Tag Archives: Hope

The Darker the Night, the Sooner the Dawn Arrives!

“Many times, in life, we see ourselves surrounded by dense darkness, and as we pass it through, we can hardly see dawn.”

 

The popular belief says so, although according to subject matter experts, that’s not necessarily the case. Anyway, what is true without a doubt is that after the thickest darkness of the night, we can always expect for the sunrise to come. Yes, we certainly can! Even in Antarctica where nights can last 24 hours.

But beyond a scientific analysis of this phenomenon, this leads us to meditate on the various circumstances we go through.  However, as sure as dawn approaches, when we walk along dreary times, we will surely see those sparkles of hope to light up our days and drive us with certainty to a new bright day.

Recently, I was on a plane for several hours flying back to my country. It was a night flight. So, while we were flying across the Atlantic, I witnessed the most spectacular night landscape…dense black clouds that made me think of a catastrophic storm coming right at us! But after a little while, through the distance I saw astonishing sparkles of light coming out of nowhere. Certainly, the first sunrays were showing up on the horizon. And the truth is that darkness, however dense it seemed, was brief and would soon be over. For sure, there was hope and dawn was getting closer.

What situation are you facing right now? Are you walking along a dense dark road where it’s just impossible to see the other end and it makes your heart feel invaded with fear and uneasiness? Do you feel lonely? Are you facing hard financial problems because you don’t have a job and you have nothing but tons of debts? Were you diagnosed with a disease with limited or very complicated probabilities of being healed by human means? Or are you going through a very painful family situation?

That’s life! There are sunny and bright days where we can feel affected by the heat despite the beautiful landscape around us. And there are also rainy and cold days where all we need is warm shelter and a hot drink. Of course, there are also those dark, freezing and hopeless nights; those times where our heart has a profound yearning for guidance from a caring and generous hand full of love.

I don’t know what you are going through right now, but if you’re walking across the dense and thick darkness of the night, I’m convinced that there’s hope and you still have the chance to suddenly see those sparkles of light that will lead you towards your very own sunrise.

In fact, someone already took that disturbing and densely dark journey before you and I did. There’s someone who fully understands what you’re experiencing today. Someone already went through all that and even more. That is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God Himself; the One who loved us [humankind] “so that though He was rich, He became poor, so that through His poverty we might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Has there ever been a darker night in the history of humankind?
The death of the Faithful and Just King for the lives of unfaithful and unjust people.                    The execution of the Holy One for the salvation of sinners.

But that night didn’t end there, and 72 hours later the dawn came with great power. The Righteous One rose again. He rose victoriously from death. Life defeated death!

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and Life itself; He has the power to take you from death to life, from discouragement to hope, from discontent to fullness, from anguish to peace.
You can test anything, but I can assure you that there’s no other way for you to find a brand-new and lasting dawn for your life. Jesus Christ is the only certain way. Jesus is the Bright Morning Star! (Revelation 22:16)

I invite you to open your heart, your soul to Jesus Christ today. He will put the breath of life in you and He will literally take you from death to life. He will fill you up with hope and He will keep you warm with His eternal love. And He will give you peace, the kind of peace that transcends all understanding in this turbulent world.

A popular adage says, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” In fact, “today is the day for Salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). So, cry out faithfully to the Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, the One who listens to your pleas and to every yearning of your heart. Invite Him today to be your only Savior and Lord.

God Almighty, I thank you for sending your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, the One who died on the cross for me. Please forgive all my sins. I repent from the bottom of my heart because I have sinned against you and I have offended you. Cleanse me and purify me with Christ’s precious blood. I firmly believe that God raised Jesus from the death to give me eternal life. My beloved Jesus, please come into my heart. I welcome you as the only Savior of my soul and my life. Transform me and help me to live a life of obedience that will lead me to please you always. I pray all this in your Name, dear Jesus!

If you have any questions regarding the decision you made today, please contact our blog. We’re always glad to help you. And don’t forget that “today is the day for Salvation.”

 

Photos:

  1. Cecy Yepez
  2. Freepik License
  3. 123RF License

 

 

Do you celebrate Christmas?

In the midst of chaos, there is HOPE…
There is a reason to celebrate Christmas!

Towards Excellence wishes you Merry Christmas and a very fruitful New Year!

