This day is not about us. It’s about others and what we do for them. “Loving in Deed” is about our relationship to others. It’s about acts of kindness, about sharing, caring and giving. When we follow these principals, it becomes all about JOY.
So, today I want to share with you some of what God expects from us and how we can effectively put it into practice in our lives.
I believe that we will come to see that this will produce JOY in us and bring JOY and hope to others.
Loving in Deed
is about doing something for others to make their day a little better.
In the months prior today, knowing that I had committed to speaking, many thoughts came to mind.
Loving in Deed is unlimited. It’s about the giving of our time, of our resources; it’s about commitment and following through. It’s about love.
How many here are grandparents? It is easy to love your grandchildren? Does it fill you with joy to see them?
Does it not fill me with joy to share this picture with you? Is it hard to give of your time to be with them? Do you follow through with your promises to them? Do you take time to bake cookies, play games, have a tea party, wrestle with the boys or play MONSTER?
Why is playing monster so much fun? They squeal with delight and we love it.
How about young mothers in this room? Would you not give your life for your children? This is loving in deed. That very act is what Jesus Christ did for us. He didn’t even know us, BUT, He did know our potential. He was willing to give of Himself for us. Can we give of ourselves for others?
Christ gave up his position next to God, the security, the ruler ship, His Deity. He gave it all up to come to this earth as a man subject to temptation and pain, subject to being mocked and hated by the very creation that He had helped to establish. Why would Christ willingly do that? Why would He put himself through such agony?
It was all because our God loves us and wants to share all eternity with us.
This is the ultimate example of Loving in Deed
Christ put his love for us into action.
He tells us HOW to
listen to Him, HOW to follow Him and HOW to walk in His ways.
God provide us with instructions to bring about JOY in our lives and in OTHERS.
God is Spirit – but what does that mean? In Galatians 5:22 we are told what God’s Spirit is.
It is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and with Self-control.
Whenever you see these things in action you know that it is a part of God’s way. We also know that we want God’s Spirit dwelling in us. That Spirit does bring happiness even in the worst of circumstances.
In 1st Corinthians 13 we are told WHAT Godly love is:
It is patient and kind. It does not envy. It is not rude or self seeking and it does not keep a record of wrongs.
Wow! To live up to that is indeed putting Godly love into action and what a difference it can make.
I believe that we can also understand why that kind of love will be essential in the Kingdom of God.
It is not enough to be HEARERS of the word only, we must also be DOERS.
Now God shows us how to put love into action when He says to “pray for those who persecute you.” How often do you feel like doing that? Why should we do that? Is it for the sake of our enemy? Will it change him?
Chances are he will never even know that you have prayed for him. So why does God ask us to pray for our enemies? Christ gives us the answer. He tells us that it is for OUR sake, ---- “so that WE may be children of our Father who is in heaven.”
Philippians 4:8 tells us HOW to put our thoughts into action. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, …admirable…excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.”
How often do we dwell on the positive rather then on the negative?
Paul goes on to say:
“Whatever you have learned or received from or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.”
WHY? Paul also gives us the answer. Again, it is for our benefit ---“that the God of peace will be with you.” With all of us.
That sounds like a promise and God is excellent at keeping His promises.
The scriptures are full of admonition. Matthew 25 tells us HOW to show concern for others.
When Christ is talking about His return to this earth He says: “come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the earth….” Don’t we all want to hear that? Then Christ goes on to say something that I had not thought very much about until the last few years.
Christ connects the following verses to our receiving our inheritance.
Christ says “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I needed clothing and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me”.
“Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?”
“The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whenever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”.
These verses are clearly saying that whatever we do for our brother and sisters is the same as though we are doing it for Christ Himself.
Our thoughts, our actions, everything we do, every choice we make, should be done as though we are doing it for Christ Himself.
Over the past ten years, my husband and I have been provided many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of some of our brethren in developing countries. We did not set out with a plan to do this. It began as one small request and has mushroomed from there.
All over the world God is calling out a few to understand his plan for salvation. Many of those chosen ones are living in impoverished countries in Latin America, Asia, and in Africa. Through no fault of their own, many of these people are living in abject poverty yet God is working with them. We can make a difference in their lives.
I believe that God wants us to do that. I believe that Matthew 25 is asking that of us.
