Archive for 2008 | Yearly archive page
In a few days I’ll (hopefully) be taking off on my first international trip for work. Now, I’ve actually been several places around the world, including living in both Italy and South Africa. But this will be my first time to Peru, and my first time in South America. For this I am grateful to Mission Viejo Christian Church and to Mike on the Missions Board.
Here’s how it all happened. We had a volunteer phone repair man in our office in the Spring (we use LOTS of volunteers) and he brought someone from MVCC with him. Well, Jim loved what we do and quickly became our friend, advocate, and supporter. __One of the best things that MVCC does for us is to pray for us. I so appreciate all of their prayers for us and for our partners around the world.__
Well, Jim sent Mike to our office one day to use our Mission Store for one of their missions trips. On that visit Mike learned about our program that ships highly-needed pharmaceuticals to projects around the world in need. He ended up in my office that day to talk about getting medicines to their project in Peru and thus the partnership deepened.
At the end of the summer, I was sharing stories in their church along with a couple other ministries they support. Between the first service and the second service Mike had decided that their project in Peru really needed to partner with Giving Children Hope to start a new medical clinic in the community. The government had given the orphanage/clinic the building and even the medical personnel; the only thing needed was equipment, supplies and medicines. And this is where they could partner with GCH to get all that they need. So the partnership deepened again.
Mike asked me if I ever go to the field projects. Mind you, I sit in countless meetings with countless people from around the world and hear about their communities. **My sense of adventure and love of travel has me longing to see each one in person.** However, I know that I am best used not out in the field, but rather by working for an organization such as GCH getting resources to those communities. So when Mike heard that I had not been to any of our field projects he felt compelled to bring me along on their next trip to Peru. And with my boss’s permission, I’ll be taking off soon.
I cannot put into words how excited I am to participate in this missions trip. Really, I can’t! You see, God gives me this great privilege to partner on projects all over the world to get medical supplies, equipment and medicines. But I don’t ever get to see any of people that actually benefit. And that’s really fine. I don’t do my job to SEE the benefit. I do it because I am called to it and because I know that the poor DO benefit. That’s all I really need to know.
But you see, to SEE it firsthand. Well, that’s a real blessing. We’re praying that the medicines clear customs in time for us to take them with us from the airport to the rural clinic. This might not sound significant to anyone reading this, but I assure you it is. When you have done countless shipments around the world and only seen the photos of delivery and heard the stories of how the medicines helped, well, to know the communities by name that goes beyond words.
So I am truly grateful that the Lord brought Mission Viejo Christian Church into my life and into partnership with GCH. And I am grateful that MVCC is in partnership with this community in Peru. __I can’t wait to hear of all that God is doing in the community and learn first hand.__ Every trip I take I learn more of the wonder and splendor of God. When I think He can’t possibly get any bigger He does. And I remember that I don’t really know that much at all. For these things I am truly grateful; there is nothing better then to learn about the greatness of God and be all that He has called me to be.
Thanks for your prayers as we travel in hopeful expectation of what God would have us do.
This year I’m spending New Year’s in New York City. With all of my adventures in life, spending New Year’s Eve in New York City is not one that I have yet experienced. So I’m excited. But I’m always more excited to see people that I care about. After all, being in a really cool place alone just isn’t the same as being with people that you care about. I’m currently in the airport waiting for my former roommate to arrive. We’re staying with a college friend who I haven’t seen in some time. I’ll also get to catch up with two good friends from when I lived in Milan, one from South Africa and one from Greece. So really the best part of the trip is the people.
Airplane rides for me still do a really wonderful thing in that they allow you uninterrupted time alone (unless you are sitting next to chatty Cathy). So I always have time to read, write, pray, journal, or sometimes work. There are no emails coming in, no one pulling you into a meeting, no phones to ring or texts to read, just time to do whatever you need to. It’s wonderful.
