Archives For missions

I could not have said this better myself. These words need to be read (& heeded) not only by Evangelical Christians but Christ-followers all across America. Thank you Ed Cyzewski for this call to action & anthem of freedom. A fantastic way to put our compassion into action is through The Legacy Collective, a non-profit started by Brandon & Jen Hatmaker which is a new kind of Giving Community focused on partnering, pioneering, and funding sustainable solutions to systemic social issues locally & globally. It’s sort of brilliant.

 

The Supreme Court Just Gave American Evangelicals a Gift

 

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Evangelicals are tenacious, persistent, and driven when they want to fight for a cause. The problem is that American evangelicals have been swept up in fighting for the wrong cause for a long time.

When the Supreme Court ruled to make same sex marriage the law of the land, American evangelicals received a gift that many don’t want: official permission to fight for people in need instead of fighting against same sex marriage.

Whatever you believe about same sex marriage, the role of government, and the future of the church in America, disagreeing with same sex marriage on moral grounds does not demand a public campaign to prevent it from becoming legally sanctioned. While I remain committed to creating room for affirming and non-affirming evangelicals who unite under the common banner of saving faith in Christ, evangelicals in America should have never made legalized same sex marriage a central moral issue to fight in the courts.

While I don’t believe Matthew 25 is exhaustive in its presentation of what matters to God, we do get a glimpse of the kinds of people who have internalized and lived out the message of Jesus. They work to alleviate the most pressing needs of others in our world.

That isn’t a call to relativize our sexual standards. Rather, I see Jesus pointing us toward the issues that pertain to the most basic aspects of human dignity: food, shelter, clothing, justice, and sickness:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in, 

I needed clothes and you clothed me, 

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

We can disagree all day about same sex marriage. Heck, the majority of evangelicals will most likely continue to disagree about this issue for another 20 years until the millennials take their place in church leadership.

However, there’s no denying that millions of people around the world are suffering significantly, and Jesus wants us to focus our energies on serving them. If there was ever a group of people who should give a damn about children dying of hunger, deeply wounded people suffering in prison, and thousands upon thousands of refugees fleeing unprecedented violence in the Middle East, it should be American evangelicals.

It’s not like these massive global needs are a secret:

Over 49 million Americans and 870 million people overall in the world are going hungry (source).

750 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, leading to diseases that disproportionately kill children under age 5 who are unable to fight bacteria (source 1,source 2)

The U.S. prison system incarcerates over 2.3 million people, including a disproportionate number of African Americans (source).

Over 100 million Christians around the world face severe persecution, including the believers living in refugee camps after fleeing Syria and Iraq (source).

Over 500,000 Americans are homeless (source), but worldwide an estimated 1 billion people are living in housing that is inadequate (source).

If you care about preventing terrible things like human trafficking, rape, forced prostitution, and child soldiers, partnering with groups that empower communities to meet these basic needs will go a long way in keeping potential victims safe, healthy, and in control of their own lives.

Declarations about the collapse of civilization because of same sex marriage ring hollow when we consider that Americans toss 31.1% of our food while allowing millions to go hungry, fail to ask whether our ridiculously high incarceration rates ruin thousands of lives that could have been set right through treatment programs, and Christians in the Middle East have to flee their villages after ISIS invades, steals their women and children, and threatens to kill anyone who refuses to convert.

If God is going to condemn us over anything in America, it’s going to be our indifference and inaction when it comes to feeding people, giving out clean water, offering shelter, visiting the sick, and helping the prisoners, not a Supreme Court ruling.

It boggles the mind that evangelicals in America have long seen this ruling coming, but we have fought tooth and nail in what many suspected to be a losing cause. So many millions of dollars and hours were tossed into legal battles that were a long shot at best.

And yet, we have always had financial resources, competent charities, and passionate workers who are more than willing to travel to the ends of the earth to fulfill the very words of Jesus. If we collectively gave these most basic causes just a fraction of the time and energy that we had devoted to fighting same sex marriage, who knows how many thousands or millions of lives could have been saved.

We have been given a gift: The Supreme Court ruling means we can stop throwing our time and money into fighting same sex marriage and fulfill the words of Matthew 25.

We need not lament, lick our wounds, or bemoan the “terrible” world that our grandchildren will inherit. For millions of people around the world and even in our own neighborhoods, the worst has already happened and will continue to happen.

We need not wave the white flag of surrender on same sex marriage and pray for God’s mercy. If we’re going to take the words of Jesus seriously, know this:

God’s judgment has been upon us long before a single state allowed same sex marriage.

God’s judgment came upon us when we left people hungry, thirsty, sick, unclothed, and alone.

It’s time to stop blaming the court system. If we disagree on same sex marriage, that is our right. That doesn’t change the call of Jesus for his followers, especially American evangelicals at this time. We have our marching orders. We shouldn’t act surprised at who we’re called to serve.

We aren’t called to fight against someone. We aren’t called to litigation.

We are called to fight for everyone—especially those suffering in the most basic ways.

