Category Archives: Missions

Build a Better World & Shine

Summer is always a busy season as I juggle summer reading activities at the library, vacations, the garden, time to enjoy the creek and my family. This week is unusually busy because we’re winding up the summer reading program at work and it’s VBS week at my church.

The national summer reading theme for libraries is “Build a Better World. When I shared the idea of inviting the architect who designed and managed the construction of the library, the children’s librarian bit her lip. “Okay, she said, if you think the kids will enjoy it.” Her voice sounded skeptical.

I said, “I think he’ll be great.”

Last week, the library’s architect presented the program to 135 kids and I missed it due a speaking engagement. When I returned to the library I asked, “How did the program go?

The children’s librarian beamed a smile. “Jeff did a great job. His slides showed every stage of the building project, he engaged the children and they asked tons of thoughtful questions.”

I couldn’t suppress a smile.

“When you suggested this program, I had my doubts, but he surprised me with his enthusiasm.”

Our architect is soft spoken, and if you passed him on the street, might assume he’s a scholarly professor, but I know something our children’s librarian didn’t.—the architect is passionate about his work. His buildings are like his children and they are his baby’s forever. When he talks about his work, his face lights up, and he doesn’t tire of questions.

This week,  I’m working with second and third graders in VBS each evening and our theme is SHINE. I hope the children can see the same passion and excitement on my face as I speak about Jesus and His love for us. This may be our only chance to reach some of these children. I pray it will be a wonderful experience and they beg their parents to return to church.

As church attendance across the nation is declining, perhaps we, as church members need to find out passion for Christ, again. Is He our first love? When you speak about the church, is it with joy? Is passion for Christ the missing ingredient?

Please pray for me this week and pray that I can live up to the themes of both programs.  Pray that as I work with children at the library and at church that I can exude a joy and passion for my work and “Build a Better World by shining His light.

What’s In My Shoebox and Why

img_3142This morning I shopped for and packed my shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.  This is the tenth year my church has participated in this wonderful mission project.  I always start with an empty box; then I pray as I walk the aisle, and search for just the right thing to fit in the shoebox.  I have to admit; I hadn’t a clue if everything I bought this morning would fit.

picmonkey_image (8)A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to work at the distribution center and a woman who had been the recipient of a shoebox as a child, spoke to us on our break. Her gift box included a box of pencils. In fear of someone else at the orphanage stealing her pencils, she slept with them.  My shoebox will always include pencils, a pencil sharpener, and notepads.

While in Africa, my niece witnessed some of the children with whom she’d been working receive shoeboxes.  They had no idea what to do with the toothpaste, so I added more pencils and left out the toothpaste.

I know from experience on the mission field that if you bounce a ball, children come running. That’s why I include a durable rubber ball in my box for the toy.  Many of the children in Africa don’t have dishes to hold their food, so I try to cram in a plastic cup, bowl, and a metal spoon.

img_3145A necessity for the shoebox is soap. You have no idea how much this is needed unless you’ve visited a poverty stricken nation. I managed to squeeze three bars of soap, and a good quality wash cloth is layered on the bottom with a canvas shopping bag. That all purpose bag will be used until it’s completely worn out.

Somehow, I managed to pack in eight pairs of girls underwear, a top, and sweatpants. These clothes will be worn daily until they literally fall off.

We pack the boxes in November, and it was the following September when the children received shoeboxes in Africa.  So, I make sure the to send hard candy that will not perish to fill in the empty space. I also include a comb, chapstick, and ponytail holders to fill in the tiniest of spaces.

img_3150Whatever you do, please make sure to deliver your shoebox on time to your local church or collection organization. The first year, I made my shoebox but missed the date. The child who should have received a gift was left empty handed because of my procrastination. I won’t let that happen again.

Be sure to leave a note on your box to tell the child that Jesus loves him or her. Close it, and wrap at least two rubber bands around the top.  Your box will be examined at the Operations Center to ensure no liquids or inappropriate items are inside, but the worker will re-pack your items with care.

picmonkey_image (16)God blessed me with the chance to meet another Operation Christmas Child recipient at our hotel.  He told me that receiving the shoebox made a difference in his life. Renan is standing next to my friend Tammie.

