Tuesday, May 17, 2011


You are wiser than most, once you realize that adversity is never the permanent condition of man. And yet this wisdom alone is not sufficient. Adversity and failure can destroy you while you wait patiently for your fortune to change. Deal with them in only one way.
Welcome them both, with open arms!
Since this injunction goes against all logic or reason, it is the most difficult to understand or master.
Let the tears you shed, over your misfortunes, cleanse thine eyes so that ye might see the truth. Realize that he who wrestles with you always strengthens your nerves and sharpens your skills. Your antagonist is always, in the end, your best helper.
Adversity is the rain in your life, cold, comfortless, and unfriendly. Yet from that season are born the lily, the rose, the date, and the pomegranate. Who can tell what great things you will bring forth after you have been parched by the heat of tribulation and drenched by the rains of affliction? Even the dessert blooms after a storm.
Adversity is also your greatest teacher. You will learn little from your victories but when you are pushed, tormented and defeated you will acquire great knowledge, for only then you will become acquainted with your true self since you are free, at last, from those who flatter thee. And who are your friends? When adversity engulfs you is the best time to count on them.
Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment.
- Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Make Way Partners ~ Romanian Update

Injustice for Trafficking Victims at Houses of Treasure
If you read my blog last week, you know the Romanian government is harassing our indigenous director, Iana Matei.

Make Way Partners’ Field Coordinator, Matt McGowen, and an expert Romanian attorney stood at her side as she appeared in court today. I’ve spent a couple of hours on the phone with Matt today hearing live reports.

The first thing I want to tell you is that Matt is so encouraged by the progress that Iana is making with all the girls at House of Treasure. Matt said, “Although each girl feels the pressure of such a difficult time, the healing in the girls is evident. They are sharing in responsibilities around the house, meal preparation, and even encouraging one another.”

Esther (not her real name) is a shining star at House of Treasure. She survived a brutal attack last year, and suffered deeply from fear and low self esteem, but after so much time with us, Matt said, “Now she is confident and taking true leadership among the girls.”

With that kind of beautiful healing taking place at House of Treasure, it was painful to hear Matt’s first words as he reported from the courtroom, “It was a rough day.”

We arrived at 8 am only to be told, “Your hearing’s cancelled.”

Natasha’s mother dropped the charges. And while, at first, that seemed to be good news, chaos ensued as we learned it was simply a manipulative ploy staged by her attorney to get what she wanted.

Part of what incited Natasha’s mother was the fact that child protection services (cps) had been conducting an investigation into her fitness as a mother. She’d played a hand in Natasha’s trafficking. Natasha has younger siblings still living at home, and cps had been considering removing them from the home for their own protection.

One of the best tactics to draw attention from herself, was of course, to point the finger at Iana. During the weeks of investigation preceding the hearings, Natasha was supposed to be under the direct care and supervision of cps. However, they let her run wild, coming and going as she—or her mother—pleased.

Having unmonitored access to Natasha during the investigation, her mother orchestrated media events where they told many negative stories about cps. The media made a negative production regarding cps. The result: cps not only quit their investigation of Natasha’s mother, but actually testified to her credit.

Matt and Iana both read court documents revealing that Natasha had submitted testimony that she did not want to be returned to her mother, and that she did want to stay at House of Treasure, with Iana. But, the Judge wouldn’t allow the documents to be read in court, or for Matt and Iana to keep a copy. The judge deliberately withheld vital information.

Natasha has severe mental and emotional damage, possibly psychotic, from all of her abuse and trafficking, so Iana was not petitioning for Natasha to return to House of Treasure, but rather, for her—and the other girls’ protection—to be placed in a psychiatric hospital. Although Iana is a psychologist, the judge would not hear Iana’s testimony.

Natasha has turned extremely violent, which is not uncommon for young children who have suffered such extreme violence. While cps allowed her to run free, she went to the school where the other girls from House of Treasure attend, telling them, “My mother’s gypsy friends are going to show up at school and rape you all.” Again, the judged barred Iana’s testimony from the courtroom.