The longer we engage in legal fights against same sex marriage, the more apparent it becomes that we’d rather throw ourselves into any losing cause than obey the most basic commands of Jesus.

Let’s take our tenacity, energy, and resources and throw them into serving the people who are suffering the most in this world.

We may even hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” one day.

You might be a recovering short-term missionary if…

1. You’re still wearing the long skirts you wore in Africa because you realize they really are so comfortable… and no one can see your berenstain-bear-level of hairy bristles you once called legs. bonus!

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2. You have a deer-stuck-in-the-headlights look on your face. Yeah, even you see it in the mirror. “I don’t know what is happening to me, but I know it’s gonna hurt. Brace for impact!!!’

3. You don’t know how to answer, ‘How was your trip?’ so you just say, ‘It was good; hard but good.” You don’t want to trivialize it to the point of it just being an adventure or mere vacation, because you didn’t rough it as much as you thought you would. Yet you also don’t want to over-share, fearing that your friends will from now on run the other way when they see you & your extra-long skirt trotting down the grocery story aisle or at upcoming school activities.

What happens here, stays here… lest I over-share.

What happens here, stays here…                            lest I over-share.

4. You have never in your life been so excited to see a Chick-Fil-A (and that’s saying something). It’s like you’re not officially back in America if you haven’t made two necessary stops from the airport: Chick-Fil-A & Starbucks. Granted, you feel bad that you haven’t even left the airport yet and you’re already stuffing your face with first-world luxuries. But still you do.

Side note: My friend & I happened to be rerouted overnight through Atlanta on our way to Johannesburg (after our flight was cancelled) a few weeks ago. We made the best of it, encouraging each other “Hey! At least we can wake up tomorrow from the #notellmotel {thanks for that United Airlines!} and get airport Chick-Fil-A for breakfast!!!” Our dreams were crushed when a lady overheard us talking about CFA on the tram ride… she said, “Um, it’s Sunday.” WHAT??? I didn’t lose my salvation but I’d never in my life wanted a business owner to be more of a heathen… pretty sure Jesus would want his chicken sandwich on Sundays too.

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5. You’re kinda pissed off. At yourself. At your ‘blessings’. At America. At your church. At First-World issues that distract us from dying children… see #4. For the first few days & weeks, you are confused, frustrated & your heart is breaking. You can’t quite reconcile how just hours & days prior to this you witnessed some of the most difficult of circumstances, yet some of the strongest and most joyful people you’ve ever met. And how on earth are you supposed to share those stories with grace & joy?

Isabel & toddler selfies!

Isabel & toddler selfies!

In a nutshell, you’re wrecked for the ordinary.

Jeff Goins, in his Manifesto for Misfits describes being wrecked like this:

To be “wrecked” is to be disabused of the status quo. It means to have a redemptive transformation, often catalyzed by a brush with the pain of a dying world. The process is anything but pretty. It’s harsh and real and painfully honest. Finding out who you are and what your place is feels like a sweater unwinding thread-by-thread. Your old life begins to make less and less sense in light of your new priorities, and it seems futile to rebuild the old way of living.

At first, it’s disorienting—maybe even distracting. It calls out of you the greatest parts of you— the parts you might be afraid to let out.

To be wrecked begins with an experience. It pulls you out of your comfort zone and, consequently, out of self-centeredness. Whether you want it or not, this is what happens—your old narcissistic dreams begin to fade in light of something bigger, something better. The process leaves you with a paradigm that is still left standing after the “real world” has slammed into your ideals a couple dozen times. It’s hard, but only because all things worth fighting for are hard. Being wrecked means that everything you believe about this world, yourself, and your destiny is now in question. Because you’ve seen something larger.

In the end, you’re not who you were before. You’re different. You’re changed. You may even feel like your old values have been, in a sense, ruined by this new worldview. As confusing or as difficult as that may sound, it’s a good thing. 

I encourage you to read the full Manifesto for Misfits which can be downloaded here.

It’s incredibly insightful & encouraging.

This post was originally intended to bring some light-hearted levity to what can be a difficult transition between two continents & realities that you desperately love. But I’m seeing there are very little resources for those who return from short-term missions, especially those endeavoring to do it ‘right’; in a way that honors both God & those who have so graciously allowed you into their lives. If nothing else, I hope you, short-term missionary with your unshaven legs, can see that you are not alone in the difficulties of re-entry. Allow the Lord to continue His good work in you. It’s not over just because you have returned from Africa! No, no no! Jesus said ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” Today, wherever you are, there is a world of people all around you waiting to hear the good news of the Gospel! Go! Live His love BIG in your family, your school, your neighborhood and your workplace!

Shine On!

Danielle

5 SScreen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.07.17 PMigns You Might Be Going on a Short Term Mission Trip 

1. You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, but you’re excited about it!!!

2. You share every. single. blog. and. article. relating. in. any. way. to. extreme. poverty. and. missions…

On LinkedIn, FacebookTwitter… and Google+ in case anybody’s there.

