Sometimes I don’t like God

It was a shock last week, to admit to myself, that there’s times I don’t really like God.  Our C-Group (community group) was reading a bunch of passages out of Jeremiah as part of our One Year Through the Bible thing, and I was starting to get bummed.  As a Christian, I’ve always known I’m supposed to love, honor, fear, reverence, worship, obey and respect God.  But I had to admit, reading some of the verses about the times God said and declared awful catastrophes for all kinds of people-it seemed so random and unfair! Where’s the justice in all that?  Still, I was pondering this with a little a bit of emotional distance left….until Wednesday.

Tuesday morning, our beautiful little new grandson, Austin, made his entrance into the world.  Strawberry blond, crying, wiggling….all those cute little newborn things.  I was privileged to be there to watch the miracle of new life as he made his entrance and to rejoice that even with all the unexplainable ##*#* going on in the world, God still seems to be in favor of life.  Things were good, and the gratitude level was high, even though there was this nagging question about whether or not it was blasphemy to admit I had some issues with Jeremiah.

Wednesday morning at 4:40 a.m., our daughter called to say their  precious little guy had just been airlifted to a city hospital in severe respiratory distress.  My voice and my words told her we’d be there as soon as we could catch a ferry to pick her up and bring her over to the little man (her husband drove ahead to meet the chopper but she had to wait for the doctor’s to come in and release her).  My heart, however, did a quick trip back to Jeremiah and the God who isn’t always very nice and prayed (begged) with all sincerity, that He would be the nice, kind, loving, life-giving God this time to this one little family who has waited and longed to meet this precious little guy we’ve all already loved for nine months and one day.

Pulling my head and my heart out of maternal/infant mortality statistics I’ve read and focusing on what was instinctual, needed and helpful, my inventory of my available faith level at that point was on empty.  So, I texted some people I knew would wake up, see their messages and pray.  Then we got out of here and went to be with the Mommy.

At the hospital, while we waited for doctors to show up, get out of meetings, and get Mommy on her way, I used Facebook to put the word out to pray. People who don’t even know our daughter and her truly wonderful husband responded and there were prayers going up for this little man, and people sending words of encouragement and hope.  Thank you!!!!!

As much as I would like to pretend that I was full of faith and knew God was gonna make things Ok, I wasn’t and I didn’t.  I was AFRAID that maybe, like so many other people in so many other places who live with loss and disaster each day that has no explanation, that this little family might have to experience that because God was doing something else.  Gratefully, my fears did not materialize and Austin’s doing much much much much better….

Lesson learned:

  1. There are times when your tank is empty, and that’s when the prayers of others who aren’t on empty can help carry you, if you just ask.
  2. The community of  faith will respond if asked and their prayers may touch God’s heart, and keep yours from breaking.
  3. Pray.  Ask others to pray.  Pray some more.
  4. You don’t have to go through it alone….ask for help!  Others can believe even when you can’t.
  5. Don’t forget to give thanks, regularly, privately, publicly and every other way as a matter of habit and discipline.
  6. Maybe, for now, I’m gonna focus on gratitude, and quit reading the Jeremiah sections (one of our amazing friends-a spiritually wise lady I really respect, said there was a time in her life where she couldn’t do a bunch of Psalms at once-they were too violent, and the priest just told her to pick a different reading….God bless him!)

To the two or three people who might read this, thank you.  To all those who prayed for Austin and his family, THANK YOU SO SOSOSOSOSOSOSO MUCH!

Maybe there are times when the fear of God takes precedence over the love of God….and maybe whether or not I LIKE Him is irrelevant?

(PS  I printed out the six pages of comments and prayers ya’all put on Facebook for Austin and his family and gave it to his Mommy and Daddy for his baby book)

I think this is a Sabbatical (personal musing)

You can figure your life may have been a little out of balance if working 40-45 hours per week seems like a sabbatical.  Been figuring that one out the last couple of months, as responsibilities have changed in some areas.  Finding out how many uncompleted tasks I had stacked up, dusting them off and starting to catch up.  Instead of aiming for burn out, blow out or freak out, accepting the gentle hands of God putting me in time out for six months before I compulsively engage in taking on any new projects (even good ones).  This is a new discipline for me.  It seems I’ve spent the last six years trying to gobble up all of life I can possibly participate in, and while it has been incredibly meaningful, it hasn’t necessarily been the most effective.

