Tuesday, July 30, 2013

~ Garage Sale ~

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.  Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Luke 12:33 (ESV)

I am SO excited about this!  My mother, Sharon Clifford, and some of her friends have decided to take the scriptures that talk about selling what you have and giving to the poor seriously.  They have organized a multi-family/multi-church garage sale to help raise funds for the children at the Truth Children's Home orphanage in India.

If you live in the Southeast, Michigan area, please take a look around your house and consider all that you have.  Then box up your gently used items and drop them off at my mom's house THIS WEEK!  

Please consider coming to the sale.  Bring your friends and neighbors too!  If you have some extra time, please offer to help.  I know you will enjoy the fellowship, plus "Many hands make light work." :)

If you live elsewhere, you can still donate AND receive a tax deductible receipt!  

I'm attaching their advertisement below.  Please mark it on your calendars and spread the word!!

~ Garage Sale ~

Fundraiser for:
Truth Children’s Home
(Home for poor and orphan children)
Kakinada, India

Some of you have heard of the adventure God led Angela Gabbert and her 16 year old son, Luke, on this past month.  They traveled to India to minister with Pastor Wilson Babu at the Zurishaddai Church and Truth Children’s Home.  They did get home safely and evaded those who were hunting for them for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they left behind a very needy congregation still on the front lines.

This whole situation has opened our eyes to the reality of the persecuted church around the world and the Lord has stirred in our hearts a great desire to get involved.  Our Christian brothers and sisters are in need and we have an opportunity to help.  First, we can diligently pray for their protection and for the gospel to go forth.  Second, we can give of our time and our resources. 
There are nearly 30 children that are cared for at the church.  You can only imagine the resources that would be needed to feed, clothe, educate, and give adequate shelter to this many children.  One of their greatest needs is a roof.  Right now, they are meeting and sleeping under palm branches.  This protects them from the hot sun, but not from the monsoon rains.  We are hoping to raise the $3,000 needed to put a roof over their heads.

Grace Church of Taylor and Zion Baptist Church are teaming up to do a benefit garage sale in order to help meet some of these needs.

The Garage sale will take place on August 8th-10th at Zion Baptist Church on 8500 Pardee Rd (between Wick and Ecorse) in Taylor.  It will run Thursday and Friday from 9 am -5 pm and on Saturday from 9 am - 1 pm.

There are many ways you can help.

1.         You can shop and spread the word for your friends to do the same.
2.         You can donate lots of usable items that you no longer need.
3.         You can make a donation by writing a tax deductible check.

Make it payable to:
Grace Church of Taylor
6142 McGuire
Taylor, Michigan  48180
Put in the memo:  TCH Garage Sale

4.         You can volunteer your time.  We need many hands to help set up, organize, and work the sale.

Please prayerfully consider your part.  If you are getting ready to clean out your attic or have been putting it off, this could be the reason you've been waiting for.  It could NOT go to a more worthy cause.

If you would like to talk to Angie or Luke about their personal experiences, I know they would love to share their stories with you and answer any questions you may have.  You can contact them through facebook (Angela Clifford Gabbert and Luke Gabbert).

To learn more about this ministry and/or to see pictures, just go to PastorWilson Babu or Truth Children Home on facebook.

In His Service,

Denise and Sharon

Contact:       Denise Hardoin, 734-560-1476 or Denise.Hardoin@live.com
Sharon Clifford, 313-282-8896 or sclifford@wowway.com

Zion Baptist Church - Taylor, Michigan

Grace Church - Taylor, Michigan

Zurishaddai Church & Truth Children's Home
Kakinada, India

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Orphanage and The Church

What is an orphan and are all children in orphanages orphans?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an orphan is a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents and an orphanage is an institution for the care of orphans.

I wish it were that simple to define.  It simply is not.

While orphanages are institutions that care for children that have lost one or both parents due to death, there are many that also care for the child that is without any adequate care because of sickness, disease, poverty, or a tragedy of one form or another.  Orphans may or may not have living parents.  

I hesitate to even enter this discussion because of the complexity.  I certainly do not have any authority on the matter.  I’m not looking for an argument on adoption and/or the actual numbers.  I just want to make it clear that there are many children in the world that have one or two parents, but still need someone to care for them.  These parents aren’t all abandoning their children.  They aren’t all unloving and uncaring.  Some mothers and fathers are doing everything in their power to provide food and shelter for their families, but even with all of their efforts, they are unable.

