Thursday, November 11, 2010

Planting seeds of HOPE...

“You have planted a seed in my soul and my heart so that I can carry this message of HOPE to the whole world.” Siphuxolo, Hope2Africa Masiphumelele youth member

One of the art disciplines we teach in Hope2Africa is creative writing. What began as a way to help our youth express themselves creatively has grown into them writing their own scripts for sharing the story of HOPE through Jesus with the people in their communities. During our very first camp we asked the youth to write their own story of what HOPE is to them. One of the most beautiful responses likened HOPE to a seed – planted in a dark place, believing it was meant for more, absorbing all that it could in order to one day grow tall and produce fruit and more seeds for the benefit of others.

Despite growing up in a culture that is more known for it’s dependency than it’s generosity, the youth of Hope2Africa are taking the investments we are making in their lives and looking for ways to pour into others. They are actively sharing the HOPE of Jesus on the street corners of Squatter Camps in and around Cape Town and last year they raised their own funds to take a mission trip to Johannesburg. They are getting it and we couldn’t be more excited to see the love for their own people growing.

There’s an old hymn that says “little is much when God is in it” and whether it’s $10 or $10,000 we invite you to invest in what God is doing in Hope2Africa. To plant a seed of HOPE that the Gospel of Jesus might be shared with many.

So what can YOU do?

1- Pray

■Squatter camps are over run with shebeans (a shack that is a bar or pub) - alcohol, drugs, teenage pregnancy, not to mention poverty and HIV/aids are literally destroying these people. Jesus is the answer. Pray for the Hope2Africa youth as they share Jesus among their people.
■Pray for us as we disciple these young people - pray they will walk closely with God.
■Pray for the Lord to send the resources we need to continue and expand. (people, prayers, and funding)

2- Donate your Status (Facebook or Twitter): "You have planted a seed in my soul and my heart so that I can carry this message of HOPE to the whole world.” Siphuxolo, Hope2Africa youth. Invest in these youth - help them share HOPE. $10, $100, or $1000 every penny counts. donate at http://www.hope2africa.com/

3- Spread the Word: Meet Ziyanda


When we first met Ziyanda she had no hope and was contemplating suicide. God has used Hope2Africa to change her life. Thank you Lord Jesus! Please share her story and Hope2Africa with others today. There are thousands more Ziyandas living in squatter camps in South Africa. Help us reach them.

4- Get Involved: Give. No matter how great or small the amount - your gift will be used in the life of a youth in South Africa. You can donate on line www.hope2africa.com Thank you "from behind our hearts".
Siphuxolo Hope2Africa

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

HOPE in a pair of socks...

HOPE in a pair of socks...


One of the joys of Hope2Africa camps are the little gifts we are able to give our youth. From hoodies and jeans to toothbrushes and a backpack we have seen the power of gifts that help meet their daily needs. During one camp we had a case of socks donated and when it came time to present the kids with their brand new shoes and socks they went nuts over the socks. What you need to understand is that for most of these youth, this was the first new pair of shoes they had ever been presented with and therefore we were all puzzled at their overwhelming joy regarding the socks. We asked a couple of the kids why the socks were such a big deal and what we discovered was that shoes are a necessity (and they WERE grateful) but socks are a luxury, especially the cushy kind that we had presented them with that day.

We’re only scratching the surface in understanding the devastating effects of poverty, disease and a racial history that devalued black South Africans but one thing we have learned for certain – it is often in the little things, the hug with an “I love you”, the praise of work well done or even a cushy pair of socks that HOPE is found. The youth of Hope2Africa are growing up caught in a world that screams from every corner that they are disposable and of no value. God says otherwise and so do we.

Help us tell more African youth that they are loved, that they are valued by Jesus, that they deserve a pair of cushy socks.



So what can YOU do?

1- Pray:

Pray that we will receive the resources we need to not only keep Hope2Africa going in Masi year round, but to also expand to other squatter camps.

Pray our Hope2Africa youth will be "beautiful feet" as they share the Gospel with their people using the arts.

2- Donate your Status (Facebook or Twitter): How beautiful are the feet that carry the Good News of the Gospel. Be involved personally in pouring Jesus into the life of a teen living in poverty in the squatter camps of South Africa. Help empower and disciple the next generation of leaders. Pray, give, go. www.hope2africa.com

3- Spread the Word: Start planning! Can you gather your friends, neighbors or co-workers together this week to tell them about Hope2Africa? Show them our video....www.hope2africa.com. Encourage others to get involved in Hope2Africa.

