I have seen so many posts in the past days from white people (some of my friends and family included) pointing to Dr King’s call to non-violence. While I agree wholeheartedly with these quotes and I condemn any violence, hatred, and backlash as it escalates and makes things worse, I do NOT think that is what Dr King did or would say to ME as a white person. Yes I believe that this was a huge part of his legacy, one of his callings and messages to his black brothers and sisters to respond with non-violent demonstration while taking a stand against injustice.

BUT, if we as WHITE men and women want to quote the essence of what Dr King wrote and spoke that applies to US, and what OUR thoughts and actions should be, I think we should focus on some other quotes like:

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Or  “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy”.

Or “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –Letter from Birmingham Jail

Or “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” –Letter from Birmingham Jail

Dr. King wrote the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” on April 16, 1963 after being jailed for non-violent demonstration against hundreds of years of unspeakable injustice that had boiled over in the 60s. While legislation and reforms have ended segregation and improved civil rights and injustices dramatically since the 60s, I believe many of the underlying thoughts of racism, while they seem to fade some with each passing generation, they are still very much a part of recognizable and more subtle racial bias. And unfortunately, in some places and some people there is still an outright hatred for people with black skin and we cannot continue to act as though these things don’t exist today in our country and communities.

So to those of us who are white, I think we should pause and try to move ourselves in empathy and compassion toward our black brothers and sisters. To try hard to understand and admit and be grieved over and ask forgiveness for the cruelty and bigotry and racism (both in words and actions) that has gone on for generations and still goes on today. To do a deep searching in our hearts and minds to see if there is any hint of bias or prejudice in ourselves and to call it out when we see it in others.

 

Please know this is not written in any way to point to or accuse any police officers of any wrongdoing or racism. I have family and close friends who are police officers – I was raised by a father who was a police officer. I love and support our police officers who stand in harms way every day to protect us. This is written to challenge each of us to stand up against racism, bigotry and hatred as it exists around us everyday. To start to make a change in ourselves, our families, our friends, our churches, our schools, our workplaces, our communities. It starts with each of us.

John 15:12-13 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

(M. L. King, Letter from Birmingham Jail, with an introduction by Paul Chaim Schenck [no place, no date].  You can read the letter in full by doing an internet search for Letter from Birmingham Jail.

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Posted by: Mark | December 24, 2011

Remembering the Best Gift of All

In Luke chapter 1 Mary shows us how to give thanks to God for the greatest Christmas gift ever.

In the busyness of Christmas, might we pause to glorify God and rejoice in our Savior and remember all God has done for us.

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
…for the Mighty One has done great things for me—  holy is his name!
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

Posted by: Mark | November 24, 2011

My Thanksgiving Thoughts

God our Father, forgive us for making Thanksgiving about Feasting, about Football, about Black Friday, even just about Family.

Thanksgiving was and SHOULD always be about giving thanks to our creator, provider, savior and king. To the One who does not need us or anything from us, but who loves us and desires us.  The One who is holy, majestic, righteous, pure and true.  The One whose glory, strength and power is beyond all compare, all description, all worth and all understanding. To this One I give thanks.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good:
His love endures forever – Psalm 136
His steadfast love never ends; His mercies never fail; They are new every morning; Great is His faithfulness  Lamentations 3:22-23
His faithfulness reaches to the skies (Psalm 57:10) and endures forever (Psalm 117:2)
His purposes are great and mighty – Jeremiah 32:19
His righteousness is like the mighty mountains – Psalm 36:6
His joy is my strength – Nehemiah 8:10
His word is right and true – Psalm 33:4

If I were to go on forever to write of His glory, righteousness, holiness, purity, majesty, strength, power, justice, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, joy, hope, wisdom, understanding, grace, mercy, love and all other things that you are, I could never even begin to capture the essence of the great and awesome, one and only true God.

