace

Hi everyone. Well, so much has been happening over the past few weeks that it’s truly difficult to know where to start.

Several months ago we were blessed to connect with Rita Haworth who helps lead the missions, or “Going” team as it’s called, at our church.  I had the opportunity to speak with her about what God was doing and the journey He had been taking us on as we sought to fully fund the Anslay Church of God Child Survival program in Mbulu, Tanzania.

After hearing the story Rita began to brainstorm about ways to help us take this message to the congregation at Apex Community Church. Midway through the month of September she called and asked if we would like to set up a display table in the lobby for all three weekend services over the period of about three weeks. At the close of those weeks we would then be given the opportunity to share about the CSP with the congregation during the announcements at the beginning of each service.

We were ecstatic to have this opportunity and humbled to see how the Lord was working to open doors- doors that only He alone could open. I pause to say this because up until then it seemed that virtually every opening had slammed completely shut. This experience has been at times frustrating and ultimately humbling since I believe God used this silence to reveal areas of personal pride and a focus upon the work instead of the one who gave us this burden to begin with. How easily we can forget that He is the one who provides, and that apart from Him we can do nothing! (James 15:5)

Well, since those initial plans began to take shape at the church, we were eventually given permission to keep our table on display for another three weeks. As it turns out scheduled appearance in front of the congregation needed to be extended out to the weekend of October 15 and 16, but Rita graciously offered to let us keep our display up and running. The result has been nothing short of amazing, and it’s been such a blessing to meet and talk with so many people who God is convicting and using for the work of his kingdom.

One person has listed Jesus as the CEO of his business, while another leads a ministry that gathers shoes for Dayton’s poorest children. Others are engaged in the ongoing efforts to provide physical relief and the message of the gospel to the people of Haiti. Another simply chose to live in the midst of inner-city Columbus where she ministers to the people in her neighborhood. My initial reaction to all of these stories is to say that the body of Christ is amazing, though I’ve been taught through our own humbling experience, that it is Christ in an otherwise lifeless the body that deserves all the glory.

It is all his from top to bottom, and I continue to be amazed that He chooses to graciously teach and love us while still using us to accomplish His will. What amazing love!  By His will alone we will be standing by our display table yet again this weekend, and by His will we will have the chance to share about the CSP with so many others in the coming days. Will you join with us to pray that He will move in the hearts of His people to provide additional sponsorships?

Prior to the start of our first week at the church we needed 88 more sponsorships to fully fund the Anslay CSP. I’m pleased to report that as of now that number has since dropped down to 60! God is doing amazing things and above all, His gospel is being carried to mothers and children in a tiny African village because of how He has moved and He has provided!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Another Voice of Hope

As some of you may recall, earlier this year we were blessed to receive encouraging news about one of the mothers from the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program, named Aurelia Akonaay. Her story was featured here.  Later we and other sponsors were thrilled to receive a letter which shared how the CSP had ministered and cared for her and her newborn child.

Well, once again I am truly honored to share the contents of another beautiful letter from an Anslay CSP participant by the name of Neema Jacob, pictured with her son Christopher below. My own words really don't do it justice so I'll be brief. Just know that the Holy Spirit continues to work in Mbulu, Tanzania and your ongoing gifts have contributed so much. We are still in need of numerous sponsorships in to sustain the ongoing physical needs of these precious lives. We'd like to ask you to consider giving today if you haven't already. Click here to learn more about the Anslay CSP and to help deliver life-saving care and the soul-saving message of the gospel. In the mean time, it's a true blessing to introduce you to Neema and Christopher:
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

I greet you all in the name of Jesus. My family and I are all well. It is my hope that you that you too, are well. I am very grateful to God in heaven for giving me an opportunity to be a recipient of this child survival program. I am also grateful to all project staff that involved in this program for being very helpful and supportive to me at a time I was facing many challenges. During my pregnancy, they visited me regularly at home and advised and counseled me. They taught me on different matters like feeding and immunization.

At my time of delivery, this program was very helpful in many ways especially at the hospital whereby they provided me with the means of transport from home to the hospital. Not only that, through this program many things have been done to me and I receive a lot of materials such as food stuff, thermos flask, clothes for my baby, body jelly, soap etc for the baby on monthly basis.