This trip I took with me my new copy of Relevant magazine that just arrived yesterday. **Relevant is the only magazine that I currently receive; at least the only one that I receive that I pay for.** I subscribe to this magazine because it makes me think, at it lines up with my faith and values in life. I always learn about new things and get educated on the issues I care about. I don’t always agree with everything it says, but I think it’s healthy to be challenged in ideas.
I read the following on the plane today that had me relating and pondering at the same time. The article was entitled The Right View of the Bible by Scot McKnight. Here’s what it had to say:
A student walks from the lunchroom to my office, sits down to chat, looks at me and asks this:
h4. “Why does my pastor ask me all the time if I still believe in the inerrancy of the Bible?” Before I had collected my thoughts enough to being answering such a question he interrupted me with this: “You know, Scot, I don’t really give a damn what my pastor’s view of the Bible is because he doesn’t give one frickin’ dime to the poor and he’s never met a homeless person in his life and he didn’t even know about Darfur when I mentioned it to him at Christmas. At Christmas, Scot. Christmas! And he doesn’t even know about Darfur!” He was obviously setting me up because he asked me this next: “My view of the Bible is this: I read it often – not everyday – and I do what I think God tells me to do. What good is inerrancy, if you don’t do what God says?” Then a kick-you-in-the-face questions: “if I do what God says, doesn’t that show that my view of the Bible is the right one?”
h4. My student might as well have said-to swipe and adapt words from the letter of James-“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have the right view of the Bible but don’t live it out?” (James 2:14)
h4. What St. Francis of Assisi comprehended what Jesus had called His disciples to be and to do, he went for it. He gave up a life of luxury and sensual pleasures to follow Jesus as radically as he possibly could. The brown habit worn to this day by Franciscans embodies the vision of Francis. He reconstructed shabby old churches, he tended to the poor and the lame and the leprous and he established a concern for God’s creation beyond what most had ever seen. Francis set off a revolution. All of this because his view of the Bible was one that went beyond having the right view to having a life that matched it…
h4. I know many Christians who believe the right view of the Bible but don’t seem to live it out. In a day of dramatic poverty, how can one believe the right things about the Bible and not do something for the poor? Too many Christians are satisfied with believing the right things (orthodoxy) and not concerned enough with doing the right things (orthopraxy). Orthodoxy that does not lead to orthropraxy is dead.
This article reminded me of growing up in the church. I grew up in a few different churches right here in Orange County where Giving Children Hope is located. __Hardly ever was the poor the central of any sermon and if they were talked about it was in distant far off places and they didn’t push us to do anything.__ At least that was my experience. I was an adult when I learned that in Orange County there are many homeless families called “motel families” and that OC has the highest rate of homelessness behind Detroit. Really?
I attended Santa Barbara churches when the Rwandan genocide happened but not once did I hear of it. Brothers and sisters being massacred and I never even knew. The orphans and widows, they were from the Bible times, we didn’t care for the orphans around the world and the American foster care system was largely ignored by the church.
So when I read this article I related. The people in the communities I grew up in knew the Bible better than me, and for that I envied them. But I wasn’t sure it ever compelled them to do anything. And how could it when you had a Bible study or accountability group every night of the week?
I think the church has come a long way since I grew up. And I think the Orange County churches have particularly come far. An area that was absent in the social justice movement I think has now taken the lead. Mega churches like Saddleback Church hold conferences on HIV/AIDS and Rock Harbor raises money each summer for local and international charities making a difference. **They are encouraging the church to be out in the community and connect with the pain and heartache.** Churches like this are growing. People are longing to see the church go back to its roots and care for the poor.
So as we approach the New Year of 2009, if you are a Bible reading person, I encourage you to grapple with the scripture. What does it mean for YOU to serve the poor? Visit those in prison? Care for the orphan? The widow? The sick? What does it REALLY mean and what does it mean in YOUR life? Just think of all of the ways that God has been waiting to use YOU.
I just left the office this Christmas Eve and I’m getting ready to go visit with my family for the holiday. I wept today tears of sadness at the dire situation in a nation far away and also tears of joy to be working together with partners who are truly embracing the spirit of Christmas and giving.