While I sometimes miss my friends and the community I came from, I am also incredibly grateful for the new community here that has enfolded me and made me a part of their lives.  The past few years of over-active living has been richly peopled with some of those who are effective in making a difference in people’s lives and providing practical help in a variety of ways to those in some dire circumstances. I have been privileged to listen to the stories and learn from the lives of those who have lived meaningful and well and demonstrated their faith in practical action.

As I approach the end of month 2 of my time-out, I find my life has still been very full.  For example:

  • Spending time some weekends with much loved adult children
  • Sometimes helping with major carpooling of refugee community to church in Kent
  • Going to hear friends from other parts of the world speak in different churches in the area while they’re home on Sabbatical
  • Hanging out with new young friends (thoroughly enjoying being unofficially            adopted as a grandparent)
  • Watching God work even in the midst of the Intensive Care Unit in my Mom’s life and giving thanks for the angels that work in hospitals with the desperately ill
  • Parenting parents, through a variety of crises
  • Finishing up previous privilege of being a non-profit bookkeeper for 6 years and attempting to hand it off to the upgraded version (a retired CPA)
  • Learning new techy skills to finish some long neglected projects for my kids
  • Working on getting the rest of my songs together for home-recording another CD for kids/family (before I’m too old to remember what I wrote)
  • Handling paperwork for parents through changing circumstances, challenges, insurances and learning more about Medicare/Medicaid and the American medical nightmare than I ever wanted to know
  • Giving thanks for the buyer of my parent’s condo (two year project finally finished!) and our amazing friend/realtor (Shellie) who got it done
  • Participating in major software upgrade/transition at work with related stress, and liking it:)
  • Finishing several whole books without falling asleep just ’cause I sat down (the latest: Little Daughter by Zoya Phanhighly recommended)
  • Giving a few piano lessons to new little friends
  • Exercising more, drinking coffee less
  • Catching up on bookkeeping for our business
  • Doing things “almost grandmas” are supposed to do:) (crocheting baby blanket, etc.)
  • Visiting a major event in our old community and spending time with people I haven’t seen in quite a while
  • Trying to recognize those moments when you hold someone’s heart in your hands and praying for the grace to respond in a way that brings hope to them
  • Spending time listening to those around me, and trying to be present in that moment instead of reaching towards the next one
  • Missing Rich and counting the days til he comes home from Alaska (5 to go!)

So….nothing profound, just trying to reorient the compass to measure my life not just by the tasks completed but by the relationships nurtured and formed-taking the time to try to notice, give thanks, and pray for those who come across my path each day….remembering to breathe….and literally, stopping to smell the roses, (or pet the kitties) when I’m out for a walk.

Poverty’s Stereotypes

The healthcare debate opens up all kinds of cans of worms.  It challenges our politics, our pocketbooks, our stereotypes of those people on public assistance or those who are “choosing to go naked” (not buying health insurance, which of course they could afford).  It challenges our view of poverty American style.

Poverty comes with many names and faces.  I have the privilege of seeing some of them each day at work, as people seek “affordable” dental care.  As I screen calls and try to steer people towards the most effective solution to their need, I hear all kinds of stories, and get all kinds of responses.  Some people thank me for the information or the connection, and others occasionally cuss me out for not having an easier path to point them towards.  Sometimes in mutual frustration, I acknowledge that the system is imperfect and broken, and if they want to fix it, suggest talking to their Congressperson.

This opinion piece from the New York Times talks about the power and limitations of community during personal or national economic downturns…all too true!  And we are all elgible.  It’s not just those other people who can get in a bad spot.  Many of us may not be that many steps from the wrong dominos lining up and flattening us.

The end of her days….?

I’m not sure what people are supposed to feel at this point….when the hospital calls and says “Your mother is going downhill fast, and may end up on a respirator tomorrow”…when they want you to fax the paperwork that tells them what her wishes are for how things go from here…when you look at the mixed blessing that her life has been at times….and you question if you have done enough to be a bearer of light to someone who at times seemed like darkness…and you pray for grace to be graceful under pressure and to let her know in whatever way she can receive it, that you know it was her illness, not her intention, when she was difficult, unreasonable or impossible…and you pray again for grace to be light and to help family members as they struggle with the enigma that is her life…..if this is the end of her days, I pray she finds peace, and that as a child in His arms, she is at rest, undamaged, at last….