In this program I have been taught various lessons on health, hygiene, entrepreneurship, environmental and personal lessons, we also learn about curable and non curable diseases as well as how to feed our babies as required, the lessons are taught at the centre and sometimes at the zonal centers not far from where I live.

Also I have been taught the word of God, the advantage of being a prayer warrior. Through entrepreneurship lessons, I realized that I am personally improving economically because now I have started doing small things which help me to have some earnings.

I also have been learning quite a lot through my fellow women as every time we meet at the center, or when we go for choir practice or when we meet session called preparation of good food, I learn things like how to take good care of my baby Christopher.

Something else so special that I experienced in this program is Medicare when my baby is sick and I could not given proper treatment at the government District hospital this program helps by facilitating the treatment of the child at the referral hospital for example in July 2010 by my baby Christopher was sick, through this program we got good treatment at a referral hospital in another region from July to September until he was healed completely.

Lastly I am very grateful to you for your loving kindness, which you have extended to me materially; spiritually etc also I am grateful for the commitment of Compassion staff, I won’t forget how they helped me when my son Christopher was sick.

I have nothing to pay you back, I pray for you and your families that God will bless you a hundred times and more.

Yours in CSP,
Neema Jacob

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Missing Man

The reason for this entry’s title may seem obvious since the frequency of my contributions to this blog have become almost non-existent. However, as appropriate as that might be, the subject actually concerns an issue that has haunted me long before this blog was ever launched.

In February of 2010 I had the privilege to travel with a group of men on a short-term missions trip to Guatemala. It was my first journey to the third world, and as those of you who have taken similar trips can understand, it had and continues to have a profound impact on my life. You never forget certain sights, sounds, smells, and experiences, and by God’s grace it starts a process of change in your life that doesn’t end once you’re safely back in your suburban cocoon.

Frankly, there is no easy way to comprehend the devastating scope of global poverty, though it becomes that much easier when we’re able to see it in the faces of those who live and die in its grip. For me, however, what has become even more disturbing is the ghostly imprint of those who are simply no longer there.

My experience in Guatemala soon revealed a nearly epidemic scarcity of husbands and fathers among the families we had the privilege to visit. Every story was different but familiar patterns soon emerged.

Severely high unemployment rates often meant that men would have to leave their families to look for work. Competition for jobs was fierce, and when they did become available they were often dangerous. Life threatening injuries and fatalities were not uncommon, and many who survived spent what little they made on illicit drugs or alcohol as a way to escape from the stress. If the men were able to return home, the drug and alcohol use typically continued and quite often resulted in the physical abuse of their wives and children. More often than not though, these men just seemed to leave their homes without returning.

The memory of those stories was fresh on my mind when we began the campaign to raise funds to start a Child Survival Program in the tiny village of Mbulu, Tanzania just a few months later. As Compassion began to provide us with information about the people who lived there, there were elements that immediately grabbed my attention and made the ongoing crisis in this community even more heartbreaking. Amid the devastating statistics regarding infant and maternal mortality rates, there were alarming statements such as:

“Some women abandon their children due to lack of support from their spouses,” and, “Men of this area engage in alcoholism, leaving women and children to suffer from malnutrition and diseases.”

It didn’t take long to understand that the tragedy I’d encountered in Guatemala was being duplicated in Mbulu, and worse yet, in unnamed villages throughout the developing world like an insidious soul scorching virus. I felt the overwhelming sense that since Christ is a Father to the fatherless, it goes without saying that we as His church have a responsibility to be His hands and feet for so many who are lost and dying.

Though one of the greatest joys of the Child Survival Program is the way that it provides for the mental, physical and spiritual needs of mothers and their children, one of its most overlooked benefits is the work that it does to help reconcile families. Whenever possible, a CSP provides counseling and guidance at the family level to make male parents participate in child upbringing. It’s a staggering thought, but in so many of these poorer communities the male role has been so diminished, that many men do not even realize just how vital they are toward the ongoing health and development of their children and the preservation of the family. Though hard to understand, I believe there are lessons here that we dare not ignore.

