Check out the Africa Mercy Ship. It is amazing the people who have dedicated their lives to helping those in desperate need of medical attention.
Category Archives: Poverty
Waves of Mercy
According to Mercy Ships, five billion people lack access to safe surgery. Children, teens, and adults suffer and die every day from treatable causes, and one child in eight will die before age 5.
In 1978 Don and Deyon Stephens founded Mercy Ships in Switzerland. Don says that “A devastating hurricane, meeting Mother Teresa and the birth of his special needs son drove an idea that would bring hope and healing to the world’s poorest people.”
First idea for a ship that would travel to countries without medical faculties and help came to Don at 19. His youth group saw a hurricane that came through the Bahamas when they were there. He heard someone praying for a ship that could come in and provide the care needed after such a tragedy. Later when he and his wife had a son born with special needs, he was reminded of that prayer and how many with such problems had no way to go for help. Finally, visitng with Mother Teresa she encouraged him to follow the dream God had first planted when he was a teenager.
The first Mercy Ship was a Italian cruise liner built in 1953 and called the Victoria. Converted into a mobile hospital it was renamed Anastasis. The Stephens lived on the first ship with their family for the first ten years of operation. The ship was retired in 2007 and replaced by Africa Mercy.
According to Mercy Ships “It is estimated 16.9 million people die globally each year from conditions requiring surgical care. 32% of all global deaths are a result of the lack of access to safe, affordable, and timely surgery.”
Mercy Ships until this year had one ship to reach out to the poorer nations with medical care. However, they have added a second ship, Global Mercy. Building the ship began in 2017 and was just completed last year. The ship passed all the testing to prove it sea worthy and will officially began serving the needy in March of this year. This ship has six operating rooms, 200 beds, a laboratory, general outpatient clinics and eye and dental clinics.
These ships not only provide needed medial care, but they also work to train local nurses and doctors to continue the care when they are gone. Since over 50% of the world’s population live nears a coast, the ships are the perfect way to bring this much needed health care.
The doctors and nurses who serve on Mercy Ships do so without any compensation.
Since its founding in 1978 Mercy Ships “has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, treating more than 2.5 million direct beneficiaries. Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers from more than 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time.”
There are many amazing stories of lives that have been changed because of the work of Mercy Ships.
To read some of these stories – and see more of the work of Mercy Ships, visit their website:
I’m Rich – How About You?
These thoughts are not my own – I am sharing the message my pastor gave us this week.
She told us that if we make $37,000 a year we are in the ranks of the rich when compared to the rest of the world’s population.
Then she listed the “rich” people problems we face all the time. Things that we complain about – and do not really stop to think how many in the rest of the world would be grateful for those problems.
- Our cell phone service is bad.
- Our air line flight has been delayed.
- Amazon is out of the size we needed.
- Amazon promised shipment in three days and we now have to wait a week.
- We have to get new tires for our car.
- Our laptop stopped working and we have to buy a new one.
- The lines at McDonald’s are too long.
And we could go on and go about the “problems” we complain about every day without realizing these are “rich” people problems.
We take so much for granted in the USA.
Yet, at the same time we know there are many in our country who are struggling financially right now.
According to Feeding America, 1 in 9 Americans struggled with hunger. In 2019, 35,207,000 people were food insecure. Food insecurity exists in every county in America. Millions of people are still struggling to get by because of underemployment, stagnant wages and the rising cost of living. To these Americans, food has become an unaffordable luxury.
In 2019 more than 5.3 million children live in households struggling with hunger. Approximately 25% of children in households at risk of hunger may be forced to rely exclusively on hunger relief organizations to make ends meet.
According to the USDA, in 2020, 35.3 percent of households with incomes below the Federal poverty line were food insecure. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security. Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for single-parent households, and for Black and Hispanic households. Food insecurity was more common in both large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas.
As I look at these statistics I realize how blessed I am. My husband and I have a freezer full of food and a pantry with shelves fully stocked. Yet, my studies have shown me that many elderly have to decide between buying food or purchasing needed medicine.
So what do I do? Just feel bad and move on with my life? Or, try to help in some way.
If you fall in that category of having plenty of food, I challenge you to reach out and help
- Find a food pantry in your area and contribute food and/or money. Money is probably better than food because most food pantries can purchase food in bulk at much cheaper prices than an individual can. If you give food, think dried and canned goods. And please, check for expiration dates and do not give something you would not eat.
- Many schools have food programs – check with your local school.
- Do a volunteer food drive.
- Volunteer with your local food pantry or with the Meals on Wheels program.
I am grateful that my church works with Compassion in Action, a local group that helps with school children who are food insecure, and with a local food bank to distribute food to those in need every month.
