Archive for the ‘spiritual’ Category

Kids need one thing…hope

Posted: January 4, 2017 in Keys for Kids, spiritual
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Mahlik suffering in Etheopia (photo by Greg Yoder)

Grand Rapids, Mich (K4K) — I have traveled all over the world. Many say our world is falling apart. Wars, social injustice, and child abuse have left their marks. What’s the common theme? Children are suffering. They’re the ones who suffer most in these situations. Through no fault of their own, they’re left to try to survive as adults make mistake after mistake.

While the physical suffering is heartbreaking, even more heartbreaking is that many are suffering without knowing Jesus. And as they grow up, many are looking for truth. In Arab nations, many believe the lies of Islam. In India, it’s Hinduism and Buddhism. In North America it’s humanism and materialism.

In Syria, children are homeless. They’ve been forced from their homes because of years of civil war. Death is all around them. In India, the fight against the caste system continues, and abject poverty enslaves them. In America, they’re enslaved to something aspired to throughout the world — greed.

The physical suffering is obvious, which draws the attention of millions of dollars. But the spiritual suffering isn’t as clear. And it’s not just affecting those struggling physically, it’s hit our kids, too.

Our culture has told our kids our world wasn’t created, it evolved by chance. God has been rejected and at times our faith has been called hate speech, and gender is now considered a matter of choice. There has to be answers to all of these issues. There is one answer, Christ alone.

There is a window of opportunity that we have to speak to children. Barna Research tells us that nearly 70% of all people who gave their hearts to Christ, did so between their 4th and their 14th birthdays. That’s called the 4/14 Window. That means we have a brief 10 year window in which to reach them with the Gospel, and help them grow in their faith.

Are we raising moral kids?

Teach your kids the Truth found in Christ through Keys for Kids devotionals (photo by Janelle Ruppert)

Interestingly enough, ministry leaders at the 4/14 Window indicate 80% of all kids worldwide are searching for spiritual truth. That’s right. They’re searching for it. That’s why support is needed today more than ever to to make sure ALL kids can not only have God’s Word, but understand it.

That’s why Keys for Kids Ministries is needed today. It’s providing stories that are pointing kids to God’s Word, where they’re learning the only hope for paying for their sins is Christ. As they’re reading God’s Word, the coinciding stories are helping them understand Scripture and how it applies to them TODAY. The lessons they learn are providing them the tools they need to defend their faith — becoming apologists in a world craving answers.

Keys for Kids is at a crossroads. There are over a billion kids who need Christ, but we’re only printing a few hundred-thousand each year. The only way to change this scale of need is to ask God for a miracle. That miracle, though, starts with you.

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Keys for Kids devotionals are igniting a passion for Christ in kids and their families (Photo by Greg Yoder).

Your financial support may be the tool God uses to motivate someone else to reach out in a profound way. Your prayers may be what releases an amazing blessing from our Father. Or, your passion for this ministry via Facebook or Twitter could be the viral fire we need to exponentially grow this ministry through grassroots marketing efforts.

The biggest problem we have isn’t that there is a need for God’s word to reach kids. It’s knowing that Keys for Kids Ministries has the tools to empower parents, grandparents, friends and nieghbors to share Jesus with kids all around them. Would you become a Keys for Kids ambassador?

Begin by sharing this story. Follow it up by encouraging people to “like” our Facebook page (Facebook.com/keysforkidsministries). Then, start sharing our daily email devotionals. Purchase copies of our printed devotional to leave in the lobby of your church, local business or other community centers.

Go to keysforkids.org to find out more about Keys for Kids Ministries. You can also listen to our full-time radio station for kids at keysforkids.net.

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In reading many posts of Christians internationally, many seem shocked that evangelicals voted for President Elect Donald Trump. I estimate that nearly 20 million American evangelicals voted for Trump. There were many reasons.

Some voted out of fear of Hillary Clinton and her policies that we felt would destroy the American foundations as we know them today. We were concerned that she would appoint Supreme Court Judges who would arbitrarily change our constitution, rather than by the proper ratification by the people (i.e. The states). We were concerned that her pay-for-play international get rich scheme would continue. We were concerned that she would continue to appease radical Islam, making our country more unsafe as the Obama administration did with Iran. We were also angry that the media failed to talk about her roll in her husband’s multiple affairs — destroying the lives of women who were his victims. We were also concerned about her two agendas she has (one public and one private) which she clearly outlined in a speech to big supporters.

