Stories continue…an update on Jason

Early last year I made this video about a little guy we met in a squatter village near Manila. There’s now more to the story…

Update time…

If you saw the video, you know he was living in very difficult circumstances. The people I know in his country are good people who love and care for their children, even if they lack necessities. However, Jason was in a particularly abusive situation and the government decided to get him to a safe place…

In this safer place, he gained physical strength and is now full of hope and faith. Our team returned a year later to visit him. He was strong, full of joy, loved to pray and smiled a lot. Mary Beth, the team leader, shared much more on our interns blog at cohinterns.org.

We met Jason through the Convoy of Hope’s Children Feeding Initiative. His belly if full, mind is learning, heart is full of faith, and he loves life and people.

Some reasons I believe this story is turning out well…

1. People are praying.

2. Our local partner in the area is incredible. He’s a very humble pastor, who sacrifices much for his community. He could work in another place making really good money, but he follows God’s call and is there. He’s very invested in this story and has spent tremendous time praying for and working towards the right solution.

3. The Children’s Feeding Initiative is about much more than feeding stomachs. It’s been an answer to the prayers of the pastor and his family, and a key tool for them to use in reaching their community.

4. People are following God’s plan for their lives…donors, our interns and intern staff, local missionaries who are helping the pastor, the pastor and volunteers from his church, our Convoy of Hope staff that gets food and more to this village, representatives of the Filipino government, those who run (and donate to) a nearby children’s home, and people who pray!

Thank you for caring for little guys like him. I look forward to sharing another update about his life someday.

Meet Nik-more than rock and roll

Everyone has a story…and learning stories about great people is one of my favorite things. Here’s a bit about Nik. He started the band Undying Allegiance 5 years ago, but stepped away for this season to help the poor around the world as a Convoy of Hope intern. His story includes way more than the 1 1/2 minutes you’ll see here, but I wanted you to get a glimpse of this great man who has a great perspective on life.


Here’s the first single from his band’s latest project. It’s ironically called, “The Story of Our Lives.”

What is a time or situation in your life that helped you gain perspective?

Meeting the team: Andy

I get to meet some really, really good people. People like Andy. He and the rest of the Convoy of Hope Intern team members challenge me, encourage me, and help me keep life in perspective.

Here, he shares 2 minutes of his incredible life story. I’ll post about other team members in the future.

What gives you perspective?

Samantha, Brittany and 100+ more…

Brittany with baby in El Salvador

When Amber asked if I’d write about some of our former Convoy of Hope interns for OnCourse Magazine, I got excited. The team members (past and present) make up an enormous part of my life…I love that God’s given me the opportunity to work with them.

Samantha & Brittany

Samantha was on our team to Bangladesh/Nepal/Mobile, AL, last year and is now in school. She’s preparing for full time work as a teacher in Tanzania. Brittany was on our Summer ’08 team to Nicaragua and El Salvador, and has done a ton of other international trips. She’s now working working with one of Convoy of Hope’s partners in Dallas, Buckner International…she helps provide shoes to kids around the world.

Samantha Shryack

Proud of each of them.

It’s fun filling out reference forms (got to fill out 3 this week…) and seeing where God takes our former interns…who we see as still a part of the family.

Another

The latest? Here’s Andy…he just got hired with the development office of the Eastern Mennonite Missions in Pennsylvania. They’re lucky to have this guy….

The upcoming generation will do well…

I’m quite sure that the next generation of those who will serve and lead internationally will do so with passion and focus and a huge love for Jesus and people.

Do you agree?

