Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gifts Used To The Fullest

Guest Blogger: Mason Beebe     Age: 15

     105 days and counting. We have just passed the one hundred day mark and it already feels like we have been here for a very long time. We are on a wonderful adventure.
     As you probably have heard Franklin and I recently spent about a week at one of the orphanages here, called Nyame Dua (Nah-may Dwa). If you prayed for us while we were there, we both greatly appreciate your willingness to do that. The trip actually went smoother than I expected. We painted three verses at various places around the home, simply proclaiming that the Lord has dominion over the people there, and no physical or spiritual being can do anything about this fact. I could feel the spiritual attacks during our stay. The home is right next to a Muslim home that plays an extremely loud prayer call every night and every morning. The prayer call is so evil sounding that Franklin and I called it the ‘hell song.’ It woke us up each morning at 4:30 am, and that was when I could really feel the demons attacking unceasingly. I fought back with the only weapon I had, prayer. When I started praying I actually felt peace, knowing that the victory was already won.
     I would not describe our stay at the orphanage as fun, but rather exciting. I enjoyed my stay because I was forced to live like one of the children there. My body and mind had to adapt. Each night we had to shower before it got dark if we wanted to have light while we bathed. Nyame Dua had not received water for over a week so to shower we had to fill up buckets with water the children had walked (about a mile round trip) to retrieve. They used this water for everything; cooking, bathing, washing clothes, and drinking - fetching water was a daily ordeal.
     One day while we were there, a thief who had stolen some items from another house was caught two doors down from Nyame Dua.  The thief was looking for a place to hide. The whole community must have been out there to ridicule the thief. They beat him with the flat of a cutlass (machete) before they took him to the police station. One night while Franklin and I were in our room, the one light bulb that illuminated our quarters exploded over our heads. When we were preparing to paint one of the verses, we found that the top line would be just out of our reach. There was no stool, and they had no ladder. We had to use scraps of wood to build a sort of stool that we could use to reach the top line. While we saw all of these things as inconveniences, the children there see it as life.  Actually, the children are probably better off at Nyame Dua than in the places where they were previously. When I got home, I don’t think I had ever been so happy to take a warm shower.
     I loved this short trip. This is why we came to Africa. My skills and gifts were used. Almost every night, Franklin and I played Dutch Blitz with two of the older boys. They loved it. The younger boys loved playing football (soccer) and played on the jungle gym with us. I was able to see the fruit of my God-given gifts, and I believe it is the most fulfilling feeling I have ever experienced.

     About a week ago we did two outreaches. The first one we did in a village called Deti. We arrived in Deti a little before noon, had a small service and dedicated a well which Feeding The Orphans provided the money for. This ended a little after lunch. We were staying in Deti the rest of the day because we were showing the Jesus Film that night, and we couldn’t start it until there was darkness. All that to say, we had a lot of time on our hands where we weren’t doing much of anything.
     Many of the people in Deti do not know English so communication was a bit challenging. Even with the language barrier, I was able to play with the kids of the village. I don’t remember how it was started, but for a long time I had kids chasing me, and I was chasing kids. I saw joy on many of their faces from just running with them. I don’t think I have ever run so much in flip-flops. When I was just too tired to run anymore, I looked down at myself. My shirt was decorated with many streaks of dirt. Dirt was embedded in the skin on my leg, and my feet were absolutely filthy.  (My mom would call these Beautiful Feet.)
     A short while after I had finished running I was thinking about how amazing it was that I was able to just start playing with these impoverished children. I had nothing to use to play with them, but they seemed to be completely happy with the way it was. This was the Lord working in me. I could have never done something like that on my own. The Lord has given me a gift with children, and I feel like here, I am being able to use that gift to its full potential. I am giving of myself to children, young men, and young women who really need my attention. I am constantly able to show orphaned children that it is not only me who loves them, but God loves them. Wow! The Lord is so good. I feel totally unworthy for a duty in his kingdom this amazing. I can’t even explain what it is like to watch children go from hopeless, broken, or indifferent to joyful, whole, and smiling.

