We have been receiving encouraging reports from our children in northeast China since they have returned from their February visit to the US. The wonders of technology make it possible for us to communicate by cell phone or visually over Skype. We love watching our grandchildren show us their preschool art and listening to them tell their stories of daily life. Precious and priceless are these visits. Dayna and Kevin Avery are working to establish a training school for children with disabilities. They are also connecting local medical personnel and teachers with the families of these children for individualized medical care and training. Recently a prominent local plastic surgeon offered his services without charge to provide cleft palate surgeries for children referred to him by Kevin and his group.
Easter in China took on special meaning for the family as they blended western traditions with their international fellowship of believers. If you do not already read their blog ServePrayLove, I would suggest going to http://servepraylove.blogspot.com/ to see pictures and short videos. Of course they always desire our prayers. Currently they have started a Friday evening discussion on matters of life and faith for ‘seekers’ in their apartment. From April 20 through October, Kevin will lead a Saturday training time for Chinese English teachers on English as a Second Language methods and disability studies as well as teaching English to disabled children in a program called Heart to Heart English. He also coordinates medical teams and volunteers as they come to northeastern China to serve the disabled community. While their blog shares life as a family and pictures of their community, their newsletter gives a more detailed understanding of their challenges, successes, stresses and joys. To receive their e-mail newsletter contact them at ServePrayLove (at) gmail.com and ask to be added to their list.
We always want to know about the weather (it has been a very cold winter) and their general health and well-being. I wonder how everyone is adapting to Chinese culture and language. It is especially good to hear how fruitful the work is becoming after their having been there only a year. I am challenged in my own life by their faith and commitment. Thank you for your prayers.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. ServePrayLove. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
I have always held that it is good for God’s people to take some time during Sunday morning worship to actually pray. So I invite everyone to a time of reflective prayer right in the middle of the worship hour. Things get very quiet. A little organ music points the way. Last Sunday a 3-year-old boy, I’ll just call him Deacon, cried out “No!..No!..No!..No!” as he was being escorted out of the service by his mother. He had been restless all morning, and she had threatened to take him to the nursery. He protested vigorously and continually. They had a chat in the foyer, and he returned in time for Children’s Church – that was what he really did not want to miss. We continued with our reflective time of prayer, and I thought about God hearing the No! No! No!s while we prayed.
This reminded me of the Sunday morning prayer time some 16 years ago when we totally lost our seriously reflective composure as a 5-year-old, I’ll just call her Whitney, stood up in her pew and announced, “Booorrrring!” Have you ever tried to suppress a laugh and pray at the same time? She had some quiet reflective time with her mother that day also. All of this was going through my mind as I was preparing to lead the pastoral prayer. So I spent nearly all of the silent prayer time last Sunday thinking about the No! No! No! going out to God, and the Booorrrring! breaking through the silence of the past. I needed to take a little extra time to offer my own prayer to God to help me focus on the praying that was at hand.
Is God hearing Booorrrring! when we pray? Or No! No! No! from us when He is seeking to answer our prayers? Sometimes the little voices in church are from God.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Listen to your prayers. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
P.S. The above stories are used by permission of Whitney and the mothers involved.
I attended two “Meet the Teacher” events last week for two of our grandsons. With a profoundly uncoordinated calendar, all of the schools in Tulsa County have started, are starting, or will start classes by August 23. Two school districts picked a Friday for the first day of school. Don’t these districts remember that the whole reason school has been out is so the children and teens can help with the summer crops in preparation for the harvest this fall? Those children have been needed around the house all summer to work the fields, clean the barns, and can the fruit. Not to mention how useful they are every day with the chickens and the pigs. – Maybe it is time to reconsider what the school year should look like in an urban America in the 2010s.
On the other hand, the teachers I met were delightful. It was obvious that they love their work and are looking forward to the challenge of getting to know their new students. There were a number of students dropping by to say hello to their former teachers. Many came to thank them for the impact on their lives. One elementary teacher was saying that he was about to have as a student the son of a former student. Some parents were a little misty-eyed.
I have been a public school volunteer now for over 30 years as a parent, a pastor, and a former school board member. Our church began an intentional ministry with Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School in the spring of 1991, with Tuesday Time Out, where the students could come to the church for an all-you-can-eat pizza lunch. They really could eat pizza! We’ve continued providing food, friendship, prayers and our facilities to students and faculty alike. All of this is in a spiritual context of love and service in the name of Christ. It is easy to complain about the public schools (see above). Consider, instead, walking into the building as a volunteer to make a difference, or supporting your church’s ministry with the public schools.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Pray for your schools. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Most of us know how to pray. There seem to be a few prayers that are common to all: prayer for help; prayers for mercy and healing; prayer for forgiveness; prayer on behalf of someone else; and prayers for personal riches and blessings. Everywhere in the world people pray these prayers to God or gods or the powers, or even To Whom It May Concern. We also know some of the rituals of prayer. Most of us understand that it is best to approach God in prayer with “clean hands and a clean heart.” I take that to mean that before we jump right in praying, we are supposed to take time to prepare ourselves by evaluating our spiritual condition, reflecting on our own personal sins and broken relationships, and confessing all of this to ourselves before God Almighty. Skipping lightly over this first part helps keep our prayers superficial at best.
I believe God hears the prayers of every person in the world, knows our names and is listening to our heart’s cry. God listens for the cry of confession, of repentance, and for forgiveness. God is listening for His name: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Immanuel, Jesus, Savior, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. You know some of the other names also.
The Christmas season is about answered prayer, the names of God, the Word made flesh, and God’s love for every person in this world. As you read this, Dorothy and I are on a journey to the other side of the world to share the power of God’s great love as we teach about prayer and grace and mercy to a sister Baptist church in Brisbane, Australia. We are teaching about praying with our eyes open as we walk through the streets of our community. Seeing what God is revealing before us. Praying, as intercessors, for the heartfelt cries and needs of the people who are right in our path. And discovering the way God would have us minister with those people. Thank you for your prayers for us and the people of the Annerley Church this week.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Open your eyes and heart. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.