Hidden With Christ Ministries
Sometimes the Fruit Comes Later Page 9
Christmas by Rita Langeland Executive Director Hidden With Christ Ministries
hristmas week in Tanzania was filled with excitement at Treasures of Africa Children’s Home. Because of our generous donors we were able to do all the things on our Christmas “wish list” for the kids. We started with a holiday outing to beautiful Lake Chala in northern Tanzania by the Kenya border. The children enjoyed hiking around and viewing the great natural beauty. They had never visited the area before. We bought safari style boxed lunches from a restaurant in town and enjoyed a wonderful picnic. It was a relaxing break after a long school year filled with the pressure of National Examinations for so many of our kids. A Christmas tradition in Tanzania is that (in families that can afford it) each child receives a new set of clothes. We were able to have beautiful matching Christmas outfits made by a local tailor for our younger kids. They were so excited to try on their new clothes and they looked so great! The older kids were each given a certain budget and spent a day at the market choosing their own special Christmas outfit. They enjoyed making their own choices of style and color and practicing the Tanzanian art of bargaining! Then we planned a special evening a few days before Christmas where some very sweet Christmas memories were made. All of the children received brand new pajamas and slipper socks and we bundled them all up in the van in their PJs and brought them to the Mission house for some Christmas fun. There we prepared a new experience for them all - hot cocoa with marshmallows. Christmas cookies were enjoyed and popcorn was passed around while we all watched THE NATIVITY Christmas movie together. TOA Director Warren Oberst had creatively set up a mini-movie theatre in the living room of the
Tina and Maggie in Christmas clothes
Sweet memories made at Treasures of Africa Childrenâ€™s Home
HWCM Mission House using a very large movie screen cloth I had brought from the U.S. and a projector attached to a video player. Thanks to the challenged Tanzanian electrical grid - the electricity went out three different times during the movie - which was greeted by collective groans each time. But by the grace of God - instead of staying off for hours like usual - the electricity came back on in a few minutes and the movie continued. But the biggest surprise of all that evening was the beautiful sight of Boys Christmas outfits Christmas stockings lining the stairway handrail as they walked into the Mission House. The squeals of glee were so precious. Each stocking had a childâ€™s name on it and was filled with treats and a small gift. They loved running up the stairs to find the stocking with their name on it! Christmas Day held more surprises for them. Each child received gifts of a watch and a journal on Christmas Day. We had chosen a different watch for every single child and they were so excited to run around showing off their unique style to each other. After church, a big Christmas feast was planned with Baba Warren preparing chicken on the newly fabricated barbeque and our staff cook preparing more yummy items for the feast. It was a wonderful day that both staff and children enjoyed. All of these Christmas blessings for the children of Treasures of Africa came from the Lord through the generous hands of our wonderful donors. So we wanted to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU and God bless you! We pray that the New Year brings you and your family more blessing than you can imagine or even contain! _____________________________ Be sure to check out our beautiful redesigned website! www.treasuresofafrica.org Stockings were hung by the Mission House stairway with care
School Days Begin
Our five youngest start school! (l to r) Justice, Moses, Zoe, Diamond and Maria
hen the Christmas season winds down and January begins, the flurry of activity at Treasures of Africa is amazing to watch. The new school year in Tanzania starts in January and the preparation required to get 22 children ready for school is intense. There are long lists of supplies to buy and uniforms to wash and a myriad of sizes of new school shoes to find. The biggest excitement came on the first day of school when our five youngest children - Moses, Justice, Zoe, Maria and Diamond - started first grade. After participating in our in-house preschool program for three years, these six year olds were ready to step outside the gates of TOA and begin their academic journey. By faith, we enrolled them in a private English medium school in town, rather than place them in the overcrowded local government school, even though only one of the five had an education sponsor. The photo above shows them during the first week of school, still awaiting the uniforms the school had ordered for them. They were bubbling with excitement as they shared about their new experiences when they came home from school that first day. This year we have chosen to move almost all of our children to private schools in order to obtain the best possible education. Only Antoni remains at the local government-run primary school by his own choice. We gave him the option to choose because he has only two years left in Primary School. If he had switched to the private school they would have required him to repeat his last grade, meaning it would be three years before he finished Primary School. And since his goal is to go to a vocational training school when he finishes Primary School, it seemed to be the best course of action for him to stay and finish out his two years.
