World Malaria Day 2012

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For half the world, a simple mosquito bite can have deadly consequences: Every year, malaria kills approximately 655,000 people, mostly pregnant women and children under the age of five.

We can stop this. Since 2000, malaria deaths have been reduced by up to 33% in sub-Saharan Africa, but there is so much more we can do. This World Malaria Day, join ONE members from many different faith backgrounds to advocate for full funding of effective malaria-fighting programs like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria.

ONE is partnering with important faith-based malaria initiatives to Shine A Light on Malaria, including: Faiths Act, Islamic Relief, Lutheran Malaria Initiative, Union for Reform Judaism, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Episcopal Relief & Development. Together, we can show that people of all faiths care about our neighbors suffering from malaria, and provide the lifesaving resources required to eliminate malaria deaths. Join us to mobilize your faith community to “Shine A Light on Malaria” and take action to save lives. Sign-up now to download your action guide and get started today!

Fallen

I continue to be drawn to the blog site paradoxuganda written by Doctors Scott and Jennifer Myhre.  Here are two entries that compel me to see the news of an epidemic as more than cold abstract statistics.  When I read her words, this story of ebola is no longer vague and distant–I am drawn in to pray and be involved in heart and mind–the words become flesh.  I am struck again by the power of the word–they communicate more than information– behind and underneath what is written you can sense love and compassion–pain and sorrow–weeping and persevering. It is a Christmas story.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Last Words of Dr. Jonah

 838128536_4831332e37 “Scott was speaking today to one of the World Health Organization visitors who related information from the MSF doctors who cared for Jonah at the end. It was spine-tingling to hear Jonah speak from beyond the veil….

Tuesday afternoon, he was still walking and talking, and said to them “I have seen these patients die, and I know that I am dying”. I don’t think they believed him, and I wonder now if that is why he was determined to call us though his efforts were not successful. Moments before he died he said “I am going to die now. And I pray that no one should ever have to die of this disease again.”
2091489524_9dac38f4aa_s Right to his last moment he was thinking like the compassionate doctor he was, looking beyond himself to others.

Tomorrow his body will arrive, having been carefully decontaminated (as far as possible) and enclosed. His family was still en route when I last talked to them a couple of hours ago. Whenever we speak of him again to someone who cared about him, the tears come freely. We have seen some men here cry like we never saw men cry before. 2090712775_c7176b4552I think Jonah was perceived as a resource, a gift, to the whole district, everyone feels bereaved and robbed of their man, their doctor, the one they could trust and count on. When we see his family, we will have the complication that they are now contacts too like we are, and we should not be touching each other. So we have to go to the burial of our dear friend without any hugging, comfort his wife and children without touch. That feels harsh.
My mind keeps reaching back to some words of the Psalms which I can’t place, though a thousand have fallen at my side, yet I will trust.

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We feel the falling of Jonah so acutely, we were both on the same front line of the same battle fighting side by side, yet he went down and we have not.
I know I can’t trust in anything other than God . . . Certainly not in not dying, which is not guaranteed, as Jonah shows. If we make it through this then what about the next tragedy?

Safety is not the basis of trust. Instead our trust needs to be in God, inexplicable God, dangerous God, other-than-us God, who does not order this world according to our will, but knows more than we do and loves more deeply.”

Posted by DrsMyhre at 11:08 AM
 

Monday, December 03, 2007

Explaining Ebola

“This afternoon seven of the eight boys who are my kids’ close friends hung out playing cards.  I tried to explain ebola, most of these boys are CSB students 1901042719_76059f2626 whom we sponsor.  They asked good questions, but one got me thinking:  Is this disease only in Africa, or is it in other parts of the world?  I felt disloyal, or sad, to admit that all the major outbreaks had occurred relatively close (on a global scale) to where we now sit, in eastern Congo, southern Sudan, northern Uganda.  Almost the only time the filovirus has been found elsewhere was when it was inadvertently transported out in monkeys from Uganda.  I could see the world-wide image of Africa, the continent of disease, being reinforced once again.  And it is not just a matter of how uninformed or prejudiced westerners view Africa, the assumptions are so powerful they trickle down into the minds of these boys.  It seems unfair that Bundibugyo only gets the five minutes of world attention because of yet another disease.”

Posted by DrsMyhre at 7:54 AM

Ebola Outbreak in Uganda

Two days ago James said, “Mom, Ebola has broken out in western Uganda.”  I said a quick prayer for the country that I love and moved on without having that news grip my heart in the way that it should have.

This morning a friend sent me a link to a story that put faces and names with this horrid disease.  As we prepare for a season of massive consumption, there are people who are called to a season of massive compassion.

ht_ebola_071207_ms A doctor who was working with World Harvest Mission named Jonah Kule died last week as a result of this Ebola outbreak.  He was the father of 5 children and leaves a pregnant widow named Melen.

