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July / August 2019

CELEBRATING OUR 6TH YEAR!

ANDREW GREEN’S

Ruja

The power of dreaming

BRANDI

Swindell

Her ‘Hope Revolution’

RUNAWAY

Hamsters Four singing siblings

Andrew Green, left, and Robert Tumwesigye, right, with a Ugandan child


Contents July / August 2019 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” — Romans 13:8

Publisher Sandy Jones boisechristianliving@gmail.com

FEATURES

6

Holy ground:

A place of dependency

8

Brandi Swindell: Forever hopeful

Three P’s:

10

Cover Story — Andrew Green’s Ruja:

12

A 3-category framework

Opportunities to dream

‘Ifs’ and ‘thens’: God’s promises

My brother:

16

Q&A:

22

14

COLUMNS 4

3

Publisher’s Corner: Seasons of life

Cover Photo DJ Ramirez Graphic Design Denice King www.greentreedkdesign.com

Distribution D&S Distribution Christian Living is committed to encouraging and instructing individuals in their daily lives by presenting stories of people in the Treasure Valley who are living on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and who serve as uplifting examples to others. Views expressed in Christian Living do not necessarily represent those of the publisher. Every effort has been made by Christian Living to insure accuracy of the publication contents. However, we do not guarantee the accuracy of all information nor the absence of errors and omissions; hence, no responsibility can be or is assumed. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2019 by Christian Living Ministries Inc.

DEPARTMENTS IN EACH EDITION

Sales & Marketing Kimberly McMullen kim.bcliving@gmail.com 208-703-7509 • Scott McMurtrey scott.bcliving@gmail.com 208-841-4583 • Sandy Jones boisechristianliving@gmail.com 208-703-7860

Website Design SEO Idaho

“I Get To!”®: Practice happy habits

Daily Bread: 18 Your HSA pros and cons

Editor Gaye Bunderson Submit story ideas, article submissions & press releases editorgaye@gmail.com

Contributors Daniel Bobinski, Tom Dougherty, Roxanne Drury, Joan Endicott, Terry Frisk and Bethany Riehl

A tribute to Dan Dougherty The Runaway Hamsters

Volume 7, Number 4

Need Prayer? Call Idaho Chaplains Association

Talk to a Chaplain

208-968-1991

www.idahochaplains.com

2 July / August 2019 | Christian Living

Christian Living is published every other month and is available in over 600 locations throughout the Treasure Valley, including most grocery stores, convenience stores, medical waiting areas, and churches. If your church would like additional copies please email us today at boisechristianliving@gmail.com Annual subscriptions available for $10/year. To start your subscription or give one as a gift send your check or money order, along with complete address information, and a phone number to call in case there’s questions about your subscription to Christian Living Magazine, PO Box 867, Meridian, ID 83680.

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PUBLISHER’S Corner

‘To everything there is a season’

By Sandy Jones were teaching English as a second language. Several years ago I heard an anecdotal story Every time I saw him he had great ideas, and about two men. An Atheist and a Christian who sincere words of encouragement. We will all were neighbors. As the Christian was out washmiss Dan greatly. I am among the many who ing his car one day, the Atheist wandered over will be eternally grateful to have met Dan to visit. Dougherty and get to call him my friend! While they were chatting the Atheist said, Thank you to the many who donated to ‘You must really hate me.’ Christian Living Ministries Inc. in Dan’s Astonished, the Christian replied, ‘Not at all! memory — you have truly made a difference. Why would you say that?’ While we’re thanking folks who have made ‘Well, if I understand your faith correctly, a difference, I’d like to give a quick shout out if I don’t go to church, accept your Jesus and to all the wonderful folks who came by our learn what the Bible says, I’m going to hell,’ the booth at Parktacular. Thank you for all the kind Atheist responded, adding, ‘You’ve never even words; sharing your stories of how our ministry invited me to your church, so what am I suphas impacted your life; and for those of you posed to think? I can only imagine that if you who simply stopped by to say “we’re praying Sandy Jones really believe that, then you must believe that for you guys!” with a big thumbs up as you I’m going to hell, and I can’t imagine you wanting anyone you walked on. We had such great traffic throughout that day, if we like to go to hell, so you must hate me.’ missed you, I do apologize! The reality of that story has never left me. While the Atheist Normally we also have a booth at the Treasure Valley God & may not have had all the facts straight, he made a very good Country Festival; sadly this year we just had too many conflicts point. in our schedules and were not able to host one — that said, we On April 25th our good friend and outdoor columnist Dan look forward to seeing y’all there next year! Dougherty suddenly, and without warning, went home to be In closing let me just say that things change quickly in life. with The Lord. As the week between his death and his celebra- Our last issue featured a young couple, Adam and Courtney, tion of life passed, we heard how Dan had introduced this one selling fudge from a kiosk at The Boise Towne Square Mall. or that one to The Lord. Not in an overbearing way, but in the They have both encountered some health issues, and workspecial, affable way that was “just Dan.” Whether he’d ever ing non-stop at baking and selling fudge turned out to be too heard the above story or not, he “got” it; he was the epitome much for them. They’ve closed the kiosk, leaving an informaof “loving your neighbor!” tion-only booth there, with information on how to order their I’d love to tell you that Dan wore a big “SC” (Super Chrisyummy fudge. We love them, and ask that you join us in praytian) on his chest, but as a member of our small group Bible ing for only the best for both of them as they continue to serve study, I know firsthand that just like the rest of us Dan had The Lord in all they do. regrets, sharing that he wished he’d done more of some things, As I so often say, please frequent and support our advertisor been more outspoken like his own father. ers; without them there would simply be no Christian Living Later in this issue Dan’s brother, Pastor Tom Dougherty, has Magazine. We are extremely grateful for their support of this blessed us with a special tribute to Dan. I will just say this: Dan ministry. was not only a good friend, but he was probably this minisRemember — you are a child of the One True God, the try’s biggest cheerleader. He carried magazines everywhere he King of Kings. He loves you more than you can ever imagine! went; even using them to assist on a mission trip where they Until next time…. n

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Christian Living | July / August 2019 3


