The Plants

ronda-del-boccio

PHOTO PROMPT © Ronda Del Boccio

 

“Where did you get these strange plants from?” Wei asked.

Sue tried not to panic.  “They are gifts.”  Why does Wei have to be so nosy?  And why is she here instead of at the market?

“Who gave them to you?”

“A friend, I think.  I don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember who gave you these ugly plants?” Wei sounded skeptical.

“Wei, aren’t you going to the market?”

“Oh, yes.  I’d better leave now.”  She scurried off.

Once the coast was clear, Sue went over to the plants and removed the Bibles.  It was time to find new hiding places.

99 Words

This story was inspired by an article I read about China shutting down churches and seizing Bibles in an “ambitious new effort to lessen or even eradicate the influence of Christianity and religion from the country”.  So far, the government has shut down hundreds of Christian house churches.

According to Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, “Xi is a closet Maoist—he is very anxious about thought control.  He definitely does not want people to be faithful members of the church because then people would profess their allegiance to the church rather than to the party, or more exactly to Xi himself.”  Faithful Christians would rather obey God than men and will do so even if it costs them their lives.

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  For more details, visit Here.  To read stories of 100 words based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Obey God

Then they reported to Saul, saying, “Look, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating the blood – 1 Samuel 14:33

Do we sometimes go to great lengths to obey those in authority but in the process we end up disobeying God?  It happened with Israel’s army when they came upon a forest where honey was flowing.  There was honey on the ground, ready for the men to eat but they didn’t eat it because of the king had placed them under a cursed when he swore, “Cursed is the man that eats any food before it is evening, and I have been avenged on my enemies.” 

The people feared the king’s rash oath so no one took of the honey except Jonathan who was not present when his father made the people swear to keep the oath.  He dipped the end of his rod into the honey and put his hand to his mouth, his eyes brightening at the taste.  One of the people told him that “Your father surely made the people swear, saying, ‘Cursed is the man that eats any food this day.’ ” This person and the rest of the people were greatly distressed.

Jonathan’s reply was, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have brightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.  How much more, if the people had surely eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found? But now the defeat of the Philistines has not been great.”

So, the people struck the Philistines that day and faint and famished, they took the cattle and sheep and slew them.  They ate them with the blood in them which was a violation of God’s commandment which states:  Only be sure that you do not eat the blood. For the blood is the life, and you may not eat the life with the meat.  You must not eat it. You must pour it on the ground like water.  You must not eat it, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you, when you do that which is right in the sight of the Lord (Deuteronomy 12:23-25). 

Blinded by hunger, the people broke God’s commandment.  It is ironic that their obedience to King Saul’s foolish oath led to their disobedience to God.  Their act is seen as rebellious because they put their fear of Saul’s curse above their faithfulness to God’s commandment.  They were loyal to the king instead of to God.  And this led to their grievous sin.

When it was reported to Saul what they were doing, he turned on them and accused them of acting treacherously.  Then, he set up a stone to have the animals properly killed and he also built an altar to God to prevent further violation of the law.  The people had defiled themselves.  We must never allow anyone, no matter who it is to cause us to sin against God.  Perhaps it would have been better to incur the king’s curse by eating the honey rather than violating God’s law.

The people redeemed themselves when they stood up against Saul who would have killed his son, Jonathan when it was revealed that he had taken some of the honey, although it was done in ignorance.  Jonathan was willing to die but the people interceded.  They said to Saul, “Will Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? God forbid. As the Lord lives, there will not one hair of his head fall to the ground. For he has worked with God this day.”

They rescued Jonathan and he did not die.  They couldn’t stand by and allow the man who was brave enough to go over to the Philistine garrison to see what the Lord would do, trusting that He would work something out to deliver their enemies into their hands.  Through him, Lord brought them victory that day.  They people acted on their conscience.  It’s never too late to do what is right.

We should never let fear cause us to make bad choices.  When it comes to choosing whom we listen to or follow, it’s a no brainer.  “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).  We must obey God no matter what.

 

Sources:  Bible Gateway; Blue Letter Bible

Daya’s Timeline

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up – Psalm 27:10

Daya was like an orphan even though her parents were not dead.  They abandoned her and if it weren’t for her grandmother, she would have been completely alone.  Family life was terrible for her.  Her father beat her mother and then abandoned them both.  Her mother deserted her. Neither parent showed her any love.  There is nothing worse than a child not receiving parental love.

Things didn’t improve for Daya.   With no income, she and her grandmother were forced to beg at bus stops, train stations and shops.  It’s heartbreaking to see an elderly woman, with her grandchild in her arms, begging for something to eat.  The cook for a Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope centre had to be cautious.  He knew that there were beggars who carried small children in order to get larger handouts and they pocketed most of the money for themselves.  He couldn’t tell if this beggar was on the level.  He asked her a question and demanded an answer.  Her response was to break down in tears and pour her heart out.

