The Boy Who Lost His Finger to a Bear
Seven-year old Padam Shah was born in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal, close to the Tibetan border. He lived in such a remote region that the closest village market was a seven-day walk. Snow covers the ground six months of the year.
Padam’s family was very poor, making their living by keeping sheep. Tragically, Padam’s parents both died of tuberculosis, and so Padham lived in a tiny hut with his married brother. They were barely surviving. Pradam spent all his time watching sheep graze, all day, every day.
One day while Padam was shepherding, a bear attacked him. He fought with all his might and escaped with his life, but lost the index finger on his left hand. He also suffered leg lacerations. His only coat—already ragged—was shredded even more. But it was all he had to keep warm when he soon returned to his daily task of watching sheep.
Thankfully, God had better plans for Padam. A national Nepali evangelist named Henry was led to preach the gospel in the remote region where Padam lived, and he learned of Padam’s plight. Moved with compassion, Henry was eventually able to bring Padam to Kathmandu to live with his brother’s family, as they were burdened to open their home to orphans. That orphanage is now supported by Orphan’s Tear. Just four weeks ago, a family in the United Kingdom found Padam at OrphansTear.org and became his sponsors. (We currently have ten other Nepali orphans waiting for sponsorship at OrphansTear.org.)
Padam had never eaten with a spoon before coming to the orphanage. And when food was presented at any meal, he ate voraciously, obviously uncertain of his next meal. Under the ample love of his new parents, however, he has flourished. Most importantly, he has come to know the Lord, and if you ask him what his aspiration is, he will say that he one day wants to return to his people in the mountains to tell them about Jesus.
These kinds of happy endings are what the ministry of Heaven’s Family is all about. Included in this update are four more from around the world that I hope will touch your heart. Thanks for making them all possible. We’re all looking forward to a very big happy ending, one that will be just the beginning. — David
A Widow’s Might
The Widow’s Fund at work in Nepal
Three weeks before I visited Nepal in May, Madan Thapa died of cancer, leaving behind his 26-year-old wife, Sunita, and their 7-year-old son, Philemon. Madan had made a tolerable living, for a Nepali, driving a truck. Sunita supplemented their income doing full-time domestic work that earns her about $19 per month. Still, with their combined income, Madan and Sunita could only afford a one-room, $15-per-month apartment in a crumbling brick building on the outskirts of Kathmandu. They were proud, however, that they could afford school, exam and uniform fees for their son Philemon. He would have a better future.
When Madan passed away, Sunita’s grief was compounded knowing that she and Philemon were destined for a life of destitution. Even if Sunita were to remarry, chances are good that a new husband would not be willing to support Philemon—a stark reality for poor Nepalis that is difficult for those of us who eat every day to understand. Philemon would have to be given to willing relatives or put in an orphanage.
Sunita’s parents couldn’t help her, as they died years earlier, and Sunita’s three siblings have little means to help either, being equally poor. In fact, Sunita’s sister, brother-in-law, and their daughter live in a single room just across the hall in the same apartment building. Having a limited education and no special job skills, the future indeed looked bleak for Sunita and Philemon.
But there is a happy ending: Sunita and Philemon were introduced to me by their pastor who spoke highly of their strong faith in Jesus. Because of the generosity of Heaven’s Family supporters, money was available in our Widows Fund to offer help. I was blessed to leave Sunita with a new treadle sewing machine, along with funds that will allow her to quit her job and attend a one-year tailoring school. Beyond that, I gave her enough money to pay for all of Philemon’s school expenses and take care of all their living expenses for one year. The total was about $1,000. Needless to say, it was a happy visit I had with a grieving widow and her little son. Thanks for saving the day.
“The Lord supports the fatherless and the widow” (Psalm 146:9).
The Price of Rice
The Rice Fields for Orphanages Fund at work in Myanmar
Due to the rising price of oil, it is not only costing all of us more to drive to our local grocery stores, but the food we buy there is also more expensive. That is due, not only to the rising price of gasoline, but also to other forces of supply and demand. With more crops being grown for biofuels, increased demand for meat and dairy foods from China and India’s burgeoning middle classes, and adverse weather patterns, basic food commodity prices are rising all over the globe.
What has, however, become an inconvenience to the world’s economic elite (that’s all of us), is life-threatening to the world’s very poor. The average American spends about 12.5 % of his income on food. The average person in many developing nations spend 60 to 80% of his significantly smaller income on food.
In Myanmar, the price of rice has more than doubled in some areas over the past two years. In Pakistan, the government is now rationing wheat, the price of which has increased 150% over the past year. The World Bank has estimated that, overall, food prices have risen by 83% since 2005.
When food doubles in price for those who spend 60% of their income on food, those people go hungry. Even before the current world food crises, about 800 million people went to bed each night hungry and malnourished. You may not have heard about it, but there have been recent food riots in Haiti, Indonesia, Afghanistan, India, Egypt, Somalia, Bangladesh and Cameroon. In Haiti, some of the poorest are actually eating soil mixed with salt, sun-baked into cookie-sized wafers. (See http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WireStory?id=4212012.)
Recently, the regular flow of emails from our thirty-one orphanage directors in Myanmar, like the one below, has been increasing:
As always shown and demonstrated in our monthly financial report to you, the greatest burden and big problem we have for the children now is about for their meals (foods). More than a half from your support is used or spent for the rice. So, the result is lack for the other materials which are really necessary for the children. Shalom Children Home is praying for the rice’s field.