“I GET TO!”®

Learn & practice happy habits By Joan Endicott I’m sitting in one of the most beautiful settings on the globe: the stunning Gold Coast of Australia, just south of Brisbane. The sun is glistening on the ocean as if glitter were strewn over the surface. The sand is soft and powdery — perfect for taking long walks, splashing in the salty sea and savoring every second. There’s a reason they call it Paradise. So how on earth is it possible that I have experienced frustration, disappointment, sadness and even anger in the last couple of days? I’m in PAR-A-DISE, people! Well, I’ve experienced a plethora of things: from technology issues, to an ER visit to the doctor for a very surprising UTI (urinary tract infection) and then to the Chemist (as they call it Down Under) for the antibiotic so I can be well enough to take the stage in two days as the guest speaker for the conference I’m here for. Yes, those things are challenging, but very transparently, I didn’t handle them as my best self. I didn’t do the things I know to do. Quite frankly, I wasn’t being consistent with the happy habits that help me stay on track. One of which is to remind myself that no matter what is happening, “I Get To!”® choose how I respond. I mean, c’mon! That’s the name of my book, my trademark and programs. The “I Get To!”® gal should have this down, right? In the verse, “Be transformed by the REnewing of your mind,” (Romans 12:2) the Latin prefix re actually means to do again and again. It’s not a one-n-done kind of thing. Just like brushing our teeth, drinking water, eating well, exercising, these are all things that we keep doing over and over again to get the ongoing result we want. The surveys of thousands were tallied and it was clear that everyone wanted MORE in life: More happiness More meaningful relationships More energy More career success More finances More giving More freedom Of course it’s not surprising that everyone wants more of the good things in life. It’s fascinating that most will put happiness at the very top of their list — happiness for themselves and their loved ones. Of course! We all want that, right? I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m asking God for more struggles since that’s where I really grow closest to Him!” So what is happiness? Happiness: (noun) the state of being happy; well-being and contentment: joy Synonyms: contentment, pleasure, satisfaction, cheerfulness, joy, lightheartedness, good cheer, well-being, enjoyment, etc. I understand that the words happy, content, and joy are all derived from different root words, but for purposes of making the point that we all get to choose this for ourselves, I’m throwing the above synonyms all in the same pot — using them interchangeably today. But I do believe, at the very heart of the matter, for happiness it’s about experiencing a spirit of being

4 July / August 2019 | Christian Living

content. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and can take nothing out of it.” — 1 Tim. 6:6-7 What does happiness mean to you? How happy are you? What determines your happiness? Everything around us shouts that it’s all about attaining a certain position in life, and the more possessions you have the better. Also, our stock increases when there are certain people we know, or places we go… pleasures we experience. Don’t all those pretty much guarantee happiness? If that’s true, why aren’t the wealthiest and most popular, the happiest? Remember the beloved Robin Williams? He should have been one of the happiest people on the planet, yet sadly, he died by suicide. Disney® claims their parks are “The Happiest Place on Earth.” To that I say, it certainly depends! It depends on the attitude they bring in with them when they walk through the gates! You see, I’ve been to Disney parks a few times and I witnessed bawlin’ babies as well as all ages of kids (and parents) having tantrums and meltdowns. So, it’s clearly not about where we are, what we’re doing, or how we “do” life. It’s about how we “view” life. I’ve been fortunate to observe and study people in a variety of contexts over the years, from extreme poverty to extreme prosperity. It’s quite clear that, beyond having one’s basic needs met, someone’s happiness is not dependent on what they have externally, but what’s happening in their heart, mind and soul. Some of the happiest people have the least, while some of the most miserable, have the most. One of my all-time favorite examples of this was a few years ago, having observed kids sitting poolside in the midst of a multi-million-dollar resort — angry at their parents for not having upgraded their cell phone service to an international plan while they went on this elaborate vacation. (I could say a whole bunch about that, but I won’t!) Rather than fully enjoying what they’d been gifted, they wasted their time and energy pouting and complaining. Days after returning from my trip, I was driving through a neighborhood with the windows down on a beautiful warm summer day and heard the sweetest sound of small children laughing, giggling and squealing with delight. I quickly grabbed a glimpse of three little ones who would be considered poor as church mice by some, who were in a yard with a hose and a big dirty bucket that they were all trying to fit into. They were bursting with happiness that spilled over and filled their neighborhood. It’s just more evidence that happiness is not an external issue, rather, internal. It’s not about where we are, rather where our heart attitude is. I love Abraham Lincoln’s quote: “I’ve come to realize people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” We can quote scriptures about happiness and joy, such as: Whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” — Ps. 16:20 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” — Neh. 8:10

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theirs. So, for those of us who want to level “O taste and see that the Lord is good. up our happy habits, here’s a few proven ideas How happy is the man who trusts in Him!” (no specific order) that happy people do more — Psalm 34:8 NLV consistently: It’s important that we see God’s promises come with a condition of action on our part. Happy Habits:* God promises something and tells us what our 1. Practice spiritual disciplines (prayer, mediaresponsibility is. Two of those verses call us to tion, music, scripture, etc. List what works best trust. He always does His part — we get to do for you.) ours! 2. Gratitude So, what’s the deal? Why does it feel so hard 3. Be present (mindfulness) at times to get to — or stay in — that happy 4. Forgive self / others place? If we could only have that Cinderella 5. Be generous fairy tale moment when we simply recite words 6. Exercise regularly like “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and — poof ! — we 7. Don’t compare to others start our happily ever after! (Thus, the words 8. Enjoy outdoors Joan Endicott ‘fairy tale’.) 9. Spend time with loved ones When Paul says, “…I have learned to be 10. Practice positive thoughts / words content in whatever state I’m in,” (Phil. 4:11b) the word ‘learned’ indicates it’s not automatic. Learn means: to gain *I’m offering much more on this topic in online videos. If or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, you’d like more details, just sign up on our website to get inforexperience, or being taught. mation when it’s ready! See you there, my friend! n Habit is overcome by habit. Regardless if someone is naturally pessimistic, neuroscience has proven that, aside from an Joan Endicott is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author of “I actual disorder, anyone can replace habits of grumbling and Get To!”®, founder of GIANT-Slayer Coaching and “WOW!” Women griping with gratitude, if they choose to. But you first need Owning Their Worth©. Her coaching reaches over 25 countries — across to want to. Sadly, some people are happy being unhappy. 6 continents. Meet her and get FREE videos, book excerpts and content at Remember, your happy is your responsibility. Their happy is www.JoanEndicott.com.