3. You begin to use words & phrases like ‘called’, ‘love on some orphans’ (please stop!), ’empowerment’ and the newest ‘self-sustainability’… you don’t really understand what they mean, but you know it’s good. And you somehow work them into every conversation. Even the gas station attendants know you’re going to Africa!

4. It’s 36 hours before you leave, yet you are incessantly cleaning your house from top to bottom, paying overdue bills & getting your affairs in order, you know, just in case! The worst thing that could ever happen… your mother-in-law sees what a mess your life really is.

5. You’ve got your obnoxiously bright ‘Africa’ fundraiser T-shirt on, so as to match the dozen other team members ~ leaving no doubt for ANYone why you & your matching friends are boarding the plane! For the record, my teams are NOT allowed to wear these at the airport anymore! We want to fly under the radar, you know, blend in with all the other regular sinners & snorers!

Okay, there’s really six… (my smarty pants husband accurately assessed this one)

6. If you’re procrastinating packing to write a witty blog post…you might be heading to Africa! 

Would you add anything to the list?

Shine On!

Danielle

ps. T-2 days til Africa!!!

Travel HotDish

August 25, 2013 — 2 Comments

Do you know what a hotdish is? Its okay, no one really does. I suppose one could liken it to a casserole (for my southern friends). All I really know about a hotdish is that it must contain a meat, a can of soup, three pounds of cheese, and a mystery ingredient that has the addictive nature of crack-cocaine, but good for you. sort of.

So here’s a lot of good stuff for you. My travel hotdish. Trust me, you’ll want more after you read it!

In the last four weeks, I’ve been out of town more than I’ve been in it. Last week, my boys and I took a road trip to visit my Mom in Kentucky. I hadn’t been home since my Dad passed away in 2010, so it was high-time for a visit. Plus, it was great to show my boys where I grew up – in the sweet town of Bowling Green; the birthplace of Corvettes and tighty-whities (Fruit of the Loom). Fast cars & clean underwear always available – a lil bit of heaven!

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Ten days before the trip to Kentucky, Mike & I arrived home from Africa. You may remember me talking about taking a third trip to Swaziland, right? I’m sure I mentioned it somewhere (okay, everywhere!).

My plan had been to take the online community ‘with’ us to Swaziland by posting & sharing daily team stories from Bheveni Carepoint. Fantastic plan, right? It would have been… except in order for a plan to be fantastic, you have to actually have time & energy to execute the plan!

Our team of 17 were simply incredible – in every way. I kid you not. They worked & played together as if they’d known each other their whole lives; except that they hadn’t. Most were strangers from different parts of the United States that somehow God knit together into an extraordinary team.

Before we left, we said time with the children must be paramount. And it was. We were able to keep the children our priority – playing, holding, talking & laughing with each of them every day. We couldn’t get enough of them and they couldn’t get enough of us.

Because the children were more comfortable with us this time, we were able to see their personalities come to life. It wasn’t unusual to walk across the yard and hear several groups of kids singing together (sometimes trying to out-sing the others!). The oldest girls, especially blessed us with several angelic songs, no longer embarrassed to perform in front of us. And I’m certain that our youngest team member, Michael, age 14 spent 90% of his time on the field, playing futbol with the boys! Thank God!

Pretty loves to be held. Yes, her name is really Pretty!

Pretty loves to be held. Yes, her name is really Pretty!

The littlest babies & toddlers seemed to readily find a favorite team member’s lap to snuggle into for a nap or tickle time. Such precious moments; realizing that just like our own children at home, all they really want is time & affection. Don’t we all?

Yet, somehow in the midst of futbol, singing & baby-holding, a lot of work was also done! The proof is in the pictures below.

Several team members have stories to share. God did a work in each heart. I think we’ve all spent the last three weeks trying to process what He did and what this ‘ache’ in our hearts means to our future.

One team member, Margo, was able to put into words what many of us are thinking. Thank God for her. She entitled her first post, “The post in which I try to put my thoughts together but just end up rambling like a nut job.” Ha! I think she’s done an exceptional job of communicating her heart! Should you ever desire to go on a trip to Swaziland, you will certainly experience some of these same raw emotions and aching to step into more of the life God has for you.

Without further ado, here’s Margo aka Sweet Brown!

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Margo and her special friend!

Margo and her special friend!

I’ve been meaning to write about my trip here but I’ve been putting it off – mostly because I’m not sure how to put into words everything that I’ve been feeling. This trip had affected me differently than my last.

2 years ago when I came home from Swaziland, I jumped right back into my “normal” life. The people I met and the places I went certainly made an impact on me and I wanted to share all about it. During the past week or so since I’ve been home I have had many people ask about my recent trip. I haven’t been able to respond with more than a “It was great!” because I’ve been struggling to find the right words… and to be honest, I’m not sure that I even know exactly how I’m feeling. Don’t get me wrong – it was a great trip. Even better than the last if that’s possible. I’ve just had such a wide range of emotions this time around. I’m not sure if it’s because I was gone for a longer amount of time or if it’s because I witnessed several different carepoints – some of which were in an absolutely desperate state – but my “re-entry” into day to day life back home has been tougher.

