Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Partners Blog: "Mom Andres gives an object lesson on Burma"

Steve and Oddny Gumaer started Partners Relief & Development in response to the needs of refugees and displaced people from Burma. This blog is meant to be a more personal stream of conversation than newsletters allow for. The opinions expressed here may not be those of Partners Relief & Development.

Mom Andres gives an object lesson on Burma

"This short video, recorded in Saskatoon Canada, was done to help small children understand what is happening to children in Burma. Watch and share it with your young friends. To do it yourself you need a tray, milk, pepper, and dish soap. I almost forgot, you also need a frowning bad guy face."
CLICK HERE to read the rest of this post

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 30, 2011

PROVIDENCE PRESBYTERY, SOUTH CAROLINA - Seventy-nine-year-old Isabell Johnson opens the door. Standing on the stoop is a smiling, white-haired volunteer bearing a tray of hot food from the Union County Meals on Wheels. Isabell smiles back through the oxygen tubing wreathing her face. This is the one hot meal that she can count on eating today in her rural home.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Advent Devotional for November 30

"This Advent Season, start — or end — your day with these meditations provided by faculty, students, and alumni/ae of the Austin Seminary community."
CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Wedbesday, November 30

Luke 21: 34–38

Anticipation. Yearning. Anxiety. Hoping. Waiting. Isn’t that what this Advent journey is all about, waiting on the world to change? Jesus’ parable in Luke 21 is telling disciples - both then and now - that the celebrations and disappointments of this world should not be the primary focus of humankind. For a worrier like myself, those are harsh words to digest. They become exponentially more difficult to enact when confronted with the brokenness of creation that manifests itself in disease, oppression, consumerism, poverty, and war. As John Mayer suggests, who could possibly rise above and beat these things? And by which means?

How easy it is to feel hopeless in the face of such great needs. How quickly we allow the matters of this world to distract us from divine blessing. So we wait. Simultaneously balancing the joy found in God’s eternal assurance with our compassionate action to aid a hurting world, we wait in hopeful tension for the Child of Promise. We wait because we know that through the Jesus of Crib and Cross the world will change as God comes to be with us and for us in this world. We wait for that signal of Creation’s nearing redemption. Alert and steadfast, we wait for the world to change.

God of Promise, we yearn for the light of your coming. Focus our hearts on that which is truly important. Renew us by your love that we may face both present and future with hope and joy. In the name of the One who is to come, Amen.

Cam Burton
MDiv Student
Pastor, Decker United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas






For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teichert Prayer Letter for November

Karl and Jenny Teichert are serving the Lord as missionaries with OC Africa, in South Africa. They moved to Johannesburg in November, 1997 with their four children; Ann, Scott, Stephen and John. Karl serves as the Southern Africa Director of the Southern Africa Regional Team. Their vision is to see a healthy, Bible-based church established in every un-reached village and community in South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and beyond. Their strategy is to partner with key African church leaders to research, train, and mobilize the body of Christ to complete the Great Commission. They are striving to equip local leaders in Southern Africa to reach their nations for Christ and send missionaries into other countries as well.

November Letter ...

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
    Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government
    and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and
    upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

~ Isaiah 9:6-7


Dear Family and Friends,

May you have a blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth during this holiday season. Trusting that Christ’s righteousness, justice, and peace are revived in your life.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and generous support for us in the Lord’s mission to Southern Africa. We are deeply grateful for your enduring partnership and friendship.

For His Kingdom and Glory,

Jenny for the Teicherts

OC Africa is an interdenominational ministry committed to developing, equipping, and mobilizing church leaders to multiply healthy, Bible-based churches in every community in Southern Africa and the world. OC is a faith-based mission who depends on the Lord to provide committed, financial supporters and partners. The contributions from these individuals help generate ministry opportunities around the world, impact missionaries and their global work, and provide a means for the International Mobilization Center to function. CLICK HERE to learn how YOU can be a part of mobilizing church leaders around the world by donating to OC.

Project Girl to help ECPAT-USA mark 20th anniversary

From EPCAT-USA ...

Project Girl, an arts-based initiative designed to empower young women, will be performing at our 20th Anniversary Celebration on November 30th, in New York City. If you haven't already purchased tickets for the event, it's not to late for the opportunity to see these talented young women perform. If you're still not convinced, we should point out that this incredible performance collective put on a show at the White House earlier this year. Don't miss this rare opportunity to see a unique and powerful piece specifically for the cause of Child Sex Trafficking.



PROJECT GIRL PERFORMANCE COLLECTIVE from Jon Ecklund on Vimeo.