4- Get Involved: What can your office, Sunday School class, friends or neighbors donate in the way of gifts to our Hope2Africa youth? What resources are in your sphere of influence?


Becky Harris

Founder and President, Hope2Africa

becky@hope2africa.com

www.hope2africa.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

7 days of HOPE

Meet Hope2Africa youth, Ziyanda. She is a precious young lady and one of our miracles. God has done so many great things in her life. If I had time to share her entire story you would understand the urgency we feel to reach more youth in South Africa. God is using this ministry - to HIS Glory!



How can you bring Hope to youth living in poverty surrounded by HIV/aids in the squatter camps of South Africa? Get involved with Hope2Africa. Check out www.hope2africa.com to find out more about this amazing ministry!!




7 Days of Hope



HOPE in the dark...

HOPE in the dark...


We first met Thembi in 2009. She joined the Hope2Africa Masi team and it didn’t take long for us to learn of her incredible story of faith and courage. Thembi had been sent to Masi by her mother in search of a better life for her younger siblings. She quickly became acquainted with Masi’s overcrowding and for over a year, her younger brother and younger sister and cousins were essentially homeless inside of Masi, living on the streets and fending for what food they could scrounge. They eventually found a shack they could rent.

On the April 2010 Hope2Africa Masi trip we learned that Thembi and her siblings were being evicted. They could not afford the rent and had no where else to go. God provided the financial resources for our team to purchase a shack for Thembi, her sister, brother and cousins. They were so excited to have a shack of their own and tears of joy were shed as she exclaimed “we have our very own shack now, just like everyone else.”

The beautiful part of Thembi’s dark story is her very emphatic message that God has always been with her, especially when she was afraid at night. She calls herself a “blessed girl” and she is currently working hard to finish her Senior year of high school. Her family continues to live in poverty, but Thembi possesses a calm joyfulness that comes in knowing that God has plans for her and more than that, He is with her each step of the journey.

By the way, Thembi’s name means great HOPE, we couldn’t agree more.
So what can YOU do?


1- Pray
•Pray for the HOPE of Jesus to be experienced by the people of Africa. Thembi’s story is all too common. The youth of Hope2Africa are living in poverty and are surrounded by HIV/aids. Their sense of hopelessness is overwhelming as they simply try to survive in tough conditions and crumbling families.

•Pray for us as we pour the Hope of Jesus into these kids.


2- Donate your Status (Facebook or Twitter): Be a part of pouring Hope into the life of teenager living in poverty in the squatter camps of South Africa. There are so many things YOU can do: Pray, give, come on a trip. www.hope2africa.com


3- Spread the Word: Forward this message to 10 people today!


4- Get Involved - Ask the Lord to show you how you can be involved. There are many Thembi's that need to hear how Jesus loves them.

Thank you for helping us reach more youth in South Africa. Thank you for growing HOPE....


7 DAYS OF HOPE team










Monday, November 8, 2010

Multitude Monday - 7 Days of Hope

I am using this multitude monday to usher in 


 7 days of HOPENovember 8-14, 2010


During the next 7 days I encourage you to follow links, watch video, read blogs and other messages to follow.  In this season of Thanksgiving, with so much we have to be thankful for, open your heart and mind to the ways God is using Hope2Africa to shower hope on our brothers and sisters living and ministering in South African Squatter camps.

What is a Squatter Camp?
Settlements with shacks made of wood, cardboard, tin and other scrap material. Whole families live in a single shack, the size of a garden shed. Open fires are used for cooking and candles for light - shacks often catch fire when there are accidents. There is no running water, sewerage pipes, gas or electricity. Squatter camps are now known as informal settlements and those with designated streets are known as Townships.
Hope2Africa begun in the Squatter Camp known as Masiphumelele or Site 5. Masiphumelele (translated from Xhosa “we will succeed”) is a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa and home to approximately 30,000 people. Amenities are scarce and it is estimated that 30-40% of the community are infected with HIV and/or TB.

What does Hope2Africa do?

Hope2Africa trains African Christian youth in the Creative Arts in order that they might share the Hope of Jesus with their own communities. We use weekly meetings, one-week day-camps and weekend workshops to train. Hope2Africa members are recommended by their church and school leaders based upon their desire to train in the arts and the personal character they demonstrate.