                          The Lord has granted me a wonderful opportunity; an opportunity to use the gifts that He gave me to the best of my ability. I was able to use my God-given gifts in America, but the depth and excitement were not the same. If I was not living in Africa right now, I can almost guarantee you that I would only be using a portion of the gifts I have been given. How many people get to use some of the best years of their lives ministering for the Lord? While it is sometimes hard to do what the Lord calls us to do, the blessings always outweigh the hardships. Honestly, what am I missing in America?  Two years of high school, football, time with friends, ease of life, a job, a driver’s license, etc.  Are these all things that I will only be able to do in this short two year period of my life?  What about all the things I will be able to accomplish since I am living in Africa, rather than the “normal” life in America.  I will see souls won for Christ, love on hurting and broken orphans, encourage struggling believers, learn a new culture, paint Bible verses in spiritually oppressed places, etc.  It seems to me that my life here is of much more value than it would be in the U.S.
     The Lord has given me a battle; I will fight it. The Lord has given me a mission; I will complete it. The Lord has given me his blessing; I will treasure it. And best of all, the Lord has given me His Spirit; I will seek it.

The adventure continues.

Pilgrim's Progress

The boys have started school, and they are facing new challenges daily.  One of the new classes for Mason this year is a Literature class taught by FTO volunteer, Katie Batchelor.  She is leading the 10th graders through Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and the 7th and 8th graders are working through Robinson Crusoe.  Miss Batchelor doesn't leave time for dilly-dallying so Mason will complete the original version of Pilgrim's Progress within three weeks!  (What high school requires such rigorous reading of their students?  Miss Batchelor cracks the whip - Whoowee!  For anyone who has not attempted reading it in the Old English, it is not an easy read!  Miss Batchelor expects a lot of her students.  Oh my goodness!)

One of Miss Batchelor's assignments for the students was for them to write a letter to one of the characters presenting the Gospel message to them.  The letter needed to address the weaknesses of the character on his/her journey to the Celestial City.  John Bunyan's work is an allegorical tale of our Christian walk with Christ.  His characters represent all of our natural tendencies and weaknesses when faced with the temptation of sin.  The main character, Christian, travels toward the Celestial City meeting many characters who try to derail him off the path.

The character, Pliable, begins his journey by traveling with his friend, Obstinate, to bring Christian back to his home - The City of Destruction.  However, after meeting Christian, Pliable decides to travel with him toward the Celestial City away from the City of Destruction.  As he begins traveling with Christian, he seems strong with fortitude to travel.  Pliable seems to desire to follow Christian all the way.  In the beginning, Pliable even leaves his friend, Obstinate, to follow Christian.  However, Pliable falls away when he enters the Slough of Despond.  He returns to the City of Destruction and faces ridicule for following Christian and then being unfaithful.

Pliable's story reminds me of so many people who have once followed Christ.  Pliable leaves the faith when circumstances become difficult.  He turns back to sin instead of turning away and continuing on the difficult journey with Christ.  

So, that's why I wanted to share Mason's assignment with all of you.  His letter to Pliable spoke to me and I hope it will speak to you too.  Here is Mason's letter of Truth to Pliable.  Mason even writes as John Bunyan did when he first penned the words in 1678.  It's amazing that my 15 year old can challenge his mother through a simple assignment for school...

Dear Pliable, 

How excited you were at the beginning of your journey, but you are as one of the seeds that fell along the rocky soil from Matthew 13.  "Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth."  

You began with much excitement and passion, but when we entered the Slough of Despond all of your faith quickly died.  While the road to the Celestial City may be challenging in some places, we must, "Look not at what is seen, but what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:18.

Do not lose hope; look at the eternal glory you may obtain, and be glad.  The Lord always forgives.  Even I on my journey have done something much the same as your fault.  A certain Mr. Worldly-Wiseman came to me and told me that I could be rid of my burden on a much shorter and easier path.  I took this path, but when I arrived thither, I found the place one that would only take me to death.  Therefore, I cried out to the Lord, and along came dear Evangelist.  He set me on the right path and said, "Yet will the man at the gate receive you."

I now beg you, dear Pliable, to turn aside from your wicked ways and come home to glory.  Even though, "the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life."  (Matthew 7:14).  The good Lord also says, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:30).  Embark then, dear Pliable, and know that "He is the way, the truth and the life.  No one goes to the Father except through Him."  (John 14:6).

Your Companion, 

Within five minutes of writing this post, a friend emailed me the following verses.  How fitting...  May we all continue on as Christian toward the Celestial City...

If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, 
they would have had opportunity to return.
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. 