I voted for Trump because I wanted to STOP Hillary Clinton’s 30 years of scandals which seem to follow her wherever she goes. I voted for Trump based on the good men and women he chose as his running mate and advisors. I chose Trump because he named his Supreme Court nominees before he was elected and all are constitutionalists, not activists. I voted for Trump because I didn’t feel that the current administration was concerned enough about leading the world and less concerned about our national security.

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Anti-Trump protesters

Because I voted for him, the other side has called me terrible names. Because I voted for him, the other side is protesting our American way of life (our election system) which is a revolt and protest against our constitution. Some are even saying they want a Revolution. Because I voted for him people now question my salvation (some international Christians have,too).

So, why am I writing this? If nearly 20 million evangelicals prayerfully voted for Trump and God allowed him to win, don’t you think you owe it to God and your fellow Christians to wait and see what President Elect Trump does BEFORE you judge us? I would never pick Trump as a friend. I agonized over who I should vote for. I certainly wouldn’t have picked him as my candidate to win the primary, (my choice was Ted Cruz) but God did. Why? I have no idea, but I’m anxious to see what could happen. Since everything has a purpose, I’m curious to see God’s plan.

If you are a Christian, PRAY. America needs Jesus more than ever. Those protesting, many of them are paid agitators. Many are lost young people with no moral compass. Many are decent people who are scared because of a corrupt media who told lies about Trump and left out the truth about Clinton. There have been a few journalist who have apologized for their behavior. Many of them need the hope of Christ.

One thing is certain, this IS God’s plan — for better or for worse.

Russia2014_20140212_0031For those of you who know me, you know how much I love Russia. I have traveled to Russia about a dozen times. My fascination with this country started when I was a kid, during the “cold war.” I was always concerned about the possibility of another World War. More importantly, I was always concerned about a nuclear attack. I thought often about the number of Russian kids my age who were also concerned about it. If they were concerned, we weren’t that different.

So, with that backdrop I tried to learn everything I could about the Soviet Union. I wanted to know why they thought the way they did. Why would a government oppress their people so badly? Why would people accept that kind of oppression. Why wouldn’t the Soviets want freedom. Why wouldn’t they do something about it? As the interest grew, I always thought that I would like to visit Russia some day.

Fast-forward to 2003 my wife and I were talking about adoption. After much research we decided to adopt a child from Russia. Because of that I kind of feel like we’re connected to Russia in some way. We also developed a love for orphaned children in Russia. As a result we have travel multiple time to Russia with a couple of different groups to provide love, compassion, and the Gospel to kids who have either have been abandoned or orphaned.

Up until now Christians from the west have been able to do it fairly freely. Most of you know that I work with Mission Network News. This week I did an interview that would break my heart.

On April 30, 2015 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom issue their religious freedom report. For the first time in the history of the report (1998) RUSSIA was included in the report.

According to the 232-page document, there are 17 nations listed at Tier 1 abusers of religious freedom. They include: Burma, Central African Republic, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

There are 10 on the Tier 2 list, including Russia. Mission Eurasia Director of Religious Freedom Issues, Wade Kusack, says Russia being on the list is a big deal. “This is a first official announcement, or recognition, of the persecution from the U.S. government’s side.”

What does this mean? This means that the severity of Russia’s persecution against Christians has reached a point where even government are paying attention. President Vladimir Putin has created legislation that has a direct impact on evangelical churches and para-church ministries. If they receive any funding from outside of Russia, the government considers them foreign agents. They’re basically calling them spies.

The situation that, I believe, tipped the scales was what’s happening in eastern-Ukraine. Kusack told me when Russian-back separatists occupied eastern Ukraine, the persecution began. “[They] started to hunt evangelicals, confiscate church buildings, kidnap and torture Christian leaders, and some of them were tortured to death.”

If you’ve studied Russian history at all you know that just about the time things were going well, they self-destruct. Look it up for yourself.

Why am I blogging about this? Because I want people to pray. There are many evangelical Christians who are actively involved in Russian government. Pray that God will allow them to use their influence to make a difference. Also, pray God would do a work in President Putin’s heart. He’s obviously being more aggressive on the international stage. He’s sending nuclear capable aircraft into American and European airspace, he’s bend on invading Ukraine and other form Soviet Bloc nations, and he’s making friends with Iran, North Korea and China.