He learned that the woman was the child’s grandmother and that Daya had once been a happy child until strife tore her family apart.  Realizing that this woman was telling the truth and moved with compassion, the cook invited her to enroll Daya in the Bridge of Hope centre where he would cook the young girl meals.

Daya joined the Bridge of Hope centre lodged between a railway station and a slum. Unfortunately, she stood out from the rest of the children.  She was the poorest of the poor and living in the slums for much of her life, she didn’t know much about hygiene.  She went to class each day in the same dirty clothes.  She rarely had a bath and when she did, she didn’t use soap.

It was not long before some of the parents began to complain about Daya and they pressured the Bridge of Hope staff to drop her from the program.  They didn’t want this dirty child to be around their children.  They threatened to remove their children from the centre if she didn’t leave.

Daya’s future was in jeopardy.  If she was dropped from the program, she would return to the streets as one of the 300,000 child beggars in India.  Somewhere down the road, she would be among the 20 to 30 million boys and girls who are exploited as child laborers.  If it weren’t for her grandmother’s protection, Daya was at risk of becoming one of the 1.2 million Indian children abused as prostitutes.  And worse yet for Daya if her grandmother were to die.  She would be lost and her future would be hopeless.  She wouldn’ stand a chance in a society where evil men preyed on the innocent…

Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life – Psalm 54:4

The Bridge of Hope staff remained committed to helping Daya because they knew that God had brought her to them.  They decided to keep her in the program and undertook her hygiene problem.  They scrubbed the 8 year old and gave her new clothes.  By the time they were finished with Daya, you could hardly recognize her.  They continued to teach her and her classmates proper hygiene and other practical life skills.  These wonderful people of God didn’t cave into the demands of those parents who wanted them to expel Daya from the centre.  They followed the example of the apostles Peter and John in Acts 5:29 who, when the council demanded to know why they were continuing to preach in Jesus’ name after being commanded not to, replied,  “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  They had to do whatever was necessary to protect the welfare of this child whom God had rescued from a life on the streets.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly – John 10:10

Over six years have passed since Daya joined the Bridge of Hope centre.  Instead of dirty rags, she is wearing beautiful dresses given as her uniforms.  She had gone from being a beggar to being blessed.  She had gone from the streets to a sanctuary where she receives an education.  She is not in bonded labor or in a brothel.  She is enjoying liberty in Jesus.  She can realize her dream to be a teacher.  Daya, now 15 years old, has a relationship with a Father who loves her and a Savior who has given her hope and set her free from the social evils which plague young girls like her in South Asia.

Daya’s grandmother has witnessed first hand the love of God as shown through the kindness of the Bridge of Hope staff.  And she too is experiencing that love.

God is using Bridge of Hope to change communities.  More than 60,000 children are finding hope in Jesus through the centres but there are millions of children like Daya out there who are still living in despair.  You can reach out to them by sponsoring a child.  Find out what every Bridge of Hope child receives.

My heart goes out to these children who are robbed of their childhood.  They are unloved, abandoned, exploited and abused.  I was touched by the story of Lakshmi, a nine year old who works in a factory rolling cigarettes.  She is an example of selfless love.  She doesn’t care about playing or going to school–all she wants is to bring her sister home from the bonded labor man.

My sister is ten years old. Every morning at seven she goes to the bonded labor man, and every night at nine she comes home. He treats her badly; he hits her if he thinks she is working slowly or if she talks to the other children, he yells at her, he comes looking for her if she is sick and cannot go to work. I feel this is very difficult for her.  

It would cost 600 rupees to buy her sister’s freedom but for Lakshmi, there is hopeless.  “We don’t have 600 rupees,” she says, “…we will never have 600 rupees.”  600 rupees is only $14.00 US.  This is just one story among over 10 million stories of children who are bonded laborers in India.  Help Bridge of Hope to bring hope to these children.  Pray that God will rescue more of them from the clutches of evil people.   Pray that they will discover that there is a loving God who sees their plight and will intervene.  Pray that they will come to know Jesus.

Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You – Psalm 33:22

Source:  Gospel for Asia

Correction

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The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother – Proverbs 29:15

Sometimes talking to your child doesn’t work.  Time out doesn’t work.  I have been told that some children learn the hard way.  It’s embarrassing for mothers when they take the children out to the mall or grocery store and they are forced to give the child whatever he or she wants just to keep the child from making a fuss.