I guess I should start in a different direction, but stick with me.

What is your passion? What gets you excited? What is the thing that gets you started and the people around you give you the “Great…. here she goes again” look? Is it the outdoors? Music? Teaching? I found my passion – Swaziland – the very first time I saw the pictures from Danielle’s first trip to Bheveni Carepoint. Something inside me clicked and I KNEW that I had know more. More about the country of Swaziland (which, let’s be honest, I had never even HEARD of before), more about the people; about the kids, about what she and her husband Mike were doing there. The more I read, the more I listened to Danielle talk about Swaziland, I KNEW that I was supposed to go there.

Most people that know me at all were floored that I would even consider visiting Africa. It’s fair to say that I am not an outdoors type of person. I hate to sweat. I hate bugs. I hate toilets that don’t flush. I am a creature of habit and comfort. But none of that fazed me as I prepared to leave my family and travel across the globe to a tiny country that was completely foreign to me. God had put it on my heart that I should go and I followed suit. Now, I have many non-Christian friends that will scoff and give the eye roll when I say that God led me there but there is absolutely no other way to put it. I had complete peace throughout the planning of the trip – even when it seemed impossible to find the funds, impossible to deal with childcare, impossible to deal with my own insecurities and anxiety.

So, Swaziland – or should I say the people of Swaziland –  that is my passion. I’ve spent the last couple of years learning more about the tiny country – about the people there, the culture, the beauty and the hardships. I have cultivated relationships with native Swazis as well as Westerners that now call Swaziland home.

Fast forward to a week ago when I got off the plane in Minneapolis after being gone almost 3 weeks. I ran into the arms of Dustin and the kids and I cried tears of joy but also tears of sadness. Sadness because I had left people that I have come to think of as extended family behind. An online friend of mine posted a quote yesterday that now makes perfect sense to me: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ~ Miriam Adeney.

As I’ve tried to process everything that I’ve experienced in the past month I have had people ask me about why I go to Swaziland. Why I spend money to travel instead of sending the funds to those in need and also why I go across the world when there are people in need here in the US. I’ll try my best to explain it here.

At least twice while I was in Africa I heard it said that “Swaziland’s currency isn’t money – it’s currency is in relationships.” That could be said of many places but I’ve found it very true while visiting there. The culture in Africa, at least what I’ve experienced, is not like our fast-paced, get it done now culture. Things there are much more relaxed time-wise. You slow down and get to know people. That’s how business is done. People don’t want your help – or your business – until you have a relationship.

Here’s an analogy that I’ve used to explain why people travel in missions work rather than just send cash. Say you have a garden. Your neighbor has an area that he wants to turn into a garden but he needs your help. You could just give him $100 and tell him to buy the supplies that he needs and hope for the best. Or you could take a Saturday, get some of the supplies, and go over to his house and work along side him to get the garden planted. Working together and sharing ideas will make his garden better than what it would be if it were a solo project. More importantly, you will have a shared experience and a relationship to build on.

You see, the people of Swaziland don’t need me to fix them. They don’t need Westerners to swoop in and solve their problems. What they do need is what all people need; someone to come and stand beside them and give them a hand. They need a support system. One afternoon while I was at the Bheveni Carepoint I was talking with two teenage girls. Daylight was starting to fade which meant that it was time for them to head out so they could walk home before it got dark. I had said good-bye a few times, trying to get them to start their walk home, and I was starting to get nervous that they might be out later than they should be. One of the girls pointed to my shirt (that had a picture of my 3 kids on it) and quietly asked “Those are your children?” I answered yes and she sat for a few moments before asking “Where are they now?” I told her that they were back home in the US. She looked dumbfounded and asked “But you are here? You left them to see us?” In that moment she understood something that actions can prove more than words and more than money: that I value her. That I care enough to travel to see her and her community. That is what it is all about. Creating hope.

So why Swaziland and not here in the US? There are people in need everywhere. Literally everywhere. I don’t know why – but the people, the children especially, in Swaziland have grabbed my heart. Everyone has the capacity to reach out… some will do it in their back yard and some will do it across the globe. I choose to be an advocate for orphans and vulnerable kids in Swaziland because I believe that is where God wants me. That’s why He has given me the passion for these kids.

So, in a round about way, this is how and why my journey began. If anyone out there actually reads here, please bear with me. Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to do my best to put my thoughts and feelings about my latest trip down here. Just like me, it’s a work in progress.

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Margo has written several more posts that chronicle the first few days of our time at the carepoint. I will be sharing them soon because they are just TOO good to not share with the online community that loves the children of Swaziland as much as we do! You need to see the fruit of the seeds you are planting!

Shine On!

Danielle

 

The Incredibles.