 

Let´s get ready! _God is Speaking — [Towards Excellence]

By Anne Graham Lotz …Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. [Revelation 1:3] Do you long for revival? Not a tent meeting. Not a series of church meetings. But an outpouring of God’s Spirit that results in God’s people waking […]

a través de God is Speaking — Towards Excellence

When the earth shakes, your whole being shakes as well!

Devastating earthquake of 7.8

Devastating earthquake of 7.8 struck Ecuador

It’s been two weeks since the Ecuadorian community experienced moments of anguish, terror and desolation. The ground shook hard for less than one minute, but for the entire population it seemed an eternity.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale hit Ecuador, with its epicenter striking two small towns on the coast: Pedernales in the province of Manabi and Muisne in the province of Esmeraldas. However, almost every person felt this earthquake which shook the country of Ecuador its entire length and breadth.

Only rubbles and desolation

Only rubbles and desolation

The evening of April 16 turned into a night of

terror and outright tragedy for the entire population, but especially for the people directly affected, nearly 1,500,000 inhabitants. A labyrinth of no escape and a time of confusion as multiple aftershocks continued the shaking even until now as I write this article. Entire families continue sleeping outside because they are afraid to be trapped inside their houses or because some of their houses simply fell to the ground and were left in ruins.

As of today, the official number of causalities is over

Cleaning rubbles is only the beginning!

Cleaning rubbles is only the beginning!

650 and 30,000 persons have received medical attention. These statistics truly touch the hearts of the Ecuadorian people, but it is really terrible for the families of the victims. However, in the midst of so much pain, we rejoice to know that more than 22,000 are safe in shelters and 113 were rescued from the debris.

The entire nation has mobilized in order to help our brothers and sisters who have been affected by this

Rescue Teams in action

Rescue Teams in action

natural disaster. National and international friend organizations, the media, and neighboring countries as well as far-distant countries have all been present during this time of tears and desolation. Famous people and well-known organizations have come but there have also been many anonymous heroes.

Consequently, today I want to share about Juan Carlos and Sandra, a young couple of heroes from Manta, one of the cities most adversely hit. With a broken voice, they say, “The earthquake has hit us so tremendously, because people have lost their homes and their loved ones. The only thing you think at a time like this is that it must be the end of everything.”

Hundreds of hands ready to bless!

Hundreds of hands ready to bless!

Nevertheless, after that frightful experience, Juan Carlos and Sandra surmounted their own pain and fear, rolled up their sleeves and went out in faith to serve the people who were having an even worse time. “Just seeing people on the street who had lost everything was what motivated us to do something and somehow help these people and communities with our little grain of sand, because they have so many needs.”

Every morning they get up early and take food and

Team of vounteers who works alongside Juan Carlos & Sandra

Team of vounteers who works alongside Juan Carlos & Sandra

words of encouragement, advice and restoration to as many people as they can reach in different places. They even serve the volunteers who are there working in those areas in need.

Juan Carlos and Sandra alongside the members of their small “Family Home Church”, friends and people in general who are contributing anonymously to this cause, are the heroes who are carrying out and will make possible the reconstruction of these communities.

What’s going to happen later on? That’s what Juan

Physical and spiritual food is what our people need the most!

Physical and spiritual food is what our people need the most!

Carlos and Sandra and hundreds of affected people are asking. Perhaps right now there is no clear or specific answer humanly speaking. But this young couple states with conviction, “there is hope” because their hearts are totally trusting in the faithfulness of a good God and in His provision.

Therefore, Juan Carlos and Sandra are calling on the global community to unite in intercession and prayer for Manabi and for all of Ecuador, praying that God will fill the country with strength and that many more people will join in the rebuilding of these towns who “are in this process of change, because the best is yet to come,” as Juan Carlos states with conviction.

And you? Don’t you feel like joining this team of rebuilders?

“If God is not sending earthquakes, destroying economies and inflicting pain upon human beings, what is God doing? God works through people, calling them to help their neighbors in need. God comforts His people, walking with them even ‘through the valley of the shadow of death.'”

                                                                                        Adam Hamilton

 

*****

Photographs:
Courtesy of: Margarita del Mónaco, Teo Zamora and The Jarrin Family.

Statistics:

Source: http://www.gestionderiesgos.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2016/04/Informe-de-situaci%C3%B3n-51-29042016-08h00.pdf

Peace and Adversity, Beauty and Pain…just in one place?

“If there is a loving God who created us, then he ought to be distraught at the state of the world.”

