Monday, March 20, 2006

To live is Christ

Philippians 1:21 states, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. Essentially its like this, if I live on here I get to tell people about the life giving message of Jesus. If I die, I get to be with him, I’m a winner either way. My friend Sam Thomas honestly lives out that piece of Scripture. Right now he is in a jail in India, without charge and with a $25,000 bounty on his head. You might like to know what his crime is. The list is as follows. He and his father M.A. take care of over 10,000 orphans (it may be more than that now). They provide food, clothing, and education for all of these. They build schools to educate thousands of other Indian children. They provide care for lepers. They hold medical clinics for the lowest of all of India’s castes; the Dalits and they plant churches and preach the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are his crimes. And right now his life is in danger. He is sleeping in a jail for the cause of the Gospel. What an unbelievably incredible privilege. He has slept at my house and we have driven together all over the south taking this message to churches. I’ve been to his house and eaten with him. I’ve seen his life and he really does believe that to live is Christ, to die is gain. I heard him say one time from a pulpit in India, “If you are here to kill me, go ahead, but if you do kill me you will not kill God’s church you will only give it more strength, for the blood of the martyrs is the seed of new churches!” These are perhaps some of the most courageous words I’ve ever heard. My soldiers are courageous, but they have weapons. Sam carries no gun, only his love for mankind and his devotion to Christ. If you are reading this stop and pray that God would use the life or death of Sam Thomas to bring glory to Jesus and that many would know his great name! You can read all about what is going on there by going to www.hopegivers.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2006



I'm asking all who read this blog to please pray for this young lady. Her dad is one of my Drill SGTs. He's a good man and loves his daughter. As you can see below she's been missing since January. If you've seen her please use the contact numbers below.


Endangered Runaway

LAUREN KASPER
DOB: Jan 12, 1989Missing: Jan 29, 2006Height: 5'6" (168 cm)Eyes: Blue Race: White
Age Now: 17Sex: FemaleWeight: 125 lbs (57 kg)Hair: Blonde
Missing From:ORLANDOFLUnited States
Lauren has a scar on her abdomen and her ears are double pierced.

ANYONE HAVING INFORMATION SHOULD CONTACTNational Center for Missing & Exploited Children1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST)
Orange County Sheriff's Office (Florida) 1-407-836-4357

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The following is an article about how Chaplains are helping our soldiers returning from combat. Hope you enjoy it! If you'd like to leave me some feedback please feel free to do so.


Christian Science Monitor March 8, 2006 Pg. 1
Troubled Soldiers Turn To Chaplains For Help
By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
FORT GORDON, GA. -- Army Spc. Travis Dulaney, who served in combat in Iraq, is wound as tight as a trip wire.
Visibly pained, the Mississippi native says he is unable to tell his family what happened to him - and what he did - in his year of fighting. Those memories, he says, are his wagon to pull. So far, the weight has been too great. That is partly why Specialist Dulaney has been assigned to the Eisenhower Army Medical Center's Delta Company here at Fort Gordon until he is fit to return to duty.
Walking with him on his journey back from the battlefront of Iraq are the chaplains, a corps of officers who quietly watch over US Army troops from the front lines to the barracks back home. For Dulaney and perhaps thousands of American troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, chaplains are a source of strength in days of vulnerability.
"[The chaplains] can tell when the time bomb is ticking inside - and they know how to defuse it," says Dulaney, who fought with the 155th Brigade Combat Team. "They help you understand what has happened."
Soldiers say chaplains are trustworthy confidants who help them grapple with dark moral dilemmas in war's aftermath. Now the Army's 1,400 chaplains are carving out an expanded role, working to keep soldiers mentally healthy and military families together amid the extraordinary strains of war. The top brass is aiming to recruit nearly 600 more chaplains to serve in the next five years. Like soldiers, they are assigned units and deploy with them. In battle zones, chaplains are on the scene to counsel soldiers when they return from patrol.
"[Commanders] just see the soldier and maybe the family, but chaplains have this ability to take a more holistic approach to the organization and the soldier," says Morton Ender, a sociologist at the US Military Academy at West Point in New York. "Chaplains have the big picture."
As the Army increasingly relies on redeploying the same troops, the effect on soldiers is giving cause for alarm. About 92 percent of all veterans who served in Iraq have encountered small-arms fire, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Many have been in situations where, as Dulaney says, they've seen and done things that "nobody should have to see or do."
Their relationships with friends and family are suffering as a result, according to the Army. Divorce rates are high among war veterans. Base towns, too, are reporting an increase in bar fights. The "thousand-yard stare," once seen among many Vietnam vets, has resurfaced.
Through the chaplaincy, the military is trying to do more to help soldiers shore up their relationships and improve their health so they can return to the battle front. The Bush administration this year allotted $7 million toward Strong Bonds, a new chaplaincy program. The added investment is a "huge deal," says Chaplain Ran Dolinger, noting that the Army's total annual budget for the chaplaincy is about $14 million.
Strong Bonds aims to teach military couples how to communicate without fighting. Chaplains can send feuding couples on retreats to reconnect at places like Myrtle Beach, S.C. On Fort Bragg, N.C., Chaplain Bradley West teaches a class he calls "How (Not) to Marry a Jerk" to single soldiers to help them make good decisions about potential partners.
Already, new chaplaincy programs have been effective, playing at least a small role in cutting in half the divorce rate among Army officers between 2004 and 2005, Army officials say.
Moreover, the Army is giving chaplains increasing flexibility to use funds to send soldiers who are coping with the loss of comrades to Washington for war memorial tours for example, as members of Fort Gordon's Delta Company recently did.
"We bring to the table ... a spiritual aspect to the healing process," says Chaplain Klon Kitchen of Fort Jackson, S.C.
Spc. John Shelton returned from Iraq with a front tooth missing and a blown-out knee from a road-side bomb. He admits his tour of duty and his injury put stress on his marriage. Now, a chaplain spends time on the phone with Shelton and his wife, dealing with "marital stuff."
"It's a two-sided story when you come back like this," says Shelton. "Your family views you differently and the Army views you differently. That's one reason why I use the chaplains a lot."
Others in the military also say chaplains are needed now. Evangelical pastors, in particular, are on the rise, while the number of Roman Catholic chaplains has dropped to fewer than 100, according to the Army. (Most chaplains are Christian, but there are about 30 Jewish clergy and 15 Muslim clergy.)
But stiff requirements keep many away: Candidates are required to have a master's degree in theology and two years of experience in a civilian church. They also must pass the Army fitness test, which includes doing 40 pushups and running two miles in 16 minutes, 36 seconds. First-year chaplains earn an annual salary of $45,969.67.
Once on the job, chaplains help soldiers cope with their actions in battle, guided by the "just cause" theory that violence, even killing, can be the morally responsible thing to do in wartime.
As counselors to soldiers, they, themselves also confront post-battle stress. Fort Gordon Chaplain Steve Munson fights back tears as he talks about visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Va., with a group of Iraq war vets. For weeks after returning to the US from duty in Balad, Iraq - a town troops call "Mortarsville" - Chaplain Dolinger experienced "overpass effect," or the subconscious habit of gazing up at bridges in search of grenade-droppers or snipers.
While counseling the first wave of troops returning from Iraq in the fall of 2003, Chaplain West says he had to work hard "not to lose hope."
Meanwhile, critics say that many troops, hesitate to take part in programs such as Strong Bonds, whether it's for faith reasons or out of fear of reprisal from officers that single out soldiers who show what they perceive as weakness.
"Most guys in Vietnam never saw a chaplain, and I think that may still be true today," says Larry Tritle, a Vietnam war veteran and a military affairs professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "The reason was that chaplains were seen as part of the establishment."
But at Fort Gordon, chaplains minister to members of Delta Company. There, active-duty soldiers on "medical hold" from the war are assigned one mission: Get well enough to return to the Army and their families.
Of Delta Company's Dulaney and Shelton, Chaplain Munson says: "They are amazing guys, and if you saw them when they came in, you might not believe how far they've come."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The following is an article from my friend Sam Thomas who lives and works in India bringing the Gospel to millions. Not only that the ministry of Hopegivers International houses and feeds thousands of orphans. I've been there twice and long to go again. Sam and his father M.A. are both powerful testimonies to the love of Jesus Christ put into practice. You can check out all they are doing at their website by clicking here:
www.hopegivers.com