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, 
for he has prepared for them a city. 
Hebrews 11:15-16

Walk By Faith and Not By Sight

2 Corinthians 5:7

"For we walk by faith and not by sight..."

It's one of my favorite verses of scripture.  Nine little words that carry great challenge.

This verse hangs in the center of our Wall of Friends in our home.  We have a wall full of photos of friends and family sprinkled with scriptural truths.  These nine little words are the center focal point.

"For we walk by faith and not by sight..."

Our family is still trying to figure out how to do this.  It's not considered "normal."  It's contrary to "rational human thinking."  After all, where is the planning when you walk by faith?

Recently, our family led the second Shining Stars day at a local orphanage.  
Guess what our lesson was?  
Yes, you guessed it.

2 Corinthians 5:7

"For we walk by faith and not by sight..."

Mason led us in some worship songs, then Reid taught the lesson.

So that all the children would understand the verse, we blindfolded all of them and asked them to partner up to walk around the yard.  The kids LOVED it.  There were so many giggling kids!  Precious!

It was hilarious to see them navigate under cloth lines, around deep holes in the ground, and concrete blocks.  While telling them to give specific instructions such as, "Step right two steps."  Or, "Take one step forward."  Most of the children could only instruct, "Come."  However, because of the sound of voices carrying, the kids were able to follow.  They were "walking by faith."

It was a perfect afternoon.  We were thankful to share God's Truth with the children here.  Amazingly, our afternoon ended with a visit from a pet monkey!  A local animal doctor brought him to entertain the children.  I've never seen a monkey on a leash, but now I have.  This little guy danced and jumped to entertain the kids.  Oh, the things we see in Ghana!

After the lesson, we shared Beebe popcorn with everyone then most of our family headed back home.  However, Mason and Franklin stayed for several days at the home.  They led Bible studies, and painted verses on the walls of the home - inside and outside.  

The verses were something the boys did on their own.  Mason and Franklin took on this project without any prodding fro their parents.  This was completely a gift they wanted to offer of themselves.  They even built their own scaffolding!  Oh my!  (There are so many things it is better for a mother not to know until later.  This was one of them...)  

Guess what verse now greets everyone visiting Nyame Dua?  
You guessed it. 
2 Corinthians 5:7.

Lord, help us live it...

2 Corinthians 5:7

"For we walk by faith and not by sight..."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Village D

My friend Mitzi serves in Zambia running a school for Lifesong.  Mitzi was an avid blogger before she and her family moved onto the mission field.  After arriving, her posts became less frequent but I stalked her blog continually hoping for a new post about life in Zambia.  Living in the States, I couldn't understand why she couldn't find time to write as often as before.

But now, I'm beginning to understand.

Finding time to write is an enormous factor here.  There are many reasons. We are on the "go" most of the time.  Additionally, our home is without power often causing a new challenge.  Our Internet credit rapidly decreases as we upload photos, and sometimes our server is down.  There always seems to be hurdles to jump in order to post something on our blog.  I am also realizing that honestly, sometimes it takes me several days (or weeks) to process into words what I am experiencing.  I think our entire family feels that way.

This past weekend was a weekend filled with challenges and praises.  We were helping with two outreach events in dark areas.  We sent an email to some friends asking for prayer covering.  We needed it.  For those of you who emailed your encouragement and prayer support, please know that we read them all!!  Thank you.  Your support was tremendous and we believe YOUR PRAYERS affected the events of this weekend leading many to Christ.  We faced numerous challenges with travel and equipment, but the Lord revealed Himself to many and we were all kept safe from harm.

On Friday in we traveled to Village D for a full day of celebration, medical outreach and a gospel presentation to the people.  It was a day to truly celebrate all that the Lord is doing here.

Our day started with an extravagant ceremony dedicating the new well.  Drums, dancing, and testimony to our Lord filled the morning.  (I will save you from having to see pictures of me trying to do the African dance where you flap your arms like a chicken...  Let's just say, I attempted it, and made many people laugh hysterically!  Oh embarrassing!)

Righ, Sydney and Keenan Oleary were in country to join in the dedication.  Additionally, the three FTO volunteers (Amanda, Diane, and Katie) were also part of the memorable day.  Feeding the Orphans provided the finances and Meaningful Life International co-ordinated the drilling.  It was a picture of partnership bringing two organizations from opposite sides of the world together for God's purposes.  This was the first well provided through Feeding the Orphans Change for Change campaign.  What a joy to see it dedicated and in operation!