But today, I give to you my God, all glory and honor and praise and thanks for who you are.
You are the Father of our only savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who you sent as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world – even for me and my sins.
You are the strength and power that raised Jesus from the dead.
You are the righteous, sovereign, just, perfect and true judge of the earth.
You are the powerful creator of the universe, who spoke the words and created every living thing.
You are the eternal one – the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end.
You are the giver of every good and perfect gift.
You are the one who brings the sun up each day and send water upon the earth, and gives us life each day.
You are the only Jehovah Jira – the provider of everything – our daily bread, the water we drink, clothing, shelter and even the air we breathe.
You are the God who gives us even the ability to produce wealth – the mind to think, the strength to work, the job we have.
You are the king of the earth – the whole earth and all who live on it belong to you (Psalm 24:1; 47:2)
You are our forgiver and healer.
You are the one true God and eternal life – 1 John 5:20 & John 17:3
You are everything to me, and I love you. You are my daddy – my Father in heaven who I long to be with for eternity worshipping you.

Posted by: Mark | October 10, 2010

A Small Taste of Heaven

Yesterday I had the joy of attending the International Evangelical Church in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.  It was incredible to look around the room and realize we were joined together in worshipping God with believers from every continent – over 61 different countries – while not EVERY nation and tribe and tongue was represented, it brought to mind how beautiful and wonderful it will be one day.

It was amazing to me that in this city of millions of people, some 10,000 miles from my home, I would “happen” to run into 6 different people, including 3 Americans, that I have met in various different places in the past 2 years.  It made me think of the multitude of people I will one day be reunited with for eternity together.

Revelation 7:9-12

9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.

Posted by: Julie Gumm | August 12, 2010

Our Matching Challenge – Send Kids to School

Two years ago we decided to start sending the kids to Christian school. It was actually the year that Beza and Luke would be coming home (mid-school year) and we felt the smaller classroom and biblical-based curriculum would ease the transition and give them the Godly foundation for their life in our family.

Last year we struggled with the decision of re-enrolling the four kids – torn by the cost and whether we should be spending that money on a Christian education when it could go so far to help those in need across the world. It’s that continual balance we fight to find between our needs and wants (and what we feel is important for our kids) and helping others.

Well, two weeks after school started last fall we found out that Luke and Beza qualified for a $6,000 scholarship, reducing our total tuition by half. We were also blessed with friends who used the Arizona Christian School Tuition tax credit which further reduced our costs.

God knew the desire of our hearts (Christian education AND helping others) and provided.

While we originally thought the scholarship was a one year only thing we have been blessed to apply for and receive the scholarship for this year as well.

Because of God’s blessing we want to pay it forward and one of the ways we’re doing that is to help these beautiful kids at one of World Orphans projects in Uganda go to school. Education is a VITAL piece in breaking the cycle of orphaning and abandonment.

There are 20 kids. School fees are $62 each.

So here’s the challenge…  – (NOTE – With your help we met the goal in 1 day and now have the school fees for these 20 kids!  Thanks.  More opportunities to come :)

You pay half, we pay half!

We’ll match every dollar you guys donate on our campaign page
until we reach the goal ($1193) and all these kids school fees are paid.

If you donate $36, we’ll donate $36 and that’s one child educated.

We’ll match any amount $1, $5, $100.

Because no challenge is any fun without a deadline we’re going to give you ONE WEEK!

How to Give:

  1. Go to our campaign page.
  2. There’s buttons for $5 and $40 donations or you can click “other” and enter any amount you want.
  3. You can pay by debit, credit or echeck.
Posted by: Mark | August 11, 2010

Thoughts from the slums of Kenya

Last Friday we had the opportunity to do home visits in the Mathare slums in Nairobi.  Fountain of Life Church, a World Orphans partner, has a visitation, care and prayer ministry to 50 HIV+ families who live in the slums.

Here are some thoughts/quotes from some of the team members on our trip:

“We visited a place so dirty, crowded, unsanitary, chaotic and forgotten that no human should ever have to call that home an yet hundreds of thousands do.

We had the privilege of sitting in peoples homes and listening to them tell their stories, share their fears, explore their dreams, recount their joys and rejoice in the name of Jesus.

