Giving Thanks In ~Joey Weed

Joey Weed is a ROOM Missionary serving communities around San Pedro Sula, Honduras alongside his wife, Kellie, and their son, Connor.  The Weeds have served in all facets of ROOM’s ministry and are very excited about working with a church in the bordos (Honduran slums) to advance their congregation’s orphan prevention initiatives.  Joey is passionate about relationship-based ministry mirroring the relationship Jesus wants with all of us.  Often, these relationships are built with children and families who are deeply hurting.  Joey’s blog below shares wisdom about what thankfulness means in difficult times. 

Sometimes it’s hard to give thanks in tough situations. We’re all faced with things that can be hard to understand or handle. However, God’s word tells us that we should give thanks in all things and in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). But how do you do that in death, in suffering or in poverty? In a world so full of evil, how do we have thankful hearts in every situation?

This has been one of the toughest things for me to grasp. I remember a time in my life that if I wasn’t doing something that was for me, I wasn’t happy. Life was all about me and what I wanted, but when I surrendered my life to God, that changed. I began to find joy in serving others. I began to see the beauty in giving. Even when I was giving to the point that I was without, I could still rest with joy in my heart because I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. Even then, I still don’t feel that I completely grasped what this verse was saying.

Yes it’s good to help others and yes it’s good to give to others, but what about those moments when there seems to be no good in a situation? How are we supposed to give thanks in these moments? Moments when you know there are children who won’t eat today. Moments when you see children the same age as your child on the street begging with no shoes on his/her feet. Moments where a mother is holding her sick child on the side of the road asking for money because she can’t afford the medicine to make them healthy. Moments when an innocent child witnesses a life being taken and they’re expected to be OK with it because, hey, that’s how things go. Moments that a child wakes up feeling like there is no hope because of loneliness, fear, hunger and feeling unimportant.

How are we to give thanks in these situations? Why would we even want to thank God for the suffering of a little child?

I’ve realized that I missed the point here. It’s not about giving thanks “for” every circumstance. It’s about giving thanks “in” every circumstance. When my heart aches for that little boy begging for money to eat, I can “give thanks” for the opportunity to know them and to love them. I can pray for God’s comfort and peace to rest on them and “give thanks” because I know and trust that He hears me. I can “give thanks” for their precious life and ask that He would draw them close to Him.

I can “give thanks” for the opportunity for someone to be a light in the midst of their darkness.  I know that through trials and hard times, God can be glorified. It’s only in our weakness that His strength is evident. So I’m not thankful that these children suffer, but I’m thankful that God loves them and that He brought us here to be a part of His sovereign plan. I’m thankful that in their difficult times, He prompts others to love and care. It takes a willing heart to make a difference in someone else’s life, and we’ve had the opportunity to know and learn from some of the most amazing people willing to be that difference. We can’t directly contact every person and make a difference, but we can make a difference in every person we come in direct contact with.

We’ve all been called to love and care for others. Galatians 6:2 tells us we’re to carry one another’s burdens and that by doing this, we’re fulfilling the law of Christ.
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What can you do to carry someone else’s burdens? Will you ask the Lord to soften your heart in this? Can you commit to praying for ROOM’s ministry every day? Maybe a specific child or need? Is God leading you to give? Is He telling you to go? What are you willing to invest to make a difference?

 

To learn more about what Reach Out Orphanage Ministries is doing in the lives of hurting children, like those Joey mentions, please visit our website.  To make a financial contribution to ROOM’s ministry, visit our secure donation site.

 

To learn more about the Weed family missionaries and to support their family directly please visit Support The Weeds in Honduras

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Tears in the Night ~Kaylie Kuhn

Today’s blog article is written by Kaylie Kuhn, a ROOM missionary serving in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  This blog first appeared on Kaylie’s personal ministry blog: Fist Bumps from Kaylie: Tears in the Night  Kaylie is ROOM’s longest-tenured missionary.  She is also the youngest member of our ministry team.  While she holds many responsibilities, from writing and editing the monthly newsletter to delivering produce to orphanage partners, most of Kaylie’s time and energy is devoted to raising a beautiful little girl.  Today’s story underlines the importance of empowering families to care for their children.  It explains why orphan prevention matters in simple, captivating words.

Most nights are normal for our little family of two. I tuck my child in, sing her a song, read the bible, and she will drift asleep and then peacefully wake me up in the morning. She’ll tell me the sun’s up, and that its time for us to get up and time for me to drink some coffee! Most nights we function as any other family would, but there are some nights that expose just how far from “normal” we really are.