July 20, 2013 — 1 Comment
The Incredible B-13s

The Incredible B-13s

Incredible. I’ve been using that word so often lately its become the new ‘cool’, the new ‘awesome’. One or two syllable words just no longer cut it! This has been a 4-syllable season, indeed! In. cred. i. ble!  

The past six weeks, especially, have been full of incredible encounters that didn’t happen because of my husband’s good looks (though, seriously he is incredibly handsome – see photo below!), nor did these things happen as a result of my organizational skills (ha!). God showed up. He heard our desperate prayers for mountains to be moved, for heavenly provision to be made, for doors to be opened, and He has flooded us with answering above & beyond what we thought we needed. Glory to God!

One of these incredible answers to prayer came in the form of sponsorship.

151 children now have an advocate who cares, prays, and provides specifically for their well-being!

151 children now have an advocate who cares, prays, and provides specifically for their well-being!

As of last Monday, the 15th, all 151 profiled children at Bheveni Carepoint became sponsored!!!!!

I’m REALLY resisting telling the whole story here! As of a month ago, 49 children at Bheveni were waiting for a sponsor, an advocate. That number, 49, seemed HUGE, but the Lord put the desire in us to have ALL of them sponsored before our trip.

We started praying, knowing that in ourselves we could not make this happen, God had to move. We prayed like it depended on God, but worked like it depended on us – our online faith community stepped up and began talking to their friends & family, their churches, their co-workers, and as a result every single child profiled at Bheveni has a sponsor!!!! Glory to God!

Side note: there are still thousands of orphaned & vulnerable children in Swaziland who need an advocate. One such community of children attend Lesibovu Carepoint in rural Swaziland. Out of 84 children who daily rely on the carepoint for food, 37 still need an advocate. Follow this link to find out more!

In 3 days, Mike & I embark on another journey across the world to a land of people we love & a group of children we’ve come to know as family. This will be our third trip to visit, love & serve the Bheveni Carepoint Community in Swaziland, Africa, and we are taking the biggest team yet.

Our team of 17 adults & teens have been planning and praying for months, all leading up to this trip. A handful of this incredible team went with us in 2011 to visit the children, but the majority of the team are strangers.

Imagine that, going across the world with a group of people you’ve never met, to a place you’ve never been, knowing you can’t afford it, not knowing what you’ll encounter… so, if I know anything about the individuals on this team, it is that they are full of faith. And that’s enough for me. I count it a privilege to have them a part of the B13’s (Bheveni Team 2013).

Perhaps you wanted to come on the trip too, but couldn’t make it happen this year. You can STILL come… through the incredible power of the world wide web!

Throughout our trip, we will have an online diary, of sorts, for the team to share their experiences from the day, as well as photos of the children & the beautiful country, right here on Live4Change.net. Please subscribe via email (right column) so you can be a part of the journey. 

I want to introduce these incredible world-changers one by one. And I ask you to pray for them one by one.

Regina Anderson

Regina Anderson

Regina Anderson is a life long resident of Fort Worth, Texas. She is a licensed attorney and currently represents child protective services in child abuse and neglect litigation for the State of Texas. She is a sister, daughter, aunt and child of the Most High God.

 

 

Sterling Brawley (right)

Sterling Brawley (right)

Hey yall, my name is Sterling Brawley. I am 22 years old, a recent graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in Criminal Justice. When we return from Swaziland, I will be starting a new job with AmeriCorps partnering with Habitat for Humanity. I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and love sports!

 

Margo Brown

Margo Brown

Margo Brown from Minnesota. I have an amazing husband, Dustin, and three great kids: Miles who is 13, Linus who is 11, and Greta who is 9. This will be my second trip to Swaziland and I can’t wait to see the everyone at Bheveni again!

 

 

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Brittany, Pam, Britt, and Missy Bush

Hi, my name is Britt Bush. I have been an N/C Programmer at Bell Helicopter since 2000. I have been a fan of Bheveni since right before the first trip in 2010. I was lucky enough to go on the next trip and was hooked for life! These kids are unbelievable! They have hopes and dreams just like us, just like our kids. And God is going to do big things with this group because of your love and support and hope you give these children. Thanks for allowing me to be a representative of this online Bheveni community!

My name is Pam Bush. I’m an accountant and live in Fort Worth, Texas. My husband went on the trip to Swaziland a couple years ago. He was really impacted by working with the kids and wanted our whole family to experience the blessing of serving at Bheveni! I can’t wait to get there and share with the kids and meet our sponsored girls!!!

Hey y’all, I’m Brittany! I am a nursing student and have a huge heart for others. I love my Jesus, chips & salsa, baseball (Texas Rangers), baking, fishing, and spending time with my family. I feel beyond blessed to have the opportunity to share God’s love with His precious children at Bheveni Carepoint!

I am Missy Bush. I am a college student majoring in athletic training. I enjoy playing sports and anything outdoors. When I was in middle school I began sponsoring a little boy in Kenya and ever since, Africa has had a special place in my heart. I’m so excited and feel beyond blessed to finally have the opportunity to go to Africa to love on the kids and share the love of Christ with them.