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Christian Living | July / August 2019 5


HOLY ground

The place of total dependence on God By Bethany Riehl The Lord often allows us to face times that are impossible. Because He is gracious and good, we have His holy Word full of stories of people who faced similar impossibilities. Many times in the last few years, I have thought of the Israelites soon after they left Egypt. I picture them there in the desert, the sun hot and unrelenting on their faces. Wind whipping the sand against their legs and stinging their eyes. The elements they could handle; it was the vast sea before them that wouldn’t be appreciated right at that time for its beauty. Not with an army of Egyptians bearing down upon them. The sea had become the enemy. They felt trapped and in great despair. They had no idea what God was up to. “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” they cried to Moses (Exodus 14:11) They had watched as God displayed His great power in Egypt and freed them from captivity. But there they were, all odds against them and questioning everything they had ever been told of Almighty God. “Did He truly make a big show of His power and free them only to kill them in the desert?” they must have thought. It’s easy to judge their hearts, but we have the advantage of knowing the entire story. We know that after Moses said, “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent,” the wind began to blow with purpose. It blew all night and they watched — surely in complete, indescribable disbelief — as the sea broke in two and as water piled up on either side as if a line had been drawn saying, “Here is where you will stop.” Did the waters slam against that invisible wall? I’ve never seen the sea be still, so I can’t help but imagine a raging, whirling mass — contained by a powerful force. Last April my family and I were able to take a short trip to the place where my soul truly found Jesus for the first time — Cannon Beach, Ore. I stood on the shore, staring out at the ocean, knowing that once we were home we would be facing our own personal time of feeling backed into a corner with no

6 July / August 2019 | Christian Living

escape in sight. I crouched next to my children and pointed out at the endless water and explained to them that our God — mighty in power, full of love and wisdom and insight — created that sea. It obeys Him without question. If He wants to, He can slice it in half to make way for His people. The trial we were about to face in any other circumstance could have been seen as a normal life change. We had to list our home for sale soon after our trip and find a one-story to make life easier for my husband, who has multiple sclerosis. No biggie, right? Except, as most of you reading this know, our market is crazy right now. Great news for selling, not so great for buying. As we explored our options, it became very clear that selling our home would most likely be very smooth, while finding a home that would fit our needs would be nearly impossible on our budget. We laughed at the price of our home — we couldn’t afford to buy it now. Our home sold in six days, much faster than our realtor was expecting. As soon as we had a verbal confirmation of our house receiving a full price offer, we hit the streets looking for our next home. In fact, we signed the official offer in the kitchen of the first of seven homes we looked at in two days. I don’t believe any decision we’ve made in our years together has been more cloaked with prayer than this one. Our realtor is a believer and we prayed with him every step of the way — oh, how I recommend this, friends. As we looked at houses, I felt heavier and heavier. None felt right and I couldn’t tell if it was because I love our current home so much or if it was the Lord leading me. When we stepped into the final house — one we had been watching online, but had to wait to see — I knew. It was the one. It was the dirtiest house we saw, so our kids think we’re crazy. It’s 700 square feet smaller than our current home. It is the worst house in the best neighborhood — isn’t that exactly what the HGTV Boise Boys choose for their projects? I told friends and family who thought we should be out making offers before our house was even on the market that I wasn’t worried. My flesh was shaking, but my spirit stood

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Sellidahomes.com firm in the knowledge that God would not abandon us. He had a home for us and no one else could buy it. We didn’t need to strive or worry. The home we’re moving into in just two days sat on the market for 48 days before we made an offer. 48 days. In Meridian. That, my friends, is the Lord. So why am I telling you this story? Because we’ve been walking in uncertainty for the last two months and our merciful God has brought us into a place of safety. I seek to be the leper who returned to glorify God for his healing (Luke 17:15). He has allowed me to be witness to His mercy in many ways. As a young child I watched Him heal the grief of my parents after they buried four children. When my husband first became sick, He carried us mightily and was compassionate to us in our questioning. He has provided and sustained over and over again not only for myself but for many others. No, the answer isn’t always a miracle. Sometimes the trial includes a funeral. Sometimes we Bethany Riehl have to exchange the big, new house for a small, smelly one. And still, He provides, He upholds, He is worthy of praise. No matter the circumstances, my friends — praying over a rebellious child, pleading for the healing of a loved one, bearing the hurt of an unfaithful spouse, asking for guidance and wisdom in ordinary life decisions — every circumstance that brings us to a place of total dependency on our Creator is holy ground. In that place He will make Himself known if we only watch and wait and trust. “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate.” — Psalm 116:5 n Bethany Riehl loves to write stories and articles that explore the complexities of relationships and encourage readers in their relationship with Jesus. She joyfully serves in the children’s ministry at her church, teaches at a homeschool co-op, and drinks more coffee than necessary to keep up with her only-slightly-crazy life. She is the author of four Christian fiction novels and lives in Kuna with her spunky kids and very handsome hubby.

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Christian Living | July / August 2019 7


BRANDI Swindell

Forever hopeful, leading with joy By Sandy Jones Born and raised in Idaho, Brandi Swindell enthusiastically shares that she’s a fourth generation Idahoan! Many Treasure Valley residents are familiar with Brandi’s sweet smile on the evening news, as well as those who know and recognize her from her speaking engagements at many churches and organizations throughout our community. While Brandi appears to be a “public figure,” she’s actually pretty quiet about her personal life. She loves “this state, fishing, camping, hiking, snowboarding, visiting farmers’ markets, attending outdoor concerts,” she’s passionate about her church, her family and her friends. She refers to herself as an “activist, CEO, Idaho girl, traveler, music lover, forever hopeful.” Brandi attended Maranatha Christian School, and maintains many lifelong friendships she started there; sharing that’s where she met Lila Afoa, who to this day continues to be one of her best friends. Although when asked, 6-year-old Brandi was quick to answer that she had two best friends, Jesus and her cat Dolly!

Looking back today Brandi is grateful for the foundation attending both Maranatha Christian School and Central Assembly Church gave her, learning at a very young age “about God and understanding Who He is and Who Jesus is.” Brandi recalls the day missionaries, in the U.S. on furlough, came to speak at Maranatha. One of them challenged the students to go home, open the Bible to any verse and put “Dear” and their own name in front of it, reading as though God were saying it directly to them. Only 12 at the time, Brandi recalls how it touched her heart, transforming her life forever when she did this after school. From that day on she read a chapter a day, always starting with ‘Dear Brandi,’ no longer feeling that she had to rely on someone else to manage her faith, it was truly, genuinely now her own. She believes that a solid church, and Christian teachers who not only taught their flock but also prayed fervently for them, helped her to be mature in her faith at such a young age. Life hasn’t always been easy. Brandi’s parents faced challenges; eventually leaving church themselves, keeping both Brandi and her sister at Maranatha even after they separated. It was these early seeds of faith that have carried Brandi through the rough patches in her life. She now has the peace of knowing her parents both loved God and regardless of their own personal struggles, they were both solid with the Lord at the end of their lives. Curious, I asked Brandi if she has a favorite Bible verse. So many! But one of her favorites is