The youth are trained in the following art forms: Drama, Dance, Singing, Creative Writing/Script Writing, Painting & Set Design/Construction. The youth help write, construct and then perform within their own communities first and then in neighboring townships. Hope2Africa youth are trained to use the materials available in their everyday surroundings thus encouraging them to see everything as usable and not to feel limited by any lack of resources. Each member of Hope2Africa member is fully scholarshipped by supporters of Hope2Africa Inc.


Watch this video see how Hope2Africa is being used to bring hope and eternal changes in otherwise hopeless situations.




Please prayerfully consider joining me & dedicate this week, through emails, social network status.   At this beginning of this season of thankfulness help share 7 days of HOPE with your readers, family and friends.


God bless!
'The Method is the Arts - the Message is Jesus'






 

HOPE has a name...

Today we begin 7 days of HOPE and in the spirit of beginnings we want you to know how God inspired the creation of Hope2Africa. Becky Harris, our fearless leader, was on a trip to South Africa and one day as she road past an enormous Squatter Camp God began to stir something in her heart. “There are people who live in those shacks; people who matter, people Jesus died for, people with names. But how will they know they matter if no one tells them?” That heart stirring was the first step of Hope2Africa’s journey – to see the individual and to know them by name.

We now have had over thirty-five youth participate in the last two years of Hope2Africa Masiphumelele. We know their stories, we have felt their hurts and we have shared their joys. This week we want to share their lives with you, to invite you into their world and then ask that you partner with us in equipping young Africans to sharing the beautiful HOPE of Jesus in those dark places. So what can YOU do?

1- Pray today:

■Pray for our Hope2Africa youth.

■Pray that they will know Jesus values them and has a plan for their life.

2- Donate your Facebook or Twitter profile by using our logo as your profile pic

3- Spread the Word - post this as your FB status today: How can you bring Hope to youth living in poverty surrounded by HIV/aids in the squatter camps of South Africa? Get involved with Hope2Africa. Check out www.hope2africa.com to find out more about this amazing ministry!

4- Get involved: watch our Hope2Africa video at www.hope2africa.com and share it with 3 people today.




Sunday, November 7, 2010

Help the Most Ethnically Diverse Square Mile in the World

Having just completed a project resulting in 909 blankets being hand delivered 2 short weeks ago, we are hard pressed to catch everyone up and share details about our neighbors set to benefit from this years Heavenly Harvest Hoedown.

Once again, the good Lord willing, we will prepare blankets for our Appalachian friends in West Virginia. Along with those needs, we hope to gift a global group of needy children right in our own backyard of Clarkston, Georgia.  

With over 150 different ethnic groups represented within and around the city, Clarkston has been named "the most diverse square mile in America" by the New York Times. With more than thirty language groups living there, this unique town on the east side of Atlanta has been the settling place for over fifty thousand refugees from many countries since the early 1990s. A city of high crime, high gangs, high drugs and low economic opportunity, it is a most unique place for people from around the world to settle as they enter the United States starting a new life far away from their homeland.

We all know children; perhaps in our neighborhood, our workplace, our community, or within our own family. Of these children, how many do we know who have left war-torn countries in search of freedom, suffered religious persecution, experienced famine and pestilence before the age of five, or watched with their very own eyes as their parents were killed by the Taliban government? We can find hundreds of children with just such stories living right in our own backyard, in Clarkston, Georgia, just a short 40-minute drive from Woodstock. These children are starving, not just for food, shelter, structure, and companionship, but especially for the love of Christ made evident through the tangible time and touch of people just like you and me.

“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 took me in . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:35-40, NIV).

There are 1,800 children within walking distance from the Clarkston International Bible Church, with over 30 language groups represented from countries all over the world. Stepping out of your car onto the pavement of Clarkston is equivalent to stepping from an airplane onto the dusty lands of Afghanistan, Bosnia, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal Laos, Syria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Liberia, Vietnam, India, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia. Religious diversity is evident, as well, with ninety percent of the immigrant population claiming the Muslim faith. As Ron O’Kelley of the FBCW Missions staff noted, “The hand of God is evident in Clarkston.” Referring to the incredible number of immigrants here who flow through the United Nations, INS, and other relief agencies, Ron noted that, “These kids and their families are God’s gift to us right here at home. For many of the Muslim children, it is the first time for them to hear about Jesus, and to hear others say that they are a ‘Christian.’”

