A Clear Vision

As I work on creating a clear vision for the future of Kupenda 127, my research has led me to many other amazing organizations doing phenomenal things.  I wanted to share some of these encouraging stories with you.  In the very near future, we will be releasing our vision for where we are headed.

Have you heard of Project 127?  They are out of Colorado and have made it their goal for Colorado to have no waiting children.  In 2007, there were more than 800 children waiting in foster care…today there are none.  Their mission is spreading…check out this awesome  news slip and article about what Arizona is doing to continue the mission.

This movement has also spread to Fresno, California.  Christian Alliance for Orphans has highlighted this program in a great blog that you can read here and here.  Or you can check out the full article from Christianity Today here.

And even right here in the Pacific Northwest, the least churched region in America.  CAFO also wrote a blog on the awesome upcoming events and programs in Oregon and Washington.  You can check that out here.  I am part of the planning for the Spokane Orphan Summit.  If you are in the Spokane area, I strongly encourage you to attend.  Portland churches are supporting their foster community, read this encouraging article here.

And finally, a video about a family who adopted 5 siblings from Peru.  While today’s post has been mostly about domestic programs and movements, our heart is for the orphan — no matter where they are from.  And this video is encouraging too, because domestically most waiting children are older and have siblings…  And we need families to step up and take in these kiddos too.

I hope these videos and articles encourage and inspire you.  If you would like to partner with us in some way, please contact me.  And please be praying for us and we move through the next weeks of changes and new exciting happenings.

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Use Your Power For Rescue

I wanted to share an amazing opportunity to support a fantastic organization.  The guys (and gals) at The Exodus Road are changing lives.

They need to fund some upcoming investigations.  The time to end child sex trafficking is now.  Please check out this link for info on buying this fantastic shirt and supporting this organization.

 

I also encourage you to follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

They are working in the trenches to end trafficking.  Right now, they are in SE Asia working with investigators and local police to assist in investigations and prosecution of traffickers. And they need our help to keep these missions going.

So show them some love and get this awesome limited edition tee-shirt and show not just them but the world that you are committed to end human trafficking and the trafficking of child sex slaves.

Announcing…Our Partnership with Youth Sport Uganda

A couple of months ago, Joshua Opolot contacted me about partnering with his organization, Youth Sport Uganda.

Their mission, “YSU works towards a world where all young people have the opportunity to improve their lives through access to sports and recreation.”  {taken from their website}

They work in Kampala, Uganda in the slum districts.  Providing sports and recreation to the poorest of children, including programs for girls.

One of the reasons that I love this program is that they not only provide something for children to do that is healthy, they go so much further.

Started in 2006, they have helped thousands of children from all types of backgrounds — differences in socio-economics and religion come together to become friends.  They do other amazing things like address health issues (including HIV/AIDS awareness) and promote health and education across Kampala and into the rest of Uganda.

Their program started simply and has grown to truly be a “sport in development” program.  It provides these children with stability, opportunities, and a change for future success and to truly excel in life.

Joshua was kind enough to share some photos of their projects with me and now I would like to share them with you.  {These are not my photos, they have been used with permission by Joshua Opolot of Youth Sport Uganda}

Happy kiddos with new stuffed animals!

The amazing Joshua Opolot!

Looks like fun!

Field hockey rocks!

Check out their website and Facebook page for even more great photos and information on current stuff happening…and follow them on Twitter.

Youth Sport Uganda is able to grow and thrive because of people like you…and they are in need of sponsors for some of their participants.  In the coming days, we will be featuring some of these kiddos.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, you can contact me or Joshua.  Sponsorship can literally change a child’s life — giving them hope and a future.

And more great stuff…if you live in the Spokane area, we are going to be holding a sports equipment drive this spring and want to send them lots of great stuff.  If you have sports equipment that you would like to send them, please contact me at spokanegirl26@gmail.com.  If you don’t live in the Spokane area but would like to send them some awesome stuff or host a drive yourself, let me know.

AND…even more awesomeness.  I might be most excited about this.  Joshua and some awesome, wonderful ladies are sending us beaded necklaces and bracelets.  100% of the money goes directly back to Youth Sport Uganda.  You will not want to miss out.  These are not only gorgeous, they support such a great cause.  More to come on the beads, but please comment or e-mail me for information on purchasing them.  {Pictures are courtesy of Joshua Opolot.}

So beautiful!

Hard at work!

These are must haves 🙂  Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, birthdays, just because!