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the very first scripture she ever memorized, hearing it on TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network), Proverbs 17:17: a friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Brandi gives accolades to the many Christian men who have poured into her life, and have so actively supported her ministry; stating that it should never be a competition between men and women. Men are wired to do things women can’t do, and visa versa, women are wired to do things men can’t. That said, rather than a favorite verse, Brandi shared that she loves the stories of the women in the Bible. Brandi shared the abridged version of Deborah, and how Barak tells Deborah he’s not going into battle unless she leads the way. She quickly followed this by the story of the woman at the well; and the woman who was healed simply by touching Jesus’s cloak; Brandi sharing her own observation about how she sees Jesus as being “so attentive to hurting women, and lifting them up, while not wasting time on cultural sexism of the day.” Brandi then shifted to the Proverbs 31 woman. And finished by sharing the story of Zelophehad and his five daughters in the Old Testament; how when he died, leaving no male heirs, his daughters, led by Tirzah, the eldest, petitioned Moses for their right to inherit their father’s land. Moses then takes it before God; and it is ultimately decided it is only right for the 5 daughters to inherit the land, making them female land owners, with the ability to be counted as citizens for the first time, impacting laws even today. Brandi goes on, “I just love that story because again God empowers, God uplifts. If you want to really be a mover and shaker

in this world, embrace the God of the Bible. Embrace Jesus!” Brandi paraphrases something Oswald Chambers wrote in “My Utmost for His Highest”: “It’s easy when we’re in ministry to have the ministry replace our relationship with Christ.” She goes on, “That really resonated with me,” adding “at the end of the day, it’s our relationship with Christ.” Well known as the CEO of Stanton Healthcare, a life-affirming woman’s medical clinic and pregnancy resource center, Brandi is excited that their Meridian location is set for its grand opening on August 4, 2019. When asked where she sees herself in five years Brandi responds “continuing in the growing and expanding mission of Stanton Healthcare. The continued calling that I feel God has put on my heart, and on our entire team.” She admits that Stanton is often at the heart of a controversial debate — but is quick to set the record straight, explaining, “We’re not about the controversy of the topic. We’re about what is it that people need; what kind of assistance do they need? What kind of quality care is going to make a difference? The Bible describes the role of the Christian is to love and serve God and to reach out to our neighbor, the whole story of the Good Samaritan. Well we have a lot of neighbors...” “They need a helping hand. It’s showing Christ’s love, that’s what it is.” She closes with “I always say, I think I’m going to be doing Stanton and life-affirming work for many, many years, but if Jesus calls me out of it and has me scrubbing toilets, that’s what I’ll do. My allegiance is to Him. I am His servant.” Brandi’s joy is authentic, and genuinely “forever hopeful,” seeing her work as a “Hope Revolution!” n

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Christian Living | July / August 2019 9


THREE P’s

Framework for a better Christian walk

have to like others’ choices, but people are free to By Daniel Bobinski choose their preferences. Ever meet someone who used to smoke but Principles are defined as rules or beliefs that govnow talks all the time about the evils of smoking? ern our personal behavior. Things in this category Sometimes Christians, especially new believers, won’t affect our salvation, but ignoring or violatcan get the same bug. People who get that bug ing them can inhibit the effectiveness of our walk seem to point out sins everywhere they go, and and our witness. A good example of a principle frankly, they can be annoying. I know, because 32 is attending some form of fellowship. After all, years ago, I was one of those people. It took an attending church is not necessary for salvation, older, wiser Christian to help me understand that but our Christian walk is much easier when other God’s grace and forgiveness abound to all, and believers can surround us with support. a person isn’t going to hell just because he or she The same is true about regular prayer. Our utters a cuss word. We are human beings, not husalvation doesn’t depend on doing devotionals, but man doings, and we are saved by grace, not works. if we read the Word and pray regularly, we will be Obviously, I don’t advocate that people keep on closer to God and have a deeper, richer relationsinning, but it’s not my job to call out every little ship with Him. thing that doesn’t honor God. Daniel Bobinski Precepts are authoritative rules for us to follow, Eventually I learned a three-category framework and are sometimes identified as commandments. that helped me understand how to better live out my Christian The premier precept for born-again believers is that if you want walk. It also helps me make decisions as I exercise my freedom in eternal life with God, it comes through faith in God’s sacrifice Christ. The framework consists of three categories: Preferences, of Jesus on the cross, and nothing else (Acts 16:31). That is the Principles, and Precepts. ultimate precept. Preferences are defined as liking one alternative over another. Another precept is abstaining from things offered to idols, as Do you prefer a specific version of the Bible? Do you prefer a found in Acts 15:29. This aligns with the commandment to have specific style of worship? As Christians, the preferences category no other gods before the one true God. For example, if I have a is for things that are cultural or a matter of taste. It’s here where the phrase, “You can’t please everyone,” comes into play. We don’t Buddhist friend who invites me to sit in a lotus position with him

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10 July / August 2019 | Christian Living

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while facing a statue of Buddha and do some chants, I’m going to decline. The thing to remember in using this three-part framework is that the lines separating preferences, principles, and precepts can vary person to person. Put another way, that which is a preference for you can be a principle to your neighbor, and perhaps even a precept for someone else. With that understanding, it’s fair to say that if we try to impose our lines on other people, we will probably come across as legalistic. Additionally, through experience, I’ve learned that with my freedom in Christ, I also have the freedom to not exercise my freedom. Let me explain. A number of years ago I invited a singer to meet me at an evening church service so we could talk face-to-face about a concert she would be doing for us. I told her I’d be waiting for her in the foyer wearing blue jeans and a sport coat. After I finished my sentence, there was silence on the line. Then she said, “You’re going to wear blue jeans to church? Don’t you think that when we go to worship the King of the Universe we should dress a little more appropriately?” Obviously, clothing choices were a preference for me, but more of a principle for her. To this day, clothing choices for church attendance remain a preference for me. However, because of my freedom in Christ, and the fact that all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial, I also had the freedom to choose to give up my freedoms. Even though I believed I had the right to wear jeans to church without insulting God, I chose not to exercise that right so as not to create a stumbling block for her.