John and Merrie Elliott are serving many congregations in East Africa. They, too, see members that need help, members that are hungry and thirsty, they, too, have been doing what they can for them, both spiritually and physically.
As Christ has said “do good to all men ESPECIALLY to those of the household of faith.”
None of us can do very much all by ourselves but collectedly as a team we can make a difference. We are not saving the world, that will be God’s job, but, just like the scriptures mention we DO see people who are hungry, who need clothing, who need drinkable water. We also see people who are in prison and as for strangers; they were all strangers until we got to know them.
Through the years, I have had many opportunities to travel and to get to know God’s people in other parts of the world. Over the past ten years we begin to try to help with some of their physical needs as well as with their spiritual needs.
Ten years ago this fall, my husband formed an NGO (non government organization) called LifeNets. Many of you have generously supported it and we thank you for that.
Because of your help it is making a difference in the lives of God’s people in various countries overseas. Today, I would like to share with you a few stories that are near and dear to my heart, keeping in mind that this is only one aspect of Loving in Deed.
In Zambia, within the United Church of God, we have many brethren who are subsistence farmers. This means that they live entirely off the land with no other income. They are totally at the mercy of the weather and diseases. When my husband first visited them he learned that in two remote areas, our people had lost all of their cattle to Corridor Disease. This meant that the WOMEN helped to pull the ploughs through the field to prepare the ground for planting. There was no milk, essential protein for children for eight years.
The produce from the land has to sustain the large families for the entire year. All too often the weather does not cooperate and this causes a crop failure and starvation. This is the reality of life in much of Africa.
With help from a few donors, we were able to provide two heifers to each of eleven main families and two bulls for them to share. We followed the example of an organization called Heifer Project International and asked that each family be trained in calf care so as to prevent the devastation of disease through the new herd. This training included veterinarian support with dipping and vaccinations. We also asked them to follow the practice of passing on the gift. That means that the first calf that is born to a family is to be passed on to another family so they were sharing the benefit that they had received.
Seven years later the
herds have multiplied, the oxen pull the plows and thanks to Kambani
Banda, our elder in the area, and his ever-diligent oversight, the
members of the Zambian congregations are doing much better today.
Kambani has some tremendous qualities. Among them he is an accountant,
he understands farming and marketing and he is caring and trustworthy. I
believe that God has put him there to make a difference in the lives of
these people. But, he can’t do it alone. He needs our help.
Following the initial help with the cattle, Kambani asked us if we would support him in establishing a revolving farm credit program. This means that we extend credit to the Farmers from the time of harvest when the prices are at their lowest until 3 or 4 months later when the prices are much higher. This is proving to be extremely successful under Mr. Banda’s watchful eyes. I want to give Kambani Banda the credit for the success of both of these programs. What I am about to share with you are excerpts from his 2008 yearly report:
He writes: We are pleased to report on the activities of LifeNets in Zambia for the year ending 31 December, 2008.
Cattle Restoration Project
Cattle Restoration, our flagship project, continues to command its lead ahead of the pack.
Oxen that were born from the original
twenty two heifers are now approaching maturity. The draft power from a
mature ox is nothing short of staggering. On my last visit to Nalubanda
my Nissan was once again stuck, deep in the mud. Twelve strong men
failed to push it out of the mud.
This year saw the return of the foot and mouth disease in most parts of Zambia. We commend our government because they put in place two intervention measures: They banned stock movement for any and every reason and they put in place a free spray and treatment program.
Out of total herd of over one hundred, we lost only two. This mortality rate reflects a commendable dedication to the tick spray program that we put in put in place at the start of this project. People that obey God have done extremely well with this project. Our herd now numbers 105 (92 in 2007) valued at K 105 Million Kwacha (92 Million in 2007). This is equivalent to US$ 25,000; This massive increase in stock value comes from only US$ 4,000 invested in 2001. The above valuation excludes 10 animals that were sold to buy Scotch Carts and meet various family needs. The dollar value remains the same due to foreign exchange rate movement. (One US Dollar -- 5275 Zambian Kwachas).
Overall the herd is in good shape and we are looking to an even better 2009.
Farm credit program
(Let me just add here that Kambani is tough and this is good, if one does not follow the program, they are not allowed to be apart of it. The FARMER must do the work or he will not reap the benefits.)