And finally, label you box and indicate if it’s for a girl or boy, include the age range, and PRAY over your box and ask that the child who receives it will receive the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, as his/her Savior and Redeemer.hand

 

 

Doing Our Small Part…Even When It’s Through Fiction by Janet Ferguson

janetprofileWhile writing my third book, I attempted to tackle the vast subject of human trafficking in a small way. I researched a good bit about the horrific issue, and I was pretty overwhelmed by the enormity of it. How could I help or make a difference besides raise awareness in a fictional novel? The fall after I finished my first draft, our church announced our Christmas project. We were going to assist an organization called Touch a Life that helps trafficked and vulnerable children. They are an organization that was born of sorrow—parents who had lost their son needed to find a positive way to channel that grief. (If you want the full story read, Jantsen’s Gift.) Touch A Life’s website states that they “develops creative ways to bring healing and empowerment to those who are suffering, exploited, and at-risk around the world. We serve children in Ghana, Vietnam, and Cambodia.”

boys_ghana37Our church spent over a month looking at how the ministry worked. They provide a home and art therapy for the kids (as young as preschoolers) that are rescued from the dangerous job of diving down to untangle fishing nets. Our children and teens raised money along with the adults. God provided the resources through our members to support thirteen children who had been rescued from forced labor on Lake Volta in Ghana.

There are so many more children and adults that need freedom and support, but between my research for Tackling the Fields and this project I was reminded that God ultimately frees all the captives. We can partner with him to do our small part. Even if it’s one person, one child, one novel, one heart, one donation, one charity at a time.

tacklingfields-ferguson-ebookwebPaperbacks Amazon
EBook
 Amazon   IBooks     Nook     KOBO
Tackling the Fields
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 3

Cole Sanders is a changed man. The university quarterback questions his direction in life after serving on a mission trip in Honduras. Things that used to fill Cole’s ego seem empty after witnessing the developing country’s extreme poverty and the death of a precious child. The one glimmer of hope through his confusion is the fresh perspective he now has about his tutor, Audrey. She possesses something beautiful inside and out—something that might help him become the person he wants to be.

University senior Audrey Vaughn tutored Cole Sanders for an entire year and never imagined the popular quarterback would see her as anything more than a friend. After partnering with him on the mission trip, they are drawn together. And he appears to have changed for the better. To let Cole into her life, Audrey will have to overcome not only her brother’s distrust, but also the paralyzing fear still lingering from a past she’s tried to leave behind.

Cole can’t walk away from Audrey now that they’re back in Oxford. He’ll have to figure out how to keep her giant of a brother, a lineman on his football team, from killing him when the coach has his back turned. But can Audrey trust her heart to a player so similar to the one who stole so much from her in the past?

janetprofileYou can connect with Janet Ferguson, by clicking on the links below.

 https://www.facebook.com/Janet.Ferguson.author
http://www.janetfergusonauthor.com/
https://www.pinterest.com/janetwferguson/
https://twitter.com/JanetwFerguson
 
Faith, Humor, Romance
 Southern Style
 

When you want to go on a mission trip so bad, you make up one.

janetprofileBy Janet Ferguson

In my first book, Leaving Oxford, I researched Honduras and Guatemala. A character was impacted by the death of his caretaker from that area of the world due to dengue fever. The disease is a mosquito-borne disease with no current cure or vaccine. When I started writing the novel four years ago, the Zika Virus was unknown to me and probably most of us. Vector-borne diseases were seemingly a thing of the past for the U.S. Now we have more of a reason to care about those diseases as they make their way northward.

From my research alone, I fell in love with the people. I interviewed many friends and relatives about their mission trip experiences. One thing was clear. Mission trips impacted those going on the mission probably as much as they impacted the people they were “ministering” to. Research has shown mission trips to be one of the highest rated events that affect the faith of young people.

That said, I wanted to go on my own trip to Honduras or Guatemala. Really badly. But the timing or finances didn’t seem to be right. Can you relate? So, I sent my characters in Book Two of the Southern Heart Series on a mission trip instead. I figured I could live vicariously through them. And I did, ha!

