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Posts Tagged ‘Worldview’

Anyone else like me?

I know whose I am but I often do not live like it. Take for instance, Life.

What is life? Is it just the living, the breathing, and being conscious? Yes, those are necessary in order to sustain life. 

But what is life?

Is life what we do? 

Is life who we are?

What is life?

When I was a younger man I didn’t think of these things. I took them for granted. I was…  therefore I was alive. And if alive then I had life. I never questioned what life actually was/is. So what is life? 

Genesis 1:26-27

¶Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

¶So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:7

…then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

So…

All these years I have misunderstood what life was. I was under the delusion that life is about me. It’s actually about God. Just as I have misunderstood the Bible. It’s not the story of man but of God. Man is secondary. Man is the result of the will of God. Life is the result of the will of God. 

John 1:1-4

¶In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Are you beginning to see as I see?

Life is a gift of God. When one speaks of the sanctity of life this is what they are talking about. Life is not man’s to give and therefore it is not man’s to take unless according to God’s Law. 

Obviously I have much to learn about life.

At this point I see my learning is sorely lacking as to what life is and how I should regard it. I have only seen life as a series of circumstances and how they affect me personally. My life has been based on my reactions to the events of life and I haven’t stopped to think on what life is, and where life comes from. Right now I see through a cloudy, dimly lit, out of focus glass. I pray I will grow, mature and begin to see with more, and more clarity. 

Yesterday at church, Pastor Kyle mentioned that when we are in distress and need clarity (at least this is what I got from what he said) we should give thanks in everything, and for everything be thankful. That caused me to think of the most basic thing of all,”Life.” 

Now as scripture says, “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” we see life is literally, God breathed.

Later, in the Garden of Eden, man disobeyed God’s one command and became spiritually dead, becoming separated from Adonai through his sin. Thus Death entered the world. 

And so death reigns from then until now on the physical body. But God had, before creation, prepared for us a sacrificial lamb, without spot to take away our sin and restore us to himself: his son, Jesus, the Christ. 

John 14: 6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the LIFE*. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

(*Emphasis mine)

All of John 14 is Jesus’ witness to the Truth, of himself, and of the Father. 

Our restored life is in Jesus Christ, who is in the Father. 

Again, “life” is a gift from God.

Yet how lightly we esteem it. How flippantly we care for it… how often we neglect and abuse it as if it were our own. 

Anyone else with me?

Do you see what I see?

Do you understand what I’m trying to say?

God has to deal with me in degrees, as with an infant. I have to learn to crawl, and then walk before I can run. In this case I have a small taste of the truth and small understanding about life now. 

So here is something I was given earlier as I was thinking about all of this. How do I start my morning? What is the first thing I do when I wake up?

I reach for my phone.

I check in on the world before I recognize the very one I claim is Sovereign Lord over all Creation, Adonai.

What if I change that?

What if instead of reaching for my phone I would recognize Adonai first and as Kyle said, give thanks. What if a prayer of Thanksgiving was the first thing I do every morning?? How would that affect my day? How would that change my life? My approach to life?

I found this Prayer

Morning Prayer

I give thanks unto You, Adonai, that, in mercy, You have restored my soul within me. Endless is Your compassion; great is Your faithfulness. I thank You, Adonai, for the rest You have given me through the night and for the breath that renews my body and spirit. May I renew my soul with faith in You, Source of all Healing. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who renews daily the work of creation.

Maybe seeing life as less about me, I will appreciate the life I have more… because I will see it for what it really is a gift from God. 

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Over on http://www.stufffundieslike.com forum a question was asked:

Why Did You Leave? Would You Go Back?
For those of you who have left Fundamentalism, and I think that’s probably most of you who post here, why did you leave? Was it the theology, or was it the culture? If it was the theology, what specifically about the theology drove you away? If it was the culture, what specifically about the culture drove you away?

My answer:

Why did I leave?

Most of you know my story and the history of deception and lies I encountered in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.
http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=45

Why did I leave?  Why didn’t I stay and fight?
I believe that there is nothing worth salvaging in the IFB movement.  I believe it is a religious cult movement that should die a very public, and very convincing death.  The heart and core of IFB error is Theological Error.  The error lies in how the IFB presents and views God in relation to both the individual and the “Ministry” of the Local, sanctified, separated, sold-out, sanctimonious sect of believing believers.  According to IFB dogma the “Local church” is superior to all other things Christian.  In theory and in words they say they worship a sovereign God… but in practice God’s sovereignty ends with the
preeminence of the individual’s free-will.  In a nutshell, God is viewed as a reactive deity who frets around his heaven wringing his hands hoping that there will be someone to stand in the gap, make up the hedge, and come up with a masterful formula for winning souls to Christ.  Because we know that Church in the IFB is all about the numbers.

