Apr 202015
 

It is actually crazy to think that it has taken me this long to write a Mission Monday on a ministry that is such a huge part of my life. When the thought first crossed my mind the other day I was frustrated with myself that I hadn’t done one yet, but later the very same day I felt like Christ showed me why He hadn’t brought it to mind until now. His timing is perfect, as He constantly shows me and yet I have to constantly remind myself.

Just over one year ago, God placed in the position of being the Executive Director of Alpha Pregnancy Resource Center. Alpha has been serving its community since 1992, offering healthy relationships education, free pregnancy tests, pregnancy options information, parenting education & support, and post abortion help. As I prepared for last year’s annual fundraising banquet, which was themed around the history of Alpha, I was in awe of all Christ has accomplished through this ministry since the very beginning. It is an amazing ministry, and it is humbling to step back and see that He placed me here “for such a time as this”.

While I was previously aware of Alpha through my church, I had mentally boxed in what the ministry did in a small, neat package. But it is so much more than I could have ever realized without experiencing it firsthand. Even writing that statement brings tears to my eyes. I have seen how whether someone believes in Alpha’s ministry or is against Alpha’s ministry, it is easy to box in what we do. We try to encompass it all by saying “We not only serve and care for those that come in for pregnancy options information, but we continue to serve and care for them as they continue through their pregnancy and parent their child. It is important to us that we not only speak life in regards to the baby she is carrying, but also to the mother as we foster hope and support her.”

So what does this mean? It means that every person who walks through our doors, or calls on the phone, is viewed as priceless and we want to serve them as Christ would. Christ saw each person as an individual, unique and beautiful. He served and ministered to people on a personal level, he didn’t categorize people and lump them all together. He truly saw each person for who they are, and treated them as the priceless gem that they are (whether they realized they were priceless or not).

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”  John 4:7-29 (NIV)

So yes, while it is easy to list the services that Alpha offers (as I did above) and try to put the ministry in a neat, little box, it is so much more than that. I wish I could even vaguely list some of the things I have seen Christ accomplish through Alpha, but truthfully in such a small community the chances are too great that part of the story (even vaguely) could point to a specific client and we love our clients too greatly to risk that. What I can tell you is that I have lost count of the number of times that after a client leaves my eyes fill with tears and I am thanking God for how He is working in that client’s life and thanking Him that He allows us to be a part of that.

There is not a short supply of those that do not believe in what Alpha does, and recently it seems Christ has been showing me more and more of the firestorm against ministries such as Alpha. I knew that Alpha is not one of those ministries where a majority of people, Christians or not, agree that it is a great outreach and much needed. Instead, there is a defining line when it comes to the sanctity of human life and therefore there are those that vehemently believe that what we do is wrong. It is not difficult to come across biased blogs and articles about pregnancy centers in general, and see the comments of hatred that not only attack pregnancy centers, but also personally attack those of us involved in the work. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding it, but then I have to remind myself that it goes back to not being able to truly see what we do and that they also have mentally placed what we do in a tiny box and they have decided that it is evil. And honestly I don’t believe there is any point to commenting the truth, because until someone is willing to take a step back and be open to researching it for themselves from a neutral perspective then they are not going to hear anything that goes against what they have chosen to believe as truth. While it is difficult to read the comments and articles, it is a good reminder that this is a spiritual battle.