Again in Tanzania With so many children in Private School this year - the need for school fees and other academic expenses at the orphanage has skyrocketed. A generous (and miraculous) end of the year donation provided the money we needed to get them all enrolled in school - and we are so grateful to God. But we need to pay the rest of the year’s school fees in two more installments - so please pray for that to be provided. Every private school requires that prospective students take an entrance exam and only a small percentage of those taking the exam are actually accepted to the school. Last year we were thrilled when Emmanueli passed the entrance exam to get into an exclusive Christian Boy’s Secondary School called Living Stone Seminary in the coastal town of Tanga. He had a great year and came home with glowing reports of the school. This inspired Ray, our aspiring engineer, to want to apply to that same school. He took the entrance exam and passed with flying colors and is excited to begin his Secondary School career with his TOA “brother” Emmanueli. Then we decided it might be best to have Innocent take the entrance exam for Living Stone also. He had already completed one year of Secondary School at a different Boarding School but we felt it was not the best environment. We wanted better for Innocent, who aspires to become an airline pilot one day. Now it is important to understand Innocent’s background to fully appreciate this story. Innocent was a hardened street kid when he came to live at TOA and almost got removed from Treasures of Africa for bullying the younger children. He could barely read a word and had spent little if any time at school. But by the grace of God, his heart softened and he literally was transformed as he accepted the love and discipline that was offered to him at TOA. He began to work diligently in school though his academic foundation was very shaky. We prayed hard when Innocent went to Tanga to take that entrance exam at Living Stone. When the word came back that he had passed the test and was accepted to Living Stone the cheers went up! Now the three boys Emmanueli, Ray and Innocent - are on the way to Boarding School together where we believe they will be well-prepared for leadership and future academic studies. Only Ray has an academic sponsor - so we are looking for sponsors who will help specifically with the education expenses of Emmanueli and Innocent. If you would like to help Treasures of Africa by making a donation to the Education Fund - we will be thrilled to apply that gift to the school fees, uniforms, supplies and other academic expenses of our children. If you would like to sponsor a specific child’s education costs - you can call the ministry office office at (714) 665-0407 and we can inform you of the amount for that particular child. Since our kids are at several different schools with some in Primary and others in Secondary School, some in Boarding School and others in Day School, the costs vary. We are grateful to everyone who has prayed for our children’s academic success and for those who have given financially. We believe that this year will be the best one yet!
You can make a donation online at: www.treasuresofafrica.org
Innocent passed the entrance exam to Living Stone Seminary for Boys
The Fruit of Your Love By Christina Oberst Chaplain Treasures of Africa Children’s Home Moshi, Tanzania
After returning to work at Treasures of Africa after being away for four years, it has been quite amazing to see the growth that has taken place in the children. I am so blessed to see just how each of them has developed in character, in expressing who they are, in dreams and desires, in gifts and abilities and in their own unique personalities. As donors and prayer warriors for Treasures of Africa, it is important that you realize Missionaries Christina and Warren Oberst with that your love and support some of the children at TOA have made this possible for the children here at TOA. Because of it, they are each growing into the people God created them to be. The fruit we are seeing has been born from your love! As I spend time with our older kids and see their gifts and talents, I can see that God is going to do amazing things in and through their lives. It is clear that they will have an impact on the nation of Tanzania. As chaplain here, one of the many things I really enjoy doing is taking time to sit one-on-one with the kids to talk and pray with them. When I ask them to share their dreams with me or tell me the gifts they see in themselves, their responses fill my heart with joy and awe of all that God has already done. The Lord has reminded me of the importance of continued prayer and support to see them all “finish well.” It is a very important time in the lives of our kids as they are all transitioning into new areas of growth. Our little ones started school this month for the first time outside of TOA and our older kids are now becoming young adults. God has great plans for each of our kids and for their lives, and He is using you to bring forth those plans and purposes. Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support, the difference you are making in the lives of our kids is beautiful to see. They are free to aspire to the greatness God has put into them when He formed them in their mother’s womb. My heart has been overwhelmed with thanksgiving for all of those who through their generosity make TOA possible and I wanted to take time to tell you all, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!! May the Lord refresh you with His presence as you have brought refreshment to so many others.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
The “Fight of Faith” for the Treasures of Africa Children’s Village
