The first meeting…
The first date…
The look on his face when she told him that they were going to have a baby…
The first meeting…
The first date…
The look on his face when she told him that they were going to have a baby…
As she drank her tea, she thought of her grandmother.
Grams would have turned 90 today. How she missed her.
It was Grams who got her into the habit of drinking tea
in the afternoons. She thought of the times when she
used to walk over to Grams’ house after school and sit
at the table and watched as she poured the hot tea into
two large cups.
Earl Grey was Gram’s favorite. She had her reasons why.
And she loved to list them. “It has many benefits, Steffi,” she
would say. “It calms your nerves, improves your immune
system, helps your digestion, keeps you alert, which is good
for people my age,” she paused to chuckle at that remark
before she continued, “It boosts your metabolism, improves
your heart health, prevents cancer, keeps you hydrated and
protects your teeth. And it tastes good.”
Stephanie had to agree. Earl Grey had a fruity flavor and
didn’t taste as bitter or strong as the other types of black
tea. So, it was over a cup of Earl Grey tea that she was
remembering her grandmother who passed away from
natural causes two years ago.
It was during those afternoon visits that Grams would
talk to her about the Bible. The book of Proverbs was
her favorite. “It has lots of good advice for all of us,
especially for young people.” And she would read
As Grams sipped her tea, Stephanie would talk to
her about school, growing up and boys. She told her
about the annoying boy in school who was always pulling her
hair and doing things to upset her. When Grams told her
that he did these silly things because he liked her,
she was shocked but Grams was right. She was
always right. She had so much wisdom.
“I get it from reading God’s Word,” she
said and “I ask Him for it too.”
Grams was the first one in her family
to meet the man she ended up marrying.
He was that same annoying boy from school.
Grams was the first to hold their newborn
baby. Sometimes she suspected that her
mother was a little jealous of the closeness
she had with her grandmother but Grams
never judged her or made her feel bad when
she made bad decisions but was always there
to encourage her. It was Grams who had
faith in her when no one else did, including
herself. And it was Grams who led her to
Their afternoon tea tradition lasted
through high school, college and even
after she got married.
She smiled as she sipped her tea. Yes, she
missed her grandmother but she knew
she would see her again on the blessed
day when Jesus comes again. Until then,
she would continue to enjoy a cup of
Earl Grey tea in the afternoons and
remember her beloved Grams.
Source: Your Tea Headquarters
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
This was the prayer that changed Lisa’s life.
Before she prayed it one night in her room,
she was a selfish person. She went about
her busy life, not having time for anyone.
She went to church, yes, but she never
expressed any interest in being involved
in any of the ministries. She didn’t attend
the afternoon programs or prayer meetings.
She never joined the youth group who
visited the senior homes. She left church
soon after the service ended.
She didn’t visit her family often and
when she did, she found them all very tiresome.
She preferred to be on her own. She spent
most of her time reading a book, watching TV
or browsing shops in the mall. Her relationships
didn’t last. All of her exes got tired of giving and
not getting much back.
She managed to convince herself that she was
satisfied with how her life was. No obligations, no
commitments and no constraints. She was free to
come and go as she pleased. In her estimation, she
was doing just fine.
But God had other plans for her. One evening she
watched a story of an older woman named Edith
who was always kind to everyone. She had to go to
hospital for tests. It turned out that she was terminally
ill. Instead of sinking into depression and being angry
at God, she accepted her fate. She spent the time she
had in the hospital telling everyone who would listen
about Jesus. She helped a young girl who was pregnant
and unwed. She didn’t judge her but spoke kindly to her.
She gave her the name and address of a women’s shelter
where she could go and stay until she was able to find a job
and raise her baby. Edith didn’t think about herself. She
was always reaching out to those around her, talking to
them, encouraging them and sharing her faith with them.
By the time Edith died, many of the people whose lives
she touched accepted Jesus. Before the movie ended,
Lisa was sobbing uncontrollably. This woman’s unselfish
character and love for others made her feel ashamed. She
knew that if she had been in Edith’s shoes, she would have
been lashing out and asking God why. Not once did this
gentle woman do that. She was always saying, “That she
was looking forward to going to sleep and then waking up
when the trumpet sounded and her Jesus came to take her
Lisa got down on her knees and poured her heart out to
God, begging Him to forgive her and the words of the
Psalm came to her. God answered her prayer. Now,
she was a driver for a senior centre. She took clients for
their appointments, treatment programs, shopping, banking
and other daily chores. The hours were flexible. She
loved what she was doing.
Like Edith, she shared her faith every opportunity she had.
She attended prayer meetings and participated in church
programs and events. Her time was better spent now and she
felt a joy and peace she had never experienced before. Her family
noticed the changes in her and were impressed.
And on a more personal note, she was in a new relationship.
