30 October 2011

He added to His Church

This past week and again tomorrow, we are doing medical clinics in poor villages. We do this kind of ministry for several reasons. (1) Because the Lord did it in His ministry. (2) Because the people have many health problems and meeting the need shows our love for them. (3) Because it gives the pastors a good opportunity to meet and talk with people, who will often welcome him into their homes thereafter (4) Because once the people have stepped inside the church and met some of the believers, it is easier for them to join a worship service. We do distribute evangelistic tracts and the pastors pray with many who are open to that, for their health issues. We do not normally preach or give an invitation, trusting the spiritual results to come slowly,probably after we are packed up and gone. Today,  my partner casually shared with me that a family has been added to the church in the place where we held a clinic a week ago. "Really?"  I thought. "That is wonderful." I listened attentively to everything he said about it. The family were or are Hindus. They came to the clinic to see the doctor, and the pastor spent some time with them and prayed. They asked questions and expressed a desire to follow Jesus. They returned today to join the worship. "Wow. That is the reason we are doing this," I thought and I started thinking of ways to share it in a report to folks in the US. I wanted to ask (but did not) how many individuals were in the family. To Americans, "family" usually means two adult and 2-3 kids, but here in Nepal, the word, "family", might mean grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. How many people can we count? This shows the benefit of the medical project to this who help us with the funding.  I wondered why my partner  did not seem quite as excited as I was. Of course, he was pleased, but he was not going to add these people to any list or "count" for his record. Why not? (1) Because interest does not equate to a new regenerated believer. We need to wait to see if the seed grows or if it gets plucked away or drys up in the sun. (2) Because this is not an uncommon event for the partner. He works and he sees God give an increase (3) Because even if the family is ten people, all saved and faithful and growing,  my partner is not going to claim credit for it. Acts 2:47. The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Monkey on the porch rail

I did not get a photo of the monkey that day, but it looked very much like this one.
One would expect that a monkey running loose in an American neighborhood would draw some attention, but likewise it is not an every day event in Nepal. Seeing monkeys in wooded areas as we drive is fairly common, about as common as seeing a deer in Virginia. But they do not usually come out of the jungle to the homes where I am living....so we all stood at the window this morning to watch as a this creature jumped from roof to porch to lattice to window grills among our house and others nearby. He was not small and cute. He was a mature male, perhaps 50-60 pounds. His face, in my opinion, was quite ugly and he did not have a happy expression. His  limbs were long and powerful. I felt no desire to have any sort of confrontation with him. He landed on our porch rail and waited for a while, looking around as if not sure what to do-- but in no way intimidated. He jumped to the neighbor's porch, causing their dog to go wild. The neighbor hurriedly captured her dog and took him inside. The monkey was certainly willing to fight for the right of passage and he would have won the battle quickly against that pooch. Monkeys are known to frequently carry rabies, so we were ready to pull our dog in as well, if he headed back towards us. A few days ago, we were in a small, one room, village church, the site of our medical clinic. Because there was a lull in patients coming and my back was aching, I went inside the church to lie down on the floor for a few minutes. It was a hot day and both doors were left standing open. Though I missed most of the words, I could hear the urgency in the Nepali voices around me. Looking up, I saw a small snake with a foot on it. I do not like snakes, but I did not feel any sense of terror. The situation seemed to be under control, and it was only a small one, a baby snake, I thought. Why all the excitement? I did wonder that a man happened to have his rubber sandal on, since all of us inside the church were bare footed. Later, I learned that the man was called in from outside BECAUSE he had his shoes on. The snake, though small, was at it's adult size and it was one of the most dangerous vipers--comparable to the King cobra, they said. It's strike is quick and it delivers a neurotoxin for which there is no need to go to the hospital for anti-venom. The victim cannot be expected to live more than a few minutes. It was only a couple feet from my head as I lay resting. We can plan and prepare and try to anticipate, but dangers still come. Perhaps the greatest threats are those from within. Our ministries seem safe and secure and all in harmony at the moment, but we have seen many threats in the past. Some of them hurt us and some were averted. Certainly more will come. it is easier to pray for what we know, than for the things we do not see coming. But please pray-- for the Lord's continuing protection over our people and our ministry.