Reality Check–Cyber Psalm 15

Our friend, Dan, had a heart attack this week.  Scary.  So that made it doubly cool to get a perspective challenging email from him this morning with this Cyber Psalm from a blog he likes by David Ker, a Wcliffe Bible Translator in Mozambique.   

Cyber-Psalm 15

 NOVEMBER 23, 2007                                                                   by David Ker

What would heaven be like

if books of theology 
were written by children not men?

And what if sermons were delivered by the poor. 

And devotional books were written by the hungry. 

And hymns were composed by the sick and the old.

The Sermon on the Mount requires no interpretation, 

unless you are fat and happy.

If our hope of heaven were colored 

with children’s crayons and felt tip markers.

And our theology of hell were tempered 

by the dying breath of those who suffer.

The hair-splitting and hand-wringing 

of over-educated men in ivory towers 

goes largely unnoticed by grandmothers in their kitchens 

and office workers in their cubicles.

They go on putting silly magnets on their fridge 

And trading forwarded e-mails about heaven. 

Two thousand years of systematic theology 

Disturbs them not a bit!

God is honored and praised  

Hoped for and prayed to 

By myriads who never learned Greek.

Their revelation is not a scroll  

But a hope vaguely imprinted 

On a soul made by God.

The sick and the blind and the poor  

Receive Jesus with gladness. 

The Gospels require no spiritualized application.

Feed us, friend Jesus. 

Our stomachs are empty.

You are the one our hearts hope for.

Heal us who are sick. 

We ache and we suffer.

Save us in death. 

We are dying in darkness. 

Savior Jesus, our hope at life’s end.

Love Is…

Yesterday had parts that were hard, and parts that were really beautiful.  The beautiful part was making it down to Karen Church in Kent and being able to be there for the celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of a couple who have poured their lives into loving God, their family, their community and seems like most other people who cross their path. 

People from Oregon, Vancouver, the Seattle area, and maybe some others gathered to honor their lives and their relationship.  It was pretty neat to see this 70+ year old gentleman talk about how it had always been his hope to get to celebrate this moment with a community of his countrymen, but since he had brought his family here in the 70’s, that had seemed pretty unlikely.  Wish I knew the language and could have gotten the whole story, but I could catch the essence of how much he loves his wife (and vice versa), and the strength of their love and faith which has brought them through many challenges. 

Hearing him read 1st Corinthians 13 makes it very fresh in my mind today, and I read it with new respect for what is possible if you spend your life trying to live out love…..

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8Love never fails…”

If We Are His Body…..

It surprised me to see all the theological chatter when I tried to look up this poem.  In my simple way, I hadn’t seen this famous poem as being all that complicated.  Rather, I saw it as somewhat awe-inspiring and humbling that God would trust us with being “laborers together with Him” in the world….

 Christ Has No Body

“Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world….”

 Some of the theological chatter said it was blasphemy-that it implied that Christ didn’t ascend to heaven in a transformed body…..bla bla bla.  In my humble opinion, I don’t think the author was trying to yank someone’s chain.  I think she/he/they (there’s some debate on authorship) was trying to make a significant, complex, mind-boggling mystery real, tangible and practical to those of us without MDvs. 

A friend’s blog posed the question recently, “What are you praying for?”  I guess I am praying to recognize Christ in the many ways He shows up- not just in the Bible, or in church, but at work, in the grocery store, on the street, on the docks, at friend’s houses, in the people I meet each day.  I am praying to reflect to those He connects me with that their lives have value because He made them with a purpose and has plans for their good!  I am praying to learn to live out my faith in ways that reflect the miracle that God uses broken human beings to help make grace real.  I am praying that I will learn to be part of the solution and not the problem in the lives of those I am called to love….As I seek to be present in the moment with some friends facing difficult transitions, I pray above anything, “God, teach me to love.”

Who am I?

I don’t remember  the purpose of the meeting, but several hundred of us were gathered in the meeting hall at  Langley United Methodist Church, during the days when Tom & Claudia Walker were pastoring there.  Different now forgotten things went on during the meeting, but then Tom and Claudia got up to sing one of their songs, “Child of God.”  This was probably 15 years ago, but my life has never been the same. 