Three years ago I spent Christmas in Italy. It was the first time I was away from the States at Christmas and was pleasantly refreshed by the lack of consumerism that surrounded the holiday in this country. Small gifts were given to family members, but there wasn’t a need to go into debt and give everyone that you know a gift. What a concept. Instead the focus was on family; attending church together and family dinners. I stayed with the Celletti family who took me into their home and gave me a very special Christmas.
This Christmas Eve I am humbled to work for Giving Children Hope. __Today we sent a shipment to Zimbabwe to treat 40,000 people for the cholera outbreak.__ On Monday we have another shipment leaving to serve 80,000. This is in addition to what has already been sent. The hospitals there have been empty with no help in sight. And the great thing is churches have come together to serve the need in the real meaning of Christmas. After all, what was Jesus all about? How should be celebrating the birth of Christ and honoring the Father? Is giving expensive gifts to family members who have everything honoring Jesus?
I’m not saying we should not give gifts at all. I have wonderful family memories that come from giving gifts at Christmas. But somewhere along the way the American consumerism robbed us of what Christmas really means and what we should really be giving. So when churches and other organizations come together and on Christmas Eve we are able to ship medicines to treat over 40,000 I think we are delivering the kind of Christmas gift that honors the birth of Jesus.
**As I was on the phone with a pastor today, he recounted horrific stories of doctors and nurses working by candlelight and literally dragging dead children to the morgue in darkness.** What a dark picture to think about at Christmas. But that dark picture painted gets replaced with great light when medicines arrive to save lives. After all, Jesus came to save life.
So this Christmas I finally feel like I am partaking in the holiday in the way that is honoring. Giving Children Hope isn’t doing this alone by any means. It takes a village to make a project happen. But when we work together to serve peoples basic needs then I think we get what Christmas is all about. This Christmas I hope that you too are enjoying the real reason for the season!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Volunteer Center Orange County plans to honor
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with 10th annual day of service
SANTA ANA, California, December 20, 2008 – On Monday, January 19, 2009, Volunteer Center Orange County will again acknowledge the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to engage in its 10th annual day of reflective community service.
The 50-year-old organization is collaborating with other local nonprofit agencies to organize projects that offer volunteer opportunities and trainings addressing critical community issues of hunger, literacy and environmental protection. Some training sessions are slated for January 17.
“Rather than just taking a day off, we hope that volunteers will join their friends, neighbors and co-workers in giving something back to the community in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Daniel J. McQuaid, VCOC President and CEO. “There is no better time to get involved and make a difference.”
Participating organizations and activities set for January 19 include SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK, Incredible Edible Garden in Irvine; COMMUNITY ACTION PARTNERSHIP, packing food boxes in Garden Grove; EARLY LITERACY PROGRAM, book doctor program and book drives in Santa Ana; INSIDE THE OUTDOORS, invasive plant removal/ planting nectar garden and thank-you notes/tree cookies in Silverado Canyon; EL MODENA and GIVING CHILDREN HOPE, medical/hygiene kits/sorting donations in Garden Grove.
Also scheduled are ANAHEIM INDEPENDENCIA FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER, public safety fair; MERCY HOUSE ARMORY, armory check-in evening activity in Santa Ana and Fullerton; and SANTIAGO PARK, habitat restoration/planting in Santa Ana. For those are looking for ways to volunteer throughout the year, training sessions have been set for January 17 with Early Literacy Readers and Mercy House Armory in Santa Ana.
In celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Day of Service in Orange County, the center is also hosting its first essay contest open to all 5th graders who reside in the county. The theme for the contest focuses on Dr. King’s belief that, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
MLK Day will be the culminating event of Volunteer Center Orange County’s 50th Anniversary, and is sponsored by Fluor, Disneyland Resort and The Boeing Company.
For more information on the essay contest and to select a volunteer project, visit Volunteer Center Orange County at www.volunteercenter.org.