He was a volunteer at the senior centre. So far, so good. Only
time would tell. For now, she was happy serving the Lord who
had opened her eyes to her true spiritual condition and had
brought her to the place He had prepared for her. He had given
her a completely different outlook and a new purpose for her life.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven – Matthew 5:16
For me, the most amazing transformation were the stages of pregnancy. It wasn’t planned but I was thrilled when I got the news that I was pregnant. During those 41 weeks, I marveled at the changes of my body and was amazed at the relentless hunger pangs that plagued me. I was told that I was eating for two when I was actually eating for myself. The baby took whatever nourishment he needed. I was curious to see the stages of development so I visited the Baby Centre site to find out, What does your baby look like now? It was an eye-opening experience. I couldn’t believe that in nine months, that little tadpole would transform into a baby with beautifully formed limbs, ten toes, ten fingers and a head of hair. Open day, those tiny lungs would get their first gulp of air. I couldn’t wait to welcome my baby into the world.
My pregnancy not only changed my life, but it deepened my love and appreciation for the God who had made this possible. “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). God’s loving fingers had knitted the life growing inside me. He clothed him with skin and flesh and knitted him together with bones and sinews (Job 10:11).
I will never forget the moment I first held my son in my arms. My arms ached to hold him and when the nurse gently lowered him into them, I felt as if my heart would stop beating. The love I felt as I gazed down into that sweet little face was almost too much to bear. Tears come to my eyes even I write these words. At long last I was holding the life that had been covered in my womb (Psalm 139:13). The transformation was complete. I was holding the miracle of life in my arms. I never imagined that I would have a child in my forties. Yet, there I was holding my first and only child and he was perfect. He was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). I made a promise that I would be the best mother that he could ever hope for, with God’s help.
There is an image that will forever be imprinted on Cindy’s mind. It is what keeps her going when she wants to give up. Recently, her son had been acting up at school and she was struggling to deal with why he was taking what didn’t belong to him and lying about it. She had been crushed by such despair that she just wanted to throw in the towel and resign herself to the idea that it was no use trying to fix this problem. She and her husband had talked to him many times about the consequences of wrongdoing. They read Bible stories to him stories to illustrate how important it was to do what was right. But it seemed to be a waste of time. She cried when she read the teacher’s note, wondering what had happened to her precious little boy who would never have thought of taking other people’s things and telling lies.
She had prayed to God about it but the discouragement and disappointment were overwhelming. During her morning worship one day, she was frank with the Lord, telling him that she didn’t know what else to do. Talking to Joey, reading verses from the book of Proverbs which urged children to listen to their parents and even spanking him didn’t seem to be working. She had run out of options. Then, the image which she always held dear to her heart, filled her mind. She saw her son in the hospital, wrapped in a blanket, his head covered and only his tiny face was exposed. She would never forget looking into those big, beautiful eyes as they stared up at her. This was her child. The son she and her husband had prayed for. This was God’s precious gift to them.
As the image lingered, she heard the Lord say, “Do it for him.” God was encouraging her not to give up on that little baby who was looking up at her with such trust. He was seven now but somewhere in there was that sweet child that had filled her heart such love. It was this love that she was to tap into to help him. God doesn’t give up on His children, no matter how long it takes or how hard, so she couldn’t give up on Joey. Joey was a loving, kind and thoughtful child but he was doing bad things. She and his Dad had to find out why and then deal with it with God’s help. God told her to talk to Joey, not at him and then listen to him.
She realized that lately she had been lecturing Joey and talking while he was trying to say something. And it had been a while since she had spent any time with him. Was it her fault that Joey was acting up? Then, she pushed that thought away. The enemy would love for her to blame herself but she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. She knew that she and her husband were raising Joey the best they knew how, in a Godly home. They would do whatever was necessary to help him but the choice, decision to stop doing what was wrong was his. She was not going to give up without a fight, though. Armed with hope and a mother’s fierce love, she was going to hang on to her child and not let go until it was safe to do so. And one day he was going to thank her for not letting go of the child he used to be so that he could become the exceptional man God knew he could be.
Love suffers long and is kind; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails – 1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, 8
When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me – Psalm 27:10
For most parents, it is love at first sight when they see their newborn. Not so for baby Jansi. When her father saw her, instead of feeling love toward her, he felt shame. As he looked down into that tiny face, he didn’t see a beautiful baby. He saw a baby who wasn’t pretty, was too skinny and not looking right. The doctor concurred that she was abnormal. Jansi’s father didn’t want an abnormal baby nor did his wife. Filled with disgust, he threw the 2 day old baby in the dumpster and the couple walked away, not looking back nor shedding a tear.
Baby Jansi lay in the garbage, wailing until two arms reached into the dumpster and drew her out. Those arms belonged to a woman named Pranaya Chopra. Pranaya worked as a tutor to help the children with their academics at Gospel for Asia (GFA) supported Bridge of Hope center. Pranaya learned through preaching at Church and reading the Word that children are a gift from God. It was Pranaya’s sister who had Jansi and when Pranaya discovered she and her husband had tossed their newborn daughter into the dumpster, she went and found her.