The tiny box that those who are against ministries like Alpha have placed us in is one of being an agenda-driven, pro-life manipulator and the service that they have an issue with is providing pregnancy options information. The truth is, whether you agree that it should be or not, abortion is as much of a legal option as adoption and parenting. That means that every pregnant woman that walks through our doors has three options- abortion, adoption, and parenting, none of which are easy. The truth, that those who oppose pregnancy centers do not see, is that we recognize that she has three options and that she still has three options when she leaves. She is going to choose one of the three options, and she is going to choose the one that she feels is best in her opinion. Right or wrong, we make decisions from our limited point of view at the time. It is easy to look back and think that we should have handled a particular situation differently, and often we can regret decisions we make. I can’t tell you the number of times I have read or been told that those on the opposing side do not want to talk about all three options, they want to talk about abortion which makes sense from the standpoint that is the only service of the three that they offer.  But women are smart and there is no reason why they should not be encouraged to take a step back from the crisis they are in, examine their lives outside of just this moment in time, look at all of the facts, and make an educated decision. That is what we help each woman to do with offering pregnancy options information. This life or death decision is too important to not offer each woman all of the facts. She can still choose any one of the three options legally, but it will be a decision that she didn’t take lightly and will know all of the potential risks. I understand that both sides of the abortion issue see the “facts” differently and disagree on what is true, but I pray that those against pregnancy centers will begin to see us by our love. It is out of love for each client that walks through the door that we offer help and education before they are in the situation of having an unplanned pregnancy. Out of love that we want to help each individual client take a step back and look at the big picture of her life and situation and make an educated decision taking into account all of the facts and risks. Out of love that we stand by her through her pregnancy and through parenting with education and support. And out of love that we offer support and help to heal if she chooses abortion and finds that she regrets that decision and is hurting.

You see, “pro-life” isn’t about being against abortion. It is about being for love. It translates into how we view every facet of life. From serving as a foster parent, to orphan care, to adoption. From how we view and treat someone who is homeless to how we view and treat a troubled teenager or someone society views as inferior. From speaking life to someone contemplating suicide to fostering hope in a hurting child. It is being for someone, not against something. It is about seeing every person, no matter how small or vulnerable, how Jesus sees them. Priceless, deserving of love, and worthy of His death on the cross.

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

“Babies aren’t constructed in the womb like a Chevy on an assembly line.  They develop more like a Polaroid picture.  Indeed, until a Chevy gets all the parts attached, it’s really not a car and can easily be scrapped to make something else.  However, like a developing Polaroid picture whose image is hidden for a time, a baby has all of its humanity at conception even though you can’t see it until it’s fully developed.” -Roland Warren

Praying like a Child

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Mar 292015
 

Recently I arrived at my sister’s house just as my niece and nephews were about to go to bed, and immediately the kids exclaimed they wanted me to tuck them in. So as they said good night to their parents and shuffled off to their beds, I tucked in and prayed with each one. Now the boys pray themselves while I hold their hand and bow my head, but my three year old niece often wants whoever is tucking her in to pray. So I asked if she wanted to pray, or wanted me to, and she requested I be the one to pray. I prayed, kissed her good night, and left her to go to sleep.

It was not until a couple of days later that I realized a detail about the way I had prayed with her that night. I had prayed from her point of view. I had prayed for “mommy and daddy” in speaking of her parents, and “grandma and papa” in referring to my parents. This realization brought to mind how the Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not have the words.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

When I am too weak and worn to know what to pray, I can just humbly say that to Jesus in prayer and I know the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf. When I am too brokenhearted to even form that many words, Christ knows my heart and I can just go to Him and cry. Even when I am so elated and in awe of something He has done in my life, and I can only get out a thank you, He knows the words of my heart.

“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:1-4 (NLT)

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” Galatians 4:4-7

John MacArthur wrote, “Abba is a diminutive of the Aramaic word for father. It was a term of endearment used by young children of their fathers and could be translated to “daddy” or “papa”. The Holy Spirit brings us into a personal, intimate relationship with our heavenly Father, whom we may approach at any time and under any circumstance, knowing that He always hears us and lovingly cares for us, because we are truly His own.”

Much like my niece trusted me to go to God in prayer on her behalf, God wants us to go to Him as a child goes to a loving father. What does an intimate and personal relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit look like? Do you get the picture of a child running to its father, climbing into his lap and throwing their arms around his neck while burying their head in his shoulder? In either instance of elation or brokenness this illustration applies, there are only changes the child’s emotion, not the relationship to the father.