My pastor shared the story of the farmer in the Bible who had a huge harvest. His response to that was to build more barns and then sit and enjoy his success. While Jesus was clearly not condemning being successful or even rich (many of godly men in the Bible were wealthy) or being a good steward of what you have, He clearly tells us we are not to trust in our own riches. Our trust is to be in God.
Also, we are not to grasp on tightly to what we have, but be willing to let go and share with others.
Finally, when we talk about riches we usually think of money or possessions. But I am rich in so many other important ways – ways that money cannot buy. Family, health, peace with God.
I think of a song my mother used to sing when I was a child.
If you are one of those who are food insecure, do not be afraid to ask for help. Check with your local church, your local school. There is help out there – and you should not feel bad about receiving.
If you are one who is truly “rich,” be grateful but also reach out and share with others.
As my husband often said when he preached about giving generously to others, “I never saw an U-Haul truck following a funeral car to the grave.”
In the words of Jesus:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Giving Only What I Can Afford
In the Gospel of Mark Jesus pointed out to His disciples a widow woman who placed two little coins in the offering box in the Temple. Compared to the much larger amounts they had seen others give earlier, her offering seemed like nothing. Yet Jesus pointed out that they had given of their abundance while her offering consisted of all she had – a much greater sacrifice and gift.
Jesus explained that the rich people had given “what they can easily afford” while she had given “her whole living.”
This has me thinking – do I only give what I can afford or do I give my all?
When we talk about giving in relationship to God, we usually think of money and in this instance it was money that was being discussed. And certainly I have to admit when it comes to financial giving, I certainly use a lot of my income on myself. As I look at my checkbook, I have to ask myself if I am only giving what I can easily afford to the work of God.
Giving financially to God is more than just giving to my local church, although it does include that. But there are so many other areas where I need to share my abundance with others:
- helping teachers and schools with supplies
- buying shoes for children from families who are struggling financially
- buying a meal for a homeless person
- taking food to the local food pantry
- many non-profit organizations like American Cancer Society, St Jude’s Hospital for Children, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the list goes on and on
My first thought is I do not have an abundance financially. But I have to ask myself if I am only giving what I can easily afford. Am I really making any personal sacrifices giving up things I don’t really need, only want, to help others whose finances are much less than mine.
But giving to God is much more than just giving of my finances. There is my time and my talent.
How much of my time do I spend doing things I want to do, things which will help me or my family? How much of my time do I spend reaching out to others.
This was really brought home to me this past month. We just moved to a new state. Just a couple of days after moving in with boxes still everywhere our doorbell rang. It was a neighbor coming over to say welcome. My first thought was “how nice!” I invited her in and we began getting acquainted. After 30 minutes had passed and she showed no sign of leaving, I must confess I so wanted her to leave. After all, I had boxes to unpack and a long, long list of things that must be taken care of when you move from one state to another: new car title and license, new driver’s license, new car insurance, and my list went on and on.
Finally she left and I told my husband I was worried that she would be a nuisance. She was elderly and clearly lonely. She also repeated herself several times. I dreaded the time she might take up coming over to visit.
Then, I remembered what Jesus said and I felt the Spirit’s conviction as I realized I have an abundance of time. My husband and I are both retired, we only have one daughter and her family living close by. We have lots of time to enjoy.
So – will I be willing to give up some of my time – my abundance of time – to spend time with this neighbor – listening to the same story and showing interest as if it was the first time I had heard it? Do I really need to spend all my time just doing what I like to do, just enjoying myself or do I need to give my all as Jesus would have me do?
So I have determined to visit this woman every week, to take an hour or two to sit and listen to her stories, to make her feel important to me. To give out of my abundance.
My “Compassion” Girls from the Philippines
It started with Claudine. Claudine was a young high school student living in Cebu City, Philippines. Through Compassion’s program to help release children from poverty, I began sending a monthly contribution to help meet Claudine’s educational and physical needs. While in high school Claudine attended the Cornerstone Student Center. Through the Center – in cooperation with Compassion – Claudine enjoyed good and helpful medical check-ups, help with school work, learned life skills such as cooking and baking and assistance in job applications.
With their help, she filled out her “My Plan for Tomorrow” workbook helping her to plan her future and set goals. Extra-curricular activities were provided that helped her explore her God-given talents.
We enjoyed years of letters and pictures sent back and forth. It was a bitter-sweet day when I received her last letter. She had graduated from school, had a job and was now moving out of the Compassion program. She was making plans to pursue a college degree.
She thanked me for the monthly sponsorship, for the birthday, Christmas and family gifts, but when she told me what she was most thankful for, tears came to my eyes.
What I will miss the most are your letters where you tell me about your life and what’s happening.
She said she hoped I would still sponsor another needy child like her.
I will never forget you and I will always love you and your will be forever in my heart.
So – in honor of Claudine and her hard work and faithfulness to God and her family, I chose another little girl from the Philippines.