18 October 2011

Beauty in the slums

We walked through narrow, filthy paths among the poor of the poor in Kathmandu. Makeshift shelters built of literally anything found on the streets made up a community of humanity drawn together by their common poverty. Children wore dirty clothes. They had runny noses and tangled mats of hair. Most doors, if there was a door, stood open to reveal tiny living spaces with very few possessions of any kind. How did people end up here? The answer in many cases, was that they were born here, grew up here and without skills or education, just continued on- surviving as best they could. We were told that the beggars of Nepal live here, but no one approached us with any request. In their own way, they honored the culture of Asian hospitality to a guest who was on their turf. Our partner showed us a building that was better than the rest and we ducked inside to find several rooms with ceiling high enough to stand. Rows of wooden benches lined each of three rooms. The benches were rough and fragile, like the children, but someone had spent some time and what funds were available to build them. This was a school. American children sit in classrooms filled with books, maps, educational materials of all kinds and electricity. These classrooms had almost nothing, except the benches. My partner was serving a huge task, but one that could make a real difference for these children. A few steps away from the school, we came upon another place that could make a real difference for the slum community. It was a church, newly built and amazingly beautiful. Its beauty was not in d├ęcor or furnishings. It was a very plain, one room structure. But it was clean, fresh painted, solidly built. It contained a simple pulpit, some musical instruments, a hard carpet floor covering. It was a house of worship in the middle of the slums. I felt humbly grateful to learn that Allow contributions to the slum ministry had been used to build the church and it is our privilege to be a part of this work. The Awana club is up to 90 children. These are children who formerly had nothing in life, except begging. Now, they go to school and to Awana club. The church formed from the Awana ministry. As the leaders worked with the children, it led to relationships with the parents. Praise to our Lord for what He is doing among these needy people Praise His Name that he care for these “least” of the world, many of whom have come to know Him. What we do to the LEAST of His brethren, we do to Him.

Someday, There will be a Church Here

Spoken by the Nepali leaders…. When we have the church, we will move the worship meeting there. When we have the church,there will be space for all of the village pastors to meet for training. We will have a place to hold the medical outreach here, when we have the church. We would love to have a children’s conference for all the Allow children in this area. We will do it after we have the church. We will train the teens in Maranatha Home in community outreach, after we have the church. Yes, we could do that, but there is no place to meet for a gathering like that. The church should have a concrete roof ( not a tin roof) so that we can build Sunday School rooms up there someday. A team of men will be going in January, 2012 to build this church. In the meanwhile, we need to raise $33,000 for materials and building costs. Current total in hand is $13,000. Please pray for this important project.

17 October 2011

Trisuli Advance

Allow ministry in Trisuli (Nepal) began with pastor training. Our partner began work among these people about 15 years ago, with the village evangelism strategy of teaching health, hygiene, farming, literacy which results in relationships ready to hear the gospel. As we talked, our partner could not remember how many times he had climbed the mountain by foot, before this terrible road was built. Wow. Even in the prime of my youth and fitness (now long past), I cannot imagine coming up this mountain without vehicle and—even for the Lord—I am just not sure I would ever have been willing to do it. Today the fruit of his labor includes 17 pastors/cell group leaders leading little pockets of believers throughout the area. These men cannot leave their homes and crops to attend Bible College, but they have the same hunger for it that we have seen all over Nepal. We bring the teachers to them, in short modules that they can receive and use, with more modules coming as we are able to make the trips. This summer, we took one child from each of these pastors into our sponsorship program. This will help each family, a bit, and encourage them in their volunteer ministry, as we help their child. Up the mountain we went, where I ( and Tamara with me) would meet these people and the children for the first time. I will not say that it was the worst road ever of my experience, but it was definitely in the top five. It was several hours of bumping and potholes on a narrow path with breathtaking, unprotected drops always on one side. The church was nestled along one drop as well and I took note of it, since I might need to make the walk to the toilet during the night, The air was crisp and cool and clean in contrast to the city pollution of Kathmandu. Some of the children had walked with their fathers for as much as 8 hours to meet with me. They would sleep with us in the church for the night and make the return next day. We fed them, gave prepared and packaged gifts and took the pictures needed for our program. The children settled on the floor to make a picture for their sponsors. Most are too young or too new to education to write a letter, even in Nepali. I wonder if the sponsors can know how precious those pictures are. These kids are never able to color. It was probably the first experience for most, if not all of them. The sponsorship money means that they can go to school, and have a school uniform. They will carry home new back packs filled with new Bible, notebooks, pencils, toothbrush and paste, knitted hats, bottle of vitamins, nutritious snacks. All of this, provided by sponsors. We will be holding medical clinics next week for two days and in December, another pastor training. It is a rugged area. It means forgoing the comfort of familiar foods, carrying bottled water—if you do not want to drink from the tap- sleeping in a room that comes alive with mousa during the night. (Mousa is a Nepali word, but perhaps the reader understands.) It is all so worth it, to be a part of bringing the gospel to these dear people. Wow. God lets me do this. Sue Cook

