Wednesday, March 28, 2018

True New Life and Freedom For Refugees

I got so excited recently reading about a work with refugees in Greece that I was ready to jump on a plane! Then I wondered why there aren't hundreds of people wanting to be there and see God at work.

Here is some of what I learned:
  • Athens is a gateway city on the refugee highway into Europe as a constant flow of Afghani, Iraqi, Iranian, Pakistani, Sudanese, and Syrian refugees risk their lives to get there. As they flee war-torn countries in life-threatening journeys they hope to find new lives and freedom in Europe.  
  • In Greece, their hopes are dashed as they find they are not welcome, have no opportunities for work, and own nothing more than they carried.
  • There are ministries in Athens that seek to fulfill the gospel imperative to love their neighbor by providing basic human necessities for these refugees: clothes, healthcare, laundry services, meals, and showers, all the while presenting the gospel.
  • At any one time there are 50,000 to 70,000 refugees living in Athens, with an endless stream of new ones arriving daily.

Who can go to help?
Anyone who can:
  • assist during mealtimes--cooking, serving, or cleaning up
  • do childcare during meals and Bible studies
  • teach English, German, or Greek as a second language
  • escort refugees to appointments at clinics and hospitals or to do their paperwork at various government offices
  • help with trauma care and prayer
  • do Bible teaching and discipleship with new believers
  • who has two weeks to as long as they can stay to give to this ministry

Yes! New believers who have truly found new life and freedom. Did you know that 50% of Muslims who come to Christ, do so in part because of the love shown to them by Christians?

There are many groups reaching out to these people as they partner with Athens based ministries. One group is based from a German Bible School, Weidenest. Take a look at their short video by clicking here

Why not look at this at dinner with your family? Then ask your children some questions like these:

  • Can you imagine a situation would make us have to leave almost everything we own and our home and take a dangerous journey to another country where we don't speak the language and don't know anyone?
  • What do you think these people feel when they leave home?
  • How would you feel arriving in the new country?
  • What would be some of things you would need right away in the new place?
  • What could be one good thing about this whole situation?
  • Can you think of any way we can help them?

The prayer request of Jesus is applicable here:

God is using this flow of refugees to bring the world's largest unevangelized people groups to a place where they have needs that we can meet, and they are free from many of the constraints of their cultures at home which allows them to listen to the gospel message!  Pray that the Lord will send people to help these refugees and show them the love of Christ. And please pray that thousands will come to know the Lord! 

As you pray for the Lord to send workers, 
be prepared to have your life changed.

For more information on going to Athens with the people from Weidenest, write to this email. (And don't worry, Germans are smart. The people you will be in contact with speak and write perfect English!)

Another Option! After reading this post, my daughter who has refugees close to her heart, also told me about this ministry option: "Servant Group International also serves refugees, not only in Athens but also in Nashville and Iraq! You could literally choose how far you want to go! Click here for their website."

Did you know?
Emmaus International, the ministry we travel with to train, encourage, and challenge people to study the Word of God, has an app designed for refugees? If you know a refugee who would like to study the Bible in their own language, it's likely that there are Emmaus Bible courses in the app that they can use for free on their phone. Help them go to their app store and look for "Bible Study" with the Emmaus logo and download the app to get them started right away! For more information contact my husband at this email.

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This week's hack comes from Lynn: Hospitality! We have had so many people over, and it makes it fun because the kids want to hear the ‘adult conversation’ and hear their stories. As they get older, allowing them to invite their friends helps, too! I remember a time we sat down at the table, and my daughter looked around and asked, ‘where is everybody?’ It was just our family that night. 

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Get Ready for Dinner at 3:15

I have friends who are in another country seeking to lead people to Jesus. A few months ago they wrote a letter saying that their team had recently studied the Parable of the Seed together. In this parable, the farmer casts his seed onto the soil and at the end of his work day, he goes to bed. One morning he wakes up and the seed has sprouted. He doesn't understand how this has happened, but the seed growing in the soil eventually produces a crop which can be harvested. (See Mark 4:26-29)

As a group they decided to set an alarm on their cell phones for 4:26 in the afternoon to ask that they have and be aware of opportunities to "cast" the seed of the Word of God. They want to share their witness using the Bible and see God use His Word to sprout and grow it in the lives of people to eventually see a harvest of souls. They asked those who pray for them if they would be willing to set their phone alarms to go off at 4:26 every day and pray for them in this way as well.