Volunteer Center Orange County is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) operating since 1958, committed to strengthening Orange County communities by mobilizing volunteer action and accelerating nonprofit success through volunteer, training, consulting and business services.
On Friday, December 12, volunteers came out to wrap toys for homeless children that are a part of the We’ve Got Your Back program.
Volunteers helped wrap gifts and decorate cards for the children in the program and their siblings. They enjoyed Christmas music along with home-baked goodies!
Thank you to everyone who came out to give Santa a helping hand in making the gifts look beautiful and for helping bring happiness to a child’s life.
We’ve Got Your Back Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Saldaña, helped Santa deliver toys to Orange County homeless children. Toys were donated by generous people in and around the Orange County area.
Thank you to all those who donated toys and their time to help wrap those toys for the kids!
WGYB is a weekend nutrition program created by Giving Children Hope for students in the Orange County Unified School District who have been identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento act.
Today I talked to a few different people about the crisis in Zimbabwe. As it turns out, we broke down our costs and we are working to fundraise just 22 cents per person to treat for the cholera outbreak. Wow, just 22 cents! That means that if you skipped a grande latte at Starbucks for $4.50 you could send medicines to treat 20 people! Wow!
When I look at the numbers I find it all to be so staggering. It’s hard to not feel guilty when you spend money other ways. I don’t think the point is to feel guilty, or the point is to never drink a coffee at Starbucks. But it certainly puts into perspective how you spend your money when you put things side by side.
I’ve had people ask me how much you should give. I have a hard time answering that question. I guess we should give everything in a way. __From a Christian perspective, everything is the Lord’s, I own nothing because I can’t take it with me when I die.__ So if I’m just a steward of resources then I guess I’ve really giving it all.
Now, that isn’t such a great answer to give people. So I usually say that I think a good level of giving is one where you are making a sacrifice. Meaning, if you are buying yourself everything you want, and you are only giving from your leftovers of disposable income, I don’t think you are giving enough. I think a good sense is tempering your spending, waiting on the iPhone or not going out to dinner some night so that you can give, then I think that’s a good level of giving and gets the focus off of our self and onto others.
Today as I think about my people I know from Zimbabwe, my heart aches. If you have not had a chance to assist in the outbreak but would like to partner together to ship medicines, please visit our story on Zimbabwe.
The Christmas season is filled with stuff. And the Christian community more and more is focusing not only on the fact that Christmas has become less about Christ, but what could we do for the Kingdom with all of that money! Today in church my pastor went through a message of how much Americans spend on Christmas each year, and how much it would cost to educate every child in the world or deliver clean water. Pretty staggering numbers and pretty sad about the choices we make as a culture.
**So today my mind has been thinking about a few things….because I work around needs….and because I work to ship stuff. What do I think about stuff?**
When I look at the life of Jesus I see that He did some stuff with stuff too. Now, in church we would likely hear that Jesus was not about stuff. And that’s true, because Jesus was about relationship. But see, Jesus used stuff to build relationship and we ought to too.
When Jesus was on earth he met people’s physical needs before he met their spiritual needs. It wasn’t that He didn’t care for their spiritual needs, but he listened first. __When the people were hungry and the disciples said to send them away, Jesus said, “YOU feed them”.__ He didn’t try to preach to the people, he simply cared for their physical needs with stuff: 5,000 loaves and fishes. And because He cared for their physical needs the people were open to have their spiritual needs cared for.
So, amidst all of the bad things out there about stuff, I focus on the good we can do with stuff because we give it away. And when we give it away because we care about others it’s amazing what happens.
I hope that this Christmas you’ll find ways to not only give away your stuff that can hold you hostage, but you can help non-profits give away there stuff too.
At Giving Children Hope I truly get great get joy from our partners. They are passionate people who are dedicated to helping others and advancing the cause to bring hope!