LIght and Flame Witness

Many projects that we pursue in life seem to move at a “two steps forward, one step back” rate. So it is with our children’s homes in Bangladesh. Light and Flame completed building and received 25 children just this year. This is an outreach among the “hill tribe” people, who live in a place Americans would consider mountains—but in this part of the world, they are not called mountains unless they have year round snow. I visited the home for the first time since operation began. Of the 25 children, one has not yet come because of a recurring case of scabies. He is certainly being re-infected in the place where he is now living, but if we bring him now, we will be struggling with it too. One child has moved since he was processed for the home and now cannot be found. Two were “pulled back” by relatives who decided not to release them. Almost all of those we have are orphans or “half” orphans ( one parent died). All are in various stages of malnutrition. Many of them had clothing that does not fit. One little girl had a button top with no buttons, therefore the shirt did not close across her chest. Winter is coming. We need to send funds for basic clothing, jackets, hats and shoes. It is a long and difficult walk from the mountains to a place where anything can be purchased. The partner has been busy trying to outfit them with school uniforms, notebooks and pencils—all necessary things. He also asked for $ to set up the solar powered lights that are the only option for this area. I was pleased to see that they have chickens, pigs, goats and vegetables planted. They have been in the home for only a short time, all from non-believing homes, but they know praise songs and easily joined in prayer. The house parents are doing their job. They are discipling a little group of witnesses for a place with as much spiritual need as physical. Praying that the Lord will call out many people for His Name from this small beginning.

29 September 2011

Birth of a Bangla orphanage

Arrived in Bangladesh for the first leg of my ministry trip, I was met by a man known only through e-mail, but the connection was made through excellent references from the mutually known. After more than 24 hours of international travel with little sleep, it is not unusual for me to have an episode of mild disorientation. Such was the case, when I woke in the pitch dark from a deep, exhausted sleep, to find myself in a village somewhere in...what country was this? Nine times out of ten, when I make the long trip to Asia, my destination is Nepal. Yet I had no sense of "home" that always comes with Nepal. As I swam towards consciousness, I realized that I was lying on a hard, bamboo platform covered with a cloth pallet and surrounded by a mosquito net. I could not remember where I was or how I had come to be there. No one was moving about and I had no desire to do so either. My body ached for more sleep, but my bladder demanded otherwise. As I worked through the netting to get up, I saw two women asleep on the floor. I wish that I could do this without waking them, but no chance of that. I knew that they were here in case I needed something in the night, such as the toilet. My thoughts were still a little foggy as I stepped out of my little hut with no idea which way to go, but the women were quickly with me. In many ways, a village is a village. Each one is different, of course, but in lots of ways they are remarkably similar. I have been in many villages in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Guatemala. All of them have small homes built from packed mud and whatever natural materials are about. All have animals such as chickens, goats, cow. Handmade things of all kinds abound. Jungle foliage might be thick, but cleared in the living areas. As we walked among the little dwellings, I remembered coming in, hours earlier, the same day of my arrival into the country. I knew that I was in Bangladesh. My new contact, a Bangla evangelist, met me at the airport, took me to his home for a few hours, where I left my luggage,and then set out in a hired car (with driver) to show me his work. He had told me that it was a remote village and I surely agreed. About the time, we arrived at the point where the road ended and we needed to begin walking, a pouring rain came. Half a dozen men from the village were there to meet us. We took shelter to wait out the downpour, then walked to the point where a boat could be hired to take us the rest of the way in. The trail was wet and slippery. men stayed on each side for me to hold their arms and prevent a dive through the muck. It was a difficult walk, both because of the distance and terrain, even if not for the slippery sludge. Farther and farther into the jungle, we went. When we arrived, the believers gathered--every one of them fruit of this one man who had brought me here. Except for his heart for this unreached village, there would yet be no people for His Name here. Wow. What a work to lay before the Lord. The little one room structure where we came was the evangelist's "home away from home." It was his office, his place to sleep and the place where the believers gather for worship. He makes the trip here, every week by bus, to meet with them. Now, it was packed full of about...75 people, including 20 orphans, the purpose of my visit. These orphans were placed in families, willing to care for them, with the understanding that my evangelist friend would help with support. He struggles to collect funds from friends, family and his church back in Dhaka, to pay the school fees and cover basic needs for the twenty children. A problem is that they are not all with Christian families. There are not enough families among the Christians to house them all. So even though they come for the weekly worship, it is not a good situation for them. His hope is to bring them together, form a children's home with good house parents, and provide for their care and discipleship. It is exactly the kind of ministry we do through Allow. It has all the pieces needed-- children in need, a partner faithful to the Lord who is already working, but just needs us to come alongside and help. Their faces are the same as all the others in our program--20 more little lambs who are in our reach, that the Lord may raise up through us. What a privilege. There was a time of worship and I spoke to those gathered from the Word, which I hope was an encouragement. As the people left, a bed platform was carried in. I was dead tired and I so hoped that it was for me, but not yet. I was too tired to eat, but I knew that the people would be aghast if I did not have some kind of dinner before sleeping. So, I ate the rice and boiled vegetables, peeled a banana and tried to participate in the conversation with the leaders among the believers. Finally, a time came when I could lie down. The men were still in the room talking (now in their own language), as I ducked under the net and stretched flat. It was now two full days since I had been able to sleep, except snatches during the flight. I had no awareness of when the men left or the two women came in to sleep. As always, I was touched by how comfortable it is possible to be among believers no matter the setting or language or circumstances. Now I am looking at beginning a new program, starting from nothing, as they all have been, with no idea how to start it. But I agree--these twenty orphans need to be under the care and discipleship of the believers. Nothing but funding stands in the way of making it happen.

