Taking Action – Compassion in India

Dear Grace Point Prayer Partners and Compassion Sponsors,

As you may know, Grace Point has a partner church in Bolivia through Compassion International – a Christ-centered organization that seeks to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Recently, Compassion has been forced to withdrawal all operations from the country of India – affecting over 145,000 children and babies. Below is an update from Jimmy Mellado, President & CEO of Compassion. 

Would you please pray for Compassion and the many children affected by this decision? Would you take action and contact your senators and congressmen to ask for their help with this situation?


From Jimmy Mellado, President & CEO of Compassion International:

For nearly a year, we’ve been sharing updates with our sponsors of Indian children about the severe funding restrictions India’s government has placed on our programs there. Along the way, we have sought every possible remedy with the Indian government, and while we have received significant support from our U.S. government at the highest levels, India has still not lifted their restrictions. Now, despite all these efforts and worldwide prayers to prevent this outcome, our inability to fund our operations is forcing us to suspend our India operations fully starting March 15.

For the sake of the 145,000 babies and children who will suffer as a result, our government is willing to stand with us in voicing our significant concerns over this action, but they need to hear from you, our Compassion sponsors, to do so. That is why we are reaching out to each of our U.S. sponsors to make them aware that Compassion is being forced to close its sponsorship program in India and to request their assistance with a very important ask.

Today, in response to this terrible injustice, will you make a bold statement to your representatives in the U.S. government? Speak up for the children who have no voice. Make a statement about your heart’s desire that these children be loved and served. Let them know that the children in India who live on less than $2.00 per day really matter.

Please take just one minute to write your senators and representatives today. Let them know that people like you who want to help should continue to have the opportunity to support children living in extreme poverty in India. Ask them to show their support of these children by speaking with political representatives in India. We’ve pre-written the letter for you, but you can also add content if you want to share your personal thoughts and feelings about Compassion closing its work in India. It will only take a few clicks to make this very important statement.

While these letters may not prevent the close of our work in India at this time, your action will serve as a seed that God plants to make a significant difference in the future, for Compassion and many other faith-based as well as secular organizations working in India. And who knows how God may use this? This may just be the impetus He uses to soften the hearts of the India government regarding Compassion. Please stand with us and show your elected officials that you care for these children.

Despite this deeply troubling situation, we take to heart Jesus’ message in Matthew 25:40 that “whatever you have done for the least of these you have done for me.” We cannot imagine not being able to serve these vulnerable children in India, especially when the need is so great. Although Compassion’s existing service to more than 145,000 precious Indian babies and children may end, we will continue to work diligently to advocate for the more than 100 million children living in extreme poverty within India.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to partner with us in this important effort for these very vulnerable children in India.

In Christ,

Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado
President and CEO
Compassion International

P.S. Please make an important statement by taking just one minute to write your senators and representatives today to let them know that you want a future hope to support precious children living in extreme poverty in India.

Three New Ways to Give

At Grace Point, our mission, together as a church, is to “help more people become fully committed followers of Jesus Christ.” There are a number of ways that we can partner together to accomplish that mission. It could be serving in a ministry, praying for our missionaries, or giving to support the ministry at Grace Point.

Our General Fund is what we use to pay the electric bill, pay our staff, support our missionaries, and order supplies for our kids and youth ministries. All of these things (and many more) are crucial to helping more people become fully committed followers of Jesus.

Today in the services, we announced three new ways that you can give towards to the General Fund and support the work at Grace Point.

  • Debit Cards – You can now give via our Online Giving site (http://giving.gracepointpa.org) using your Debit Card. You can give a one-time gift or setup a recurring gift using your ACH info (routing & account numbers) or your debit card.
  • Give by Kiosk – On Sunday mornings we will have a special location in the foyer where you can give using your debit card at our new kiosk. In seconds you make a secure gift and print a receipt!
  • Give by Text – For many of us, our smart phones dictate our schedules, our work, and our social lives. You can now give by text! Simply text “gracepoint” to 73256 and you’ll be able make a secure gift. It’s fast and easy to use!

Regardless of how you give at Grace Point, it is an act of worship – prayerfully, giving back to God from what He has given to us.

If you have any questions about the above ways to give, general questions, or how to give via stock donations, contact our church office at 215-968-2354.