Andy

Creative compassion part 2: Some ideas

I recently shared on the topic of “Creative Compassion” at a National Youth Worker’s conference in Dallas. During the talk we spoke of many different things such as:

Painting walls can be creative compassion...1. The Biblical reason for showing compassion.
2. Creative ways to show compassion.
3. Resources that either include creative ideas, or that have helped me in my understanding of the subject.
I asked for creative compassion ideas via the Twitter, Facebook, and at the conference. I said I would share them via this site. They follow:

  1. Elle from Jackson, MS, mentioned that in her city, Wired Espresso Cafe (connected with Crossings Church) will often take salad/tea/cookies/coffee/etc. to secretaries who are unable to leave work for lunch. No payment is required.
  2. Jose mentioned that his church, Northside A/G, learned that teachers in their town are required to purchase their own supplies. Their church members worked to gather supplies for every teacher/administrator in the middle school. They gathered enough supplies for over 60 school leaders to have a bag with $50-75 worth of needed supplies. It saved the teachers money, and showed that the church cared. This is a somewhat small congregation that delivered the supplies at a catered meal for these leaders.
  3. Paula’s son was shot, and her family struggled as part of the healing process. Instead of staying home sad, she led some students from her church (All Nations A/G) to help at a homeless shelter…serving food, playing with kids, and listening to stories. They even helped clean up at the end.
  4. Sean’s youth group is soon going to go to the home of elderly individuals with a 6-foot Christmas card. The card includes cut outs where students will show their faces and sing carols…They’ll do it at Christmas time 🙂
  5. Joey from Swifton A/G in AR worked with his group to rent a community center that they turned into a coffee shop. Free food/good music/snapping instead of clapping. Good times. I’m in a coffee shop as I write this, but I know that lots of towns don’t have such a place. Cool.
  6. Santana was part of pen pal club that would interact with people around the world.
  7. Madeline from Evangel Church International took a group of students to Haiti. I could share at length about the idea of going overseas to help show compassion…
  8. Jeremy is a part of The Tabernacle in Orchard, Park, NY. They’re working with churches, community leaders, and government officials to do a mini-extreme makeover in an inner city neighborhood. www.webreakout.com, www.thetab.org
  9. Lauryn from the Lighthouse Tabernacle shared how their church would help single moms with a day for them to come to the church for pedicures, lunch a car wash, school supplies for the kids, and tools and support for them.
  10. One man is considering a car wash where his church pays the people who are getting their car washed.
  11. Kisha…adopt a neighborhood…cleaned yards. Lifepoint Church Prescott Valley
  12. Some youth groups have gotten permission from city leaders, and painted murals in rougher parts of town.
  13. Andrea’s youth group from Whitefish A/G in Montana, would purposefully do random acts of kindness..groceries/car wash/water/etc.
  14. The Dream Center in LA has a ton going on to help people in the community
  15. Shannon and Sara mentioned that Canyon Hills A/G in Bakersfield, CA, helped a person in the community by doing their version of an Extreme Makeover Home addition…cleaned blinds/etc.
  16. Mandy’s church, Bethel Temple A/G in Parma, OH, would supply Christmas gifts for kids in the community. This is much like Angel Tree, a great program through Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship, that supplies gifts for the children of prisoners…and the gifts is from the parent who is in prison, but being delivered by people from a local church.
  17. Sandy from New Horizons in Lowell, MA, mentioned that students from her church went to a local veterans nursing home and sang Christmas carols, providing residents with little packages with things like combs/etc.
  18. Shannon’s from Grand Prairie, TX, where her church would do many things on holidays for the community, such as Halloween Trunk or Treat for neighborhood kids, etc.
  19. Chelsea’s church, Valley Fellowship Yakima, WA, would deliver Thanksgiving meals when they knew families might not have one. Also, youth group in fall/winter they adopt a seniors mobile court–shovel snow, rake leaves.
  20. Chelsea’s group also would help people around the world through supplying funds through Kiva, to provide micro-loans to small businesses.
  21. Chelsea also mentioned “Make it, Take it” where her youth group would make fun gifts to give away. They find out what the family wants and take it to them.
  22. Tonya’s church in Chandler, AZ, would provide backpacks/school supplies/etc. for kids in group homes. They’d also help with birthday parties/etc.
  23. Some referenced churches that supply gift cards for the mom’s at Teen Challenge/etc.
  24. Royal Family Kids Camp is cool! Anytime the right students/adults can help at a Royal Family Kids Camp is a great thing.
  25. Karen’s college group would hand our soda/snacks to community college.
  26. Some churches had some incredible ideas for fundraisers to help those in need:
  27. The best place I’ve seen for ideas regarding fundraising for missions is through the Overflow Experience. On that site, students from around the USA and world share ideas they’ve used to raise money to help those in need. Here are a few ideas…
  28. Waylon Sears at Victory Worship Center led his students to raise funds by selling Hope For Haiti t-shirts. They sold a lot of shirts, and helped a lot of people through Convoy of Hope.
  29. Evan Courtney of The Fields Church in Mattoon, IL, wrote, “I tweeted and blogged about a specific organization each day, I was on a missions trip to Honduras. They gave me a shirt to wear for that day.” Love what Evan’s doing…
  30. Jessica’s church has shared their fine arts talents and raised funds at concerts/etc.
  31. Shawn Askinosie isn’t a youth leader, but he does make chocolate. He came up with a great idea called “Serve Someone” where you pick a family/individual that you’ll help until they don’t need the help anymore. He set up a website, www.servesomeone.org to get ideas rolling, and to set up a system to help.
  32. Dawn and Jackie both mentioned how wonderful it is to have someone babysit the kids…especially special needs kids. When there’s not family around, the chance for parents to go on dates is a very nice thing.
  33. Bryce’s church has made sandwiches and more and taken them to areas where homeless people spend time. They’ll spend time with their new friend over lunch.
  34. Stephanie’s group in Georgia has taken 9 v batteries throughout neighborhoods where elderly people live around the time changes. They’ll give out batteries so people can change them in their fire alarm, and will offer to change them if it would help.
  35. Stephanie’s group will also go to neighborhoods and rake leaves, clean gutters and more.
  36. My sister’s church in Hammond, IN, adopts blocks in the area where they can help people near the church–cleaning up, etc. Other churches, such as Phoenix 1st AG have done this for years. Great idea.
  37. Our church in Republic, MO, has helped local schools with gardens, done free car washes and more.
  38. I walked through Convoy of Hope one day and saw dozens of students from Northpoint Church helping with opportunities in their own community. Great idea. Here’s their intro. video.
  39. Finally, I love being a part of Convoy of Hope and all we and partners around the world are doing to help those in need…can’t forget Convoy…