Mar 222015
 

Recently I began experimenting by eating more vegetarian or vegan meals than meals that include meat. While there are a variety of reasons why, I realized the journey I took to get to this place mentally. What is funny is that I can remember, even as a teenager, my family joking around that I would probably be a vegetarian as an adult. Yet it wasn’t until just recently that I began experimenting with eating this way. As I began to wonder why I had continued cooking and eating meat, even though there are aspects that I dislike, I realized it was just habit and what had always been. My family was one that most of the time dinner was centered around a meat, and so I had begun to continue this way of thinking even though I could choose differently. First it had to get to the point where I hated preparing meat each evening for dinner, then I began to just leave the meat out, and finally realized that I needed to experiment with vegetarianism and veganism so that I was still getting enough protein.

All of this made me think about how much the way we are raised, what we are taught, and how we are trained to think impacts us. We are conditioned, not necessarily purposely, to think and act a certain way. Our upbringing, our families, our culture, and our experiences all play a part. How often do we just take it on as our own and not even question if it is right for us, or in some cases even truth?

I have heard so many stories recently from people who have come from very tough family situations and very hard places. I don’t even want to begin to compare my upbringing to the stories I have heard. While my family was and is far from perfect, I was blessed. But to know these people, and some of their story that led them to where they are today, it is amazing to see how resilient God created us to be.  It is awe-inspiring to think that out of trauma and struggles Christ can show us truth, heal us, and pick us up and place us on a different path.

Much like my continuing to eat in the same ways my family did, I can see other areas of life where I just took on what influential people in my life thought and how they acted. I can step back and see negative things that were said to me that I took on as truth. I can see opinions that were formed on issues that I had never actually taken the time to research the facts surrounding them. There were issues that I was influenced to believe were black and white, and other issues that were grey with no right or wrong. We absorb the thoughts, actions, opinions, and influences of those in our lives as we grow up and are formulating our way of thinking.

One example is my identity in Christ, which has been a struggle for me since placing my faith in Christ. I had taken what everyone had said about me my entire life, good and bad, and internalized it and formed my own “truth”. Christ has shown me His truth and who He says I am, but I still default to the old way of thinking at times. Christ has brought others into my life that have been in the midst of an issue, that I was taught was black and white, and has shown me how it is not about the issue but is about the humanity of each person and what are their individual needs. He has shown me His truth and the black and white of issues that previously were grey. He has taught me that even when the majority of voices in my life say something is right or expected, it is wrong if it goes against what He says. As well as times that He has placed me on a path that had the majority of people around me telling me how wrong it is and reminding me of all the reasons why I should not or cannot do it.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8

“To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:2-7

I want to be someone who lives with passion and conviction, not complacency. I want to take things I have accepted as truth and size them up to the Word of God, and hide His truth in my heart forgetting that which is false. I do not want to carelessly accept that which society or others preach as truth any longer. I want to recognize truth and see the world through His eyes and with His heart.

Christmas Mission Trip

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Oct 202013
 

I’m still here. I apologize that I have neglected blogging lately. I wanted to update you on one of the reasons I have been too busy to blog.

I am leading a mission team to Nicaragua in early December as a Christmas mission trip. We will be visiting a Center of Protection for girls that have been subject to abuse. The team will be doing activities with these girls throughout the week, and we will also be throwing a Christmas party for them! We are very excited to be sharing part of the Christmas season with these girls.

First, and foremost, you can pray for the team in the following ways: 1. That God will prepare each team member and also each child and adult to whom we will be spiritually ministering to during our visit.  2. That God will provide financially for our trip. Each team member needs to raise $1,500. That is quite a challenge! 3. That God will bless our journey, keep us safe, and move powerfully through our team as we minister His love, compassion, and grace in Nicaragua.

