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February 2009

Home, Sweet Church, February 2009

home sweet church cuba
Pastor Jose’ (not his real name) and family standing on the porch of their new home…and church

As we all face the
realities of an economic recession, it should remind us that the downturn we
fear is still hundreds of times more desirable than what the majority of the
world’s people experience all their lives and have no hope of escaping. We are
still so blessed, even if we only have food on our tables and a roof over our
heads. Our Bibles tell us, “If we have food and covering, with these we
shall be content” (1 Tim. 6:8).

Speaking of roofs over
heads, this month’s feature story is about a Cuban pastor and his family who
just moved into a house purchased for them by Heaven’s Familyfor $400. They’re thanking God for such a
wonderful blessing, knowing that so many others in Cuba have so much less.
Their new house will also serve as a gathering place for the thirty-five
members of their church.

I hope you enjoy
reading about others among our spiritual family around the world who
are rejoicing because of your compassion. I’ve also written a special article
this month titled, The Truth About This Little Ministry that you don’t want to overlook. And thanks
for continuing to care for “the least of these” in Jesus’ family.
While those in darkness fearfully cling to their diminishing wealth, the family
of God keeps on loving. — David

Home, Sweet Church
The
Cuban House Church Fund at Work

 

home sweet church cuba
A real estate bargain: A house we purchased in Cuba for $400 that is now being used as a church as well as a residence for the pastor and his family. Inset: The pastor with his wife and daughter.

Like Clark Kent, you
would never suspect him. He’s 67 years old, has gray hair and wears glasses. He
works as a sales rep, but only as a means to support his secret other life. He
loves to sneak around communist Cuba on spiritual assignments. I
can’t reveal his name. But last month, he completed an amazing assignment,
personally traveling across central and eastern Cuba and distributing 3,000 of
our Spanish books to pastors. Even more amazing is the fact that those pastors
represented at least twenty-four different denominations, including Baptist,
Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Episcopalian, Orthodox, Apostolic Faith, Church of
God, Methodist, Open Bible, and Church of Christ. The books were printed
clandestinely.

home sweet church cuba the dsicple making minister
Episcopalian priest and his wife, with copies of the Spanish TDMM

Under
the harassment of an anti-God government, and suffering the inevitable
poverty of communist economics, the church in Cuba has been steadily growing
for decades. Literature to help equip leaders is in high demand. Some Cuban
Christian leaders requested four-hundred copies of The Disciple-Making
Minister
to distribute to
their house church leaders, but we could only supply them with twenty copies.
We hope to answer their prayers with another successful printing.

Using gifts to
our Cuban House Churches Fund,
our Clark Kent also purchased a house that is now being used for a young church
of thirty-five members in central Cuba (see photo above). It cost only $400,
and it will also serve as the pastor’s residence. By making it illegal to
construct new church buildings since he assumed power in 1959, Fidel Castro
unwittingly helped launch a house church movement that has swept across Cuba.

If you were to visit
Cuba, just 100 miles from Key West, Florida, you would be shocked at the level
of poverty you would find. In rural areas, people live in tiny shacks or
tilting clapboard houses with rough concrete floors and no ceilings. Urban
areas are generally crumbling and in disrepair. When Hurricanes Gustav and Ike
roared through parts of Cuba in August and September of last year, there was
little resistance.

Cuba’s government has
done next to nothing in the aftermath, and people are still living in makeshift
huts constructed of hurricane debris. Clark delivered, on behalf of Heaven’s
Family
, food for a number of
Christian families who are suffering great needs, and funds to repair damaged
homes using gifts to our Disaster Relief Fund. Clark told me about a mother living in one
makeshift shack, who, upon receiving money from him, prayed, “Father,
thank you that even when the government does nothing to help us, You send
people from other nations to come and supply our needs.” We pray that we
could be the answer to the prayers of many more of our Cuban brothers and
sisters in Christ.

house churches destroyed
In some places, Gustav and Ike just took roofs. In other places, they took everything.

The Bigger Picture: 100% of all gifts to the Cuban
House Churches Fund
are
used to purchase houses that will serve as new churches in Cuba. Hundreds of
dedicated Cuban church planters need such houses. We have excellent connections
in place to help them.
100% of all gifts to
the Disaster Relief Fund are
sent overseas to help Christians affected by cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes,
tsunamis and so on. Since 2005 we’ve assisted believers affected by natural
disasters in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, China, Myanmar and Cuba. Cuban
Christians still desperately need our help.

And 100% of all gifts
to the Books for Pastors Fund are
used to translate, print and distribute copies of our 500-page equipping
manual, The Disciple-Making Minister, now in twenty languages, to pastors around the world. We need to
print thousands of additional copies in Cuba to meet the demand.