But, God is also doing an incredible work in the hearts of people in both Ukraine and Russia.

If you’d like to know more about what’s going on there, go to MissionNews.org.

On Saturday, December 21 it will be four weeks since I dislocated my knee while trying to be safe while running in Johnson Park in Kent County, Michigan. It’s funny how I have played the scene over and over again in my mind. I keep asking myself, “how could I have avoided this injury.”  The more I think about it, the more I realize this wasn’t an “accident.”  This was planned. It wasn’t MY plan, but God’s plan.  I’ll explain that in a minute.

My knee December 19, 2013

My knee December 19, 2013

Today marked my fourth physical therapy appointment. I have made some significant progress. I’m now bending my knee to 130 degrees, I’m doing step-ups, leg extensions, squats, and other exercises. The swelling is still there, but it’s much less than it was 10 days ago. What is the goal? According to my physical therapists, “it’s to get you to Sochi, Russia.”  At least that’s what she said today. I said, “I thought it was to get me running again?”  She’s pretty cut and dry. She said, “Do you want your knee going out before you leave, or while you’re there?  Don’t plan on trying to run until you return.”

What does that mean for my recovery, or the possibility for surgery? It means I’m going to continue with therapy until I have to leave for the Olympics, hoping the strength in my quadriceps improve to where I won’t need surgery. The knee cap isn’t as stable as I would like right now, but it’s making progress. If I was allowed to, I could jog and run up stairs. But, I am only allowed to spend as long as I like on a stationary bike. I enjoy that. I’m finally working up a sweat.

Why do I think God planned this for me? As I look back on the past four weeks I’ve been forced to slow down. Instead of focusing on make my mileage goal for the week or month, I’ve been focusing on my family. I’ve spent more time keeping the holiday traditions alive. I actually made Christmas candy this year. I’ve spend more time in God’s Word than I have in a long time. I’ve been forced to trust the Lord more.

What are my plans? I plan to work hard and run again. While I may not be  able to start running again until February, I may be forced to run the 10K at the Fifth-Third Riverbank Run, rather than the 25k. But, we’ll see.

 

Setbacks and trials

Posted: November 24, 2013 in Health, life, my day, spiritual
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It’s amazing what can happen even when you’re being careful. Let me explain.

Saturday is typically the day I run long distances. I try to run between 14-20 miles a week, depending on how I feel and if I’m training for something. Yesterday (Saturday) was an easy day. To stay on target, I needed to run five miles. I decided to over-achieve and run six. It was cold. I believe the temperature was in the 20’s. The windchill was in the teens. It had snowed, but there wasn’t any snow on the road. So, I decided to head to Johnson Park to do my running.

When I arrived, there were few runners. But, I headed out anyway. It was a difficult run. The first time running with winter gear is always hard. I made it to the 1.5 mile mark and noticed a little patch of ice. I found the shortest distance across it and gingerly tip-toed across it — only slipping a little. I ran out to the bridge across the Grand River and started heading back. At one point there is a spot where you can choose if you want to run on the road, or take the trail. I decided to take the trail because I figured it would be more protected from the wind. As I approached the icy spot I decided I would walk across the ice, just to be safe. So, I started walking. I put one foot on the ice and the next thing I know my right foot is slipping out to the right and I felt this incredible pain in my knee and fell in a heap.

I landed hard on my hind-end and my knee cap slid over to the outside — dislocated. The exact same injury that required surgery in 2010 that took a year to heal. The pain was so intense. I was in the middle of nowhere with nobody around. I quickly reached down and pulled my knee cap back in place and sat there in pain wondering how I was going to get back to my car 1.5 miles away, or be found by someone who could help me.

I use the Nike+ Iphone app to keep track of my runs. I quickly turned off the app and tried calling my wife. In God’s providence, Ann was calling me. She doesn’t typically call while I’m running because I don’t typically pick up. I told her I was hurt. I had fallen and dislocated my knee again. The problem? I was on a trail, in a valley, away from the road. How would she find me?  I knew I was near Veterans Memorial Park Road, but not really sure where. So, I told her I would try to get to the road. I said, “Go to Johnson Park. Drive by Johnson park and at the first right, turn right. You’ll run into me.”