Guatamala.1Then something amazing happened. Our youth minister announced a trip for our teens to Poptun, Guatemala. I had a senior in high school who wanted to go, and they needed chaperones. But would my eighteen-year-old son want his mom to go? With a huge chunk of maturity, he told me before I even asked that he knew I would want to go, and it was okay!

The trip was amazing. The people we met were amazing and certainly ministered to us, as well. Yes,Janet_Guatamala I added a few tweaks to my novel, but much of the trip was as I’d imagined. I hope you get the opportunity to travel on a mission trip, but while you’re waiting, check out Going Up South.

What’s your mission trip experience? If you haven’t been, would you like to?

About Janet’s New Book. https://www.amazon.com/Going-South-Southern-Hearts-Book-ebook/dp/B01DOREISA

Going_Up_SouthNo one told him he had a son.

Actor Dylan Conner is furious. Not only has he been left out of his child’s life, the baby boy has been given another man’s last name. Determined to be a better father than the sorry guy who’d left him and his mother, Dylan fights to ensure a significant place in his son’s life. Unfortunately, his bad-boy reputation overshadows his good intentions. Only one woman in this small town sees beyond his Hollywood image. And he’s falling for her. Too bad she’s the custody mediator.

After her scandalous divorce in the small town of Oxford, Mississippi, attorney Cassie Brooks has no intentions of practicing law again. The humiliating experience left a bitter taste for love, marriage, and her profession.

Now friends need Cassie’s help in a custody negotiation, and her role demands she remain objective. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Conner—the actor who everyone warns is bad news. Not only is the mediation at stake, but so is her heart.

You can connect with Janet Ferguson, by clicking on the links below.

 https://www.facebook.com/Janet.Ferguson.author
http://www.janetfergusonauthor.com/
https://www.pinterest.com/janetwferguson/
https://twitter.com/JanetwFerguson
 
Faith, Humor, Romance
 Southern Style
 

They Go Where I Cannot

20160415_080856_resizedA couple of weeks ago, my sister was sifting through Mom’s pictures and she ran across this old photo. It’s a picture of the missionaries with whom we worked last year in Kenya. This picture was taken over twenty years ago when they first entered the mission field. I had no idea my mother knew them.  On the back of the photo Mom wrote, “Pray every day. They go where I cannot.” 20160415_080907_resized

I often wonder why God called me to go to Africa and keeps asking me to return.  If someone had told me ten years ago that in 2016 I’d be planning my fifth short-term mission trip to Africa, I would have rolled my eyes. I’m a librarian, not a Bible scholar, and there are many people more qualified than I to share the gospel. Maybe Mom’s prayers for the missionaries had an influence on God calling me and my sister to go to Africa. Mom went to heaven thirteen years ago, and I wish I could tell her about our experiences Kenya and Niger. Perhaps, she can see it all from heaven.

Mom never had the opportunity to travel on the foreign mission field, but she still served as a missionary at home. For years, her little church rented a trailer in a large trailer park in our community, and she visited weekly to teach children about Jesus.  She loved each and every one of the children and taught them that Jesus loved them too. Many came to know Christ through her teachings.

If you are a Christian, you too have a calling. You may be someone’s only hope to hear God’s plan for salvation. As I said, there’s nothing special about me, other than I have a Savior, and I want others to have the same hope that I have in Him.

Please pray about where God will have you to go to share the gospel. It may be to across the street,  across town, across the country, or across the ocean. Only God knows, so you must listen to the Holy Spirit to discover the answer.site-logo

#africanmissions, #kenyamissions, #friendshiphope&friedfruitpies

 

News from Thorakland District, Kenya

The church without walls that meets near the ancient Baobab tree is thriving.baobab

Our friends and missionaries in Kenya have received an update from Pastor John in Tharaka!  The area is so remote, it is difficult to communicate. Sometimes they send notes by way of someone who is travelling that way and they simply don’t arrive.

All the medical patients we treated are doing well – they are improving and moving forward.  He also reported that they’ve had 11 adults and 12 children to join the new church since the team and the Associational Leadership is still working on follow up. Wanda_txt

 

Please continue to pray for them as the Association works to organize themselves to meet the needs of those in the area.  This is a new concept for them!  Pray for them to realize that they have the ability to do many things without a lot of outside help as this is what will continue to grow the work in the area long after we are gone.

