Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Flanders Field

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

On Flanders battlefield Christmas Eve 1914 German, French and British troops facing each other, were settling in for the night when a German soldier began to sing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.” Others joined in. When they had finished the British and French responded with other Christmas carols.
The men from both sides left their trenches, met in the middle, shook hands, exchanged gifts, and shared family pictures. Christmas Day soccer games were held. A combined worship service was held to bury the dead from both sides.
The generals were not pleased. Troops who know each others’ names and share family stories are less likely to want to kill each other. War seems to require a nameless, faceless enemy.
After that magical Christmas truce the troops spent a few days simply firing aimlessly into the sky. Then the war turned back to earnest and continued for three more years.
Yet the story of that Christmas Eve lingers – a night when the angels really did sing of peace on earth.
As technology in our global village zooms in on our impoverished neighbors we begin to sense the vulnerability of people in the Developing World. Personal computers and Facebook are providing faces and names to some of our new global friends struggling with extreme poverty. People who know each others’ names are less likely to shrug off the needs of impoverished neighbors. Poverty will disappear when it becomes a priority to the western world.
We are beginning to grasp the fact that all the people on earth compose God’s family. All major religions include concepts of love for one another. As Christians in mission, Emerging Mission Ministries is developing and supporting mission solutions that build on those aspects of love to alleviate global poverty.
When the right time came, God sent a son and a woman gave birth to him. God’s son obeyed the law so he could set us free from the law and we could become God’s children. Now that we are God’s children, God has sent the spirit of the son into our hearts. Galatians 4:4-6

Minot Mission

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

We went. We saw. We prayed. We worshiped. We cried. We lent a hand.

We were two teams. The first departed Southwest District Friday morning 12 August. The team received overnight accommodations from Lydia Zion UMC in Jordan , Minnesota. After a breakfast feast provided by the Rev Larry and Vicky Kasten we arrived in Minot, North Dakota on Saturday evening 13 August and were welcomed into the home of our hostess from Faith UMC, Kara Gross. The team worshiped with the Faith UMC congregation at the home of their sister church Vincent UMC on Sunday morning. After worship we met Judy Roed, the UMCOR project coordinator, who introduced us to the owners of the homes we were to assist. The house of Mr. Rhodes had been underwater up to the roof. The house of Mr. Silseth had suffered flood damage up 3 feet on the main floor walls. The team only worked at the Rhodes residence for one day as asbestos was detected to be present in the ceiling. The team decided to concentrate efforts at the Silseth house. The team finished its work and departed North Dakota on Friday.

Team #2 departed Southwest District Monday morning 22 August and arrived at the Gross home 22 hours later having driven straight through. On Tuesday morning we met with the project coordinator and Mr Ortiz the home owner. The Ortiz house had been under water up to the ceiling. We mucked out the basement and the first floor up to the ceiling. The team completed its work on Friday and departed Minot on Friday afternoon. Their trip to Lydia Zion had an extra surprise with the Southwest District’s UMCOR trailer getting a flat tire along the way. After a restful night, the Kastens greeted them with a good morning breakfast prior to their departure for Indiana.

We saw the aftermath of the Souris River flood that left over 4000 homes, many businesses, and churches in need of flood recovery assistance. Many homes and perhaps Faith UMC suffered extensive damage beyond repair. Teams from churches and charitable organizations are working together in hopes of getting survivors back into their homes before winter. Winters are extremely severe and come early in North Dakota.

We worked alongside the home owners. It isn’t hard to love people who have lost everything. They were so thankful for us. Their appreciation of us increased our faith. They became a part of us. Something very unforgettable happens when you help someone carry once valuable possessions to the curbside amidst the debris. Priceless treasures from spouses, parents, and children buried in a pile of useless clutter along the roadside awaiting the coming trash compactor to be taken forever away.

 Jesus asks his followers to teach others to observe his teachings. He only gave us two. Love God and love one another. Our responses to people in need reflect our love for God.

 

 

Shadow Dancing

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Matthew 11: 16-17 “. . . to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, ‘We piped to you and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’”

Listen . . . Can you hear the sound of music? Can you hear the children laughing? Can you hear the cries of grief and despair?

