Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pictures from Tom's Trip in March

Enjoy a few pictures from Tom's trip.
This is Tom's brother, Stephen. He spent the first day meeting children and getting right at their level to minister and love them.
Tom is here with Dawit (who traveled to Austin in February and spoke at the Missions Conference) Abei is on the far right. He is one of the 5 missionaries that Grace is supporting through the Partnership.Pray for Abei and his family -- they are on the front lines serving Christ!
A picture of the social workers who attended Stephen's class

Tom's brother training the social workers on grief and loss.

Keep in prayer the next team going to Zeway! They will be departing the first of July. Click here for more information on the trip and how you can support them!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Caring for the Widow and Orphan

Pure and undefiled religion is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Bridges of Grace has used the command in James 1:27 as a foundation for their ministry. There are orphans ministries and non-profits all over the country that have sprung up in the past 5 years toting 1:27 on their banners.

And yet, there is a piece of it that seems like we've missed. We are to visit and care for orphans AND widows. We've moved forward to care for the orphan, but what about the widow? How can we use James 1:27 so diligently as the backbone of our ministry when we have chosen one vulnerable people group, but not the other?

Now we have justified this because the needs are so great, how can one ministry tackle the global orphan crisis AND widows in their distress? It is overwhelming enough to take in the numbers of one group of "the least of these" let alone to add widows as well. We do believe, however, that focusing on this one group, orphans, is not just justified, but right thinking. We all have God-given passions and talents, and we are finite beings in our time and ability to care, so singling out one group of people to care for is how we manage in this flesh.

But God is not going to allow our inability to care for both widows and orphans to limit His work. He is not allowing our susceptibleness to be overwhelmed by the suffering to single out just orphans in the Zeway Partnership.

We are rejoicing that God is allowing us to expand our care circle to include widows. Single parents who are dying of HIV/AIDS and who will not be there to parent their children within the year will now be a part of the Partnership outreach. God is allowing us to support the social workers and the Zeway Church body so that they can care for these dying mothers and fathers.

Here are some of the reasons why this is a desirable opportunity:

  • These dying men and women need care and love. They need to hear about the peace and comfort of our Savior through the social workers and Zeway church members.
  • In an environment where children of parents with HIV/AIDS are outcasts, these widows desire to know that someone will watch over their children.
  • The orphaned children will not go one day without knowing there is an adult who cares for them and is advocating for them after their parent dies.
  • There will be a transfer of trust as the child watches the social worker and parent forming a relationship.
  • The orphaned children will be admitted into the Food for the Hungry programs with little to no gap between losing their parent. They will not spend months or even years fending for themselves.

We are rejoicing that we will be able to care for orphans and widows as well. It makes sense that these two groups of people would go together in a circle of care, and we are blessed that God showed us His ways again through this Partnership!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trip Update from Tom Sanchez

Tom Sanchez, the Global Outreach pastor of Grace Covenant, went to Zeway with his brother who specializes in grief and loss counseling. As part of the Partnership, we are to provide a variety of training for the social workers and staff. Read below from Tom:

On April 11th, Stephen, my older brother, and I arrived in Zeway, Ethiopia. We spent the evening visiting three of the child headed households that are the primary target of Grace’s partnership with Food for the Hungry and the Zeway Evangelical Alliance of Churches. The purpose of these visits was to expose Stephen to the actual living situations and stories that the social workers with Food for the Hungry deal with day in and day out.

On Monday morning, Stephen began a 4 ½ day seminar on Trauma, Grief and Loss for 50 social workers from three different ministry centers in Ethiopia. Although most of these social workers have college degrees, they have never been exposed to specific training regarding grief and loss in children. Since this has been Stephen’s specialty in his career as a school counselor for the last 20 years, his teaching was filled with real-life examples and stories that took it out of the theoretical arena to the very practical. The comments of some of the social workers at the end of the week demonstrated what a huge unmet need this had been and how very grateful they were for the training Stephen brought.

Meanwhile, I had a chance to interact with 9 missionaries that have been sent out of the Zeway evangelical community to mostly Muslim villages in the larger region around Zeway. One of these men is named Abei. For the last 10 months he has been spending eleven out of every fourteen days in a community about 15 miles out of Zeway. He is homeless, has no job, and carries a small leather bag with his personal possessions and a well worn Bible. His wife and children, Marta, Abram (5), and Lydia (6 months), live in Zeway. Marta shared with me that after he spends a weekend at home, on Monday morning she has his bag packet with clean cloths and she pushes him out the door, eager for him to return to the mission of carrying Jesus Christ to this community. In 10 months, Abei has seen 20-25 people come to faith in Jesus. He is considered a holy man in the community. He was asked to deliver the commencement speech and pass out diplomas at the local k-8 grade school. The “chief” of this village, a Muslim, has given him land for the purpose of building a church that will also function as his home.

I was deeply humbled by the price both Abei and Marta are paying with joyful hearts in order to fulfill God’s call on their lives. They are one of five missionaries that are supported through the partnership we have with this city and Food for the hungry. Praise God for the opportunity that He is giving us to be part of the miracles happening in this place.

Thank you Tom and Stephen for giving of your time and talents. Pictures from this trip will soon be posted!