Perhaps we don’t talk about this enough, but as I look at the lives of American men and the culture in which we live, I truly believe that another silent crisis exists that is not that far removed from the one I’ve just described. Though our economic burdens may be universes apart from those in the third world, I believe it’s not a stretch to say that the American male has seriously strayed from the divine mission he was created fulfill.

Christian men and women alike have struggled to define and live out their faith in post-modern society, but sadly the populations of both sexes have adopted behaviors that are indicative of an increasingly secular worldview.

Confusion has reigned as Christian husbands and wives have allowed the pop theology of the culture to define the rules of engagement regarding spiritual leadership. As a result marriages vainly grope for substance in the dark as the roles both people were designed to play become reversed, and the beautiful complement of each becomes lost like some forgotten language.

Men increasingly fail to lead and seem more intent on frivolous pursuits instead of sacrificially loving their families and setting the spiritual tone of their household. Too often we have been guilty of failing to realize the crucial weight of our God-given responsibilities or the consequences of our unwillingness to live them out, but thankfully His love and grace holds the promise that it doesn’t have to remain this way if we yield to His work in our lives.

This is where I find myself now. By His love He continues to show me things about myself that must change, and by His grace alone He brings about a transformation that only He can give. It is a miracle that He still seeks out men to serve Him whether they live in Africa or Ohio. My prayer and my challenge to all men is that they would yield to His voice while there is still time and while there are still lives and souls to be saved.

Now is not the time to go missing.

To become a sponsor of the Anslay Church of God CSP in Mbulu click here!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Important Website Update

Hi everyone,

It's been a little while but we wanted to let you know that the Anslay Church of God CSP website has recently been changed to the following link:

This change has followed an overall update to Compassion International's website, and it still allows you to make a donation in the same secure environment as before. We'd encourage you to check it out and, as always, consider becoming a sponsor at only $20 a month.

We have been so thrilled to hear the stories and finally see pictures of the mothers and babies who are being touched through this ministry, but at the same time we have seen things slow drastically in our efforts to fully fund this project.

Would you be willing to join with us in earnest prayer that the Lord would raise up the individuals who are needed to accomplish this goal? We feel truly blessed to have shared in this vision with so many and know that these precious mothers and their children are known and loved by the living God.

They ultimately belong to Him, and there is no scheme, marketing plan, or carefully worded plea that can accomplish this goal through human means (this blog included). Our desire is to surrender our will to His as He puts this burden on our hearts. As we pray, watch, and wait, we ask that the Lord would open doors and provide for His children.

Your prayers are coveted and we join with you in joyful anticipation as His will is accomplished.

"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."
I Timothy 1:17

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Ultimate Mother's Day Gift

If you've ever wondered if your gifts and sponsorships to the Child Survival Program truly make a difference, there are a group of mother's from around the world who have a message just for you.

This is even more poignant for those who are helping support Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program in Mbulu, Tanzania.

After watching the video below for about the second time, my wife suddenly recognized what seemed to be a familiar face. Sure enough, after fetching our sponsorship packet materials she realized that Aurelia Akonaay from the video was of the 35 mothers currently being supported by the Anslay CSP. (She appears at the 1:24 mark.)

It was an astonishing discovery since I'd already planned on posting it anyhow, so seeing and hearing from a person we've been supporting and praying for, was simply icing on the cake!

Though this is a true encouragement in so many ways, the fact remains that many other mothers are waiting to receive the physical and spiritual support that this CSP can provide.

As this Mother's Day draws to a close, would you consider making a one time gift or becoming a monthly sponsor, perhaps in honor of your own mother or grandmother? Click here to make one time gift, or click here to become a monthly sponsor

Your generosity will ensure that Aurelia and others just like her will be able celebrate God's wonderful gift of motherhood for the months and years to come.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Psalm 112

The verses in this passage need no preamble from me, but I wanted to pass them along since my friend Kirk Winter, from Compassion International recently encouraged me to read and pray through them. It's wonderful advice that I'd love to pass along to you as well.

Take joy in the knowledge that God the Father sits on the throne and that there is great blessing as you give in worship to Him.

Praise the LORD.
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.

Their children will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Got Hope?

I don't know where you might find yourself today.