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Kim Caraway

Kim Caraway: I am from the great state of Texas and I graduated from Texas Tech University with a BA in Psychology and a BS in Human Development and Family Studies. I love college football especially my Red Raiders. I have worked for Child Protective Services for 21 years. After reading Radical by David Platt, God called me to Swaziland, two years ago and I made my first trip then. I fell in live with the people especially the children. God has called me to be an advocate for the Swazi children and I am humbled and blessed by this.

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DeNise Cason

DeNise Cason. I am from Alabama and had the opportunity to go to Swaziland in 2011 with an amazing group of people who came together through Children’s HopeChest. My reason for wanting to return to Bhevenni is two-fold. 1 – Out of allegiance to my Lord Jesus Christ it is my duty and privilege to share the gospel with the world. 2 – I want to continue to build and strengthen relationships with the Bheveni community. The people there have such kind and loving spirits. I want to encourage and further their thirst for knowledge of God and His love and reassure them they have friends around the world who love and care about them.

 

Bobbie Dyer

Bobbie Dyer

My name is Bobbie Jo Dyer. I am originally from Tennessee but I have lived in Georgia for 15 years and it has become my home. I have two children: Braden, who is 8 and Brianna who is 4. I have been divorced, after 15 years of marriage, for a very short time but this change has allowed me to receive God’s plan and purpose in my life more openly. I have always felt called to do work in Africa and through his divine appointments and persuasion, I am finally fulfilling this calling. I am excited and eager to meet the children at that care point and to spend time with them, by showing God’s love. And I am ready to receive what it is that God is doing in my life as he draws me closer to him.

 

HaidenFloydCreateHope2013b

Haiden F.

Haiden hails from Portland, Oregon. She is special friend to Sfiso, a young boy at the Mangwaneni Carepoint in Manzini. Haiden is the Children’s Sunday School Director at her church. An avid reader, she enjoys reading books about Jesus while slurping sweet frappuccinos on a warm summer day.

 

Audrey Hensley

Audrey Hensley

I’m Audrey Hensley! I’m from New Boston, Texas and a graduate from the university of Texas at Tyler with a degree in education. I will be teaching 1st grade at New Boston in the fall!!! I felt called to go to Africa so God can strengthen my faith and trust in Him. Throughout this summer I’ve grown to depend completely on Him and trust that He is guiding me in the direction I long to be going. He’s strengthened my servant’s heart while preparing myself for serving these children as well as the kids at camp, and that could only be done when I surrendered the reigns of my heart to Him.

Theresa with her husband, Larry

Theresa with her husband, Larry

Hello, my name is Theresa Schmidt.  My husband and I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  When our children were young I was very involved with the schools they attended.  Although my children are grown now, I continue to volunteer reading with children.  I have a special place in my heart for kids and there are no borders to children in need; thus, I am very excited about our upcoming mission trip to Bheveni Carepoint – Swaziland!  I pray that God abundantly blesses our 2013 mission trip.

 

Millie Snook

Millie Snook

Millie– orphan care advocate. ardent intercessor. washington wahini. northwest native. lover of all things creative. karate choppin organic vegetable shoppin mama. happy helpmate to honey of more than 20. thankful for more years than tears with my hubby. baby whisperer. good steward tho not quite martha stewart. skiing scouting scooting along running trails. flowing on the go yogi. dribbling on the basketball court and sometimes the dentist chair. life is not a slam dunk. we all need Jesus. He’s the only One.

Michael Snook

Michael

Michael– good sport in every sport. super sonics and die hard sounders fan. been called mr hops and by Jesus. reaching for the dunk jumpin higher than the bar. always striving for the PR. ultimate goal is the higher calling. child of the One True King. “A” student. BOOM! BACON.

 

Andy, Danielle, Mike, and Jonny

Andy, Danielle, Mike, and Jonny

Here’s our little family, too. We live in Kimball, Minnesota. 🙂 Our boys will be traveling with us to Swaziland in two years. We can hardly wait for them to meet the Bheveni children that have so captured all of our hearts! They get to be spoiled by grandpa, grandma & their aunties in Minnesota this time around!

 

 

Please keep this incredible team in your prayers! Wanna see those incredible prayers answered? You can! Stay up-to-date on the mission by virtually going with us – subscribe to this blog via email, watch for updates on the Bheveni Carepoint Community Facebook Page, and of course our HopeChest Bheveni Community Webpage.

Shine On!

Danielle Brower

ps. for the record, we are not, nor do we think of ourselves as heroes going to ‘save’ the children of Swaziland, even though I’ve got a super cool picture of ‘Incredibles’ at the top! Jesus is the Hero, and He’s already saved them. We’re going to serve the kids, the HopeChest staff, and the volunteers who serve the kids every single day of the year. Our prayer is that this trip creates continued hope that they are valued, loved, and not forgotten.

