Wednesday, May 25, 2016

No Return Without Investment

How is your retirement account?  Do you regularly put something into it? How are you investing? Do you understand compound interest? We usually think of investments in the terms of money or finances, but it is just as important that we learn to invest our time and talents, as well as, our treasure. Why? Because...

There is no return without investment. 

Galatians 6:8,9 says, "For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

The level of our investment in spiritual things determines the level of return that we receive now and in all eternity.To invest wisely we need to understand clearly how and in what to invest.

We are all used to saying "I work hard for my money and I am willing to give my offering to the church and even to help give to missions but the rest of the money is mine to spend." The same goes for our time and talent. We spend our time doing what we want to do and we normally spend our talents in a way that brings some type of satisfaction to our lives.

As Christians we need to look at every interaction of our day differently than unbelievers. Every activity of our day is a God-given opportunity for investment. We need to invest our time, talent and treasure not just spend it. We must all learn to ask God: "Is this a good investment or it is the best investment of my time, talent and treasure for your kingdom?" A book I have been reading defines a good investment as one that invites us to receive an instant return while the best investment usually yields results we won't see until sometime in the future.

In the beginning The Hope Foundation was established to help twenty five children get some food. Lisa and I invested our money, time and talent and hoped that we could make a difference in the lives of these twenty five children. God took that little investment and multiplied it and multiplied it. Now we serve over 1000 children not only with food but with education and medical needs. But most of all our goal has always been to share the Gospel of Jesus with them and see them become a part of God's family. We want them to experience a richer life as they learn to not just strive for money but to invest their lives in God's work. We want them to invest wisely so that they can reap the multiplicity of God's returns. We couldn't do this without hundreds of people who have chosen to invest in the lives of Kenyan children and families monthly. Thanks to our sponsors!

You should never underestimate your power to invest in the moments of your life. I would advise that you take time to invest in something bigger than yourself. 

Edward Abbey wrote, "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." James said something similar in chapter 2 verse 26: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.."

My prayer for you is that you won't be one who simply wastes or squanders what  you have been given for a quick result. Investment demonstrates that we can be trusted with so much more than we have been given. 

Would you intentionally invest your assets, your time and your talent in The Hope Foundation? It is not just a good investment. It is the best investment. Why? Because what you offer to the least of these in Kenya is extremely valuable because it will produce a rich long-term return to you in every area of your life. 

We are seeking people who would not only sponsor a child but be willing to send $10 - $30 per month to help with the overall running of the foundation and its gospel and humanitarian projects. If you already sponsor a child, remember the total $30 you send for your sponsored child is put toward your child. Lisa and I run the foundation by faith that God will provide for its needs and God always uses people to invest in His kingdom work. 

Will you be one of them?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

God's Gift Card for You

March is a big birthday month in our house. We not only have Lisa and Dylan's birthdays to celebrate but my Dad, brother, Lisa's sister and our nephew all have birthdays in March. 

In the U.S. there are literally thousands of gifts that you can get someone for their birthday.  There are so many choices that sometimes it can be overwhelming to get the right gift. Some ingenious person came up with something called the gift card. You go to a store and give the cashier an amount of money $10, $25, $50 and they hand you a little plastic card that you give to your friend as their gift. That $50 is on the card as a credit and your friend can take it back to the store and get $50 worth of merchandise just by presenting the card to the cashier.  The strange thing is the card is really only worth $50 if your friend uses it. If they put it in their wallet and never  use it then it is useless gift for them.

In 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6, Paul writes “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.:  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” And in Philippians 2:13 Paul reminds us: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” 

Because God is at work within us, we can accomplish His purposes. We try to instill in our Kenyan leaders that we minister differently because we’ve been gifted differently. The same God is at work in us, but He customizes His work through us for His ultimate glory and the strength of the church.

Let me illustrate. At dinner, suppose someone dropped a plate full of food on the ground. This is how people with different gifts may respond.

- Gift of prophecy…"That’s what happens when you’re not careful.”
- Gift of service…"Oh, let me help you clean it up.”
- Gift of teaching…The reason that it fell was because it was too heavy on one side.”
- Gift of exhortation… "Next time, maybe you should let someone else help you carry it.”
- Gift of giving… “Here, you can have my plate.”
- Gift of mercy…“Don’t feel too bad. It could have happened to anyone.”
- Gift of administration… “Job, would you get the broom? Pascal, please help pick this up."

We’ve all been gifted differently and so we act differently and we serve differently.

While it’s important to identify your gifts, it’s not enough. Gifts are given to be used. Verses 12-30 describe how the church is like the human body, with each part playing a critical role in the functioning of the body. You’ve been given gifts and a key role to play in this world. If you’re hoarding your gifts and not using them, the entire world is handicapped. 