Use Your Clout – Stop Exploitation

At the end of Sunday’s message on Confrontation, an opportunity was mentioned to Raised From Ruins“use your clout to help someone out.” We are privileged to live in a country where we can petition our law-makers to encourage them to do the right thing. Please consider using your voice to help those who are being exploited.

The following information on the progress of PA Bill 851, the Safe Harbor Act, is copied from the website of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, dated November 2016. You can find more details about Bill 851 here.

The 2015-2016 session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly officially closes on November 30. Here is the status of the several high priority bills that were on the legislative agenda of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

Human Trafficking – Senate Bill 851 would have ensured that juvenile victims of human trafficking are not prosecuted as criminals and that support services are made available to them. No action was taken by the end of the session, but legislation may be reintroduced next session.

 

How to write a letter to your PA State Senator, to encourage him or her to reintroduce and pass this legislation:

To find the name and address of your State Senator, please visit “Find Your Legislator” and fill in the relevant information.

Click on the name of your Senator to be taken to their personal page.

You may email your Senator by clicking on the image of the envelope under your Senator’s picture.

If you prefer to mail a letter, you can find your mailing addresses for your Senator’s offices listed on the lower, left-hand side of the page.

You may also want to contact Senator GREENLEAF who was the prime sponsor for this bill.

In your letter, let your Senator know you support them in doing all they can to stop the exploitation of innocent victims.

 

It’s not about numbers…

Often times in ministry we hear the phrase “it’s not about numbers.” I whole-heartedly agree with that statement – ministry is about people, relationships, and helping others learn more about God and the gospel – not numbers.

But…there’s a number of extraordinary ladies who love ministry, and have collectively completed a multitude of projects. The number of projects and people who have been touched by their ministry is impossible to count. I’m talking about the faithful ladies of the Women’s Fellowship.

Below is a summary of their work from last 12 months or so, and these are impressive numbers. We praise God for these faithful servants of the Lord and the many lives who have been impacted by their work.

OUTREACH PROJECTS

Child Home Community
11 Baby blankets, knitted/crocheted
3 Baby hats, crocheted

Child Evangelism Fellowship (C.E.F.)
2000 “wordless” zipper pulls

Esperanza Medical Center
748 Christmas – Jesus “stockings”
1000 Wordless Zipper Pulls – Easter
140 Easter crosses
1440 Spanish stickers: Jesus Loves Me
198 Various Summer handouts
623 Back-To-School bookmarks – God’s Rainbow Promise
128 Children’s books donated to their library
Toured facilities

Good Shepherd Ministry
42 Cans filled with cookies
333 Candy favors
50 Sunshine bags
54 Walker bags
23 Lap Robes
29 Knitted slippers
8 Knitted shoulder wraps
55 Pair Men’s white socks
154 Assorted Sunshine Bag articles
605 Christmas cards/envelopes

Philadelphia Bible Clubs
275 Tree Christmas party favors
32 Jewelry and jewelry boxes
32 Misc. household gifts
27 Baskets filled with travel/cosmetic items
60 Christmas-craft kits for mothers
16 Hats/scarves, knitted Towels/sheets/blankets

Pickering Manor (Bible Study)
10 Fall Favors (Fall in Love with Jesus)

Restoration Church
90 Fall favors (Fall in Love with Jesus – Kids’ classes)

Money Collected and Donated
$57 sent in memory of Marian Taylor to Immanuel Mission in Arizona.

GRACE POINT MINISTRIES

Short Term Trip to Bridesburg, Philadelphia, PA 
100 Wordless Bracelet Kits assembled

On Eagles’ Wings (ministry to Nursing Homes)
60 Winter favors (snowmen)
62 Valentine’s favors
62 Spring favors
60 Summer favors (Patriotic)

Quilting
47 Quilts for kids – St. Stephen’s quilt project
64 Homemade stuffed animals
27 Purchased stuffed animals
12 Preemie Hat/Bootie sets
32 Knitted hats

Short Term Trip Unidos en Cristo, Bolivia (Compassion Int’l)
350 Necklace kits (Fruit of the Spirit) assembled

Money Collected and Donated 
$168 given to GP library for children’s books in memory of Helen Jones.