Numbers and power actually.
I am more convinced than ever that,   Most churches today have a “pastor” who oversees the entire operation, and there may be a deacon board that is either working with the pastor or against him… either way it is doubtful that either “office” is operating biblically. With the advent of the Professional Clergy there has been a rise in the cult of personality as well. The Professional is seen in a light that is clearly not biblical and we see that whether by “influence” or by acquired “authority” these men rise to prominence. Even the small rural churches are patterned after this and the pastor is looked on as a man of authority over the congregation. And there is the rub.
Even the meanest paid rural “pastor” would not willingly give up “his power” over even the smallest group of people. It is not about the money, heaven knows many, if not most, small congregations pay at or below the poverty level. No, it is about power to influence and control a group of people and mold their worldviews.(This is the danger of the passive approach to worship where a one-way conversation takes place.  The only view allowed in these meetings is the pastor’s.  This affords almost total control by the speaker to inject his own views as ‘god breathed’.  Whatever the “anointed”, “man of god” says while behind the “sacred desk” will be seen as, and accepted as, the “word of God”.) That is an especially strong allure for men of lesser character who are drawn to such positions. I have no doubt that there are good men who are trying to do what is right in these positions and I commend them and pray for them but the position itself is the enabler, the seductress; and even the best of men will, sooner or later, succumb to the temptation of power. We see a picture of this in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings Trillogy”.   As a Ring Bearer, Frodo Baggins had an awful burden to carry yet, even he failed in the end and succumbed to the power of the ring; unable to destroy it he claimed it for himself.  The thread through-out the tale is about power, the use and the abuse of it.  Many who would have taken the ring would have done so out of a noble purpose but would have been corrupted by it’s power and their corruption would (like Sauron) only be limited by the (unlimited) power of the ring.

Would I go back?
No, not even if my life depended on it.
I truly do not believe that the IFB movement is worth saving, and I truly believe that it is a cult.  A very seductive powerful cult that relies more on the abilities of man and less on the power of the god it claims to serve.  That may sound harsh and it may be.  I know that God does work in the midst of even the very worst of these bunkers.  But I do believe that the error and the man made traditionalism and the King James only idolatry that is practiced in these dens of sanctimonious piety is deadly poison to  sanctam ecclesiam catholicam; sanctorum communionem.  (the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints)

Where am I at spiritually now?
That is the hardest thing about leaving the IFB bassinet, one has to start thinking for oneself.  I was fortunate in that about the time I left the enfolding tentacles of the IFB, I broke my ankle.  How was that fortunate?  I was able to spend almost 6 months examining my worldview.  I was able to take a long hard look at who I was in Christ, what I actually believed, why I believed it and I wrestled with several items that I had to abandon because there was no reason other than man-made traditionalism that I was holding to them.   It’s much tougher than having someone spoon-feed you how you should act and think.  But the realization that you are no longer performing according to someone else’s standards is very spiritually refreshing!  Yes, there are often doubts and you find you might be out on a limb that you would not have climbed before… but the learning experience is so worth it.

In conclusion, I know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have a death grip on their comfortable religion and practices in the IFB bunkers which they live and breathe.  But I have found so much fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ outside the bunker system that I could never go back into the cave to stay.

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propaganda-edward-bernays-1928-cover

Opening passage:

  THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

      We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

      Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

      They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

      It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.

Read more here:    http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html

Americanized Religiosity is an important part of the Control Mechanism.

As distasteful as this ideology is to the “American Spirit” of rugged individualism it is an accurate observation on the mechanics of how society operates.   The important thing is to see it, understand how it works and be aware of how it is being used.  Knowledge is power.

Personally I would rather be consciously aware (at least as much as is possible) of how I am being manipulated than blindly following the power masters programming.

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Neil Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to Death” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRabb6_Gr2Y

 

Marshall Mcluhan’s “The medium is the Message” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaH51F4HBw

 

Francis Schaeffer’s “How then should we live” part X

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5WOuYA5Esw

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/09/sri-lanka-acknowledgments/

Sri Lanka: Acknowledgments

The last ten days have been inspiring and life-altering for me but none of the things I have written about would have happened without the love and help of so many people that I felt it appropriate to list a few of them here.