Yesterday we had back in our office Brian from Won Generation. We are working together to assist the country of Zimbabwe. Their country director in Zimbabwe is attending a funeral a day with the recent cholera outbreak and food shortage. We’re working together to send medicines, dried fruit, and medical supplies. This family is making great sacrifices so they can get aid to people that are in desperate need. **So often I am saddened by circumstances, but inspired by those we work with and together hope is delivered to communities and Brian is an inspiring partner.**
Today however, I learned of a tragedy of favorite partners in Houston. This couple is amazing and gives so much to their community as pastors of a church. Just last week their son was killed in a car accident. When I heard the news I cried, because our partners become such dear people in our lives here that together we share each others burdens. I’m not always sure why God has me in the role that He does. Often I am just so inadequate. __But for some reason here I am, doing the best that I can, and trusting that God has infinite wisdom to deal with all of the pain in the world.__
Sad news often brings me to one of my favorite prayer books by Ted Loder entitled Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle. A prayer that seems fitting in such hard to understand circumstances:
How Shall I pray?
Are tears prayers, Lord?
Are screams prayers?
Can trembling hands be lifted to you?
or clenched fists
or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
or the cramps that knot my stomach?
Will you accept my prayers Lord,
my real prayers,
rooted in the muck and mud and rock of my life,
and not just my pretty, cut-flower, gracefully arranged
bouquet of words?
Will you accept me Lord,
as I really am,
messed up mixture of glory and grime?
Lord help me!
Help me to trust that you do accept me as I am,
that I may be done with self-condemnation
and accept myself.
Help me to accept you as you are Lord:
and yet to trust
that your madness is wiser
than my timid, self-seeking sanities,
and that nothing you’ve ever done
has really been possible,
so that I may dare to be a little mad too.
So today, we lift up our friends in Houston, we lift up our friends in Zimbabwe, and we shed tears in solidarity and listen for direction on how to respond. The only thing we often know is that we are indeed called to respond.
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP – NEW REPORT
Northern Uganda: The Road to Peace, with or without Kony
Nairobi/Kampala/Juba/Brussels, 10 December 2008: The Juba peace process is stagnant and likely to fail unless the Ugandan government and the international community redirect the negotiations.
Northern Uganda: The Road to Peace, with or without Kony,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, concludes that completion of the peace process that started in June 2006 requires the government to genuinely address the marginalisation of Northern communities which cannot be satisfied with the vague promises in the Juba protocols. If the violence is to end, Joseph Kony, the reclusive leader of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency, and his commanders must also both be put under increased pressure and given credible incentives to disarm. Additional talks under a new format are needed, as a military solution to the conflict is not a realistic option.
“The LRA is now entrenched over a large territory at the common border between Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic”, says Louise Khabure, Crisis Group Africa Program Analyst. “It is terrorizing communities of Bas-Uélé and Western Equatoria, while joining in the illegal exploitation of gems, gold and ivory”.
A special envoy representing the UN and the African Union (AU) should be tasked with directly negotiating the disarmament of Kony and his followers and reintegration of LRA fighters. Special provisions are needed to take account of the Southern Sudanese, who may now be a majority in what is no longer a purely Ugandan movement and are unlikely to let Kony sign an agreement that does not take account of their interests.
Kony and his top commanders must also understand that the only way to avoid the prosecution by the International Criminal Court they fear is to submit to a national trial. To build-confidence, the Ugandan government should withdraw its troops from Southern Sudan and support the special envoy’s role.
As part of a credible disarmament strategy, the African Union should deploy peacekeepers in the LRA-affected areas, and donors should make funds available. If Kony still refuses to sign, those troops should contain his fighters in their isolated stronghold of the Garamba National Park (Congo), where they can no longer terrorize Northern Uganda or serve as a Khartoum proxy if the Sudan peace agreement falters.
“The UN and the AU have to sustain efforts simultaneously to end the LRA menace”, warns Africa Program Director François Grignon. “The longer the LRA is allowed to entrench itself at the common borders of Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic, the more likely it will contribute to serious destabilisation of one or another in the near future”.