                                                                                         Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld, writer

Amber Van Schooneveld, writer

 

 

Amber is the senior writer and editor for Compassion Canada. Before, she worked for Compassion International, as editorial manager of writers and photographers in the field. Amber has always had a sensitive heart to the suffering in the world. When she was a child, she would cry when other children would kill ants. Since then, she has moved on to be moved by greater suffering in the world. Amber is the author of Hope Lives and Passport to Prayer, both aimed at helping people know God’s heart for the suffering in this world and to take action. She has a degree in English from Colorado State University and lives in Colorado with her wonderful family.

 

 

 
Is it possible for peace and adversity, for poverty and wealth, for beauty and pain to fill this world at once?
Sometimes, sitting in my peaceful home in Colorado, enjoying the lovely scenery, having a hearty family meal together and watching my children play with each other, the images you watch in the news of war, disaster and extreme poverty can seem inconceivable. How is it that I, even with all of life’s pains, disappointments and inconveniences, can live in such security when so many others, Syrian war refugees, for example, live in such fear and deprivation? It boggles the mind.

Yet we all know that this is indeed the state of the world. But none of our experiences are all good or all bad. Even in my secure and peaceful life, I’m not sheltered from the pain of cancer or suicide. And those living in extreme poverty also can still have the joy of family and the beauty of God’s creation. All, or at least, most of us experience both great beauty and love and heartbreaking pain and loss.

 

In your several journeys throughout developed and developing countries, what has caught your attention in regards to this phenomenon?
Returning home to the US after traveling to a developing country, I’m almost always struck by how

Amber, author of "Hope lives"

Amber, author of “Hope lives”

people don’t realize how good we have it. Living in a relatively affluent place, it’s easy to look around at those wealthier than you and believe that you are just barely making it. Few of us have the context to understand the luxury we live in because we aren’t surrounded by the alternative of people who do not have running water, adequate food, safe homes or access to banking, medical care, insurance or social safety nets.

On the other hand, I’m always struck by how similar we all are, no matter what country we are from. People are people. There are significant cultural differences, but I believe at our core we are all far more alike than we are different. We have the same desires, to be loved, to be safe, and to see our children and families thrive.

 

Is it God’s responsibility (if there is a God) or man’s responsibility for all the tragedies this world is experiencing?

I would say it is both. If there is a loving God who created us, then he ought to be distraught at the state of the world. And the Bible tells us that He is. (For example, In Luke 19, it is recorded that Jesus wept over the suffering that was to come to Jerusalem. And throughout the Old Testament it says that God hears the cry of the oppressed.) So the most challenging question that has ever been asked is, why does a loving God allow so much suffering? It’s not a question I can presume to answer well, and I don’t think it’s one we will fully understand on this side of eternity.

Many Christians have answered the question of suffering by saying that God uses our suffering to strengthen our faith and draw us toward Him. While we know that God uses suffering, both from experience and from passages like Romans 5:3-5, I don’t think this answer is the whole story. It can lead to bad theology, for example, someone asserting that God caused a child to die in order to teach a mother a lesson about faith. For me, the truth that I cling to when staggered by the suffering in the world is that God created a world in which there is free will because He wanted to create a world of loving relationships. For love to exist, free will is necessary, meaning man is free to do both good or evil. God says He has a plan to redeem the evil that is perpetrated in this world, but just like a tapestry that is beautiful on one side and tangled on the other, it is hard to see the sense of so much suffering in our limited perspective.

But throughout the Bible, God says that we are also responsible to answer to the suffering in the world. He calls us to speak out for justice, to break the chains of the oppressed and to help those in poverty. Although we don’t understand why suffering is allowed, we do know that God calls us to be active in stamping it out of this world. In fact, in Ephesians 2:10, Paul says that God has prepared good works for us to do in advance! What a huge honor that God values us so much as to allow us to be His hands in actively bringing peace, justice and equality to the world.

 

As surely we cannot close our eyes and say that this world is a “paradise,” is there any hope?

Amber, in one of her trips, sharing with two little Indian girls

Amber, in one of her trips, sharing with two little Indian girls

Though we can’t fully understand why God allows so much suffering, I often think back to Genesis 16, in which God noticed the suffering of Hagar, a servant. When she was dying in the desert, God saw her need and helped her, which led her to call Him “the God who sees.” In the midst of our suffering, we are never alone. God says He is close to the broken hearted. He sees the pain of the world, He listens to the cries of the oppressed, and He calls all of us to be active in being His hands in offering comfort, succor, love and physical help to this world.