First of all I’d like to thank Matthew Paul Turner for considering me to go on this trip at all. We had never met in person and I know he took a risk asking me to come sight-unseen.  He may still well live to regret this decision when he finds the snake I cleverly hid in his luggage. (Just checking to see if you’re reading this, Matthew)

I also have to thank World Vision for investing in this trip by paying our traveling, lodging, and meal expenses. I only hope that the return on their investment in a lifetime of kids sponsored is an astounding success.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also thank Lindsey Minerva and Carla Gawthrop from World Vision for their leadership on this trip. Together they presented the perfect mix of cool confidence and amusing weirdness that was just what we needed to get us through the rough patches. Lindsey and Carla, I’d travel with either of you again pretty much anywhere.

From the World Vision team in Sri Lanka I have to thank our interpreter and communications specialist Hasanthi. I’ve never met a person who has been more patient and kind to a bunch of silly Americans than she is. She is a rare and beautiful shining light in Sri Lanka. Along with her I also have to mention our drives Nixon and Manjula who (for all Matthew’s screaming) got us where we needed to be safely every time through some pretty harrowing traffic situations. They even provided an oldies soundtrack for some of it.

While mentioning the support team in country, I’d also like to thank the staffs of the Carolina Beach Hotel and Amagi Lagoon Resort for their amazing customer service and and attention to our needs during the few precious hours we had each day to write about our experiences. They made our live as easy as was physically possible. If I ever start a hotel chain I’m staffing it completely with Sri Lankans.

Many thanks to Joy, Allison, Roxy, Tony, Shawn, and Laura, my fellow bloggers on this trip who put up with my wise cracks and constant reminiscing about my childhood without (as would be understandable) leaving me stranded on the side of the road. They have the patience of Job and great shall be their reward in heaven. (Except for Tony because he doesn’t go in for that sort of thing.)

And last I need to acknowledge so many of you.  Our own RobM lent me the laptop that I’ve been using all week. Others of you sent gifts of money to help with my passport, immunizations, travel supplies, and other expenses. And most of all so many of you have offered words of encouragement, prayers for safety, and advice on dealing with charging cows. (Actually you didn’t do that last one but it would have come in handy if you had.)  You all share in the success of every child that is sponsored as a result of this trip.

I offer you all my weary, jet lagged thanks. It has been an amazing week.

Oh, and I’m taking tomorrow off.

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/09/sri-lanka-re-entry/

 

Sri Lanka: Re-Entry

Maybe it’s just the jet lag and sleep deprivation but whenever I have a quiet moment I find myself trying find answers to my own internal debate over what this trip to Sri Lanka means to me. After all, It’s not my first time seeing poverty but it’s the first time I’ve seen it as an adult with a career and children. It’s the first time that the eyes of my understanding have been fully opened to some realities of poverty that I would rather not have to think about such as exploitation, child endangerment, and perpetual hunger. When I was a child on the “mission field” I only understood as a child. Much of that innocence has now been lost.

It not easy being confronted with uncomfortable truths about poverty.  At some points I’ve almost convinced myself that the best course would be to think about happier things than hungry kids or hopeless parents. “Enough!” I tell myself, “You have your own problems to deal with.” Then having determined to harden my heart and rid my mind of such upsetting things, I immediately proceeded to  think about the heartbreak and undiscovered joy found in Sri Lanka that much more.

I pour my daughter her cereal and wonder if a boy I met went hungry this morning (as he often does) so that his little sister has enough to eat. I turn on my kitchen sink and marvel at running water clean enough to drink right from the tap and think of a family that has to buy its drinking water by the jug. I take out the garbage and think of how much food I throw away in a year simply because it’s more convenient than trying to save it and wonder how many children I could feed on the leftovers. I haven’t even been back to a grocery store yet. I’m not sure I’m ready to be reminded of our American eating habits just now.

It’s not that I fault anybody for living the Western-style life that we enjoy. I work hard for the few things I have. But now I know the names and faces of people who work much harder and have much less to show for it. That disparity may not be my fault but what I have seen cannot be unseen and I am now responsible for how I respond to what I know. Can I somehow improve the life of a child, a family, or a village? That question now perpetually follows my soul.

Perhaps these thoughts will end and I can put it completely out of my mind someday. I’ll care only a little. I’ll love only slightly. I’ll rebuild the walls around my heart and fiercely guard them against every uncomfortable thought and feeling. But trading away my compassion in hopes of comfort would seem to be poor bargain. What does it profit if I keep my heart safe but lose my humanity in the process?

