Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Living simply, learning much – a Go Now Missions report

January 11, 2010

Nicki Boyd, a social work major at the University of Texas at Arlington, spent a week during Christmas break with six other college girls to serve with Go Now Missions on the World Hunger Relief Farm near Waco. While at the farm, the team milked goats, helped with farm chores and learned about world food systems and their responsibility as Christians to help the hungry around the world. Below, Nicki shares a little about her experience and her first impressions.

Today is my first full day at the World Hunger Relief Farm. I have gotten to know my group pretty well after spending a very cold night together in the Nicaragua House. The Nicaragua house is a model home of what Habitat for Humanity builds for their tenants in Nicaragua.

These houses basically have 4 walls and a bamboo roof and are built for the very hot rainy climate of Nicaragua.  And they don’t include electricity or running water. It didn’t seem very suitable for the seven of us Texas girls who never even thought of experiencing winter without heating and without a toilet that flushed.

We got to know each other pretty well by sleeping very closely around our small oven fire. Even though this type of house was not designed for Texas, it’s actually similar to what some Americans experience and so many more around the world.

We started the morning at 6:30 a.m. with basic chores around the farm like milking goats, watering plants, collecting firewood and feeding baby chicks and chickens. Then we met back up for devotion and breakfast. Afterwards, we continued with more chores around the farm.

Our delicious vegetarian lunch was prepared by using crops grown on the farm. Later we were able to meet with Neil Miller, Executive Director of the Farm, and he shared his testimony with us of his experience as a missionary in Haiti.

We ended the day with a Hunger Banquet, which demonstrated what many people around the world would experience daily in their struggle for food. We learned mind-blowing facts about how 25,000 children die daily from starvation and also that with a salary of $9,000 a year, you are considered rich or among the wealthy class world-wide. That isn’t a lot of money here in America with our standard of living. But if you think about it, even our poor are better off than most people of other countries.

We learned many other facts along with these that helped me to realize just how fortunate we are in America, how fortunate I am. And this is only the first day. I feel that this experience is going to teach me a lot about God’s heart for the nations and explain more specifically what I can do in my community and how I can make a difference in our world.

A conversation with Row 3 Seat B – Go Now Missions story

January 4, 2010

Crystal Donahue, a senior mass communication major at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, spent 16 days with a team three other Go Now student missionaries during Christmas break sharing Christ with students in East Asia.  Here’s a glimps into one encounter she had.

Ernesto wasn’t Asian, nor did I meet him overseas. He was just the guy sitting in Row 3 Seat B headed to Texas for work on the same plane as me.

“How was your New Year’s celebration?” he asked as I shoved my backpack under the seat in front of me.

“Good.” I smiled reminiscing on my time overseas. “I spent it in Hong Kong with some good friends.”

He looked at me surprised.

“What about you?” I asked. “How was yours?”

 Ernesto had spent the holidays with his family in California before heading to base in Texas for military duty. He has been in the Army for more than 10 years and was used to treasuring the small amount of time he had with loved ones. He shared a few short stories before centering the conversation on me.

Ernesto was an inquisitive man. I tried to ask him questions about himself, but he was too interested in my journeys.

I explained to him my interest in other cultures, and he was fascinated by it. He then saw the pen on my bag that I had received from the BGCT Annual Meeting that read “End Hunger 2015.” He asked why I was an advocate of world hunger alleviation so I got to share with them some facts about food instability in Texas and the need for hunger ministries. His eyes got big as he became so curious.

“Why do you want to do so much good?” he asked.

 The answer to his question was easy. Out of the overflow of love that Christ has for me, I desire to share with others. But when he questioned me, I don’t know what happened. I built a wall of protection around my faith.

“I have really good parents,” I said. “They set a good example for me, and I want to be like them and serve the community.”

Yes, this was true. But it wasn’t the full truth. For some reason I was hesitant to say that Jesus was the reason for my intentions. I was afraid if I gave him a religious answer that I would lose his interest.

Our conversation turned around, and we began chatting about music and movies until both of us nodded off.

But I wrestled with sleep. I had missed my opportunity to share Christ with this man. On mission trips, it’s implied your conversations will end up about the Lord. In fact, you do all you can to hope that whatever subject you talk about will end with the Gospel.