I hope you enjoy this article and let me know what you think. But more than that, pray for Sam and M.A. Pray for India and South Asia. Pray for this world.


Hope as Process
It is one thing to be a possessor of hope-even a scholar of hope-but it is an even greater thing to become an active giver of hope.
The first thing you learn is that giving hope is not a one-time event. It is a process that goes on, sometimes for years. Hopegiving is a wheel that moves forward as a progressive process. You learn them from loving and caring for abandoned and orphaned children.
I have just returned from an exciting mission to Africa where we are starting two new Hope Homes for starving orphans. As we walked through the crowds of orphans there-I was painfully aware that hope had gone from their eyes.
Oh, they were wonderfully grateful for the food and medicines we brought, but this one-time gift could not bring the rays of hope back in their eyes. I wanted to tell them that we won't forget them-that they could trust us to come back. However, no words can convey that. We can only prove our compassion through ongoing actions, by the process of hope.
The Wheel of Hope
It is the same with the abused children we rescue from the streets of India. They cannot have real hope until they see the Wheel of Hope moving forward. All seven spokes on the Wheel of Hope must be strong and intact for hope to be fully born in an abandoned, forsaken child. Hope starts with help for today and ends in eternity. To get there, we must meet many needs along the way:
No child goes hungry
No child remains sick
No child goes homeless
No child lives in danger
No child goes unschooled
No child goes unloved
No child suffers violence
For this seven-spoked wheel to move forward, three things have to happen:
FIRST, our hope giving has to be regular. Those who make the Hopegivers pledge to give a regular monthly gift understand this important truth. The backbone of our work is not million dollar grants (although we need them!) What really keeps the children alive are people that give $1 a day, $30 a month to support the staff, students or general fund.
SECOND, our hope giving has to be holistic. It does not end with providing basic physical necessities - that's only the start. It must progress by meeting emotional, social, and spiritual needs. We believe every child, regardless of religion, caste or race, deserves more than just food, a roof and a sleeping mat. Children also need education, haircuts, decent clothes, and loving family-style relationships.
THIRD, our hope giving has to be balanced. It has to include moral and spiritual education. We cannot choose a child's spiritual destiny but we can point her in the right direction. We cannot give them faith-but we must demonstrate it by providing a foundation to help them make the best choice. Using our God-given free moral agency, each of us has to make the ultimate moral and spiritual choices on our own.
True hope springs from ongoing relationships. That "hope process" begins with your support for a child or a staff worker. Without positive relationships between the staff workers and the children, hope doesn't happen. Without trained "Apostles of Hope" who will go start the work, hope doesn't happen. Our task as Hopegivers is to nurture and support this ongoing, progressive process of hope.
Yours for the children of the world,
Dr. Samuel Thomas

The songs of life- Thanks to mom

My home was filled with music and people growing up. Mom loved music and can play an assortment of instruments but her favorites are th...