Secondly, you can be involved by seeking God’s direction in helping us financially. Would you consider supporting me with a financial donation of $10, $20, $50, or more? I have a donate link on my missions page, or you can mail any gift to Lakeside Community Church, c/o Tina Williams, PO Box 386, North Waterboro, ME 04061. Please make checks payable to Lakeside Community Church.

 

Thank you so much and I look forward to sharing all that God accomplished during this time!

Jun 102013
 

Last week I was excited to share with you an opportunity to partner or be part of missions in my home state, this week I am excited to share about missionaries in my own, small hometown! The Rosenbauer family will be going to Mophela, South Africa on a long term missions trip to serve at the Lily of the Valley Children’s Village. They will serve approximately 120 children that have been infected, or affected, by HIV/AIDS and specifically they will be house parents to 4-6 children. These children will be able to be in a two parent home, where they will be loved, cared for, and discipled to become leaders in their communities.

The mission of Lily of the Valley Children’s Village is “Sustainable, servant leaders for healthy communities.The vision is to raise leaders who embody patience, kindness, humility, service above self, truth, protection, hope, trust and perseverance. We see these as characteristics to be upheld in any position of leadership, whether that be in the classroom, home or workplace. We seek to raise leaders for every sector of society that will embody these traits and work together for a healthy community.”

I sat down with Michael and Lori Rosenbauer this evening, and met their daughters Eliana and Eden. It was amazing to see their passion for these children and desire to serve them, as well as see pictures and hear the account of their trip to Mophela, South Africa. Their testimony of how God led them to this point is inspiring. The Rosenbauers are currently in the process of raising the financial support needed for their mission trip. You can read more in their latest prayer newsletter update, or you can contact me and I will put them in touch with you, if you would like to hear more about partnering with them.

Meanwhile, you can hear from the Rosenbauers in this video:

May 132013
 

 Living Water International has completed 11,266 water projects in 23 countries worldwide.

” Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and to experience “living water”—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which alone satisfies the deepest thirst.”

 

Living Water International: The H2O Project

Drink Water to Give Water: The H20 Project

The H20 Project is a simple but powerful campaign. Give up coffee, soda, etc. for two weeks and just drink water. The money you save will help us provide clean, safe water for people in need!

So grab some friends, your church, or youth group, and change the world with us.

For more information, or to participate in the H2O Project, visit  http://water.cc/h2oproject

 

 

May 112013
 

You may know, if you have read my blog for any length of time, that I don’t write to convince others of anything. I write about what God is showing me and teaching me, and even then only the times when He lays it on my heart to write about it. So I try to obediently write what He lays on my heart, post it, and let Him do what He wills with it. My prayer is that it blesses others and that He is glorified through it.

I attended a fundraiser dinner this week for a crisis pregnancy center. I thought I was there for a very different reason than maybe what God had planned, and I still don’t clearly know why He willed it. It was eye opening to say the least. I expected a ministry update of the previous year, goals for the upcoming year, a request for volunteer and monetary support, and even a testimony. And there were all of those things. Then there was a guest speaker. Maybe at this point I should mention that I don’t watch the news, I will typically read headlines or listen to the abridged news updates, but I have always hated watching the news. It causes two reactions within me; I am either heartbroken or angry, and neither is helpful unless they lead to prayer. So wrong or right, I try to skip all the details, and the world’s spin on it, and go straight from headline to prayer. Sometimes the details aren’t even required to produce brokenness or anger anyway. There are topics that just automatically break me. You probably know, from previous posts, that orphans are one, but really any negative headline involving a child will do it.