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Sadly, the more I study the Word of God, the more I realize that many Christians believe things to be principles, when, in fact, if you look closely at the Word of God, they’re just preferences. Alternatively, there are some teachings in letters from the Apostle Paul to specific churches to address specific situations, but today these things are either taken out of context or preached as if they apply to the entire Body of Christ. My wife and I have counseled more than a few people who were carrying burdens of guilt unnecessarily. Some had been taught that their preferences were wrong, and that God would withhold blessings because of their choices. Others were held back from doing what God called them to do. Sometimes problems like this stem from people in authority thinking that their own preferences should be everyone else’s precepts. In other cases, the problem is just bad exegesis (interpretation of Scripture). Make no mistake, God is righteous. But he’s also a relational ruler who wants us to experience joy. Therefore, let me urge you to not let anyone place burdens on you unnecessarily. In fact, I encourage you to study Acts chapter 15 and Colossians chapter 2. By understanding the concepts of preferences, principles, and precepts, plus the freedom we have in Christ, we are better equipped to offer God’s grace to others. It’s my personal belief that people will appreciate the grace. What are your thoughts? n Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. teaches teams and individuals how to use Emotional Intelligence (more info at MyWorkplaceExcellence.com). He’s also a home fellowship leader, a homeschooling dad, a best-selling author, and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at daniel@eqfactor.net or (208) 375-7606.

Christian Living | July / August 2019 11


Andrew Giving Green’s Ruja

By Gaye Bunderson Dreams spur the goals, wishes and hopes humans have for their lives. When people are not able to dream, they miss out on a vision-filled future. Andrew Green wanted to help people dream, to allow them to explore what might be possible for them during their days on Earth. To that end, he started a nonprofit he named Ruja, which means “to dream” in the language of Uganda. Andrew’s work history includes times as a youth pastor and as a teacher at a Christian school. But while he was involved in full-time ministry, he says now that back in those days, “I was not following Jesus.” It was an inspired reading of Isaiah 58 one day that awakened him to what he needed to do. Verses like the one below moved him. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them?” — Isaiah 58:6

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“That motivated me to take a leap outside of my bubble,” he said. He admits he didn’t entirely know what he was doing; it was all something of a blind jump into action, but with a deep sense that he would serve the poor and oppressed, as he had read in the Word. He had been reading other books, like “Love Does” by Bob Goff, and there were mentions of Uganda in the books. He made the decision to do something for Uganda and started a fundraiser to help raise money for a trip there. “It was a crazy experience,” he said. He needed money for an airplane ticket to Africa in the amount of $1,000, but his fundraising efforts fell short. Getting creative, he decided to try busking on a street corner in downtown Boise. In typical busker fashion, he opened his guitar case, took out the instrument, and left the case open for people to throw in money as he sang and strummed. He’d barely begun when a man on a bike rode up to him and started a

Andrew Green of Boise, left, sits with Robert Tumwesigye of Uganda. Robert is holding a little girl that he and his wife Millie took into their home to save her from a life of child labor. (Photo by DJ Ramirez)


the chance to dream conversation. He asked Andrew why he was standing on the corner trying to raise money and what his goals were; Andrew explained his plans were to help people. The man said, “Follow me to my office.” The man’s name was Joe Kosakowski, founder and CEO of Quest Groups and himself a Christian. Andrew’s busking endeavor was over almost as soon as it had begun. “Joe wrote me a check for a thousand dollars,” Andrew said. The encounter not only sealed Andrew’s plans for a trip to Uganda, it altered how he experienced God in his life. “That forever changed the way I viewed how God works,” he said. It wasn’t just a check; it was three things in all: money, a miracle, and a message that God was with him. “A lot of people — friends and family — were telling me not to go, for safety and other reasons, but that meeting with Joe was a sign,” Andrew said. In 2013, with the help of some acquaintances from Youth with a Mission, Andrew flew to Uganda in eastern Africa. He worked with children with AIDS. “I was changing diapers and feeding babies,” he said. He admits now he really had no clue what he would experience in Uganda, nor how he would ultimately formulate his plans to help people there. For his first two weeks in the country, he continued helping kids with AIDS. Following that, he stayed at the home of a Ugandan couple, Robert and Milly Tumwesigye. “They were living by faith that I needed to see,” Andrew said. In their 20s at the time, Robert and Milly were demonstrating a faith that Andrew just had to witness for himself. They had sacrified paying jobs and were living fully dependent on God, certain that’s what He wanted them to do. They had moved to Fort Portal, Uganda and taken in two kids who had been victims of child labor. Unbelievably, the children’s ages were 5 and 2. The 5-year-old had been made to carry water all day, while the 2-year-old’s tiny stomach was bloated for lack of food. Robert and Milly never wavered in their faith in God, that He would provide for them and the children. “I was overwhelmed by that,” Andrew said. “Robert and Milly did not have enough money to pay their own rent, but they took the children into their home, taking care of them and loving them. It was so moving to see this — their hospitality in the midst of their poverty. It was really beautiful.” Following that, Andrew returned to the U.S., to the land of plenty. He was changed when he came home. “I was very, very cynical. You talk about culture shock going to Uganda — I was in reverse culture shock coming back here,” he said. He’d seen kids that were going to die of malaria because they couldn’t afford the $8 medication they needed to save their lives. Because of this, he admits he felt “bitterness” when he returned home and saw people who really had no idea how great their lives actually were, how genuinely small their problems compared to what he’d seen in Uganda. “It took me about a year to work through it,” he said. He launched Ruja in 2014. In the beginnings of Ruja (now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit), he struggled to pay the bills, to keep the lights on. “Money was tight,” he said. But he continued to experience more miracles like the one he’d had busking. “Things like that have happened repeatedly since then.”

