The King will answer and say, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” — Matt. 25:40
It is an astonishing concept when you think about it: You can serve Jesus by serving His body. You can prove your love for Him by loving “the least of these” among His followers. When you make a sacrifice for them, you make a sacrifice for Him (Matt. 25:31-46).
This month, as every month, we’ve highlighted five stories of Christians in other nations who have benefitted because of your sacrifices. Every one of those sacrifices is an expression of love for Jesus—incarnated in those whom He loves so much. What could be more wonderful? On their behalf—and His—thanks so much.
As 2010 begins, the staff of Heaven’s Family is looking forward to serving as your love-link to our world-wide family. May it be your most fruitful year yet.
Feeding 49 by Chuck King
A “Useless” Man Made Useful By CJ McDaniel
The Handicapped Christians Fund
He was tortured every day for thirty days. His captors forced him to kneel on hot stones and irons to sear the flesh of his legs. The pain was excruciating.
What was 15-year-old Kana’s crime? He was Hutu, a tribe that shares the nation of Burundi with the Tutsi tribe. The Hutus and Tutsis had been at war with each other for decades. Kana’s Tutsi captors were bent on revenge. Although Kana was an innocent bystander of his nation’s tribal tension, he was taken as a war trophy. Tutsi soldiers were intent on making him a “useless man.” Kana eventually had to have both of his legs amputated to save his life.
Since then, Kana has worn flip-flops on his hands in order to “walk.” He lifts his body up, swings it forward, then lets himself down, repeating the process over and over. It leaves him covered in dirt and mud whenever he travels.
With no skills, Kana has provided for his wife (whom he married six years after his amputation) and four children for nearly a decade by begging. His meager income provides very little. All six family members live in one room of a rented “house,” which is barely fit for animals.
But this story has a happy ending. A Heaven’s Family-sponsored national missionary named Bienvenu befriended Kana as he was begging on the streets. Kana listened to the gospel and believed.
In September, Heaven’s Family staff members traveled to Burundi and spent time with Kana and his family in their home. After seeing their joy in the midst of their circumstances and also witnessing their sincere love for God, those staff members committed to help Kana and his family with two life-altering purchases: a hand-propelled wheelchair and a small business grant.
The hand-propelled wheelchair allows Kana to go anywhere, regardless of the terrain. This has not only saved him a lot of time and energy, but has also improved his health since he no longer has to drag himself along the ground.
The five-hundred dollar business grant has made it possible for Kana to purchase inventory for a small store, so he no longer needs to beg. He is proud of the fact that he has a respectable job and can better provide for his family.
But there is more. Kana is using his blessing to be a blessing to others. He told Bienvenu that he has been living frugally so that he can be a useful man for the Lord. By doing so, he can help others who are poorer than he is.
Dreams of My Father by David Servant
The Village Development Fund at Work in Myanmar
I was wishing I had been better-prepared for our hike. Fifteen men—consisting of myself, five other Americans, one Englishman, and about ten little men from the Chin tribe—were following a mountain stream up a steep-walled valley. My city shoes kept slipping on stream rocks. It was hot and humid.
Running parallel on one hillside above the stream—for at least a mile—was a blue six-inch PVC pipe, paid for by the Village Development Fund of Heaven’s Family. We were amazed as we considered all the labor that was involved to string that pipe for a mile and secure it onto the hillside with only hand tools. Our destination was the end of that pipe.
We finally found it. The village men who accompanied us proudly showed us their hand-built dam and reservoir. Once they add another 400 feet of PVC pipe to the lower end and construct a reservoir there, they’ll be able to irrigate their crops. That is their dream, the fulfillment of which will result in more food and a little prosperity for the village. We were happy to know that Heaven’s Family (that’s you!) is helping their dream come true. And we were also happy to know that we were helping to fulfill one of the dreams of our Father—that we would love one another.
The one-hundred and twenty Christians of Cang Ai village are some of the poorest people I know, anywhere in the world. They live in primitive little bamboo houses and own next to nothing. Yet they are full of joy. And they fill us with joy when we’re with them. Heaven’s Family has helped them over the past few years by providing a smaller water pipe that brings safe drinking water directly into their village, as well as mosquito nets for every family, and a small village pharmacy. We’re currently funding a medical clinic building through our Village Development Fund. Thanks for making these blessings possible.