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 29, 2011

PEACE RIVER PRESBYTERY, FLORIDA - In 2011, Cedarkirk Camp and Conference Center will celebrate forty years of ministry. This unique ministry has always sought to be a place apart to build up the body of Christ in love. Youth find acceptance and a safe place to explore and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, and churches retreat and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Cedarkirk strives to create a place where conversation around the dinner table, canoe trips on the river, and walks in the woods revive and feed one's spirit. Throughout its history, generations have come to Cedarkirk, encountered God through their common life together, and left empowered to go back into the world and share God's love.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Advent Devotional for November 29

"This Advent Season, start — or end — your day with these meditations provided by faculty, students, and alumni/ae of the Austin Seminary community."
CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Tuesday, November 29

Micah 4: 6-13

As an undergraduate in 1990, one of my favorite songs expressed the hope felt by many at the fall of the Berlin Wall. The song, “Right Here, Right Now,” by Jesus Jones repeats the chorus, “Right here, right now, there is no other place I want to be. Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history.” Being elated at the collapse of oppressive governments, I thought that healing, restoration, and peace found in justice could finally take root and become fruitful.

And here we are more than twenty years later still seeing oppressive governments collapse, and still hoping for healing, restoration and peace found in justice. All the while, still reeling from the aftereffects of 9/11, economic recession, the Texas drought and wildfires. Micah’s words capture unfilled hope and the desire for justice and peace.

Yet, Micah also reminds us that hope has to carry us on as we struggle to wait for restoration. In spite of our anguish, as we groan and squirm, Micah invites us to arise and tread on. For a baby is to be born and new life will come; the living Christ found in the midst of us. The living Christ found in serving, loving, and forgiving our neighbor. So as we wake up from history, we move forward in the hope expressed through Jesus’ birth, and in knowing that God gathers us, rescues us, restores us, and moves us closer and closer toward God’s ultimate design.

God of compassion and strength, we know that you’re always our counselor and our guide. Help us see the living Christ as we wait; help us acknowledge the promise of your restoration and the salvation that comes in spite of suffering. God help us open our eyes to understanding the relationship between justice and peace. Amen.

Laurel Dixon
MDiv '11






For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.

Monday, November 28, 2011

ChinaAid: Chinese preacher persecuted, files lawsuit over her administrative detention

The China Aid Association is a non-profit Christian organization - based in Midland, Texas - with a mission to uncover and reveal the truth about religious persecution in China, focusing especially on the unofficial church. They do this, they explain in their website, by exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused and equipping the saints to advance the kingdom of God throughout China.

Chinese preacher persecuted, files lawsuit over her administrative detention

Released by ChinaAid, November, 2011 ...

"SHANDONG, CHINA – A woman preacher certified by the official Three-Self church and who preached for many years in a government-approved church was administratively detained for five days last month and has filed a lawsuit over the incident, ChinaAid has learned.
Read the Rest of the Report from ChinaAid

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 28, 2011

NORTHEAST GEORGIA PRESBYTERY - The Presbyterian Student Center is a campus ministry at the University of Georgia that is supported by Northeast Georgia Presbytery and its congregations. Presbyterian campus ministry at the university began in 1940 and moved into the Presbyterian Student Center in 1959. Since that time, untold numbers of students have come to this community and matured in their faith while growing into disciples and leaders. Students worship together every week, join to form small groups, and seek to serve others in the community in various ways.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Advent Devotional for November 28

"This Advent Season, start — or end — your day with these meditations provided by faculty, students, and alumni/ae of the Austin Seminary community."
CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Monday, November 28

Psalm 79

A woman I know in Northern Ireland lost her husband at an early age. One minute they were on a family vacation on the coast; the next, while holding their newborn child, he suffered an immediately fatal heart attack. In her early forties, she was widowed with four small children. Her husband was not only the love of her life, but also the family’s sole source of income.

Grief-stricken and hopeless, she sought council from her parish priest. In the midst of her outpouring, she finally mustered the courage to tell him how deeply, viscerally angry she was with God for letting this happen. This old Irish priest responded by quietly leading her into the sanctuary and standing her right in front of the altar. After a few moments of silence, he told her: “Tell God how angry you are at Him. Scream, yell, and weep for as much and as long as you wish. The Almighty can bear your grief. He hears you.”

In a similar way, Psalm 79 is Israel’s stance before God in a period of utter pain and desolation. It is tempting for us to shirk away from intense texts such as these, but the same powerfully emotive lines that make us recoil can also carry us to God in our darker hours. In this season of waiting, let us adopt these ancient words as our own and trust that we too are heard.