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The rainy season is approaching and the Tharaka Association has seen it necessary to put up a shelter under the tree in Gankamba so the church can continue to meet despite the rain (that they hope will come).  They are doing a fund-raiser for the whole Association on Nov. 1. Please pray for the church in Gankamba. Pray that God shows favor on each believer. Pray they will continue to be a bold witness and God will soften the heart of each person who hears the gospel and they will believe. Pray that this group of 45 will reach the 450,000 in the Thorakland District.

Thank you for your continued prayer support.

#friendshiphope&friedfruitpies #africanmissions #kenyamissions

 

 

Do Something

I’ve spent the week working as a crew chief at a Christian youth service camp, Camp Habitat. A coworker asked me, “Are you ever going to do nothing?” My off the cuff reply was, “I’m looking forward to that day.” But I immediately regretted my thoughtless remark because I know that if I’m doing nothing, it will be because I am physically unable. I am thankful for my health and ability to serve.

Many people have disabilities and feel they can’t help. But the volunteers at Camp Habitat proved that most of us can do something. Two members of our Camp Operations staff were on oxygen, and another two have physical disabilities that require them to use a walker. In the weeks leading up to Camp Habitat, they made phone calls to recruit volunteers, solicited donations, and assembled first aid kits. During the camp, they monitored who entered and exited the building and gave minor first aid. If we arrived at a job site and needed additional supplies, all we had to do was call Camp Ops., and they would send someone with the requested item(s).

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I learned that one of our crew chiefs had to take the morning off for a dialysis appointment. Roy doesn’t make a big deal about his condition. When I asked him about his condition, he said, “When I was diagnosed with this illness, I was given a life sentence, not a death sentence. I decided to live my life each day to the best of my ability.” I appreciate Roy giving me permission to share his comments with you. In the picture below, Roy is the gentleman standing in the back wearing the green t-shirt. He and his crew repaired the steps for this homeowner.

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I pray I can appreciate each day, regardless of my circumstances, with the grace that Roy demonstrates daily. Anyone who spends any amount of time with Roy will see that Jesus Christ lives in his heart.

I’ve served with Camp Habitat for the past five years with each of the volunteers below and hope to be able to continue this activity. At the age of fifty-four, I was the youngest crew chief. I was blessed to be able to serve with Roy and other senior adults who could be home enjoying retirement and doing nothing. Instead, they’ve seen the value of living life to the best of their ability and serving others.

five_year

Camp Habitat has a different theme each year and this year’s the motto was, Do Something. And the kids and volunteers lived up to the motto. There were eight crews comprised of four teens and one adult leader. We worked on projects such as painting, cleaning gutters, trimming shrubs, cleaning aluminum siding, caulking windows, building handrails, repairing steps, and washing windows. These eight crews worked on thirty-five home sites in our community and completed seventy-eight projects. The most important thing we did for each homeowner was to pray with them, and many of them prayed for us. I received blessings and more blessings.

I am thankful for the health and ability to participate in Camp Habitat. The homeowners were a joy to meet, the youth gave me hope for the future of our community, and the other volunteers inspired me to serve to the best of my ability. Each of us has a gift to offer, but if we don’t use our talents, sometimes we lose them. Please don’t squander your gifts. Look around and seek opportunities to “do something,” and you will be blessed.

#camphabitat #habitatforhumanity

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Be An Answer to Prayer

This week I’ll be working as a crew chief at a Christian youth service camp, Camp Habitat. http://hfh-ky-simp.huterra.com/content/camp-habitat.

CampHabitat

I am thankful to have been a part of Camp Habitat from the very beginning, five years ago. God inspired my sister to dream of Camp Habitat after she spent a week with World Changers. http://www.lifeway.com/worldchangers/.

The major difference between Camp Habitat and World Changers is that the youth don’t travel to distant communities to work on projects. Instead, they camp at our local high school campus.

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I’ll never forget the first elderly couple my crew served five years ago. We cleaned gutters and scrubbed the white vinyl siding on their home. As we loaded our equipment to leave, I looked at my ‘to do’ list and realized I hadn’t prayed with them. As we gathered to pray, the homeowner asked me if he could pray for us first. I’ll never forget the first words of his prayer. Thank you, Father, for answered prayer. I don’t know if I’d ever been an answer to someone’s prayer.