Bolivia: Not What I Was Expecting

Let me be candid: my trip to Bolivia was not what I was expecting.

Don’t get me wrong – I was expecting to learn. But most of the things I learned were not what I had in mind ahead of time.

I did not expect to learn that joy really is possible in the midst of seemingly hopeless circumstances. We met friends who have so very little in the way of material possessions, yet their faces beam a joy that can only come from the Lord.

I was not looking for evidence to prove the old cliché, “If you can make a difference for only one, it still matters to that one.” Turns out that “cliché” is really a profound truth, and is happening over and over again, one child at a time.

I did not know I would witness a drive to spread the gospel that often gets lost in the busyness of our first world pursuits of “success.” That drive is alive and well in Bolivia and people are being rescued every day from a Christ-less eternity. (May it be so in Bucks County!)

I did not expect the clarity that ministry is about people and not programs. If at the heart of ministry we are not about loving and serving others, we have missed it completely.

I did not know my daughter could instantly have such love for a little boy from another continent who speaks a different language, yet who in three days came to call her “Tia” – aunt. I am thankful that we can stay connected through letters and pictures – they mean the world to sponsored children. Here are some great ideas to write a letter to your child right now.

I did not expect to become so attached to people I knew for only a week. But the truth is, I’ve left a piece of my heart behind on a dusty hill outside Cochabamba.

Our team had an amazing time and look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come.  Thanks to our great God and to all who made this trip possible.

Bolivia Team Update

Many of you have been praying for our team in Bolivia. Below is an abbreviated update that came in earlier today.

Hola from Bolivia!

The team is having a wonderful time in Cochabamba and have had so many great experiences. God is doing beautiful things through us.

Photo Credit: Joan Zeberlein

Saturday was our fun day and the team and our sponsor kids had a day full of sweets, rides, and play! The team definitely bonded with families. It is amazing how the relationships with the families were built in such a small amount of time. At the end of the day we debriefed and talked about how great God is and the things he is doing in Bolivia.

Praise God! During a home visit on Friday, it was discovered that the father of one of the sponsor kids had left 2 months prior and hadn’t been seen since. A member of our team prayed the salvation prayer with the mother and the mother accepted Christ. The team gathered at that home visit then prayed for restoration of the family. Sure enough, God provided! On Saturday morning when the children arrived for the fun day, the father was with the mother and the children! The power of prayer and trust in the Lord was certainly revealed from this experience. What a blessing to the family and our team!

Sunday we attended church at Unidos en Cristo. We were welcomed by a group of kids playing drums and trumpets. The service was very nice, Pastor Dave gave a message how we are all the same which was very moving.

Grace Point then stood up and received handmade bags and plates. We sang lots of songs throughout the service too. We have a worship pastor with our team from Minnesota and he led our team in the performance of two songs to the congregation. We planned for one but they asked for an encore. We laughed as we weren’t sure we even had a [good start] to begin with but God provided the words and the time was very special.

The team is all happy and working very well together. We appreciate your prayers. Please continue to pray for our health as a few on our team are battling upset stomachs. Nothing that is keeping us down but would enjoy being delivered from the feelings.

We start VBS today! Pray for the interaction with all of the children and these special moments that we have with them.

Through Him,

A.Z. on behalf of the team

Guten Tag!

Several months ago, I was asked by Cairn University to teach a course at their Germany campus – which is held at Black Forest Academy, in Kandern. Little did I know that my students would teach me far more than I could ever teach them.

Black Forest Academy
Black Forest Academy, Kandern, Germany
A technology class for teachers – that’s what I was sent to teach. Instead, I learned about life as a Christian and a follower of Jesus in another culture – particularly in a culture from the “___stan” countries. I met two incredible teachers, “Susan” and “Alice” (not their real names) each from a different “___stan” country learned about their stories. I met “Claire” (also not her real name) from Central Africa. “Peter” who is serving in Hungary. “Jason” who is serving in South America. And others.

DSC_4881They taught me about serving Christ in difficult times and places. Places where a misunderstood Facebook post could land you in jail for life. Places where the Koran is taught in public school. Places where the sound of mortars and bombs is commonplace. Places where God is working and bringing people to Himself. The gospel is spreading.

