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Archive for July, 2010

During the recent World Cup games a friend and fellow writer from South Africa began street ministry with a team from her church, witnessing to the homeless children and prostitutes. Cheryl recently became a nail tech and was able to use her skills to open doors for witnessing to many of these women. Though the World Cup is history, their ministry continues. I wanted to share the following update with you written by my friend Cheryl D. Robbins:

On Tuesday night last week, whilst doing our usual street ministry in Durban, we came across some street kids after not seeing any for the duration of the World Cup. Authorities took them off the streets and dumped them in far away towns, to find their own way back to the big city.

Having not seen them for some time, I got excited and stopped them to chat. I felt instant love. They initially behaved in an arrogant manner, but after about 15 minutes, they sobered into lethargic kids. We spoke gently and lovingly to them, sharing the heart of Jesus, deliberately ignoring their course attitudes. I sat on the pavement, hugging a little one whilst he cried and confessed his deep pain. We ended by arranging to have dinner with them on the street on the following Tuesday. We sang ‘Yes Jesus loves me’ for them and told them to say it daily and to say thank you to Jesus too.

During the next week, I prayed for donations which I got from my daughter’s school, including some old tatty bibles which I fixed up. I managed to organize 4 bags of clothes as there were four boys aged between 10 and 13. I wrote them each a letter from God (like the one below). Our team leader decided we would share Psalm 23 so I made a bookmark with Psalm 23 on one side and the letter from God on the other.

 On Tuesday night, July 27, my excitement was nearly uncontrollable. I went to KFC and bought chicken burgers, chips, and cokes. We waited for them to come/ When I saw them, they ran to me and me to them, hugging each one. They cleaned themselves up for the night out and I fell in love even more. They reminded us that Jesus loves them. Wow!

The city street is a busy one with escort agencies across the road and ladies of the night in numbers on the street corners. Of course we became an attraction for many. I placed a table cloth on the pavement, lit a candle and then one by one I symbolically washed the boys’ hands, using a bucket with a flask of warm water, soap and towel. Four boys grew to six as I seated them around the tablecloth but it was all right because the food was plentiful. They sat, looked over their gifts with much enthusiasm and excitement, and then we gave thanks as they ate their feasts.

My excitement exceeded theirs. I watched them and could not believe the love I felt for these boys…sigh! Then I brought out the chocolate cakes I baked for them. I gave each one a small candle, which they lit to acknowledge that Jesus was the light of the world. Our leader talked to them about Psalm 23, while they read from the Bibles we gave them. They were excited about having their own Bibles! Then my guitar came out and our team leader  led the group in some worship songs. It was a wonderful time.

I had the opportunity to speak to each one individually about the love Jesus. I also encouraged them to get off the streets if they could and get back to school, stressing how education  would help them to be financially stable. Three of them were brothers whose mother lives on a farm, their dad passed away. The other two had no parents but an uncle who could take them in.

They listened intently and by the end of the evening, they all stressed how they wanted to be somebody, not just nobody. I told them how they could one day be in positions to help kids like themselves; to share Jesus with them and love them as they were being loved. They liked that thought.

I prayed with them and let them know how much I loved them. They expressed how much they loved me too and the hugs were so amazing. These boys are so beautiful and God has truly blessed me to be a tiny part of their lives, praise His Holy name.

        When the boys left, we had an opportunity to talk to a lady of the night and that too was amazing. Other team members have spoken to her before. She stayed with us for quite awhile and seemed to absorb everything that our leader was telling her. I asked if she would like a Bible and she answered “yes please”. She allowed me to pray with her. It would seem that she is very close to coming off the streets for which we give thanks to our Awesome God.

Here is the letter to God I wrote to each of the four boys, personalizing each one with  their names:

My dearest Kheto,

You are my child, my son
Flesh of my own making
Created oh my precious one
By me Your Father and King
I knew your name long ago
Before the day you were born
I longed then for you to grow
Into one without pain or scorn
But as I watch I see your pain
I know your struggle and strife
So I ask for your eternal gain
Look to me, give me your life
My desire is for your happiness
To see you living in my peace
I sacrificed my own son Jesus
For your freedom, your release
So dear son, repent of your sin
And allow me to lead your way
Become my heir, my beloved kin
Come to me and forever stay
I love you Kheto, and always will
And I need you to be my own
I want to become your daily fill
And I promise I’ll never leave you alone
 With love from God (your dad)

© Cheryl D. Robins 2010

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Jesus Lights Up My Life

Have you ever seen a light box? I first saw one when I went to work at a small weekly newspaper.