Back to Kambani’s report.:
Last year was a very bad season. The rains were excessive causing severe flooding in most parts of Zambia. As if that was not enough, the rains stopped in February instead of the usual late March. This means that the growing season was too wet and very short.
That notwithstanding, our farmers posted an excellent result. Even though the maize production in the country, including that of our members, was very poor, the market price went up nearly 40%, in response to the poor supply side of the equation. The price rise made up for the shortfall in production.
In the year under review, this is what the agriculture credit program delivered:
1) Church contributions from Nalubanda and Kasumpa reached an all time high , an increase of 28% over year 2007.
2) All the households, except one, paid their tithes
3) Only two families requested church assistance.
The 2008/9 rainfall pattern, so far, is proving to be the most normal in many years. Most of the days, it rains in the afternoon and at night. Such a rainfall pattern gives the farmers opportunity to work their fields. To date, there are no reports of floods anywhere in the country.
During my last visit, every field I looked at, the crops looked better than at anytime since we started working in this area. We need the rains at least till the middle of March. In these end times, anything is possible, making it extremely important that we look to God to continue to provide us with good rains.
(I did call Kambani for an update and he said that the produce looks very good this year.)
This is where the Pre Finance Component of the Farm Credit Program comes into play and is critical to the survival and success our farmers. Come April or May 2009, we will advance participating farmers funds to meet their living expenses.
The advance is to tidy them over during the period when the maize prices are low, sometimes less than the cost of planting.
We take maize as security for these advances. We hold the maize till October or November. When the price is right, we sell the maize, recover our loans and pay the farmer his profit.
The returns to farmers are never less than 40% of the loan taken.”
This farm program is working very well. Kambani’s goal is for it to continue even if he were not involved.
(I just wanted to put this picture in here to show you how corn is shelled Zambian style. That bench is a corn sheller. You place the ears of corn on the bed of sticks and pound away until all of the kernels of corn fall to the ground below. There would normally be something below to catch the kernels. )
Now back to Kambani’s report:
He writes that the
medical support LifeNets provides is that component in the package that
“Meets the needs of the community in a practical way.”
This aspect of our work has produced wonders. Again, in 2008, for the 7th straight year running, we recorded no deaths among our extended LifeNets church family. There are no malnourished children and cases of malaria are again almost none existent. For seven straight years, no still births, no infant mortality, can this be Africa where death is known everywhere?”
We are so pleased to make a difference in the lives of our brethren in Zambia.
Now I would like to switch our attention to Malawi, it is a country next door to Zambia and like Zambia it too is ranked as one of the poorest countries in Africa.
In Malawi we have been helping a number of young people to get an education. Poverty is a crippling enemy in Africa. Many families cannot send their children to school because they have no money to do so. All resources in a poverty driven family go to survival and securing food for the day. The young teenage girls spend much of the morning getting water for the day, often making several trips over rough terrain to collect large buckets of water for the family. They do this on an empty stomach. There is no money or time for school.
Christina Davis from Seattle University has spent the last two months in Malawi doing research for us. Christina is the daughter of Howard and Patty Davis from Portland. Through her University studies she was provided an all expense paid opportunity to earn college credits doing research for a non-profit organization. She was able to convince her professor to let her work with LifeNets Malawi.
LifeNets in Malawi has been providing more and more scholarships for member students as we believe that this is a gift that keeps on giving and can be life-changing. We have also provided some grants for livelihood development to those who have skills but no means to purchase tools or equipment. We have helped some of the ladies with sewing machines and material or knitting machines and also lessons in how to use them to start a small cottage business. We have provided fertilizer to boost the production of life giving maize and other farm crops. We have also drilled several wells to provide safe drinking water near member’s homes. These wells are then made available to benefit the entire community.
Back to Christina. She is returning to Seattle this week after spending two months in Malawi living with one of our member families. She has had quite an experience with very few frills. From my husband’s website you can access all of her blog. I really think that you would enjoy reading it. We certainly have.
Her research is helping us to better understand how a little help, that is putting our love into deeds, can make a huge difference. She is also helping us to understand how we can improve on what we are doing.