The Bible is not opposed to spanking or whatever necessary discipline it takes to keep the child in line.  It is for the child’s benefit that they do not get their own way.  It must always be clear that the parent is in charge and the child has to obey.  Ellen G. White had the right idea.  “Any child that is permitted to have his own way will dishonour God and bring his father and mother to shame….By neglecting their duty and indulging their children in wrong, parents close to them the gates of the city of God.”

The Bible cannot emphasize enough the importance of discipline in a child’s life. Discipline is an act of love.  “He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24).  Children need and want discipline because they need to know that boundaries exist and that they need to stay within them.  These are your child’s formative years so you need to correct him or her while there is still time and hope (see Proverbs 19:18)

Sometimes the best thing a parent could say to a child, is, “No.”  Children need to know that there are rules that they need to abide by.  Their responsibilities are to follow instructions, obey their parents, teachers and anyone in authority as long as these instructions are never contrary to God’s Word.  Wisdom comes from following instructions.  Once children do what is required of them, all will be well with them.   They will bring honour to God and their parents.

Sin or Die

I lost my husband but God is here to take care of me.

Geeta was married to an abusive man who was also a drunkard.  He earned 200 rupies per day from a manual labor job but gave her only 20 rupies per day to buy and cook food.  He spent most of his earnings on his drinking. The money he gave her from his earnings was not enough for her to cook the kinds of meals he expected.  He beat her horribly every night with a cricket bat and Geeta asked herself why she was married to this man.  One day he disappeared and never came back.  She was left to raise two children.  She got a job but most of the money went towards paying for the rent so that most times she and her children went with hungry.  She managed to get a new job in a hotel which paid better but she still had to struggle.

As I listened to her story, I couldn’t believe the horrors this poor mother had to go through.  She lived in the slums, on a hill near the forest and the hut was made of sticks and plastic tarps.  She was terrified because tigers came out of the jungle at night and there was nothing to keep them from attacking her and her children.

One of her friends gave her a Gospel tract and told her about Jesus, the Saviour who could protect her from danger.  Geeta didn’t waste any time reaching out to Him.  She prayed and asked Him to protect her and her children from the roaming tigers and He did.  After this Geeta went to her friend’s church and soon gave her life to Jesus.  He began to work in her, transforming her and people noticed.

Geeta’s story shows us that becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that our problems will go away.  In fact, Geeta reached a point where she had to make a terrible decision. Her boss owned the room she and her children were staying in.  He wanted sexual favours from her.  How could she do what he wanted?  She was once married. She was a mother.  She was a Christian.  If she didn’t do what he wanted, she and her children would be thrown out of the room.  With nowhere to go, she and her children would be out on the streets begging in order to survive.

During one of her darkest moments, Geeta thought it would be better to face death than face these horrible choices, but when she learned of a neighbour whose suicide left his wife and children begging in the streets, she realized that she could not do that to her children.  And the prospect of her precious daughter becoming a sexual prey to evil men when she grew up filled her with horror.  She had to protect her daughter.

When faced with these choices–become a prostitute, live on the streets or die, Geeta chose to pray.  She trusted Jesus to rescue her from this hopeless situation and He did.  The day before she was supposed to move out of the room, Gospel for Asia came to her rescue and helped her to stay another month while providing food for her and her children.

Thanks to God, Geeta and her children don’t have to beg in the streets in order to survive.   She could stay in the room for a while longer until she could find something better.  What a happy ending to this story.  Geeta did the right thing.  She obeyed God’s Word by choosing not to sin and God came through for her.  She reached out to Him in prayer, trusting Him to deliver her and He did. Now she doesn’t have to choose between sin and death.

If you want to learn more about what Gospel for Asia is doing for women like Geeta who face extremely difficult situations, visit their website.  Find out how you can help to improved the conditions for women who are shunned by their families and abandoned children who are forced to beg in the streets.

Geeta mentioned Bridge of Hope where her children received an education.  Find out more about this program and what you can do to help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.  You can make a difference in the lives of women like Geeta and provide a future for abandoned children.

All God Requires

Sometime ago I saw Deuteronomy 10:12, 13 written down on a sheet of paper and decided to look the verses up.

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13).

God who has done so much for us doesn’t require much from us at all.  All He wants is for us to have godly fear, walk in obedience to His ways, genuinely love and serve Him and keep His commandments.  This isn’t asking for much considering that it was God who sacrificed His Son to a horrible death just so we could have eternal life.  Jesus suffered the death we deserve so that we could have the life He deserved.  And all we need to do in return is reverence, obey and serve Him.  And it is important to note that we are not called to worship any god but the Creator Himself.  Verse 14 says:   “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it.” 

This is the essence of the law.  Fear, obey, love, serve the God who created you.  And once you do that loving the rest of His creation—others like you, should come easy.

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