Sometimes, the joy of being a dad flows over and through me for no specific reason. It’s not a birthday or Father’s Day; it’s merely another regular day, and I … Continue reading Connecting with the joy of divine parenthood
Elections are more than political exercises; they affect lives. Fear and confusion is gripping some children today, so they need our prayers. Two friends shared the following prayer requests and gave me permission to share them more broadly.
“My wife is a high school librarian. She called to let me know many Latino students are distraught. Their parents are not in the US legally and the students are afraid their parents will be deported.
“Please pray for these students. Today this is probably happening at schools throughout Texas.”
And another friend responded:
“My wife is a pre-k teacher . . . and she has felt and heard the same from her students, even at 4 years old. Prayers are definitely needed.”
No matter who we supported in Tuesday’s vote, we should care deeply for this children and their families.
(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists website.)
(This article originally appeared on the Christian Life Commission web site.)
Parents will do just about anything to help their children. In Central America, parents are trying to help their children in ways that may seem odd and downright unwise to those of us in the United States, but their circumstances are very different. Their children’s lives are at stake.
Drugs, violence, and lawlessness threaten to engulf their children, so they do what must be heartbreakingly difficult — they send them away on a long, perilous journey to a place that seems to offer hope for their children. Many of those children make it, and they cross the border into their place of deliverance — the United States.
Children are wonderful, but they can also get in the way. Christians in Texas are not the first followers of Christ to be confronted by parents bringing their children toward hope. Matthew 19 tells us that little children were being brought to Jesus “in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray” (v. 13a). Jesus had no problem with these kids, but his followers did. “The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them” (v. 13b).
You can almost hear the disciples. “Jesus is a busy man; he can’t deal with every problem. What kind of parents are you, wanting some magic touch? Go home and let us get on about our business. We don’t have unlimited resources or time.”
Such words are speculation, but Jesus’ response to the children has been carried through the ages. “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (v. 14)
Some Americans today act like those first century disciples. They speak sternly about the children from Central America coming to the United States. They don’t want to be bothered by the messiness of life, especially beyond the borders of this most prosperous of nations.
Followers of Jesus, however, seek to be the hands and feet of Christ in this time and place. They greet the Central American children as their Master did — bring them to us, do not stop them, for such as these is the kingdom of heaven.
In the kingdom of heaven, God rules. Our nation struggles with its political responses to various situations, but not all challenges are political. Most are simply wrapped in human flesh; they come before us as people in need both spiritually and physically, and they are looking for someone to love and care for them — like Jesus did.
Ferrell Foster is director of ethics and justice for the Christian Life Commission, which speaks to Texas Baptists about ethical issues.
When Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa in 1994, one of the first things he did was a feeding program for school children. Many opposed because of financial strains, but Mandela pushed it anyway, said Ngwela Paul Msiza during the recent “… such as these” conference in Dallas.
Msiza, of the Baptist Convention of South Africa, spoke on the topic,”Responding to Childhood Hunger, African Church Perspective.” Here are my paraphrased notes:
The church in Africa … The mainline churches have been overtaken by the pentacostal movement. … The prosperity churches are a big thing. … All privatized Christianity; its all about me, and that weakens the church’s action on social justice. … The more you speak of prosperty and about me and my good living, we are making the gospel weaker and weaker in places where it is supposed to be strong. … Christianity is growing in South Africa. … Then why are we having so many of these ills still growing. …
There are other poroblems that go alongside childhood hunger. … Funds sometimes do not reach the intended beneficiary. … Problem of corruption. …
I believe that in order for us as a church in Africa to respond effectivedly to childhood poverty. … First, the church must begin to see children as Jesus sees them. If we use the eyes of Christ, then our attitudes and motives will change. … In some churches, children are not part of the worship. Children are not to be pushed to the side. … Christ who says anyone who welcomes children welcomes Christ himself. … We do ourselves a favor when we help children. … The church must help the world to understand. We cannot let children roam the streets and pretend that all is well. …
We need to welcome children in our midst. we need to hold them in our hearts. We need to bless them. … It helps us to think about them all the time. …
Msiza spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.
NOTES (are not direct quotes but are paraphrases)
“Innovative, Sustainable Solutions for Childhood Hunger in Bangladesh”
By Abraham Sarker
I have never experienced hunger in life the way, but I have seen people around me who are hungry.
In Bangladesh… 60 million people in Bangladesh do nat have sufficient food.
Nearly 8 million children under 5 years old are underweight (37%)
Threats to food security in Bangladesh:
1) Poverty – chronic deprivation of the socially vulnerable
2) Natural disasters – thphoons and floods every year
3) Poor health and hygiene
Village Community Transformation using our NGO model … micro-loans, church planting, discipleship training, humanitarian aid, healthcare, and schools…
Gospel for Muslims’ NGO serves 8,000 families in May 2011. … in 52 villages
Micro-loans… average loan size $50-$75…
Pillars of HARD Micro-Finance
1) Standardized loan product
2) Basic voluntary deposit services
3) Standard Operating Procedures that are simple, firm, and effective.