Pranaya took the baby girl home with her and named her Jansi. Pranaya and Jansi’s grandparents cared for her and nursed her to health. To the Jansi, Pranaya was “mother.” Pranaya was there when the little girl crawled and when she became a toddler. She was there every step of the way, showing this abandoned child how much she loved her. When Pranaya got married, Jansi remained a part of the family, even when the couple had a child of their own. For Pranaya, “It is a great blessing for me to adopt my sister’s daughter into my family.”
When Jansi became school-aged, she was enrolled in Bridge of Hope. School work was difficult for Jansi but with the help of the staff, she soon improved. Jansi thrived and her biological parents saw how well she was doing and their attitude toward her changed. They wanted her back. They saw their daughter the way God and Pranaya did–a precious gift to be loved and cherished. It made it easier for Pranaya when she and her family had to move away. She knew that Jansi would be well cared for and safe with her parents.
Jansi lives with her parents and two younger siblings. She continues to attend Bridge of Hope center where she is learning about Jesus’ love for her and doing well in her studies. Her mother attends the monthly parents’ meeting at Bridge of Hope where she hears about Jesus. What a wonderful end to what started out as a very sad story. Although baby Jansi was discarded by her parents, God had plans for her life. He rescued her from the dumpster and placed her in the care of a woman who loved her as if she were her own daughter.
This story has taught me that we must never discard anyone because of their appearance, gender, culture or race but love them as Jesus does. He died for them too. He died for the unloved, unwanted, abandoned and rejected. It is His desire that they too may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Thanks to Him, Jansi is now enjoying a life filled with hope and joy and tremendous blessings.
For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb – Psalm 139:13.
Source: Gospel for Asia
Many people in the world today are not starving because there is an inherent inability to produce food, they are starving because they are caught in the middle of political fights and blockades that have been used as weapons – Ralph Merkle
I was appalled when I heard about the mother who was giving her 7 month old baby water and salt because there is no food in Madaya, Syria. Tears came to my eyes when I saw the sunken face of a baby, his large eyes staring at the camera. This precious, innocent child and many others are starving in Madaya. Some have died. This atrocity begs the question: How could a leader of a country do this to his people?
It’s hard to watch this video but it is something everyone needs to be aware of.
People were forced to live on tree leaves and plants but now that winter has set in there are no more plants and leaves. Majed Ali, a 28 year old opposition activist, was 114 kilos before the siege and is now 80. Abu Hassan Mousa, head of Madaya opposition council sees no point in negotiating when children are going without milk. “What are we going to negotiate over?” he demands. “Our dead?” The Syrian people went for months without aid. In fact, the October was the last time aid was delivered to Madaya.
Seeing the crisis in Syria motivated me to get in touch with Julie Marshall, Canadian Spokesperson of the United Nations World Food Programme. I wanted to know what people in Canada can do to help and this is what she had to say:
The good news is the first UN convoy will move to Madaya carrying food for 40,000 people for one month will set off as early as Sunday. On Monday, other convoys carrying food should move into the besieged towns of Foah and Kefraya in rural Idlib with WFP food for 20,000 people. Non-food items, including medicine, specialist nutrition products, kitchen sets, blankets, winter clothing and other supplies will hopefully follow in the next few days.
The last humanitarian supplies reached Madaya on October 17 on an interagency convey – this was enough food to feed more than 19,000 people for one month. The convoy was a result of a locally negotiated agreement reached between the opposition and government to allow access to four besieged communities in Idlib and rural Damascus (Foah, Kefraya, Zabadani and Madaya). Since then, no food assistance or humanitarian supplies have reached these areas.
WFP provides food assistance to over 4 million people displaced inside Syria in both government and opposition-controlled areas every month. And around 1.3 million refugees in neighbouring countries.
Canada has been one of WFP’s largest donors to our response in the region and we hope the extension of the matching funds, until the end of February will encourage Canadians to donate to organizations like WFP working in Syria.
Canadians can support WFP by donating here: https://give.wfp.org/en/629/?step=country
Also, we launched an app a few months ago called ShareTheMeal which makes it extremely easy to support our school meals for Syrian refugee school children living in Jordan.
It is extremely difficult to see babies starving. And it upsets me when I see food go to waste when there are people starving everyday. Let us do what we can to help the people in Syria. Hunger is a terrible thing and something that we need to fight against. The starvation in Syria is likened to warfare. It’s like when Hitler starved the Russian people during the battle of Stalingrad. Hunger is being used as a weapon to oppress the people and this cannot and should not be allowed to happen. Let us help WFP and other humanitarian agencies to save the lives of the men, women and children in Syria.
Source: CBC News; World Food Programme