It’s sad how quickly my mind switched to, “I’m back in America, he probably already knows.” It didn’t take but 12 hours for me to lose my missions-minded attitude after I had seen the Lord do amazing things in East Asia.

Luckily I had some time to pray before the end of the flight.

“Twenty minutes until we land,” the pilot came over the speaker.

I looked at Ernesto. He was staring out the window. He seemed so broken, so hopeless.

“Thank you,” I told him, and he took off his headphones. “Thank you for your service to this country. Thank you for protecting my freedom so that I am able to have the opportunity to travel the world and serve people.”

 He smiled.

While in Asia, I realized how blessed our nation is to have freedom of religion, and this was the perfect opportunity to tell someone who defends my freedom that I am thankful for his service, because he makes my service possible.

Thank the Lord I had the opportunity to share Christ with him and encourage him to go to church and find help. He was broken by circumstance and needed help.

He then told me that he was afraid of church because he hadn’t always made the best choices in life.

The plane landed, and we went our separate ways. It broke my heart to think that this man, like many, feared the church. It bothered me that it took me hours into the flight to tell him Jesus was my passion. We talked about in debriefing the necessity of being on guard and girding up our loins. It didn’t take long for Him to test me in this area.

When off the “mission field,” it’s easy to get off “mission.” Thank goodness He isn’t done teaching when we think we’re through learning.

 “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

The Christmas wars

December 16, 2009

For the past several years, it seems the overarching press coverage of the Christmas season has centered around the Christmas wars — happy holidays vs. merry Christmas. Stores decided to be more inclusive in the language they were using in their signage, and a group of Christians were trying to “keep Christ” in Christmas, arguing signs and advertising should say merry Christmas.

This year, I don’t see that story as often. Instead, I see a new one that has risen in many churches. A different way believers are seeking to “keep Christ” in Christmas.

There seems to be a movement building of believers and churches who are re-examining how they celebrate Christmas, promoting a holiday that returns to its roots in the birth of Christ. It’s happening across the country and across denominational lines. These Christ-followers don’t simply want to remember Christ’s birth as “the reason for the season,” they want to act upon it too.

If anything can be boiled down to a few points, let me suggest that this is what this group of Christians is encouraging believers to do this Christmas (I’m practically stealing them from Advent Conspiracy):

  1. Cut back on the consumerism.
  2. Focus on Christ.
  3. Love others.

In churches, this movement seems to be driven on three fronts:

  1. Advent Conspiracy campaign. Across the nation — including Baptist churches across this state, congregations are joining in this effort that encourages people to worship Christ fully this season; give heartfelt, meaningful gifts rather than overspending; and love people to the fullest.
  2. Fair Trade efforts. Congregations, including Texas Baptist churches, are giving members an opportunity to “purchase with a purpose,” buying gifts that help pull people out of poverty and trafficking situations. Texas Baptists’ fair trade initiative is called Good News Goods, and churches have been holding fair trade markets leading up to Christmas.
  3. Benevolent efforts. As a society, we realize the struggling economy has forced many people into hard times. More than any year than I can remember, Christians are attempting to step up and help those in need with food, clothes or toys.

What do you think of this way of attempting to “keep Christ in Christmas?” How are you approaching this Christmas? Are you doing anything different?

Caring during Christmas

December 16, 2009

A few days ago, I met Jason Norton, pastor of King’s Trail Cowboy Church in Van Alstyne. Sitting around an open fire, Jason shared with me his concern for people in need this Christmas season and his desire to do something about it.

He has been camping in a tent in the middle of town and fasting since Dec. 1 and will continue doing so through Dec. 25, going without in hopes that others will have food and presents this winter.

It seems to be working. A steady stream of people have become aware of Jason’s efforts and have come by to see him, dropping off clothes and toys. They’ve thanked for him for what he’s doing.

But the items aren’t simply coming in. They’re also going out. More than 40 families have been helped as a result of Jason’s sacrifice. He’s met people for the first time. He’s encouraged people in their faith. He also led one person to the Lord there in the middle of town.