Learn how you can help

 

Sichuan’s Second Shaking
The
Bibles for Believers Fund at Work in China

chinese believer with a new bible
A new believer named Chen Siao Ying receives a Bible in Sichuan Province

Revival Christian
Church in Hong Kong, pastored by our dear friend Dennis Balcombe, has sent
fourteen teams so far into China’s Sichuan Province since May’s earthquake that
killed 69,000 people, injured another 375,000, and left as many as eleven
million people homeless. Those teams have ministered to the survivors in Jesus’
name, bringing food, medical supplies, tents, and most importantly, the
gospel. Heaven’s Family has
helped with gifts from our Disaster Relief Fund.

The areas most
affected by the earthquake were, according to Dennis, historically some of the
most gospel-resistant in China. In the worst hit regions—namely Wenchuan and
Beichuan—not a single church existed. In northern Mianyang Township, which is
strongly Buddhist, over 10,000 people perished in the devastation. Yet, in the
southern half of that same township, where Christians and churches abound,
there was little damage.

Since the earthquake,
there have been some encouraging signs of increasing spiritual openness. Dennis
reports that one church in Mianzhu Township, where his teams have been serving,
has grown from 70 to over 1,000 members since May. The old church building is
still standing but is damaged, and so those 1,000 Christians have been
gathering in twenty-six meeting places. There was a need for 930 new Bibles!

chinese new converts with bibles
Some new Chinese believers (and some of their cute children) with Bibles provided by HF

Using funds from
our Bibles for Believers Fund,
we’ve been able to provide Bibles for many new believers in earthquake-affected
areas of Sichuan Province. One of those who received a Bible is Chen Siao Ying,
pictured above. She is now living at a government tent shelter for earthquake
victims, having lost her home, but thankfully, none of her loved ones. She is a
brand new believer, having come to the Lord through the witness of a team
member from Revival Christian Church.

The Bigger Picture: Since May, Heaven’s Family has provided 4,900 Bibles for new believers
in Sichuan Province. In December, we financed the smuggling of thousands of
Bibles into China’s Yunnan Province. Gifts to the Bibles for Believers
Fund
made these projects
possible. Thanks so much.

Learn how you can help


The Man of the House
Orphan’s
Tear at Work in Myanmar

by CJ McDaniel


Joshua and his new family at Anna’s Orphanage

Our dilapidated taxi
is winding its way through a bustling market outside of Yangon, Myanmar. As we
descend down the last bumpy dirt road towards our destination, our host, Anna,
begins to tell us about Joshua, a seven-year-old orphan recently placed in her
care.

Joshua’s mother died
several years ago, leaving him and his younger sister with a blind and
alcoholic father who was unable to work. Joshua’s father found himself in a
desperate situation, and tragically, was more concerned for himself than he was
for his two children. So he sold Joshua’s three-year-old sister, Ruth, to
some neighbors for sixteen dollars. It is unclear why those neighbors purchased
her, but it was perhaps out of compassion for her, to save her from her
uncaring, alcoholic father.

Joshua and Ruth’s
father bought food with the proceeds of her sale, but he didn’t share it with
Joshua, so Joshua would walk into the forest every day, gather bamboo shoots,
and boil them until they were soft enough to eat. This filled his stomach, but
after weeks of eating bamboo he developed a rash all over his body as well as
stomach pains that caused him to double over in pain. When Joshua’s father
tried to sell him as he had sold Ruth, no one wanted such a sickly child.

Joshua’s father
apparently felt guilty for selling his three-year-old daughter, and with many
threats, he forced her buyers to give her back. Eventually, he handed both
Joshua and Ruth over to their aunt.

Joshua and Ruth’s new
home was not much better than their former home. Their aunt spent most of her
income on alcohol as well, leaving the children with little food to eat. She
eventually decided that she could not provide for them and chased them out to
live on the streets.

When our friend Anna
learned about Joshua and Ruth, she took them in, adding them to the five other
orphans she’d already welcomed into her little rented house that she shares
with her mother and teenage daughter. Anna’s first priority was to take Joshua
to the doctor. After taking the prescribed medication along with a change of
diet, Joshua no longer suffered stomach pains or rashes. But he was diagnosed
with tuberculosis. Heaven’s Family is paying for his treatment through the Orphan’s Tear Special Gifts Fund.

By the time we’ve
heard Joshua and Ruth’s story, we’re almost to Anna’s rented house. We’re
anxious to meet them. Our taxi stops, and we walk up the dirt path leading to
Anna’s orphanage. Waiting at the door are eight beaming faces of seven girls
and one boy named Joshua. They greet us with handshakes, and then recite the
23rd Psalm for us in their native language of Burmese.

Anna informs us that
all the children have believed in Jesus and are now eager to learn more about
Him. Along with devotions in the mornings, the children have asked her if they
can learn to recite more of the Psalms at night.