I made it to the road. A few cars drove by. I tried flagging them down, but none of them stopped. I just needed a 1.5 mile ride to my car, so I could either get home or go to the emergency room.

SwollenKneeNov23-13Unfortunately, I was now in the teeth of the wind — sweaty and in pain. I decided I needed to keep moving or I was going to freeze. So, I started walking. The pain was intense. I tried keeping my right leg as stiff as I could. Ann finally found me. Isn’t it amazing how God works these things out? My wife drove me to my car and I INSISTED that I drive myself to the Sports Medicine Clinic, which I did. They took x-rays and made sure nothing was broken, which there wasn’t. But, as you know x-rays don’t show soft tissue damage. Now, I’m waiting for the swelling to go down to figure out what’s next.

Now, however, I’m dealing with frustration. I have been working so hard to stay in shape, keep the weight off and take care of my knee. I have been lifting weights, working out and doing everything I thought I needed to do to avoid having to have surgery again. I wanted to reach my goal of running 700 miles for the year (I’m about 40 miles away with five weeks to go). I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen unless I have a miraculous healing (which could happen).

I’m also asking the ‘why’ question. Which, is very frustrating to me. I keep thinking, “Thanksgiving is coming. We need to get our Christmas tree. We have a lot going on. I have to go to Russia in February. Surgery just isn’t part of MY plan.

MY plan. I wish MY plan was God’s plan sometimes. In my head I know that God does everything for a reason, or as my friend Steve says 10,000 reasons. Some we may not even know about. For whatever reason He has me side-lined physically. I’m praying that through this new season of uncertainty, that God would make himself even more real to me — especially at this time of year.

But, I’m also praying for quick healing. I don’t want surgery again! Pray with me, would you? I’ll keep you post.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching I can’t help but think about that holiday season. It’s really my favorite time of the year. I love the family gathering, the festive mood, the traditions, the music, the food — everything. Believe it or not, I even enough the shopping, but I would say that it’s not my favorite thing about Christmas — there, I said the politically incorrect WORD.  Christmas. There I said it again.

I didn’t mean for this blog to be political, instead I’m writing this blog to tell you about something exciting our family is doing this year that will actually give to orphans in the former Soviet Union.

Anastasia before she was adopted and now.

Anastasia before she was adopted and now.

As some of you know, my daughter is from Irkutsk, Russia. We adopted her in 2002 from Baby Home #1 in December of that year. In fact, the adoption was official just one day before the New Year. Why is this an important fact? Well, because my daughter wants to give something to her former orphanage at Christmas time, and you can help her.

The program is called Project Hope. When you donate $25 at http://www.YouCaring.com/projecthope you can provide more than a Christmas gift to a child without a family at Christmas time. You’re providing the greatest gift of all — the Christ of Christ.

How does it work?

Because Russia and other countries in the former Soviet Union don’t allow Christmas gifts to be SENT in to the country, Russian Ministries started a program called, Project Hope, the Great Gift Exchange. The money is collected in the United States and sent to partnering evangelical churches in country. These churches then purchase toys, candy, personal care items and God’s Word. These items are placed in a festive boxes and are then hand delivered by Christians.

In partnership with Baptist Bible Church of Irkutsk, my daughter wants to send Project Hope Christmas boxes to all 150 children in her former orphanage. While the goal of $3,750 is a formidable goal, the church has a goal of distributing 1,000 gifts 12 orphanages in Irkutsk.

Nikolas Yonker before and now.

Nikolas Yonker before and now.

Anastasia isn’t working alone, however. She’s working with three other families who have adopted children from the same city, who now living in the United States. Niikolas Yonker, Annika Tuls, and Matt and Katie Olsen are joining together to help the Baptist Bible Church accomplish their goal.

From now through December 18, 2013 these young people are collecting money to help provide these gifts. They want to make sure these children have more than a Christmas this year, they want them to hear about Jesus. Through Project Hope and your contribution, you’ll ensure they have both.

Anika Tuls before and now photo.

Anika Tuls before and now photo.

Today, there are more than 700,000 children in the orphanage system in Russia alone. Since Russia has banned all adoptions to the United States, and more countries could be banned in months today come, these children have little hope of being adopted. That’s why this program is so important. It gives a child hope during one of the most hopeful times of the year — a time when Jesus brought hope to the world when he was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago.