“I am a child of God-nothing can shake my confidence.

I am a child of God….no one can take my inheritance.

Never alone I’ll stand, strengthened by God’s own hand.

I am a child.  I am a child, a child of God.

My name is Marie, now I can see

What this relationship’s doing to me

Last night he hit me, I fell on the floor–

Just like he’s hit me so often before.

He says he’s sorry.  He brings me flowers…

Things will go fine for a couple of hours…

He says I’m nothing.  He says I’m scum.

Then he hits me because that’s what he does.

I am a child of God-nothing can shake my confidence.

I am a child of God….no one can take my inheritance.

Never alone I’ll stand, strengthened by God’s own hand.

I am a child.  I am a child, a child of God.

My name is Manuel.  My hands can tell

The story of how you’re living so well.

I work every day but my family is poor

So you can have coffee bananas and more.

The landowners say if I don’t mind my ways

They can find substitute workers to pay.

They say my soul will only be free

In heaven some day, that’s what they say.

 I am a child of God-nothing can shake my confidence.

I am a child of God….no one can take my inheritance.

Never alone I’ll stand, strengthened by God’s own hand.

I am a child.  I am a child, a child of God.”

There were at least three of us who wept and wept, even after the song  and the beautiful, worshipful, expressive  dance Carol did during it were over.  Something had happened….in this song, by the grace of God, we saw a new reality for how God sees us, even in our brokenness.  He loves us all, even in our failures, poverty, isolation, differentness, or in other groups excluded in their society.  He sees us not as life’s incidences and conflicts had taught us to view ourselves, but with through the lens of the dignity He created us for. 

(Sorry I have lost the third verse (the story of a man being disowned by his family for admitting he was gay-very powerful! ), or the music to share with you (it was beautiful).

Thank you Tom & Claudia for sharing your gifts.  Wherever you are, hope you are well and blessed with the kind of grace you have shared with others.

“U.S. Good, Burma Not Good…”

It’s amazing what can be communicated with limited English.  I sat with a Burmese friend tonight practicing English and looking at a map of Burma and trying to ask what part he was from.  He pointed to Rangoon and said, “Good.”  Then he pointed to the Chin, Karen and other ethnic areas and said, “Not good,” then pantomined people shooting at each other, and trying to eat while looking over your shoulder ready to flee. “U.S. good.  Burma not good.” 

I know the political issues are “complicated” and there is debate over the best ways accomplish the goal of democracy, freedom, and functioning legal government in Burma and life without fear for the people who live there.   There is debate among some here over whether refugee resettlement is a good idea, or should even be happening with the economic challenges our country currently faces.  That’s someone else’s post.  For me, I hope I don’t forget my friend’s statement, or what he so effectively acted out.  It frames the debate completely out of the theoretical, philosophical, political arena.  This is a human thing.

Reflections from the kitchen (refugee resettlement)

Kids are the most awesome ice breaker.  Start with  a family of three working (English only speaking) adults, add a family from Burma (a dad and two daughters , age 9 & 11 speaking Burmese and Karen-little English)  in the process of being resettled to the US  from a refugee camp in Thailand, put together in an apartment for two weeks and what do you get?  A recipe for some of life’s better moments.

Start with lots of vegetables, add a huge quantity of rice and fish sauce, mix with liberal amounts of curry and laughter. Throw in lessons on recycling, can openers, garbage disposals, dishwashers, running water, teapots that stay hot, and some pantomimes of going out, coming in, time to sleep, and “Ten Apples Up on Top” for some diligent eager students.  Show a video done by kids doing relief work in Burma with their parents ( and you will find a way, in spite of language barriers, for the dad to communicate that he was an IDP, packing his possessions on his back as he fled from the Burma army.  The girls were born in the refugee camp and this is the first time they have ever been free.  Give thanks with a grateful heart for food, shelter, safety, family, new friends, and the grace of God to cross borders, boundaries and language barriers as you pray the agency resettling them will find an appropriately priced apartment in our very expensive city….

Practice price comparisons at Ballard Market and Viet Wah.  Glimpse how overwhelming Costco can be while getting a deal on a rice cooker for their new apartment.  Play with scrabble pieces together practicing showing love through laughter and phonics and listening….Stop, look and listen at cross walks.  Wear seat belts.