111 – Preprayer for the NEW YEAR

By Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

Let us join Anne…Preprayer for the New Year!  Let us intercede for our nations, families and ourselves!

* Please click here  to listen to Anne pray this prayer.

*****

The unmistakable sound of the Shofar could be heard coming from the wall surrounding Jerusalem, echoing across the sun-scorched valley. The blowing of the trumpet heralded great public distress and was used to summon the people. It was the first century B.C. and a severe drought was threatening the very existence of the city. So the city elders called for the people to gather outside the city walls. Then they sent for Honi.

Honi was an old man who, after this day, became known as the Circle-Drawer. Because when he was summoned, the elders asked him, “Pray that rain may fall.” Honi prayed, but nothing happened. So he drew a circle around himself in the dust of the ground, and prayed again, “O Lord of the world, Your children have turned their faces to me… I swear by Your great name that I will not stir from here until You have pity on Your children.”

The rain began to fall, one large drop at a time. But Honi protested, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill the cisterns, pits, and caverns.”

In answer to his prayer, the heavens opened and the waters descended in a violent gully-washer that threatened to flood the city. So once again, Honi pleaded, “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of goodwill, blessing and graciousness.” It is said, and recorded by the Jewish historian, Josephus, that in response to Honi’s third prayer, a long, soaking rain began to fall that ended the three-year drought. [1] Honi had prevailed in prayer.[2]

As I look ahead into 2016, I feel compelled to draw a circle around this city, this state, this nation… and pray! Until God answers. Do the same. Please. On this first day of the New Year, draw your own circle. Then pray for everything that’s inside of it.

…Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate… Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing. Joel 2:13-14

O God of creation. We bow before You acknowledging Your greatness and Your glory. No one compares FB_IMG_1451701190863to You. No one is Your equal. We look at Your creation and marvel at the infinite power and wisdom that are Yours. Nothing is beyond Your reach. “You bring out all the starry host one by one, and call them each by name. Because of Your great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing…You pitch a tent for the sun…It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat…Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.” [3] There is nowhere in all the Universe where You are not. Surely Your arm “…is not too short to save, nor [Your] ear too dull to hear.”[4]

I acknowledge You as ___________________

Yet we honestly confess: when terrorists randomly kill; when women and children detonate themselves as suicide bombers; when innocent people are grabbed from behind and stabbed in the back; when floods, tornadoes, and storms ravage our land; when our national leaders don’t lead; when our business leaders lie; when our political leaders put their own interests before the people’s; when our spiritual leaders contradict Your Word; when our social leaders divide; when our allies become our enemies and our enemies become our allies…what’s going on? Where are You?

We are tempted to think You are…
Distracted…disengaged…disinterested,
Inattentive…inactive…impotent,
Out-maneuvered…out-moded…out-classed,
Unable…unaffected…and even unaware…
of our fear… our helplessness…our confusion…our outrage. Why do You seem so small while our problems, disasters, and enemies seem so large?

Why ___________________?

Help us to regain our focus.

God of our fathers. Lord of the nations. You are the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. No one can understand Your ways. But we turn to You. We return to You. Now. “Are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.”[5]

Did we not establish our nation as one under God? Have we not pledged, “In God We Trust”? But now we find ourselves constantly bombarded with the shrill voices of those who demand we distance ourselves from You; that You are just one of many gods, if You are a god at all; that we cannot risk offending each other by calling on Your name. We hear the enemy insinuating that You are “not fixing this” because You can’t fix this. Our faith is being assaulted.

And so our spirits rise up within us and throw off the smothering cloak of spiritual oppression and political correctness. We shout Your Name. You are Yahweh. Jehovah–the personal God. The great I AM–the eternal God. The All-mighty–the Powerful God. You are Jesus. Savior. Immanuel. God with us, never to leave or forsake us. Your power has not been diluted or depleted over the ages. You are just as powerful…just as much in authority…as You were in Creation; in the deliverance of Your people from Egypt and in the parting of the Red Sea. You are the One who sends down the fire.[6] Who fells the giants.[7] Who makes wars to cease.[8] Who raises the dead![9]

I shout Your name: ___________________

As we look ahead into the New Year, we choose to place our trust in You. If “…the kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord,”[10] we trust in You. If “…the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging,”[11] we trust in You. Though …”nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall…,”[12] we trust in You. When …”the wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright…,[13]” we trust in You. We trust You. We trust You!