Building Project Update As many of you who are reading these pages already know, Hidden With Christ Ministries purchased a 5.4 acre plot of land outside of the town of Moshi Tanzania in 2011. The purpose of acquiring this land was to build the Treasures of Africa Children’s Village. The vision for this Children’s Village is very clear. It is to be a place that carries on the mandate of Treasures of Africa Children’s Home – to raise up godly leaders for the nations from among the orphans and abandoned children of Tanzania – but with the capacity to quadruple the number of children served and to add two Vocational Training facilities onsite. The vision of the TOA Children’s Village is also to become a showcase for the nation of using renewable energy sources to run the orphanage. We are pursuing a solar energy hybrid system along with the use of Bio-gas produced from waste at the facility. We have spent many thousands of dollars developing the engineering, architectural and A view of Mount Kilimanjaro solar energy system plans over the past two years. We have over the wall on the TOA land put together an amazing team in Tanzania (contractor, engineer and architect) who are working in conjunction with our professional consultants from Building Africa – an American NGO with a team of top professionals overseeing all the design plans. We are very close to finalizing all the plans on paper. But we are at a critical crossroads staring down two Goliaths. The first Goliath is the government of Tanzania. Though we have been highly encouraged to pursue this project by many different members of government, the Commissioner of Lands in the Kilimanjaro Region has failed to approve our Title Deed for the land for almost three years. The paperwork which was completed long ago - has languished in that office with no movement whatsoever. Without the Title Deed we cannot build. A few months ago there was a major expose’ in one of the prominent Tanzanian newspapers that talked about the rampant corruption in the Land Offices throughout the country. A high ranking official from the Ministry of Land quit his position and spoke to the press about the pervasive culture of corruption in the Ministry of Land from the lowest to the highest levels in government. He talked about how impossible it is for a person to get a Title Deed without paying a bribe. Since we have been committed since the inception of the ministry in Tanzania to NEVER give a bribe under any circumstances, we have never offered one to the Land Commissioner to “pave the way” to get our Title Deed issued. So like David facing Goliath, we need supernatural intervention to overcome this giant. The second Goliath we are facing is financial. We have not felt in good conscience that we should undertake any further fundraisers for the Building Project at this time because we do not have the Title Deed in hand. All the monies previously raised and donated have been used on purchasing the land, building the massive security wall around the property, and developing the engineering, architectural plans and paying our consultants. We are now at the bottom of the barrel of the Building Fund. I am sharing these two faith challenges with you to ask that you stand with us in 2014 to see these two Goliaths defeated. According to the latest estimate we have received from all the experts – we need four million dollars to see our TOA Children’s Village – all 16 buildings on the compound – built. We know that is not too difficult for God. As I am writing this, we have just arranged with someone in Tanzania who has expertise in finalizing Title Deeds to pursue the Deed on our behalf. All other informal avenues such as having our friends in high places inquire for us – have not brought any results. We were just referred to this person by a Bishop in Moshi who successfully used the services of this “agent” to help him get a Title Deed for his ministry’s land. So I am asking you to pray for this person to help us gain the victory that we need. Thank you for believing with us for the Title Deed to be obtained quickly, the money needed to be raised and the buildings to begin to arise from the ground in 2014.
“…for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” David speaking to Goliath just before he killed him. 1 Samuel 17:47
By Warren Oberst Administrative Director Treasures of Africa Children’s Home When I first met Jeremia in September of 2008 he was just starting to overcome the mental and physical obstacles he was dealt at birth. When the Welfare Department in Moshi Tanzania found him, he had been obviously unattended and left to wallow in his own filth. He was not toilet trained and was unable to walk even though he was three years old. After being at TOA for a little over a year he was walking well but his speech was still garbled and unclear. When he spoke, you could tell he was challenged and we all knew from his family history that he had some serious difficulties to overcome. The welfare department had warned us that his mother was HIV positive and had a severe mental disorder. They wanted to keep his location hidden from her so she would not come to the Children’s Home to take him back. She had done this in the past with other children and the welfare department wasn’t taking any chances this time. She has since disappeared and the father has never been known. We thank God that Jeremia is not HIV positive. When I saw Jeremia again in October 2013 (after a four year absence from Tanzania) I found that he was the same sweet child - always with a beautiful smile on his face and always looking for that next big hug. His eyes sparkle when he looks at you and some people would pay handsomely to have his extraordinarily beautiful eyelashes. He was speaking better but still couldn’t pronounce my name correctly. The welfare department has him listed as mentally retarded.
One Special Boy
During a recent meeting with our new Social Worker, Tumaini (Hope) Shalli and our former Assistant Director, Eli Kiwelu, I was able to learn a little more about Jeremia’s background. And I got some insight into where those beautiful eyelashes may have come from. When Eli mentioned that Jeremia’s family was from a place called Babati in North/Central Tanzania, Tumaini got so excited she almost jumped out of her chair and exclaimed, “No Wonder!” I had to ask her what she meant, so she began telling the story of how the women of Babati are so renowned for their beauty that they have no need of makeup and don’t even have to comb their hair. She continued (in spite of my laughter) to explain the history of that area. It has been a long held tradition that Ethiopian Jews (descendants of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon) had migrated from Ethiopia to the Lake Babati region long ago and had populated the area. I don’t think I’ll ever look at Jeremia the same again. It’s a wonder to think he is possibly a descendant of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. I’m now reminded of Biblical history every time I get my hug.