Ever-near Spirit of God, who prays for us when we cannot, inspire us to claim these scriptures from the shadows; so that the Coming Light may more fully enter our lives. Amen.

Bart Smith
MDiv Student
Student Body President






For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Video Vault: New Spor from ECPAT-USA

As Congress considers passing a law to authorize funding for the development of shelters for sexually exploited American children, ECPAT-USA is launching a 60-second public service announcement, entitled "Princess." The PSA tells the all too common story of children sold into the sex trade and spells out the simple truth that "dragons aren't the only monsters." JWT New York is the agency that created the PSA. The video aims to raise awareness and gain support for legislation in the United States.

Contact your United States Senator and ask him or her to support S. 1301: Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011.


Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 27, 2011

MINUTE FOR MISSION: ADVENT - With six children, four dogs, two birds, and a tank of fish, we have mastered the art of keeping an eye on what is happening around the house. Nearly simultaneously, either of us can monitor our thirteen-year-old son playing with the dogs, eavesdrop on the fight between our eight-year-old twin sons, ask our thirteen-year-old daughter to help clean the fish tank, and encourage our nine- and eleven-year-old daughters to leave the birds alone.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Advent Devotional for November 27

"This Advent Season, start — or end — your day with these meditations provided by faculty, students, and alumni/ae of the Austin Seminary community."
CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
CLICK HERE to learn how you can support the mission of Austin Seminary


Advent Devotional for Sunday, November 27

Mark 13:24–37

This passage contains a great promise. But it also contains a great temptation.

The temptation is for us to claim to know more than we know. There is a long and embarrassing history in Christianity where people have named a year or a day and said: “This is when the end will come.”
Thus far, everyone who has made that claim has been wrong. Yet people continue to comb through Daniel and Revelation and similar passages, announcing their predictions with great fanfare—and it seems, often a little financial profit. But Jesus is as clear as can be: “But about that day or hour no one knows …”

People are sometimes urged to act as if the world would end tomorrow. I would suggest the opposite: Act as if the world will NOT end tomorrow. Act as if there will still be a world tomorrow, and you will still be in it, and you will have something important and significant to do in God’s service. Be aware. Watch. Keep awake. But do all these things with open eyes, busy hands, and active feet. Let the one who promised to return be with you now, and in the world now, through you. Tomorrow might not bring the end. But it can always bring a beginning.

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to awaken us, embolden us, and energize us. Help us to work as we wait, that you may find us watching, and working as we watch. Amen.

David Johnson
Director, Program of Formation in Ministry
Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality





For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 26, 2011

PRESBYTERY OF NEW HARMONY, SOUTH CAROLINA - Established in 1736, Williamsburg Presbyterian Church in Kingstree is known as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother church of 37 congregations. From the roots of this congregation, Christ's church has grown and grown and grown, and its members have been nurtured and challenged to deepen and widen their faith.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Friday, November 25, 2011

In the News ... "Audit shows diocese in compliance of charter to protect children"

Staff Report
Midland Reporter-Telegram

SAN ANGELO, TEXAS - The Catholic Diocese of San Angelo recently completed an audit of its Safe Environment Programs. Auditors from Stonebridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York, evaluated the diocese to confirm compliance with the United Sates Catholic Conference of Bishops' (USCCB) 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the MRT story

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 25, 2011

PRESBYTERY OF GREATER ATLANTA, GEORGIA - When the world came to Atlanta in 1996 for the Summer Olympics, Atlanta was already growing in many directions. The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta continues to grow in numbers, diversity, and mission as it seeks God's will for a new day and a new age.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Partners 2012 Calendar now available

Partners' 2012 calendar is now available for pre-order to be shipped in December. The pictures in this year's calendar were taken by Partners Relief & Development staff and friends who have engaged with the people of Burma. These photos are part of Partners' story. As they endeavor to bring free, full lives to the children of Burma, they catch these sublime moments to remember and share.

CLICK HERE for more information, and to order.


Steve and Oddny Gumaer started Partners Relief & Development in response to the needs of refugees and displaced people from Burma. Partners Relief & Development is a registered charity in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States. Their mission is to, through holistic action, demonstrate God’s love to children and communities made vulnerable by war in Burma.

My 2¢ ... A rant and a wish for Thanksgiving

First, something for which I am less-than-thankful, this Thanksgiving ... my annual plea to the media to please, please, PLEASE ignore the people waiting for hours-on-end outside the doors of some megamania superstore, jostling to be the first to glom onto some Black Friday bargain.

I know, I know ... too late ... especially now that Black Friday begins on Thursday, or even Wednesday ... especially now that some people are going to greater lengths to get their fifteen minutes of fame ... this last, perhaps, best exemplified by
some mook in a 'Tigger' costume, camped out for Black Friday.