I trust You when ___________________
I trust You for ___________________

We are told that we can worship You in our own churches, but we cannot bring You into the marketplace or the workplace; into the State House or the school house; onto the battlefield or the football field; into the courtroom or the back room or the bedroom. As though the God of gods can be contained, boxed in, restricted, bound, hidden. We laugh at such foolishness and exalt You as the Most High God who strides the winds of the earth. The clouds are the dust of Your feet.[14] The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain You.[15] How much less any local church building. We invite You to have Your way in our lives. In our state. In our nation. Within our circle.

I invite You into my ___________________

Now arise, O Lord God. Look on us, Your people who are called by Your name. Listen to us, as we cry out to You on behalf of our nation. Do not reject us. Have pity on us.

We feel the encroaching evil. Darkness and gloom are descending. Those who hate us are infiltrating us. Those who are dedicated to destroying us are all around us. Are You at the head of this army? Is this the beginning of the Day of the Lord? Have we tried Your patience and crossed the line into Your judgment? Are You holding us accountable for our sin and rebellion and defiance, for our profanity and blasphemy and idolatry? “You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before You when You are angry?”[16] Are You?

Most Holy God. As we draw a circle around ourselves, we want to make everything right with You within that circle. So we confess our sin. You are righteous. We are not. You always do the right thing. We have done wrong. We are covered with shame because we know better. We have had generations of blessing and prosperity, yet we have refused to thank You, and instead give ourselves credit for what has come from Your hand. We have agreed with those who contradict Your Word. We have turned away from Your truth, and believed lies. We have treated life casually. We have destroyed our environment selfishly. We have passed by the needy uncaringly. We have demanded entitlements defiantly. We have not listened to those who have warned us of the consequences of drifting from You.

I confess my sin of ___________________
I will stop ___________________
I will turn away from ___________________
Thank You for forgiving and cleansing me of ___________________

And now, as we look into 2016, we come face to face with a mess. What can be done to save us from ourselves? Even as the question reverberates in our minds, the answer is given: the solution to our spiritual and moral meltdown—to the restoration of the crumbling foundation of our nation—is not politics, nor the economy, nor health care, nor welfare or immigration reforms, nor free higher education, nor the court system, nor corporate or Wall Street regulation. You are the Answer. You are the Solution. Yet instead of turning to You, we seem to be turning farther and farther away from You. But not now. Now we turn back. We turn around. We re-turn to You. We run to You. We cling to You. We plead with You…

Turn to us! Draw near to us![17] If You do not help us, we will be defenseless. If You do not protect us, we will be exposed to danger. If You do not deliver us from evil, we will be overcome by it. If You do not have plans to give us hope and a future, we will slide into the past tense as a nation.[18] Into oblivion.

Father of all mercies. You have said that our land is a land that You, the Lord our God, cares for; that Your eyes are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.[19] As You look on our nation from this day forward, from January 1st to December 31st, 2016, we ask for what we know we don’t deserve. We ask for Your blessing. Please…

  • Bless our national and local elections. Raise up men and women who will lead us back to you. Raise up another Asa, who was fully committed to the Lord all his life.[20] Raise up another Jehoshaphat who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.[21] Raise up another Josiah who renewed the covenant of his people with You—“to follow the Lord and keep His commands.”[22] Raise up leaders of moral and spiritual integrity who have a strong faith and a healthy reverence for You and therefore the wisdom to make right decisions. Put Your choice in the Oval Office.
  • Bless our homeland security teams. Give them eyes to see the bad guys, ears to hear the evil chatter, minds to understand the tweets and codes, and the will to act before the enemy does. Protect us from evil.
  • Bless our policemen and firemen, our armed forces and border patrol—all those who risk their lives to keep us safe. Restore to them the respect they deserve. Protect their lives and their families. Bring to the light of justice any corruption and abuse so that we can trust those in uniform. Guard those who guard us.
  • Bless our judges and prosecutors. Cause them to serve faithfully and wholeheartedly, remembering that they are accountable to You.[23] Punish those who do wrong. Encourage those who do right.
  • Bless my ___________________

You are the Fountainhead from whom all blessings flow. The list of our needs and our requests is endless. Please. Bless our doctors. Our lawyers. Our bankers. Our teachers. Our commissioners. Our farmers.