Grateful once again for the incredible gift of community, and how truly amazing grace is.  Reminded once again you don’t have to be especially gifted to be able to touch someone’s life.  You just have to show up, and be willing to treat someone else like you would want to be treated if you were a stranger in a strange land.  It’s SO worth it.  Glad again, that even quiet bookkeepers who like to cook Thai food and have a house full of people have a place in the kingdom of God.  Grateful.  Very grateful!

Give thanks for all those partners on this journey: Deanza, who brought a doll house that is getting MUCH use, Kate & Janelle and a friend who took the family to the aquarium last Saturday, Mona and Rosie who have translated by cell phone across different states and in person (and brought an amazing meal), Dr. Tao for advice, our daughter Ginny for being willing to share our space and befriend those in it, Linda for being an amazing friend, example, translator, and either big sister or new auntie to her delighted new friends, Maggie for being a caseworker or pastor (I have a really hard time telling the difference on most days as I watch her shepherd those God has placed around her!), Tim for the balloons we used to play volleyball in the living room in the evening without disturbing the neighbors, Gary & Gloria, Bethany (who suggested to her friend the case manager to call Deanza), the folks at World Relief, and the list goes on…

PS  When this opportunity first came up, I thought it looked like a good fit, but I hesitated to ask my husband what he thought ’cause it was his schedule that would have to get monkeyed with to make it work. But he took the bait too, and has proven, again, to be amazing.  I don’t think he ever saw himself as a teacher before, but he excels at it.  Funny how both time and hearts can expand to make room for what needs to fit in them.  Funny too, how once you let people in to your heart, normal is over.  Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Welfare, Community Development and the Golden Rule

 How do we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? It’s not easy. They don’t always fit well. Sometimes we don’t like the style, the material they’re made from, or the way they pinch. Other times, we wouldn’t be caught dead in them–it would ruin our fashion image. What if you were in a part of the world where you couldn’t afford shoes in the first place and just getting food for your family was enough of a challenge? We want the power to choose our shoes, (and everything else in our lives), and we don’t want to be in a position where we have to take whatever shoes we can get. But what if it doesn’t work out that way? If you need help, how would you want to be treated? What kind of help would help you?

In English class I read a story called “Is There Life After Welfare?” written by a former welfare mom. In her story, we met a news story, a faceless statistic, and a self-described “hussy.” But that’s not all. We met a resilient woman who is an author, a college graduate, and someone who can teach us about helping. We need to see through her eyes and try to walk for a morning in her shoes. Many who have much to say about “those ‘tramps’ just using the system” have no idea what it’s like to work for minimum wage for long hours and still be looked at as a bum; to be treated like dirt because the only insurance you can get is medical coupons, or because food stamps help you feed your children. They haven’t been nameless faceless nobodies to a stranger with power to approve or disapprove the paperwork that either helps provide a house for your kids or leaves you homeless. This woman’s story provides a different view than we normally get from our self-righteous high horses and comfortably distanced lives.

Many of us have never had to live without choice. Many of us have never really been poor.  I have never been poor. I have always lived in the wealthiest country in the world and had access to plenty of food, to transportation, to a dry place to live, and  skills to get some kind of job.   If  I want to pay the price in money, energy, commitment, paperwork and homework, I have the choice to get an education. I’m not only white–I’m a white American, so there’s a whole system that supports my success, unlike that of others with richer skin tones.  Unfair? Yes.

Although I have wealthy friends who have at times been appalled at the so called “poverty” evidenced by the cars we drove (or push started at times:), the outhouse we used while we waited to afford indoor plumbing (while we were building a home), or the fact that we are currently in a functional rental triplex and not the owners of our own palatial dwelling space at the moment, my life is blessed. I am privileged and grateful. 

My husband and I are on the board of a local non-profit that provides help to internally displaced people in Burma, among other things.  As a non-profit, we wrestle with how to best give without demeaning those on the receiving end; how to give ownership and empowerment, while maintaining stewardship of the resources we are responsible for. The IRS and the donors need one thing. Those on the receiving end of the gift need something else. In America, agencies proudly put their name on projects….”brought to you by______,” or “your tax dollars at work.” We “give,” but too often it’s still all about us.