And, yes ... I realize I'm contributing to the very thing about which I'm complaining, by sharing/spreading the video,

To give CNN Headline News credit, though, at least they placed the report on that guy in a proper perspective by also airing reports on the steps being taken to place a holiday meal on the tables of mess halls in Afghanistan, for our men and women of the armed forces ... and what soup kitchens are doing to provide a Thanksgiving meal to others who are camped out on the streets tonight (NOT because they want the biggest, best TV e-vah ... but because they have no place else to go).

Sheesh, Jeff! Enough ranting already!

So, I will close with this ... wherever you are, whoever you are ... a happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In the News ... "Angel Tree ornaments go up at Wal-Mart"

By Mark Sterkel
Photographer
Odessa American

ODESSA, TEXAS - Salvation Army Lt. Stephen Correira and Salvation Army Corps assistant Chris Cooper placed Angel Tree ornaments on a tree Monday at the eastside Wal-Mart.

This is the first year that the Odessa Wal-Marts have participated in the program.
CLICK HERE
to read the rest of the OA story

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 24, 2011

FOOTHILLS PRESBYTERY, SOUTH CAROLINA - What could be more exciting than responding to God's call? Nothing could, for leaders within Foothills Presbytery who work with youth and young adults. Yet they are familiar with the din of the surrounding culture that can make inaudible God's voice. The language of call within the church has been silenced by ever-rising voices that speak of successful careers rather than faithful callings. To speak of one's life as a faithful calling indicates the active engagement of God as the voice of one who calls: thus God is the Caller in the dance of life. To explore the depths of call, these leaders created "Ceilidhs in Contexts," a Fund for Theological Education grant program designed to help young people explore call.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Partners Blog: "What CAN I do?"

Steve and Oddny Gumaer started Partners Relief & Development in response to the needs of refugees and displaced people from Burma. This blog is meant to be a more personal stream of conversation than newsletters allow for. The opinions expressed here may not be those of Partners Relief & Development.

What CAN I do?

"Pastor Edmond – a Karen man, and hero of the faith – once exhorted our CCSG missions team to “not focus on all we CAN’T do, but ask ourselves what CAN we do?”

I’m normally living and working along the Thai-Burma border. I’m back in the USA on a medical leave. Although I feel limited and restrained right now, I began pondering the things I CAN do, and not the things I wish I could do."
CLICK HERE to read the rest of this post

In the News ... "Volunteers in need for holidays"

By Lyxan Toledanes
Reporter
Odessa American

ODESSA, TEXAS - Store shelves are already stocked full of gifts to be exchanged during the holiday season, but local organizations are hoping for some things that can’t be bought.

Quintessentially known as the “season of giving,” the Thanksgiving and Christmas season warrants the need for more volunteers at nonprofit organizations.

“We depend so much on volunteers, because we have such a small staff,” Catholic Charities Executive Director Faye Rodriquez said.
CLICK HERE
to read the rest of the OA story

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 23, 2011

PRESBYTERY OF FLORIDA - First Presbyterian of Milton's congregation wondered, "How can a small church with declining membership and an aged congregation be of service?'' Over time, the members had turned inward, lamenting all that they no longer had: youth, a choir, energy, spirit. Then the congregation began an outreach based on what they did have: a charming, historic downtown church and a functional, welcoming fellowship hall. Members became supportive of Angel Food Ministries and Family Promise. Twp agencies performing spirit-led community work. Still diminished resources hindered their efforts.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Word from Uganda: "Ugh!! UMEME!"

Missionary teacher Natalie Rolfe writes, "'When He calls me, I will answer ... I'll be somewhere working for my Lord.' My call was Mbale, Uganda and that is where I have returned to serve for another year. Specifically, I am teaching phonics at Lulwanda Children's Home, an orphanage and school for 90 kids." Natalie also keeps an online journal of her service at the weblog, When He calls me, I will answer ...

Ugh!! UMEME!