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Robert and Molly Tumwesigye gave up a life of security to pursue a life of serving God and helping children in their native Uganda. Their leap of faith moved Boisean Andrew Green profoundly, and he launched an organization to help them help kids. (Photo by Daniel Olson)

At one point, Andrew got out a 1950s Singer sewing machine that he had put in his closet; he’d bought it at an estate sale, intending to re-sell it and make some money. But instead, he decided he’d teach himself to sew — he’d use the old Singer to sew backpacks to sell. He’d returned from Africa with a sugar bag that had a lion on it. The bag was not made of burlap, but the material was strong enough to make a useful backpack out of. His plan was to live simply and start his backpack business. “I’d make money as I figured out my life. A couple of weeks later, God kind of switched on the lights for me and said, ‘Why don’t you use this (the backpack project) to make money for the people you’ve just seen?’” Andrew hurled himself into sewing. “The first backpack I made was horrible, but I thought it was cool. I wore it everywhere,” he said. To expand the business, he went to local coffee roasters, such as Dawson Taylor and the Roastere’, and got burlap sacks; the local businessmen were willing to give him the sacks, as they were just going to discard them otherwise. He started selling his backpacks online and at The District Coffee House in Boise. He called Robert and Milly by phone and told them, “‘I love what you’re doing and feel God wants me to be a part of it.’ I wanted to help with the vision and the resources, so they could take more kids into their home.” It has been a perfect partnership. There are now 10 children in Robert and Milly’s house. “We create an environment that’s like family,” Andrew said. Continued on page 20

Christian Living | July / August 2019 13


MANY chances

God’s ‘ifs’ and ‘thens’ for you

By Roxanne Drury Time and time again, Scripture tells us how the Israelite people of the Old Testament rejected God’s ways and followed their own. And over and over, God gave them chance after chance to get it right. After Solomon finished having the house of the Lord built, he dedicated the temple to the Lord, praising God and pleading for God to hear his prayer on behalf of the people. In answer to Solomon’s prayer, beginning at 2 Chronicles 7:12-13 we read, “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that Roxanne there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land or send pestilence among my people…’” The next verse, verse 14, is the second or third or fourth chance God gives them. It says “‘...if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’” (There are so many “if-then” statements in Scripture.) What I read in the words of verse 14 is, ‘if I (God) have a people that know Me and trust Me and obey Me, then there is no limit to the times I will forgive them and do great things for them.’ Now let’s make those words more personal. Go ahead and hear these words as if God were speaking them to you. Take them to heart. ‘If you know Me and trust Me and obey Me, then there is no limit to what I will do for you and no limit to what I can do through you, for all things are possible with Me in your court.’ (Paraphrase by me.) Know Me. Trust Me. Obey Me. A tall order for sure. For in our humanness, you and I want control. We want what we want, our way, in our time, as we planned. Guess what? That’s not knowing and trusting that God has our back. That’s not

being obedient to what He wants. Don’t shoot the messenger on this. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em, and it is humbling. You and I need to relinquish control and know that God’s ways are not our ways. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8-9 If we are asking God for direction or clarity in a matter, we need to be prepared to step outside our comfort zone and do things His way. Remember His ways are higher, better, and maybe harder. And that’s a good thing. We can’t wait just twiddling our thumbs for an answer, hoping Drury to hear God tell us to do it our way. No! God will challenge us. A challenge needs trust. A challenge needs obedience. A challenge forces us to look at who we know God is. I believe that is what God wants from us. Recently, I prayed and prayed and prayed for an answer to a matter. I just wasn’t hearing from God (I thought). I finally realized I was waiting to hear Him tell me to do what I wanted to do. To do what I thought was right. But I learned, the hard way, that what I thought was not what He thought. He wanted to do something way better. And I missed out on that and am suffering the consequences. I didn’t come to Him asking for what He wanted. I was praying for what I thought He might want. There is a huge difference. Now I am in the same boat as the Israelites and must go to Him humbly asking forgiveness and praying that He will heal my land. In other words: fix my mess. When we count on what we know of God, when we trust Him and obey Him, His ways will challenge us to do more, to be better, to live righter (is that a word?). His ways, His methods, His purposes. So be prepared. For ‘if ’ we do this, ‘then’ He promises great and mighty things. And you can always count on His promises. They are always true.

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“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” — Isaiah 55:10-11 n Roxanne Drury is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired Christian preschool teacher with a teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education. She has served the Lord in children’s ministry for over 40 years and is currently on staff at Rockharbor Church. Her heart is sharing the life application found in God’s Word. Roxanne has recently published her first children’s book titled, “Beyond the Blue.” The book is a descriptive biblical look at heaven that answers questions kids have and offers parents a tool to talk to their kids about Jesus. She also writes a Christian blog. For more information, visit thatslifemissroxanne.blogspot.com and www.roxannedrury.com.

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Christian Living | July / August 2019 15


MY brother

A tribute to Dan Dougherty By Tom Dougherty Editor’s note: On April 25, Christian Living Magazine lost one of its own, Dan Dougherty, who passed away unexpectedly. Dan started writing for the magazine following his retirement from teaching school in Caldwell for 40 years. His column, Outdoors with Dougherty, was a favorite with readers (and the editor, too). His brother Tom asked if he might write a tribute to Dan — and of course, we said yes. My brother Dan meant the world to me. Though he was 5½ years older than me, we were very close. Even when I moved away for Dan Dougherty nine years we talked frequently on the phone. Our parents and oldest two brothers were pastors and Dan was a school teacher. I wanted to be like him; I headed into elementary education because I watched how happy he was teaching. I didn’t want to be a pastor like the rest of my family; I wanted to follow in Dan’s steps. He stayed home through college and so lived with our parents until he got married. We spent hours playing basketball and plastic baseball together and living under the incredible influence of our mom and dad. We grew up together loving Jesus and helping our folks in ministry. After spending three years heading towards elementary education, I was asked to work with junior high boys at a camp. During that week we were able to lead all the boys to Jesus and it was then I felt the tugging of my heart to be Tom Dougherty a minister. I tried arguing with God. “Lord, I

16 July / August 2019 | Christian Living

don’t want to be like the rest of my family,” I’d say. “I want to teach like Dan.” The Lord made it very clear: my path had changed. Dan became a huge supporter of my ministry. He would call me often while I lived in Vancouver, Wash. and ask me how the church was doing. He made me feel so valuable. What a joy it was to get called back to Idaho to spend the last 31 years with my brother. He started attending our church and became my greatest cheerleader. The church was very small — 5060 regular attendees. The church allowed me to substitute teach for a couple years to help make a living. I subbed for Dan and other teachers at East Canyon Elementary School. I found out quickly how respected Dan was as a teacher. When I subbed for him, the kids wanted to know if I could tell stories like him. I said no. Dan was the master storyteller; he captivated his students and cared deeply for them. As the church grew, I could no longer sub. My brother supported me with everything he had. Typical Dan. When he believed in something he was its greatest supporter. He told everybody that his little brother was on the radio and was chaplain for the Idaho House of Representatives. I had Dan on my radio show numerous times, and he so loved that; and he went with me on occasion to the statehouse, too. The depth of Dan’s love for his incredible wife Peggy was amazing. She was a God-send. Her love for Jesus and for sports and travel and good food was perfect. They were so happy together. My wife and I were fortunate to share Boise State football season tickets with Dan and