Since then my alarm has gone off every afternoon at 4:26 and I have prayed for not only them but for me to be telling the Word of God to people wherever I go, and that God would cause the growth.

As I was thinking about this the other day I realized this kind of daily prayer keeps this idea in mind, which helps produce the answer.

Recently, I've been watching my two year old granddaughter sometimes near mealtime. This makes me wonder how I ever got dinner on the table with four kids at home!

What does one have to do with the other?

The thought occurred to me that moms (or dads if they make dinner) could set an alarm on their phone to remind them to pray for peace as they near the dinner hour--what some call the witching hour--so that they can make dinner and everyone can still like each other by the time they sit down together.

That brought to mind Colossians 3:15.

A quarter past three is a great time to start thinking about dinner on many levels. So I am suggesting that mom, especially ones with littles, set their phone alarms for 3:15 on weekdays to:

  • Pray for God to help you allow the peace of Christ to rule in your heart, especially during that last hour before dinner, and to help your kids be calm and at peace as well. And give thanks for your family and that you have enough food to eat.
  • Snack on some protein. This goes for you as well as your kids. A bit of protein--a few almonds, a piece of cheese, a couple carrot sticks with hummus--can make all the difference in how everyone feels between five and six. Blood sugars will be leveled and hunger staved off.
  • Think about what you will make for dinner, if you haven't already done this, and check your recipe if you are following one. 
    • Do you need to put something in the microwave to help it defrost? 
    • Does something need to start marinading?
    • Is there something that is supposed to be at room temperature when you start cooking?
    • How about butter that should be softened?
    • What about gathering all the ingredients now while you have a moment to think?
    • Recipes generally tell you how long to expect to spend hands on and how long you need for cooking. But the hands on time doesn't include peeling, chopping, dicing, and slicing. So if you have a free minute now, why not get that started instead of doing it during the last minute rush.
I realize that in a perfect world you could calmly do this every day. In the real world, your baby will probably be needing her diaper changed about then and your toddler will wake up from her nap crying like it is the end of the world and your preschooler will want to tell you a long involved story about bathtub rocket ships and flying elephants and your second grader will need to be picked up at school and taken to his soccer practice. But you can find a time to set an alarm in the afternoon that will remind you to pray and then be part of the answer to your own prayer by preparing your mind and your children's stomachs.

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This week's hack comes from Sarah:

We meal plan for the week. Precook ground beef and freeze in 2 1/2 cup portions which is a pound. Even pre-make taco meat. We freeze chicken and turkey leftovers in 2 -4 cup portions to make a la king or tetrazzini up fast. Or enchiladas. We often plan a Sunday meal with leftover meat to make into one of these casseroles to freeze. Our tip is having a deep freeze. And mom taught us find a few meals you are good at and make those company meals.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What Could Be Better than an Extra Bathroom?

I remember hearing about a large family living in a small house with one bathroom. Every winter the family found a way to go on a skiing vacation, but they never found the money to add a bathroom to their house.

One day, when the mother arrived late because she couldn't get into the bathroom right away, a friend said to her, "Why don't you skip the ski vacation this year and build a second bathroom into your house?"

The mother replied, "We've talked about that. But we decided that when our kids are grown and on their own and remember their childhood with us, they will talk about the great ski vacations we had, the blizzards, the dry years, the time they sprained their ankle, the hot chocolate, the cold, the crowded, long car ride, the arguments, and the laughter. We just can't imagine that they would say, 'Remember that great second bathroom we got?'"

We didn't go on ski vacations, but we went to our churches' campground with lots of friends when no camp was on and had hot dog roasts at bonfires so hot and high that we couldn't get close enough to cook the hot dogs. We camped in Yosemite National Park in a tent and listened to people yell, "Bear!" while they banged pots and pans (and I didn't know we had peanuts in our tent with us!). We rode buses through South American in luxury and not-so-luxurious. And we had meals together--every day.

When our kids come home to visit, we eat together and they reminisce about our times around the table. They remember fighting over who stole my chips and the one sister who acted out the Bible readings as they were read and being allowed to bring the hamster to the table to eat crumbs at snack time and setting the table and the toaster we brought into the eating area every morning and one brother's scientific explanations of just about anything and another brother first eating too slow as a youngster and then eating too fast as a tween, about the littlest one declaring, "Forks are for dropping!" and mom always, always forgetting the napkins. 

Back then, they usually wanted to get back to whatever they had been doing before dinner as quickly as they possible after they ate, because bedtime was coming soon. But now, they linger at the table and visit until they have to put their own kids down to sleep. Then they come back to talk some more.