Jeremia with his best buddy Awadhi
If that wasn’t enough for the week, there were more amazing revelations about Jeremia a few days later. Last year at the age of eight, Jeremia started Standard 1 (Grade 1) at a private school in Moshi where many of our other children attend. Expectations were low. Standard 2 seemed years away for Jeremia, if attainable at all. When we received his end of the year report card we weren’t expecting much. But after opening it - Faith, Christina and I were literally in tears and in awe of God. Jeremia was ranked first in his class in English, first in his class in Swahili and first in his class in Reading. He ranked 15th out of 31 students overall, as his grades in other subjects were lower. But this achievement in itself was an absolute miracle. We may not have a rocket scientist on our hands, but far as I’m concerned, the sky is now the limit for Jeremia. Our God is so amazing and nothing is impossible with Him. I’d like to thank all of you who have stood with us in prayer for all of our precious children at Treasures of Africa, who each have a story of their own. Life can be so hard here in Tanzania. I see it every single day. Your gifts to this ministry are truly changing lives and even giving hope to this country as these children grow and have a heart to make a difference in their homeland. That may be hard to believe from where you’re sitting, but when I talk to the bankers, business and shop owners in this town about the aspirations of our four oldest kids – (Brain Surgeon, Lawyer, Teacher, and Business woman) – they tell me that it gives them hope for the future of Tanzania. Thank you for investing in these precious children who will help bring hope to their nation.
Sometimes the W
By Jaimee Joye Langeland Co-Director Operation Lazarus Sevastopol, Ukraine
e were nearing the end of our trip in Sevastopol. It was crunch time. The closer we got to leaving Ukraine, the longer our to-do list became. We were about five days from leaving and our close friend Alina and her husband had come from Kiev to spend time with us. We had planned a day trip to visit Balalava where there are magnificent Fruit on the vine in Ukraine ruins, hills to hike and beautiful views of the sea. By the time we returned home, the girls and I were tired, cold and ready to crawl into bed. But because we had no time to waste, we had scheduled a final get together with Yulia, one of the girls who had lived in the Operation Lazarus Transitional Home with her two daughters. We had already spent some time with Yulia and I figured it would be a casual evening that we could spend in the comfort of our apartment, letting our girls play together. Then I got the news that Luda would be joining us. This was a shocker. Several years ago, Luda and I had had a bit of a confrontation about her very negative behavior in our home, and I had not seen her since. Vika had maintained somewhat of a relationship with her but it was always quite strained. Of all the orphaned teenagers we have worked with in Ukraine, Luda had by far been the most difficult, cold and seemingly hard hearted. From the first day we met her at Camp Gorney (where the orphans go to spend the summer months) until the time I confronted her in our home, she was a rather unpleasant person to be around. So I have to admit, after a long busy day travelling with friends, I was wondering where in the world I was going to muster up enough energy to deal with Luda’s tough exterior and cutting remarks. Since time was not on our side, I gave myself a bit of a pep talk and began preparing the house for their arrival. When Luda and Yulia arrived, we exchanged greetings and moved into the living room. Luda, who now has a 7 month old son, sat on our couch quite comfortably, drinking tea and snacking on chocolates and cookies we had set out to share. This was a bit of a surprise to me. When we had Luda in our home in the past, she always adamantly refused any hospitality we offered, despite the fact that the other orphans would be eating an entire dinner. Luda would hardly even drink a cup of tea. I was honestly a bit shocked knowing the last time she and I had been together was in that exact same sitting room where I had addressed her inappropriate behavior. I was also surprised that her demeanor was rather pleasant and she hadn’t mumbled any rude comments under her breath. But this was only the beginning. At first, our conversation was mostly shallow. Then Yulia began insisting that we all go on a walk. In my tired state, the last thing I wanted to do was bundle up the 5 small children among us and take a long walk in the cold Ukrainian night air. But she persisted and I finally gave in. After quite some time of gathering jackets, scarves, boots and so on, we headed down toward the sea for a walk. Now you must understand that walking in Ukraine is a major pastime. In fact, we walk often and I usually enjoy it extensively. But not this night. Everything just seemed to go wrong. It started when we realized that we had left most of our money at home which meant we didn’t have enough with us to offer to buy them a hot drink or some food which would have meant less walking in the cold. Then I had agreed to let Yulia use my double stroller for her two children since my girls almost never want to ride in it anyway. But wouldn’t you guess - it was the one night my girls desperately wanted to ride in that stroller. Both Yulia’s daughters and my daughters, who are all typically quite content on a walk, were extremely whiny. Yulia’s baby girl wouldn’t sleep and only wanted to cry. And it was quickly becoming apparent to me that I should have dressed my girls in warmer clothes. Luda’s son thankfully fell asleep in his stroller. I began thinking, “I don’t know if I have ever been on such a