I’m not sure exactly what my future holds now but I’m sure that my heart is now set on a different course that I’m sure my feet will soon follow. I hope that I’ve helped in some small way to let you all see what I’ve seen this week. And I hope your heart has been opened as mine has. If you haven’t yet checked out the child sponsorship program I’d ask you to set your fears aside and let your heart be open.

You cannot unsee the needs you’ll see. I can’t imagine wanting to.

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/08/sri-lanka-share-the-love/

Sri Lanka: Share The Love

I have a small confession to make: I haven’t sponsored a child through World Vision. My financial reality right now is such that I simply can’t afford to promise more than I can pay. But instead I’ve given “such as I have” by taking all of my vacation hours from my day job to travel here and act as an ambassador for the children of Sri Lanka by taking their message to you. As blessed as I have been I would hardly call that a sacrifice; my cup runneth over.

Perhaps you too are feelings some pangs of guilt because you cannot give or perhaps you are currently giving to some other great organization. If that’s your reality then let not your heart be troubled, God understands. But here’s something you can do even if you can’t send money and that’s to spread the stories of this trip to others who may have their hearts touched in turn and be in a better position to give.

I understand that that given our background admitting to reading SFL is a bit of a sensitive topic for some folks so I’ve also posted all of the stories from this week over at WhereisDarrell.com so feel free to share that link on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog. Just tell them that your friend Darrell has had an amazing week and he’d love to share it with them.

If you are able to give yourself then share the story of your sponsored child with others to let them know what you’re doing and invite them to check out the child sponsorship program as well. If you sponsor a child do feel free to share what you’re doing here on SFL as well! I’d love to hear all about it.

 

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/08/sri-lanka-a-cup-of-cold-water/

Sri Lanka: A Cup of Cold Water

August 30th, 2012

A Buddhist priest, A Muslim imam, and a Christian World Vision staff member stand together at the ADP closing ceremonies.

If you spend any time at all in Sri Lanka you quickly learn that it is a land of diversity and contrasts. There are Sinhalese Buddhists, Tamil Hindus, and Muslims who speak Tamil but aren’t ethnically Tamil just to keep things interesting. Buddhism is by far the dominant religion, of course, and the Buddhist priests (as the leaders of the majority religion) have great respect and political power in the communities. Organizations that openly proselytize may soon find themselves effectively shut out of a community or even asked to leave. So if the great commission to Christians is to preach the gospel then how does a person live authentically as a Christian in a place where explicit gospel presentations are not allowed? How do you sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

When World Vision goes into an area they make no secret that they are Christians. They introduce themselves as a Christian organization that is funded mainly by other Christians. But along with that they also try very hard to build a relationship of trust between themselves and the other faiths in the community that they are not there to exploit the poor and use aid as a lever to get conversions. The reality here is that the religious leaders have a lot of respect and power within their communities and winning their trust is the only way to make sure that the help that is being given is sustainable.

This sensitivity to the community plays out in many ways. The World Vision staff schedule the religious services for themselves at different times than the observances of the other religious faiths so as not to create conflicts. When working with street kids they will actually give rides to the children to the temple or mosque so that they can worship in their own faith if they want. They exert absolutely no pressure on anybody by implying that the help they give is quid pro quo for a religious conversion. Their witness is one of love and charity so that when people eventually do ask “what makes you different?” they then have the opportunity to tell them that it’s Jesus who makes all the difference in the world to them.

This kind of witnessing does not bear quick fruit. In some areas the opposition from local Buddhists especially has been fierce. I was told one story by the staff about an area they were working where the head priest continually incited the people against World Vision, claiming that they were exploiting the poor and trying to force them to be Christians. At one point someone even threw a grenade into an empty World Vision office in an attempt to scare off the staff. Little by little as they continued to work and demonstrate what they were about through their actions, they began to win the trust and respect of the people and the priests alike.

During the closing ceremonies at the end of that same project, the head Buddhist priest who had been so antagonistic came to attend. He approached the local World Vision leader and the national World Vision leader and got down on the ground, kneeling in front of them and touching their feet in the manner of a common supplicant to ask their forgiveness for his fear and ignorance. When is the last time you saw a Christian pastor do that to a Muslim or a Buddhist? It’s food for thought.