“I stared into a young child’s eyes and searched for hope. For the promise of a bright future, a future filled with the certainty of a better life than this… But I don’t know that I found it.” – alisha

We saw families being torn apart by disease and realized how important good health is to the survival of a family in the slums

“A young boy tackled the back of my leg and a bit of drool dribbled down his chin falling onto my pants. He looked up at me with huge searching eyes almost pleading for rescue… But I had to keep walking” -jared

“I felt an overwhelming sense of injustice and hopelessness for both them and myself.” -jeremy

“everyday theses people are working to simply fill their stomachs” -pastor Gideon

“I cannot be satisfied if I am the only one who is prospering”

We heard a woman tell of her difficult decision each month as she chose between paying rent and keeping a roof over their heads or paying the school fees and investing in her children’s future.

We were encouraged by the community and support seen among the families we visited. Despite the poverty and hopelessness of their circumstances there still was an attitude of love and plans for the future. Finding the positive in the rubble of destruction, where the local church is alive and active, and the Hope of Jesus is making a real impact in the lives of people.

Later in the day the women in our group got to speak to a group of teen moms who are going to be part of a new ministry at Fountain of Life church. They will be learning skills and working to make jewelry and clothing to earn an income to support their family, while also being brought together in discipleship and encouraged by each other and God’s word. Many dropped out of school when they got pregnant, were abandoned by their families and do not have an education.

“Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. The Lord is the strength of his people.”  Psalm 28:6-8

Posted by: Julie Gumm | August 6, 2010

10 Highlights from Ethiopia

One of the team members came up with this list of 10 highlights from our time in Ethiopia. We have 2 more days in Kenya and then home.

1. We faced many trials and speed bumps from the moment we began our trip, but despite Satan’s attempts the team has not missed a beat. God has been faithful in providing and sustaining our team and the people we are serving.

2. Successful kids camp at Woliso Church despite last minute changes. Pure joy written on children’s faces. God’s word being shared.

3. Visit to the HIV/AIDS ministry. Got to hug, pray, listen and love on these families as well as present them a gift and pray with them.

4. Home visits – heard the stories of broken people but found hope in God’s word and promise of love and grace.

5. Witnessed a church taking Christ’s call to go and spread his church so literally that they keep planting with a passion and haste to ensure everyone has a place to worship.

6. Prayed over new churches and saw the promise of great things God has planned for that place. “Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city.”

7. Bought jewelry from HIV+ women who have found work and physical and spiritual healing through an incredible ministry for that community.

8. Entered Woliso only greeted with timid smiles and hand shakes, but left in a flurry of hugs, kisses and tears.

9. Four people came to Christ after Dave got to preach on Sunday at church.

10. Worshiped, prayed, evangelized, loved and found hope in a place that could seem hopeless at first glance, but is full of a people who have no limits to their generosity and love unconditionally, taking in the widows and orphans as commanded of us in James 1.

Posted by: Mark | August 3, 2010

Church is not a Building

I often hear a phrase that goes something like this “Church is not a building – its a body of believers”.  While I certainly believe most pastors and Christians believe this theologically, I often wonder if we REALLY believe this at our core, or if its just a cliche’ we use.  Would we choose to go to church if it wasn’t comfortable and convenient? If we had to walk several miles to get there and there was no praise band playing our favorite christian music, no video screens, no air conditioning, no comfortable seats?

New church plant near Wolisso Ethiopia

Would we show up to these churches walking through and standing in several inches of water in the middle of a field, with no chairs to sit in and listen to our pastor preach and sing praises to God with just our voices for 2+ hours?

New Church in Wolisso Ethiopia

The people of these churches in Ethiopia REALLY believe that the church is not about a building…  I have the mud covering my shoes and pants, and the memory of hugs and tears of joy to prove it  :)

Let us continue to strive to be a faithful church that displays good deeds and is dependent on God to provide as we use our resources to help meet the needs of those who are really in need like the early church did.  Let us not be a lukewarm church that is rich and not in need of a thing.

Revelation 3:14-22

14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:  These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Posted by: Mark | July 31, 2010

Divine Appointments or Freak Coincidences?

On my 1st trip to Ethiopia with World Orphans I met a new friend from California who has also adopted several Ethiopia children.  We hit it off from the start, their church became a World Orphans partner church, and now we consider their family good friends and visit them when we go to California.