During her stay in Malawi she even taught a Business 101 class called Managing Your Business to fifteen grant recipients and fifteen self-employed members of the Malawi Informal Sector Trade Union who wanted to hear her class.
Education in all forms is so important.
I want to share a little from one of Christina’s blogs entitled From Poverty to Promise:
She writes, LifeNets
scholars are telling us about their job goals and successes because of
education. Many of them are the first or only in their family to attend
higher education or even high school. This is the case of Daniel Bizwick
who is the only one of ten children to attend high school in his family.
Now, he's pursuing a computer studies course.
He said "I would
like to assist some people, especially orphans...I can say there are a
lot of orphans just moving around. They don't have any support. They
have no one to assist them. So I wish, if God will bless me, I could
just take some of them and assist them by taking them to school. School
is the key to success."
is finishing her
final year in high school LifeNets began sponsoring her in 2006 as a
freshman in High School. She's a stellar student and "head girl of the
school!" English and home economics are her favorite subjects. At school
she's involved in Student Christians of Malawi (SCOM). Memory wants to
be a nurse and attend Kamuzu College of Nursing within the University of
Malawi. She has also chosen accounting as her back-up career. if she
doesn't get into Kamuzu. (Kamuzu accepts less than 300 students per
In addition to the
5,000 plus patients they see per month, Dr. Sam and Esther Chilopora
visit women and children in a nearby village on a weekly basis. Several
years ago they asked if we would help them to support an ORPHAN CARE
The Chilopora’s give the care takers and children emergency aid-food, free health services and school supplies at Chinzeni clinic. They also help to supply VISION which is the rarest of all resources. Mrs. Chilopora does what she can to impart wisdom to the youth.
In this picture Phil Myers is handing out blankets to the children. Phil and Aaron Blue, both UCG med students spent a month working with Dr. Chilopora a year ago. (Phil is the son of Dave and Pam Meyers and Aaron is the son of David and Pam Blue.)
Christina had the opportunity to spend three days with the Chiloporas and to visit the village where the orphans and other children are. This was an especially meaningful visit for Christina because three years ago, this July, Christina was involved in a fundraising effort with UCG youth in Portland, Oregon selling cherries that bought over 2,000 mosquito nets to aid in this community and other areas. Little did Christina know three years ago that one day she would visit that very village. The malaria cases drastically decreased that year. The women were exuberant and eager to give thanks. Some spoke of malaria as one of their biggest challenges.
Your theme for the weekend Loving in Deed is the sum total of what God wants of us and the very purpose of our being. Godly love and putting it into action is what Christianity is all about.
Christ Himself summed it up it Matthew 22 when He was asked which is the greatest commandment. Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest” he said. Then he added that the second half of the commandments is like it. “Love you neighbor as yourself.”
Every human being has a desire for meaning and significance. This meaning can come from entering into the needs of other people. From serving them, that gives them– and us hope and joy. We enjoy not only helping our members but also seeing them, be able to help their families and community.
Everyone can make a difference. Everyone has something to offer no matter how small. Everyone has something to give. God can use everybody in a special and unique place where someone has a need. Using what we have to help someone else is what gives our lives meaning and gives the world today hope.
I believe that it produces JOY. God made us that way.
Remember to pray for God’s Spirit which includes, love, joy, peace, faithfulness and self-control.
Remember that God’s love is patient and kind and that it does not keep a record of wrongs.
Remember to salt your daily life with Godly thoughts which are true, right and praiseworthy, thoughts that dwell on the many blessings that we have.
Remember that card, that smile, that thank you, patience, kindness in your home toward your husband and your children, it is all about learning from our elder brother Jesus Christ.
I came across something recently that was written by Andy Rooney. Each statement begins with “I’ve learned.”
We have so much to be thankful for. I wanted to end today by sharing these bits of wisdom.
I’ve learned….That just one person saying to me “You’ve made my day” makes my day.
I’ve learned…. That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I’ve learned…..That being kind is more important than being right.
I’ve learned…That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I’ve learned…That we should be glad that God does not give us everything we ask for.
I’ve learned…That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I’ve learned…That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I’ve learned….That I wish I could have told my Dad that I love him one time before he passed away.
when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his fist,
that you’re hooked for life.
You are all my friends and I am honored! Ask God to show you how you can make a difference every day and consider the joy that comes from Loving in Deed.