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Peggy and to travel with them often. He loved her family as his own. Her parents became his parents. He helped raise her 5-year-old son, Jakoub, and walked with him through life. Dan was immensely proud of his two sons, James and David, and would often tell me of their accomplishments in the workforce. He loved and supported all his grandchildren. As I’m writing this, James texted me and said the following about his dad: “He demonstrated the behaviors a faithful father should and conscripted my heart through his actions. I’ve not always been as disciplined, selfless, or carefree as he was, but his example set a chain of events that ultimately influenced how I parent and where my heart goes when a storm rolls in. His legacy is underwritten by this and the other lives he influenced through similar actions as a genuine advocate of everybody he met.” Peggy, James, David, Jakoub and all his family will always be grateful for this passionate man of God with a selfless heart. I could talk forever and tell you so many stories, but will close with this. Dan’s life was so fulfilled when he was asked to write for Christian Living Magazine about outdoor life activities. Sandy Jones gave him an opportunity to share with you stories of real life in the world of hunting, fishing and travel. Dan would carry magazines wherever he went and give them to people. He was so proud to be a part of a magazine that is a good read and that has a positive influence on the Treasure Valley. It was a no-brainer after his passing to have memorial gifts go to his passion, this magazine. After retiring after 40 years of touching students’ lives, he could breathe the joy of life into thousands of readers. I miss my brother so much, but he is one happy camper, living in the presence of his and our Almighty God.n Tom Dougherty is pastor at Cloverdale Church of God in Boise.

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Christian Living | July / August 2019 17


YOUR Daily Bread

Provide for your health with an HSA By Terry Frisk What is a high deductible health Several years ago, the auto parts company plan (HDHP)? Fram had an advertising campaign for its oil filAn HDHP is a health insurance plan with a ters that featured the slogan, “You can pay me deductible of at least $1,350 per individual and now or you can pay me later.” The point was $2,700 per family. In addition, the maximum you could pay a small amount to replace your oil filter now or you could pay much more for out-of-pocket for an HDHP plan is $6,750 per an engine rebuild later. In most cases, preventaindividual and $13,500 per family. However, tive maintenance is less costly than repairs that HDHP coverage pays 100 percent of preventaresult from lack of regular maintenance. But tive care expenses. Premiums for these plans are many of us are guilty of taking better care of typically less than traditional plans with lower our cars than of ourselves (including me). deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. I am reminded of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17: “Do you not know that you are What is a health savings account God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy Terry Frisk (HSA)? him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that An HSA is a savings account offered by most temple.” Much like our cars need preventative maintenance to major financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, better serve our needs, we need to take care of our bodies to investment brokers and insurance companies. Contributions better serve God. So, what stops us from seeking medical atto these plans are tax exempt and can be used to cover plan tention? A study conducted by the Society of General Internal deductibles, co-pays and many medical expenses not covered Medicine found that 58 percent of respondents cited the high by an HDHP plan. Since premiums on HDHP coverage is cost. However, there are options available to help us pay for preventative health care costs to improve our health and welllower, you can use the savings to fund your HSA contribution. being. One such option is selecting a high deductible health Many employers who offer these plans will also contribute to plan (HDHP) paired with a health savings account (HSA). your HSA account.

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What are the advantages of an HDHP with an HSA?

• HSA contributions and payments of expenses are tax free. Whether you make contributions through your employer or an individual plan, amounts go in tax free. In addition, there is no tax on payments for qualified medical expenses. • Qualified medical expenses include many that insurance will not cover. You can use your HSA to pay for acupuncture, glasses, personal care services, even long-term care insurance premiums to name a few. • Amounts you put in your HSA are yours to keep. The balance in your account is never forfeited and remains yours even if you change employers, insurance carriers or financial institution. • Your HSA balance earns income. Depending upon where you set up your HSA account, you can earn interest or investment income. • Your balance can supplement your retirement funds. After you turn age 65, you can withdraw funds for any reason without penalty. Non-qualified withdrawals are subject to income taxes.

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• Annual limits on HSA contributions. Annual contributions were limited to $3,500 for individuals and $7,000 for families. Individuals over age 55 can contribute an additional $1,000 per year. • Individuals enrolled in Medicare cannot make HSA contributions. • Total cost for those with ongoing medical costs may be higher with HDHP coverage. People who anticipate high medical costs year after year may find that a lower deductible/out-of-pocket plans will save them money overall. • Penalties for non-qualified HSA withdrawals. If you are under age 65, any non-qualified withdrawals are subject to a 20 percent penalty in addition to income taxes on the amount withdrawn. It is important for us to maintain our health to better serve God. While health care costs continue to rise, careful planning will help ensure that the cost is not a factor in maintaining your health. Determining the right plan for you requires some research of the various options. Utilize the resources that are available to you through your employer, insurance provider, financial advisor or visit the federal health care website www.healthcare.gov. n Terry Frisk is a partner in the firm B2B CFO, providing financial advisory services to small businesses. He also counsels individuals on personal financial matters through the Cathedral of the Rockies Budget Counseling ministry. He may be contacted through e-mail at terry_frisk@msn.com.

Christian Living | July / August 2019 19


Ruja

Continued from page 13 The kids they take in are dealing with many things, including having missed many years of school. One young woman, now a midwife, had been 17 when Robert and Milly took her in; she had been living on the streets alone, and to survive she had turned to prostitution. Another girl had failed the 7th grade twice. The school had written her off. Robert and Milly, with help from Ruja, took her in and put her in another school, where she became an exemplary student. She’s preparing to be a lawyer. “She’s well on her way to proving all doubters wrong,” Andrew said. A young boy of 13 wants to be a doctor and has set his sights on building two hospitals — one in a thriving metropolitan area and another in a poor rural site, with the thriving hospital helping support the poorer one. “He’s just 13,” said Andrew. “When I was 13, I was playing video games!” The children dream. Now, with the help of Ruja, they are working to achieve their dreams. He stresses that when he seeks donations to help them, he doesn’t do it through pity. “We don’t want to tug on heartstrings with sad stories, and guilt people into giving. We want to inspire people to see what’s possible, because each of these kids is created in the image of God and has the ability to ideate, create and dream,” he said. “Many people think people in Africa are always going to be poor, they’re always going to need help.” But they have dreams, he insists, dreams that are squelched and stolen by poverty. “Poverty deprives them of dreams. It keeps people locked into survival and putting food on the table,” he said. Poverty deprives them of the freedom and ability to think forward, he explained, to see themselves in the future, doing something meaningful, because they’re trapped in the day-today struggle of just barely getting by. “When these people receive help, it loosens the bonds of poverty. The brain re-wires itself, allowing it to think about the future.” They are now free to think about saving money, planting crops, setting goals — and having dreams. “We renew them and remove that yoke of poverty and fill that space with love and a new vision of who they are and who