That story is hardly unique. At the closing ceremonies that I visited the local Muslim imam and the Buddhist priests sat side by side to celebrate what a Christian organization has done in their community. In fact, the imam himself had been a child in one of of the World Vision “children’s societies” (a.k.a. “youth clubs”) and talked animatedly with our team members about how he loves to talk and eat and cooperate with the Christians in his are. These are the stories that give me hope not only for Sri Lanka but also for the world. Perhaps love can win after all. Maybe a cup of cold water given in Christ’s name really is the answer to religious conflict. Perhaps someday we can defeat both fear and poverty by working with one person at a time. I’m glad to be a small part of that this week. I’d love for you to be a part of it too.

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http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2012/08/sri-lanka-a-tale-of-two-fathers/

 

Sri Lanka: A Tale of Two Fathers

I worry.  In fact I worry almost all the time. Of course I don’t call it “worry” that because it sound weak  and needy so I call it “concern” or “caution” or “just thinking ahead” but the truth is that over the last few years I’ve let a lot of worry consume my soul. I worry about my job and the uncertainty of my future with pay cuts and layoffs as an ever-present threat in my industry. I worry about my children and how to raise them into healthy and happy and educated adults.  I worry about where we will live, how we’ll pay our bills, and a thousand other unknowns that the future hold.

Today I traveled to the brand new work being founded in the village of Mundalkaduwa and I met another man who worries about most of the same things I do. Amila is only four years older than I am and like me he has a wife and two children. He works when he can find work but sometimes there isn’t any to find. He and his wife plan and fret over how to come up with enough money for their children’s education. He wonders what his future holds and whether his life will ever improve.

There is one major difference between Amila and myself.  While I make about the median income for an American household, he worries about these things on an average wage of less than five dollars a day when he’s lucky enough to find work at all. To put that in some perspective, that means that it takes him almost six weeks to make as much money as I make on a normal day. Or put another way, I look to him like what a person who makes over two millions US dollars a year looks like to me. The disparity is staggering

 

Someone asks him through our interpreter what kind of work he does. He says he climbs the palm trees to pick coconuts. A glance as his feet shows the callouses and shaping of long hours spent clinging to the tops of swaying trees as they tower above the ground. We tell him he must be very strong to do this work and he smiles but when we ask him what other work he does when there are no coconuts he raises his hands wide. “Anything” the interpreter tells us. “He’ll do anything because he needs to feed his family.”

In the world of this kind of subsistence living there are no easy answers or quick fixes because Amila’s story can be repeated throughout this entire village and likely through surrounding villages as well. The issue is food security. Because the biggest worry of all whether or not you’ll have enough food to eat or if your family will starve. When your main focus is just getting enough rice to make it through a day there is no money to get an education or start a business or improve your life in any visible way. Until the food and clean water issues are settled, there is nothing else that matters more.

So how does child sponsorship help an family like this one? Here’s how it works:

When you give money to a sponsored child in the area we visited yesterday, those dollars are funneled into projects within the community that are selected by the community itself, and managed by community-based organizations. World Vision provides support, resources, and experience in advising these groups but they do the work themselves. This creates long-term sustainability in these projects since even after World Vision reaches the end of its project and leaves the area, the benefits continue to serve everyone.

So then the question becomes, if the money is going into community projects, then why are we talking about sponsoring individual children. The answer is quite simply that World Vision has found that connecting donors with individual children helps them see the benefits that their dollars are reaping. If you sponsored one of Amila’s children, for example, you’d receive regular updates on their schooling, their health, and what’s going on in their lives. This helps you realize the personal benefits of a broader program in a way that just wouldn’t be possible if you simply wrote a check to World Vision every month.

In the brand new Mundalama Area Development Program there is much work to be done so that parents and older siblings don’t go hungry at night so that the smallest children can eat. So that clean water is a universal expectation and not a luxury paid for with hard earned money. So that every child can go to school and dream that same kinds of great big beautiful dreams that we wish for our own children to dream.

So once again I’ll make my plea. Don’t be afraid to let you heart be open to the opportunities to help children through the child sponsorship program. At this writing I’m sitting here with tears in my own eyes as I think of the needs I have seen over the last few days and the potential to turn such profound sorrow into unimaginable rejoicing. Don’t fear to weep with me. Don’t shrink back from writing yourself into the story of a child’s life. There is such joy just ahead and I want you and I and the people of Sri Lanka to share in it together.

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Sri Lanka: Meeting A Sponsored Child

Tony Jones has been bringing his own unique perspective to this trip and blogging about it over at Patheos. Yesterday he got to meet his sponsored child and made this short video.

To learn more about how child sponsorship works, you can check out the World Vision website.

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