As we play games with
the children, we can’t keep our eyes off of Joshua and Ruth, knowing their
story. They now have a chance to be children again. Joshua is a model big
brother. He always stays by Ruth’s side making sure she’s OK. And he has
six older sisters watching over him, as well as our friend Anna, whom he
affectionately calls “mom.”

myanmar orphan orphanage
Joshua, who lives at Anna’s Orphanage in Myanmar, and his little sister Ruth (inset)

The Bigger Picture: All eight children at Anna’s Orphanage are
now waiting for sponsors, along with hundreds of other children, at
Orphans Tear. 100% of your $20 monthly sponsorship gift is sent to the
orphanage where your child lives.

Learn how you can help

A Life Spared
The
Persecuted Christians Fund at Work in India

persecuted christians inida
Pastor Prabhudass of Andhra Pradesh, India

In December,
pastor Prabhudass was walking home from a wedding ceremony he had
performed on behalf of two of his church members. He found himself surrounded
by an anti-Christian Hindu mob who told him, “We don’t want your Jesus in
our village.” They attacked and brutally beat him, leaving him for dead in
a ditch along the road.

Thankfully, some
people walking along the road heard the sound of his groaning and called the
police. He was rushed to the hospital and his life was saved. But he suffered
serious head concussions and both of his hands were broken. At the time of this
writing he is waiting for further tests regarding internal injuries.

This was the second
time pastor Prabhudass had been attacked by a mob. Many Hindu people hate
him because he is a powerful preacher who has planted thirty house churches in
twenty villages of his region of Andhra Pradesh. He has personally baptized
over one-thousand new
believers, most of whom were former Hindus.

Like most pastors in
India, Prabhudass has no medical insurance, and his current bill had run
up to about $2,000, a huge sum to him. Heaven’s Family (that’s you!) was honored to follow
the example of the Good Samaritan and pay his bill. Thank you for making it
possible.

The Bigger Picture: It has been estimated that 200 million
Christians in the world live with the reality of severe persecution, such as
threat of imprisonment or violence for following Jesus, while another 400
million believers face non-trivial deprivations of liberty. 100% of what
is received towards the Persecuted Christians Fund is used to assist members of our spiritual
family who are suffering because of persecution for their faith, like
pastor Prabhudass.

Learn how you can help

The Truth About This Little Ministry
by
David Servant

staff office
Me, Charity, and CJ in our sunporch office. (Notice that the floor heater is closest to Charity.)

The members of the
small staff of Heaven’s Family are
sometimes secretly pleased when we learn that people think, because of the
quality of our publications, websites and videos, that we are a big
organization. At the same time, we’re a little concerned that folks might have
a wrong impression of our ministry, as we don’t want to mislead anyone. We do
hope, however, that the quality of our communications reflects the quality of
our service to “the least of these” among Jesus’ family around the
world. We are committed to excellence in everything we do, because we’re
serving a God who deserves our very best!

In response to some
frequently-asked questions, below are some facts about the ministry of Heaven’s
Family
to help you know us
a little better, and perhaps erase some misconceptions.

The calling of Heaven’s
Family
is to love God and
His people around the world, particularly “the least of these” of
whom Jesus spoke in His foretelling of the judgment of the sheep and the goats
in Matthew 25. We’ve worked, or are currently working, in about forty nations.
Most of those nations are very poor, where the average person is living on less
than two dollars a day. In some of those nations we’ve done very little, such
as distribute some books to pastors, whereas in other nations we’re doing
significantly more.

Our calling is
fulfilled through three divisions, which are Shepherd Serve, Orphan’s Tear and I Was Hungry. Through Shepherd Serve we equip pastors around the world by means
of leadership conferences and free book distribution. I Was Hungry consists of about 20 restricted funds that
all help meet very pressing needs of poor believers, such as widows, victims of
natural disasters, lepers, refugees and so on. Orphan’s Tear serves 1,400 orphans living in 41 Christian
orphans in nine nations.

Heaven’s Family has been in existence for six years and
employs five full-time staff people. I often work in my bedroom
“office” or with Charity and CJ, downstairs in the sunporch. Stephen
works out of his bedroom and likes to brag that he has a four-inch daily
commute—from his bed to his little desk. Chuck King works out of his house
when he’s not traveling overseas. We don’t own or rent office space.

staff office
SK Studios and its CEO. (Note the four-inch commute.)

