It is hard to believe that, in September of 2012, we at Heaven’s Family completed our first decade of ministry. Over the past ten years, we’ve been blessed by the Lord to experience continual growth in fruitfulness, faithful staff members, and the finances to make it all possible. We’ve also grown in wisdom (as experience is the second-best teacher after the Lord Himself). So we’ve made some adjustments along the way. With the wisdom we’ve gained last year, we’ve planned more adjustments for this year.
The Biggest Change
If there is one lesson that we’ve learned over the past ten years, it is a lesson about how to best serve the “least of these.” We’ve learned to never do for the poor what they can do for themselves. Scripture admonishes us: “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thes. 3:10). Laziness is a sure ticket to poverty (Prov. 6:9-11). So we’re striving to help those who aren’t looking for a handout, but those who are looking for an opportunity to help themselves—through education, training, tools, or a micro-loan. Opportunity is the best form of charity.
To that end, this year our micro-finance ministry will increase exponentially. For example, many of the 40 orphanage directors whose orphanages we help in Myanmar will be receiving small business start-up loans of up to $2,500. Our ultimate goal is for all of them to become self-sufficient. Most of those directors attended a six-day intensive Focus Business School in January—funded by Heaven’s Family—that has equipped them to succeed in an enterprise that works in their culture, such as raising pigs, operating a shop, or manufacturing bricks.
We also intend to increase our already-successful micro-finance ministry to believing widows and Christians with disabilities who are able to work, as well as to very impoverished believers who live in remote villages far from urban economic opportunities. Believe it or not, we’ve got underground micro-banks in two of the five remaining communist nations of the world, Cuba and North Korea!
Of course, quite a few of our Focused Funds, because of the needs they serve, do not lend themselves to ministry through micro-loans. Those who have just survived a natural disaster or who are facing starvation need immediate relief. Restoration and development follow after.
The Rise and Fall of a Few Focused Funds
If you peruse our website over the next few months, you might notice that some familiar funds are absent and some brand new funds have been added.
Gone is the Dorms for Orphanages Fund, as we’re no longer building dorms, but rather encouraging all the orphanages we assist to become smaller and self-supporting, like families. We have also eliminated the Rice Fields for Orphanages Fund, replacing it with the Orphan’s TearSelf-Sufficiency Fund, a name change designed to convey a broader strategy for helping orphanages become self-sufficient.
Brand new is a fund that will specifically serve victims of sexual violence in regions where rape is used as a weapon of war. The Victims of Sexual Violence Fund will begin by partnering with a ministry that is serving victimized women in the D.R. Congo, tragically known as the “rape capital of the world,” where thousands of women have been raped by soldiers, often publicly before members of their family and community. Staff member Carole Collins is this fund’s founder and director.
Also brand new is the Unreached People Groups Fund. There are over 7,000 people groups in the world that have no witnessing Christians within their culture. Those groups are as large as the 128 million Shaikh people of Bangladesh and as small as the 100 Adyghe people of Kazakhstan. Our initial focus will be on the Hani and Ache people found in Southeast Asia, who currently worship the creation rather than the Creator. This new fund will be directed by an old friend, Todd Matthew, who has 13 years of experience reaching unreached people in China.
One more brand new fund is one that I’ve hesitated to add, but am convinced that we should, even though it might be perceived that I’m tooting my own horn. For lack of a better name, we’re calling it the David Servant’s Teaching Ministry Fund. Our webmaster, CJ McDaniel, has repeatedly told me that the majority of people who discover Heaven’s Family do so through either the teaching found on our ShepherdServe.org website or from my e-teachings, devotionals and videos that are forwarded to them. Heaven’s Family actually began as a teaching ministry that hoped to serve the “least of these,” and it was originally known only as Shepherd Serve.
The Lord has since helped us to enjoy fruitfulness in both teaching and serving the poor, and it is still the former that is paving the way for the latter. We have produced mountains of biblical teaching—some very radical by lukewarm standards—that is touching people around the globe via our websites, e-teachings, e-devotionals, video series, video devotionals, and printed books. One of our books that I wrote to help equip pastors in the developing world, The Disciple-Making Minister, has been translated into 23 languages and is being distributed around the world in printings totaling more than 100,000 copies, as well as via our ShepherdServe.org website.
Beyond all of that, the Lord is opening up new and exciting doors for both teaching and evangelism. Later this year, for example, I’ll be conducting a pastors’ conference in an isolated Asian nation that most people have never heard of—Bhutan. And after a very successful evangelistic campaign last November in Hakha, the capital of Chin State in Myanmar, and after repeated disheartening reminders of just how forgotten the true, biblical gospel has become among professing Christians all over the world, I’m going to seize the opportunities before me to reverse that trend. As I’m writing this, I’m looking forward to preaching the gospel soon in Zimbabwe and Malawi, two nations where Heaven’s Family is serving believers through agricultural education and micro-loans.
So, if you have benefitted from any of our teaching ministries and would like others to also benefit, or if you would like to see the gospel proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles proclaimed again, contributing to David Servant’s Teaching Ministry Fund is a means to those ends. With the start of this new fund, we’re eliminating the Books for Pastors Fund and Video Ministry Fund.
May I say—hopefully without being misunderstood—that this new fund will advance all the other Focused Funds of Heaven’s Family and the specific ministries that they each represent. When people are truly born again by means of a biblical gospel and are then taught to obey all that Jesus commanded, they get involved in serving the “least of these,” for which all of our other Focused Funds offer them opportunity.
New Staff Members
We’ve recently added three new valuable staff members—two part-time and one full-time—all of whom receive no remuneration from Heaven’s Family, but all whom the Lord sent to help us accomplish our mandate in 2013. They are Mary Ann Kerting, who is serving as a micro-bank auditor, Terry Steward, whose initial task is to help with my scheduling, and Diane Scott, who is assisting in our Orphan’s Tear division and beginning to direct our Food and Safe Water Funds. We thank God for them all. If you feel that God may be calling you to serve Heaven’s Family in some capacity, please send us an email, and if you have a resumé or letters of recommendation, please include it/them.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding how we can serve you better as you serve the “least of these” in whom Jesus is incarnated, please let us know. We love hearing from you! Thanks for being part of the Family! — David