On these nights my child will go to sleep and wake up multiple times in the night crying desperately for “mama,” unable to be comforted by my hugs and kisses. She will mourn, feeling the pain of the three times she experienced abandonment in her life. She may not remember what truly happened, she may not even understand where the sadness is coming from, but there is one thing I’m sure she knows: she has lost something so valuable in her life.

I won’t go into details about what’s happened in our lives, but my child is not my biological one. Although she keeps in touch with her biological family, she was not raised physically by them. She was raised in an orphanage and then by me. Too often people will see her big bright smile, aspiration-filled eyes, and spunky attitude and believe she’s totally fine, that no matter what happened in the past she’s just like any other child. I can assure you, although she has recovered drastically, she is still hurt beyond comprehension.

The reason I’m blogging about her tears in the night is not to ask for a sympathy vote, but to show the real reason why orphan prevention programs are so necessary and why ROOM works its hardest to come alongside families in keeping their children. That initial separation between mother and child creates a scar that cuts so deep its unable to be filled by anyone, no matter how great of a caretaker they are. While new bonds can be formed, formidable and healthy, that child will forever be scarred from that one separation, no matter if they were just born or a teenager.

My child is not the first child I’ve seen cry in the night for a mother that left her. This story is a story as old as time, a pain that many other foster and adoptive parents have to experience. Adoption is one of the most beautiful things in the world, but for a child to never have to experience loss in the first place and thrive in a loving family is the best option they can be given.

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I wish my child never had to experience the pain she does. I wish someone had come alongside her mom while she was pregnant, and aided her so that the initial separation never had to happen, even though she is the love of my life and I’d never want to see a world without her.

Now, that being said throwing a child back into their family isn’t not always the answer, as was the case with my child. While reintegration needs to be handled with much care and cautiousness, we strive to come alongside mothers and families to keep their children before that lasting scar is ever torn into their children in the first place.

Won’t you come alongside us and donate to ROOM’s prevention project? Save a child from tears in the night, save them from a lifetime of hurt from the loss of their family. Save a family from the loss of their child, provide for those who can’t just because of poverty. Sometimes the answer is not to be the mother, but to save the mother.

To support ROOM’s orphan prevention projects, please visit our ROOM Donation Page  To learn more about how Reach Out Orphanage Ministries empowers families to keep their children, please visit:  www.makeroom.org

To learn more about Kaylie Kuhn, and to support her missionary work, please visit Fist Bumps from Kaylie

 

 

Pickles and Charitable Giving -By Amanda Stafford

 

Today’s article is written for ROOM’s youngest audience of volunteers, advocates, donors and world-changers.  (It’s also filled with some dad-jokes that will make your eyes roll; so, really, there’s something for everyone.)  Written by Amanda Stafford, ROOM’s Executive Director, this simple story conveys the tremendous joy surrounding opportunities for charitable giving while underlining ROOM’s investment in children’s ministry.  Most recently, Amanda wrote I’m Not Moving to Nigeria and Neither Are You (probably) ~ Amanda Stafford  

 

Pickles the chicken always had plenty of food.  She had everything she needed, plus plenty of leftovers.  Some hens had more, of course, but Pickles was happy because she was never hungry.

Pickles the Chicken

Pickles was proud of the food she earned working at the egg plant.  She saved and stored her food diligently.  Just looking at her savings made her feel proud!

“Because of my hard work and impeccable savings, I will never be hungry.” Pickles thought

One day, when Pickles was on her way to crossfit, she saw a rooster looking very sad.

Pickles crossed the road to talk to him.  She learned his name was Herbert.  Herbert was hungry.  Very hungry.  Pickles thought about her barn full of grain.  Surely, she could share some with this new friend?

Skipping the gym (it was drumstick day, anyway), Pickles went home to pack up some of her food.  She brought the food to Herbert and they ate supper together.

Herbert was thankful for the food; but, most of all, he was thankful for Pickles’ eggsellent company.  Having someone to speak with made him feel less lonely and less sad.  He even started to feel a little happy.

This made Pickles feel happy, too.  She felt proud that by sharing her extra supplies, she could give Herbert the food he obviously needed.  By sharing a meal, Pickles was also able to give Herbert the friendship he didn’t even know he needed. 

Pickles offered to get Herbert a job interview at the egg plant (the plant might not be all it’s cracked up to be, but they are always hiring).  With Pickles help, Herbert could work and earn his very own grain!  He was excited for this possibility, and looked forward to building his very own savings barn.  Pickles and Herbert made plans to get together again soon.

Pickles went home smiling.  She looked at her food stockpile; proudly thinking how special it was for her to share, and what a big difference her small actions made in Herbert’s life.