  • Bless our preachers, Bible teachers, and seminary professors. Like Ezra of old, stir their hearts to be devoted to You first, then to the study and the preaching of Your Word.[24] When they preach or teach, compel them to preach the Word, not books about the Word. Motivate them with holy fear of standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account for the way they have impacted others by their words and by their deeds. Remove those whose lives are out of sync with their lips. Raise up a generation of spiritual leaders that You approve of as workmen who do not need to be ashamed because they correctly handle the word of truth. [25] Fill them to overflowing with Your Spirit.
  • Bless our families. The unloving spirits of infidelity, dishonesty, treachery, hypocrisy, immorality, pornography, and adultery are sweeping through our homes. The enemy seems to be attacking us on every level, on every front. A vast army of evil seems to have been unleashed against the home. Especially the homes and families of Christ-followers. “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”[26] We plead for Your divine protection. We plead for Your divine wisdom to counter the attacks so that our families are strengthened in their relationship with You. Be the center of our homes.
  • Lord of love, we pray for You to bless our enemies. Yes, we do. Open their ears to the Truth. Open their minds to understand the Gospel. Open their hearts to long for Your love. Draw them to Yourself as moths are drawn to a flame. Your Light is stronger than their darkness. Bring them into the Light. Save them for all eternity. BUT if they reject You, we ask that You turn them on each other. Distract them. Destroy them. Prevent them from continuing to attack and persecute the righteous.
  • Lastly, O God our Father, bless us. Bless me. Make me into a vessel of honor, an instrument “…for noble purposes, made holy, useful to our Master and prepared to do any good work.”[27] I know the night is coming when work for You will cease.[28] Help me to redeem the time. Use me now for Your Kingdom and Your glory. Open my lips to boldly and fearlessly make known the Gospel:[29] the Good News of redemption for the past…hope for the future… joy for the present regardless of circumstances… love that is unconditional, boundless, and eternal[30]…found at the Cross. Open my lips to just give Jesus to a world that is increasingly desperate. Use me as an ambassador of peace on earth by first leading people into a right relationship with You, then with each other. When the world around me unravels, help me to stand strong on my faith in You. And when people see me standing strong, help them to see You.
  • Bless me.

Make me into ___________________
Help me to ___________________
Use me for ___________________

And now, God of grace, as we preprayer for the New Year, we ask bottom-line that You fill our circles with Your glory. Send down Your Holy Spirit in fullness. Ignite the fire of revival in our own hearts. Protect us. Defend us. Comfort us. Empower us. Equip us as we put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes…so that when the day of evil comes, we may be able to stand our ground…taking up the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God…and pray. With this in mind, we remain self-controlled and alert while we keep on praying until we prevail in prayer.[31] And we keep on watching expectantly. Is 2016 the year of Your return? We hope so! Come Lord Jesus…[32]

For the glory of Your name…

Amen.

* Please click here  to view the PDF version of this prayer.

**********

[1] I first read the story of Honi in the introduction to Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker. The account I’ve shared in this book is based on the writings of Josephus, a first-century scholar and very credible historian who was born in Jerusalem shortly after the first coming of Jesus Christ. His writings are held in high regard, and have been used by the secular world as the primary source for both Jewish and Christian history.
[2] Taken from The Daniel Prayer; Chapter 7; Anne Graham Lotz; by permission Zondervan Publishing; May 2016
[3] Isaiah 40:25-26, Psalm 19:4, 6; 139:7-8
[4] Isaiah 59:1
[5] 2 Chronicles 20:6
[6] 2 Chronicles 7:1
[7] 1 Samuel 17:1-50
[8] Psalm 46:9
[9] 2 Kings 4:1-37; Luke 7:11-16; 8:40-42, 49-56; Ephesians 1:17-21
[10] Psalm 2:2
[11] Psalm 46:2-3
[12] Psalm 46:6
[13] Psalm 37:14
[14] Nahum 1:3
[15] 2 Chronicles 6:18
[16] Psalm 76:7
[17] James 4:8
[18] Jeremiah 29:11-13
[19] Deuteronomy 11:12
[20] 2 Chronicles 15:1-17
[21] 2 Chronicles 19:4-20:32
[22] 2 Chronicles 34:1-33
[23] 2 Chronicles 19:8-11
[24] Ezra 7:10
[25] 2 Timothy 2:15; 4:1-2
[26] 2 Chronicles 20:12
[27] 2 Timothy 2:21
[28] John 9:4
[29] Ephesians 6:19
[30] Ephesians 3:14-19
[31] Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Peter 4:7
[32] Revelation 22:20

Copyright © 2016 Anne Graham Lotz (AnGeL Ministries) Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved http://www.annegrahamlotz.org

From a Hopeless Boy to a Visionary Young Man

“We don’t need to excel for the sake of excellence. I think we need to excel for the sake of God’s name.”