Jonah was the dear friend of a medical missionary couple named Scott and Jennifer Myhre who are still serving in the Bundibugyo District.Myhre-photo-smaller-file

This couple has been serving as medical missionaries to the poorest of poor for 14 years and now find themselves in the epicenter of a devestating outbreak.

This dedicated couple are keeping track of the story as it unfolds at the blog site  http://www.paradoxuganda.blogspot.com/paradoxuganda

It is heart wrenching to see this story through the eyes of those who are living it.  These are Jennifer’s words following the funeral of Jonah.

In the midst of chaos I am longing for a small spot of order . . . So have taken to organizing bookshelves whenever I have a couple of hours at home (I’m sure there are decent and deep psychiatric reasons, but it is a pretty useful coping mechanism, and probably a good sign to have the energy to begin to do so).  Hardly anyone dares to come to our house anymore.  As contacts we are supposed to practice “social distancing” . . . A bizarre and unexpected opportunity to pull hundreds of books and years of dust and pen caps and random scraps of paper and broken flash lights and all the other detritus of life that accumulates on any horizontal surface from the bookshelves (we have many). 

In the process this morning I came across a book by Michael Card called “A Sacred Sorrow:  Reaching out to God in the Lost Language of Lament.”  Ruth Ann Batstone gave it to me a few months ago but I had not opened it yet.  He opens the first chapter:  “Before there were drops of rain, human tears fell in the garden, and that was when lament began.”  His premise is that the Bible is full of the songs of complaint, frustration, sorrow, even anger; because the path to God is a “tearful trail.”

When I step back from the science, the advocacy, the planning, the medicine . . . I am left with the hollow-hearted shock that Jonah has died, and that more will follow.  And I am not here to justify or explain that, rather to acknowledge and experience it.  So I want to copy here a paragraph from this book’s forward by Eugene Peterson:
It is also necessary as a witness, a Jesus-witness to the men and women who are trying to live a life that avoids suffering at all costs, including the cost of their own souls. 

For at least one reason why people are uncomfortable with tears and the sight of suffering is that it is a blasphemous assault on their precariously maintained  . . spirituality of the pursuit of happiness.  They want to avoid evidence that things are not right with the world as it is—without Jesus (and Job, David, and Jeremiah), without love, without faith, without sacrifice.  It is a lot easier to keep the American faith if they don’t have to look into the face of suffering, if they don’t have to listen to our laments, if they don’t have to deal with our tears. 


So learning the language of lament is not only necessary to restore Christian dignity to suffering and repentance and death, it is necessary to provide a Christian witness to a world that has no language for and is therefore oblivious to the glories of wilderness and cross.

I hope that many have the grace to weep and pray with Bundibugyo, and so discover the wilderness where God’s presence flames.

Posted Saturday December 8, 2007  12:18 a.m.

May God give us hearts that are large enough to carry the cares of these people who are facing such devastating circumstances.  May we weep with 2091495044_892bd47b55 Jonah’s mother and his grieving wife as they carry on without a husband and father in a country where having no man often means having no provision. 2090713349_05945f64a1_s May we pray earnestly for the protection of this medical missionary family and that this outbreak will be supernaturally contained through the mercy of our Lord.

Read More at http://www.whm.org/news/ebolainuganda

Kidnapped Priest Released in Turkey

I read this report from Mission Network News this morning and thought of the Apostle Paul’s feet that walked miles and miles through Turkey sharing the gospel. He penetrated the inner regions spreading the message of peace and reconciliation in the ancient cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Troas, and Ephesus.

Today, Christians are constantly under attack.  As recently as April of this year, 3 workers in a Christian publishing office had their throats slit in a gruesome attack motivated by religious hatred.

May God protect what He planted and is planting in this country–in the Book of Acts we see that the Word of God cannot be imprisoned, murdered or snuffed out–it is a Living Word.

7 December, 2007

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Turkey (MNN) ― Compass Direct reports good news in a kidnapping in southeastern Turkey.  According to their sources, unidentified assailants kidnapped Father Edip Daniel Savci, 42, last Wednesday. 

Two days later, he was freed by his captors 43 miles north of Midyat where he was kidnapped.   Church officials can’t confirm the identity of his kidnappers or whether a ransom was paid, but kidnappers had made a ransom demand of 300,000 euros. 

Deputy Governor Aziz Mercan said, “Given the information obtained from the priest, we now know who the perpetrators are, and security forces are tracking them down now.” He declined, however, to give the suspects’ names.

Most of Turkey’s 75 million people are Muslim, and it has barely 100,000 Christians–mostly of Greek and Armenian origin.

Although the incident appears to have been motivated by money, there are scattered reports that mission groups think Turkey’s anti-Christian atmosphere may have influenced the kidnappers.

Pray for opportunities for Christians in Turkey to share the truth of Christ. Despite the government reforms to facilitate joining the European Union, there is no indication of increasing religious freedom.