But my words get in the way. Here’s a sermon where Jason shares his heart for his effort. And here’s a brief video of Jason explaining what’s going on.

Hot chocolate and hope

December 15, 2009

A couple weeks ago, I spent a brisk evening with members of First Baptist Church in Lufkin who turned the city’s annual Christmas parade into an event to spread the hope of Christ. Instead of watching the parade, they handed out free hot chocolate and evangelistic multimedia CDs. Pastor Andy Pittman shared that the response to the opportunity to have one of the CDs was great. Only one person turned him down and another person asked for an extra CD to give to His friend.

See how the event unfolded below. This week, what event will you turn into an opportunity to share Christ?

Christmas in the Village

December 2, 2009

TYLER –More than 1,200 recently were transported into a Christmas wonderland at Breckenridge Village of Tyler, which turned its chapel into a colorful shopping bazaar, featuring items handcrafted by residents and friends of the Village. Entertainment included live music from the Upper Neches band, dance performances from Candy Crocker Dance Studio, a petting zoo, and an opportunity for children to have their pictures taken with Santa.

“Christmas in the Village is a great opportunity for our residents to showcase their talents through art and music, all the while giving back to the community and giving our neighbors a better understanding of the special individuals we serve at BVT,” said Linda Taylor, BVT director of development. “Our residents are so proud to invite friends and family into their home.”

Throughout the event, BVT residents took part in selling t-shirts, hand-made winter hats, framed drawings decorated with their artwork, homemade goodies, candles, Christmas décor and more. Many residents also showcased their talents on stage, singing Christmas carols along to the melodies of their guitars.

The 4th annual Christmas in the Village raised more than $25,000 which will go toward the scholarship fund established to help residents continue calling BVT their home.

Residents repeatedly expressed how much they loved life at BVT and how much they enjoyed helping out at the event.

“My wife and I searched all over the country for a place for our daughter.  We know first hand that there is no place better than BVT,” said Dan Tracey, whose daughter Deborah has called BVT home for the past 11 years.

The event closed with a live manager scene and a memorable rendition of O Holy Night, as the campus chapel was illuminated in a bright, holiday glow.

For more information on Breckenridge Village of Tyler, please visit www.bcfs.net.

Christmas in September

September 16, 2009

Counterpoint music is offering low cost new Christmas musicals and Christmas music on its web site. I haven’t heard this material yet, but I’ve been impressed with their other offerings. Go check out what they have by clicking here.

And let me be the first this year to say Merry Christmas to you.

Texas Baptists help children of prisoners

January 8, 2009

A while back, I mentioned the BGCT was offering a grant for churches wanting to get involved in the Angel Tree program. Today, Tomi Grover sent me a report about the grant. 43 congregations took the BGCT up on that offer. Those 43 churches adopted 1,195 children of prisoners, sharing the hope of Christ with them this Christmas. What a great ministry.

A final word from Moldova

December 22, 2008

We arrived home safely yesterday evening. Today I have been recovering from a week of hard work and jet lag. I wanted to take a moment and give you a final update on the last couple of days in Moldova.
 
The most notable day was the afternoon we spent at the disabled boys orphanage. We again fitted about 200 pairs of shoes, but the atmosphere was vastly different here than at any other orphanage in the past. From the moment we stepped off the bus boys were at our sides wanting to shake our hands and have their pictures taken by Americans. I am not sure why, but that was the one thing we were known for at that orphanage, pictures and cameras. This orphanage holds a special place in my heart because I am majoring in Special Education, and these will be the kids I will be working with in the near future. One little boy captured my heart. He had Down Syndrome and while Nicky was fitting him with a hat I walked over to get his socks and he took my hand and walked with me back to the benches where we were fitting the kids with boots. After he had his boots on he jumped in them to test them out. Before leaving, he gave me a hug so I just picked him up and sat him in my lap. Then he put his arm around my shoulder, and my heart was captured forever! He didn’t speak at all, but he would laugh if I tickled him. I didn’t really know what to do or say so I just whistled and he began to giggle. He tried to do it, but only a ‘hum’ came out. We kept going back and forth, whistling and humming. We had our picture taken a couple of times and I look forward to getting a copy of the picture to remember just how precious his smile is.
 