Someone stole a necklace from our Ilula Orphan Program display at the Pike County Fair. We emphasized that the proceeds from the sale of the African handcrafted memorabilia were to benefit HIV Aids orphans. Pure religion is enacted by caring for orphans and widows. Jesus indicated that as you do not help the least of people you have no part of him. Some people dance to a different tune. The price of the necklace was made up by a volunteer.

A misguided Norwegian assailant murdered 77 men, women, and children last week because of religious differences. Deliberate acts of killing innocent children along with a seemingly lack of remorse complicates our abilities to comprehend rationality for such atrocities as a just war or capital punishment. Where are those among us who cannot weep as the world wails? As you mistreat others you mistreat the Christ.

A former missionary to New Guinea explained that part of her mission service training involved in-depth study of tradition and religious culture. The God of the indigenous people just might be your God. Why can we not dance to the sound of the pipers? Can we hear the beat of pluralism in the drums? Those to whom Jesus was speaking could not hear the music either. The ways in which we withhold love and solidarity from others, we withhold it from Christ.

Can you hear the sound of the music? Some in this global village may be on the verge of shadow dancing.

Of course this text is intended to reflect a Pharisaical comparison of the emphatic teachings of John the Baptist with the compassionate instructions of Jesus. In the larger context, Jesus noticeably emphasizes love to all peoples regardless of religion, culture, and tradition.

How are you sharing faith with persons of other cultures and traditions?

How can Christians and persons of other religions be in mission together?

Is pluralism relevant in our global village?

How can Christians practice pluralism and be faithful to the gospel?

Minot Mission

Friday, July 29th, 2011

In response to an urgent priority appeal from Bishop Coyner, UMCOR, The Dakota Conference, and Faith UMC in Minot, North Dakota, we are planning a flood recovery work team to begin work in Minot, North Dakota on 15 August. 

The following information comes from Rev Debra Ball-Kilbourne pastor of flood ravaged Faith UMC in Minot:

 “Work teams are very much needed, particularly those who come self-contained because housing is at a premium. Schools, camps, churches were all impacted in this flood and there are no motel rooms–survivors are in them. However, we have a large farm in Max (somewhat close to Minot), owned by the Trustee Chair of Faith, where we have an open invitation to house self- contained teams working either on homes or our church. You would find it quite easy to commute to and from Max.

 Snow falls early in this part of the world and people will soon be ill from our flood conditions once cooler weather sets; please come as soon as possible, John. We have more than 4,000 homes and Faith Church that need to be gutted. Most teams come and work during the week days and travel on the week ends. Five days of hard work is about what a team can really do; but if you want to stay longer we will surely welcome you. Tetanus and Hepatitis A shots should be up-to-date before coming. Bring tools with you, such as hammers, crow bars, good, filtered masks, gloves (include surgical gloves to wear inside work gloves), work boots, and long pants. This is very dirty work.”

 We do have to be badged. There is a way to take an online course and get a temporary badge in order to work alongside someone that has been through the training.

 Pastors, please publicize this urgent mission appeal in your church newsletters and bulletins.

 If you are interested in serving on this flood recovery team please contact John Windell at windelljohn@yahoo.com or 812-499-3849 or 812-536-2332.

 

IOP Cistern Project

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Ilula Orphan Program provides education and care for over 1200 HIV Aids orphans in the Kilolo District of Tanzania.  Student sponsorships from 16 countries are providing for this education and care through IOP’s orphanage and Foster Family Program.

Clean water is a valuable resource the world over. Every community is concerned about possessing an abundance of clean water. Inadequate, unclean, and unsafe water supplies are normal for most communities in Developing Nations. Four years ago a well with clean fresh water was completed and now provides an abundance of clean water for the Orphan Center.  

IOP continues to expand. We have experienced the need for clean water in a newer section of the orphanage property. The Guest House, the Internet Cafe, and the shops along the highway do not have access to clean water. We are planning to construct a cistern to meet the water needs of the newly constructed buildings.  

A 20,000 gallon capacity below ground cistern will provide an adequate amount of clean safe water. The project will require about 25,000 bricks with gravel, sand, and cement to make the concrete. Fine sand will be needed for plastering the inside walls. In addition we will need guttering, down spouts, and appropriate piping to transport the rain water to the cistern from each of the buildings. A pump and water lines will be needed to get the water from the cistern to the Guest House and other buildings.