My last trip to Ethiopia in April he introduced me to an Ethiopian pastor who is a good friend of his.  I had a wonderful time with Pastor Fekadu and came to find out that his boyhood friend from Ethiopia now lives in Phoenix.  So upon returning to Phoenix, I met his friend of many years and enjoyed sharing about the ministry and personal life of his best friend. While having coffee with him, I learned that I had met him before when we attended a service for Ethiopian adoptive families in Phoenix, and he is an elder at the Ethiopian church in Phoenix that started the orphanage in Ethiopia that Julie I and served at for a week before picking up Wendemagegn and Beza in Dec 2008.  (If you are still tracking with this web of intricate coincidences its a miracle).

All of this to say, I was very saddened and actually feeling guilty as I came back to Ethiopia, that while leading a team of 16 people out to the country in Wolisso, we would not be in Addis to see my new Pastor friend.  So as I stood in the airport waiting to pick up the team, I am left utterly amazed at God’s sovereignty yet again as I found myself in a city of 5 million+ people standing in a crazy mob at the airport next to my long lost friend, Pastor Fekadu.  He was waiting to pick up a good friend who had just lost their son.  I had a chance to pray with him, and I know that God orchestrated this meeting if for no other reason than for two brothers, separated by oceans and continents, languages and skin color, to pray together united as we all will be one day as all nations, tribes and tounges become one before an all-knowing, all-powerful sovereign God.

We embraced in a hug of joy and amazement that said it all – It’s not just a small world, but with God there are no such thing as coincidences.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Posted by: Mark | July 29, 2010

A Bright Shining Day

What a beautiful day in Ethiopia – this morning the sun was shining for the 1st time in a while, as we are in the middle of the rainy season.  We spent the morning in productive meetings with leaders from the denomination of our World Orphans partner churches, the largest Christian denomination in Ethiopia.

Later in the day we visited a unique ministry of a local Ethiopian church that empowers/equips and employs over 120 HIV positive women making jewelry and coffee to sell to both local and international buyers.  They not only provide them with jobs to feed them and their children, but also help restore them to community when they have been ostracized and shunned by even their own families.  Most importantly they are introduced to what the love of Jesus Christ is all about and hope not only for today, but for eternity.    This was a bright shining example of what the local church can do to reach out and make a difference in the lives of people in their community in practical ways while sharing the good news of true eternal hope.

Let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and praise your father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

The apostle Peter wrote about this same hope these women are experiencing in 1 Peter 1:3-12 – read it today.

Posted by: Mark | June 5, 2010

Ethiopia Trip Update

The past month has been a whirlwind!  I had a wonderful trip to my “second home” in Ethiopia at the end of April.

I continue to see God opening new doors and bringing new individuals and churches to the calling of God to care for the orphan and the widow.  I am excited to see the rollout of 10 new church partnerships in Haiti on June 1st – the culmination of months of work. The way things have come together and the people God has connected in this effort, both large churches like John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist, as well as small churches with hearts like the Macedonian church in 2 Corinthians 8 giving sacrificially, is nothing short of a miracle.

While in Ethiopia, I had a great time with Pastor Trev and Shaun from our home church, Crossings.  We visited 2 World Orphans partner churches – casting vision for orphan and compassion care and seeing the great work they are doing in their communities.    I also had the joy of reconnecting with the beautiful children at Hope for the Hopeless where Julie and spent a week in Dec. 2008 when we traveled to pickup Wendemagegn and Beza. The children have grown so much – what a special group of kids that have such a deep love for each other and for us “Feringe’s” :-)

As I sat watching the soccer game and reading a book to a couple of the younger kids who didn’t understand a lot of English, I was reminded that love transcends all things – tribes (people groups), tongues (language barriers), nations, distance, time, sickness/disease, heartbreak, abandonment, neglect, abuse. These things can be devastating, but I continue to see the love of God transform and bring hope and joy to children.  God is so good!

