Recent Articles

Give to a man and he’ll eat, give to a woman and a whole village eats »


I found this post at this squidoo site. Though as a male I hate to admit it, I think it’s sadly true.

It is now universally agreed in aid organizations worldwide that empowering the women of a community will empower the children and the men as well. Women are caretakers and nurturers, watching over others. They tend to use practical wisdom to make decisions and they consider consequences as they affect the whole, rather than a single purpose. The women on these pages are making an impact, opening doors and opportunities for the people around them. They are women in their power, feeding hungry, spreading literacy, healing wounds, providing support. They are working toward peace and succeeding.

A Model of Ministry for Families for Africa »

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say “We have done this ourselves”.” – Lao Tzu

How you can help? »

The Villages of Hope site offered the following suggestions that have application to our dreams for bringing the Kingdom to Africa:

You, your prayer group, your church, your business or place of employment can:

* Sponsor a child

* Sponsor a cottage of 8-10 children

* Sponsor a Children’s Village, with the name of a loved one or the name of your business

* Sponsor a fund-raising event to help rescue the children

* Start an orphans care ministry in your church

* Work with us to raise awareness of the enormous need to care for orphans, and of God’s heart for the fatherless

* You can volunteer to visit and help at the children’s villages. Mission trips are needed to do construction, teach the children, provide vocational training, and hold babies

Creative things people are doing to help:

* Katlyn, a high school senior collects used prom dresses, sells them, and gives the proceeds to support one of our children’s homes

* Network Funding, a mortgage lender, has helped sponsor the construction of a children’s village.

* Ken, a recently retired engineer who constructed manufacturing plants around the world, is overseeing the construction of our children’s villages in Zambia.

* Joyful Sounds School of Music gives Christmas offerings for one of our children’s villages.

* “God’s Gals”, a women’s Bible study and prayer group, sponsors a child.

* A large School District supported a student campaign, “What a Dime Can Do”, to collect loose change, raising thousands of dollars for the care of African orphans.

* Holmes Energy sponsored a booth to promote awareness of the orphan crisis at a county-wide home and garden show.

* A church middle school church youth group is fundraising to install wells for one of our children’s villages.

* Over 60 members of Mt. Zion Church built an addition onto a church member’s house. The family then gave the $20,000 budgeted for labor costs, to build our children’s villages in Namibia.

* A physician and his wife contribute the immunizations needed for volunteers going to help in Africa.

* A public relations professional contributes her creative talents to the development of promotional materials.

* Young retirees have formed a committee to develop strategies to get county churches to collaborate on sponsoring children’s villages.

A Great Interview »

A FamilyLife Today Interview

Intro:

Bob: Living and working in West Africa, Kathleen and Benedict Schwartz have seen devastation, poverty, and death all around them. (see Villages of Hope)

Benedict: One young fellow, Albert, was 10 years old, and his parents died, and his uncle sold him as a slave. So he became a slave laborer. And Albert was found dying of malaria in a truck tire.

Bob: They have also seen children’s lives transformed and even saved by the Gospel.

Benedict: Albert was found by people from the village, and then they reported it to the government, and the government brought him to us. He is a bright, happy 13-year-old filled with joy, loves the Lord, and it’s just enormously exciting. [Read Full Transcript ]

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 17th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear about what God is doing for Albert and other little boys and girls in West Africa on today’s program. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You’re kind of excited about today’s program, aren’t you?

Dennis: I am. I’m excited about all of our broadcasts, though.

Bob: But there are some days when you walk in, and I can just see that little look in your eye. It’s like “let me at that microphone.”

Dennis: Yeah, right, right, and the reason is, is I think we have a pair, and they’re going to both scoot back from their microphones and say “Who are you talking about?” but I think we have a pair of true heroes with us today on the program.

Kathleen and Benedict Schwartz join us on FamilyLife Today. Benedict, Kathleen, welcome to the broadcast.

Kathleen: Thank you.

Benedict: Thank you.

Kathleen: It’s great to be here.

Dennis: I just have to introduce our listeners to this couple because, in many ways, they are a couple just like our listeners. Ten years ago they were going about their duties outside of Baltimore in business, a computer software firm, raising their six kids, and in the years that followed there was a little passion that touched their hearts that ultimately has ended up with them moving to Zambia and working with orphans of AIDS and caring for those who have no voice.

And I want to tell you, folks, this is a great story, it really is a great story of obedient faith but nonetheless heroic faith.

I have mentioned, you all have six children, Benedict. Was it your love for kids that ultimately was the reason you were reading that article that day, and you began to feel something emotionally as a result of reading that story?