Tuesday has been a big day for the B-Team! We got to see our kids at the carepoint today! It was eye-opening, mind-boggling, heartbreaking & exhilarating all at the same time! J Though I’m often a woman of many words, I’d like to share the story of our first day of Bheveni Carepoint ministry through photography. It goes without saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here in Swaziland, it’s worth ten thousand…

Pray for the children you see in these pictures.

Yum!

Kids washing hands before breakfast. They are excited to eat!

B-Team Prayer T-2 Days!!!

September 15, 2010 — 2 Comments

Everything our team and supporters have done this summer – blood, sweat & tears – is for this.

In two days we depart for Swaziland.

Yeah, we’ve done a lot of work to prepare for the trip, but the reality is that in & of itself none of that work matters without us going & sharing Jesus with the children of Swaziland.

This is not a missions trip for us to ‘see Africa’ & get closer to God, though I’m sure we will. This is not to pat ourselves on the back so we can say, “Look what we did for God!”

This is not a vacation. It will be hard & will be a challenge, for most of us, one of the greatest challenges of our lives.

It is not even to deliver supplies & provisions for the Beveni kids, though we are blessed to take them so much that will bless their earthly lives.

So why are we going then?

We go as ambassadors of Christ. We go to bring the message of hope to a dying nation. The hope we bring is that Jesus loves them & wants to spend eternity with them, that He has NOT left them orphans!

If you haven’t read Erica’s blogpost that I added earlier today, read it now. Prepare to have your heart broken. And let that brokenness cause you to PRAY. PRAY. PRAY. for the children of Swaziland, that includes our Beveni kids.

Reality Check.. by Erica Zeiler

Honestly, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the tangible business of this mission. Today, I’ve had a dose of reality that came through one of my team members blogs. Thank you, Erica.

Once again thank you for praying for us. Today please pray more fervently for this request than any other.

Salvation is the mission.

Danielle & The B-Team

Erica Z.

Erica Zeiler is on the B-Team. I will meet her for the first time on Saturday, but our hearts are already being weaved together! She wrote the post below on her personal blog In The Blink Of My Eyes Thank you Erica! What a powerful post.

Prayer Team: Please pray for the salvation of our Beveni kids & caregivers.

Reality Check…. A Closer Look at Swaziland Statistics

I recently read that if you are a 15 year old in Swaziland, your chances of living to the age of 32 are 6%! SIX PERCENT!!! Translated…that means your chances of dying before you turn 32 are 94%. You are probably more likely to be struck by lightning or attacked by a hippo than live to be 32 if you live in Swaziland…all because of the AIDS crisis. Of the 900,000 people in the country, the orphan population is closing in on 200,000. And half of all 20 somethings have AIDS already. But the one that hits me hardest is the first statistic….6 %!

To put this into perspective, I have just finished packing 140 bags full of school supplies and vitamins. God has provided enough money, through so many generous people, for our team to also be able to buy each child a pair of shoes for school, have a party with a cooked meal for them while we’re there, and give out a ton of clothing…but reality is still there. According to that first statistic, only 8 or 9 of those kids will live to be 32…meaning that 132 of the kids I will meet next week will probably die of AIDS (or some disease like TB resulting from a weakened immune system) before they are my age! God, have mercy!

So what has God called us to do in this seemingly hopeless situation? Without wanting to be too morbid or a Debbie-downer, the thing that I keep coming back to is that we must prepare them for eternity. Yes, we can encourage them in school, help them set goals, encourage them to dream about their future, provide them with food, clothes, and school supplies…but we must balance that with the reality that some experts have said that with the current birth/death rates the way they are, Swaziland won’t exist by 2050 because AIDS will have ravaged it beyond repair. And James’ words come ringing true to my ears….

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”

(James 4:14).

And for children in Swaziland, this verse describes the frailty of life all around them, that they will be looking at death and eternity all too soon.

So as we go next week… prepared to bless the socks off of the kids and the gogos (“grandmas” that cook, teach, and care for the kids at the carepoints), as well as those we will meet through house visits…in the back of my mind I will be thinking about the best gift that I can give them…the gift of the Gospel that we have been entrusted with. As much as I anticipate seeing their joyful faces when they receive clothes, shoes, and school supplies, the look on their faces when they realize they can have eternal peace and be with the Lord beyond this world is beyond description. To look in the face of a 28 year old woman who has “the peace that passes understanding” as she prepares for her death, to sit with a grieving gogo as she realizes her new responsibility of parenting her orphaned grandchildren…the only thing that can get anyone through those times is trusting in the sovereignty of God and the eternal hope that we have in Christ.

As we go to teach VBS and love on these kids, I hope to be used by God to pour into them, pray for them, teach them, and encourage them as if they were a terminally ill child in the hospital…because they are…statistics have given them only 25 more years to live at most. Yet I go hopeful, because as we trust in what Christ did for us on the cross, we can cling to the promise that

“the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away…for He is making all things new.”

(Revelation 21:3-5)

This world is temporary because we were created for another world with unhindered intimacy with the God of the universe…and we can begin to live in that now!