17 August 2011

New children in the family

New children are coming into our Maranatha Home in Nepal. Each one has a special story, usually a very sad story of circumstances that brought him to us. Each one is a precious, unique creation of God who will probably be with us-- like family-- for a long,long time. Allow will be part of their lives and they a part of ours.. In many ways, it is like adding a new baby to the family, which is something that is on my mind, since I am expecting two new grandchildren very soon. We do not know who they are yet-- what their personality is like, or what direction they will choose in life. Like grandchildren, someone else will be giving most of their care and parenting, making most of the decisions concerning them. But also like grandchildren, I know that these new ones will find a very special place in my heart. I am looking forward to watching them grow up into godly men and women and excited about what the Lord will do with their lives.

06 August 2011

Orphan facing abandonment....

The reason why we, Allow The Children, does what we do is to honor and glorify the Lord. Whatever way it pleases Him to use us is what we want to do. Our purpose is NOT to rescue, feed, clothe, educate helpless and hopeless children, except that He gives us that assignment. Below is a letter I received from one of our partners in July 2011. He is asking me, if we can take the child into one of our children's homes which is under his leadership. Why is he even asking? you might think. Would Allow ever consider denying such a request? He is asking, because I need to confirm that we are able to provide support for a new child. My answer MUST be based on the sponsorship stability of the specific home and how many other new children we have received in recent days. This little boy is coming into our program, in fact, is probably already in the home by the time anyone reads this post. He has already heard of the Savior by now and continues to hear every morning and every evening, as the children gather for worship. Being the answer for children like this, is a very, very special piece of His work that the Lord allows us to do. This boy does not have a sponsor (at the time of this writing) but he will eat and sleep, receive clothing, medical care and be enrolled in school. Every sponsor who supports a child in this home is part of the reason why I could say YES, for this child. Didi (Elder Sister), There is a family and they took in an orphan boy but now both of them want to give that boy to our children home. He is Chakma tribe and 6 years old. They are also very poor family. I ask why they like to give that boy to our home? Answer is -- They both parents need to work for survival. They don't have enough to fulfil the needs for family. There is nobody take care of that boy. What do you think this situation? What is your comments. Can we take this boy?

05 August 2011

Allow The Children in August

August 2011 has only just come, but I know (because all of the other months are the same) it will be gone very quickly. We have just sent out the annual updates to sponsors and now turn our attention towards preparation for the RACE DAY-- August 27- a project that will hopefully bring some funding for our projects and awareness in general for our work. The next trip for me (Sue) launches 24 September. We need to have letters for children in Bangladesh and Nepal ready for that departure. During this time, I will be visiting all of our ministries in Bangladesh and Nepal, doing necessary tasks for managing the sponsorship, teaching, meeting with the leaders of each area and ending with medical clinics in the last week of October through the first week of November. We are still waiting for Govinda's visa approval and hope to bring him in to work with us. And-- we are forming a building team in January for a project in Nepal to build a village church. Dates for the Guatemala trip have not been firmly set yet, but we WILL be taking a group to Guatemala in June 2012, possibly two groups next year, if interest continues to grow.