“Ugh!--- UMEME!!” I find myself saying this phrase a lot recently, well at least in my head. UMEME is the local word for power or electricity. And for the last month we have had power twenty four hours on, twenty four hours off- at best. Lame! They call this load shedding.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of Natalie's post


If you are interested in supporting LCH by sponsoring one of the 90 children, go to ugandaorphans.org/ If you are interested in financially supporting Natalie in her mission, you can send checks (with "Natalie Rolfe" in memo) to: Midland Bible Church, 2800 North A Street, Midland, TX 79705

Invitation to Prayer

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Examination of Faith

“Dear God,
When Mommy told me that
The little baby growing in Margie
Died last night,
I was surprised and angry.
I prayed to You, God.
I prayed every night and
I prayed every day and
We all prayed that this
Sweet little baby would live.
When Mommy told me that
The baby died, I said,
‘Then our prayers didn’t work!
God didn’t listen! God didn’t
Make a miracle for the baby!’
Mommy said that You
Always listen to our prayers,
But sometimes Your answer
Is not what we were wishing for,
And ‘prayers’ are not ‘wishes.’
She said that maybe letting
The baby come into Heaven
As such a tiny angel was a miracle.
There are miracles every single day
Except we don’t always notice them,
Because we were hoping or wanting for
Something different than what we got.
So God,
Thank You for all the miracles
You give to us each day.
And thank You for listening
To all of our prayers.
And even though I am sad about
Margie’s baby, I am not angry with You.
Amen.”

Hope through Heartsongs, by Mattie J.T. Stepanek

A message from Chris Laufer, Coordinator, Faces of Children

Greetings, Faces of Children Prayer Partner,

Not long ago, I was given a book by the late poet, peacemaker, and philosopher Mattie J.T. Stepanek. This young man lived a brief life, but one that was full of spiritual depth and a maturity beyond his age. Mattie’s physical limitations were quite significant—his disability, Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy, affected his breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, etc. www.mattieonline.com

Yet despite those limitations, Mattie was able to write seven books, give inspirational speeches around the country, make appearances on television programs (Oprah, Good Morning America), and work with national leaders for the cause of peacemaking. By the time Mattie was 13 years old, he had completed most of the courses he needed to graduate from high school. He died just a few weeks before his fourteenth birthday.

Mattie’s poem above, written when he was almost 6 years old, mirrored some of the same doubts I’ve had over the years about my own prayers and their significance. I’ve questioned whether God heard my prayers about people I love who still got worse and died; about significant episodes in my life that were unbearably painful; about situations that didn’t seem to improve for the children involved. And then something will happen to remind me that God has heard and answered each prayer, just not perhaps in the way I wanted.

This poem by a not-quite-6-year-old is just such a reminder. Even though I may never know why certain things happened the way they did (despite my fervent prayers for a different outcome), the words of Mattie’s mother * reassure me that God listens to our prayers and answers them, even though the answer may not be what we had hoped and prayed for all along

Please join us in prayer for children on Wednesday, November 23, 2011, at 11:30 a.m. in the Bride's room at First Presbyterian Church-Midland. Lunch ($5) and fellowship will follow.

If you have requests about children, those who care for them, those who have authority over them, or those who harm them (the really hard prayers to say sometimes), please send them to me at at claufer@facesofchildren.net, or give me a call. Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer for the children of our world.

Celebrating the unexpected answers,

Chris


* I’m not sure I agree with Mattie’s mother’s theory of God “letting” the baby enter Heaven. If including this poem in the weekly devotion has caused you pain because of the loss of a baby or child, I sincerely apologize.

Project Girl to help ECPAT-USA mark 20th anniversary

From EPCAT-USA ...

Project Girl, an arts-based initiative designed to empower young women, will be performing at our 20th Anniversary Celebration on November 30th, in New York City. If you haven't already purchased tickets for the event, it's not to late for the opportunity to see these talented young women perform. If you're still not convinced, we should point out that this incredible performance collective put on a show at the White House earlier this year. Don't miss this rare opportunity to see a unique and powerful piece specifically for the cause of Child Sex Trafficking.




PROJECT GIRL PERFORMANCE COLLECTIVE from Jon Ecklund on Vimeo.


In the News ... "Andrews Woman Making a Change, One Stitch at a Time"

By Jen Kastner
KWES-TV

ANDREWS, TEXAS - She's making a difference, one stitch at a time. NewsWest 9 traveled to Andrews to meet a woman who's a true sewing machine and she's doing it to help make the world just a little better.

"I started sewing when I was 12 years old and I've sewn all my life," Wanda Miller said.

Now at 82 years old, she still won't quit. It's plain and simple. She loves it and she's good at it.
CLICK HERE to read/watch the rest of the KWES report

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 22, 2011

FLINT RIVER PRESBYTERY, GEORGIA - What do you see God doing in the world? For several years, Flint River Presbyterians have been asking themselves and one another that question. Looking for evidence of God's action among them within the presbytery and in the larger world, individuals and congregations have also been listening for God's voice calling them to join in God's work. In listening, the presbytery began to discern a call to ministry and mission with Spanish speakers within the presbytery and abroad. But how?
CLICK HERE to read more.