Fruit Comes Later… miserable walk.” And then it hit me, this walk was ordained by God. Something was happening during this incredibly miserable walk. I didn’t know what was happening - but it became very clear in my spirit that something important was taking place. After we had walked for some time, I realized that these young ladies were in no hurry to part company from us for the evening. They seemed determined to linger as long as possible. I, however, knew my own daughters were getting desperate for food, warmth and sleep. Andy decided to take the girls back on his own so I could continue to walk and fellowship. Yulia’s baby finally fell asleep in the stroller. As we walked along with the first semblance of quiet, I asked Luda, “Luda, where are you living now?” And that was it. The flood gates opened and Luda began to tell me all the details of what had taken place in the last several years of her life. She told me that her boyfriend, who she had been with for 3 years, had sworn to her that he would never leave her or the baby. But a week or so after the baby was born - he walked out. She found herself abandoned again by someone she thought loved her. On top of that blow, she had been notified by the authorities that she had to move out of her government provided apartment. Then she found a small room in a Soviet-era building to move to which needs serious refurbishing. But then the conversation shifted. She said to me in her broken English, “I’ve learned a lot about myself since having a baby. I have become quieter because I have learned that I can really hurt people with my words. I have God in my heart now and it’s because of you. And I know He will take care of me.” She then turned to Vika, who was walking with us, and began repenting to her for very specific times that she had hurt and wronged Vika. Now, if you are at all acquainted with the Ukrainian culture, admitting to being wrong isn’t something that comes easily. But this sudden repentance from Luda was far beyond even that. I was astounded. Luda was the girl I had mentally written off, at least temporarily. I even had recently explained to Vika that we couldn’t help Luda until she was able to repent. She was the type of person who burned all her bridges and even if you tried to help her it would eventually be thrown back in your face. I knew that we couldn’t actually help her unless she allowed God to change her heart. Now here I was - standing on a cold, dark Ukrainian street at ten o’clock at night - witnessing with my own two eyes, legitimate transformation that only God could have orchestrated. As I stood there listening to her repent, I thought to myself, “None of this has been in vain.” We concluded our conversation with Luda by assuring her that not only do we love and care for her, but that there are people in America that care for her as well. She proceeded to tell me that she wasn’t asking for money but that she did want us to pray for her. I assured her that we would. And I would like to ask the same of you. Please pray for Luda and her son. Luda is currently trying to complete a trade school while being a single mom with a very difficult living situation. Her change of heart came much later than we would have imagined, but we are glad to see that she has finally allowed God to touch her, encourage her and help her. Sometimes when you have sown into someone’s life – the fruit comes much later than you would have hoped or expected. But God is faithful and the harvest does eventually come forth! And we are thankful that He is moving among Ukrainian orphans …even those with the hardest of hearts. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
New Year...New W
by Andy Langeland Co- Director Operation Lazarus
hen Jaimee and I first moved to Ukraine seven years ago to launch Operation Lazarus, we packed our suitcases like we were moving there forever. That was our level of commitment and willingness to serve the Lord by ministering to the forgotten teenage and young adult orphans in Ukraine. And we lived out that vision working with teens coming out of the government-run orphanages with the help of so many donors that supported the work. We realized the need for transitional housing for those leaving the orphanage as so many were sucked into a life of prostitution or gang activity to try to find a way to provide shelter for themselves. So the Lazarus Transitional House was born and served female young adult orphans. Then God blessed us with two daughters and over time it became clear to us that living in Ukraine and raising our girls there was not the best plan for their lives. So we transitioned to living in the US and going back and forth to Ukraine to oversee the ministry being spearheaded by our faithful Assistant Director, Vika Pozdniakova. Then Vika fell in love and became engaged to a great guy - who is also in full-time ministry. The only problem (for us) is that he serves a ministry in Germany and the newlyweds will be moving there after their wedding. This life changing event for Vika brought Jaimee and me to a major crossroads. We didn’t feel led to move back to Ukraine to oversee the Transitional House and we don’t have anyone to take Vika’s place when she leaves. So with heavy hearts and not a few tears, we made the decision that at the end of April 2014 we will lay Operation Lazarus “on the altar” and let God raise up something new.