Read the rest »

Tim Keller on Justice »

Reason Behind Conflict in Africa »

I found the following article from an ezine sent out by the Bakke Graduate University. It captures some of the reasons behind the recent conflict in Kenya. As we seek to bring the Kingdom to Africa, it’s worth knowing the roots of injustice and violence.

KENYA – FOUR REASONS BEHIND THE CONFLICT

We all hope and pray that last week’s announcement of a power-sharing agreement in Kenya will be a first step in a long journey toward peace. Yet for Americans who have enjoyed a country without a civil war for almost 150 years, the violence in Kenya may be difficult to understand. A few reminders and observations might be helpful.

Kenya Exclusion

First, Africa has ancient cultures and tribes, but its nations are new. Many of these nations were formed in the 1960’s or later. Remember that the US faced its own Civil War 85 years into its life as a new nation. All new nations, regardless of continental location or racial makeup, need time to sort out their identities and stabilize.

Second, the fast “melting pot” of 19th century European migration to the US quickly blended American Caucasian features. However, often African tribal identity is still easily distinguished by facial features, body types, dress and names. As a result, it is easier for many Africans to see their tribal identity as primary and national identity as secondary. Centuries of tribal revenge and counter-revenge are passed into the memories of new generations and cannot be easily hidden as facial features remind them of stories from the past.

Third, for centuries, it was in the economic interest of colonial powers to keep tribes in conflict and the people uneducated. Current national boundaries follow colonial lines drawn by European powers, not ancient tribal boundaries. In these newly formed, arbitrarily drawn national boundaries, whatever tribe is in power often takes ancient land from one tribe and gives it to their own people to solidify their own national power. Much of the current violence in Kenya is spurred by a backlash against the ruling Kikuyu tribe, which flooded their people into other tribes’ richest farmlands as far back as the 1960’s. This is not violence emerging only from an inability to hold fair elections. Its roots go far back into tribal histories, arbitrary colonial boundaries and gross misuse of power.

Still there is a fourth factor that in some cases contradicts points two and three above, a factor that very few Westerners can grasp from CNN reports. The actual question of what makes up a tribe is sometimes more about recent politics than ancient history. Jeff Johnson (Executive Director , Mile High Ministries, Denver, CO) works with Kenyan Orphans. He writes, “…ethnicity/tribe has drawn so much attention within Kenya in recent weeks. Increasingly, news reports focus on the ‘tribal roots’ of the conflict. Most people believe that this ‘something else’ is about deep, longstanding grudges between various ethnic groups, which have resulted in an unfair and (now) contested distribution of political and economic resources. Thus when people ask, ‘Is this a political conflict or a tribal one,’ the answer seems to be, ‘yes’.”

Chris Rice (Co-director of Duke University Center for Reconciliation Studies in North Carolina) starts with the critical question of whether the category of tribe is even real. “In Rwanda,” Chris writes, “Tutsis and Hutus are a creation of colonization. Before colonization, there was little difference between the two – more like the difference between farmers and herders. They intermarried, spoke the same language, etc. Then the English and Belgians decided the minority herders were ‘taller,’ ‘European in feature,’ and more ‘kingly’ and gave them a privileged place in terms of political and educational power. ‘Tribes’ in Rwanda are a political reality with a history that can be traced to mythical creation stories cooked up by colonists, ID cards created by Belgians, and privileging one group over another for reasons of power.”

From Chris’s perspective it is important to pay close attention to the complex history of Africa. Historical study, he believes, would demonstrate that “tribes have a political and economic history . . . . Politicians play on the old stories and the power differences to further their own power. But they [tribes] are not natural, not part of God’s creation story.”

Miroslav Volf, a Croatian theologian to whom we have turned for theological help as we try to make meaning of the conflict in Kenya, argues (in his book, Exclusion and Embrace, that the problems of “identity” and “otherness” underlie many (even most) of the great conflicts that lead to violence around the world. We use categories like tribe, ethnicity, race, nationality, culture, religion, etc., to give ourselves identity. This identity only makes sense when it is contrasted to “The Other”, who is not one of us . . . and who, as a potential threat to me and my group, must be excluded.

In Nairobi, Kenya, BGU has students, faculty, partners and alumni working throughout the Mathare and Kibera slums where the violence is the worst. To protect those working in these areas, BGU students from around the world who were scheduled for classes in these slums two weeks ago shortened their time in Kenya and lengthened their time in the slums of Addis Ababa – not an unusual situation for a school which serves leaders in the most poverty-stricken and violent places in our world. We are receiving daily blogs sharing the heart-wrenching stories of former neighbors killing each other, and decades of social progress disintegrating in hours. Please pray for the first step toward peace attempted last week to take hold in supernatural ways.