I’m positive there are many, many other ideas people have used to show compassion creatively. What are some ways you’ve seen?

Nepal: A few random things

I’ve been telling stories from our Convoy of Hope interns and our trip to Nepal. Here are a few random things we saw while there…

Here you’ll see:
–The best burger in Nepal. It’s actually one of the best burgers I’ve had anywhere…and it was a nice surprise.
–A nepali “rest stop”. The team didn’t use those straw restrooms often…
–I think it’s the first sermon I’ve preached in just my socks. Great church…
–Fish on a stick
–A cow hoof in the trees. I think there’s a meaning behind that, but not sure what it is. Do you know?
–Beautiful kids
–I guess Leo and Hillary are paid spokespersons for this salon. I’m sure they know their image is being used to promote the place…
–Meat!
–Monkey! Our host has only seen 2 of this type in his almost decade in the country. It’s a langur, and they’re much harder to spot than the monkeys we’d see crossing the road and in many other places. Not a great quality picture, but at least I got one…
–I flew across the country. In a plane with no door on the cockpit. With a pilot who was reading the paper during most of the flight. Aargh.
–Shannon and Sam in a rickshaw.
–A nepali school bus. I loved these.

How we’re helping in Nepal

trainingI asked the men if they’d ever been the victim of a natural disaster; over 80% raised their hands…the story:

After learning about the people and the common belief systems across Nepal, we drove west (and that was a long & crazy drive) to help the people of this country we love…

Nepal is a very poor country. In fact, approximately 60% of the country’s 28 million people live on less than $1.25 a day. Poverty. Malnutrition. Disaster. For many, despair. 