 The estimated cost for the construction of the cistern, guttering, pump, and water lines is estimated at $11,000.

 We are thankful for your previous prayers and support for the Ilula Orphan Program. Your contributions to assist in the construction of this clean water source for the guests, workers, and vulnerable orphan children is greatly appreciated.

Contributions for this new water project can be sent to

Emerging Mission Mnistries, PO Box 116, Fort Branch, IN  47648

 

 

For These Days

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

        Luke 2:13 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

        In the Ozark Mountains there is an old legend that at midnight on Christmas Eve the cattle kneel in adoration of the Savior, who came into their stable many years ago. A part of the legend, however, is that they will not kneel if any human being is watching. This makes the story safe from prying, scientific eyes. We shall never be able to prove or disprove it by the evidence of our senses. That is the way Christmas is, an intimate, ultimate thing, which is ever beyond the eyes of our proud minds.

        It seems to me that there are really two Christmases, one, which we have made, and one, which God has made. There is the Christmas that we see on Every Street – Jingle Bells, lights on trees and houses, reindeer on rooftops, jolly old Santa Claus, and more toys than we’ve ever seen. This is not all bad, but it’s not the real Christmas. The real Christmas is seen in the Advent Wreath, the manger scene, the singing of Christmas carols, Luke 2, the Nicene Creed with its mystery eternally begotten of the Father, …true God from true God, and a child destined to know more poverty and sorrow than anyone ever.

        We don’t understand all that Christmas means. Only the cattle know if they really kneel to the Savior at midnight, and only we ourselves, in our hearts, can know when we are kneeling at the manger. My prayer is that we will be drawn closer to the real Christmas as the Savior beckons us to see with hearts of love.

        How has this Advent Season differed from others?

Advent 3 – - Do You See What I See?

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

        Isaiah proclaimed that the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. . . .

        The Christmas carol asks, “Do you see what I see?” We were sending Christmas gifts to our European children and grandchildren. Since our son-in-law serves in the US Air Force, we have been sending Christmas and birthday gifts to Europe for the past 8 years. The flag at the Post Office was flying at half-mast in honor of Pearl Harbor Day. The day that will “live in infamy” as spoken by President Roosevelt as the US plunged into the “war to end all wars.” Today, nearly 70 years have passed and we are still on the battlefields. Do you see what I see?

        As I pondered the half-mast flag and the impact of war on our planet, my mind raced to the Advent prophecies and especially the one quoted above from Isaiah 35.

        We can only imagine the scene of the blind suddenly experiencing the sense of sight or the incredible shock of hearing sound for the first time and wondering what was happening. Stiff immovable limbs becoming mobile and adult paralyzed vocal cords producing those first unintelligible sounds. Does the prophet expect us to envision these scenes along with a desert blooming and producing flowers and food?

        The Advent lessons teach that the Christ will come and defeat indifference, hatred, war, disease, poverty and hunger. Perhaps as the Christ comes to us we are to become catalysts of change. Changes that will burst forth from the tables of dialog and diplomacy.

        God calls us to move away from our comfort zones and the pools of mediocrity and dive into living streams of dialog, feasting with Christ and recognizing the presence of God in the faces of our enemies. More than anything else this venture will bring forth amazing results of miraculous dimensions. New insights of peace and harmony will replace eyes that have been blinded by policies of strife. Words of tranquility and love shall be a new sound to those having ears dulled with echoes of violence. Bodies trained to operate weapons of destruction will discover new ways of using their strength for service to God and each other. New voices of praise and thanksgiving will replace the cries of revenge and violence. Do you see what I see?