So much more to come, but we are thrilled to partner with such an amazing organization.  They are truly the hands and feet of Jesus.

Letter to an Investigator

Blog for Rescue
The Exodus Road is such an amazing organization.  They specialize in covert operations to free victims of trafficking and bring the traffickers to justice.  They have presented an awesome opportunity for you to be a part of this journey.
I can only imagine what it is like to be an investigator in these dark, scary places.  Where your life could literally be on the line at any given time.  How difficult it must be to gather evidence to form your case, leaving victims in these brothels until the police can arrest their captors and bring them to justice.  And what about when the system doesn’t work?  Your case is dropped and the criminals get off.  How discouraging.
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Laura Parker, an Exodus Road staffer, wrote in her open letter, “Thank you for pairing action with conviction, and thank you for your sacrifice on behalf of the oppressed. I know that you seldom get thanked or recognized, seldom get the pats on the back that you very much deserve, but please know from this family, you are a bit of a hero.  A lot of a hero.  Because you do the work that so few have the guts to do. You stay up late at night, and you choose to expose yourself to things the rest of us want to ignore.”

And they are extending to you an opportunity to write a letter too!  Handwritten letters (our preference) can by mailed by January 5 to:

The Exodus Road
PO Box 7591 Woodland Park, Colorado 80863

OR you can simply submit your letter online.

They will print, translate, and deliver the letters in person to these AMAZING investigators in January.  They will also make copies so each letter gets to each investigator.

A simple gesture that can reach so far.  These guys rarely (if ever) get a thank you — especially from strangers around the world!!

I would like to challenge my readers to send a letter — my goal is 10 letters.  I will be writing one and my daughter too.  So, if just 8 of you sent a letter we could meet that goal.  Comment or message me so I can see if meet this goal.  It only takes a few minutes but could provide needed encouragement to keep these guys going!

Watch the Video

 

Advocate — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

 

Check out: John 14:16–21

I chose this topic to continue my posts because of my career, advocate is a word that I am  very familiar with and I thought it would be great to connect it with Jesus and living second.

My previous job title:  Advocate.

I think of all the names of God:  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega, Bright Morning Star.  I don’t usually think of Advocate.

As I read through today’s devotion, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made this connection before.  It became so clear to me, that the Holy Spirit is EXACTLY that…our Advocate.  Wow.

In the social work world, especially when dealing with court stuff, you will hear the term advocate.  I served as a CASA/GAL (Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem).  I served as a Shelter Advocate.  A Transitional Housing Advocate.  A Life Skills Advocate.  (You can see why I connected with this word!)

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “For those who call God their God, he grants an advocate, a lawyer who stands guard over our case, who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  Let’s break it down a bit, shall we?

“For those who call God their God.”  This is a special gift from God to His children!  In the CASA program or at the shelter, our advocating was a gift to those who were our clients.  We didn’t advocate for everyone, just “our own.”  But all you really had to do was meet our criteria and ask.  It’s the same.  God’s criteria:  call Him your God (and all that goes with that too!).

“He grants an advocate.”  You don’t have to pay for an advocate.  They are gifts, granted to you.

“A lawyer who stands guard over our case.”  Think of lawyers for a minute.  An attorney who accepts a case, stands up for you — regardless of fault.  They fight for you.  They stand guard over your case.  They talk for you, when you can’t talk for yourself.  They are willing to jump into the mess you are in to help you.  An advocate is exactly like that, minus any financial gain.  They are willing to do it because they believe in you!  Because they care for you!  With nothing to gain for themselves.  They stand guard, they speak up.

“Who helps in our time of need, who advocates on our behalf.”  This is the most critical piece.  Our time of need.  When do we get attorneys?  When we are in need.  Why was I appointed as a CASA?  Because the child had a need.  As a shelter advocate, my clients were homeless and victims of domestic violence.  They had need. Advocates come when there is need.  When we can’t do it on our own.  They hold our hand, they speak words we cannot speak for ourselves.  They give us a voice again.  They give us strength to carry on through our need.

In my work, I often worked with immigrant victims of domestic violence.  Oh, how I love these women!  They often were at a greater disadvantage because English was generally their second language, our court system was even more confusing to them than to most.  They had been lied to, told that no one would help them, or worse — that we would hurt them.  So, to be given the great privilege of working with these beautiful women was an honor to me.

I have seen tears stream down these women’s faces.  Pain and sorrow.  The privilege to say for them what they could not say.  To get to know their hearts.  To protect their secret pain.  To hold their hand.  To do battle for them.

