Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rice & Beans at Grace & Healing Ministry Dodoma

Rice and beans month was a great success this year. Dozens of families participated and over $6,000 has been raised so far for East African kids in need. The staff of Grace and Healing Ministry of Dodoma was so inspired by the awesome commitment of families here in the US that they also decided to participate.

"We have all been touched by the sacrifices made by so many to help the children here," writes Tiffanee Wright, interim Program Coordinator for GHMD.

In addition to the Rice and Beans commitments made by the staff and their families, staff members also agreed to make personal donations to the Most Vulnerable Children (MVC) program at the end of the month. On March 21st, they held a celebratory party where they tried rice and beans recipes from around the world and took time to thank God for his many provisions and for brothers and sisters in Christ who are standing alongside them in serving the Dodoma community.

Additionally, the staff asked the local church to help contribute to the effort and members responded by bringing sacks of rice and bags of beans as well as cash donations. The food that was donated is being stored and given out as urgent needs arise. Between contributions from the GHMD staff and donations from the church, over $40 was raised! (This is equivalent to the entire monthly income for an average Tanzanian family.)

On the Friday after Easter, GHMD held an Easter celebration and the Prime Minister of Tanzania sent a goat as well as rice, beans, sugar and oil. With this, the staff decided to use some of the money they had contributed to buy additional ingredients to make a real celebratory feast for all the children, their parents and HBC clients (about 175 people).

"Thank you for Rice and Beans Month. We are touched by the generosity of those so far away, as well as those right here in our own community. Campaigns like these help us get a glimpse of the beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven." -Tiffanee Wright

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

[Photos] Rice & Beans Celebration dinner

To celebrate the end of Rice & Beans month, we had a wonderful celebration in Portland on Friday, April 1.
The meal was kicked off with a prayer written by our 5-year old participant Kaya. She shared this prayer:
I know that you are my God.
I will watch over African boys and girls and kids that are sick.
Every star in the sky means that every child is with God.
Let there be light and God said let there be darkness so that we can pray and know that God is with us. AMEN
Various friends shared about the month and the lessons learned.

We enjoyed a delicious BBQ with hamburgers provided by the Werkhoven family and an ice cream bar provided by Judith.
At the end the kids shared decorated containers with the money that they had saved during the month. Thanks to everyone who participated during this past month!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another delightful Rice & Beans Month...

We are just hours away from the end of Rice & Beans Month. I was flipping through a magazine the other day filled with luscious photos of pizza, steaks, and ice cream - and needed to wipe the drool off the page a couple times.

I've been thinking a lot about food as "fuel".

Too often I merely see food as "fun" rather than "fuel". We are a society that has been on a steady track toward increasing gluttony - one of the seven deadly sins highlighted by the church for the past several hundred years - and condemned quite often in the Christian scriptures.

I came to a start the other day and realized a pretty sad state of affairs in my own life:

I generally eat what I want to - and eat more than I need
I gain weight because of my gluttony and lack of balance
The money that enables me to eat that food (that I don't need) could be directly used for people that are literally starving to death
So - I choose to get fat at the expense of my brother's and sister's starvation.


It is at those times I realize that I need saved - not just in a nebulous theological philosophical kind of way. My soul needs saved.

It's been another delightful Rice & Beans Month. One that impacts all aspects of my life and that I can truly say "That was worth it!"

My wife and I would like to make some changes in the way we live. Not that life should be purged of feasts, parties, and fun. But we are asking - what if we had a nice big meal once a week - instead of once a day?

Devotional - March 31, 2011

I Chronicles 29:10-14
“David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole
assembly, saying, ‘Praise be to you, LORD, the God of
our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours,
LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and
the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven
and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are
exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from
you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are
strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your
glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people,
that we should be able to give as generously as this?
Everything comes from you, and we have given you
only what comes from your hand.’” (NIV)

I'm so glad you've walked through a month of the struggles and successes of Rice & Beans Month. I trust that through the sacrifices and self-discipline that your heart has seen the goodness of God and learned to trust him more.

In our passage today we read of David's prayer at the end of his life as he is handing over the kingdom to his son Solomon. David and the people had also just willingly and sacrificially collected resources for God's temple.

You have also sacrificed during this month and there is reason to celebrate and feast and give God praise! As we again enjoy a variety of foods take time to give God honor for sustaining you with the beautiful earth, sun, and rain. With the generous gifts we are able to share with our hungry East African brothers and sisters, we merely acknowledge that “everything we have comes from God” and that we only give back to him “what comes from his hand.”
- Dan Holcomb, Lahash Executive Director

For Kids
Today we read a prayer of King David after he shared a lot of his money to
help build God's Temple. King David gives praise to God. David says that
God is the strongest and most amazing and rich person in the universe.
Even the money that David shared had come from God in the first place.
Did you know that everything in the world belongs to God? What things
do you own? Take time to tell God each thing really belongs to him.

