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  • ivanildotrindade 8:58 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , compassion, , test of religion, true religion, vulnerable groups, widows, women   

    A Test We Cannot Fail 

    A friend of mine who works with orphans in SE Asia once told me that a pastor from a large church in major metropolitan area, after hearing his presentation, asked him point-blank, “What does working with orphans have to do with the Great Commission?” (Jesus’ command to go into all the world and make disciples).

    I’ve thought about that question many times since and I can honestly say that there is a part of me that understands why the question was asked. I mean, you could ask the same about hospital visitation, transporting young people to a retreat or giving free gas cards at the pump. I could come up with an endless list of things that on the surface appear not to be related to the imperative to make disciples of all nations. Writing this post, for example, even if I stretched it, could hardly be thought of as an activity that would result in people becoming disciples of Christ.

    But caring for orphans seems to be on a category of its own. I don’t know how anyone could miss the connection with Christ’s calling. Now, to be fair, Jesus did not say “Go into all the world and rescue orphans.” He did not say “by baptizing them, teaching them and putting them into orphan homes.” But he did say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14). Now, someone might say, “Yes, but the children here are not purely orphans.”

    Okay, I concede: “caring for orphans is not directly related to the Great Commission,” but according to James, the Lord’s brother, it IS directly related to whether God is pleased with our religion or not. James said, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27).

    Think of it this way: when James reduced true religion to its pure essence, what I call “the irreducible minimum” of godliness, he didn’t pick a set of doctrines or the size of one’s church. He chose ACTION on behalf of two of the most vulnerable groups of people of his time – widows and orphans. He chose those with no voice, the ones considered the last and the least by the powers that be. He chose the ones no one wanted to touch. By the way, it is no different today: whenever there is poverty and oppression, women and children are ALWAYS on the frontlines of the suffering.

    So how well is God pleased with your religion? This is a test we cannot afford to fail.

    A To be sure, James also speaks of one’s personal purity. Why? I suspect because it is easy to act and even do noble things to be seen by people. The sacred text makes it clear here that this is about His business not ours. The world is littered with do-gooders who go astray. We don’t want to be added to their ranks. What we need is a heart that is transformed by God, one that allows us to see people the way God sees them. Then and only then we will act compassionately like Jesus did.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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  • ivanildotrindade 6:59 am on November 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: micro-enterprise, mulberry trees, thai silk, widows   

    One widow’s story 

    I am sitting at the hotel lobby in Chiang Mai, still without my computer, but able to get online. Yay! I am thinking about one particular story that has touched my heart during this trip.

    A few years ago I encouraged our church to get involved in a grassroots project to help destitute widows find a means of support. We first put some seed money for a couple of workers to get the project going. Then we helped them plant over 6,000 Mulberry trees. Why? You ask.

    Glad you asked! The cocoons that produce silk feed on mulberry tree leaves. The Queen of Thailand’s foundation provides thousands of cocoons, the widows “nurse” them (they sleep two days, then are fed, then sleep another two days until they achieve “adulthood”). They then spin the cocoons using a hand-operated spinner, very much like it was done in biblical times. They also learned to dye the silk threads and as a result of their hard work they are now producing the threads that are the raw materials for the beautiful silk of Thailand.

    When they first started it, they had a makeshift building to house the worms. But the building was not walled up high enough and it got cold. The worms were dying too soon. So we provided them with a building. But then another problem arose — flies. They needed to screen the new building. Again, we came to the rescue.

    The total invest was about $14,000. But it has allowed widows who were homeless and stuck with more children and no means of support to have a way to stay afloat. They have also become the cooks and surrogate mothers to all of our children at our home for orphans. In fact, some of them have their own children in the home. It is a win-win situation for all.

    One widow in particular, the oldest one in the house, through several years of hard work, has saved enough money to build a small house for her father back in her village. She couldn’t be happier. She said she had never seen a one thousand Baht bill before, and now she has seen it many times. She is most enthusiastic about her new life and loves the children in our home.

    I would say that this is the kind of investment that makes God’s heart glad. Wouldn’t you?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

     

     
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