Monday, November 21, 2011

ChinaAid: Authorities ban Christian student fellowship in Inner Mongolia, detain leader for 15 days

The China Aid Association is a non-profit Christian organization - based in Midland, Texas - with a mission to uncover and reveal the truth about religious persecution in China, focusing especially on the unofficial church. They do this, they explain in their website, by exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused and equipping the saints to advance the kingdom of God throughout China.

Authorities ban Christian student fellowship in Inner Mongolia, detain leader for 15 days

Released by ChinaAid, October, 2011 ...

"ULANQUAB, INNER MONGOLIA – Chinese police and religious affairs officials last month shut down a Christian students fellowship group in Inner Mongolia and administratively detained its leader for 15 days, in China’s ongoing persecution of house churches and any Christian group that meets outside government-approved churches.
Read the Rest of the Report from ChinaAid

In the News ... "Salvation Army kicks off holiday programs with red kettles"

By Kathleen Thurber
Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - Although the Christmas season has not officially begun, the Salvation Army already is working to help families have a way to celebrate.

Its Red Kettle program kicked off in Midland on Tuesday and will continue through Dec. 24, Capt. Tex Ellis said. Next week, Angel Trees will go up in both Walmarts and at Midland Park Mall. The paper angels each represent a child who can be adopted for Christmas through the provision of clothing and a gift.

"It's amazing to see the generosity of the public," Ellis said, describing the responses they see to the outreaches.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the MRT story

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 21, 2011

CHEROKEE PRESBYTERY - Cherokee Presbytery is focusing on God's mission in the world as reflected in the new Ministry Manual: "Cherokee Presbytery is one model of a missional church which equips its members as missionaries sent by God to live and proclaim his Kingdom in the world." Newly installed, the Rev. Rebecca M. Blackwell is mission coordinator.

Here are a few of the exciting projects the presbytery has undertaken.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 20, 2011

MINUTE FOR MISSION: CHRIST THE KING/REIGN OF CHRIST - Cristo es el rey! Christ is the King! As our group of Vanderbilt students rode the bus at 5:30 a.m. through the countryside of Guatemala, I saw these words painted above the door of a small church.

Soon after passing that church, Tania got on the bus with her bag, and her mom, Antonieta, introduced her to us in Spanish. Antonieta, our facilitator from Cedepca, a mission partner of the PC(USA), had invited her 22-year-old daughter to work with us for the week at the hospital in Santiago Atitlan.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

'No Room at the Inn," TODAY at Grace Prez-Midland


Grace Presbyterian Church, 2801 N. Garfield St, will host "No Room at the Inn," a fundraiser for Family Promise of Midland, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm on Saturday, November 19.

More than 100 nativity scenes will be on display, and there will be a children's corner, refreshments, a silent auction and raffle for a Christmas quilt. Suggested $5 donation at the door for adults; $1 for children.

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 19, 2011

CHARLESTON-ATLANTIC PRESBYTERY - During a Barnwell Presbyterian Church session retreat in late 2007, elder Angie Boyles asked, "Is there a building where the Soup Kitchen Ministry could expand to feed the hungry more than just one day a week?" Elder Dan Packer suggested that the nearby American Legion post had a building that it no longer used. Post 46 gave its building to the church so that it might continue its service to the community.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nativity set helps provide education to children in a war zone

Buy a nativity set handcrafted by villagers in Shan State, Burma, and help support village schools.

For the last 30 years the children in the village did not have a school beyond 4th grade in their area. Now they have a chance to complete 7th grade. These little (6.5cm tall) nativity sets make it possible.

Partners buys the sets. The money the villagers receive covers the expenses to run the school. The children get to study and the adults get a job.

By buying one of these sets you will help children go to school. And you will have a unique, handcrafted nativity set that you can give as a gift or put in your living room. We can’t think of a more meaningful gift this Christmas!

CLICK HERE for more information, and to order.

  Shipping available ONLY to addresses within the USA.
  Orders close November 19 and will ship first week of December.

Steve and Oddny Gumaer started Partners Relief & Development in response to the needs of refugees and displaced people from Burma. Partners Relief & Development is a registered charity in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States. Their mission is to, through holistic action, demonstrate God’s love to children and communities made vulnerable by war in Burma.

In the News ... "Operation Christmas Child kicks off shoe box drive"


By Audrie Palmer
Reporter
Midland Reporter-Telegram

MIDLAND, TEXAS - In the past five years, volunteers and churches in West Texas have donated approximately 22,878 shoe boxes during the annual Operation Christmas Child campaign and this year, officials said they are hoping to do more by opening additional collection sites in the area.