We have tried to go a different path in this, following the example of friends who have worked overseas with community development for many years. They have seen the problems that occur when the giving takes away from those receiving and demeans (like welfare) those we are attempting to empower. So, if you look for “World Aid projects” overseas to be identified by big plaques or banners with our name on it, you won’t find them. You’ll find schools, clinics, orphanages, and food supplies under the name and management of the communities who benefit from them. Our job isn’t to make OUR name known; it’s to build up the communities we serve. While it is necessary for to be able to demonstrate to donors and the IRS here in the US and elsewhere what their generosity has accomplished, and so to be able to say “what World Aid did this year….”, on the receiving end, it is not necessary or helpful for it to continue to be “our project.” Our side of the accounting/giving equation needs to demonstrate our stewardship and accountability, but on the receiving end, those we serve need ownership and power of their own lives and over the resources we have been blessed to be able to give them. It wasn’t ours in the first place (it’s been given to us to us to give), and after we give it, it’s theirs, not ours.

It all seems to go back to the golden rule—treating other people the way we want to be treated. Community development and human development….do they have to be that different? Is there a way to help empower people without making them nameless and faceless? Can we learn to listen to each other’s story?  Can we discover what makes the difference between those who rise above their circumstances and those who don’t? Is it luck? Character? Attitude? Or is it realizing how much power and choice they do have to make things happen, like Annie Downey?

America is not the center of the world, but only a part of it. There is great poverty of many kinds here, as well as in the countries my heart is attached to in Southeast Asia. Americans have much to teach, but also much to learn from our sisters and brothers in places we can’t pronounce, and in the houses next door. Everyone has a story and a dream. 

All of us can change the part of the world we are responsible for, if we’re willing to pay the price. For some, the path to dignity means long hours, faceless interviews and menial tasks for low wages.  For refugee friends, it means leaving the familiar and taking a risk that the promise of America is real, and that if you work hard and listen well you can learn to survive in a place where the government might not be the enemy, you can be free, and your kids can get an education. For us at World Aid, it means listening to the hopes and needs of the communities we work with. They already have the culture, the language and the heart. We can help provide funding and help share their stories with the rest of the world. One of their fears is being forgotten….that no one knows their story, their reality, or their dreams. If we listen to each other, and learn from each other, treat other people the way we want to be treated, that can be changed. The Golden Rule still works.

Starfish tossing

I don’t know where the story originally came from, but most of you have probably heard it….the one where the guy is running along a beach in the morning and he comes to part of the beach that’s covered with beached starfish.  There’s a little girl there picking up starfish and tossing them back in the sea.  The man questions her on what she’s doing, and tries to tell her she can’t save all of them-asks what difference she can make.  The little girl responds, as she throws in another one, “Made a difference to that one…..”  Being unqualified, uneducated, inexperienced, and doing too little, too late, with not enough, for too few seems a lot like that sometimes.  But to the one (or more!) that you do get to encourage, bless, walk beside, befriend, help feed, house, care for or educate by the actions you do, I got to believe it makes some kind of difference!  

In the words of St. Francis, “Preach the gospel.  If necessary, use words.”

World Aid, Inc. Year End Report

Thank you for your support for World Aid in 2008.  Because of partners like you, many people in Burma, and those being resettled to a new life in the US, received both practical help, and the hope and encouragement that the rest of the world has not forgotten them.

Currently in the Karen state, the Burma Army continues to increase the number of troops deployed against civilians in the ethnic areas. Meanwhile, the offensive against the ethnic nationalities has gone on with minimal effective response from the international community for over 60 years. 

 In May of 2008, the world watched as Cyclone Nargis devastated the delta region of Burma, killing over 84,530 and 53,836 reported missing (Asean Report). The Burma Army at first blocked aid to those devastated by Cyclone Nargis, and then later arrested some of those who tried to help their own people.

