Winter Memories

view from my backyard

It’s a beautiful and warm February evening in the middle of winter. The temperature is in the 70’s, a rare occurance even for a Georgia winter, and the sun is shining and pleasant. It’s a great night for a walk around the neighborhood. As I begin my walk down the familiar sidewalks on this most remarkable of winter days, I’m reminded of a similar February day twenty-four years ago. My son had just been born about a month earlier in January and I was taking him out for a walk on the first warm day. When you have a baby born in the middle of winter, you don’t go outside unless you absolutely have to. Our days so far had consisted of a continuous cycle of sleep-change-eat every few hours, so I was excited to get out and show him the world. I bundled him up in the baby sling since he could not yet fit in the baby stroller I had bought, and we took off down the sidewalks on an unusually warm February day.

Now, here I am twenty-four years later, walking around the same neighborhood on another warm February day, minus one small baby of course. My baby is now grown and looking to start out on his own, at almost the same age I was when I took that first walk with him. It doesn’t seem possible. The neighborhood still looks about the same, though neighbors have come and gone. We have new family members and those who have left us. I am older, a little wiser, I’ve shed a few tears and have a few more scars, and oh how I wish I could hug that young mom! But I can also smile at it all, because through all the ups and downs, we get to live life, we get to love our family, we get to have memories, and we get to pass it on to the next generation. Life is not about being perfect. It is about living.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – from the wise Dr. Seuss

Pray for Our World: Burundi

Burundi is in central Africa between Rwanda and Tanzania.  It is one of the poorest nations with 70-80% living below the poverty line.  The country is highly in debt, and gained its independence from Belgium in 1962.  Christian workers were expelled by the volatile regime between 1970 and 1985, and few have returned.  However, there is a new development of Christian universities in the country, with the most notable being the Hope Africa University (Free Methodists) and University of Light (Anglican).

Many of the children have lost parents, are undernourished, and suffer from malaria and AIDS.  Violence against children is common.  Only half of the children attend school.  Pray for these children, and for more Christian education and resources to help the people.

Pray for Our World: Bolivia

Bolivia is only one of two landlocked countries in the Americas.  It is on the southwest side of Brazil.  Once it was South America’s richest area, but corrupt governments and the fall of silver prices have made it one of the poorest.  They gained their independence from Spain in 1825 but have had 200 coups and revolutions since then.  Most of the economy is agriculture but about 70% illegally grow the coca plant used in cocaine.

The church and the people are in crisis here.  Most are baptized Catholic but are practicing Christo-pagans or animists.  Christo-pagans combine Christian and witchcraft together.  Animism is the religious belief that all objects, places and creatures possess a distinct spiritual soul or essence.  The young people are rarely ministered to, even though over two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30.  Up to 75% of Bolivia’s children are raised in poverty and malnutrition.  Many are homeless, many of the boys use drugs and many of the girls have been sexually abused.

Please pray for these children and for the missionaries who minister here.  More missionaries and resources are needed.  The people are responsive to it, as the number of evangelicals and church growth has been increasing.  People want hope, they just need to be shown the way.

Pray for Our World: Benin

Benin is wedged between Nigeria and Tongo in Africa.  One of the trends I am seeing in many of the smaller countries like Benin is that they have gained their independence within the last half of the 20th century.  Indeed the world dynamics are changing in many ways.

Benin is split religiously between Christian, Muslim, and Ethnoreligionist.  Ethnoreligionists are various faiths that are usually confined to a specific ethnic group.  It encompasses ancestor-worship, polytheists, folk religionists, cults and tribal movements.  The birthplace of Voodoo is in Benin and each year they hold a Voodoo festival.  There is another dark side as well, people-smuggling.  Tens of thousands of children are allegedly smuggled from Benin each year to work as child laborers.

Please pray for these children, that God may rescue them with the help of His people, and bring them to the loving arms of Jesus, who often spoke about not doing any harm to the children.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not only Me, but the One who sent Me.”  (Mark 9:37)   

In Jesus’ Words: Children’s praise (Matthew 21:14-17)

blessed_are_pure_in_heart
~ Matthew 21:14-17  Children’s praise in the temple ~

The blind and the lame came to Jesus in the temple complex, and He healed them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children shouting in the temple complex, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?”

“Yes,” Jesus told them. “Have you never read:

You have prepared praise
from the mouths of children and nursing infants?”

Then He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, he came to the temple.  It was His Father’s house and the place where Jesus showed His authority over His spiritual Kingdom. The temple was to be revered, a place of prayer, and a place of praise.  We too should want to go to our Father’s house.  It seems we’ve lost some of the specialness of such a place, but it is my hope that we will never forget and never take it for granted.  And all children should have the chance to experience the extraordinary grace and love that comes from knowing Jesus. In the middle of our political and selfish chaos of who is right and who is wrong, I hope each of us will continue to do the small things every day to show Jesus’ love, especially to the children.  His light will shine through.feet with waves cropped