Fleece for the Flock looks to prepare and provide at least 1,000 hand-tied fleece blankets for our precious international neighbors in Clarkston, Georgia. These home-spun messages of hope will be personally delivered this winter with help from ministry partners in four organizations in Clarkston; Clarkston International Bible Church, Upward Basketball, Friends of Refugees and World Relief of Atlanta. All of these organizations are evangelical and serving the people who enter the United States as Refugees.

Our prayer is to have these 1,000 blankets made and completed next Saturday, November 13th.  We are still accepting donations.  No matter where you are, you bring hope to hundreds this holiday season to children from around the world, right in our own back yard. 

To make an online tax deductible contribution for this blanket project go here, then under 'Special Offering', enter

'Account #25238 - Project Code 4373',

this will direct your funds to the purchase of fleece specifically for Clarkston, Georgia.    


"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.'

"Then the righteous will answer him,

'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'  Matthew 25:35-40

 
 
For more information on how you can be a part of the work being done in Clarkston, contact Ron O’Kelley at 678-230-9984 or at ron.o’kelley@fbcw.net .


Monday, August 30, 2010

Just a few of so many!

#117 Children  -  old and young singing full out songs of rejoicing and celebration

#118 Belly laughter and jack 'o lantern smiles  



#119 Knock Knock Jokes


Knock Knock!

Who's there?

A little girl.
A little girl who?

A little girl who can't reach the doorbell!

 


Knock Knock!

Who's there?

Dishes

Dishes who?

Dishes me.  Who ish you?





Knock Knock!

Who's there?

Candace.

Candace who?

Candace be the last knock knock joke?  




Thank you! Thank you very much!



"This is the day the LORD has made;
       let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24


Monday, August 16, 2010

All 1,440 Minutes!

# 113: So grateful it is still Monday and I still have time to share how many ways God over runs my cup with joy - Thank you Father!

# 114: For this day, all 1,440 minutes that You once more gifted me with.

#115: For answered prayer that no man can take credit for – only possible through You oh Lord!
#116: That out of the mouth of babes You drive some of Your with deepest messages home.



Open my eyes, sharpen these ears that I may lean not into my own understanding but defer all things…ALL things to You Lord!




Go here to enjoy others on this
Multitude Monday 





Tuesday, June 29, 2010

To Honor You


To Honor You



To honor you, I get up everyday and take a breath.

And start another day without you in it.



To honor you, I laugh and love with those who knew your smile

And the way your eyes twinkled with mischief and secret knowledge.



To honor you, I take the time to appreciate everyone I love,

I know now there is no guarantee of days or hours spent in their presence.



To honor you, I listen to music you would have liked,

And sing at the top of my lungs, with the windows rolled down.



To honor you, I take chances, say what I feel, hold nothing back,

Risk making a fool of myself, dance every dance.



You were my light, my heart, my gift of love, from the very highest source.

So everyday, I vow to make a difference, share a smile, live, laugh and love.



Now I live for us both, so all I do, I do to honor you.


borrowed from Connie F. Kiefer Byrd hwo penned this 
In Loving Memory of her son
 Jordan Alexander Kiefer
8/24/88 – 12/13/05




Monday, June 28, 2010

Time is Short

Good afternoon friends,

We pray this message finds you well and preferably cool :)

Well, with last minute fabric donations and many willing helpers we were able to complete and deliver a car load of colorful fleece blankets to the 51 foster care children (ages 6- 12) attending the FBCW Royal Family Kids Camp.

Last Tuesday, my granddaughter and I set off to deliver the furry wraps and then go home but instead, we stayed all day fellowshipping with the campers by way of attending a girls grand tea, (which included a full out dress up, makeup, hairstyling and fashion show event all rolled into one!)

While the girls indulged in fruit, a chocolate fountain, delicate finger sandwiches, and baby pink punch, the boys did the same (well...not so much pink punch and make up) but all the rest while being outfitted in white Karate gear and garnering life training Mr. Miyagi would be proud of. Oh what a joy to see the delight these activities brought to each campers life.

After the tea it was more swimming, fishing, canoeing and cool down, before a spaghetti dinner, more games and evening service by way of Shine ministry. By 8pm we were calling each child by name to pick up their blanket.

On a side note: As my grandma use to say, it was 'hot as blazes', sweaty flesh in every direction, yet by all the fuss you would have thought we were giving away ice cream cones and water slide rides, not hot and heavy fleece blankets.