An immigrant client had an appointment with DSHS.  Due to language barriers and general lack of understanding, the case worker kept insisting my client meet certain requirements.  My client, more than happy to do that but legally unable, could not find the words to explain her predicament.  The ability to step in and clearly convey this, not only helped them develop a better working relationship, but helped both of them reach their goals.

Another client, working with immigration, did not want to share her most painful story.  The torture of reliving the abuse.  The humiliation she had felt.  The gift of being able to stand for her and with her, gave her strength to get through those most painful moments.  She is thriving now!

Doug Bender goes onto write, “He helps. He guides. He remains. He is with us, whenever, wherever, forever.”  Wow.  What a tremendous gift we have been given.  A helper.  A guide.  Someone who NEVER leaves us or forsakes us.  Someone who fights for us.  No matter how ugly the attacker, how evil the force — He is there for us.  We have been richly blessed by this gift.  The only requirement — that we call God our God.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

Giving in 2012

Let’s get the basics out of the way…I strongly encourage you to check out Compassion’s catalog.  You can purchase gifts and make donations that give life and bring God’s love and light to a dark world.  As you read and think about what giving Biblically means in your life, I encourage you to consider Compassion.  They are a fantastic organization doing great work around the world for “the least of these.”  #itsaboutgiving

Question posed:  What does it look like to give Biblically in today’s culture?

Our culture has changed dramatically over the last decade or so, with the boom of technology and growth of the internet.

When I was younger, to give meant getting a name of the giving tree at the local mall or dropping some coins in the Salvation Army bucket.  I was not exposed to the need beyond my community.  I knew it existed, but I didn’t REALLY know the need.

Now, we are bombarded by awareness of need and tragedy.  My Facebook feed has more requests for donations than status updates.  Every time I open my email, I feel the need that exists.

But then are we desensitized by the overwhelming nature of things?  I remember hearing statistics the first time, the shock and horror that I felt.  Now hearing the number of orphans in the world, doesn’t get to me the way that it once did.  Sure, I feel the burden — the desire to be a part of the solution.  But it is different.

So, getting back to the actual subject — giving Biblically.  What I think is most beautiful is that Biblical giving has never really changed.  It’s the same.  God’s expectation’s of us are the same — how they play out is different, but the basis is the same.  And it’s the same for me and you.  God expects us to give sacrificially.  (Check out my post on sacrifice for more thoughts on that.)

We are so blessed.  Abundantly blessed.  Check out this for a great reminder of just how blessed we really are.

In America, we have resources at our fingertips that millions and millions of people around the world, do not have any access to.  Water for instance.  Can you imagine getting through the day, cooking, cleaning, drinking, laundry, dishes, everything — on a couple of gallons of {dirty} water?  That you spent hours hauling for miles?  We think that we have busy lives.  Imagine what you would have to give up if you had to walk a few miles each time you needed some water.  And that using that water could cause your family to become ill, even die.

Question:  When you think of giving, do you feel joy or obligation?  Does handing over that money make you happy?  Or do you give just enough to not really feel the sting?  That you don’t really need it, so it’s ok to share?  What if God asked you to dig a little deeper…to give a little bit or a lot more?  Would you feel joy then?  Is giving money harder to give than purchasing a gift for a needy person?

Think about what God has said about His expectations of your giving (my emphasis):

  • Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. ~ Deuteronomy 15:10
  • There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. ~ Proverbs 11: 24-25
  • He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. ~ Proverbs 28:27
  • And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” ~ Mark 12:41-44
  • And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” ~ Luke 3:11
  • In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ~ Acts 20:35
  • Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
  • If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? ~ James 2:15-16

Reading God’s Word about giving is refreshing and convicting.  This is truth, no matter our outward circumstances.  We are to meet the needs of others.  Even in our own poverty.  We should give until it hurts (Francis Chan).

I will leave you with these quotes about giving…they are pretty powerful.

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” ~ Richard Braunstein

“Remember this—you can’t serve God and Money, but you can serve God with money.” ~ Selwyn Hughes

“As base a thing as money often is, yet it can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor. It can keep a missionary actively winning lost men to the light of the gospel and thus transmute itself into heavenly values. Any temporal possession can be turned into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.” ~ A.W. Tozer

Give this Christmas and throughout the year.  I challenge you to follow Francis Chan’s words about Biblical giving and give until it hurts.