Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Testimonial Tuesday: INDIA

Frances, our recent team member to India shares with us the impact this trip has made on her. Her favorite memory? All the love from the children!!!

Can't wait to send out another team to India soon!!! (Hopefully I'll be on the next one). Wonder how many trips you can take a new baby on? ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Controversy - Part One

This blog post has been rolling around in my heart and mind for a few months now. Ever had a topic that meant so so much to you, that to try and put it on paper seems almost to hurt or just exhausts you? In order to do so, it means delving into the deepest parts of your heart to pull out and wrestle your emotions and thoughts so they are more simple and clear…so you can share and finally communicate them with others.

Well, this blog post is one of those.

When I have strong feelings like this, I tend to avoid the conversations that elicit them. I hate defending the way I think or feel or ever trying to convince others of anything. I like to leave that job up to God. Let Him be the Defender. Let Him convince or change others to see things the way He does. I don’t want to enter into arguments or competition.

This blog post though is about the controversy that seems to be erupting and even being fueled by other Christians regarding short term missions to “visit orphans”.

My very first response to this when it started happening was, “Obviously they truly do not know the scriptures or this would not be a controversy. They would not be questioning it. They would know the answers to the questions they are naively putting out there which are causing others who don’t know scripture to respond and react to.”

Yes, we can all know scripture…but do you take the time to really dive deep into them. Have you used a concordance and dissected a scripture that is on your heart? That is one of my favorite things to do as just about always God will reveal SO much through this time of research.

So let’s dissect James 1:27 together in this way. Most of us reading this blog post knows what it “says” already on the surface. We’ve memorized it. Here is what it says at deeper layers:

Vis-it (1980) (episkeptomai - see study of episkopeo from epĂ­ = upon or intensifying already existing idea in verb + skopeo = regard, give attention to, look at, contemplate) literally means to look upon, to GO to see, to examine closely, to inspect, to examine the state of affairs of something, to look after or to oversee. The idea of visiting is more than just making a social call.

As Hiebert writes...
In classical Greek, it was commonly used of visiting the sick, whether by a doctor or a friend.' In Jewish usage, it commonly denoted to visit with the aim of caring for and supplying the needs of those visited (Job 2:11; Jer. 23:2; Ezek. 34:11; Zech. 11:16; Mt. 25:36, 43). The term implies concern and personal contact with the needy; it involves more than a matter of charity by proxy.

This verb expresses careful regard of those in position of responsibility. It depicts one going to see another with the intent to render help. In some context it means to have regard for, care for or be concerned about (Acts 15:14, He 2:6-note). It is often used of visiting the sick. In the Septuagint it speaks of a visitation from God, most often a visitation for good.

So, when God inspired James to write this, He was using the word, “episkeptomai” which means SO much more than just our word Visit. In English the word “visit” sounds like we are just coming to see a friend, have coffee, hang out for awhile. That is NOT what James means. He means to search out, find, meet those in distress (and in this case he means orphans and widows), talk to them, find out their needs and pains AND DO something about them!!

Short term mission trips to visit orphans, like we do at Visiting Orphans are intended to do just that. Our staff at VO prays…asking God to show us those ministries on the other side of the world, orphanages, hurting communities which are hidden. Which need to be found and visited so that we can see what they need and with future teams, come back to make a difference. This difference can be made by future teams bringing donations or financial help, or what I love even more is when a past team member visits those in distress and feels a call from God DUE to that visit and sacrifices current comforts to go help them long term. Or, they return home to adopt a child, or they return home and help promote a cause so that more sponsorships can happen for those in distress.

So, WHAT is the controversy all about? When you ask God … are short term trips really Your will? Will I really make a difference visiting an orphan? You now KNOW that scripture is defining this for you. God is saying, “YES”. Go….VISIT an orphan… Be my hands and feet to them here on earth. Find them, meet them, “check in” on them and make a difference in their lives.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Testimonial from a Father & Son Team!!!

Tune in today as we have a live action testimony from Africa with Mark & Luke Vandruff on the Man Up trip...Complete with our News Reporter Extraordinaire, Amanda Herdina and Music DJ, Chloe Jordan!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Enter Into His Labor

I was inspired yesterday to write a blog today on Labor Day by my wonderful pastor, Steve Garrett at our home church, New River Fellowship.

Our staff at Visiting Orphans has had a heavy heart this Fall season. Maybe not everyone as much as me since I oversee everything, but what has been difficult is watching as trip after trip was cancelled this Fall season due to lack of interest while our Summer 2012 trips and December 2011 trips fill up with waiting lists. Sure, we know all the reasons. We understand that everyone is heading back to school and most are focused on this time of their personal lives or family's life. However, it still burdens us as we know how much these children need each one of us.

Autumn or Fall is my favorite time of year. I purposely got married in October for this reason and now God will be blessing us with the birth of our first child in the Fall as well. I love the new crisp chillier weather and the falling leaves and wind. But I also love how this season is considered the Harvest season. Recently I read this blog post entitled "When Visiting Is Enough". The author of this blog explained how one visit to a child can indeed change their life. If you are willing to go, obey and be used, God can use YOU to plant a seed in that child's life. Yes, it can be excruciating to then leave, walk away, not knowing what will happen to that child. But for this particular blogger, years later she was able to actually see what happened to the seed she planted!

As she returned to Russia, to the same village where she told this little girl about Christ, she found out that this little girl, through the help of ANOTHER christian in Russia had and was still being discipled! She had aged out of this orphanage but was now living with the hope of Christ.

So yesterday while I was worshipping the Lord spoke to me and said, this is the Harvest season. If my workers would just GO, they could be the ones to bring in the HARVEST of those who went on all the Visiting Orphans' Summer trips. Those who planted the seeds. The ones traveling this Fall season will be used by God to continue watering these seeds, bringing in the harvest. He wants us to participate in what Jesus has already started in these children's lives through others.

Do you think that investing in ONE child's life makes a difference? Jesus thinks so. When Jesus walked the earth, He was here to die in our place. He has SO much to be concerned about each day and moment. Much like we do this Fall season. However, in John 4, Jesus chose to speak to ONE Samaritan woman. The jews considered the Samaritans lesser than themselves, yet He esteemed her. So she had an ENCOUNTER with the one true Messiah. And through this one woman's changed life and testimony many her in town also chose to believe in Him. (John 4: 39). With all the cares in this sinful world, Jesus chose to spend 10 minutes in conversation with this woman. He chose her. One person and her life changed MANY. Her encounter with Christ reaped a harvest.

"Do you not say "Four months more and then the harvest? (Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec) I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!! THEY ARE RIPE FOR HARVEST. " Even NOW the reaper draws his wages, even NOW he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together! Thus the saying, "One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor". John 4:34-38.

Don't you just love God's word?! We just need you to GO this Fall season.. Please enter into His true labor this Labor Day and choose to change the life of one orphan, one child, and bring in the harvest. That's what this season is about. Let your feasting this holiday season be to do the will of the one who sent Him.

"My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of Him who sent me and to FINISH His work."