While the Turkish constitution includes freedom of religion, worship services are only permitted in “buildings created for this purpose,” and officials have restricted the construction of buildings for minority religions. In other cases, those who dare to profess Christ face harassment, threats and prison. Evangelism is difficult.

However, Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, “The church is continuing to move forward, and Christians are continuing to witness. But, of course, it does cause some anxiety. There have been a number of attacks on evangelicals in the last two years, and they’re wanting to know, ‘Will our government stand up for us? Will they defend us? Or will they allow us to be shot, killed and attacked with impunity?'”

Pray for those in Christian work in Turkey.

Would You Go Back?

Ever since our return from the mission field, friends have asked, "Will you ever go back?"

That question stirs so many emotions.

My mind races with remembrances and I think, "It was a call not a decision when we went DSC00345 (Small)before and I would expect it to happen that way again if God intends us to go anywhere."

I say to the Lord what I have been saying, "Lord, here I am…yours…wherever you can use me."  DSC00344 (Small)

These thoughts were brought forward in my mind  this morning when I was meditating on Acts 17:16.  Luke is describing the inward thoughts of Paul when he arrived in Athens, "His spirit was stirred when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry."  I was taken by this poem by Eva Doerksen in light of this verse:

"If you had been to heathen lands,

Where weary ones with eager hands

Still plead, yet no one understand,

Would you go back?  Would you? 

 

If you had seen them in despair,

Beat on the breast, pull out the hair,

While demon powers filled the air,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

If you had seen the glorious sight,

When heathen people, long in night,

Are brought from darkness into light,

Would you go back?  Would you?

 

Yet still they wait, a weary throng,

They’ve waited, some so very long,

When shall despair be turned to song,

I’m going back! Would you?

I am thinking again this morning after being blessed by the trusting faith that lived powerfully in the hearts of many Ugandans; perhaps the Lord is helping me see "who" the real heathens are.  When I saw what faith looked like in the lives of Africans who had "nothing" but God and He was completely sufficient– I knew the heathen was me!  For now,  I might be in God’s intended mission field.

May He turn our eyes to see the light of Christ and give us a new song! 

Christians in Crisis

HeadDayOfPrayer1 This coming Sunday November 11 is a day set aside for believers to enter into prayer on behalf of the persecuted church across the world. 

Through my study of Acts I have lingered over the moments of persecution that Paul endured for the sake of the faith.  As I consider what happened to him, I remember it is still happening for many believers around the globe.

The following link contains a devotional based on 2 Kings 19 that provides a thoughtful way to think and pray for our brothers and sisters.

The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) is a global day of intercession for persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is the work of intercessory prayer and citizen action on behalf of persecuted communities of the Christian faith. We also encourage prayer for the souls of the oppressors, the nations that promote persecution, and those who ignore it.

We believe that prayer changes things. Exactly what happens is a mystery of faith. God invites us to present to Him our requests and to pray without ceasing. Persecuted Christians often plead for prayer to help them endure. The most we can do is the least we can do — pray.

We also encourage continuing prayer and educated involvement on behalf of persecuted Christians. Visit our partner Web sites to discover further ways to get involved.   (IDOP)

The devotional ends with this prayer:

We also pray for the terrorists, militants and dictators themselves, and ask you O Lord to display your ‘arm’ for the benefit of the Church. We pray for judgment and for mercy, for you are a just and merciful God. May the Church be able to say of them as was said of the Apostle Paul, ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ (Galatians 1:23)

For the sake of your kingdom and glory, AMEN

‘Nothing is impossible with God.’ (Luke 1:37)

What’s better than life?

I began my morning reading the Mission Network News report.  As I scanned the stories, this one from Africa caught my eye.  The study of Acts has tenderized my heart once again to the truth that the spread of the good news of Christ comes at great cost.  Therefore, it is news of great worth!

Two Christians killed in Northern Nigeria

Nigeria (MNN) — Voice of the Martyrs Canada reports the deaths of two young Christian men in Nigeria. According to a Compass Direct report, the pair died at the hands of Muslims militants in Kaduna state. Local Christians believe these two murders are an effort to wipe out Christianity from northern Nigeria and stop ministry growth. Although the government is trying to initiate dialogue between the two faith groups, their efforts have been undermined by the wave of violent attacks on Christians.

Full story: http://www.MNNonline.org/article/10522

My mind considered the stories of Stephen who was the first Christian martyr and James who was beheaded for his faith in Christ.  These saints and others seemed to understand what the Psalmist meant when he penned the words, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” (Ps. 63:3)

The martyrs all believed Christ was worth more than life, more than falling in love, more than marrying and having children, more than seeing their children grow up, more than making a name for themselves, more than having the dream spouse, the dream house, and the dream cruise.  Christ to them was worth more than all their plans and dreams.  They all said, “It is better to be cut off in the midst of my dreams, if I might gain Christ.” ((John Piper, “Life’s Blood,” Tabletalk December 2001, p. 53))

Christ is the treasure that is better than life!  He is real life.