“The Elephants Have Become Christians!” by David Warnock
The Persecuted Christians Fund at Work in Orissa, India
The Hindu villagers ran for their lives. Wild elephants, on a rampage, were storming into their community. Later, when the villagers felt it was safe to return from the forest’s fringe, they stood in shock. Their houses had been completely, apparently methodically, destroyed. Perhaps it was no coincidence. One year ago—to the very day—these same Hindus had methodically destroyed the homes of nearby Christians. The word quickly spread: “The elephants have become Christians!”
It was in the latter part of 2008 when radical Hindu mobs went on rampages against Christians in India’s Orissa state. Their goal was to eradicate Christianity from all of India, starting with Orissa. The violence and persecution was widespread and severe.
One of the hardest hit districts was Kandhamal—attacked on August 23, 2008—a key date to remember. Eighty-six Christians were martyred, and an untold number of women were raped. About 5,200 Christian homes were destroyed. Almost three-hundred churches and Christian organizations were ransacked as believers ran for their lives into the dense forest. Fifty-thousand were made homeless in Kandhamal alone, though five other districts experienced the same persecution.
Exactly one year after the Kandhamal nightmare, the Hindu fanatics who persecuted the Body of Christ faced tribulation of their own. On August 23, 2009, fifteen elephants made an uncommon visit to the district and displayed some uncommon behavior. As if they were vehicles of God’s vengeance, the elephants used their huge bodies to bulldoze and trample house after house. Seven-hundred houses were destroyed before the massive animals withdrew to the wilderness. Astonishingly, about six-hundred and fifty of those homes belonged to the Hindu radicals who took part in the rampage against believers one year earlier. It is no surprise that many people believed that the elephants had become Christian.
In 2008, Heaven’s Family’s Christian Refugee Fund helped many who suffered in the Orissa attacks. Over a year later, however, many of our brothers and sisters still live in makeshift tents. Government officials have closed numerous relief camps, and are only offering assistance to Christians who convert to Hinduism. So far, however, none have.
A Little Man with a Big Heart by David Servant
The Dorms for Orphanages Fund at Work in Myanmar
People of the Chin tribe in Myanmar are generally small in stature. Silas Do Kung, however, is even smaller than average, reaching only about five feet tall. But he has a heart that is bigger than most with a smile to match.
I first met Silas three years ago in the town of Kalaymyo, Myanmar. Every morning, as our team assembled in the hotel lobby to depart and visit the day’s list of orphanages, Silas would ask if we could visit his orphanage. He would show me a worn photo of his children. But our schedule was always full, and I would have to tell him, “Sorry, not today.”
Finally, on the last day of our stay in Kalaymyo, we had just enough time for a quick visit late in the afternoon. We found seventeen children living with Silas and his wife in a little house made of bamboo. The word “shack” would hardly do it justice. They shared one very crude outhouse.
It was a scene I had witnessed many times before, and it was heart-breaking. So we went to work. Some of our team members were so moved that they pledged to find sponsors for all the children. So Rapha Orphanage soon started receiving about $260 per month. We also filmed the children and their “house” and produced a video to raise funds for land and a new building. And we prayed. That was three years ago.
Just a few months ago we were back in Myanmar, and we had the privilege of attending the dedication ceremony of Rapha Orphanage’s new building. I was not surprised to see that Silas, an excellent gardener and former agricultural agent, had painted it green. It is a beautiful building where children can grow to know the Lord.
As our team reluctantly sat on the platform in front of several hundred people who had gathered for the dedication service, I could not help but think of how this story would have ended if Silas had become discouraged when we first turned him down to visit his orphanage. His persistence paid off.
Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God (2 Cor. 9:11 NLT).
Last month, I highlighted five very strategic ways to lay up treasure in heaven that many believers have never realized. They included estate planning, charitable gift annuities, retirement plans, life insurance and real estate. Click here to read seven additional giving options with brief explanations.
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