Dying while bringing sight to the blind

The headline read ‘Taliban massacre big-hearted team devoted to helping Afghans’ and accompanying the written report was a video featuring the widow of one those killed.

Before the video plays, on the SMH online site, it is preceded by an advertisement for electric toothbrushes.

The team killed in Afghanistan was providing basic medical care, including eye and dental care and one of the workers was a dentist who had handed out thousands of toothbrushes over the years, to children who had never seen one.

This juxtaposition reminds us of the implausible position we in the west too often take – that our wealth and freedom has no connection to another’s poverty  and restraint.

This post is in honour of the six Americans, two Afghans, a German and a Briton who were slaughtered on August 8.

Many of them were Christians, most having given up their life in the west to embrace life in Afghanistan so they could be an example of kindness and goodness.

Read the full report here.

Watch the video report (minus toothbrush ad) and particularly note the response of widow, Libby Little, as she calls down God’s mercy on those who killed her husband.

Read the full statement about the deaths from International Assistance Mission, the Christian organisation for whom the team worked. This is an example of a deeply committed, intelligent, genuine Christian response to the world’s poor.

Asking the poverty question.

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Faith shines, undaunted by broken bodies

I have witnessed holy moments this week, acts of faith largely unseen but shining brightly in an invisible kingdom. They have left me humbled and undone. The first I witnessed personally, the second through the eyes of others.

Standing in a rehabilitation hospital I am surrounded by septuagenarians and find myself playing the role of the younger generation, nice for a change.

The first stood, fire in his voice, to pray for his friend sitting in a wheelchair. The pray-er has this year come through life-threatening emergency surgery to remove a massive tumour that was destroying his spine. Remaining full of faith throughout, he feels more qualified to pray for healing, not less.

He wags his finger lovingly at his friend who finds herself in a wheelchair after tumbling down a cliff, breaking her neck and bruising her spinal column.  

‘Don’t ever think that God wouldn’t want to heal you just because you are old. He loves you unconditionally and wants you to have life to the full,’ he says. Read More »

Into the dark places

As part of Eternity Christian Church’s ChangeMakers conference, Live life Loud, we have heard from two outstanding Christ followers whose actions amplify their words such as they break through fear and complacency to change us.

I listened to Pastor Sharon Wright describe how she is seeking to be God’s person in the NSW town of Condobolin and was deeply moved by the sowing of her life with the love of God. “We are the prophecy,” she said. “God’s love is the reason.”

Captain Paul Moulds of the Oasis Youth Support Network told us we would be made uncomfortable as he took us into hard places in our city. It was sweet sorrow as we heard the horrific stories of broken lives but also felt the grace of God present there.

After laying a platform which is broken humanity, Paul said with knife-like clarity: “The church of God needs to be in the dark places of our city and towns. These are hard places to be, but if we don’t go there, other people will go there with different purposes and intentions. We must be in the dark places.”Read More »

Red castanets and other amazing things

Yesterday my father lay in intensive care having come through a long and delicate operation to remove a tumour on his spine and to repair the damaged vertebrae. With wires and tubes protruding everywhere, and a neck brace surrounding his head, he raised his eyes and in his post-surgery  voice said, “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities… and by His stripes we are healed. Thank you, Father. You know its amazing that this God of ours is called Father.” And tears came to his eyes as he contemplated the love of God. Faith well in tact I’d say…

Today as I walked through Leichhardt I came across an old man, grey hair and beard, skinny legs protruding from crumpled shorts, walking with stilted step. He gazed around with a slightly bewildered look and with each step he shook a bright red castanet. As I continued down Leichhardt St, I could hear the regular shake of the castanet as he slowly followed my path. Strange? Perhaps. But give me a red castanet over the hammer and knife wielded on the same streets just days before.

On King St south Newtown we followed a golden Honda Jazz with its back windscreen covered by an intriguing web address – www.yumchaatyourplace.com.au Now there’s a thought….