It was a large wooden box with an opaque glass top, angled like a draftsman’s table. Inside the box, a bright light illuminated the glass surface, allowing a person to trace designs or make accurate cuts between small lines of newsprint.

Knowing it would make a good addition to my paper crafting tools, I purchased a smaller plastic version of a light box several years ago.

I frequently use it to dry emboss designs on the cards I create. By taping a brass stencil to the lighted top of the box and placing my sheet of card stock on top of it, the light underneath shines through the design on the stencil. Using a stylus, I am able to trace the shapes on the card stock, creating a raised design. It also works to copy patterns or pictures for a focal point on my cards.

It is the light within the box that allows the design to be seen more clearly through a  sheet of paper. Without that light, the design remains hidden.

Plain and simple, as Christians, it is God’s light within us that allows others to see the intricacies of His design in our lives. That light shines from the inside out, allowing others to “copy” the pattern for themselves.

God, Light up my life so your glory and good works may be seen in me! (Matthew 5:16.)

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2 Chronicles 35:3 Then he (King Josiah) said to the Levites who taught all Israel, who were holy to the Lord: “Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built. It shall no longer be a burden on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and His people Israel.”

In the 18th year of his reign, King Josiah celebrated the most impressive passover feast Israel had ever seen. He instructed the Levites to place the Ark of the Covenant in the temple built by Solomon which was to be its permanent home.

In their wilderness wanderings, the Levites carried the Ark on two poles when the people moved their camp. Later after the Israelites occupied the promised land, the ark remained in the Tabernacle at Shiloh (with the exception of the time the Philistines captured it.)

Solomon built the first permanent Temple in Jerusalem to house the Ark, but during the ensuing years, Israel strayed from God and Judah had an on-again-off-again relationship with God. Invading armies pillaged the Temple and causing extensive damage  during the reign of the evil kings. Each time a good king took the throne, he restored the temole, though it lost a little more of its glory each time. 

Josiah was instrumental in calling the people back to God once more, repairing the temple and placing the Ark back in its place so it would no longer be a “burden” on the shoulders of the Levites.

That phrase struck me because as long as God’s people served Him, His presence remained with them. God’s presence was not a burden on their ministers’ shoulders! It was only when they were disobedient and willful, that His presence became a burden to them.

How many times do we become lax in our Christian lives and begin to feel pressured by the should’s and ought-to’s of our faith. The rules become burdensome and we chafe under the mundaneness of our lives. We forget that God loves us and has our best interests at heart because all we can see are the difficulties surrounding us.

But when we come into His presence and restore an intimate relationship with Him, our faith is no longer a “burden” to us, but rather a wonderful blessing. He isn’t causing thing to happen to us, but rather walking through them with us! Our relationship becomes a safe, secure place where we find comfort, spiritual renewal and strength to live joyfully in spite of the hardships of life.

Lord, help me dwell in your presence always and to have a deep and abiding RELATIONSHIP with You!

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“God doesn’t call the qualified…He qualifies the called.” (Author unknown – found circulating on the web)

I love this quote – it is a reminder that we all start out the same – tiny and naked! But it’s what we allow God to do with our lives that makes the difference.

As we walk with God, He brings people, experiences and advice (from His word and from other sources) across our path to mentor us, guide and instruct us. Life is a great big Home-school classroom and God is the Instructor.

The things we learn from life prepare us to take yet another step toward what He envisions us to be. Talk about a loving Father! He knows our potential and never ceases to work to help us develop it, painstaking inch by inch – sometimes with us kicking and screaming the whole way.

Look at how He worked in the lives of our Bible sisters:

God Put Ruth the Moabitess in just the right place to meet Mahlon. Through her association with his mother Naomi, she learned to know and love the God of Israel. When Mahlon died, Ruth journeyed with her mother in law, also a widow, back to Israel. In Israel, God led her to the fields of Boaz to glean for food for herself and her mother in law. Boaz “happened” to be eligible to perform the role of Kindred Redeemer for Ruth and with their marriage, placed her right in the lineage of the Messiah! Each event in her life built on the one before as God “qualified” her for the role she would eventually play.