The next day, Pickles called her friend Lizette on the phone.  Lizzette moved away from their nice, comfortable farm to live on a developing farm.

Developing farms do not have many resources.  Most barns have cracked walls and cold floors.  They don’t have egg plants there, so it is much harder to work and earn food.  Many chickens living on developing farms are hungry, because there is not enough grain for everyone.  It’s especially hard for the little chicks who don’t have enough food.

Lizette moved to the developing farm to help make their community safer and healthier.  She made lots of new friends.  Most days, Lizette spent time with the hungry chicks.  Lizette is like a chick magnet.  They just love her!

Pickles baby chicks

Pickles talked to Lizette about the developing farm.  Lizette told her wonderful stories about the baby chickens there; how special and smart they were.  Then, Lizette told Pickles that many of these special chicks don’t have enough food, “Some of them are so hungry….” she said, “They can’t run around.  Many spend their days cooped-up.  Some are very, very sick.”

Pickles thought about her eggstra grain.  “I might be able to help your chicks, Lizette,” Pickles said cautiously.  Lizette was thrilled!  “Any food you can send would be a blessing!  Thank you so much!”  The girls said goodbye and Pickles hung up the phone.

Pickles thought about the conversation.  She thought about sharing her grain.  Maybe she committed too soon?  Pickles couldn’t eggactly share her grain with everyone.  How would she know who to give it to?

The chicks living on the developing farm were different than her new friend Herbert.  Herbert was lonely and Herbert was hungry; but, Herbert looked like Pickles and lived in her community.  It was easy for Pickles to spend time with Herbert, and visiting him beak-to-beak gave her a happy feeling in her breast.

Pickles wondered, “Would she feel that happy feeling by just mailing a box of food far away?”

She decided to do some internet research.  Online, some hens said fowl things about sending food to chickens on far-away farms.  Pickles read things like, “There are chicks right here on this farm who need grain!”

The internet made it sounds like she shouldn’t share her food with far-away chickens.  But, she thought about her friend Lizette and the stories she told about the hungry chicks.  It made Pickles feel very confused.

To make the right decision, Pickles decided to turn to her Bible instead of just winging-it.  She read:

“If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” –Luke 3:11b, and

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers.” –Hebrews 13:2a, and

Pickles Luke 3.11.b

After reading the Bible and praying, Pickles felt confident that sharing her extra food with the chicks living on a developing farm was the right thing to do.

“I should have prayed and read Scripture first!” Pickles thought, “instead of reading all those fowl, hateful comments online.”  “In the future,” Pickles decided, “I will trust the Lord’s guidance; and I will trust missionaries like Lizette who work hard to love and care for chickens in need.”

Pickles thought more about the things she read online.  While there are chicks on her own farm who are hungry, most chickens here have far more than they need.  On developing farms, none of the neighbors have barns filled with food.  So many chickens are hungry, and even if everyone shares all they have, there won’t be enough to go around.  “Chickens living on farms full of abundance should share their extra food with chickens living on developing farms with scarcity, because in developing farms none of the neighbors have enough to share,” Pickles thought to herself.

Pickles prayerfully considered how much grain she really needed.  She carefully scooped up and packaged what she was able to share.  Pickles lifted these heavy boxes, full of her hard-earned food, and mailed them to the beautiful little chicks living on a developing farm far, far away.

Pickles wished she could have given the food to the chicks herself; but that farm is just too far for her to travel.  She thought about Herbert, and how good it felt for her to see him eating the food she shared.  She wished sharing food with the far-away chicks would make her feel good, too. But, Pickles knew the chicks really needed it, and she trusted Lizette to use her donation wisely.  

One day, Pickles opened up her mailbox to find it full of pictures and notes and drawings.  The chicks sent henvelopes filled with thank-you notes to let Pickles know they received the food!

One note was extra special.  The handwriting was chicken-scratch, and a little hard to read, but it said, “Thank you for the food!  We were very hungry.  Now we are full.  Your donation did more than fill our bellies, it showed us that far-away chickens care about us.  It made us feel like we matter.  It made us feel loved!”

As Pickles read the note, her eyes filled with happy-tears.  She displayed this card proudly in her barn.  Although her food storage was emptier, her heart was very full.

Sharing with chickens far away was not the same as sharing chickens on Pickles’ farm.  But, because the baby chicks were even hungrier than the chickens in her neighborhood, Pickles felt just as happy and proud of her donation.

Pickles learned that it is always good to share with others.  It is good to share with chickens on your own farm.  It is good to share with chickens living far away.  Sharing with others shows them that they matter.  It shows them they are loved.  Like the Bible tell us, “Do not forget to do good and share with those in need.  These are sacrifices that please God.”  (Hebrews 13:16).