B-Team Prayer T-3 Days!!!

September 14, 2010 — 1 Comment

It’s crunch time, Y’all!

It's Crunch Time, Y'all!!!!

Our B-Team is busy, busy – finding, filling & crunching suitcases to make all the supplies fit! We have been so blessed by our generous family & friends that are sending provisions for the Beveni kids!

And not only are there provisions of clothing, toys, bandanas, candy, crafts, backpacks, and school supplies, and more, but we’ve had so many monetary donations as well!

Notice the Give-O-Meter ‘s total is OVER $5,000! In fact, I had to raise the goal to $7200, just so you could see how far over our goal of $5,000 we actually are. Extraordinary!

Please pray for the following:

  • Ask the Lord to help us finalize the details of the trip, as the B-Team are making final arrangements for departure.
  • Pray for continued health & healing for everyone on the B-Team. There are several of us who are fighting sickness.
  • Pray that God would continue to prepare the hearts of the 131 (and growing!) children who are cared for at the Beveni Carepoint, that He would keep them strong & healthy that they may participate in all the fun we have planned for them!
  • Pray that we spend the money wisely & put it towards what the kids & the Carepoint need the most to provide long term sustainment.

In His Service,

Danielle & The B-Team!

Beveni Outpouring 72

July 22, 2010 — 2 Comments


$7200 in 72 hours for Beveni

Finally! I can announce what I’ve been so excited about! I teased on a Facebook post two days ago that my excitement was almost palpable & I still have people waiting to hear!

As of tomorrow morning we begin Beveni Outpouring 72.


But first… I have to tell some quick background for those who aren’t yet familiar with Beveni.



What’s a Beveni, you ask?

I’m the sponsorship coordinator for the Beveni Carepoint in Swaziland, where we have sponsored a young lady for over a year now. In fact, at the Beveni Carepoint 132 children receive care including food, education, emotional support, and medical attention if necessary.

There are over 20 carepoints like Beveni in Swaziland – all begun by Children’s HopeChest Ministry. The Carepoints are funded through churches & people desiring to see these kids find hope & safety & love where they live. Beveni is the only Carepoint that is not funded by a specific church, but simply through a group of online, like-minded individuals who have taken up the cause to help the kids find love & hope.

Most of the 132 kids are orphaned due the AIDS pandemic, but all are vulnerable & deal with issues children should never have to deal with. In fact, the life expectancy in Swaziland is only 32 years old.


A 15 year old is considered middle-aged.


~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~     ~~~~~


Beveni Outpouring 72 is simple 72 hours set aside to raise $7200 for Beveni kids!

We are part of a team who is going to serve at the Beveni Carepoint in Swaziland September 18th-29th. We have a huge opportunity to get the kid & the caregivers some much needed suppliesthings you & I take for granted.

° Basic medical supplies – Tylenol, cold, allergy meds, first aid needs

° School supplies – pencils, crayons, paper, rulers, mathematical drawing sets, flashcards, music cd’s & a carepoint boom box, etc.

° Personal items – soaps, deodorants, toothbrushes/paste, shirts, socks, shoes

° Fun! – soccer balls, jump ropes, dolls, card games, candy

There is a potential for us to ship the medicines & first aid supplies through a great humanitarian organization. The shipment leaves the US very soon. Thus the need for a 72-hour campaign. For the rest of the supplies, we will buy them in Swaziland and hand-deliver them to the kids & the Carepoint leaders! This will also help the local businesses & economy.

So Friday morning (this morning!) the Beveni Outpouring 72 begins. And by Monday 8a.m. Monday morning, I expect that we will have EXCEEDED our goal!

We WILL raise $7200 in 72 hours for the Beveni Carepoint. Do you want to help create hope? Of course you do! Give what you can, but give from your heart!

It’s simple. Here’s how…

READY… SET… CLICK! SHARE! PRAY!

1. CLICK on this link to HopeChest.

CLICK HERE TO GIVE TOWARDS BEVENI SUPPLIES

2. Indicate the $$$ you wish to give  Your gift will be tax deductible.

3. **VERY Important** in the NOTES section write: BEVENI SUPPLIES

4. SHARE this information on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, with your church, your friends, and your kids…  ALL WEEKEND LONG!

5. PRAY that God blesses this event of outpouring. Pray that He also provides an outpouring of hope to our kids at Beveni, their families & all those involved in serving the kids in Swaziland. And pray that He blesses those that give!

HopeChest won’t have the totals processed until mid-next week. So do me solid & email me at danielle.moms4change@gmail.com to let me know how much you were able to give towards Beveni Outpouring 72. Names will not be shared, only dollar amounts.

I will keep a running total on Moms4Change Facebook Page as well as my personal FB page. So stay tuned, cuz we’re about to be a part of something BIGGER THAN YOU & I!!!!


Shine On Sisters!

Danielle Brower

ps. Shout out to ZekeDesigns for the graphics & logos! Holla! You can find them on facebook HERE!