The reason our monthly
magazine looks so good is because it is difficult to ask very talented graphic
designers to produce shoddy stuff! Charity and CJ use their skills in
photography and graphic design to put together both our e-newsletter and
monthly printed magazine. Heaven’s Family could never afford them if we paid them
what they could earn elsewhere, but they are following a calling. Our 12-page
monthly magazine costs us only 30 cents each to print, and they are bulk
mailed. Our goal is to do a quality job each month informing you of how your
contributions are being used around the world. We hope to give you a small
foretaste of what it will feel like when Jesus says to you, “Well done,
good and faithful servant…”

CJ is also a very
talented web designer, and he is responsible for the quality of what you see at
HeavensFamily.org and our related websites. We’ve recently begun using
some very sophisticated software designed for ministries that are considerably
larger than ours. That new software is going to save us lots of administrative
time and money, but the features it makes available at our websites also likely
make Heaven’s Family appear
larger than it is. Our new software will make it possible for us to keep up
with the growth we’ve experienced over the past six years and enable us to be
more fruitful in the future.

If you’ve ever watched
one of our videos, you may have noticed the little “SK Studios” logo at the end. You may think that SK Studios is an expensive New York production company to which we pay large sums to produce our videos. But SK Studios is actually headed up by our very own Stephen Servant. Stephen is the producer, camera man, sound engineer, video editor and music composer. He also heads the human resources department at SK Studios. So far he’s only had to hire himself. Stephen is another employee whose talents could earn him much more elsewhere, but he is also following a calling.

Chuck King has the
title of International Director. Like myself, Chuck travels overseas for
ministry about six or seven times a year. A pastor with three decades of
experience, Chuck often conducts pastors’ conferences, and he oversees two of
the restricted funds of I Was Hungry, namely the Safe Water Fund and Food Fund. Chuck has pioneered our Biosand Filter
projects in Africa. Like everyone else at Heaven’s Family, Chuck works very hard for little pay. I respect
him very much for his devotion and commitment to Christ.

staff office
Chuck King in his living room office

One of our core
principles is that we will never exploit the poor for our own gain. For that
reason, we’ve created many specific funds that are restricted so that 100% of
what is given is sent overseas to meet the pressing needs for which they were
given. We trust God to pay all our administrative costs from the general
fund of Heaven’s Family.
He has faithfully done that through folks like you for six years, so that a
good portion of the general fund can be used, not for administration, but for
our overseas projects. Moreover, because we never want to exploit the poor for
our own benefit, we are not known for the high salaries that we pay our
employees. Our highest-paid employee made about $30,000 last year, including
all benefits.

There were about 1,000
people and churches who supported the various ministries of Heaven’s
Family
in 2008, and they
gave a total of about 1.4 million dollars. If you would care to examine our most recent 990 Form (2007),
an annual I.R.S. filing required of all U.S. non-profit organizations other
than churches, please visit HeavensFamily.org/990. Our 2008 990 form will be
posted at our website in a few months, as soon as our underpaid accountant has
completed it!

How do we work in so
many countries? Chuck King and I have been ministering overseas for decades in
scores of nations, and we have relationships with numerous time-tested
Christian leaders. All of our overseas projects are the result of partnerships
with them. We have no paid staff outside the United States. We work with
leaders who have proven their trustworthiness, and we continually hold them to
high standards of accountability. We’ve learned many lessons over the years
(which is a kind of way of saying that we’ve made mistakes), and we continue to
learn.

staff office
My bedroom office: A quiet place

All of us aspire to
serve faithfully anyone who wants to be prepared for the judgment of the
sheep and the goats. We’re serving a small ministry now, but believe we
are poised to handle any growth that the Lord grants us. Thank you for being
part of Heaven’s Family!

Are You Regular?
If
not, we have the cure…

confused personThe new features at
our website are helping us serve you better as you serve Jesus’ family around
the world. If you haven’t visited lately, please browse on over to
Heaven’s Family. Once you create an account, you can view your giving
history, see photos of your sponsored children, change your mailing address,
and set your communications preferences. New features also make it easier than
ever to give securely on line.

Some of the greatest
heros of Heaven’s Family are
all those who regularly send support. Needs from our family around the world
never stop coming our way, and we appreciate having resources ready to meet
those needs, rather than having to send out “crisis appeals.” Please
consider setting up regular contributions to any specific fund, including the
general fund, of Heaven’s Family. You can do that at our website, either by means of monthly
automatic credit card contributions or monthly automatic bank withdrawals. It
is all safe and secure. And while you are at our website, check out the Heaven’s
Family Mutual Fund
, another way
you can become regular!

Other Stuff at
Heavensfamily.org:

As
you navigate around Heaven’s Family, you’ll find archives of the past five
years of David Servant’s e-teachings, the text of all of his books, as well as
free Christian music and teaching videos. Heaven’s Family received well over
two-million hits last year from people in over 140 nations.

Parting Shot
First
a red balloon, then a pink monkey…

cute cuba little girl with red balloon and pink monkey
Our Clark Kent in Cuba also knows how to get the affection of cute little Cuban girls!