Perhaps you stand at a place of great hope, or maybe you're facing a situation that is so crowded with doubt, pain and worry that you struggle understand what that word truly means, or if real hope is actually attainable at all.

Though we've dedicated this blog to share the stories of needy people who live a world away, the truth is that every human heart sits in a place of great want and destitution.

Binding physical wounds and filling empty stomachs may be noble and beautiful, but if our words compel you to give but don’t ultimately point to the source of life itself, then our efforts are in vain and we leave you in a place of poverty.

Jesus said, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:27)

What is this food that does not spoil, and how can it feed a soul that hungers for meaning, peace, and yes, hope?

That answer simply rests with Jesus himself.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Maybe you’ve heard this story many times before, but for whatever reason you’ve chosen to fill the hunger in your life through another source. Deep inside you though, the soul’s craving remains.

Though as scripture says, every human heart has a desire for meaning and eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11), it is also clear that God placed that longing in each of our lives to point us back to himself.

Though his call is exclusive…

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

…he promises to fill that emptiness in a way that nothing else ever could.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29)

Hope is real, and it is based upon the person of Jesus Christ, the Creator and Sustainer of all things who sits at the right hand of the Father, and who promises to one day return for those who believe and call upon his holy name.

He lives today. Does he live in your heart?

I urge you not to go hungry for one more day. If you’ve got questions, or would like us to pray for and with you, please don’t hesitate to e-mail or call us directly at 937-671-4965.

Our desire for you remains the same as it does for mothers and their children in Tanzania…to see you released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

This is our greatest hope.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Meet Chiara Salati

In the year since our family committed to speak and pray on behalf of mothers and their children in Mbulu, Tanzania, we have often been both humbled and surprised at the way God has moved and provided for these people He loves and knows by name.

Though we've had our own plans sometimes thwarted and disappointed, more often than not, we've seen God move mightily in the hearts of people we do not even know and in ways we would never have expected.

A little more than a month ago we received an e-mail from Kirk Winter, our friend and contact at Compassion International. He told us he'd recently been contacted by a 15-year-old girl living in New York who had learned about the Child Survival Program, and felt a burden to raise funds for a CSP somewhere in the world. Would we, he asked, be interested in partnering with her as God is calling her to raise funds for a CSP?

Our answer was an enthusiastic, yes, and we were soon given the opportunity to correspond with this young lady whose name is Chiara Salati. It's been a true blessing to get to know her and her story, and she's been gracious enough to oblige our request to share it with our readers as well. As you read her words below, please pray for God's continued work in her life, and that He would use her in a powerful way as she reaches out to others on behalf of the Anslay Church of God CSP.

I still clearly remember the night that I first learned about Compassion International's Child Survival Programs. The night that I was hit in the face with the shocking truth: every three seconds, an innocent child under five years old dies from a preventable cause. It was a firm blow that I never expected to come from a simple Louie Giglio video series. But, all the same, it had. I found myself unable to understand how avoidable health hazards like dehydration, diarrhea, measles, and influenza had the final say on so many children's existences. At the time, I felt unsure of so many things. But of one thing I was certain. Something was about to change. Something had to change.

As I mentioned briefly before, my church, Main Street Baptist in Oneonta, NY, had been going through a Louie Giglio video series. That one particular night, Louie talked about Compassion International, the Child Survival Programs, and the desperate needs of children around the world. Throughout the evening I couldn't help thinking what a wonderful mission that would be. But for someone else of course. Deep down inside, although I thought it would be great, I really didn't want to be the one to get the ball rolling.

Although I tried, I could not get the Compassion project out of my head in the days and weeks that followed. In that time, World War III was being waged between two fierce opponents know as my heart, and my head. While my heart was telling me to take a giant leap of faith and reach for my dreams, my mind was keeping me well informed of reality and telling me that I was insane. After bringing the idea to several people, including two of MSBC's pastors, I still came away with mixed feelings. Some people thought it was a great mission, but didn't want to be the ones to take responsibility for it. Others on the other hand, agreed with my head and thought I was crazy. They told me that they'd believe it when they saw it. Although the clouds of doubt were beginning to swirl around me, I was determined to give this mission my best shot.