We could have put our kids in every class and sport available and spent our time rushing from one activity to another, but we chose time together as a family over most other activities. They did extracurricular pursuits, but that wasn't the focal point of our family life.

I have no regrets about that. 

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This week's hack comes from Corrie Anne Mutilva again: My kids have rest time in their room after lunch, so I use that time for any labor-intensive prep where I'd really not prefer any "help". 😉 I love the quiet, and the opportunity to listen or watch something while I work. It's refreshing and profitable for both my soul and our family's budget & schedule. I usually save the kids' TV watching for late afternoon, so that gives me a little extra time to pull supper together at the last minute (tho' usually my little wanders over to lend a hand).

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Transformative Dinner Discussion

Today's guest poster is Anne Morelli. For more information on her and her blog see the end of the post.

It started just before dinner. As our three teenaged sons began to line up at the kitchen counter to serve their food, they began to argue about who was going first. 

My husband, becoming impatient with their bickering, waded into their argument by raising his voice and issuing directives. The boys did not respond well to his interference. The argument suddenly exploded in momentum and volume.

Unable to stand it any longer, I exclaimed, “That’s enough! Everyone sit down!” 

Surprisingly, everyone quieted, listened. And sat down at the kitchen table. 

It became eerily silent.

Before even really thinking about it, I asked everyone to point at the person or persons they believed had responsibility for the argument. Each of the boys pointed towards at least one other person. And my husband pointed towards our three sons.

But no one - pointed a finger at himself.

We sat in that moment. All staring at who was pointing at who.

It was a perfect image. Capturing how we tend to assign responsibility in a conflict. 

Our most immediate response is to blame others or the circumstances. 

Our default position is that it is someone else’s fault. 

This external focus prevents us from looking inward, and assessing what our contribution to the conflict has been. To seek areas where we must accept responsibility.

That night, as we gathered around our kitchen table to break bread as a family, we took the time to process the argument. Allowing each to take a turn and work through their part. Shifting their attention from blaming others, to considering how they had personally contributed to the conflict. 

And once they were able to accept responsibility for their role in the conflict, it cleared the way for them to apologize and to commit to how they would behave differently if they had the chance to rewind and redo the narrative.

My husband went first. He began by stating that the reason he lost his temper was because the boys were arguing. Still struggling with his desire to look externally, he continued to point fingers and blame the boys for his loss of control. 

But to his credit, he tried again. And as his focus began to shift internally, at his own behavior, he was able to admit, “I aggravated the argument by losing my temper and yelling. My shouting escalated things. If I could replay it, I wouldn’t get angry. Instead, I would remain calm. And I would focus on helping you guys work through the conflict.”

Each one of our sons then took their turn. Their comments ranged from, “I could have let you go first” to “I could have waited and not insisted on going first” to “I could stayed out of it, waiting for you two to solve things, rather than try to sneak ahead of you guys and get my food first.”

Our discussion illustrates one way a family can work towards the understanding that in every situation each of us almost always contribute something to the conflict. 

And this is true whether we contributed 1% or 99% to the argument. 

When we accept responsibility, space is created for us to learn and grow and change. And to be transformed.

Anne Morelli is a woman of faith who has been profoundly impacted by God’s radical grace and love. Some of her formal roles include representing Canada as an Olympic track athlete, and being a pastor, clinical counsellor, and school administrator. She is currently in a Seminary, taking a Masters Degree in Christian Studies. She has been married for 41 years and has three sons, daughter-in-laws, and two grandsons. She is passionate about books, writing, learning, and engaging in thoughtful discussions and loves the fresh air and walking in the woods. And one of her most treasured activities is time spent with family. Get in touch with Anne through:

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This week's hack comes from Corrie Anne Mutilva: I decide in the morning what we're going to have that night, and take meat out of the freezer, etc. And I try to pick meals and prep according to the busyness of the day...Tuesday's are school volunteer days, but also Taco Tuesday, so I mix up the tortillas early in the morning, and put pork or chicken in the crockpot. Wednesday's are Community Group (in our home), so I usually do pasta, since it's quick, and easy clean-up. Crockpot or oven-baked dinner for Sunday's.

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To never miss an Around the Table blog post, simply sign up in the space near the top right side of the blog, below the picture of the book: 
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Photo credits: Claudio Viloria, Unsplash
                              Dan Gold, Unsplash


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