The good news is that, because of gifts to the Rice Fields for Orphanages Fund, we’ve been able to purchase, so far, rice paddy acreage for nine of our orphanages. This has been a tremendous help to them. We’d like to do the same for all forty-one of our orphanages in eight nations. Gifts to the Food Fund have also recently made it possible for us to help hungry members of our spiritual family in Pakistan. Thanks so much. Watch the new video, Rice Fields for Orphanages, about the children of
one orphanage in Myanmar who have benefitted from gift of a rice field.
“I Was a Stranger”… from Eritrea
The Christian Refugees Fund at work in Eritrea
You may never have heard of the nation of Eritrea, which borders Sudan and Ethiopia in northeast Africa. Over the past few years, however, its already-repressive government has been gaining a reputation for severely persecuting Christians, especially those who are aligned with independent churches. An estimated 2,000 believers are currently imprisoned without charge or trial, languishing in prison camps. Torture is routine, as authorities attempt to force believers to renounce their faith. Some have died for refusing.
As recently as May 28th, Eritrean authorities jailed thirty-four more Christians in a house church raid. All men and women present were taken to prison. Their children were left behind.
Because of all this, tens of thousands of Eritrean Christians have fled their homeland, trekking across dangerous deserts, with the hope of finding safety in primitive refugee camps in Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya and Kenya. Believers who remain in Eritrea meet together very secretly. Heaven’s Family has been serving the underground church in Eritrea by carefully supplying copies of The Disciple-Making Minister to English-reading pastors.
Last month, Canadian friends Paul and Anne Brandner traveled to Ethiopia to serve Christian Eritrean refugees, taking with them copies of The Disciple-Making Minister and $3,000 from our Christian Refugees Fund. With some of those funds, they were able to provide much-needed necessities, such as oil, wheat, soap, anti-malarial medication, razors and tooth brushes for members of our family who live among the 15,000 refugees at Shimelba Refugee Camp. With the remaining funds, they intend to provide two wheat grinders for the churches at Shimelba. The wheat provided by the United Nations is not ground, and refugees must give one-third of their wheat ration as payment to
have it ground.
Each of the pastors of the three churches at Shimelba Refugee Camp joyfully received a copy of The Disciple-Making Minister. More copies will soon be shipped. Anne reported that when she gave her final copy to an Eritrean pastor named Ammanuel— a refugee who had been tortured in prison for his faith—he looked at the cover and exclaimed, “I know of this author!” He proceeded to tell Anne about a pastor from South America who had visited him recently and recommended our teaching. Ever since, Ammanuel had been praying for a book by David Servant. God answered his prayer!
A Cuban Angel
The Books for Pastor’s Fund at work in Cuba
Earlier this year, pastor Carlos Rialto (not his real name) helped us print the first edition of the Spanish translation of The Disciple-Making Minister for distribution in his native country of the Dominican Republic. But Carlos has set his sights on other Spanish-speaking nations in Latin America, and so he smuggled a few copies into communist Cuba in late May. He successfully made it through Cuban customs with his contraband, a small miracle in itself.
Carlos gave one copy to the pastor in the above photo (who is a friend of mine), and then stepped back to take a “tourist photo” of his wife, the pastor, and the book. However, a hotel security officer stopped them, examined the book, confiscated it, and then showed it to an undercover security agent standing nearby. (This is how things are in Cuba.) Carlos quietly prayed that they would not search the bag he was carrying, as it contained the remaining copies.
As the security agent examined the book, he began questioning the Cuban pastor, who nervously answered all his questions. After a few minutes, the security agent leaned closer to the pastor and said in a low voice in Spanish, “Relax, we are all covered by His blood! Praise God! Can I get a book like this to buy?” A second small miracle.
None of those who were present for that incident knew that a bigger miracle would be occurring in a few weeks. I wish I could tell you the details of that miracle, but I can’t. It resulted in 1,000 pastors being equipped!
Incidentally, when Carlos returned to the Dominican Republic, he wasn’t permitted to enter the country due to a technical error by immigration authorities, and so rather than flying back to Cuba, he flew to Orlando. There he was arrested by U.S. immigration authorities for a 15-year-old probation violation from his money-laundering days before Christ. He consequently spent forty days in the Orange County Jail waiting for his plea date. During that time he led twenty-seven other prisoners to the Lord, holding two-hour Bible studies with them twice a day! Carlos is now a free man. And we’ve just shipped twenty copies of The Disciple-Making Minister to the chaplain of the Orange County Jail!
Join Us in Myanmar this Fall!
Trip of a Lifetime
This Fall we’re taking two teams to Myanmar. The first team will be going November 8-21 and the second team will be going November 28 – December 12. Although the second trip has reached its limit for team members, there are still some slots open for the first team. For more information, please email us.
I’ll be speaking at Calvary Full Gospel Church, south of Pittsburgh, on Sunday, July 6. And I’ll be speaking in Berkley Springs, West Virginia, the weekend of July 12-13. For more information about either of these meetings, please email us.
Building Orphanages is as Easy as Eating Pie!
H/F Orphan’s Tear
This November, just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, some wonderful churches will be hosting Orphan’s Tear Great Pie Auctions, proceeds of which will help build dormitories for some of our neediest orphanages. Not only do folks have a great time bidding against their friends for homemade pies, but they also help provide better places to live for little followers of Christ who don’t have parents. If your church would like to be involved, please contact us soon. We can provide everything you need to know and full-color bulletin inserts.
Don’t Stop Your Love!
Historically, July and August are when contributions slow down for most ministries. However, Heaven’s Family never stops loving. Thanks for remembering your family over the next few months. And thanks for the privilege of serving you as you serve “the least of” Jesus’ family around the world.