For close to a year, I continued my search for someone who would back my ideas up. Someone who was significant in my church, that people would respect and listen too. I felt that as a teenager, I wasn't qualified to be the one to do God's work. I was ready to supply the inspiration, enthusiasm and my own physical and mental energy. But at that point, I felt that was all I was capable of. I prayed that God would put someone in my path that would help me get a CSP project started. It wasn't long after, surprisingly, that God showed me who that person was: me. When I finally accepted that this was a project God meant for me to start on my own, I was inspired once again to make my dream into a reality.

My trust and patience were tried for another time as I battled the complications of getting in contact with Compassion International directly. I sent multiple emails, even a few different ways, but received no reply. I tried to reach CI by way of telephone but had no success with that either. Finally, as a last resort, I sent a letter to CI in Colorado. There was nothing further to do but wait. Wait and see. I knew that if it was God's will that I undertake this project, He would see to it that the letter arrived.

I was surprised by a phone call, a week or two later, from Doug West, a CI advocate. Yet again I was re-energized and re-inspired to continue with this assignment. I was ecstatic that I had finally accomplished the first step to putting things in motion. With Doug's encouragement and guidance, I managed to set up a website and get my hands on further fund raising materials.

Things were still unfolding as Doug was in the process of identifying a Child Survival Program that I could raise funds for and support. Suddenly, God amazed and blessed me by bringing Jeff and Julie Thompson into the picture. Doug introduced them to me over email as CI advocates from OH who had raised the initial funds for a project with the Anslay Church of God in Mbulu, Tanzania. He expressed his excitement that Jeff, Julie, and I might be able to team up and tackle this mission together. I knew immediately that, for the millionth time, God had answered my prayers. So here I am, joining in this project to bring hope to children in Mbulu!!

Everything is still moving slowly and my biggest goal at the moment is to present this mission to my church. I am praying that God opens hearts to step out in faith and join me for HIS Glory. How beautiful it would be to see my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ, come together to overcome poverty and death itself!!! Please join me in prayer for MSBC, Tanzania, and the many people involved. Thank you and God bless you for all your support!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Now Hear Izzy!

Hi everyone,

As usual, I've taken my sweet time in between posts but the opportunity to jump back into it was prompted by none other than my daughter Isabelle. Two nights ago she spoke up as I was tucking her into bed.

"Daddy, I think I really need a blog like you and mommy."

"You do?" I replied. "Why is that? What would you write about?"

"Oh, I thought maybe I could write about Africa, or Haiti, or about the adoption."

I paused for a moment before speaking, imagining the thought of my six-year-old casting forth her thoughts into cyberspace.

"I'll talk to mommy about it." I said. She smiled broadly, as if my response was tantamount to a resounding thumbs up for her big idea.

"In the mean time," I continued, "what if you wrote something about the Child Survival Program?" Her smile got bigger and before I knew it she jumped out of her bed and ran out of the room, fetching two fresh sheets of paper. It was late, but I didn't have the heart to tell her that this little project would have to wait until morning. I'm glad I didn't.

Less than ten minutes later she emerged from the room with her heart spilled out on the pages, written in a little girl's scrawl that will fade away much too soon for her Daddy. Her thoughts though, made my heart leap, and made her parents give serious thought to letting this little girl put pen to paper more often. More on that soon. In the mean time, I'll simply be quiet and let Izzy's words speak for themselves. Here are her thoughts...

Babies and mommys in Africa need a lot of help right now.

Think about it.

What if you were a mom in Africa and you could not feed your kids or babies or yourself? That is exactly what is happening right now, so sponsor and help a mommy and baby and it will save a kid's, baby's and a mom's life! :)

So, like I said, sponsor a person now and help a life grow and grow, and the most exciting thing is that they will learn about Jesus and God in the Bible!

So go to Compassion and have fun! The CSP is waiting. A kid is waiting to be saved, and if you sponsor them they will get everything they need- love and care.

