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Glimpses

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

It’s like one of those stormy days when you know the sun is out there, but you just can’t see it.  And then the sun peeks through.  And is covered once more.  Everything in view is gloomy and overcast.  Your heart cries out for a breakthrough.

That imagery describes much of this journey we’ve had with Lovekin.  Right now that story is full of storms…

Yesterday we received lab results from one of the most advanced medical facilities in Haiti which confirmed her HIV+ status and provided a plan to deal with her infections, fever and malnutrition.  Lovekin had been experiencing diarrhea so it is difficult to know from her health condition if she was receiving the formula and medicine that we had provided, or if her grandmother had been giving it to others.  Her grandmother did not understand the severity of Lovekin’s challenges, but she does now.  She wept profusely when it was explained to her.  She worries for Lovekin’s older brother and sister who now must be tested also.

Lovekin’s family knew her father’s identity, though he had not been involved.  Our team located him yesterday after returning from the clinic and told him that Lovekin was HIV positive and that he needed to get tested as well.  He was outraged, demanded to be given his baby and yelled at the messengers.  He blamed Lovekin’s mother for the baby’s health.  Apparently he is in poor health also, and another woman to whom he was married had previously died from an unknown condition.  If you read between the lines, you begin to see the potential “tip of the iceberg” of how an epidemic spreads – but that story is for another day.

When does the sun break through in this storm?  Well, a partner of ours has connected us to an orphanage which cares for HIV+ children and after meeting with the director, the facility is open to taking Lovekin.  It’s not a done deal, but there is a glimpse of hope.  Now, we need the father and the grandmother to sign their rights away so that we can help her.  This might seem callous, but the sad reality is that either of them might presume that by keeping Lovekin they will benefit financially and materially from aid and donations.  But her best hope for survival is caregivers who have the training and support to give Lovekin medication on a regular schedule, meet her nutritional needs, can care for her safely and prevent illness and transmission of disease, and every other core need this child has.

There is a long road ahead, and we’re walking it together.  So thankful that we are walking it with you and know that above the gloomy skies is our God in heaven.

For those who wish to understand more about HIV and AIDS, here is a non technical overview of HIV in children and babies.  For those who want to help us provide for Lovekin’s immediate needs, we invite you to donate to the Lovekin Fund, which will remain dedicated to her care, and in the event that the funds exceed her needs or her lifespan, they will be used to support the neediest children in Haiti.

Switchback

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

Sometimes you feel like you’re taking a step backward.  Other times 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  Other times, just chasing your tail in circles.  Today is a switchback.


 

A switchback takes the long way to go a short distance.

But because the grade is steep, it’s too difficult or dangerous to tackle head on.


 

A switchback is a road where it’s hard to see around the bend.


 

Spiritually speaking, a switchback is a process for us to keep moving forward and put our trust in God.

He knows the reasons even when we don’t.

He sees the destination even when we can’t.

He puts value in the process despite our desire to avoid it.

He uses the switchback to help refine character, develop patience and perseverance, increase humility and dependence – all while keeping us safe in the palm of His hand.


Today is a switchback because Lovekin didn’t get to go see the specialists, we don’t have a treatment plan, we don’t know anything more than we did yesterday.  Another day of nothing.  My heart is restless, but I know He is present.  As present for her as He is for me.  God doesn’t ask me to like it.  It is.


 

Keep praying; stay faithful.  Keep your eyes on Him, all the way around the bend.


 

Photo credit: Chris Harnish

Small Steps

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

We had Lovekin retested this week and got the results today – it was confirmed that she’s HIV positive.  So far, only our team in Haiti knows (and all of you around the world.)  Her village and her grandmother don’t know yet.  Until there is a plan in place, we believe it is likely that they will discard Lovekin if they find out she has HIV.  There is the sad possibility that as we keep helping this little one, her community will see value in her despite her condition.

Many people are praying for her.  Some are offering advice for next steps, recommending referrals, donating to her fundThank you all.  We’re following up as quickly as possible.