This orphanage by far,had the greatest need for new boots. Most of the kids stay inside during the winter so they only wear house shoes/slippers, but the slippers were worn out. The insole was thread bare on many of the shoes I saw and the kids were walking on the rubber sole. Most of the socks the kids were wearing had holes in them and were also thread bare so it was a joy to give them something they so desperately needed and the kids were so grateful and excited to have new shoes.
 
We also visited an adult facility, which is very similar to a nursing home in the U.S. It housed about 300 people who could not be cared for by their families for a variety of reasons. Many of the people living there told our translators they hadn’t had any visitors in years. They said many people were sacred to touch them. All of it was heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the loneliness that they experience on a daily basis even though they are around other people. What we were doing was so simple. We would walk in their room, tell them hello, hand them shoes and socks, pat them on the shoulder or hand and tell them Jesus Loves Them and give them slippers and socks. Some would ask questions about us and want to chat for a minute. I am so curious about the history of the people in there. I can’t imagine the stories they hold and the history they have lived through begin from that part of the world.
 
That evening we went to an appreciation dinner for all of the teams that had been working that week. It was held at Bethel Baptist Church, which is the church one of the van drivers attends and we were feed a traditional Moldovan meal. It was delicious! At the end of the dinner, we were able to express our appreciation and gratitude to our translators and drivers who made our work there possible. After dinner, we returned to the team house for one last night together. Several of us decided to play one last game of Phase 10 and it ended up lasting until 3:00 a.m., which was good for some of us because we would be leaving shortly for the airport. The four of us from the Texas Panhandle, wrote last minute thank you letters, loaded our stuff and headed to the airport for our long journey home. In total our travel home lasted 24 hours, but it was great to get back to Lubbock and be home.
 
I greatly miss the people I traveled and worked with. God really pulled us together and gave us unity that only he could provide. The 20 that stayed one more night should have arrived home by now, weather permitting. I know there will be other opportunities to return and serve the kids of Moldova and share God’s love with them again, and I hope to be able to go back. For more information about CERI (Children’s Emergency Relief International) Look at their website, www.cerikids.org
 
It has been a joy to share this experience with you and I appreciate you time in reading this! Please continue to pray for the work that God is doing in Moldova.

Cori

To read all of Cori’s posts from Moldova, visit http://texasbaptists.wordpress.com/on-mission-in-moldova/

Busy days in Moldova

December 17, 2008

Things have been really busy around here, and I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday. That was a big day for us. At the first orphanage we were meet by the ambassador for the U.S. to Moldova. He is from Pakistan. We didn’t actually meet him because there was so much media around him and his wife. All of the kids and the staff were dressed in their best clothes and everyone is in a flurry. He stayed for about 30-45 minutes. After putting on a couple shoes, the ambassador went to the auditorium to watch a program they had prepared for him. Then he went to the dinner they prepared for him. One of our translators said it was a Moldovan’s dream meal. We had fried fish and roasted chicken with cabbage, small sandwiches with sardines, cheese and olives. Then we finished the meal with tea! I love the tea here. I am not sure what is different or special about it though.
 
At the second orphanage, we fitted another 200 kids with boots. The last group of kids were very young and very cute, but we had the right sizes to fit each of them. We were able to play with them for a little while and it was refreshing to see them smile and run around in their boots after a long day of work.
 
Today we went to a smaller town near the Transniestria-Moldova border and gave away another 350 boots. It was about an hour drive each way. On the way there, the roads were very icy and a couple cars collided behind us. Later, we found out the driver of one of the vehicles was killed. Please keep his family in your prayers.  
 
Tomorrow we are going to go to a disabled boys orphanage and fit another 300 or so boots. We don’t know much else about it, but we are looking forward to working there. Please continue to be in prayer for our safety as we are on the road each day. We also need extra strength and energy to continue working and have good attitudes. Please pray for our translators as they work along side us, and we can continue to build relationships with them. We are also running out of sizes for many of the kids, and that is heart breaking. Pray that God either multiplies the shoes or makes the kids feet fit the shoes that we have extras of.
 
Thank you for continuing to pray for us, we really appreciate it!!

Cori Crumrine


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