Make a choice to save a life or not, and to help them be happy and know that they are loved. All you need to do is make a choice to be smart and sponsor a mom, so go to the CSP now! :)

What more can I possibly add to that? Oh yes, click here to help a mom and a baby now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Stories of Survival

Hi everyone. We recently came across one of Compassion International's blog posts about Pastor David Platt and his congregation at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. We've featured Dr. Platt on the blog before, but what you may not have known is that his church is actively involved in sponsoring 21 Child Survival Programs throughout the country of India! The post briefly provides a firsthand account of how the CSP has played an amazing role in the life of one young mother and her child. You can read her story here. This inspiring story is indicative of how God is working to save lives through so many other CSP's around the world. This same work is taking place now in Mbulu, Tanzania, but the CSP is still short of being fully funded and we need your help. Accomplishing this goal will not only sustain the ministry in Mbulu, but it will open the door of hope to countless others whose stories have yet to be told. You can give now by clicking here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Building a Bridge of Trust

It can be difficult to comprehend the needs of the poor, or to understand how a simple gift can make an impact in a world where the only thing that seems to grow is the number of those whose lives are plunged into poverty.

Do you ever feel as though your simple monetary gift is akin to spitting in the ocean? Well, you aren't alone, but in a sea of sadness, there are true rafts of hope that go beyond the mere provision of food, clothing, or medicine.

What makes the Child Survival Program so unique and special is the way that it cares for growing families by building trust with caregivers and new mothers, one relationship at a time. I could try to say more but I think this story is best told from the perspective of those who work to save lives and share God's love on the front lines.

Compassion International's blog recently posted a first-hand account of how care is administered to new mom's and caregivers at CSP's around the world. I'd encourage you to read the posting here. It is truly inspiring.

If you're interested in giving to the Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program, please click here to read more and make your contribution. We're getting closer to full funding, but we desperately need your help to move forward!!

You're gift will save lives now and very likely for generations to come!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

God Doesn’t Need This Blog

I wrestled with the title of this entry.

This is partially because of this statement’s self-evidence, but also because of its potential to reveal the self-serving nature of the author. There may be few things more loathsome than displays of personal vanity housed beneath a nauseating veneer of false humility. I’m sad to say I have plenty of it to spread around, and it’s easy in a medium such as this to paint a picture of myself, and my family in the most favorable light possible.

Though this may be natural, it is vital to come to terms with the fact that though pride is pervasive in this life, God is gracious enough to reveal it to His children and draw them back to Him. This is eloquently stated in John 1:16 which reads, “And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” My pastor recently pointed out from this passage that God’s holiness is a grace, but His forgiveness of our unholiness is a grace in unto itself. We are right to refer to it as amazing, yet I can’t help but think that this is somehow the mother of all understatements.

I have thought about all that the Lord has done since we began this journey. Who is it that led Compassion International to a dot on the map in Tanzania? Who led us to then one day pick up the phone to ask if there was a place in Africa where we could help raise funds to start a Child Survival Program? Who is it that prompts and leads your heart to give so that others living a world away might live and hear the name of the only one who can truly save them? The identity of that person certainly doesn’t belong, to you, me, or any Christian organization. It seems absurd to point this out yet I am appalled when I think of how many times I find myself taking some type of credit that was never mine to begin with.

No, it is essential to be simply reminded of what David wrote in Psalm 24:1-2, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”

The God we serve is the same who preserved and promoted Joseph, rained down fire from heaven at the prayer of the prophet Elijah, steadied the hand of David to kill Goliath, saved Daniel from the treachery of men and the mouths of lions, raised Lazarus from the dead, rescued Peter from the hands of Herod Agrippa, saved the Apostle Paul from shipwreck and venomous snakebite, fed the 5,000 and then walked on the water, and then ultimately raised His own Son from the dead, conquering the curse of sin forever.

The list goes on and on. How often do we make God a prisoner of our own expectations and attempt to seat ourselves in His rightful place? Too many times to count, I’m afraid. Still His grace alone sustains and lovingly guides us, and as He uses you and me to glorify Himself while He provides for His children, I lack adequate words when I think about these tremendous gifts.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Child Survival Program Goes on Tour!

When my wife and I first felt convicted to reach out to Compassion International to ask about raising funds to start a Child Survival Program, we never could have imagined the amount of support we would receive from the members of Compassion’s staff. With their ongoing prayers and encouragement, obstacles have become opportunities, and no idea has ever been too big.