The guest speaker travels the country sharing her story, therefore it may sound familiar to you. She shared her story of being heavily involved in abortions back in the 70’s and 80’s. She not only worked at a clinic, and described how she was the one the team would call in if the girl was beginning to question whether she should go through with it because she could convince them “every time”, but she was also involved in the campaign of “selling abortions”. She described how they designed a curriculum that began at kindergarten, all the way through to entering teenage years, because the goal was to “sell enough abortions to be a millionaire”. They decided that this would require girls to have three to five abortions between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. They decided they could meet this goal through the curriculum, alienating the young girls from their parents, buying defective methods of protection and birth control to distribute, and by training those answering the phones as telemarketers. She shared how she had made money off 35,000 abortions. She then shared her story of relinquishing her life to Christ and suddenly noticing the “groups of girls huddled in the corner crying afterwards”. Suddenly as she was brought to see girls having doubts “to seal the deal” she found herself telling the girls that they didn’t need to go through with it, that their parents would still love them, and offering to go home with them as support when they told their parents. There was so much more to her story then just this, there were many more details shared of both her work before Christ, and her testimony of her life after meeting Christ.

This is what I know: I know how I felt like I was going to be physically ill the entire time she talked of her work before Jesus came into her life. I know it felt like I got punched in the stomach, and had my heart break at the same time, over those 35,000 children that were never born (and that is probably a tiny fraction of the worldwide total to date). I know that a member of my own family had been attempted to be convinced to have an abortion by a doctor, because they believed the child would have a disability; and had they gone through with it a huge (in terms of importance and love) piece of my family would be missing that I cannot imagine my life without. The doctor was wrong, but even if he hadn’t been it wouldn’t have changed that a piece of my family would be missing.

I know that when God promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars, while our limited human mind thinks of that in terms of a number, God knew each descendant as an individual.

“He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” Psalm 147:4

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” Jeremiah 1:4-5a

“For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

I know children whose mothers abandoned them. What if those mothers had decided their baby should not live because they could not, or did not want to, care for them? I know children that would not be here today if that decision had been made differently. The world would be missing even more incredibly special children than it already is.

I know that there are many instances in the Bible where it says that God opened or closed a womb. When a baby is conceived, it is God’s will for it to be conceived. When we, as humans, play god there are devastating consequences. Eternal consequences.

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death;

    hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”

    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,

    and will he not repay man according to his work?” Proverbs 24:11-12

“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:7-10

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

Miracle Provided!

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May 092013
 

In my blog post, Waiting for a Miracle, I reached out for a friend of mine who was looking for anyone who had remembered her children in their previous orphanage or had pictures of them there. The task was compared to finding a needle in a haystack. We included the oldest picture of the children their mom had and sent the info out to various ministries in and out of Haiti. In the end, while God did not provide the miracle through these ministries, this did lead to many people contacting us that they would be praying and many reached out to others within their ministry with the info and asking for prayers.

This was the update from my friend, Barbara, on Monday:

“After 9 long months I have provisional approval for Daniel, Edeline and Shelove to come to the US!!!!! Praising God for this victory and thankful for all those praying us through the battle!”

God provided the connection to the person who could provide testimony of how long the children had lived in an orphanage! It was not our efforts that brought the miracle, and rightly so, it was God.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;

    make known his deeds among the peoples!

Sing to him, sing praises to him;

    tell of all his wondrous works!

Glory in his holy name;

    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Seek the Lord and his strength;

    seek his presence continually!

Remember the wondrous works that he has done” Psalm 105:1-5a

Another post by Barbara: “It looked like we were going to have to start off the first two years living in Haiti as a family……if USCIS did not approve us, that was Plan B. Uncertain why all these delays, tears and money were needed, it seemed that God might have been preparing this mother’s heart for a different plan than what I’d envisioned for the past 33 months. We were told we’d never get the documents that we needed; that to find the evidence they wanted was like finding a needle in a haystack. I wasn’t doubting Him, but I was trying to be silent to listen for His will and be prepared for whatever His plan was. Still may not have a clear picture of what His plan is…..but preparing a life for us with a home and job in the US is a whole lot easier for this mamma.”

I spoke to Barbara and she agreed that I could update all those who may have read the original blog post. She wanted me to pass on her sincere thanks for all of the prayers and support. She wanted to share this wonderful testimony of God’s provision, His faithfulness, and His sovereignty!