        “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19

Invest in Development

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Invest in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals

“Eradicating extreme poverty continues to be one of the main challenges of our time, and is a major concern of the international community. Ending this scourge will require the combined efforts of all, governments, civil society organizations and the private sector, in the context of a stronger and more effective global partnership for development. The Millennium Development Goals set timebound targets, by which progress in reducing income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion — while promoting gender equality, health, education and environmental sustainability — can be measured. They also embody basic human rights — the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter and security. The Goals are ambitious but feasible and, together with the comprehensive United Nations development agenda, set the course for the world’s efforts to alleviate extreme poverty by 2015. “                                                                                                                                              United Nations Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon

        We have developed a Pastors Seminar and Retreat Center in Ilula, Tanzania. We began the seminar at the request of Tanzanian United Methodist pastors in 2007. Many of the pastors serve churches without attaining adequate education. We have over the past three years, taught short term classes during two weeks in January in Theology, Bible, Missiology, Christian Education, Evangelism, and Stewardship. All evaluations have been excellent and we are continually challenged to offer more training opportunities. Two other pastors and a Bible professor serve as volunteer staff with me.

         The goals of the pastors seminar share ideology with the 1990 United Nations’ Eight Millennium Development Goals for which hunger and poverty are to be halved by 2015. This past January our classes included three women pastors and Lay Leaders, which embraces the Millennium Development Goal of gender equality. The Pastors Seminar is being expanded to include Vocational Training. The vocational training includes methods for increased agriculture productivity through poultry production, bee keeping, and new techniques of gardening. Another aspect of the technological training will include knowledge and training in Industrial Arts with the pastors learning techniques of carpentry.

         The churches provide basic leadership in the rural communities. With the pastors teaching the new techniques of food production and opportunities for employment as carpenters, the church community will lead villages and rural communities to attain the reduction of poverty and environmental sustainability in Africa as per the Millennium Development Goals.

         Ilula was selected as the location for the Tanzanian seminar because of its strategic location. It is the home of the Ilula Orphan Program and is located on one of Tanzania’s two improved roads nearly half the distance from Dar es Salaam to Zambia. A successful trucking industry has been established and provides employment for long distance over-the-road truck drivers from companies in Dar es Salaam and Zambia. The trucking industry has introduced long haul drivers to the area seeking food and overnight accommodations. The trucking industry has resulted in some new service opportunities for local employment. Unfortunately it has also been the cause of increase sexual activity between the drivers and local residents. The unfortunate result is the escalation of the HIV Aids virus which increases the number of orphans as parents succumb to the disease. Two of the Millennium Development Goals are to combat HIV Aids and assure that all children receive a basic education. The Pastors Seminar supports and works alongside the Ilula Orphan Program providing HIV Aids prevention and crisis counseling, and through Student Sponsor and Foster Family Programs is assisting with the education and care for more than 1200 HIV Aids orphans. We have added a medical professional on the Pastors Seminar staff to address how the pastors can effectively provide HIV Aids prevention and crisis counseling in their church communities.

         In July of 2010, after having served congregations for 37 years, I retired from parish ministry in the United Methodist Church of the Indiana Conference. I have made several volunteer-in-mission trips to Tanzania and other countries and am experiencing a strong desire to assist pastors in the Developing World to obtain the necessary education to lead their church communities. I plan to conduct two seminars in Tanzania in 2011 consisting of 2 weeks each. One in Ilula and the other in Kigoma, located in the western sector of the country. The inclusion of a seminar in Kigoma will decrease the cost of transportation for some of the pastors who travel across country to attend the seminars.

         I am extending an invitation for your corporation to invest in this International Level Training to help achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

         In order to provide one seminar we must raise the following funds: Transportation, food, books, accommodations, and supplies is $280 per student. The impoverished churches cannot provide salaries for the pastors therefore we raise funds to transport, accommodate, feed, and train pastors. The per capita income for Ilula and the Iringa Region is less than the equivalent of 50 cents per day. The transportation, accommodations, food, teaching supplies, and travel insurance for the teaching staff is $2825 each. Honorariums for interpreters is $300. Tanzanian Teaching Assistants in Agriculture, Industrial Arts, and an HIV Aids medical professional is $1200. Plans to increase the number of seminars to 2 per year and to extend some of the seminars to 4 weeks will require additional funds. To provide the funding for a 2 week seminar for 20 students, 4 teachers-professors, 1 HIV Aids medical professional, 4 interpreters, 2 Agriculture and Industrial Art instructors we must raise $20,425. This amount includes $500 per week compensation for teachers-professors. Thirty-four pastors and Lay Leaders indicated their desire to participate in the January 2010 seminar, however we could only raise funds to allow for an attendance of 20 pastors.