You've come to the last day of Rice & Beans Month. Tomorrow enjoy a big
party with your family and remember to thank God for everything and
everyone there!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Devotional - March 30, 2011

Mark 12:41-44
“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began
observing how the people were putting money into the
treasury; and many rich people were putting in large
sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper
coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to
Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor
widow put in more than all the contributors to the
treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she,
out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to
live on.’” (NASB)

As we reach the end of Rice & Beans Month perhaps some of you are wondering if it was worth it. Sacrificing a varied diet and our favorite foods, but wondering, “Is the small bit of money saved really worth it?”

Jesus encourages us in the parable of the widow's mite that when we give sacrificially, even if it is a small amount, that it is great in His Kingdom. In addition to that important fact, those of us who have traveled with Lahash to visit the partnerships have seen how even what we think of as little can go a long way.

On Christmas Day in Sudan in 2006, we saw the children at St. Bartholomew's Orphanage relish the soda we had purchased for them, perhaps the only soda they had ever had, which went along with the Christmas dinner of corn meal mush. Knowing that we are helping children have a more diverse and healthy diet is surely worth our small sacrifice this month. To quote an ancient saying: “If you save one life you have saved the whole world.”

So let us be encouraged that it is worth it spiritually, as well as in the physical reality of these dear children's lives, to give sacrificially, even though we may feel we have just a small amount to give.
- Lyla Peterson, Lahash Volunteer

For Kids
If you had 100 toys, do you think it would be hard to give ten of them
away? Probably not. After all, you would still have lots to play with. But
what if you only had two toys? Would it be hard to give them both away,
knowing you wouldn't have anything left? That might be really hard! But
even though giving ten toys sounds like it's better than only giving two
toys, the Bible says that the person who gave the two toys gave the bigger
gift. Why? Because that person gave EVERYTHING they had. They
made a bigger sacrifice. And God says that the amount of what we give
does not matter; it's how much we are willing to give up, whether that is
big or small!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Devotional - March 29, 2011

I Corinthians 13:3
“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if
I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love,
it profits me nothing.” (NASB)

This verse reminds me of a story in the gospel of Mark. A rich man comes to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Even though he has fulfilled all of the religious requirements and followed God's law since he was kid, he knows something is missing. Jesus agrees, something is missing. “Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Mark makes it clear that Jesus is not commanding this action because of His concern for the poor. Before Jesus gives this command, Mark writes that He looked on the rich man and loved him. If all Jesus cared about was providing for the poor, He could multiply loaves and fish or turn stones into bread. Feeding the poor is not the real problem. Our hearts are the real problem. Even when we do make great sacrifices, give generously, or alter our diets for a month, we can find ways to do it selfishly and without love. We can make it worthless. God is not simply concerned with money changing hands from those who have it to those who do not. He is concerned with money changing hearts. It is so easy for us to focus on the transaction that we forget what God really desires is transformation.

If God has stirred your heart to be involved with Rice & Beans Month and given you strength to eat this simple meal for the past 29 days, it is not because he needs your grocery money to help feed the poor. It is because he wants to transform you. God wants to shape our hearts. He wants to break our addictions. He wants to teach us how to love more deeply. He wants us to come and follow Him.
- Casey Schilperoort, Lahash Media Director

For Kids
What motivates you to give? Is it the good feeling you get? Is it because
you want others to think you're nice? Is it because you're told you should?
Or is it out of a real love for others and God? We are told that if we don't
give out of love, then it's useless. If we give but don't love God or others,
then we miss out on what is most important and giving loses all its
meaning. God wants us to love Him and each other.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Almost there...

It’s hard to believe that in just over three days Rice & Beans month will have ended. We undoubtedly arrive at this point in the month with differing questions to ask ourselves. We may be reflecting on what we expected, versus what our experience ended up being. Perhaps we are reflecting on how this experience has impacted those around us, or how we will decide to continue living out our lives. Or maybe we are simply trying to determine where the nearest Ben & Jerry’s shop is. Regardless of where we’re at (though I’m sure at this particular moment we’re all dreaming of different ice cream flavours…), or of the logistics which affected our participation in R&B month, I would encourage us all to intentionally carve out some time in these next few days to reflect, brainstorm, and listen. Also, if you have not yet read today’s devotional, I would encourage you to do so.

Now on to information about our celebration dinner! (Or, as a younger participant referred to it as, a feast!) This Friday, April 1, we will celebrate the completion of R&B month by munching on some non-rice-and-beans food. Bring a tasty dish to share with the community. Hamburgers and a grill will be provided (feel free to bring an alternative meat or veggie option to grill, as well). We would love to see you there if you are in the Portland area!