Operation Lazarus Asst. Director Vika with her fiancee Bernie
The timing will work out well with our Transitional House residents who have all recently been making steps toward independent living which of course, was the entire purpose. And our final work will be to assist two of our young adult orphans with refurbishing their humble abodes. We hope to bring a small missions team to Ukraine in April to help with these two hands-on refurbishing projects. One is for single mother Luda – to make the tiny apartment she has been given in an old Soviet-era building up to code – with new flooring, wall coverings (remove 50 years of old wall paper) some basic furniture and fix broken windows so she and her baby don’t freeze in the winter months. The second project is for Yulia and her young family – they have no running water in their small farm house in the country (inherited from her husband’s family) and we want to assist with that project of getting them water. We feel that if we can accomplish these final two projects, we can leave Ukraine ¬with a full heart – having assisted the teenage and young adult orphans that God brought into our care with transitioning into independent living in a good way. If you have ever desired to go to Ukraine - you are welcome to join us on that important missions trip in April!!!
Looking Ahead to the Next Step
Our experience as missionaries living in Ukraine was definitely life-transforming. It helped shape our worldview and we experienced both the joys and the trials of being foreigners living abroad. By starting a missions project from scratch - we learned the incredible challenges that long-term missionaries go through trying to fund missions work and the stress of both trying to “do the work” and promote it so that the funding keeps coming in. We also began to realize the tremendous pressure long-term missionaries face just trying to adequately “tell the story” of the important work they are doing. In my grandfather’s day as a young missionary in the bush of West Africa during the 1950’s, he took photos on slide film so when he returned on furlough he could share those slides at churches that had supported their missions work. At that time, those dramatic visual images from the bush were unrivaled as there was no access to mass media as there is now. His riveting images of African native life made a powerful impact on the viewer’s imaginations as most had never seen such things outside of National Geographic Magazine! (Remember – black and white television was in its infancy in the 1950’s)
Season...New Focus Today people are bombarded with images, photos, and videos from around the world 24 hours per day and the quality of those images is higher than ever in the history of mankind. Modern missionaries with even the most compelling stories have a hard time standing out in the midst of a vastly crowded and polluted media arena of this digital age. For small missionary organizations - the struggle to both “do the work” and “illustrate the work” they are doing through photos, videos and social media is very challenging if they have no training or experience in that field. And the truth is - few missionaries are skilled in these areas. So oftentimes they actually hinder their own cause by sharing poor quality photos and videos. Professional photography became a focus for me some years ago as both something I enjoyed tremendously but also as a way to do some “tentmaking” and earn extra money to support our continued missions work. My deep love for photography was first sparked on a missions trip to Tanzania in 2005 with Hidden With Christ Ministries when I documented an evangelistic crusade among the Maasai people. Since then, I have delighted in taking photos of ministry work in foreign lands including Ukraine, Haiti and Africa. As we prayed and brainstormed as to what the next step for us would be, it became apparent that one way that we could continue to assist in missions work, especially with those serving orphans and doing mercy ministries, was to come alongside and provide a way to help missionaries “tell their story.” So I want to present to you our goals for this new ministry focus and ask you to pray as we get this underway. The purpose of this new “Media Ministry for Missions” is to take short-term trips with a small team of professionals to the nation where the missionaries are serving and provide the following services: 1) Assist long-term missionaries by documenting their work in the field through photography 2) Record on video their best stories, victories, and testimonies for the purpose of producing several short videos which both tell the story of the work and share the needs 3) Provide the missionaries with several hundred edited digital Photos that can be used throughout the year for their promotional materials, website content, and presentations to share their ministry work 4) If needed - develop a simple user friendly website for the missionary and train them how to update the website content without the need for a professional webmaster 5) Provide social media training for missionaries on the field to help them get the word out every single day through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram How much encouragement would it bring to hard-working missionaries on the field in a foreign land to have someone come in and become their “digital cheerleaders?” We believe it would not only encourage their hearts - but it would practically assist them in getting more support to continue the important work they are doing. Our first few projects will include one that will take us back to Ukraine (our hearts will never be far from that nation!) to help document the wonderful work that our friends at Bridges of Faith are doing to help find adoptive families for orphaned children. We also plan to assist Treasures of Africa Children’s Home in Tanzania in developing some up-to-date materials that will help tell the amazing story of TOA and hopefully help raise money for the building of the Treasures of Africa Children’s Village. Then we will branch out to West Africa and help a very worthy ministry caring for orphans in Liberia. Will you pray for us as we launch out in this new direction? It will take money for the travel and expenses of being on the field for these short-term trips as well as finances to produce usable materials for the missionaries. We hope to find as many volunteers as possible willing to pay their own way to help - but there will be times we will need to pay the airfare for some of those professionals that we need on the team to help the missionaries. So if you have a heart to help us launch this new ministry - you can write a check to HIDDEN WITH CHRIST MINISTRIES and in the memo section write: “Media Ministry for Missions.” Thank you for your love and support for our work in Ukraine over the past 7 years and we hope you will continue to partner with us to make a wider impact in Missions this year.