Chiquimula Advance

Village Evangelism is not new to Allow The Children. We help children and churches through sponsorship and projects in five different areas of Nepal and several parts of Bangladesh. During the last few trips to Central America. we have had the opportunity to work with one small church in the village of Chiquimula, Guatemala. We have painted the church, finished off the basement for the pastor to live, supplied Bibles and musical instruments, speakers for the Sunday morning preaching. This time, we planned a VBS type of teaching program for the children. Games and music and Bible lessons in Spanish were used to draw children and present God's Word to them. Please pray for the work of the Holy Spirit in each little heart now that the project is passed.

08 February 2011

Puja

Today is a holiday in Nepal. The Hindu religion does not have a special day of the week where people gather and worship, but this is done connected with the holidays. Each one is different, and the way of celebrating is different. Some are huge affairs and continue on for days or even a week. On this occasion, members of the community gathered around the little shrine across the street. A variety of acts were performed, including keeping the bell ringing, preparing food and offering it to the idol, a little dancing and shouting, chasing the dogs away from the food, lining up for a blessing of sorts from the man (in this case, not a Hindu priest) who seemed to be officiating. Folks passing by often paused to bow or participate for a few moments, then went on their way. Some of the people weeemed very involved and some were only spectators. I have no idea what they were hoping to accomplish or the significance of the various acts. I have been told that most Hindus also do not know, but they just follow along. Our parter, with whom I am living, kept his kids home from school today because all of these things are part of the Hindu worship and they were practiced in the schools as well. I started to write another paragraph, comparing this to similar situations in the Christian world, but I think most of the readers "get" it. While you are thinking about that, do return to the fact that every Hindu is a person uniquely created by the same God who created you, who knows him like He knows you, loves him like He loves you. But the Hindu man is bowing down to another god.

Prasansa

Promod is a Nepali man, who I met years ago. How many years,I just cannot remember. He worked as a waiter in one of the restaurants where I often ate. I am not sure why he told me that he was a Christian, but that information was shared and from then on, he always came quickly to my table, with a huge smile when he saw me. He may or may not have been my waiter on any given occasion and I never gave him any larger tip than I would give to anyone else. I did not want to have a financially motivated relationship with him. For a long time, he did not know exactly what I do here in Nepal, but later on, as we talked more, we learned that he attends the "big" church where we have a sponsorship program. I have not seen Promod for a year or more. I thought I was just missing his days scheduled to work when I happened to be in the restaurant. But today, I learned that he has been in the Bible program of the church and is now ready to move out into the area he has been assigned to work. He will be using personal witness and relationship building to plant a cell group, gradually growing into a church. The church committee chose his daughter as one of five new children to come into our sponsorship program. She is a beautiful little girl, named Prasansa-- the Nepali word for Praise. Promod will receive a bare survivial stipend from the church for a while as he builds his church to the point where it can support him. Prasansa is 5 years old and should start Kindergarten in April, but her parents cannot pay the fees without sponsorship help. The church uses Allow as part of their support "package" and I find it a special privilege. Please pray with us for a sponsor for Prasansa and the other four new children, all in similar situations.

04 February 2011

Worship in Nepal

At the place where I live in Nepal, there is a little Hindu shrine just across the street. The practice is to ding the bell to alert the god, kneel and pray for a time, then take some of the red powder and apply to one's forehead. The busy tme is early morning from about an hour before dawn continuing for at least a couple hours past. Today, I saw a small boy worshiping in the middle of the day. This is unusual, but perhaps he had a problem. Tomorrow, I will worship with the Nepali beleivers who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Following that, I will be taking pictures and filling in progress reports for sponsors. This church has 5 new children who need to come into our program. Every one of these kids will be under the discipleship of the church, as well as enrolled in school on our dime. Some will grow up as faithful beleivers and some will fall away- just as in the US. But every one will know the WAY to Salvation by faith in Jesus and this is our goal. It is likely that the little Hindu boy knows nothing or very little of the gospel. Some of them will grow up to be godly leaders who will draw others. This is the secondary goal. All of them will have an education and, because they are in our program, their basic needs for food, medical care, etc will be under watch and generally met. This is the third goal. I love this job- making a difference in so many lives.