One day there will be no more pain, sorrow, tears, and no more orphans. Even though it broke my heart to leave those kids behind once again, I take heart knowing that God is the father to the fatherless and the defender/provider for the orphan and the widow. One day I will be reunited for all eternity with many of those children because they have learned of the love of God through the gift of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

I look forward to leading another trip back to Ethiopia in early October. If anyone is interested in going to see the work of World Orphans, or if you know of pastors or church leaders that may be interested, please let me know.

You can see more of my trip pictures online.

Posted by: Mark | January 29, 2010

Why I Hurt for Haiti

Its been almost two years since I traveled to Haiti, but the faces and places I visited are still near in my heart.

As the news of the earthquake came to me that Tuesday, I was transported in an instant to be with Guillo and Francklin at the pastor training center in Port-Au-Prince – now destroyed. To be with Jonathan, a pastoral student who was our driver and guide – how are he and his dear wife with whom we shared a wonderful dinner? To be with Jean-Manuel, a university student who I talked to at length, as he came to church seeking what it might mean to know and follow God. To be with the beautiful, precious children that I held and hugged and watched their faces transformed with smiles, intrigued by this white man and the hair on his arms as I handed out candy. To be with Pastor Emmanuel and the amazing people at Value Baptist Church. It was there that I experienced some of the most passionate and authentic worship of God I have ever seen, from a people who walked miles and climbed a mountain to come to church together.

Where are they all today? How many have lost everything they own? How many have lost loved ones? How many are suffering from amputated arms or legs, crushed by the building that collapsed? How many are orphaned and abandoned, separated from family by death or destruction or just the chaos? How many are widowed and in need of comfort and hope?

Tears stream down my face as I type these words and my heart aches, for these are not just faces from a photo or video on CNN. These are people I know – fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters to someone. Friends and brothers and sisters in Christ to me who are in need of our help.

1 John 3:16-18
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Will you help us help them? We at World Orphans are working implement disaster relief and long term holistic care for those affected in Haiti by connecting YOU, individuals and churches here in the U.S., with strategic churches in Haiti who are reaching out and caring for the people in their communities.

Whether you want to give a one time or monthly donation, or whether you want information on how your church can partner with us, please take a minute to email me, mark @worldorphans.org
You can give securely online now at www.WorldOrphans.org/Haiti

For more information about the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT), a collaborative effort of ministries that World Orphans is a part of, go to http://haitiorphanreliefteam.blogspot.com

Dinner with our Haitian ministry friends - Guillo & family, Jonathan & his wife, and my friend Francklin

The beautiful kids from Vallue Baptist Church outside Port-Au-Prince

Palace with our driver Jonathan

Palace after the earthquake

Posted by: Mark | December 22, 2009

Gifts of Hope For Children in Africa

Dear friends and family
Some of you have asked about specific ways you can join us to help an orphan. Here are some specific ways you can join with World Orphans to help a child in need this Christmas. We are excited to see our kids get involved in this with us as they choose to give to other children this year.

Opportunities include:

KENYA: Shoes for slum children

These are some of the kids I met walking the street in Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Our church partner in Kenya does ministry in Mathare to the kids and families there. Many of the children they help are walking around without shoes. This simple need can be met for 100 children for $670. (or $6.70 for one child.)

Enter the following code on your check or online memo: KEN-231-Shoes

SUDAN: Clothing for former street boys
Many in Sudan lack access to basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. At the World Orphans project in Darfur former street boys are living in church-based homes where they receive so much more than just the necessities. Each year our church partner purchases a full set of new clothing for the children under their care. This year, you can help provide new clothing and shoes for 50 boys for only $1,650 (or $33 for one child.)

Enter the following code on your check or online memo: SUD-537-Clothes

UGANDA: Life-saving mosquito nets
Malaria is a silent killer. Many young children succumb to this deadly disease every day and yet prevention is simple. Treated mosquito nets have been proven to reduce infection and save lives. Our church partners are able to provide these necessary nets for the children living in their homes, but there are many more children in their communities sleeping without protection. We would like to help our church partners to distribute these life-saving mosquito nets to 100 needy children. To do this, we need $880 (or $8.80 for one child.)