Kirk Winter has been my main contact from the beginning and he and his administrative assistant, Chenelle Palmer have gone above and beyond the call since this project was launched.

Last week Kirk e-mailed to ask if Julie and I would like to attend an upcoming Mercy Me concert on February 10, in Dayton, Ohio. Our response was a resounding yes, but since we knew about the band’s enthusiastic support of Compassion Kirk and I began to wonder if there might be an opportunity to promote the Child Survival Program during their visit to Ohio.
Kirk contacted Compassion’s representative for the band’s upcoming tour and learned they will be exclusively promoting Child Sponsorship from the stage. However, she was excited to hear about our efforts and wanted to help. As an alternative, she offered us the opportunity to supply Anslay Church of God Child Survival Program packets at every stop on the band’s upcoming Rock & Worship Roadshow Tour. The 25-city tour kicks off this coming Friday, January 28, in Cape Gerardeau, Missouri.

Space will be made for the Anslay CSP at the Compassion booth for every show, giving people the chance to sponsor and support the ongoing needs of mothers and babies in Mbulu, Tanzania. It is an extraordinary opportunity since this annual tour has drawn more than 350,000 people since it started in 2009. We are relying on the efforts of Compassion volunteers throughout the country to share the CSP story, but most of all we trust and hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to break the hearts of those attending to release families from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Please join with us in praying for everyone who might visit or work at the Compassion booth as this tour crosses the nation. I would also encourage you to check out the tour’s website and consider attending yourself and maybe even bring some friends. For only $10 a ticket you’ll get to see a whole line up of acts that includes Jars of Clay, Thousand Foot Krutch, Matt Maher and The Afters!

I’ll keep you posted with updates as we learn of our progress along the way, and we’d welcome any photos you might want to share if you’re able to attend a show. E-mail them to us and we’ll post them to the blog! We only need somewhere between 70-80 sponsorships to fully fund the Anslay CSP. Our prayer is that God might use this to help us reach that goal.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The (Re)solution for a Wandering Heart

Well, now that we’re nearly two weeks into the New Year I’m curious to know how your resolutions are coming along. Perhaps, if you’re like me your only resolution is to stop resolving altogether, but I suppose an approach like that ultimately requires an additional resolution to stop making illogical promises to yourself. Maybe I should just simply resolve to blog more frequently.

The fact is that we are all seeking to add meaning or value to our lives no matter what date happens to be approaching on the calendar. We may occasionally take stock of our lives, and based upon what we see, decide to eat healthier, save more for our kid’s education, or get to the gym more often. Whether we are disciplined enough to meet our individual goals doesn’t mean that the pursuit ever stops even if your new elliptical machine slowly morphs into an extra place to hang your clothes.

Time is the great equalizer, and with its passage we receive a clear understanding of where our dearest and truest commitments lie. What is it that gets us out of bed in the morning or compels us to stay up late into the night? What drives us to scrape in order to save every penny or borrow to spend into oblivion? What person, object, or lifestyle, captivates our imagination and becomes the perceived ideal for our personal peace and satisfaction? Make no doubt about it, our hearts are continually resolved to run swiftly towards significance, even if our heads may not consciously perceive it.

Though God has placed eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11) we are often prone to spend our lives in hopeless quests that offer no eternal return on investment (Isaiah 53:6). I am haunted by the first verses of II Timothy 3 which say that in the last days people will own a form of godliness but suffer from a faith that ultimately lacks power because it chooses selfishness and pleasure over the Lordship of Christ.

In the light of scripture, Jesus asks each one of us as he repeatedly asked Peter in John 21, “Do you love me?”

God’s grace alone saves us (Ephesians 2:8) and continues to welcome our wandering hearts back to Him, but what do we give in return? My prayer is that it is nothing less than a total surrender of our will in submission to the only One who can provide for our otherwise insatiable hunger and thirst.

In that surrender, I would challenge each of us to look beyond the worlds we’ve constructed to carry the light of God’s love into the places where its rays are scarcely shining. Today in Mbulu, Tanzania there are young mothers-to-be who have not heard the name of Jesus, and there are little ones who may not see another year of life on this earth, unless someone obeys the Lord’s call to act on their behalf.