It’s geographically the highest country in the world with nearly 100 mountain peaks over 23,000 feet in elevation. They’re proud of Mt. Everest which we saw from a flight. The mountainous conditions lead to many things such as homes built on the sides of hills and the highest per capita number of rivers (think melting mountain snow) in the world. Homes on hills + rivers = flooding and mudslides.everest

We smiled as 24 godly men from 24 churches in 24 villages across the western part of Nepal gathered for the Convoy of Hope/Nepali Red Cross Disaster Preparedness training. One man rode 12 hours to be a part of the week. At least 80% said their villages and homes were affected by at least one recent natural disaster. For most, it was flooding and mudslides. For others, their village was transformed by drought, fires or other calamities.training

When I asked what they did to help their community in the midst of past disasters, they said they didn’t know how other than to get animals and food to safety.

 They now know they’re responders, not simply victims. They’re part of the solution. 

During this disaster preparedness training, many things like this were emphasized:

Preparing their family for disastersteamup

Preparing the people of their churches and villages for disaster

Assessing damage and resources when a disasters occur

Serving as resource people for the Red Cross and other organizations when disasters occur

Mobilizing to help across the country and region when disasters occur

Training others with the information they’re receiving

 

They’re excited about this week of training.makunda

 

When the training is done, the men will work with our team to distribute food, blankets, clothing and other supplies to a village hit hard by flooding last fall. They’ll put their training to good use…

 

Please keep these great guys and this beautiful country in prayer.

 

Tomorrow, the tribe of slaves no more…

Armenian church, devasted by earthquake, helps Haiti

The following is a very cool story…like they could  make a movie about it.  I’ve reprinted it with permission from Chad Isenhart, who was a Convoy of Hope intern when we went to Armenia in the fall of 2008. He lives there now on assignment, helping with various Convoy of Hope projects. Quite moving…here goes!

From Chad…

mrchadThis last weekend we attended one of our new church plant services in the village of Spitak. Here in December 7, 1988 at 11:41am a massive earthquake that struck Armenia on was epicentered in Spitak, taking at least 25,000 lives. 500,000 people whose homes, built in apparent violation of seismic safety standards, were destroyed by two powerful tremors that rocked much of Armenia’s territory 20 years ago.

Measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale, many poorly constructed Soviet buildings across the region sustained heavy damage or collapsed.

The small city of Spitak was destroyed, while the nearby cities of Leninakan (later renamed to Gyumri) and Kirovakan (later renamed to Vanadzor) sustained a lot of damage as well. The tremor also caused damage to many surrounding villages.

Since most of the hospitals in the area were destroyed, and due to freezing winter temperatures, officials at all levels were not ready for a disaster of this scale and the relief effort was insufficient. The Soviet Union allowed foreign aid workers to help with the recovery in the earthquake’s aftermath.  This was one of the first cases when rescue and relief workers from other countries were allowed to take part in relief works in the Soviet Union.

We attended this service, and unknown to us, they had planned on taking an offering for response to the earthquake in Haiti. This small, year old church, meeting in a living room of a members home with about 50 in the congregation prayed for the people of Haiti, and gave their widows mite. Many in the village living on less than 3 dollars a day. They gave sacrificially with an offering of $180.00. They have asked us to get it to COH.earthquake

…end quote

Thanks for sharing Chad. Great story.

 

By the way, here’s some of the earthquake housing (think FEMA trailers) that’s still being used after these 25 years…

Mudpies for lunch Tuesday, and then…

A few months ago, I got my own Haitian mudpie. It sits on my desk. This gift from our Haiti director, Kevin Rose, has reminded me to pray for the poorest people in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

mudpie

On Tuesday, like every other “normal” day in Haiti, people in the poorest areas of the country were eating these for lunch. Some ate them for breakfast that morning and dinner the night before as well. They’re made of dried yellow dirt, vegetable oil and salt.

I’m going to type that again…they’re made of dried yellow dirt, vegetable oil and salt. They’re real mudpies. People eat them.

Then an earthquake hit.

I’m still processing things…but I for now, I wanted to mention the mudpies.