Lovekin is still ill and malnourished so we are trying to keep her on a daily care regimen to help restore her most basic health.  But her grandmother is very frail and limited.  We’ve raised enough money to take care of the immediate financial needs so we don’t have that obstacle right now.

This Friday, two of our Haitian team members are taking Lovekin to a special clinic at the Gheskio Center in Port au Prince.  I’m hoping that we can walk out with medication, a treatment plan and some tracks to run on, but sometimes that’s a lot to hope for in a single day in Haiti.

Keep those prayers coming…

Heartache

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

Lovekin was born in August 2015. Her mother died a few weeks afterward due to complications from childbirth, and most likely from AIDS.  Her father was not involved in her life and her grandmother is struggling to care for her and cannot afford to feed her.  When we met her she was malnourished and had a fever and a variety of minor medical ailments.  To avert her grandmother deserting her, the Chanje Movement engaged in her life and took care of her immediate needs, including baby formula and medication.

We were in the intake process for Lovekin at Chanje Lakay in hopes of saving her life when we discovered she is HIV positive.  Our shelter is not equipped to deal with the care for her, so we are actively trying to find her a home where she will have the best care.  She is a delicate bundle of joy despite the circumstances of her early life. She has a sweet, contemplative demeanor and loves to be held!

We have created a designated fund for Lovekin to provide for her needs in the weeks, months and (prayerfully) years to come.  In the event that the generosity of donors outlasts her life, the remaining funds will be used to care for other Haitian babies and children who are HIV positive.

We will be posting actively as her story unfolds…

Hold Your Ground

By | Blog, Envision, Headfirst, Media, Personal

Don’t give in to the Grinch this holiday season.  He’s all over social media telling you how bad things are, then topping the last story with a new video or meme.  Tis the season to pile on, right?  I’m not suggesting this world is good; it’s not.  It’s corrupted by sin, death and disease.  But in God, we have a Father who gives His children good gifts.  We have a Savior who redeems us and brings reconciliation between men and God.  We have the Spirit who fills and empowers us to live righteously for His purposes.  Hold your ground: choose faith, hope and love!

Identify the blessings in your life and celebrate them.  If you can’t find enough, celebrate with a brother or sister who will share them with you.

Here’s my own Thanksgiving offering for you – the video overview from our recent Men’s Mission to Haiti.  Stay till the end – it’s worth every (free) penny.

httpvh://vimeo.com/112757027

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

Grinch = bad.  God = good!

Wake Up Call

By | Blog, Headfirst, Personal

Alarm clock take offIf you learned you only had weeks to live, would you change the way you’ve been living?

Dramatic life changes prompt questions like this, and most people would answer in the affirmative: “Yes, I’ve got a lot to change.”  Change is painful and difficult, so we are reluctant to depart from our ways.  More than reluctant, we’re resistant.  Usually we aren’t willing to make any significant change apart from something which shakes our foundation.  Without the wake-up call, we flounder forward, unwilling to disturb the comfortable, the traditional, the repeatable.

Metamorphosis is rare without acute causation.  If the transformation isn’t hardwired into the DNA, driving the caterpillar into the chrysalis to exit as a butterfly, then what spurs such focused energy to stop the routine and become something different, something more?  Rarely is it something less than death or than a life-threatening event.  Doesn’t the clichéd conversation always revolve around a deathbed?  “I’d do it differently if I could do it all over again.”

So if you found out that your time had run out, or someone you deeply loved was being taken from you, what regrets would you have?  Is it a “bucket list” because you haven’t seen the Louvre, gone swimming with dolphins, or climbed Everest?  We’re fairly certain that those things are mostly okay, but amassing a larger pile of assets is not.  As Jesus taught, “”For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26.)  Then again, the next metaphor is the epitaph.  What will it read?  What do you want to be remembered for?  Something temporal or something eternal?  Something transient or lasting?  Is there anything so weighty, so glorious, that you would give your life and your soul to live with everlasting meaning?