Now that we have that behind us, let’s discuss those children whose basic needs are not being met and the role of the church.  Once again, I acknowledge this is an extremely complicated subject and I am only trying to tackle one small aspect of the issue.  

Remember, the church is the people, not the building.

The local church gathers for worship, prayer, the reading and teaching of God’s Word, discipleship, and evangelizing the lost.  It is also a family that cares for one another.   

When one part of our physical body hurts, our whole body feels its pain.  Our church body should be the same.  It rejoices when others rejoice and grieves when others grieve.  This body of believers should care for each other and should lift each other up in prayer.  If we need an example, we go to the book of Acts where they lived in one accord and broke bread together daily.  They even sold all that they had and distributed so that no one had need.

Wow!  I hope you can disagree with me here, but I don’t see our local churches working this way.

When we started sponsoring a little boy at the Truth Children’s Home Orphanage in India, call us naive, but we had the Merriam-Webster definition in mind.  As we started reading each of the profile stories of the children, we were a little confused.  Most of these children have a mother and/or father.  Are these children orphans or not?  We sure don’t want to get taken advantage of like that friend of a friend we heard about at some point. (*note the sarcasm*)

If you know me, you know that I have an itsy bitsy issue with trust.  I don’t trust much that I read or much that I hear.  In fact, I don’t care if I’m told by some big authority figure that something is true.  If it doesn’t seem right to me, I’m going to have to do some research first.  Maybe this comes from my crazy dichotomy of a childhood, but I’ve found it can sometimes serve me well.  The way I abuse it will be in another blog.  For sure.

I checked out the legitimacy of this orphanage in particular.  It seemed to be legally registered with the government.  I even talked to a man that had a contact at the IRS.  No red flags.  

There was no doubt in my mind that the Lord had used this church and pastor in our lives.  He had given us a great love for a people we had never met.  The Lord had been tearing down walls of greed and teaching us how to be a cheerful giver.  So, after much prayer (and research), we decided to jump in with both feet.

“Maybe I just have to go and witness this for myself”, I thought.  Some things have to be experienced to fully understand.


Job 42:5  
“I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”

After visiting these children, after watching the widows look after their care, after speaking with Pastor Wilson babu about their stories, after going to nearly all of their homes and meeting their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, etc., I finally understand.  I get it.

What I am witnessing is the church functioning as the church should.

Please, hear me.  This is a village that was once all Hindu that is now 20% Christian.  These are Christians that come together to BE the local church.  These are VERY poor families.  I’ve been to their homes and I’ve seen the lack of shelter and food that they can provide.  

The Truth Children’s Home Orphanage is a local body of believers caring for their own.

Maybe that discourages you from wanting to come alongside them with prayer and support.  Not me.  I am inspired.  I am inspired to see, FINALLY, a church sacrificing for each other, a church living for Christ together, a church celebrating together, a church suffering together.

You may be thinking, “Well, then let them take care of their own needs.”  Let me assure you, this is not a case where an eastern church is looking for the western church to provide all of their needs.  This does happen…I am very sad to say.  I know that the Pastor teaches the church to give.  I know that the people want to give.  

Each Sunday as the members enter the service, there is prayer and then an offering is given.  It may be money or may be rice, beans, oil, etc.  Like the widow’s mite, they give what they have.  Whatever it is, it is their offering of thanksgiving to the Lord.  If money is given, it is used to provide for the needs of the church.  If food is given, it is used to feed the pastor’s family, the children, and the hungry that come into the church.  

The children are cared for by Pastor Wilson, Sister Jemimah, and the widows in the church.  The widows are not paid to do this, but they are offered a place to sleep and food to eat.

Unfortunately, their offerings are still not enough.  God could multiply the rice miraculously or He could ask us to be obedient and to care for the least of these.  We know that anyone that gives a cup of water in His name will surely be rewarded (Matthew 10:42).

Here lies a grand opportunity for us.  We can witness a local church functioning as a body AND we can be the universal church functioning as the body of Christ.  We have an opportunity to hold our brothers and sisters up in prayer, to support them with our finances, and glorify our Father through the process.

Let’s BE the church…the true church…The Body of Christ!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Poverty vs. Poverty


As I climb into the three wheeled, yellow taxi with my dear new friends, I feel like I am living in a dream.  I remind myself of a promise I made, “I will take it ALL in, I will be ALL there, and I will look for opportunities to SHINE for Christ”. 