Enter the following code on your check or online memo: UGA-418-Mosquito

You can follow this link to World Orphans secure site and click on “Miscellaneous” option on the right and then input your donation amount and the specific project code listed above.

For more information or to read about opportunities to help children in other countries, I encourage you to visit the Blog of World Orphans’ president, Paul Myhill

Posted by: Mark | December 16, 2009

All I want for Christmas is…

What’s on your list this year? I had a hard time coming up with anything I really want (much less anything I really NEED).

Take a minute to watch this video and think about it. Then, will you consider giving a gift to someone who is really in need?

We are working with churches in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Iraq, just to name a few. You can help rescue and care for an orphan today for a gift of any amount, helping to provide food, clothing, school fees, and love to a child who is really in need.

You can go to www.WorldOrphans.org and make a lasting impact on the life a child this Christmas.

Posted by: Mark | December 7, 2009

Financial Peace and the Miracle of Adoption

This video tells the story of a couple who adopted 4 children and became debt free following the steps of Dave Ramseys Financial Peace and decided to use that freedom to bless another family, so they could adopt as well.

I remember watching this video at a conference in October of 2007. I walked out of that session with tears in my eyes and said “I want to be that guy” – the person with no debt who can use the resources God has entrusted to me to help others.

God has certainly blessed our family providing not only the means and funds for adoption, but more importantly the 2 beautiful children He gave us through adoption.

Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Who can you be a blessing to this Christmas?

If you would like to help change the life of an orphan, you can give a one time or monthly gift at www.WorldOrphans.org

I found some FREE Christmas music MP3 downloads on Amazon – Hurry, these may be limited time downloads.   Financial Peace approved just in time for the holidays!

I included individual links to each song.

Silent Night by Sixpence None The Richer – http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Night/dp/B002P2DFGM/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_7

God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen by Jars Of Clay – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002OZJ86Q/ref=dm_dp_trk8

MercyMe: It came upon a midnight clear http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0013DCB82/ref=dm_dp_trk1

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day by Casting Crowns – http://www.amazon.com/I-Heard-Bells-Christmas-Day/dp/B001GZOR6G/ref=pd_ybh_15?pf_rd_p=280800601&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_t=1501&pf_rd_i=ybh&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1K5805ECNEFN4WV0X73M

Joy To The World by Casting Crowns – http://www.amazon.com/Joy-To-The-World/dp/B001GZL4I0/ref=pd_ybh_1?pf_rd_p=280800601&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_t=1501&pf_rd_i=ybh&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=092M6PE91FTWR3Y5DY04

What Child Is This?  by Barlowgirl – http://www.amazon.com/What-Child-Is-This/dp/B001GD5DNO/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_62

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel  by Big Daddy Weave – http://www.amazon.com/O-Come-Emmanuel/dp/B002OTLEG4/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_2

Silent Night by House Of Heroes – http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Night/dp/B002UV37UM/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_5

O Holy Night by Mark Harris – http://www.amazon.com/O-Holy-Night/dp/B002Q5FN0Y/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_30

The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath – http://www.amazon.com/The-Night-Before-Christmas/dp/B002X2ZIY6/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_34

Do You Hear What I Hear by Mary McBride – http://www.amazon.com/Hear-What-Featuring-Patrick-Wilson/dp/B002RV943Y/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_7

No Room by Todd Agnew – http://www.amazon.com/No-Room/dp/B001382L6O/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_6

Who Is Like You (Album Version)  by Meredith Andrews –  http://www.amazon.com/Who-Like-You-Album-Version/dp/B0017TC5LK/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_55

I Celebrate The Day by Relient K – http://www.amazon.com/I-Celebrate-Day-Album-Version/dp/B001KW8QVM/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_3

Silent Night (Emmanuel) by Matt Maher – http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Night-Emmanuel/dp/B001LR6ONS/ref=pd_sim_dmusic_2

Posted by: Mark | August 1, 2009

Homecoming

I wept this morning as I sat in the London airport surrounded by the trappings of this world – the duty free liquor shops, the endless rows of high priced jewelry & chocolate shops, realizing that my 1 much desired latte would have paid 1/2 a month’s rent for people like Ennis, Paul, mary, Jane & their families that I visited in Muthare slums this week.