In 2008, World Aid continued our partnerships with the ethnic peoples in Burma.  Some of the ongoing projects included:

  • Providing relief to communities devastated by Cyclone Nargis in partnership with Karen churches, Buddhist monks, Thirst Aid, and others already in the cyclone area.  We continue to help in expanding an ongoing communications network, provided over 800 water filter units (each $20 filter produces enough safe water for a family of 6 or 24 children during a school day),and continue partnering to provide food (and the means to grow it), medical and educational resources, and resources needed for rebuilding communities.  
  • Providing medical supplies, food and support for villages in remote areas where no other source of supply is available.  In 2008, we provided funding three clinics in areas of Burma where they are the only medical help available.
  • Partnering with the Karen Teacher’s Working Group (KTWG)—a network of Karen teachers working throughout Karen state providing education and teacher training (see and Partners Relief & Development. Generous donors made it possible for the first time, for all 2875 teachers working with the 913 schools and 59,604 internally displaced students to receive a $40 year stipend, helping them to be able to continue teaching instead of having to quit teaching in order to raise their own food.  KSEAG Film About Schools in Burma
  • Partnering with Free Burma Rangers ( to support their work of training multi-ethnic relief teams, providing relief to IDPs, and working for ethnic unity.  Currently in 2008, there are 50 full time FBR teams active in the Karen, Karenni, Shan, Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Lahu and Pa’O areas of Burma. Each team is comprised of 4-6 men and women who have received training in public health, first aid, advanced medical and basic dental care, human rights reporting, counseling, video and still camera, map and compass, land navigation, solar power, and communications. Each team conducts 2-3 month relief missions each year and is equipped with enough medical supplies to treat 2,000 IDPs, as well as packs for children, clothing for IDPs, toys, and sporting equipment. Since 1997, relief teams have treated over 300,000 patients and helped over 750,000 people.
  • Partnership with Christians Concerned for Burma by continuing to support the Global Day of Prayer for Burma (coming March 8, 2009).
  • Partnering with the Karen Women’s Organization ( selling handcrafts for IDP relief.  100% of funds raised here go back to the Karen community to help with relief efforts for internally displaced people.
  • Partnering with the Karen refugee community here in Seattle  in supporting refugees being resettled to new life in the US.

 Thank you for your partnership in helping to serve the people of Burma.  Your support continues to allow for humanitarian projects of all sizes, big and small, to be possible. We at World Aid are grateful for your help! 

 For the World Aid team                           

Jesus is a refugee (poem)

See the mother in the jungle, tiny baby in her arms,
Running from the soldiers who’ve come to rape and kill
She’s tired from the running, desperate, hungry, full of fear—
How can she know God loves her, and that He walks beside her there?

He is there beside her in the dark and in the cold.
He knows what she is feeling, in the Bible it is told
That He was once a refugee. His parents ran to save His life
From the soldiers sent to kill him in Herod’s infanticide.

The way that God has chosen to loose the bands of wickedness
To give bread to the hungry and to help free the oppressed
Calls us to walk beside her in our prayers and in our hearts:
As the body of Christ, the servant king, it makes her burden ours.

But words and prayers are not enough, no matter how well spoken
God’s love requires our presence so He can walk beside His children.
Even though we’re broken, we are His feet and hands.
We stand in need of grace to obey His commands.

Though she sits in darkness, He came to be the light.
Though she now is hungry, He is the bread of life.
Though we turn aside sometimes or don’t know what to do,
We are all called in some way to help her make it through.

He chose to entrust us with His reputation
And to make us His body throughout every nation
As a king become baby, He risked everything
Calling us to embody the love that He brings….

“I was hungry and you gave me bread
Thirsty and you gave me drink
A stranger and you took me in
In prison and you came to me….”
Lord, when did this happen?
His answer is quite clear
“When you did it for the least of these
It was for me, for I am there….”

Crisis in Congo-link to a letter to Senators

A google search of “crisis in Congo” returned 2,120,000 hits.  It’s not like the world doesn’t know there’s a problem, a big problem.  Harper McConnell, of Heal Africa, explained that while many international organizations have pulled out of Congo, they are still working in the midst of the conflict.  Their web site tells of the ongoing life changing and life saving work they do.  

Several  ACTION STEPS that we can take are listed on their web site, along with the following explanation: “Through much of the media, the unrest is presented as a tribal conflict, but it is a conflict rooted in control for resources. Resources such as coltan (in latops and cell phones), diamonds, gold, tantalum, minerals which drive the global economy. It is the people of DR Congo who are suffering for the extraction of these minerals which are sold to multinational companies. Write your senator using this letter to tell them to support Senate Bill 3058 and enforce multinationals to follow strict extraction and purchasing guidelines. ”  (There’s also a link to a letter to write to companies using coltan to check their sources, a link to a petition to print out and gather signatures on, and a donation link).  

The video linked here shows another report done by the Pulitzer Center on Coltan and the Congo: