Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Opportunity International, a non-profit, Christian Bank focused on helping people rise above poverty.
Microfinance is the provision of financial services such as loans, savings, insurance, and training to people living in poverty. It is one of the great success stories in the developing world in the last 30 years and is widely recognized as a just and sustainable solution in alleviating global poverty.
The industry began by providing small loans to emerging entrepreneurs to start or expand businesses. Opportunity International was one of the first nonprofit organizations to recognize the benefits of providing capital to people struggling to work their way out of poverty. Over the years, with Opportunity leading the way, the microfinance sector has expanded its financial service offerings to better meet client needs. Along with providing more flexible loan products and business and personal development training, Opportunity offers savings and insurance to help clients effectively navigate the daily hardships they face. Without these services, clients are continually at risk of slipping back into poverty because of unforeseen circumstances.
Microfinance organizations make it a priority to serve the particular needs of women, since a staggering 70 percent of all those living in extreme poverty are female. Women are often excluded from education, the workplace, owning property and equal participation in politics. They produce one half of the world’s food, but own just one percent of its farmland. Nearly 85 percent of Opportunity’s loan clients are women. While Opportunity gladly extends loans to men, the organization believes the greatest opportunity for interrupting cycles of extreme poverty come from microfinance programs that target female entrepreneurs. When women improve their circumstances, they also improve the lives of their children. By investing in nutrition and education, they help to create a better future for their children and their communities.
Despite the success of life-transforming microfinance services, the World Bank says that the industry is not close to meeting the demand. Five hundred million people living in poverty could benefit from a small business loan and only one-third of the world’s population has access to any kind of bank account. The lack of access is particularly severe in sub-Saharan Africa where the World Bank estimates that microfinance is reaching only a small percentage of the economically active population. In sub-Saharan Africa’s poorest countries, less than 10 percent of the population has an account with a financial institution. In response, Opportunity has committed to building scalable, sustainable and accessible banks throughout the developing world to provide loans, training, savings and insurance products tailored to the specific needs of each region.
As the microfinance industry continues to mature, there is a danger that it will drift toward a more secure client base. It is critical that microfinance organizations continue to focus on those with the greatest needs–those who have been displaced, those in rural areas, those who traditional institutions consider unbankable–the most marginalized people. Maintaining that focus, microfinance can help create a world in which the underserved have fair access to economic opportunities and the hope to move beyond poverty.
Read More about Opportunity International…
Read More about Microfinance…
Friday, May 27, 2011
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The faithful of the Protestant Shouwang Church yesterday gathered to pray in the streets of the Zhongguancun shopping area of Beijing, and the police arrested them. For the seventh consecutive Sunday.
Among those arrested are a woman over 80 years and a 2 year old, according to eyewitnesses. These two were released in the afternoon, but many others faithful remain in prison.
In recent weeks, police have arrested hundreds of faithful, the first Sunday April 10 a total of 169, and 50 over the second, and then every Sunday. Typically, they are placed under house arrest for the weekend to prevent them from meeting to pray. Six leaders of the Church have also been under house arrest, for over a month and a half.
From April 10 the faithful have been gathering in the streets Sunday after the authorities evicted them from their rented premises. The Church has sought approval for years, and in 2009 bought a building of 1,500 square meters for its activities, but the authorities prevented them from ever using it. In recent years the police have repeatedly driven the Church from premises for rent and each time the faithful have prayed outside until they found another place.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Samaritan's Purse Disaster Relief teams are working in Joplin, Missouri to provide emergency relief to survivors of the devastating tornado that ripped through the area on Sunday, killing at least 125 people.
Our staff arrived on Monday to assess the damage. One of our Disaster Relief Units helping with our response in Alabama wrapped up its work in Birmingham Sunday, and moved to Missouri, setting up our base at the Joplin campus of Forest Park Baptist Church.
The first volunteer team was sent out Wednesday morning to work in some of the hardest hit areas of the city. Samaritan’s Purse is asking for volunteers to help with this response. Volunteers will remove fallen trees and debris, make emergency repairs on storm-damaged homes, and help storm victims salvage valuable possessions.
“We want to come alongside these homeowners who have lost so much and help them through this difficult time," said Luther Harrison, Director of North American projects for Samaritan’s Purse.
The twister that ripped through a densely populated part of Joplin is the deadliest single tornado in the United States since record keeping began more than 60 years ago. It destroyed or damaged as many as a quarter of the buildings in the southwest Missouri city of about 50,000. Much of the city's south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins.
City Manager Mark said the tornado cut a path nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town. It hit a hospital packed with patients and a commercial area, numerous smaller businesses and restaurants, and a grocery store. Jasper County emergency management director Keith Stammer said an estimated 2,000 buildings were damaged.
Samaritan’s Purse has responded to two other major storms within the past month. We sent three Disaster Relief Units when a series of violent tornadoes ripped across the heart of North Carolina in April. Two units were dispatched to Alabama when devastating twister hit Alabama in late April, and we are continuing to work in the Tuscaloosa area.
“This is the worst storm season I have seen in my lifetime,” said Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse. “These survivors need to know that God loves them, and we’re grateful that He has given us what we need to respond to these disasters within hours.”
If you wish to help by volunteering or donating money, Click Here…
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
(From The Media Project, an article about the abortion of female babies in India)
WITH ONLY 914 FEMALES PER 1,000 MALES, according to a recent report, India has recorded the lowest child sex ratio since the country’s independence in 1947.
Worse yet, the skewed ratio is being linked to illegal abortion of female fetuses, prevalent among educated and urban Indians.
Pray for India!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Members of churches near Oakland, Calif. based Family Radio, are pouring out in droves, offering comfort and spiritual support to the dejected followers of false Doomsday prophet Harold Camping, who has predicted that the World will end on May 21, 2011.
Monday, May 23, 2011
(from Urban Christian News)
Redwood United Methodist Church Pastor Barbara Hite on Sunday urged her congregation to hold tight to their faith as floodwaters crept near the tiny, white church at the end of a winding road.
Members -- many of them from the Eagle Lake retirement community evacuated more than a week ago -- shared their stories during Sunday School. Some are living with relatives; others in hotels. The church's parsonage is a temporary home for six church members who had been searching for higher ground.
"It's not really home," said 16-year-old Anthony Genereaux, who's living at the parsonage a mile up the road. "But I feel connected to God."
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Since today is the day the Rapture is supposed to arrive, I felt the need to help you all understand the correct way to interpret the passage that has caused so much trouble over the years.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Paul is writing to his friends in the city of Thessalonica, located in present day Greece. He starts the passage talking about friends and family who have died; those who sleep in death. Someone must have mentioned to him that they were concerned about their loved ones who had passed away. What kind of concerns? And so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. They are worried that their deceased loved ones will miss out when Jesus returns to the earth in glory. Paul has been preaching that the day of Jesus’ returning will happen soon (2 Timothy 4:8), and he has been preaching that when Jesus returns we will receive new bodies (Romans 8:23). What about our loved ones who have passed away before the blessed event?
Paul says, don’t worry all will be well. He says that when Jesus returns; the dead in Christ will rise first. In other words, our loved ones who had faith in Jesus will rise from the dust of the earth with new bodies. Then we will meet them in the sky; we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And then we will be with Jesus and our loved ones forever.
Where people go wrong with the interpretation of this passage is they assume Paul is making a prophecy. If he was he would say so. Instead he is encouraging his people to have faith that they will see their loved ones again, therefore encourage one another with these words. Think of this passage as a funeral message. Paul is preaching encouraging words to people who are deeply upset that their loved ones won’t be around when Jesus returns in his glory. Paul is saying to them, don’t worry God will make everything well.
Understanding the context of a passage is crucial to discerning the meaning. A careful reading of this text shows that Paul is writing supportive and uplifting words to people who have expressed a concern to him. He is not writing about an event that will happen 2,000 years into the future. If he was, he would have said so.
Pastor Bill Whitehead
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I know someone who is on the Family Radio End of the World Caravan. Right now, there is a group of people traveling the country and handing out tracts that tell all of us to repent because the end of the world is happening on Saturday, May 21st at 6PM local time. Yes my friends, the end is going to happen by time zone, so if you want to exist a few hours longer, get on a plane to Hawaii right now. This acquaintance of mine is not a deep thinker, and so he has fallen for the end of the world sales pitch hook, line and sinker. If it doesn’t happen I hope he’s not too disappointed. I know that if I’m still breathing after 6PM this Saturday, I won’t be too upset. But it did get me thinking about being one of the minions of a famous person. Just what is it like and why do we do it?
I have been a devoted follower at various times in my life. Every time the Billy Graham Crusade has come to my area, I have volunteered and worked faithfully to save as many lost souls as possible. I am also proud to say that I am a minion of Jesus Christ and will be forever, regardless of whether the world ends this week or not.
There is a lot of personal satisfaction being a minion, joining a crusade that is bigger than you. There is camaraderie, friendship and shared sacrifice that provides for a lot of emotional uplift. But there is a downside to it as well. Devoted followers by definition do not make personal decisions. They do what the leader tells them to do. The Billy Graham Crusade trains its counselors and gives us a book that brings consistency to the message we deliver to people who come forward to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This approach makes sure we stick to correct Christian doctrine when counseling someone. It also takes away any unique approach we may have developed in delivering our message of salvation. Minions need to follow the rules, but minions may lose themselves along the way.
Jesus said; “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Therefore we believers are devoted followers of God’s laws. However, Jesus also said this; “You are the salt of the earth…”, “You are the light of the world…”. In other words, we are important. We are made in God’s image, so we are unique personalities and our uniqueness is an important part of God’s work in the world. We are commanded to do God’s will, but in our own individual ways. Otherwise God would have made us all robots, and we would be unquestioning minions marching to the eternal drums of heaven. Instead, we are to be devoted followers, making decisions to use the gifts God has given us to the best of our abilities. Being a minion can be fun, but being an individual is why God made us in the first place.
I wonder what will happen if 6PM Saturday comes and goes without incident. I suppose some of the minions of Family Radio will wander away, searching for some other event to add meaning to their lives. Others will stay loyal and rationalize the whole episode away. I do know this; I will continue to be a faithful follower of my Heavenly Father. And I will continue to listen to His voice speaking to me through his Holy Spirit. However, I already know what the message will be; Do Your Best with the Tools I have Given to You and Know that I will Always be With You.
Now that’s a bandwagon I can get on board with.
God Bless You,
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Please pray for your friends and neighbors who are struggling to find work. The economic situation seems to be improving, but very slowly and pay is way down. Please pray for our country to pull out of this recession.
More than 1,000 applicants began lining up this week outside a former Hoover vacuum plant here in the hopes of joining a surprising trend in this part of the nation’s manufacturing heartland: new jobs.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The story below is about a young woman who escaped the forced marriage she was in. Christian Churches are working in Utah and Wyoming to help these people escape this terrible life.
"I left my polygamist community suddenly in response to an abusive situation. I did not have a clear plan in place as to how I would be able to take care of my four young children and myself. In much dismay, I found myself on the doorstep of a wonderful family of strangers willing to help us. We had not much more than a few garbage bags full of clothes and belongings. Due to the teachings that I had been exposed to over the years, I had a profound distrust of "gentiles." In contradiction to this, we were instead surrounded by love, and all our needs were met too. We were provided with food, shelter, guidance, counseling and new found friends. Without this support, it would have been near impossible to transition into a world of normalcy and acceptance. I will be forever grateful for this help, and hope that many more to follow will find this same kind of encouragement and tangible support."
Monday, May 16, 2011
Today my son Edward graduates from Rutgers University. In honor of that here is a look at the campus ministry at RU.
At Trinity House, you'll find a wide open space for conversation
about Christian faith and the doubts that come along with learning and changing.
We seek always to grow into greater love, deeper faith, wider grace together.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
I like to hike and backpack into the wilderness. I especially like to go places where I know that there will be no people around. Disappear for a while if you will. I find it to be a peaceful experience. No people, no worries, no problems. But I also like to return to my family and friends. I don’t like to disappear for too long.
I like to be anonymous when I go places like the mall. I don’t like to be stopped by people and asked questions. Just get in, do my shopping and get out. However, I do make eye contact with people and nod or smile. I believe that it is important to acknowledge people. It’s like saying, hi, I don’t know you but I know you are there. Being alone and anonymous can be a good thing, but it can be too much of a good thing. Most people need to receive some kind of acknowledgement by others.
Some people like to be invisible all of the time. They are around but don’t want to be noticed. There are people in churches who are like that. They come for the service, then bolt out the door at the end and avoid talking to anybody. Since I like to be invisible sometimes I can understand why they do this. But I think that even people who like to be invisible really want to be noticed every so often. They just don’t know how to go about achieving it.
Take for example the story of the woman who was healed when she touched Jesus’ robe – found in Luke 8: 43 – 48. This poor woman was an outcast because of her condition. The law was very clear that she was ‘unclean’ because of her bleeding and therefore to be avoided. I picture her moving through the crowd hoping that no one would recognize her. She also probably wanted to avoid talking with Jesus for fear of being rejected by him. She wanted to be invisible, but she also wanted to be healed. She sneaks up to him and touches his robe. She is miraculously healed right then and there. Then, quietly, she tries to fade back into the crowd. But Jesus doesn’t let her. He calls out to everyone, “who touched me”. He doesn’t want her to be invisible. He wants to speak with her, to look her in the eye, to acknowledge her. And when he does this she walks away whole again.
I believe this story speaks to us of how important we are in God’s eyes. God loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to be invisible. Each and every one of us is important to Him. Some of us feel God’s love strongly, but others are not so sure. Some of us like to be noticed, and others like to be invisible. But in God’s eyes we are all equally important. And even though we feel like escaping once in a while from the world, we can never run from His loving presence.
God bless you,
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
"I was raised around this river, and I've never seen it this high. No one alive has seen it this high. When you're around the water this much you learn to respect the river and its power real quick," he said.
Buchanan said the upcoming week's deacons meeting would have one agenda item: "Find someone who needs help, and help them."
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has mobilized nearly 5,900 trained volunteers from 10 state conventions since deadly tornadoes ripped across Alabama -- killing more than 250 on April 27.
In addition to the large-scale tornado response in Alabama, state DR coordinators in Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas are bracing for the serious flooding expected along the swollen Mississippi River.
The floodwaters are expected to generate a heavy demand for SBDR feeding and mud-out units in the affected areas. The Kentucky state disaster relief team planned to deploy a 20,000-capacity feeding unit to Paducah on May 9.
In Memphis, the river is expected to crest at a near-record 14 feet above flood stage on Tuesday, May 10. The river is the highest it's been at Memphis since 1937, when it crested at 48.7 feet -- 14.7 feet above flood stage. That flood killed 500 people and covered 20 million acres of land, according to CNN.
In Alabama, Mel Johnson, disaster relief director for Alabama Baptists' State Board of Missions, said Southern Baptist feeding units have prepared more than 162,000 meals and are still doing mass feeding in Tuscaloosa, Madison, Rainsville, Birmingham, Snead's Crossroads and Double Springs.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
My friends, I just have to tell you what an incredible job God has done on our neighborhood star. The Sun is an amazing object, created in perfect equilibrium, to bless us with warmth and light. I’ve been reading a book; Stars, Their Birth, Life and Death by Iosif S. Shklovskii and I am here to tell you just how wonderful is that burning ball of gas we all know and love.
Stars start out in dense clouds of molecules. Space is not empty, it is full of stuff. Mostly the stuff is hydrogen, the most common element in the universe. But there is plenty of other stuff out there, and stars do not form around hydrogen, they form in dense, cold clouds of hydroxyl (OH). Related to water, hydroxyl sends out radio waves, which is how we know they exist. The cold temperatures and gravity cause more molecules to be drawn into the cloud. As more material is gathered the cloud starts to heat up and emits the radio signals that are the first evidence of a proto-star.
And thus we have the first miracle. As the cloud gathers more stuff, it creates more gravity. The higher gravity should cause the material to collapse in upon itself creating something other than a star. However, as gaseous material builds up it creates pressure and that pressure wants to push the molecules away. That would cause the proto-star to disburse. Instead the two forces come into balance, called hydrostatic equilibrium. Thus, our sun stays constant and unchanging, because God caused the cosmic forces at work to be in balance.
The second miracle is the production of heat and light. Our blazing ball of gas would either not give us enough heat and light or would burn out if all it did was produce these elements through pressure. Our Sun needed to ignite the internal fire of thermonuclear radiation. When the heat and pressure of the core of our sun reached a certain level, nuclear reactions commenced. With thermonuclear reactions heating ongoing, our sun can radiate heat and light for a very long time, which is good for us. Here’s the real miracle. The hydrogen atoms in our Sun do not posses enough energy to fuse and create radiation because of the Coulomb Barrier. This barrier is the reason I can’t put my hand through the table in front of me. The energy field around electrons won’t allow it. If the hydrogen in our Sun had enough energy to pass the barrier, our Sun would have burned out a long time ago. However, a very small amount of hydrogen does posses enough energy to pass through the barrier and fuse. Just enough to create just enough heat and light with just enough hydrogen fuel left over to keep the Sun going for a long, long time. Miraculous!
The third miracle involves the limits to the production of heat and light. Despite the Coulomb Barrier, our Sun produces so much energy in its core, that if all of that energy were released we would be burned to a crisp. However, the Sun reabsorbs the energy before most of it can pass through the many layers and into space. The Sun has heavy elements within it, some were created by thermonuclear reactions and others gathered in from space during its formation. These heavy elements regulate our star to release just the right amount of radiation to heat our world without turning us all into little strips of fried bacon. Isn’t that amazing!
With this brief description, I hope you can see what an incredible miracle the Sun truly is. I praise God for it, and I hope that you will as well.
God bless you,
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham was on the ground in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Saturday, showing his concern for victims of the powerful tornadoes that ravaged the state and overseeing the work of our disaster relief teams.
Severe storms wreaked havoc across the South on April 27, causing widespread damage and tremendous loss of life. The storm system spawned tornadoes that wiped out homes and businesses, and left hundreds of thousands of people without power. More than 340 people were killed, including at least 250 in Alabama.
“I flew in today, and from Birmingham, you see a brown swath on the ground for several hundred miles,” Graham said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Please pray for the victims and families of the people involved in this tragedy.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Studies of orphans worldwide consistently lay bare the inadequacy of mass scale care for children. Commodities like food, shelter and medicine are vital, and can often be effectively delivered by the machinery of governments and NGOs. But that same machinery proves utterly insufficient to meet the deeper needs for love, nurture, and belonging. Though sometimes necessary as short-term solutions, even brief stints in orphanages affect everything from a child’s physical size and mental health to her intellect.
We see the same in the U.S. foster system. By their mid-20s, less than half of those who graduate from foster care are employed. More than 80 percent of males have been arrested, compared to 17 percent overall. And 68 percent of the women are on food stamps, compared to 7 percent overall.