We shared with the group how each blanket was hand made, prayed over and surrounded with knots of love by loving folks made especially for each one them. We also made it clear while each of us did not know them personally by name and face, God surely did and that any time they might need a God hug, a big ol reminder of how crazy He was about them to wrap their selves in their blanket.

As we called each camper one by one you would have thought a rock stars were in the house, this is no exaggeration. With each name called applause broke out and we were met with thousand watt smiles that simply melted our hearts and humbled our spirits. God is so incredibly good y'all!

Looking back into the patiently waiting (and sweltering) crowd we spied smiling boys and girls bundled up in colorful fleece relishing Gods tender embrace that very night! Would that each one of you could have shared this presentation with us. Life changing, kingdom building moments y'all.

You all I know how I love a good photo or two (three or three dozen :) to share with a post, but sadly we are unable to take photos on our own as there are actually children attending these camps who have been abused by photography - so trust me when I say my words are so inadequate in describing the delight and joy expressed by these young ones.

Over the weekend Mary and I were contacted (again) by the director of the RFKC of Athens, Georgia. The Athens director was at the blanket distributions Tuesday and is very prayerfully asking that our group might provide blankets for their 50 foster kids. This group hails from Fulton, Delkalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, Athens-Clarke, Greene and other Georgia counties.

We have explained the lack of funds and material currently on hand, and asked them to pray that resources be provided to meet this need.

We ask that each of you prayerfully consider sending blankets or funds for us to purchase fleece so we may be a blessing to yet another tender group of young ones needing physical reminders of their Heavenly Fathers love for them.


Time is very short and we apologize for the extremely short notice. Please give in some way yourself and be sure to share this with those in your own circle of influence so they may take part in this kingdom building blessing.

Much love and many blessings,

Tammy and Mary



"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5: 2-3


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Unlikely Mothers

Recently, a friend of mine shared a poem she was ask to pen in honor of Mother's Day.  As I read her prose, my heart overflowed and images filled my mind as I reflected on some of the unlikely mothers I know, love and am blessed to call friend. 


The Unlikely Mother

She stands alone with none to call her own
Barren, unmarried, or her moment has passed on
Whatever the case she is crowned with grace

For Isaiah says many will fill her empty place
She always opens her door to just one more
If there is nowhere else, they can sleep on the floor

Her words are as strong as the confidence she carries
Not for a moment being thought of as just ordinary

She is a wisdom provider, mercy giver, and Christ lover
She is blessed among women; she is the unlikely mother
She may not have given birth to her child
But she will stand in the gap to keep them undefiled

She cradles her children with unconditional love
Because her heart understands they were sent from above

She is a truth seeker, Word speaker, secret keeper…maybe even a cover
But above all else, she is the unlikely mother
She has enriched my own life, So I reach out to another
To embrace the responsibilities of the unlikely mother

Thank you Kate Stoker for allowing me to share your lovely poem.


Friday, April 30, 2010

By and Through Him Eternally Connected

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms"


The following poem is reprinted with permission from the author;
 Lora Lovin Osburn, Poet Laureate extraordinaire!


When asked if I'd share a dotty ditty
My first thought was, "Oh no! What if it's not pretty?"

What if it's like what I heard in Houston? Purse on a Chain...
Oh my, I can just imagine the disdain.

What if I stand and say: I'm Lora from By the Lamp Light
I can't speak because I'm too insecure and filled with stage fright.

So started my conversation with the LORD
About sharing here, something I thought I abhorred.

LORD, YOU know my knees will knock.
And then, Oh my - What to wear? Capri's or a new party frock?

I'll be just one lonely dot at this Siesta party,
And You know LORD, I am not a smarty.


My heart started racing in a thousand directions
Without seeking HIM with thoughtful reflection.

So in my mind while I'm walking to the podium and taking a tumble,
In quietness at night, I heard Him speak like a distant rumble,

"Read the book and then just tell your story.
I will do all the rest and get all the glory."

I knew immediately which book He meant for me,
Beth had been smiling from the shelf at Walmart (somewhere near aisle 3)




He said, "Dear One, I'm bringing other dots
Tonight to this party, to this very spot.

Don't be insecure and think you are alone
Among the many dots, you can feel at home.

As each lovely dot connects
And views the other with respect,

A lovely picture they will see
The body of Christ in Me.