OCC, a national campaign and a part of Samaritan's Purse ministry, takes donated items such as school supplies, clothing, toys and personal hygiene items and packages them up in shoe boxes to be dispersed to children all over the world.

Midland Bible Church, 2800 N. "A" St., will serve as a relay center for those wanting to drop off shoe boxes during the national collection drive week from Nov. 14-21.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the MRT story

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 18, 2011

CENTRAL FLORIDA PRESBYTERY - Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all'' (Mark 9:35). In the 500th anniversary year of the birth of John Calvin, John Calvin Presbyterian Church in south Orlando taught Central Florida Presbytery a lesson in the meaning of this text. For forty-nine years, this congregation had been active in ministry. Young people grew up to go forth and bless congregations as ministers and elders. Members were active in the Federation of Congregations United to Serve in Orange County. The English-speaking, multiracial congregation nested Hispanic and Brazilian congregations. Then the Orange County School Board offered to buy the church property for a school expansion.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

'No Room at the Inn," this weekend at Grace Prez-Midland


Grace Presbyterian Church, 2801 N. Garfield St, will host "No Room at the Inn," a fundraiser for Family Promise of Midland, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm on Saturday, November 19.

More than 100 nativity scenes will be on display, and there will be a children's corner, refreshments, a silent auction and raffle for a Christmas quilt. Suggested $5 donation at the door for adults; $1 for children.

In the News ... "Teens praise God through song"

By Lyxan Toledanes
Reporter
Odessa American

ODESSA, TEXAS - For many teens, Sundays usually mean the final day of weekend freedom before school starts back up again.

While the day can be idled away, at First Baptist Church - Odessa, teens spend Sundays with God and music on their minds.

Every Sunday, 65 teens in seventh through 12th grades sacrifice their afternoons practicing for at least one hour for the Unashamed Student Choir.
CLICK HERE
to read the rest of the OA story

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 17, 2011

THE SYNOD OF THE SOUTH ATLANTIC - By 2007, a new church development opened the doors of its new church building to the surrounding community. Hamilton Mill Presbyterian Church (HMPC) in Hoschton, Georgia, holds special events like "Trunk or Treat," Invite a relationship with Christ.

The diversity of the community is reflected by members from Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, and Africa. God has blessed the membership with the opportunity to learn from and grow with one another.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Partners Blog: "Learn to Live Training Report, October, 2011"

Steve and Oddny Gumaer started Partners Relief & Development in response to the needs of refugees and displaced people from Burma. This blog is meant to be a more personal stream of conversation than newsletters allow for. The opinions expressed here may not be those of Partners Relief & Development.

Learn to Live Training Report, October, 2011

"Since, 2009 Partners has been working with two other Non-Government Organizations to provide training of community leaders in Shan State, Burma. In March to May 2011 we brought together several program areas to deliver training of students from Shan State on how to empower community leaders in:
Education
Economic Development
Social problems
Community Health"
CLICK HERE to read the rest of this post

Faces of Children: Prayer Requests

Faces of Children is an ecumenical prayer ministry under the auspices of First Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas. Our mission is to initiate ministries of prayer for children in churches, communities, and neighborhoods. In doing so, we seek to provide an opportunity for people of God to join together, learn about children and their needs throughout the world, and celebrate Christ's love (especially as it relates to children).

Prayer Concerns for the week of 11/16/11

CHINA - Please pray that God will comfort the parents and family of 2-year-old Yueyue, a little girl who was run over multiple times in the street while more than a dozen people walked or drove by and didn't stop. Yueyue died from her injuries a week later.
A report from the Washington Post
Another report from the Washington Post
Another report from the Washington Post (Warning: Includes graphic video)

Pray God will be at work in the hearts of the drivers that hit Yueyue and left her lying in the street. Pray for all those who walked past her broken body and did not stop to help.
Pray for a change in the hearts and minds of those in China who are afraid of being arrested or sued for stopping to render aid. Good Samaritans have been accused of causing the injury when they have stopped to help an injured person. Pray that love for one another will overcome fear of retribution.
Please pray for an awakening in the hearts of those who are not outraged or disturbed by this incident. Pray that indifference to suffering will be replaced by compassion and love.
Pray for justice for Yueyue and all children who are abandoned in times of crisis or emergency.

INDIA - Please pray that the girl children of India will be recognized for the blessings they are to this country. Pray for a change in attitude of those who perceive female children as financial burdens or as of no value to society.
Pray for pregnant mothers who are pressured into aborting female fetuses because of these societal perceptions. India's 2010 census estimates there are 7.1 million "missing girls" out of a total population of 1.21 billion people-girls whose lives were ended before birth often because of the easy access to cheap ultrasound tests at illegally-run sex determination clinics.
A report from IPS News
Give thanks to God for the Kopal (sapling) program that educates parents and communities about the adverse physical and psychological effects on women who have sex selective abortions.
Pray the laws regarding sex determination before birth are upheld and enforced throughout the country, especially in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand where the child sex ratio has dropped to 886 girls per 1,000 boys.