Please pray for me this week. Pray that that the youth will see the hands of Jesus in me. Pray that I will be physically able to complete the task assigned in the heat of the day with a smile on my face. Pray that I will have patience with unskilled workers. Pray God will protect each volunteer and their families. Pray that those who do not know Jesus will come to know him and accept Him into their hearts.

My prayer for you this week is that God will allow you will be an answer to someone’s prayer.

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“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James: 2:18

“Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” James 2:20

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#camphabitat #habitatforhumanity #missions #dosomething #answertoprayer

 

 

 

 

Will the Need for Pure Water Lead Others to Living Water?

The blessing of clean, pure water is something most Americans take for granted. What if you had to walk 10K (over six miles) each day to gather water for your family? This is the reality for many mothers and children in Kenya.

fresh water pouring into glass

Our missionary friends in Kenya have explained that women in the region we’ll be visiting, often walk over 10K each day (over six miles) to gather all the water they can carry. The more scarce the water, the more contaminated. Water filters cost about $25.00 which is outside the reach of most people. I have the ability to buy some water filters, but how can I decide to whom to distribute this precious item when the need is so overwhelming?

water,

I am exploring the feasibility of carrying Jonathan Ogelsby’s work from Niger to Kenya. See fofohari.org. Jonathan has developed artwork to teach women about good sanitation habits and about solar disinfection. Solar disinfection requires clear plastic bottles and sunlight to sanitize water. See: http://www.cdc.gov/safewater/solardisinfection.html. The artwork is key because many of the people in the region are illiterate. McDonald’s uses pictographs to train workers around the globe in food safety and hygiene. So we know this technique works.

fofohari_figure2

Please pray for God to provide me with the knowledge and tools to save lives and souls in Kenya. Please pray that God will use this need for pure water as an avenue to open discussions to receiving His living water.

#africanmissions  #fofohari #kenyacleanwater #Kenyamissions

How To Afford a Mission Trip to Africa

I’ve been blessed to travel on mission trips to Africa, and I’m planning my fourth trip in August. You may wonder how a small-town librarian affords such a venture. And so, I’ve put pencil to paper to demonstrate how small behavior changes grew my mission fund.

businesswoman with a note-book

I stopped grabbing breakfast at my favorite drive-through restaurant. The average cost was $3.27 per day. Multiply that figure times five days per week = $10.60 and you’ll discover that I save $850.00 annually by eating breakfast at home.

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I decided to pack my lunch. If I buy lunch at a cheap fast-food restaurant, the expense is about $6.00 per day. The lunch I prepare from home is estimated to cost about $2.00. There are many days, I eat left-overs, so $20 savings per week is a conservative estimate that yields and annual saving of $1040.

A school lunch with a deviled ham sandwich, apple, granola bar and textbooks

I gave up sodas in 2013. I did this for health reasons, but at three sodas per day at a cost of .58 cents each. ($1.74 x 7 days per week) $12.18 x 52 weeks = $633.36. Today, I drink water that costs next to nothing.

fresh water pouring into glass

I used to replenish my skin care products about once per quarter at my favorite department store.  The minimum cost was about $100.00 for a moisturizer and a bottle of makeup. I won’t include the extras such as eye-shadow, blush, and mascara. I decided to switch to drugstore brands and cut the cost in half. Instead of $400 per year. I spend $200 and save $200.00.

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I’ve had my hair highlighted for years every other month at the local hair salon. The cost was $80. To color my hair at home, it costs $9.00, saving me $71.00 six times a year which total to $426.00

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To summarize:

  • Breakfast & coffee at home: $850
  • Brown bagging lunch $1040
  • Giving up sodas: $633.36
  • Using drugstore brand skin care products $200.00
  • Home hair-color products $426

Grand Total: $3149.36 which is enough to pay for a mission trip to Africa.

I don’t consider any of the choices listed above to be a sacrifice. Today, I eat healthier and save money.

If you want to go on a mission trip, but don’t have the funds, I challenge you to look at your spending habits and open a saving account. The money will add up, and before you know it, you’ll be on your way.

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