I continue to pray that God would let my heart be broken for the things that break His heart, and that He would change me to be more like His son Jesus Christ – a compassionate, self-sacrificing servant, who considers others as more important than himself (philippians 2:1-8), and who loves his neighbor as himself, to be able to say as Paul did that to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

I hope to post some pictures from my trip this week. Thanks to all who have been praying for me and the team. What an awesome time we had in Kenya seeing the power of the Holy spirit and the love of Christ through the local church giving hope, peace and joy to orphans, widows, the sick the lame, the hungry, and those who would otherwise be in utter despair.

Posted by: Mark | July 31, 2009

Bright shining hope

When we visited Ennis in the Muthare slum, I think I witnessed the power of the gospel of Christ more clearly than I have ever experienced. I met Ennis on my visit to Kenya last March. She continues to gain strength – which is a miracle – her CD4 count has gone from 4 to over 900, and all without any medications.

When we arrived she was not home – she was cleaning her church, something she volunteers to do faithfully every week. Although she makes less than $15-20 per month washing clothes for people and is struggling to make enough for rent and food, she continues to trust God to provide and praises Him daily for what she has, as she serves Him faithfully. Before we left, I asked Ennis how we could pray for her – instead of asking for provision for rent or food or a blessing on her business, or to be able to move out of the slum to a better home for her and her kids, or for healing from HIV for her or her infected 2 year old boy Morgan, she simply asked that we would pray for her to have strength and faithfulness to continue to serve God and tell others about His love.

The pure and undefiled religion I saw on display – the complete and unfathomable contentment, overflowing joy, undeniable peace and hope, and remarkable humility of this woman – brought tears to everyone in the room, including the volunteers from the church that visit her regularly. We wept tears of joy together, not tears of despair. Just as she praised God and was thankful that He had brought visitors to encourage her, so did I – that He would show me a present-day servant and saint who bears witness to to life-changing power of God who forgives us and sustains us and is all we need. Ennis is a living example of how we should live our lives.

1 Timothy 6:6-7, 17-19
Hebrews 12:1-2

Posted by: Mark | July 29, 2009

From Desperation to Hope

We spent monday morning with Fountan of Life (FOL) Church and their Home Based Care outreach ministry to people in the Muthare slums who are sick with HIV/AIDS.

We went in 2 teams, led by Pastor Gideon and volunteers from FOL. The ministry volunteers come 3 days every week – 1 day to each of the 3 slums they minister in. They currently have over 60 families that they care for and support – through prayer and encouragement, helping with practical needs like food, school fees, transportation to get medical treatment, and rent assistance. It is shocking to me that most people pay $10-20 USD per month for rent in an 8×10 ft shanty with no water or bathroom, and most do not have electricity. Most are struggling just to have food to eat – it is very difficult on their meager (if any)income especially when many of the women have been abandoned by their husband because they tested positive – they are now a shunned outcast to their family and community, and now care for their children on their own without any support.

Some, like Mary who we met, sleep on the floor- (the church has purchased mattresses for some as they are able). Others, like 60 year old Jane, sleep 9 people (including her 2 daughters and grandchildren) in a 12×12 home. They sleep on 1 twin bed, the couch, the floor or the coffee table, which they eat around during the day and becomes a bed at night.

As we walked through this dark place, where you could see in the eyes of the people true desperation and despair, I couldn’t help but think of of Jesus in Matthew 9:36-38.

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38“Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

And then we came to the home of Ennis – and my eyes were opened once again to … To Be Continued :)

Posted by: Mark | July 29, 2009

Kenya day 2

We shared a passionate day of worship and celebration of the one true God with Fountain of Hope Church on Sunday, followed by a time of fellowship and food with Bishop Julius and his wonderful family, and with the 12 girls at the Fountain of Hope home. I am always challenged and encouraged in my heart when I experience worship around the world with my brothers and sisters in Christ – the joy and the praise is overflowing.

 We also got to know Antony and Doreen who are the house parents for the girls, and prayed with Doreen who is sick with Malaria . Please keep them in your prayers.

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