The phone rings.  Your doctor asks you to come in to discuss the results from the lab tests.

Would anything change?  Name it, list it, write it down, shout it out.  Can you interrupt your life’s course without the wake-up call?  What will it take?

Start today all over.  And perhaps read 1 Corinthians 15.  It’s worth it.

Finding Jesus in the Chaos

By | Blog, Equip, Headfirst, Personal

You may have seen the jokes posted with the tag #FirstWorldProblems.  They ridicule the frustrations of our lives in contrast to the life struggles of the 3rd World.  Some are mean-spirited, but many raise awareness that sometimes our “big problems” are insignificant when held up to the “big picture.”  I’d like to offer one contrast of my own: Too busy for God.  This applies to Christ-followers and unbelievers, but my comments here are intended for the believers who are drowning in this conflict every day.

This isn’t a book, so let’s skip the chapter where I try to convince you that there is chaos in your life and you’ve allowed it to distance you from God.  If you don’t have this problem, move along.  I do, so I’ll just write for myself and you’re welcome to read along as an observer.  (Yeah, I just said that I have chaos in my life, and even the calling to lead a missions ministry has not made me immune.  Actually, it contributes, just like any other occupation.  It just has it’s own unique twists.)

So let’s embrace reality: my work, recreation, health, family, iPhone, friends, hobbies, travel, responsibilities and to-do lists…  they’re all part of a noisy, clanging, distracting battle where focusing on God and my relationship with Him gets obscured and lost.  Not because they are bad things, but because they aren’t Him.  They don’t simply dovetail into a beautiful symphony.  Some people recognize this, begin to re-prioritize, and re-launch the search for the elusive “balance.” (Surely if all my choices are honoring to the Lord, then everything will supernaturally sync.  Right?)

Let’s go after this from the other direction.  I want to find Jesus.  I want Him everywhere in my life.  I want to walk with Him but my life is full of chaos.  Not because I’m making horrible unbiblical decisions.  Rather, because I don’t live in the Garden, and I’m plagued by the consequences of sin and all its deformities.  Death and disease have come into this world, and I must work and sweat and battle.1  Jesus has won the war and I am victorious in Him, but every day until His Kingdom, I must battle.  One of those battles is against chaos.

There are two pillars I’ve learned that guard my soul in the fight against chaos so that I might walk closely with God.  Their names are Peace and Order.  We need to see that when we instill peace in our lives, we restrain chaos.  Peace means more than quiet (though silence is certainly peaceful.)  Quieting my heart means slowing, slowing, stopping.  My mind begins to drift to other thoughts that are not of Jesus…  stop.  Come back.  Slow.  Easy.  Nothing else, just Him.  Peace means surrender – of my soul.  Learning to be present in His presence.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”2  How could my heart be still then?  Only in my abandon to the Shepherd of my soul.

Order also restrains chaos.  It is more than structure – putting things in their places so that nothing distracts.  Order is intentionality.  Singularity of purpose.  I have no other agenda.  The Creator brought order out of chaos.  He can do the same in the depths of my heart.  “No weapon forged against you will prevail.”3  Purposefully give Him His rightful place and deny that which brings distraction and disharmony.

When I guard my heart and mind in Christ, when I let His peace and order reign over me, the chaos fades and I can find Jesus.  It’s not easy – surrender never is.  I must lay my will down and lift His cup.  “Not my will but yours be done.”4  It happens in His power or we fail every time.  I’ve been learning to invite God into moments and to ask Him to help me yield to Him.  To usher in His peace and His plan… and to let me come to a stop and purposefully surrender, that I might know Him.  More and more.

This week, the Lord brought to mind how much I need Him every moment.  A hymn came to mind and I decided it would help me build the pillars higher as I battle chaos.  I found this version on YouTube – the author (Sam Robson) seems to have created a number of these moving performances.  It was exactly what I needed to help me enter His presence.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3wSbLa2uGg

  1. Genesis 3:17-19
  2. Psalm 23:5
  3. Isaiah 54:16-17
  4. Luke 22:42

A Bright Light

By | Involve, Personal

Kathia-July-2012I know a woman who heard Jesus say, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  She went to be with Jesus this weekend, in timing that seems abrupt to us through our temporal eyes.  Kathia Bonhomme was a young, joyful wife and mother who gave her life to serve the least of these in Haiti.  She and her husband Jimmy have been caring for more than 60 children in their home, in addition to their own.