Righ cut the ribbon with the village chief, then Reid and Righ pumped the first bowl of water.   As the water poured from the spicket, tears flowed from my eyes.  Seeing these two men standing side by side here in Ghana pumping fresh water was like a dream come true.  God has called Reid and Righ out from their comfortable lives into lives built on trust and obedience.  These two men lead their families by faith, and I stood amazed to see them bringing living water into this village standing together.  They have spurred one another on toward lives truly lived for the sake of the Kingdom.  Today was a culmination of our years of friendship with the Oleary family.  What a blessing!

There was a line of women at the well all day long drawing water.  Some are still forced to walk over a mile with the water on their heads, but this clean water will sustain them and keep them healthier than before. 

Last month, I blogged about some of our struggles here.  Village D was one of the villages I blogged about.  Knowing the battle we were stepping into, I sent the email below to some friends asking for prayer covering.  To help you gain a glimpse into this village, I am sharing with you a portion of the email:

In Village D, there are shrines in front of every home for the idols.  It's a very, very hopeless place.  No church presence, the one that was in the area has been abandoned.  Children are ridden with parasites and worms.  No visible form of income other than farming and weaving kente cloth.  However, we are dedicating the well (FTO provided and MLI coordinated the drilling) on Friday night, then showing the Jesus Film.  This will be the first movie most people have seen in this village.  The mud huts will surround the screen Friday night.  Children here are petrified of white people because they have never seen white skin.  Please pray for God to move on hearts Friday night.  Reid is headed there tomorrow to help with the groundwork for Friday night.  It is a long drive, and the last time we visited this village we were stopped by police five times with an arrest threatened.  Oh, the battle is real...

Everyone here needs your prayer covering - even a fast on Friday or Saturday would be encouraged.  We are asking you to pray specifically for -

1.)  Souls to be touched by Jesus, and lives to be transformed by His Truth 
2.)  A full restraining of our enemy from having any freedom during these outreaches.  May He not distract people from the Truth in any way.  May He also not have any power to keep people from coming whom God has planned to be there. 
3.)  For God's Spirit to reign down for His Glory alone
4.)  For our words, actions, thoughts to be only from Him
5.)  For protection for everyone involved with the outreaches (before, during, and after the events) 

Psalm 115 is the passage Reid used for family devotions this morning.  It provides a great leading for you as you pray for these two Outreaches.  We are grateful for your prayers.  We know the Lord hears them and answers.  By praying, you are engaging in the most powerful work for lives to be transformed by Christ.  We need your help in the spiritual battle.  Please fight in the war for souls through your prayers.

To Your Name Give Glory

115 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
    for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
2 Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”
3 Our God is in the heavens;
    he does all that he pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
    the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
    eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
    noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
    feet, but do not walk;
    and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them become like them;
    so do all who trust in them.
9 O Israel,[a] trust in the Lord!
    He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
    He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
    He is their help and their shield.
12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us;
    he will bless the house of Israel;
    he will bless the house of Aaron;
13 he will bless those who fear the Lord,
    both the small and the great.
14 May the Lord give you increase,
    you and your children!
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!
16 The heavens are the Lord's heavens,
    but the earth he has given to the children of man.
17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
    nor do any who go down into silence.
18 But we will bless the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the Lord!

After Friday night, we were able to send this praise report to those praying at home.  this will give you a glimpse into the challenges faced here to bring the gospel to the outlying areas.

Dear Prayer Warriors,

I wanted to send you a brief update to THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYER
COVERING!  We are rejoicing this morning over TWENTY new lives saved
by the power of Jesus Christ!!  THANK YOU FOR BATTLING FOR THESE

We faced challenge upon challenge yesterday.  There was difficulty
regarding our departure so we left over two hours late - arriving to
many who had been waiting for us since morning.  We had an amazing
dedication of the well complete with drums and dancing.  We
distributed medicine for worms, parasites, ringworm, and malaria
(because of the generosity of a little boy in Knoxville, Timohty
Lumsdaine), and then began the preparations for the Jesus Film and

Challenges met us again as we began to prepare.  The tire on our van
had to be changed, then the dvd of the film would not be read by our
computer.  After several hours of searching for a computer in the
remote area - one arrived by motorcycle!  AND, as a specific answer to
prayer, we were not charged for the use of it!  The film started an
hour later than scheduled, but the 94 who remained were blessed.
TWENTY!!  Additionally, we were stopped by the police several times
going and returning home, but every time we were allowed to go without
a bribe!  Thank you for your prayers!