2014 The Year by Rita Langeland Executive Director Hidden With Christ Ministries
Mediocre – barely adequate, not satisfactory, poor, inferior, meager, low-quality, second-rate. Best – of the highest quality, excellence, or standing, most advantageous, suitable, or desirable
f you took a short survey that asked how you would rate the major areas of your life right now - physical health, emotional well-being, personal relationships, finances and spiritual health - how would you rate them on a simple three point scale of 1) mediocre 2) good or 3) best? I believe the results would reveal areas in your life that you wish were BEST but you know are mediocre.
When I prayed about 2014 and asked the Lord what He had in store for His people, the word that kept coming to me was - The Desire of the Father’s Heart Is To Give You God’s Best. Now the problem with sharing a word like that - is that often the first thought that
comes to a person’s mind when they hear it is, “I don’t deserve God’s best, I wasn’t very spiritual last year or faithful to God in prayer, or tithing or attending church.” If that was your first thought, then the following will be very good news for you.
God’s desire to give you His BEST is not determined by your previous performance or worthiness – but by God’s grace as illustrated both in the Old and New Testament. Back in the book of Genesis, you will recall the story of Joseph and his ungodly brothers. Those brothers, whose hearts were filled with jealousy toward Joseph, sold him as a slave to some passing Ishmaelite traders who carried him off to Egypt. Years later, after Joseph had been miraculously promoted to be the Prime Minister of Egypt, he sent for his father Jacob and his brothers and moved them all to Egypt so they could survive during the seven years of famine that were plaguing the land. But they didn’t just “barely survive” in Egypt - God arranged for them to be given “the BEST of the land.”
So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered. Genesis 47:11. Can you imagine that? God provided the best of the land of Egypt for Joseph’s brothers even after they had sold Joseph as a slave! His heart to give them the BEST was certainly not based on their past performance but on His own love and grace. We can find an equally powerful illustration in the New Testament. In the Gospel of Luke we find the beautiful story that Jesus told about the Prodigal Son. Jesus used this story to illustrate the heart of God toward sinful people with the father in the story representing our Father God. After the Prodigal Son had squandered his entire inheritance on “loose living” he returned to his father’s house filthy and hungry, intending to beg for a job as one of his servants. But the father’s heart of love was clearly demonstrated through his response to the boy’s humble return. Instead of casting him out in disgust, he ordered that his servants clothe him in the BEST robe in the house. He wasn’t rewarding his bad behavior, he was demonstrating his love and grace.
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.’ Luke 15:22 A second obstacle that often hinders people from receiving what God has for them is a struggle to trust God’s character and believe His intentions are good when momentary circumstances look very bad. If you are going to receive God’s BEST in 2014 - You Must Believe God’s
Intention Toward You is Good In EVERY Circumstance in Your Life. Do you remember the story in the book of Exodus about the children of Israel after they had been miraculously delivered from Egypt? They started walking through the wilderness toward the Promised Land but encountered some difficulties. It appeared as if they would not be able to find water. When they faced that challenging circumstance they began to question God’s character - asking if He had brought them out of Egypt with the intention of killing them by thirst in the wilderness.
Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst? Exodus 17:3
of God’s BEST When you face difficult circumstances in your life this year that appear to be the opposite of God’s BEST - be careful that you do not fall into the same sin that the Israelites committed. Their sin was the sin of UNBELIEF - a lack of trust in God, His Word of promise and His character. The Book of Hebrews reveals to us that this was the reason those people never entered the Promised Land.