Today we are mourning her loss, because so many are now without their mama, because her husband will need strength to continue to be a hero without her, because her absence leaves a hole so gaping that we can’t imagine how it will be filled.  Soon, the funeral will be planned, and we will have the privilege of celebrating her life.  But today, while we know she is in peace, we are grieving.

Thank you for your prayers for those suffering this tremendous loss.

For those wishing to continue her legacy, we have established the Kathia Bonhomme Memorial Fund.  For more information, see www.hd1st.com/kathia.

 

Persistence

By | Equip, Personal

Sometimes I don’t even have the persistence of peanut butter.

If you put a healthy portion of Skippy on your PBJ sandwich, you’re going to need a tall glass of milk.  That concoction of starch and spread has the ability to relentlessly bond to the roof of your mouth.  Someone will inevitably ask you, “How’s it going?” when you can’t even mutter in reply.  But with a nice glass of milk, it all washes sweetly down.

That peanut butter has a certain persistence – but it also has its limits.  And that’s the point of my thought at this moment.  What is the limit of my persistence?

God has told us many things about prayer in His Word – here are just a few:

If you’re like me, you have many needs and wants.  Are you persistent about praying for them?  Or have you been more like I’d been recently – lackadaisical, inconsistent, perhaps even lazy or fatalistic? (i.e. if God wanted it to happen, it would have happened by now; He doesn’t need me nagging; my prayers won’t change a thing.)

The Persistent Widow?

Our family has a yellow Labrador retriever.  Gabi is the sweetest pup on earth and extremely affectionate with all of us. (She really liked our boys when they were little – she would clean the extra food off their faces!)  But sometimes the reason Gabi licks me isn’t solely because she loves me – sometimes it’s because she wants something.  Her kisses mean something along the lines of  “Hey, I love you, please take me for a walk,” or “You are so awesome – when you share your steak with me!  Go ahead!  C’mon!  Please?”  She can be extremely persistent.

So I was pondering this morning, as Gabi affectionately (and repeatedly) asked me to walk her, how persistent am I in asking my Master for what I want?  Honestly!  If I’m so aware of my needs, why am I so reluctant to fervently appeal?  God tells us to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11.)  Stop right now and put this into practice – fill in the blanks with your needs:

Jesus – I need You!

I need You more than anything!

For everything else I need, I ask You now, and will continue to ask You for Your blessing.  For … …  … , I ask You, and for … …  … , I ask You, and…

I don’t know if what you want is what God will give you.  There is no formula.  I don’t know if it’s His answer, His timing, His method.  But isn’t it time to rightly value the power of God, the love of God, and the call of God?  He is able, He gives good gifts, and He wants us to ask!

Let us pray persistently, expectantly, urgently and without ceasing, that the God who loved us enough to die for us would answer our prayers.  Won’t you join with me?

And now I need to go make a PBJ.  Maybe a couple.  As it turns out, Gabi likes Skippy too.

Stand Firm

By | Envision, Headfirst, Involve, Media, Personal
[pullquote_right]This interview’s theme is  from 1 Corinthians 16:13[/pullquote_right]

We filmed this video to invite men to be part of a missions trip to Haiti.  While it was edited for a particular weekend men’s retreat, the honesty and authentic stories shared by these men has been included here in hope that others would be inspired to fully entrust their lives to God, and choose to give their all for Christ.  Along with the exhortation for evangelism and discipleship, we also aim to continue bringing awareness and to recruit involvement to missions work in Haiti and to all the nations.

Among the panelists is our ministry’s international director.

Thank you to Crossline and LifeTogether for the production of this video!

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