4) Zero tolerance on late payments
Cost efficiency achieved throug
1) Organizational architecture
2) Standardized operating system… maximum delegation with limited discretion… detailed operating manual… franchise-type approach to branch expansion….
3) Institutional culture… servant leadership through attitude and action… accountqability and integrity among ourselves and our partners…
Sarker spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.
NOTES (these are not direct quotes but paraphrases)
“Setting the Biblical/Theological Stage”
By Nicholas Wolterstorff, Professor Emeritus Yale University
The grand charter for Christian social work is Matt 24… In the parable, Jesus declared that in welcoming the stranger we are welcoming him… It has also been a favorite of the artists of the church. …
Every translation available mistranslates the Greek at two points. …
Isaiah passage… the downtrodden …
Jesus invites us to bring Isaiah into the picture. …
The word “righteous” in Matthew 24 is better translated “justice.” … If this is on the right track and it is about justice, then reference the great commandment. Jesus speaks of love not justice. … It would seem we are to treat our neighbor not as justice requires but as gratitous love requires…. But that is not the case. … The two love commands are quotations from the Torah. … If you want to understand what Jesus meant by agape, it would be good to look at the OT context for the second command. … Moses is instructing Israelites to treat fellow Israelites with justice. … Love does not supercede justice nor are they to be pitted against each other… examples of treating the neighbor justly are cited as examples as loving the neighbor. Agape encorates justice. … Shalom goes beyond justice.
Back now to to the court parable. … By wronging the downtrodden we are wronging Jesus. … You and I are latecomers in history. We cannot literally do things for Jesus, but we can treat him with justice or injustice. … By not doing these things we violate what Jesus was called to do, thus we wrong him. … That ups the ante enormously. We thought we were being good and gracious by extending charity. Now we understand we’re doing what justice requires. …
The injustices of the world are the wounds of God.
Some say the exclusive business of government is to protect our freedoms. … Some believe in a safety net. … They must have not read Romans about the God-given task of government, which is to curb wrongdoing. … Freedom is important, but justice is basic. … To those who say a safety net should be preserved, grutitous charity is optional; it goes beyond what is required, which is justice. … Bible does not say government should be dispenser of welfare. It is the task of government to see to it that the weak and vulnerable are not being wronged, that they are being treated justly.
The parable of the great trial… It’s familiar, but it is strange. … All nations gathered before the king, the Son of Man. … Told two days before Jesus’ final Passover… a parable of his coming kingship. … you and I are in the crowd before the King. … Jesus says the father does not bless us for any acts of our piety. … the reason he gives instead is feeding hungry, welcoming stranger, visiting prisoner. … This is really strange. becuae all except those who encountered him at his lifetime have never done these things to him…. But when we’ve done this to such as the least of these, we’ve done it to Him. … Has our perplexity been resolved? … No. …
Raise an important issue of interpretation, which is entertwined with translation that I mentioned. … The word “righteous” occurred twice. … dikios … the righteous. … to the best of my knowledge is always translated same way in English. Who am I to question? … Vulgate and translations in romance languages translate it with their word for “just.” It’s the just who enter into eternal life. … The Greek word was ambiguous at the time so you’ve got to use context to determine the appropriate meeting. … Righteousness is a character trait; justice is a social designation. … Blessed are those who are persecutued for the sake of rectitude or for the sake of justice. … The upright are seldom persecuted. It’s the people who pursue justice that get under the skin of other people and thus get persecuted. …
I think Jesus was here talking about justice. … Coming to the aid of others is a matter of justice not of gratuitous charity.
Wolterstorff spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.
Conference introduction: Children, Christ, Country
11 million children will die this year of hunger
129 million underweight children
16% of babies born weigh under 3.3 pounds
We are interested in these beloved children of God..,, Each child has a name, a story, and worth before God.
— Emergency therapeutic feeding… make sure they get the nutrition they need. …
— General and supplemental food aid … critically important work of our government. …
— Child support programs … orphanages or sponsorship programs. ..
— School feeding programs … for many children the most basic nutritution is received in this means….
— Sustainable agriculture and markets … helping people who can provide for themselves … accessible markets …
— Development and job creation
When you put these together you have a whole circle of programs. … broad and diverse.
There are numbers of ways we engage in these — local church, church missions, community, Christian agencies, country governments, USAID, World Food Program, Non Governmental Organizations. … Many of the Christian efforts are dependent on the foreign assistance program of the U.S. government. …
The effectivess; the efficiency; and the level of funding of these programs matters greatly.
Gary Cook is with Bread for the World.
Cook spoke during a May 24-25, 2011, conference titled, “…such as these…”: An Evangelical Advocacy Response to Global Childhood Hunger. The event was held at Dallas Baptist University and sponsored by Bread for the World, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, National Association of Evangelicals, Micah Challenge, Baptist World Alliance, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, and DBU.