I've brought each dot on their own journey to this very place,
An act of gracious mercy and abundant and tender grace."

But LORD, I so want to know the final picture.
He says, "Rest, don't speculate or conjecture.

You may not know in full your earthly destiny

But will you dear one, just rest in ME?


As I direct, in faith, go from dot to dot
The journey with Me is part of our story plot.


Hold our time together dear.
Be attuned and ready to hear.

Do each thing I ask you to
Don't question; just do.

I will be with you when your life looks like it has no purpose or form,
When you feel discouraged, one dot, alone and forlorn."

So as I read, at times I thought it was my own story written upon the page;
But God graciously and tenderly took me through the journey, stage by stage.

When I read about those who "never fulfill their destinies because of their own insecurities",
It was like God drew the circle clearly and solely around me.

I would recommend this book to anyone; but along with a tissue box
Because it's not a fairy tale, like The Three Bears and the trespassing Miss Goldilocks

Our enemy too long has encroached on our holy ground,
And as dots we unite and say "he is no longer welcome to hang around!"

This book required action, change and work
And I'm certain, it is why so long, I avoided it with a shirk.

As dots read it and do it, we are changed.
No longer a single dot, but in His plan we are already eternally arranged.

The tears and pain this book unearthed,
I am confident, are fertile soil for His new works to be birthed.

Because deep within me as sins were uprooted, I know,
That as I released insecurities, HIS Spirit within me did grow

The freedom and the joy of saying so long to insecurity
To some of the *things* that for years have tormented me,
And made me feel like one isolated and totally disconnected dot
Has brought me, us, each dot, here tonight, to this very place and spot.

Dearest Jesus,
We turn our fears into
WE TRUST YOU.
Send each dot through Your cleansing wash where our sin turns to passion
And insecurity is totally washed out and no longer in fashion
We pray, that more of You we will intimately know
As on our dotty path, with Your security now, we go.
Connect us LORD,
as the unified body of Christ,

And help us be willing to make personal sacrifice.
The enemy CAN NOT take what we've been given

So in the Mighty Name of Jesus we say,

"So long insecurity and hello abundant living!"
Amen





 


Thursday, April 1, 2010

You Took my Place

A few Easters ago, my family and I were joined by some bi-annual church going friends for morning service and a brunch to follow.  The parking lot at church and sanctuary were running over as they  usually are at Christmas and Easter.  Once inside, the service was incredible as the Holy Spirit seemed to fill the deepest crevice of every heart.

A bit later as our group met up at the restaurant for brunch, the following conversation took place:

"What an incredible service, the music, the worship, the message, one was better than the next"  started one Church Regular.

"And the crowd?  Good grief that was insane trying to get in and out of the church not to mention the parking lot" added Bi-Annual Number One.

"Yah, the parking was brutal. Your church members were pretty aggressive when it came to getting out of there.  I almost got hit and ran over by several anxious to get to lunch I guess", replied Bi-Annual Number Two.

"Yah" with laughter Bi-Annual Number One chimed in, "and I bet they had that little fish symbol or better yet," haaa, haaa "a whole school of little fish on their bumper".

The Bi-Annuals were having some fun now.


I asked our guest how were they so sure it was the regular church membership behaving so poorly and not some folks like themselves of the twice a year crowd? 

That led us into a conversation about Believers can't claim perfect, just salvation by God's grace and anyone claiming to be otherwise is admittedly a hypocrite.

Sadly, I had to concede, we as believers all too often set ourselves up for such criticism when we brand our bumpers, t-shirt and handbags, mistakenly believing no one should hold us to a higher level of accountability, when they really should.

Believing friends, you may have read the following story before, even so, with another high attendance Sunday upon us, take another look.


One day, a man went to visit a church. He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said,

'I always park there! You took my place!'

The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated,

'That's my seat! You took my place!'

The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said,

'That's where I always sit! You took my place!'

The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still He said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change.

Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out,

'What happened to you?'

The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye, 'I took your place.'

When you read this, say a prayer.

Ask the Lord to circumcise your heart, that you may yield to the Holy Spirit's urgings as we get too centered on self and cease seeing the greater good and glory God might reveal through us in these situations.

Instead of focusing on self, focus on Him; then share a smile and give gentle answer and shine your Light that whole world all may see Him in you!

He took our place!

Hallelujah, I'm so glad He did!

            Happy Easter!


"The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live"    Deuteronomy 30:6