 

Daniel Njenga Maina

Daniel Njenga Maina, a former Compassion sponsored child. Njenga, as he prefers to be called, is 29 years old. He was born in Kenya, about half an hour away from Nairobi.

Njenga is currently studying Masters of Arts Intercultural and Urban Studies at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He will graduate in May, 2014.

Njenga at Moody Bible Institute

Njenga at Moody Bible Institute

Njenga travels twice a month across churches in the US speaking on behalf of Compassion International.

Njenga is also a church planting intern in a local church in Chicago and he works part time at Moody Distance Learning where he coordinates Graduate modular classes.

When Njenga goes back to Kenya, he is planning to start a church, and concurrently train pastors and lay leaders in theology. He is also working towards helping a local school in Kenya in order to build a library, and hopefully some other schools will receive the same benefit in the future.

 

Tell us about your background and what poverty was like for you when you were a child?

For me poverty begins with my mom. My mom was 14 years old when she gave birth to me, so, a very young woman. She didn’t have any education. She was sent out of her home by my grandmother. And then, when I was 9 years old, my mom passed away. That was very hard! And you know, my dad was not there either! Actually, I never knew who my father was.

My mom had tuberculosis and she couldn’t access medical care. That was a very hard season for me. By the age of 7 I hadn’t started going to school and we were living in a 10 by 10-feet house, a very small house. I took care of my sister who was three years younger than me. I mean, growing up was really hard in those conditions!

There were not people who were wealthy where I was. There were so many drunkards. Drugs were being sold like a hundred feet away from my house. So, there was temptation to get into drugs growing up as a young man. And yeah… there was a very famous gang. And so many young people resolved to get into that gang as a way of escaping poverty. Happily, I never joined that gang or never got involved with drugs.

I never went to church either. My grandmother did as she was Catholic. But I never went to church because my mom did not go to church at that point.

Before my mom actually passed we moved into my stepdad’s house –my sister’s dad. He did what I would call ´mechanical work´ –gas welding. So, he worked somewhere in the field…places where cars were repaired. And he would just sit there and wait for work to come. So, that was very hard. You’d never know whether he would make money. There were times when we were at home, waiting for him to bring food because he didn’t leave us any money. And he would come back after walking about 25 kilometers… far, far away. And he’d come and say, “I don’t have any money for you today.” Then, we’d just drink water and spend the night in hope that the next day God is going to provide something for us.

 
What was the concept that you guys had about God at that moment of life? Was there God for you?

I can’t remember that exactly…at that age of 7. I can’t remember a concept of God. But at the age of 9 because I already joined the Compassion program, I started to learn about God and I remember that was very strange for me. I remember being asked to close our eyes and pray, and it didn’t make sense. (He laughs!)

 
You didn’t see anybody, you didn’t feel anything…

Yeah! I couldn’t feel anything. I mean I just covered my eyes but I was half open trying to see what’s going on.

 

How was the experience of becoming a Compassion sponsored child? How did your life start to change?

Oh, I think the biggest thing that happened to me was to become a part of a church. You know being introduced to the Gospel at such an early age is just awesome! As for me, when I look back, I see that as one of the greatest investments that was made in my life. Just the concept that you learn –God loves us! You know, for me that was a strange idea that somebody loved me because I think what happens when you are in poverty, the concept of love is a kind of hazy or it doesn’t make sense. And knowing that God is there for me, it just gave me hope! But also, knowing that someone is meeting your basic needs like food or health care when you go to the program; it truly gave me hope! I was also taught how to brush my teeth at the Compassion program. I received my first toothbrush and my first toothpaste. I have told people I almost ate the toothpaste because it was so sweet! It tasted so good! (He laughs!) And then I got, you know, a blanket and I had my own mattress… a comfortable mattress to sleep on and I would share it with my sister.

Njenga visiting Compassion sponsored children in Kenya

Njenga visiting Compassion sponsored children in Kenya

Not only that, Compassion also paid for my tuition to start going to school and that opened opportunities for me to even start dreaming of who I will become.