We arrived home to no power, but it has returned this morning!  We are
headed out to Village N in a few minutes, so please continue to pray.  We
rejoice with you over the great work our God is doing!  We can FEEL
the POWER of your prayers.  THEY ARE COVERING US and we are grateful!!
Thank you!!

However, on our first trip to Deti, God revealed ways to help this village.  He has provided for many of them.  Because of the new well, there is now clean water to drink.  Because of a little boy's generosity we were able to bring medicine today to this village.  Through the Jesus Film people were exposed to the truth of Jesus.  The local pastor, Frank, led an invitation and twenty people surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  There is not a greater gift.  We praise Him for how He is moving on hearts in Village D.

"For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus sake.  For God, who said, "Light shall shine our of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,"
2 Corinthians 4:5-6

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fresh Perspective

We are hoping to post soon, but until then you might enjoy reading about some of our adventures from the new FTO volunteers who arrived in country two weeks ago...


Amanda, Diane, and Katie will be posting about their ministry as they are able!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Greater Happiness

This past Sunday was not a typical Sunday for our family - not that there is a “typical” Sunday, but the idea that there might eventually be such a thing as a “typical” Sunday is a hopeful thought. I’m rambling already – not a good way to start this post.

So we, with the O’Leary family, set out to visit an orphanage that had come to the attention of Feeding The Orphans. They had been told that this home is in desperate need of help and could we please check it out. It was an adventure from the moment we set out.

We were told that the home is in Dodowa – a town neither our family nor the O’Leary’s had been to. We were told the name of the home and of the lady who runs it but we didn’t have a phone number or any description of where in the town the home is located.

When we arrived in Dodowa we prayed for guidance and began to ask people on the street if they new of this particular home or any orphanage in the town. We were met with puzzled faces and told we needed to look in the next town. One man gave a general description of where we might look. Our search in the suggested area was met with with the same response – try the next town.

We continued to drive and pray. Finally we found a man that offered some hope. He told us to drive a little further and look for the police station. While we were looking for the police station, the Spirit prompted Righ and Robin – that they should ask a child about the home instead of adults. Near the police station we found a young boy named Isaac who was walking into his church for the morning service. Robin asked if he know of the specific home we were looking for. He said yes and eagerly climbed in the car to show us the way. In just a couple of minutes we had arrived.

We are learning that the Lord loves to use children to accomplish His purposes! During our visit to this home He continued to used the children to lead and teach us.

We spent the next 3 to 4 hours worshiping with the children at the home and learning all we could about their needs. There are over 100 children in this home. I toured the boys room, which was very orderly and sleeps 51 boys ranging from just a few months old to their late teens. There were sixteen beds in their room. You do the math and then ask yourself (or your kids) why they have trouble keeping their rooms squared away.

Do you know what those children did while we spent an hour or so visiting with the mother of the house following the worship service? They washed our car! The white people from a distant land of luxury had come to visit the poor fatherless children crammed into a most simple home to see what help could be provided. The children did not beg. They didn’t ask us for anything. Instead of figuring out how they could get something from us, they give us a gift.

You see, our car wasn’t just a little dusty. It had rained two days prior and Robin was training the teachers at the boys school. She had to use 4-wheel drive down the 3/4 mile clay road in order to reach the school. Our car was caked with clay! Those children had to work very diligently to clean our car, but clean it they did! It looked great when we came out to see the proud smiling faces of those children.

They didn’t mope around because of the many things absent from their lives. They didn’t compare themselves to us and sulk because of “blessings” we have that they lack. They took what they had (water, soap and strength) and blessed those who didn’t deserve their kindness or need their assistance.

They taught us a powerful lesson: be thankful for what you have, not sad for what you lack – and use what have to bless others! Isn’t this what our Lord tried to teach his disciples when He asked them what they had on hand that could feed the more than 5,000 very hungry people all around them (Mark 6:38)? Jesus took the little they had, greatly increased it and blessed ALL the hungry people.

The needy children we met that Sunday taught us how we are truly much happier giving what we have than complaining about our lack.

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ ” (Acts 20:35).