My trip to Germany comes to an end. In just less than 12 hours from now (the time of this post), I’ll be heading to the airport in Basel – beginning my journey home. From learning to shop in a German grocery store, to ordering gelato at local Eiscafe (run by an Italian and his wife from the DR), this week has been one of firsts. While there were challenges, the true blessing was hearing how God is at work around the world. His grace, His love, and His church, surpass borders and boundaries.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20 (emphasis added)

Missions Luncheon

Today, after church, we held a luncheon to host some of our missionary partners and to allow many of you opportunity to get to know them. Unfortunately, I, as Director of Missions, was unable to attend. (I’m currently in Germany for Cairn University.)

I asked, Tim Yoder to share a brief recap of the afternoon. See below what Tim had to say about today’s luncheon.

We had a great turnout. Approximately 75 people enjoyed hoagies, pizza, fruit salads as well as some great fellowship with the missionaries.

Present were Tim and Jacki Faulkner from Naples, Italy, plus Greg and Betsy Aikins (who serve in Iceland), Debbie MacCullough (training teacher in Africa and Asia), the Triestmans (Jewish evangelism), Ellen Livingood (Catalyst Services) and Brian Weber (Compassion). Also present were some of our newest missionaries, Josh and Ann Ridder, who work with at-risk youth in Levittown, through Restoration Church.

It was a great event, and nice to see so many folks attend. We hope to see you at the next event! Remember these folks in prayer for the exciting and important work that they do.

Tim’s right! We need to be praying for all of our global partners – some who serve in sensitive areas around the world.

Stop Trying…

I have a Virtual Mentor, Michael Hyatt. He makes me think twice about stuff that matters. In a recent post entitled “The Difference Between Trying and Doing,” he said Tony Robbins once gave some advice to a woman who was struggling in her marriage.

“She stood up in one of his seminars to ask a question. She complained that she had “tried everything” to improve her relationship with her husband but nothing had changed.

Tony went on to make a distinction that I think is vitally important. He asked the woman to try to pick up the chair she was sitting in. She turned around and picked up the chair.

Tony said, “No, you picked it up. I said try to pick it up.”

The woman looked confused. Tony reiterated, “Try to pick it up.” The woman just stood there, not knowing what to do.

Tony continued, “No, now you’re not picking it up. I said try to pick it up.” Again, she picked up the chair.

Again, Tony, said, “No, you picked up the chair. I asked you to try and pick it up. You either pick it up, you don’t pick it up, or you try to pick it up.”

The point is that when we say we are trying we don’t really have to do anything. It also provides us with an excuse for why we didn’t accomplish the outcome we say we want.

Do you understand the difference? You either do something or you don’t do it. Trying is really the same as not doing it. It just makes it easier for us to let ourselves off the hook when we fail.

It made me stop and think…what am I “trying” to do? Wouldn’t it be better to ask, “What am I committed to doing? I’m trying to get in shape? Really? Or am I just trying? I’m trying to please my wife? Really? Or am I just trying to please my wife…and then complain about her to my inner self and others.

Bottom line…maybe it’s time to quit trying and just do it.

Romans 12:10, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

You Know Jesus, Don’t You?

I have the privilege of traveling around this great country of ours leading professional development for predominantly public school teachers…so I’m a “teacher of teachers.”  Recently I was in Iowa teaching a lovely group of middle school teachers.  At the lunch break, one of the teachers came to talk to me and she said something that I’ve been asked on a few occasions now.  She said, “You know Jesus, don’t you?”  

This question always surprises me as I know that I never stand in front of a group of teachers and outwardly share my love for Jesus.  I never present the gospel message.  I never open my bible and share God’s Word.  I never pause our day to say a prayer, although I pray throughout the entire day.

I smiled at her and said, “I do know Him and I assume you do too!” And then we had the sweetest, most genuine conversation about our faith and about our love for our Savior.  We talked about how, even in the public school setting, we can still live out our faith and demonstrate our love for Jesus in our words, our actions and reactions.  We talked about how we invite Jesus into that setting which can be so very hostile towards Him.  I got to know my “Sister in Christ” over the 4 days we spent together and I thank God for this special encounter and for the reminder that our lives do serve as a testimony to others and especially to those who can’t quite figure out what makes us different.

Matthew 5:16 ” In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”