Mwanajuma has grown up in our school and has now entered her first year of high school.  As a child she would lead the children's choir and sing solos. Now that she is older she has joined the women of Injili Baptist Church as part of the usher ministry. She said to Lisa, "I just love my church and want to serve God here." She is just one example of the servant hearts of our Kenyan people. We want them to serve because they love to serve not because it is their duty.  

The gifts of the Spirit are tools not to admire, but to be used. They are not medals to be won, or trophies to be displayed, or treasures to be guarded. Use them! Do you need to allow the Spirit to fan your gift into full flame? Are you burning bright for Him, or are you just flickering or smoldering?

You’re needed in this world! God has gifted you and now He wants to use you. Don’t allow yourself to think you don’t matter. Nobody is a nobody in the body of Christ. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

The Holy Spirit has given you a GIFT CARD with a special gift but it only does someone good when you decide to use it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Holy Hug

Have you ever thought "What I could use right now more than anything else is a good hug"? We have all had days where we have felt this way. Maybe it was after the death of a loved one or when a friend just didn't understand our feelings. We feel lonely and frustrated. We want to feel loved and need someone to really listen to us. Honestly, we just need to truly know that someone cares.

In John 14, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit as "another Comforter".  The Holy Spirit is to be our guide and our comforter. And I can say that there have been moments when I have felt the Holy Spirit comfort me just like He was placing his arms around me in a hug. I love the words of Jesus in verse 18: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." This gives me great comfort.

But I need to be honest. Sometimes I need a real hug from a human person. In Kenya, we deal with a lot of people. Just the children in our Christian schools number close to one thousand then there are their parents, grandparents, extended families. If you total the school and church ministries you get close to three thousand people. What is amazing is how many of them need a touch from us? Really all of them need a touch, an encouraging word, a smile, a hug. The problem has always been that Lisa and I just can't do it alone. We can't do it all. We need help!

This is where sponsors step in and up.  You see, sponsorship shouldn't just be about money. Yes, the money is desperately needed, but we want sponsorship to be about a growing relationship.  This is why the Hope Foundation works hard to provide ways for our sponsors to get to know their Kenyan child. You can send gifts in our suitcases. You can send money so small presents and school supplies can be purchased in country for them. You can write to them and they can write back monthly. I think that the letters are so important because it is like a little hug from you to them. I call these small notes and letters "Holy Hugs". As a sponsor you might think, my letter can't mean that much but in reality they do.

On our last visit to Good News Academy, we had children come and ask us when their sponsor might write them. They are looking for someone to show them that they truly care. Our children are so appreciative of your giving but they also want to thank you. They are struggling and need your prayers, but they also want to pray for you. They have friends and families but they want to know you too. They want to see your face in pictures. They want to know what it is like in America. They need you to tell them about God and what He is doing in your life. Letters mean a lot. Letters lead to love. I think this is why God gave us the Bible especially the New Testament. God knew that His Word would lead us to understand His love.

I encourage you to build a relationship with your child in Kenya through the Hope Foundation. Write a letter. It will lead to love. To show you how important it is to build a relationship, I wanted to share a video with you of one of our American sponsors surprising her Kenyan daughter with a visit on the week of her graduation from eighth grade this year. They have been writing back and forth for several years now and have built a relationship of love.

It is all about love and giving someone a "Holy Hug". We are planning a sponsors trip for next summer (2017). If you want details, please email Lisa:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Faith Demonstrated - Go Out and Buy a Field

What would you do if in a war you were asked to buy a piece of land in the middle of the battle zone?

I have been reading through the book of Jeremiah and he has done some crazy things. He had to wear a ruined girdle and another time put on a oxen's yoke. Now in chapter 32 he is being held as a captive in the courtyard of the palace while the Babylonian army besieges the city of Jerusalem.

Let's set the scene. The Babylonian army has Jerusalem surrounded. The Jewish king and his court along with all the inhabitants are shaking in their boots.  Jeremiah has been going around telling everyone that Jerusalem would fall. Now as Jerusalem is falling Jeremiah buys a piece of land from his cousin,  Why?

Because Jeremiah knew God. His purchase of the land demonstrated his faith in God. In spite of the hopeless situation in which he found himself, He bought this field as an investment of hope in the future of Israel.  God assures Jeremiah in verse 15: "Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land." Sometimes we have to step out and demonstrate our faith in God for the future.

We are happy to report that we are finishing the female dormitory at the high school.  It has been a long road but next week our female freshman students will move into their new home. It will help these young women to excel in their studies. Everyone is excited and we are so thankful to all who gave to make this building a reality.

But we don't want to forget the young men. We needed to go out and buy a field. As a step of faith, the foundation now owns a separate piece of land near the high school for the future.  We are hoping to one day build a male dormitory plus four classrooms on that property.  We ask you to pray for us as we seriously consider how we can expand for the future of the students that we serve.

With God's help and faithfulness we will be able to meet the needs of all of our students.