Matt said, “If I hadn’t seen it myself, I would never believe what I am about to tell you…”

The judge’s decision: since the charges against Iana were dropped and cps now gives a glowing report on Natasha’s mother, she gave Natasha back over to the mother.

Iana’s lawyer came prepared. He read directly from a Romanian book of law, sighting how the judgment was illegal under Romanian law, and sighting that due process—according to their own law—had not been followed.

The judge slammed down her gavel while hysterically screaming at Iana’s attorney, “Shut up and sit down. You cannot read that [Romanian book of law] in my courtroom!”

While neither Iana nor her attorney could speak, the judge allowed others to stand, testifying that Iana beat the girls and forced them to make child pornography movies. Iana was not allowed to testify about this, and when her attorney objected, the judge screamed at him to shut up and sit down.

Today is not only an injustice for a very sick and hurting child (Natasha) but also a huge gap through which Iana and the entire House of Treasure could fall.

As you can imagine, Iana is very discouraged. Matt is by her side, but they both need your prayers for wisdom, strength, and encouragement.

We face another hearing on Friday, and I will let you know as soon as I know anything at all.

In the meantime, we are not only praying, but also talking through lessons learned, strategies to take, and receiving much wise counsel from professionals.

We rest in the Arms of the Great Defender of children—our Father, our God—Who is moved by your prayers.

Love, your sister along the journey,


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Love the Poor

Francis de Sales, a sixteenth-century bishop in France, wrote, "Love the poor and love poverty, for it is by such love that we become truly poor. As the Scripture says, we become like the things we love. If you love the poor you will share their poverty and be poor like them. If you love the poor be often with them. Be glad to see them in your own home and to visit with them in theirs. Be glad to talk to them and be pleased to have them near you in church, on the street, and elsewhere. Be poor in conversing with them and speak to them as their companions do, but be rich in assisting them by sharing some of your more abundant goods with them."

Blood Water Missions

To be clear, they're actually celebrating 1000 African communities who now have access to clean water thanks to the work of Blood Water Mission (BWM). Although Jars founded BWM ten years ago, they're very clear about who's receiving the accolades for this accomplishment. "We're celebrating the Africans who are really our heroes and celebrating the Americans who have overcome the apathy," says Dan Haseltine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Responding to the death of an enemy

"I have mixed feelings regarding the death of bin Laden. He was my enemy whom I love. I cried while watching the President’s disclosure and the subsequent dancing in the streets. It was not a cry of joy, but of sorrow and complexity. Early today, I was reminded of a Bible verse: “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble” (Proverbs 24:17)." ~ John Harris

John Harris is an evangelical Christian, educator, and international activist. He gives tours of charismatic Christianity in Palestine with the group Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice, and works in Palestine each summer with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Comfortably Numb

"It came to me that each of us is "touched" by the mob of life every day. It's just that we're so focused on checking things off our to-do list, or chasing hard after the American Dream, that our spiritual skin has grown numb. We're spiritually anesthetized, so we can't feel that "touch". - K. Smith, Make Way Partners

What About Now?

"It is often difficult to engage Christians on the examined life because we're comfortable in the knowledge of our Father's love and the promise of heaven. But what about now? What's the point of being here - on this earth - now? Not in general, but specifically what's the point of my life? Yours? Ours, as a community?" - Kimberly Smith, MWP Newsletter March 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How then shall we love...?

Excerpt from Donald Miller's blog 4 May 2011

"When we meditate on how much God loves us instead of on how loving we are, we tend to love others selflessly out of a feeling of completion, while if we meditate on how much we love others in order to get them to love us back, we love others out of a sense of compulsion or need. The same is true for our righteousness. When we think about how good we are, we may no longer be good. Instead, we can think about how good God is, and how much we are loved by Him, and then just live in the overflow of those truths. It’s tricky, but one is a prison and the other is freedom."

..."The best thing I can do to love my friends is to think about and live within the truth that God loves me. This is the only way I can live and love without expecting a return on my investment. The real love will happen naturally once I understand my need is met. I don’t have to think about my motives at all."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are we supposed to be comfortable?

"There goes God again, not allowing me to live in the comfort zone of my little box." - Compassion Quote

Relational Tithe

Weird ?