Kenya ( CURE International: www.helpcurenow.org ) - Pray for the disabled children receiving treatment at the CURE International Hospital in Kenya and for the medical staff and caregivers there. Also pray for two 9-year-old girls, Kiswii and Muema, and their needs.

Malawi, Tanzania ( Marion Medical Mission: www.marionmedical.org/ ) - Give thanks to God for the work of the staff, volunteers, and African partners with Marion Medical Mission in providing clean water sources for communities in Malawi and Tanzania. As of late October 2011, more than 2,046 wells have been installed.
Pray God will provide the resources needed to continue the work of building shallow water wells in villages and communities in these countries. The ministry goal is to build 2,500 shallow water wells.
Pray for the volunteer team members-the field officers, installation supervisors, and builders-who are very tired. Pray God will encourage and sustain them in this important work of building shallow water wells and bringing clean water to the children and people of Malawi and Tanzania.

UNITED STATES - Please keep in prayer New England residents who continue to deal with the aftereffects of two powerful tropical storms that struck within a week of one another last August.
A report from KOMO-TV News
Pray for children and families who are still homeless in upstate New York and in Vermont because of the severe flooding caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee. Pray for those who have lost businesses and jobs-pray for those who struggle to provide for their families.
Please pray for students and faculty of schools flooded by Irene and Lee-many are experiencing great trauma.
Keep the students at Middleburgh High School/Middle School held close in prayer (the facility had extensive physical damage) and give thanks to God they were able to return to school far sooner than expected.
A report from the Middleburgh School District
Another report from the Middleburgh School District
Index of reprts from the Middleburgh School District

FACES OF CHILDREN - Please continue to pray that more churches and individuals will join with the ministry of Faces of Children in spreading awareness about children in crisis and inviting more people to pray for children at risk.
If you have prayer requests about children, those who care for them, those who have authority over them, or those who harm them (the really hard prayers to say sometimes), please send them to Chris Laufer, FOC Coordinator, at claufer@facesofchildren.net

In the News ... "Running Preacher keeps boy's memory alive"

By Nathaniel Miller
Reporter
Odessa American

ODESSA, TEXAS - The “Running Preacher” David Johnson has a reason for doing all that running.

While it might seem crazy to some, Johnson, who will be running his 11th marathon in 11 weeks Sunday, is doing it all to help keep the memory of Jeremy Bader alive.
CLICK HERE
to read the rest of the OA story

Today in the PC-USA Mission Yearbook

The Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study is a daily devotional with 365 inspiring mission stories that come from next door and all across the globe. It inspires thousands of Presbyterians daily as they uphold the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in intercessory prayer. The stories for the 2011 Mission Yearbook were collected around General Assembly Mission theme “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide” based on Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 9:35. Each yearbook page bears witness to the abundant possibilities of the church because of the leadership of Christ.

Today in the Mission Yearbook: November 16, 2011

YELLOWSTONE PRESBYTERY - As a presbytery and as individual congregations, Yellowstone Presbytery seeks to join God in mission in mission in Montana and beyond.

Pastor Debbie Funke of Manhattan Presbyterian leads a weekly God-quest group of about twenty young adults in her home — people who are looking for a substance-free environment to talk about life and faith, but who would not think of attending Sunday church.
CLICK HERE to read more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Word from Uganda: "Inflation"

Missionary teacher Natalie Rolfe writes, "'When He calls me, I will answer ... I'll be somewhere working for my Lord.' My call was Mbale, Uganda and that is where I have returned to serve for another year. Specifically, I am teaching phonics at Lulwanda Children's Home, an orphanage and school for 90 kids." Natalie also keeps an online journal of her service at the weblog, When He calls me, I will answer ...

Inflation

There are things that are so basic that we often take for granted. Let’s take sugar. Shockingly, the cost of sugar has increased from 2300 shillings/kg about four months ago to 6000 shillings/kg. In the past month, it has not been uncommon to see sugar increase by 1000 shillings in a day.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of Natalie's post


If you are interested in supporting LCH by sponsoring one of the 90 children, go to ugandaorphans.org/ If you are interested in financially supporting Natalie in her mission, you can send checks (with "Natalie Rolfe" in memo) to: Midland Bible Church, 2800 North A Street, Midland, TX 79705