One of the young women who has been helped by Andrew Green’s Ruja organization, and by Robert and Millie Tumwesigye, is Jane Rose. She was taken off the streets, where out of necessity she lived a life of prostitution, and has earned a certificate in midwifery — a dream come true for her. (Photo by Daniel Olson)

they can become,” Andrew said. “All of that is biblical; all of that is rooted in the idea that all people are created in God’s image. God loves these kids.” Andrew, who is now 31, was raised in a Christian home in Florida and went to Maranatha Baptist University in Wisconsin. He married a dietitian late in 2018 and said of his new marriage, “I’m a rookie.” He quit the backpack sewing business years ago and now does all his fundraising through Ruja, while working different jobs to make money to support himself and make a home for him and his bride. He visits Africa twice a year and sends funds to Robert and Milly regularly. “We are committed to seeing these kids dream big, and to seeing the Kingdom of God take root in Africa.” Dreams matter so much to him — the dreams of children and adults in the challenging environment that is Uganda. He himself is a big dreamer. “My wife has to pull the reins back every once in a while,” he said, laughing and feeling like a man whose dreams are succeeding, and will only get bigger. n For more information, go to ruja.org. The nonprofit is also currently doing more work beyond just caring for kids. It is now involved in starting up community development initiatives around agriculture and education.

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By Gaye Bunderson The Runaway Hamsters, aka TRHibe, are a Boise musical group of four Christian siblings from the Keen family. Isabella, 15, is the oldest sister and the others — Abby, Gabby and Riley — are triplets, age 13. Their mother is Barb Keen, who goes by the moniker Momma Hamster and who manages the group. The Hamsters play instruments; write, sing and record songs; perform live in concert throughout the U.S.; and appear on TV. They started performing together in 2011 to raise money for a friend with cancer, and they continue to help others through their music. They recently took time out of their schedule to answer the following questions over email. Q. Where did you all attend school? A. We are homeschooled, which lets us travel and do our music while also doing school even while on the road. Q. How did you acquire your musicals skills? A. Lessons. And we learned some instruments just by picking them up and playing. We all try to practice every day. “I think God blessed me with the gift of music!” Gabby says. Q. Are you a musical family, and are your parents musical? A. Yes and we really love that. Our parents both play, sing and write, and they performed in bands when they were younger and on worship teams at church. We all have fun jamming together. Q. Why did you choose the name The Runaway Hamsters? A. We had hamsters that used to escape from their cages and try to run away — we were like 5 and 7 years old when we made the name up. We are now also going by TRHibe (the TRH for The Runaway Hamsters and the “tribe” concept to show our appreciation for all the people who listen to our music and encourage us, and for the group of people we have become friends with in the music business). Q. Is your style of music mostly country, or how would you classify it? A. It has been mostly country and country pop, but we like all kinds of music. We try to write music that inspires others and delivers a positive message. We enjoy worship music, pop music and the real traditional roots of country. Q. Your hashtag is #wehelpfriends. Give me an instance or two of how you’ve helped others. A. Well, we have raised money for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in Boise, Los Angeles, and Nashville. We help other organizations too. A cool thing that happened to us is a nice man from Texas wanted to make a difference at a place “we” cared about (he thinks kids know better than him where to help). We helped him equip an entire music room at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles so the kids can actually play instruments while in the hospital. Q. Do you all dance and, if so, how did you learn? A. Yes, we all dance and have since we were about 3. We now dance with Artistic Dance Company, and the owner Jaime is awesome! Q. In general, how did you come by your performance skills? A. Well, we performed with Boise Rock School when we were younger. As we took bigger stages, we worked with our producer in Nashville and our co-writers, practicing for the performances. Both KTVB and Fox News did stories on us when we were young, and it opened doors and we have learned as we went along. Q. Who is your audience, predominantly? A. We think everyone. When we started out, we focused more on kids our age, and children still like our music. We play for many adult venues now too, and our writing has more mature messages. We have played at children’s hospitals, music festivals, camps, at the CMA Music Festival and the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, at Smart Women Smart Money conferences, and even in the air for Southwest Airlines.

22 July / August 2019 | Christian Living

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Q. Do you want to do this as adults? Why or why not? A. Gabby: Yes it’s my passion. Riley: Yes, if it’s God’s plan. Abby: Yes, and I will keep doing my photography, too. Isabella: Yes, I love taking the stage! Q. What ARE your plans for the future? A. Gabby: Being a performer and listening to what my heart speaks. Abby: Whatever God plans for me; when it’s the right time I will know. Riley: Music, if that’s what God wants. If it’s something else He will let me know. Isabella: I hope to keep leading our band and being a drummer! Q. Can you give me a brief testimonial of how the Lord has led and organized this group? A. Well, we were doing music when we found out our friend Matt had cancer. We raised money for his hospital through music and it started us down a road. That first step got some publicity, which opened other doors, and they have all had an element of helping others and being a positive influence. We have just kept going through those doors. We have had a couple opportunities that might have made us more famous or brought more money, but they didn’t feel right so we didn’t go there. We have people write us and say how a certain song or performance helped them get through a tough time, or how our smiles and hugs really was what they needed when we met. Those things keep us going. Q. What has been the most rewarding part of your journey? A. Isabella: Performing with my family. Abby: Making friends all over the country. Gabby: Traveling the country, getting to do cool things and loving others.

Riley: Making people smile and helping kids. All of them: We have gotten to do some amazing things, like shoot a video on a farm where we got to hold all the little animals, which were rescue animals. We got to help make our own animated versions of Hamsters on our first video. We were blessed to be able to meet Dolly Parton, and we were in the audience for the Oak Ridge Boys in Boise and they called out our names so we could go backstage. Things like that have been pretty cool. Q. Please include anything I might have left out. A. Well, we hope we can make a difference and inspire others to help out too. For more information, go to www.therunawayhamsters.com.

The four musical siblings of The Runaway Hamsters, aka TRHibe, are shown near Table Rock above Boise. They are, from left to right, Gabby, Isabella, Riley, and Abby. Isabella, the oldest, plays drums and is leader of the band. The other three are triplets. Abby plays keyboard and sings; Gabby plays bass, ukulele, guitar, harmonica, and sings; and Riley plays acoustic guitar and sings. (Photo by Jen Schow)

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