So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Heb. 3:19 A third and perhaps most significant obstacle to receiving God’s BEST in your life this year is a past willingness to SETTLE FOR LESS than God’s BEST. You Will Never Receive God’s Best if You Are Willing to Live With Less. Have you ever heard yourself say, “I’d settle for....” referring to some condition far below BEST because you are struggling with even attaining mediocrity in that area of your life? It is like the wife who would be happy to settle for no daily arguments with her husband because she has given up dreaming of having a happy, love-filled marriage. Once again, we can observe this common tendency in human nature illustrated by the children of Israel when they were wandering in the wilderness. In the 13th chapter of the book of Numbers we find the place where the Israelites are on the verge of entering the Promised Land. They could see it from the top of the hill and they had sent spies in to spy out the conditions in the land. When the spies returned, ten of the twelve said the land was indeed flowing with milk and honey as God had told them, but they feared the giants they saw in that land and voted that they all go back to Egypt.
Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” Numbers 14:3-4 By saying they wanted to go back to Egypt, they were in essence saying they were willing to settle for a life of slavery. If you are willing to settle for mediocrity in any area of your life – you will never experience God’s BEST! Remember the definition of mediocre - barely adequate, inferior, low quality, second rate. The last point that I want to share with you is a key truth. To Receive God’s BEST - you must be willing to FIGHT FOR IT! Among those twelve spies that Moses sent into the Promised Land to check out the conditions, there were two men who were full of faith in God, His word and His character. Their names were Joshua and Caleb and they were more than willing to fight to receive God’s Best - the Promised Land. Instead of discouraging the people like the other spies, they encouraged the people to go in and fight to take possession of what God had promised them. Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” Numbers 13:30 When God heard the words of the ten spies who wanted to go back to Egypt and the two spies who were willing to trust Him and fight for God’s BEST - God made a decision. He declared that the ones who were unwilling to fight for it - would never receive the blessing of the Promised Land. And God’s word came to pass as they all died in the wilderness. But the two who were willing to fight - Joshua and Caleb - would be the only ones to enter and receive God’s BEST.
Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Numbers 14:30
WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO FIGHT FOR IN 2014? • • • • • • •
A miraculous healing for your body is good – but walking in divine health is BEST Miraculous financial deliverance is good – but God’s abundance is BEST Restoration of broken relationships is good – but maintaining healthy and loving relationships is BEST Occasional answers to prayer are good – but walking in close communion with God is BEST Receiving a touch from God is good – being used by God to bring His touch to others is BEST Resisting temptation is good – being so in love with God that worldly lusts have no appeal is BEST Having a job that pays the bills is good – but living out the purpose for which God created you is BEST
Let’s Believe and Fight for God’s Best in 2014! ___________________________________________________ You can hear an audio version of this message on www.hiddenwithchrist.com
Hidden With Christ Ministries P.O. Box 3267 Tustin, CA 92781
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New Year’s Resolutions Anyone? The practice of making New Year’s resolutions can be traced back over 3000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is something about the start of a new year that gives us the hope of a fresh start. Most New Year’s resolutions (in the United States anyway) seem to involve weight loss or getting in shape physically. Certainly not a bad idea, but there are more important things in life. The Bible actually addresses this issue in 1 Timothy 4:8 - Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. (NLT) If you want to pursue something new in 2014 that will bring benefits to all areas of your life, we would encourage you to pursue reading through the Bible this year. God’s Word will bless you spiritually, physically and emotionally - something few other things in life can claim. An easy way to systematically go through the Bible this year is by listening to MY EVERYDAY BIBLE. You can listen to it on your computer by going to the website: www.myeverydaybible.com or you can download the free APP to your smart phone. If you have a smartphone (Apple Iphone, Android or Windows Phone) you can go to the APP store on your phone and download MY EVERYDAY BIBLE for free. MY EVERYDAY BIBLE will take you through the entire Bible chronologically (every chapter and verse) in 365 days. You can start DAY 1 anytime and then each day listen to one broadcast. After 365 days you will have listened to the entire Bible plus you will have heard a daily devotional at the end of each Bible reading. We hope you will resolve to join us as we journey through the scriptures with MY EVERYDAY BIBLE. Then be ready to receive the multitude of blessings promised to the person who meditates on God’s Word:
a light for your path - Psalm 119:105 prosperity and good success - Joshua 1:8 help in avoiding sin - Psalm 119:11 restoration for your soul (mind and emotions) - Psalm 19:7 wisdom - Psalm 19:7 spiritual growth - 1 Peter 2:2 great peace - Psalm 119:165 brings joy to your heart - Jeremiah 15:16b healing to your body - Proverbs 4:20-22 www.myeverydaybible.com
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