         Your investment is tax deductible. Please send funds to Emerging Mission Ministries, First United Methodist Church, PO Box 116, Fort Branch, Indiana 47648.

         In order to become more involved with Ilula Orphan Program, a mission ministry that is only 12 years old, includes 17 programs to help vulnerable and impoverished people, attained over 200 acres, has 49 employees, established a new church, animal husbandry, farming/gardening, sponsors over 1200 orphaned students, is building a High School, you are invited to come and visit us at Ilula, Tanzania.

         You may support the entire pastors seminar or any individual segment of the program. All responses will be itemized, recorded and posted for the benefit of the benefactor.

Pastors Seminar and Retreat program ____

Ilula Orphan Program ____     Students Tuition ____

 Instructors expenses ____      Instructors compensation ____

Construction of Pastors Seminar and Retreat Center ____

 

Thanks for your time and assistance.

John E. Windell

http://ilulaorphanprogram.org/

http://www.ilulaorphanprogram.org/web/iopfilm.html

http://emergingmissionministries.com/

 

The Pastors Seminar is held on property owned by the Ilula Orphan Program. We are planning to construct a Pastors Seminar and Retreat Center in Ilula on property that has been made available. Watch for details on the web site.

 

Advent 2

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

        She was a young twenty-something Native American. We were told to watch out for her. She was suspected of pan handling personal items from other volunteer-in-mission work teams.

        In chapter 11 the Isianic writer relates a radical scene of future peace. Leopards, goats, wolves, and lambs relaxing together as life-long friends. Lions and cattle enjoying a feast of nutritious straw. Children and snakes playing together in total fear abandonment. It reads like a page out of a make-believe story book.

        One of the Advent themes is hope. The prophet is describing a day of hope. A righteous hope that redefines fairness and justice in terms beyond comprehension.

        Our team was rebuilding a burned out Community Center at Shiprock near Four Corners. She quietly joined our team meetings. We invited her to eat with us. Meal times are always spiritual occasions with mission work teams. She was invited to join our devotions and discussions. She began to express her doubts and questions about faith. As the weeks came to a close she had become one of us, part of our team.

        Grace is amazing! The peaceful scene among former enemies posed by Isaiah seems like fantasy running amuck. The change affected by grace in the lives of people is no less dramatic. The entire message from God through Advent/Christmas is summed up as, “I forgive you.” She was there as we were departing, with a gentle smile, exchanging her address for ours. I’ll not soon forget her. We shared Christian love with hope and peace and watched as faith began to germinate.

        What is your hope for this Advent?

Advent 1

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Advent is a futuristic event that resounds from the past and surrounds our presence. We were at the mall. I saw the sign and stopped for curiosity’s sake. “Ice Cream of the Future” so named because the astronauts eat it. I sampled the BB sized ice cream pellets kept at 30 degrees below zero. It was delectable! The ice cream and the Christmas décor piqued my future and present senses. 

We were the best kind of tired. Forty-five of us had toiled together loading a 23,000 cubic foot shipping container bound for the Ilula Orphan Program in Ilula, Tanzania. IOP is providing for over 12,000 orphans. The best kind of tired is the joy received from giving for the benefit of others. 

The Hebrew writer teaches that it was for joy Jesus endured the cross. I wonder whose joy? His joy? I doubt that it was a joyful experience for him. It was for the benefit of others that Jesus endured the cross. I suspect rather then, it was for our joy. Whenever we exert ourselves for the benefit of others the presence of Christ saturates us. When the orphanage receives the container loaded with supplies and gifts, the presence of Christ will saturate and overflow the senses of the entire village. 

It’s been called Africa’s biggest humanitarian crisis. Fatima Usman has seen two of her children die from hunger and another from cholera. Her remaining 4 month-old child is getting help from a clinic. But her body is not producing enough milk for him.

Advent means God “coming to” us. It’s a futuristic event that piques our senses through messages of the past and occurrences of the present. As we make preparations for the Feast of Christmas, God’s presence will invade our senses. How can your Advent preparations make a difference for others?