Great Ideas: Playpumps »


see Playpumps

Highlight: Realize your Unique Contribution »

Study the five global problems and/or the Millennium Goals below and their impact on your country.

Click here and select your country on the left. Then select the particular goal to see how your adopted country is doing.

Discover where your passions meet the problems in your country.

Explore the organizations that address the problems.

The Millennium Goals

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty | more >>>

1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day

2. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger


Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education | more >>>

3. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling


Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women | more >>>

4. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015


Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality | more >>>

5. Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate


Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health | more >>>

6. Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio


Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases | more >>>

7. Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

8. Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases


Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability | more >>>

9. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources

10. Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

11. Have achieved by 2020 a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers


Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development | more >>>

12. Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, nondiscriminatory trading and financial system (includes a commitment to good governance, development, and poverty reduction; both nationally and internationally)

13. Address the special needs of the Least Developed Countries (includes tariff- and quota-free access for Least Developed Countries’ exports, enhanced program of debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries [HIPCs] and cancellation of official bilateral debt, and more generous official development assistance for countries committed to poverty reduction)

14. Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing states (through the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and 22nd General Assembly provisions)

15. Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries through national and international measures in order to make debt sustainable in the long term

16. In cooperation with developing countries, develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth

17. In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries

18. In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications technologies

Classic Article: Principles for Helpers by Robert Lupton »

Principles for Helpers
Those who work with and for the poor often wonder if they are doing anybody any good and, worse, if they are actually doing more harm than good. Veteran urban worker Robert Lupton offers what… by Robert D. Lupton in URBAN PERSPECTIVES (September 2007)

Hippocrates (460 – 377 B.C.), the father of modern medicine, recognized the power of the healing profession to effect great good as well as its potential to do much harm. The oath that he instituted, a pledge taken by doctors to this day, established ethical standards for physician conduct which included: patient confidentiality, referral for specialized treatment, sharing of medical knowledge, and valuing prevention above cure. The Hippocratic Oath requires that physicians be personal and caring, put the interests of patients first in medical decisions, strive always to preserve life and never play God by taking life. And above all, do no harm.

For centuries the Hippocratic Oath has served well the medical profession and countless millions of patients. It has guided physicians toward astounding medical breakthroughs as well as constrained them from endangering patient welfare by risking questionable treatments. Perhaps a similar type of code would be useful to those who wish to serve the poor. We know that helping can certainly be for better or worse. Even as a misdiagnosed ailment will lead to improper (even harmful) treatment, so wrongly given assistance may well prolong or even worsen the plight of the needy. Good intentions and kindhearted spirits, while commendable, are insufficient guarantees of positive outcomes. Unexamined service that risks leaving the served worse off than if they had been left alone is irresponsible if not unethical. Guiding principles are needed.

The following is an attempt to articulate a few such fundamentals to guide would-be helpers toward effective care-giving. These guidelines are drawn from the collective wisdom and experience of veteran servants who have spent good portions of their lives living and serving among the less-fortunate in a variety of cultures. The list is hardly exhaustive, and each item requires far more unpacking than this writing permits. Just as the Hippocratic Oath has for centuries provoked vigorous and sometimes heated debate among physicians and has required repeated modification to remain contemporary, even so should these “Principles for Helpers” stimulate healthy discussion and adaptation appropriate for the particular setting.

1. Is the need crisis or chronic? — Triage may be the appropriate intervention in an emergency situation but it is hardly the strategy for a continuing need. The victims of a devastating tsunami need immediate medical, shelter, essential supplies and hoards of volunteers. Over time, however, survivors need expert consultation, a practical plan and a combination of grants and loans to help them rebuild their destroyed community. A similar distinction should be applied to those who utilize our food pantries and clothes closets as well as to those we serve on our mission trips. If their situation is a matter of life or death, then immediate action must be taken to “stop the bleeding”; otherwise a plan for helping them rebuilding their lives is more appropriate. Just as a physician, before prescribing treatment, performs a diagnostic “physical” to determine the severity of an ailment, so must helpers take the time to discriminate between imminent life-threatening situations and chronic poverty needs. (Note: what may seem at first like a crisis to helpers may in fact be a chronic reality for the poor). Read the rest »

A Picture Worth Contemplating »

UN+Shoes.jpgThus says the Lord . . . to Israel . . .

they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. (Amos 2:6)