Katie and Matt Olsen before and now.

Katie and Matt Olsen before and now.

 

Please give generously. $100 provides four Project Hope Christmas gifts. Your donation could make an eternal difference in the life of one child, or many children. It will also empower the Baptist Bible Church to have incredible impact in their community.

You can give safely and securely on-line at https://www.YouCaring.com/projecthope. If you have questions, please email me your personal information at gregsyoder@gmail.com and I’ll get back with you asap.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. President George W. Bush is getting bum wrap when it comes to the poor economy that many claim was given to President Barak Hussein Obama. Here’s why.

Here’s an email I received the puts much more clearly than I ever could.

The day the democrats took over was not January 22nd 2009, it was actually January 3rd 2007 the day the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress. The Democrat Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.

For those who are listening to the liberals propagating the fallacy that everything is “Bush’s fault”, think about this:

January 3rd, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress.
At the time:
The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
The Unemployment rate was 4.6%
George Bush’s Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB GROWTH

January 3rd, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee. The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?
BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES!
Unemployment… to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!

President Bush asked Congress 17 times to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the US economy.

And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie? OBAMA and the Democrat Congress. So when someone tries to blame Bush. REMEMBER JANUARY 3rd, 2007…. THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!”

Budgets do not come from the White House. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democrat Party.

Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 and 2009 as well as 2010 and 2011.

In that first year, they had to contend with George W. Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.

For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets.
And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009.

If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets. If Obama inherited anything, he inherited
it from himself.

In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is I inherited a deficit that I voted for and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th.

Why is it that nobody is talking about this, not even Fox News? It’s quite frustrating to hear the Democrats saying that we’re better off than we were four years ago. I’m not. I’m not only making less money than I did in 2008, but I had two years of retirement taken away, I’ve been paying more for health insurance, and I’m paying double for energy including gasoline, home heating, and electricity. Also, food prices have doubled.

Another issue for me is religious freedom. Today, we have less religious freedom in the United States than we had in 2008. If you remember, both houses of Congress passed Hate Crimes legislation that adds sexual orientation to the list of groups under the protection of the federal law. It also gives states and local jurisdictions federal help in prosecuting hate crimes. This law could be the law that prosecutes Christians for preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality — calling it a sin.

The bottom line is I don’t feel better off than I was four years ago. 24 million Americans who are currently unemployed (and millions more who are under-employed), the 40 million plus people who now receive food stamps, and the 1 in 5 million Americans who are now living in poverty certainly aren’t better off.

So, the question remains, if President Obama was a CEO of any major company in the U.S. or around the world would he be fired? Would his contract be renewed with five trillion in debt, 8+ percent unemployment, and four years without a federal budget? If he would have said, “you can’t blame me, the former CEO left a mess” they wouldn’t have cared very much.

So, if you are a democrat and plan to vote for President Obama, pretend you’re a stock-holder. Pretend you’re evaluating his performance as a CEO. Is there enough evidence to renew his contract? Is there evidence of quality leadership that has taken our nation to the next level, or has his leadership been divisive? Has he been one to lead through international calamity? Has he helped lift democracy in the Middle East? Has he led in these situations from the front, or followed from behind?

Michelle Obama said it well Tuesday night. She said, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” It certainly did in President Obama’s situation. It revealed he’s divisive, can’t unite, can’t budget, and can’t lead.

Elizabeth Warren has it totally wrong. She’s demonizing corporations who HIRE people. To demonize them cripples the corporations who hire people.

I received this email today from the National Religious Broadcasters’ Craig L. Parshall. He’s NRB’s Sr. Vice President & General Counsel. He writes:

“When the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 5th in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, one particular tenet of religious freedom was clearly front and center – namely, the constitutional “autonomy” of religious groups to apply their doctrines to their relationship with employees. The case involves the so-called “ministerial exception,” a court-made rule that exempts the positions of “minister” and similar religious leadership roles from interference by secular courts. What quickly grabbed focus, however, was a stunning series of statements by the lawyer for the Obama Administration, Leondra Kruger, who slashed away at basic rights of religious freedom in her arguments. Kruger, an Assistant Solicitor General in her mid-30’s, announced – quite matter-of-factly – that religious groups have no special rights of association any greater or different than, say, labor unions. To which Justice Scalia exclaimed: “That’s extraordinary. That is extraordinary. We are talking here about the Free Exercise Clause and about the Establishment Clause, and you say they have no special application?” Then there were tough exchanges, evoking near disbelief even from liberal Justice Kagan.