Please continue praying that these last four steps will be accomplished so the children can come home according to God’s perfect timing!

May 062013
 

Today’s Mission Monday is one that is close to my heart. For those of you who do not know, I am the Area Coordinator for Safe Families for Children in southern and central Maine. Safe Families for Children is presently in 27 states plus Canada and United Kingdom.

Safe Families for Children (SFFC) is a movement of compassion, grounded in relationship, through the Church. Hundreds of families of faith have opened their homes to children and demonstrate biblical hospitality to families who are struggling. Many parents experiencing a life crisis do not have a grandmother, sister, friend, or neighbor to call for help….they have no safety-net or healthy support network.  These parents can voluntarily seek the help of SFFC in their community – they can have their children temporarily stay with a SFFC volunteer host family, knowing they are safe and being loved on, while they address their situation. The parents can breathe and have space to collect their thoughts and plan a course of action with the help of a SFFC volunteer Family Coach or Family Friend.  SFFC is an invitation to support relationships for parents who otherwise may end up being involved with the Child welfare system because stress and isolation becomes too great – harm can come to kids when their parents are maxed-out and alone. Safe Families for Children is there – as the Church is called to be – opening hearts and homes for those vulnerable and in need.

Specifically, my role is to work with local churches to establish both a network of churches, and of families within the churches, to support families in crisis. Safe families are identified, have full background screenings and are approved to host children in their homes temporarily.  When crises strike, calls are made to us from DHHS, churches, pediatrician, or even the parents themselves to help find a temporary home for a child(ren) if abuse has not occurred.

I absolutely love this video testimony:

Safe Families 00 from Safe Families on Vimeo.

 

If you would like more information about Safe Families for Children, or how you can serve, please contact me at [email protected]

 

 

 

Rural Church Planting

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Apr 252013
 

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Maine. I have lived in Maine my entire life. As in Maine with a statewide population of 1.3 million people (according to the US Chamber of Commerce), as opposed to 1.2 million people in Dallas or 625k in Seattle. Maine, according to a recent survey, is one of the least churched states in the US.

I have a heart for missions. Ironically, my passion for missions developed during my first mission trip to Nicaragua. Even more surprising is the fact that I gained a heart for the lost in Maine while living in Nicaragua for six weeks. I find global missions easier than local missions, but they are equally important.

While I can’t share the details of the story that brought it up, I was told of missiologists focusing only on urban centers for the purpose of church planting. While the details of the story may have allowed for some righteous anger or frustration, the idea of only church planting in urban areas broke my heart.
I understand, that with limited money and resources, it makes sense to focus where there is a greater concentration of people. I really do get that. But this methodology seems to insinuate that those in rural areas are less important, or at the very least do not carry the same urgency to be reached. It feels as though it devalues people, because if everyone is priceless then it doesn’t matter if a location has a million people or a thousand people. A single person hearing the Gospel and turning to Christ is as significant as a church full of people doing the same.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” Psalms 139:13-15
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
God used a church planter from North Carolina, who relocated to Maine and planted my church, to reach me. While we are all called to missions, I had family trying to reach me and I resisted. I know this wholeheartedly as God used my pastor as a part of my personal testimony. And I am just one person. My church is filled with amazing people with incredible testimonies of God’s grace. His grace is effectual and He will reach His elected regardless of our actions, but to be used in His work and see the way that He weaves our stories together in a beautiful tapestry of our lives is important. I can’t imagine what it would look like if my pastor hadn’t been obedient to Christ calling him to Maine.
If light shines brightest in darkness, why wouldn’t the darkest regions of the country be a focus for domestic missions? What if God plans to use the darkest region of the nation to be a beacon of His light as He cuts through the darkness? What if we miss the opportunity to be used by Christ, because in our limited human logic it made sense to concentrate elsewhere?