If you want to follow Pickles’ example, and show children that they are loved by meeting basic needs, please visit www.makeroom.org/donate.php  To learn more about how ROOM’s advocacy begins with children, read Balancing Act~ Ali B or Claire’s Story ~ by Kellie Weed or visit www.makeroom.org.  

Balancing Act~ Ali B

Today’s ROOM contributor is Ali B., Reach Out Orphanage Ministries’ India Country Coordinator.  Ali has tirelessly advocated for the programs and children served by ROOM’s partner agency Bethel Ministries in Orissa, India.  In addition to her professional work with ROOM, Ali and her husband Anthony have personally opened their home to children in need of domestic foster care.  This blog captures the heart of a mother trying to balance all the commitments, relationships and passions tugging at her.  It is an excellent glimpse of how God uses our passions, talents and time for His glory.

About a year ago, my husband and I finished our time at New Tribes Bible Institute and discerned that instead of moving to India right away to serve as missionaries (which our hearts longed for), the Lord was asking us to trust Him and move back to our hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Upon this realization we decided that while we were in the U.S. we would devote our time to pouring into the local church and advocating for Indian children and for those orphaned around the world.  Taking a big step beyond advocacy, we also decided to become professional foster parents.

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I hold the primary responsibilities of advocating for, fundraising for and communicating with Bethel Ministries in Orissa, India; ROOM’s largest partner orphanage in Southeast Asia.  It’s a job I’m proud of, but it’s a big job for one person to hold part-time.  I often feel like there is too much work and too little time; too many needs and too few resources.

When we said ‘yes’ to fostering, my husband and I decided I would be a full-time, stay-at-home foster mom, in addition to my job with ROOM.  When I made this commitment, I was wondering if I would be able to continue giving our sweet little ones in India the time and attention they deserve.  I worried my commitment to serve as a foster mom would pull me away from my commitment to ROOM, and vice-versa.

As I work to balance my personal and professional commitments, I am reminded of my Father, who is the reason that we even have a desire to care for the ones in need.  I am learning that my human efforts can only accomplish so much, and He is the only one who is the perfect father, the perfect provider, the perfect comforter and the perfect advocate.

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Not only has God allowed the two passions of my heart (domestic foster care and international orphanage care) to fill my days, but He has allowed them to build on each other.  My experiences living full-time at Bethel Children’s home in India, and my experiences caring for foster children in my home in Nebraska have both allowed God to open my eyes to the global orphan crisis in different and valuable ways.  They make me a more prepared foster mom.  They make me a more experienced India Country Coordinator.  They make me a better-equipped member of the team Christ has called to help create a world where all His children grow up in loving homes.

Over the last few months, Anthony and I have watched our foster children discover Jesus in new ways as they develop understanding and compassion for children who are orphaned in countries across our world.   I have learned that advocating for the children I love in India should start at home; it should start in my home.

At home, our picture frames, conversations and prayers are filled with children from India and other countries who, just like our foster kids, are supremely adored by God.  As we seek to share about Jesus in our actions and conversations, our kids are beginning to put the dots together as they realize children all over the world, just like them, have a special purpose.

My original fears that I am inadequate were and are very real.  Of course I can’t do it all myself.  ROOM can’t do it all ourselves.  We need help; and not just from today’s adults.  We need help from the next generation.  We need to build up today’s children to become tomorrow’s world-changers.

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As I watch our foster children develop the desire to pray for kids in India… to meet them one day, to see all of them go to school, to be cared for by a mommy and daddy, and to know that Jesus loves them… I am in awe at the way God works; even in the hearts of hurting children.  As I watch them open their hearts up to children they don’t yet know, I am confident that God will work the same way in the hearts of every believer.

I am remaining certain that, even when I feel that I am lacking, God will continue to shine brighter then my failure and that He is the one who is in control and meets every need.  As children in the U.S., India, and around the world understand the love of the Father and cry out for His justice together, I believe that we will all stand amazed at the way that He provides and proves Himself as a perfect father.

To learn more about what ROOM is doing in India, and to make a donation to support our ministry, please visit http://makeroom.org/india.php 

To learn more about Bethel Ministries in Orissa, India (ROOM’s partner ministry) please visit http://bethelindia.org/blog/ 

If you are interested in getting your children more involved in the lives of children who are orphaned and abandoned in developing countries, a great place to start is by sharing stories of individual children they can relate to.  These stories can be found at:  https://becomepartofthestory.wordpress.com/