“Do you believe, Miss Kruger, that a church has a right that’s grounded in the Free Exercise Clause and-or the Establishment Clause to institutional autonomy with respect to its employees?” asked Justice Kagan. Ms. Kruger replied: “We don’t see that line of church autonomy principles in the religion clause jurisprudence as such.” Said Justice Kagan: “So this is to go back to Justice Scalia’s question, because I too find that amazing, that you think that the Free – neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Establishment Clause has anything to say about a church’s relationship with its own employees.”

Legal principles, like shifting sands, often change with the tides, little noticed when our attention is directed elsewhere. Ten years ago I argued a similar case (Montrose Christian School v. Walsh) before the Maryland Court of Appeals, which also involved the First Amendment rights of religious organizations to govern their own employee relations. We were blessed with a victory, defeating the lawsuit by the ACLU, in a unanimous decision. The rule established in that case was followed again in another religious liberty case in 2003, but by 2007, the high court in Maryland had slowly begun to back away from the constitutional principles established six years before.

Some principles are too important to submit to the shifting sand of political correctness, or to novel constitutional theories that elevate “the public welfare” (attorney Kruger’s phrase) over the rights of religious freedom. We cannot afford to miss these alarming clues. There is a new generation of lawyers – some of them now in the office of the United States Solicitor General – who apparently have either forgotten, or have never learned, which liberties our Founders once pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to protect.

This is frightening! I never thought in my lifetime I would hear a government official claiming churches or religious freedom wasn’t protected under the U.S. Constitution. What is clear here is that our nation is at war, but it’s a spiritual war.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

 

I made it to Miami, Florida on Saturday, January 8. It was totally uneventful. The only problem that I had was the fact that I had left my coat in my car. I didn’t think I’d need it in Haiti. But, I did need something waiting in the cold jetway.  But that was only minor.

When I got to the Miami airport, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to my hotel. I was told there was a shuttle, but the signs were not very clear. I went outside and believe it or not — I actually ASKED someone. They told me to go back inside and up a floor. So, I did that. Some really short lady pushed the elevator button, so I just walked in. Said something smart — and this woman said, “Greg Yoder.”  It was Kathy Redmond, with Compassion International and Dan Woolley, the Compassion guy who was trapped in the rubble of Hotel Montana, in Haiti.  I couldn’t believe we ended up in the same elevator.

We had a good dinner, laughed a little — okay, a lot. In the middle of dinner I get this strange call from my daughter. She told me that my wife had fallen, hurt her knee and hit her head and she thought she needed to go to the E.R. I couldn’t believe it. Long story short, the neighbor took her to the E.R., everything checked out okay, but she’s really sore. Pray for her.

I hit the sack after watch the football game. I woke up in plenty of time. Truth is, I couldn’t sleep much. I get pretty anxious when I travel. I don’t know why. I love flying. I love adventure. Maybe I can’t sleep because I’m excited about it?  I don’t know. I was told we needed to get the shuttle to the airport at 7:45am. So, I went down to the lobby early to get a cup of coffee and something to eat.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching closely enough because my team left without me. No big deal, I just caught the next shuttle and made it to the airport in plenty of time.

When I got there, I was told Dan Woolley’s passport was set to expire in March. Typically, you’re not supposed to travel on a passport with your expiration date so close — six months is typical. So, Rich Van Pelt told me if Dan doesn’t go, the team’s staying home. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. My last trip to Haiti was memorable, but not for pleasant reasons. However, Dan made it through to the gate, security and on to the plane. He even made it past customs in Haiti with no trouble.

We arrived in Haiti Sunday, January 9. It was a partly cloudy day. Temp was about 80. A far cry from the 12 above in Michigan. From the airport we went immediately to the new Compassion Village. Wow, what a nice place. It’s certainly different the the Haiti Hilton last year. I was in a tent on the parking lot of the Compassion Haiti headquarters. This place is beautiful. It’s three two story homes all in one gated community. It has a generator, air conditioning (when the generator is running), hot water and great cooks.