And the most unbelievable thing of the week – I took my father’s car to the Kmart Auto in Annandale to investigate possible problems with the brakes and some strange noises. After a thorough inspection, Peter told me the car was perfectly safe and although some work was required in the future, “it would be a waste of money to do it now”. Bring it back in a couple of months was his suggestion, “And, there’ s no charge today. I hope your old man is ok.” A mechanic choosing not to do some work now but send you home with no charge. That’s mighty unusual… but beautiful! PH

Ordinary miracles everywhere

I stood in a hospital ward on Friday night and listened to my 76-year-old father give his medical history to a junior doctor at Prince of Wales Hospital.

This was after he had explained, slowly and deliberately, to the young doctor, that he was a man of faith, had been a minister most of his life and believed in the healing power of Jesus.

His medical history began with having his tonsils out when he was a boy. (I thought, “We could be here for a long time…” I was wrong.) He had them out twice in fact – they either grew back or they didn’t get them all the first time.

Also as a boy, he had an abscess behind his knee. He thought for a while and then recounted his next item – a hernia operation in his sixties. As an after thought he remembered dislocating his elbow.

“Dad”, I said incredulously, “that was when I was about seven – over 40 years ago… and I can’t believe you can remember an abscess on your leg as boy.”

The doctor asked if there was anything else, and there wasn’t. Not bad for someone a few years short of 80.

Then the doctor asked what medications he took. This list was even shorter. “A vitamin C tablet, a vitamin E tablet and a fish oil tablet.”

The doctors stared, wrote something down, and nodded. “That’s very good. You are very healthy.” 

Dad, by way of explanation, told him that he didn’t drink or smoke although he had drunk heavily until he became a Christian aged 32, when “God and I agreed I’d done my fair share of drinking.” He has not touched alcohol since.

Tomorrow my father will have a very delicate operation to strengthen a vertebrae in his neck largely destroyed by a tumour. Once they strengthen his neck, they’ll worry about the tumour. He has spent his time in hospital while waiting for the operation reading the Bible, a book called Faith Like Potatoes, and praying.

When doctors first saw the size of the tumour, its location and the damage it had caused, they could not believe the lack of pain and other symptoms dad had been experiencing.  They felt certain he should have had a range of neurological symptoms but all he has had is a bit of stiff neck.

Dad has said several times that God has told him he will be healed. Who could argue with a man who is already a walking miracle? Please pray for him tomorrow. PH

From cage to carefree cooking

Harry*, a healthy, happy young boy cooking tempe at the children's home in Bali.

I first met Harry (not his real name) in Bali when he was jut a few years old. His mother, overwhelmed by the need to work very long hours for a pittance, had been unusually cruel to him, locking him in a cage and even attempting to kill him.

Someone knew of Tania’s (not her real name) children home and convinced the mother to allow Harry to be cared for there. As supporters of the home, we were privileged to meet the little fellow who was fast recovering from his ordeal.

The spark of intelligence in him was unmissable and his need or attention irrepressible. But the steadfast love of God expressed through the beautiful staff of this home, has met the need for attention in the most healthy way – balanced, unconditional, accountable love; and at the same time helped him excel in all kinds of way – cooking and surfing being just two.

This is one of many great stories coming from this home which is a partnership between a local woman and other staff and western people who want to reach out beyond their own comfort zone.

There are many huge organisations that do wonderful things for communities and nations at the aid and development level but we must never lose the ‘amateur lovers’ of this world who are moved of heart enough to change a child’s life through hugs, smiles, a room and one good day after another. PH

Beach and the blind in Bali

Rebekah searches for shells at Turtle Beach, Bali, with some of the kids from Eternity Blessed Children's Home.
Take a few Aussies with faith and give them a chance to build relationships with people in another country and culture and God can do great things. Sharing our lives is as simple as searching for shells at the beach and as supernatural as praying for sight to be restored in a church service in a children’s home. We Sydneysiders have been here under three days and have experienced so much already, even blue Fanta… Maybe a post on that later.

Learn to depend on me more

The late Canon Jim Glenon went through a severe personal crisis earlier in his life during which he reported hearing the indelible voice of God say: ‘You are to learn to depend on me more’. A ‘transposition’ ocuured in his life: ‘Instead of the previous idea of God helping me with my difficulties, now my difficulties were helping me with God… This meant that, instead of homing in on my problems, my problems were enable me to home in on God. This is what I was to learn; this is what I had to do’. PH