You know, I got text books, I got exercise books, and they paid for my uniform. My self-esteem was being built up above all. I even started to see love in myself. And all of this was possible because of my sponsors!

 

How did you learn this concept of God’s love since you actually didn’t experience a real, personal love here on earth?

Yes, it was hard growing up. My dad (stepfather) was very abusive in the sense that he would beat me a lot. I struggled so much although I knew that God loves me. When I was a teenager I stopped going to church. I would keep attending the Compassion program on Saturdays but I wouldn’t go to church on Sundays because I was struggling with that idea.

I tried to run away from that as much as I could, but the more I ran away the more empty I became. And finally, my hope was only in the Christian faith. After two years, I went back to church and I rededicated my life to Christ. That changed things amazingly! One of those, I wanted to forgive my dad (stepfather) because I realized that my heart was so heavy and I couldn’t have peace with God.

From that moment, I started to appreciate my dad (stepfather) more, you know, I started to see his efforts to raise us. I started to see all the struggles he went through without a wife. So, that made me appreciate him and respect him!

Although, my dad (stepfather) never provided as much as I would have wanted him to, that never made me see God as a distant god. As for me, being part of the Compassion program was enough reason to know and understand that God is good. My needs were met. There was somebody far, far away that was concerned about me and that meant that there’s a God who truly loved me. Oh Yeah!

 

How did you move from hopelessness to a life full of hope and dreams?

You know, I’ve never thought about who I want to become. One day, when I was a child, I mentioned that I want to be a mechanic because my dad was a mechanic.

Or I would say I want to be a carpenter because I would have only seen “carpenters.”

And then I started reading books and I learned that there are people who are called doctors, there are people who are lawyers, there are engineers. So, I wanted to become an engineer at certain point. Later, I changed my mind and I wanted to become a lawyer. You know, because I wanted to fight for the rights of people. And finally, I ended up becoming a teacher, because of the impact that teachers had in my life. So, I stopped to dream about my own self and I started thinking of how ‘what I want to become can help other people.’

Then, I did not only become a teacher but God also called me to become a pastor. And I’d never thought about going to seminary. Actually, I didn’t have any single coin to pay for my tuition. I had talked with people and I was hoping to do some fundraising. But Compassion, at that very moment, opened up the Moody opportunity and I applied for this scholarship to come to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I waited for about 5 to 6 months… it was very competitive! Students across the 26 countries where Compassion works were waiting for this great opportunity.
I wanted to come to Moody and thank God I did! It’s been a great experience being here!

 

So, from this special journey, what are your dreams and plans? And how God is leading you towards them?

Good question! My dream when I came to Moody was to go back to Kenya and do church planting, and at the same time help pastors who’ve never had the privilege to go to seminary like I have. I still want to do that, go back to Nairobi and start a church there. Also, I want to start a network that would mobilize resources in Kenya, and if possible outside Kenya to see the church there being equipped to continue to do the Great Commission. So it’s a big dream and there are times I feel like “Maybe I can’t do this.”
But the more I start to look back at what God has done I feel like “God can do this.”

I’m also passionate for education. The opportunity to go to school has just given me the privilege to meet so many people and even to be here in the US. So, I have a friend who has given me a piece of land to build a resource center for the community. I want to come up with a model for Kenya where we can have a resource center in one place but it will also be replicated across the country. This resource center is a place where children can come and read a book or do their homework. People who’ve graduated from high school, they can come and help those students. It will be an opportunity to teach other young people how to give back to the country and to their communities what they have already received.

I also hope that the resource center would be a place where pastors can come and prepare their own sermons and study more.
I think seminars can be conducted as well.

 
What is your main motivation to accomplish these ambitious goals?

I think everybody needs to grow in excellence, you know to keep working on their skills. So, I feel that I want to do those things. But, I also need somebody else to keep pouring in me. I think that’s a very good concept… people pouring in you, you pouring in them, you pouring in others and they pouring in other people. Then, you will be able to see transformation!

Because I would say we don’t need to excel for the sake of excellence. I think we need to excel for the sake of God’s name. I mean, if God created everything so beautifully, I think as Christians we need to exemplify that. God has created us different. He has given us so many gifts. So, it is the matter of using your gifts to serve other people. Because excellence is not just about us, it’s about other people. And people would be able to notice our excellence. Then, they will desire it and they will even ask…why do you do this? So, our excellence should make people ask questions about our faith.