Dan Woolley at Hotel Montana

Dan Woolley with Luckson Mondesir at the rubble of Hotel Montana one year later.

After our arrival, we quickly got ready to head to Hotel Montanan where Dan Woolley had a couple of interview scheduled with Reuters and AP. In case you’re not familiar with his story, he works in the website department at Compassion. He and his friend, David Hames, were taking a look at Compassion’s Child Survival Program. They had just been let off at the lobby when the 7.0 earthquake started. According to the driver, he thought the hotel collapsed. He looked for survivors, but couldn’t see any. David was killed. But, Dan — by God’s grace — survived with a badly cut leg. He used his Iphone to get his location and managed to find the elevator shaft. There he was trapped for 65 hours. Had he not made the decision to move, he would have been killed in the resulting aftershocks.

While trapped, he realized he wasn’t alone. Mondesir Luckson, a hotel employee was also trapped. They were able to encourage each other. They talked, sang and Dan shared the Gospel with his new friend. They were both rescued together.

On Sunday, January 9, the pair reunited at on the rubble of Hotel Montana. They shared stories. Dan showed Lukson his new book, “Unshaken: Rising from the Ruins of Hotel Montana” It was an emotional time for Dan. Making it even more difficult, the media following the two around. AP, Rueters, MNN, and the local press all wanted to know how he was feeling. At one point, Dan just knelt near where he thought the elevator shaft was in the rubble and appeared to pray. It was very moving.

Personally, It was strange standing there, knowing the dozens of people who died in the rubble of Hotel Montana. People from all over the world perished there.

I interviewed Dan at the hotel. I asked him, “One year later, could you have ever imagined that God would have allowed you to share the Gospel with so many people by way of television, radio and print?” He said, “For me, there was an opportunity to witness in the dark. And [I’m grateful] that God chose to use me in that way. After that, there was a wider stage that I didn’t expect. I have a little bit of a dramatic story, but God wants us all to testify to His goodness in our lives. It’s just a matter of what does that look like for us.”

Click here to listen to the interview.

It was an amazing first day.

Day number 2 was equally as amazing. We traveled to a the Berea Baptist Church in Port au Prince for a service celebrating what God has done in

Teen singing

Teen sings, "Hallelujah I have Jesus" one year after losing his mother in the earthquake.

the lives of Compassion children, families and staff. The morning was full of praise and worship, testimonies and God’s Word. One young lady shared how she was trying to get out of her house with her sister. The building came down on both of them. Her sister died. She was also trapped. The beams had pinned her head to the ground. After much pain, rescuers got her out. She is a part of the Leadership Development Program, Compassion International’s program to develop new leaders. She took a year off to recover, now she’s decided to become a Christian school teacher so she can have an impact on her country.

Another young man got up in front of the church. He said, “I lost my mother. She meant everything to me.” Then, he and his friend began singing a song with the lyrics, “Hallelujah, I have Jesus” in the most emotional, convincing way. The day was truly a blessing to me.

Unfortunately, I had to excuse myself from a meeting tonight. I’m not actually sure what the whole purpose was. I will find out when the rest of the team gets back. I had to write stories for Mission Network News and Remember Haiti with Compassion special that’s airing Wednesday on stations around the country.

By the way, you can catch my Mission Network News reports at http://www.MNNonline.org.

Because of bandwidth issues, I haven’t been able to upload any video. So, you’ll have to wait for that until I get home.   More reports tomorrow.

Christmas, a time to tell THE story

Posted: December 15, 2010 in life, spiritual

It’s 10 days before Christmas and I just got a strange feeling in my stomach.  I have been so excited about celebrating Christmas that I have not be strategic in telling people about the WHY of Christmas.

So, I’m being VERY strategic in the days ahead.

Many of my friends on Facebook and around me in West Michigan ARE Christians — they have a profound relationship with Christ. However, a few of my friends don’t really KNOW the meaning of Christmas and why it means so much to us as Christians. So, I’m starting to tell them.

It’s amazing the media that’s out there to help tell the story. I just ran across a cool video from Ron Hutchcraft. So, I posted that on my wall. Do a search for Ron Hutchcraft on Facebook if you’d like to post the video on your Facebook wall.

Without the most important story — the story of God becoming man — a perfect man to be with us on earth — he wouldn’t have become our sacrifice on the cross.  That’s truly Amazing Grace.

Greg