The rickshaw bounced over rocks and into deep holes.  It swerved away from many near misses of children, dogs, bikes, and oxen.   I think I am hidden, but the eyes keep watching me.  The women in their bright colored sarees look up from their washing.  The men with dirt on their faces and more skin exposed than a rope and skirt can cover glare with anger.  The curious children seem more afraid of me than they are of the wild dogs.  Their eyes all seem to be searching for something.  Something deep.  Something that will quench their thirst and take away their pain.  My heart swells with love for EVERY ONE.  I wonder how I can be a light here in such a dark place.  Up and over a railroad track and we enter into another world all together.

This part of the village doesn’t have concrete walls and pumps for wells.  Women walk balancing heavy water pots on their shoulders.  These homes are made of sticks and mud, with palm branches covering their heads.  The branches hang low.  I have to lower myself to enter. 

The faces are those that have been born into Hindu homes and have worshiped other gods, but are now so thankful to know Christ as their Savior.  They know Him in a way that seems so much deeper and more intimate than I have ever known Him.  He has rescued them from many gods (Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, Durga, Saraswati, Venkateswar, and Aiyappa—just to name a few) and from eternal destruction.  He has revealed to them a name that is above every name, the name of JESUS. 

He has set them apart.  In a country that is 85% Hindu, 13% Muslim and only 2% Christian; they are no longer accepted in their community.  They are shunned and abandoned by their families.  They now rely on Jesus for their very life.  This they are aware of every moment of every day.  Although they are alone and have nothing but dirt floors, a small cot to sleep a family, and a few pots, they are full of joy.  I am amazed and humbled.

The face of the woman I greet has tears in her eyes.  Not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy.  She shakes my hand and grabs my face.  I choke back the tears when she offers me her very best place to sit.   We pray together and cry together.    We are worlds apart and yet we are connected.  We both shine with the love of Christ.  Mine is but a flicker, but hers is shining bright. 

They are the poor and yet they are so very rich.  I am rich in comparison, and yet I feel so very poor.  The message to the church in Smyrna comes to my mind, “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich).”  I see the words of scripture come alive.  I want to take pictures to help me remember this moment, but my respect for them is too great.  Instead,  I am ALL there.  I will take it ALL in.

These two photos are from Google images.

We go from one home to another, sometimes riding, sometimes walking, but always raising our hands and hearts in thanksgiving to the One that has given life.  Our words are different, but we can still communicate.  Is this what Heaven is like?  Every tribe and every tongue worshiping the name of Jesus together.

There is still heartache and pain, so we must not be there yet. 

Stomachs are bloated with infection.  Bones have been broken and not set.  Mothers are crying for their sick and hungry children.  Fathers are rejected work because of their caste.  We cry out to the Lord for healing and we look forward to the day when there will be no more tears and no more pain. 

Our hearts groan for that great day of redemption--when we will see Him face to face.
I have found that it is not difficult to see Christ here.  Here, in this dark country, where statues and temples stand tall, there is still a remnant.  These may be few in number, but oh, how their light shines.  Like a city set upon a hill cannot be hidden, these souls that have been delivered are shining the light of Christ. 

As I lower myself to enter their homes, I also lower my pride.  I realize that we may have many material possessions in America, but many of us are still very poor. 

What is poverty anyway?  If it is a lack of something needed for life, if it is an absence of bread and water, then I dare say that our concept of who the poor is may be completely backwards. 

We are hungry and thirsty.  We feel the emptiness in our lives and we crave for more.  We are in need of healing.  Our hearts have been broken and our bodies are failing.  We need Jesus.  He is the only way, the truth, and the life.  He is the bread of life and living water.  He has come to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free.

Like the woman of Samaria that Jesus met at the well, we must acknowledge and believe that He is the great I AM.  He is more than a great prophet.  He is our deliverer.  He is our healer.  He is the one true God.  He is the Messiah. 

There will come a day, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but until that day I want to shine bright like the woman under the palm branches with empty hands and a heart full of love and full of joy.  I want to shine, like the Zurishaddai Church shines throughout a rural village in southeast India, in my own town of northeast Ohio.  Whether we stay in Ohio or move to another city, state, or country, I will take it ALL in, I will be ALL there, and I will look for opportunities to SHINE for Christ.  

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.