How does a woman go from being a prostitute to  becoming a woman of faith? Ask Rahab! Dissatisfaction with her life in Jericho led her to seek after the God of the Israelite spies. Because of her belief in this new God, she received deliverance from the mass destruction of her home city. It couldn’t have been easy living outside the camp of Israel, but she eventually gained acceptance as she learned their ways. In time she married and also became an ancestress of Christ.

The older I get, the more I recognize His work in my life to qualify me for the things God has planned. As a loving Father, He sent me off to college, even when my family said it was impossible. Like a loving Father, He provided a job as a proofreader and later as a writer at small weekly papers, knowing I’d someday need those skills.

He provided opportunities to develop people skills, writing and research skills. He encouraged and proved to me “you can do it” when I kept saying, “I can’t.” And He hasn’t stopped yet – doors are still opening that I hesitate to walk through, because I feel inadequate. Yet, He takes me step by step in the direction of those doors until I can and do step through.

I haven’t always enjoyed the experiences He has allowed – the pain and shame of abuse, the pain of the recovery process, embarrassment, pain, grief – those experiences some would consider negatives. Yet, even those things have worked good in my life.

Because each of us are unique, He has used unique experiences in each of us – real one-on-one instruction to move us to where we need to be. Only God can do that, working to qualify each of us for our one-of-a-kind position in His kingdom. Wow!

I’d love to hear from you – what kind of experiences has God done in your life to bring yo to the place you are today?

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Raising awareness of issues like human trafficking is not always easy. For one thing, it’s a problem we might not want to think about because it is so frightening. The reality of it is that any of our children or grand children could become a victim. And no one wants to thing about a loved one’s picture being the next one on the milk carton or on the Wal-Mart wall.

But hearing of victories in the fight against sex slavery and human trafficking gives us hope! I received a newsletter from the A-21 Campaign this week and wanted to share some exciting things happening in Greece regarding trafficking issues:

  • ” Across the last few weeks we have launched the new A21 website, held school presentations in three countries worldwide, began the new A21 internship program in Greece, and saw our first court case VICTORY! We have also been able to spread awareness about human trafficking at a whole new level, including the opportunity to meet with significant leaders at the US Department of State during the release of the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report.” 

Through the generous giving of their supporters, the A-21 campaign makes it possible for many of the girls which come to them  to study at universities, earning their degrees to fulfill their dreams. For many of these girls, it was their dreams which caused them to become enmeshed in the sex slave market.A slave trafficker may have offered them the opportunity to study abroad through some generous program. Other girls were offered employment opportunities in another area away from their home. Many of them believed these opportunities were legitimate, but were duped by these unscrupulous men.

  • “Across this last month it has also been very exciting to witness the girls who have come through the A21 Crisis Shelter truly find hope and move beyond the pain of their past circumstances. Through the support and generosity of our partners, we have been able to provide the opportunity for girls to study at university and obtain the necessary education and skills needed for them to truly fulfill their dreams. We are also proud of three of our recent graduates as they have just begun new jobs (and with the state of the current Greek economy, this is a true miracle)!”

In addition to their education  efforts, the testimonies of the girls themselves amazes me.

  • “One of our graduates has had a particularly exciting month. Felicia*(Name changed for her protection) is a girl who came to our shelter last year after we found her in slavery. We worked to establish relationship, trust, and hope, and through her bravery, we were able to help set up a raid with the local police – and set her free!Showing immense courage from the start, Felicia made the decision to testify against her traffickers at the end of June, and has stood her ground in the midst of many obstacles, including health related problems and many threats from her traffickers.When the verdict was read the trafficker was found GUILTY by unanimous vote, given a steep fine, and sent to JAIL! This case will now be referred to in future trials as a significant precedent, and holds record of A21’s key involvement throughout the case!

    This case was the first of many victories to come for the girls that we are helping! The A21 Campaign is committed to raising awareness, taking legal action where appropriate, and offering rehabilitation services to rescued victims of human trafficking.”

Praise God for this amazing precedent and Victory! Organizations like the A-21 Campaign are making a difference – one life at a time.

Please consider signing up for their newsletters or giving a donation to help at the A-21 Campaign website.

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