Now comes Rachell Ann
This time I decided to pick a little girl much younger than Claudine had been when our sponsorship started. This would give me more years to develop a relationship with her and help her from the very start of life. It is also nice that Rachell Ann is only 5 months older than my youngest granddaughter, Zoe.
Rachell Ann lives just east of Quezon City. Because she is so young her mother writes to me for Rachell Ann. Very interesting to see that the place she would like to visit is the same as many kids in the USA – Disneyland. But the chances that she will ever be able to do that are pretty small. While I can’t help her with that dream, I’m grateful that I can help see that this little girl has a better chance of growing up healthy and educated – and know the love of God.
I’m not posting this story to “brag” about what I’m doing. I’m hoping you will read and decide that you, too, can help bring a child out of poverty. It costs us so little – it means so much to others.
Check out the Compassion, Inc. site. See what you can to do to help a child – and therefore a family, be lifted up from poverty.
The Hole in Our Gospel
What does God expect of us?
The following is taken from the book “The Hole in Our Gospel’ written by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns. It speaks much better than I can of our need to make a difference. I have expressed my thoughts on this topic in other posts: What is on Your Menu for the Christmas Meal? and Poverty – It’s Real!
“It is hard to read the headlines each day without a growing sense of alarm. We hear about terrorism, ethnic and religious tensions, wars and conflicts, corrupt governments, massive natural disasters, climate change, nuclear intimidation, and even child trafficking and slavery. Our post 9/11 world seems both frightening and threatening, and the majority of us struggle to understand it, let alone do something about it. The world’s problems just seem too big and too hard for most of us; it’s so much easier to retreat from them than to take them on. On Sunday morning, safe in our church pews and surrounded by friends, it can be all too easy to leave the world’s violence, suffering, turmoil outside–out of sight, out of mind.
But wait–as Christians, are we really given the option of turning away from the world’s problems? Does God permit that?
The ideas behind The Hole in Our Gospel is quite simple. It’s basically the belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.
If your personal faith in Christ has no positive outward expression, then your faith–and mine–has a hole in it.
Embracing the gospel, or good news, proclaimed by Jesus is so much more than a private transaction between God and us. The gospel itself was born of God’s vision of a changed people, challenging and transforming the prevailing values and practices of our world. Jesus called the resulting new world order the “kingdom of God” and said that it would become a reality through the lives and deeds of His followers. Jesus asked a great deal of those who followed Him. He expected much more from them than just believing He was God’s Son. He challenged them to embrace radically different standards, to love their neighbors and their enemies, to forgive those who wronged them, to lift up the poor and downtrodden, to share what they had with those who had little, and to live lives of sacrifice. Then He likened their effect on the world around them to that which light has on darkness. Light dispels darkness; it reverses it.
Those who choose to follow Christ have struggled since the very beginning to live differently in a world that often rejects their values and mocks their belies. The temptation to retreat from it and to keep our faith private has befallen every generation of Christians.
Yet we are the carriers of the gospel–the good news that it was meant to change the world. Belief is not enough. Worship is not enough. Personal morality is not enough. And Christian community is not enough. God has always demanded more. When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God’s character–His love, justice, and mercy–through our words, actions and behavior…..
Living out our faith privately was never meant to be an option.
What’s on Your Menu For the Christmas Meal?
Thanksgiving turkey – Christmas ham?
What a great feast we had at Thanksgiving! Turkey, dressing, scalloped potatoes, corn, sugared carrots, salad, homemade bread, and of course, pumpkin pie.
After our Thanksgiving meal we had so much turkey left over, we cut it up and made soup with noodles and chicken broth. It was delicious and we used up our left over homemade bread with lots of butter!
Now it’s time to shop for the Christmas meal.
So many choices.
Shall we do turkey again or ham? Maybe some Cornish hens? Scalloped potatoes or mashed? Maybe some sweet potatoes? Same salad or a different one? Homemade bread again or shall we do dinner rolls? And dessert? Pecan pie, apple pie, banana pudding, peach cobbler?
So many choices.
That’s the story for most of us in the USA this year. However, in many homes across the USA – and certainly in the rest of the world, it’s a totally different story.
What is the #1 health risk in the world today?
Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Tonight as I crawl into bed stuffed after eating 3 good meals today and snacking on apples and popcorn while I watched TV, one in seven people in the world will go to bed hungry.
For some, there are so few choices.
Here are a few statistics on hunger in our world today.*
- Over 300 million children go to bed hungry every day.
- Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That’s one child every five seconds.
- Undernutrition is a factor in one-third of all under-5 child deaths.
- One out of four children – roughly 146 million – in developing countries is underweight.
- 925 million people do not have enough to eat. 98 percent of them live in developing countries.
- There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of USA, Canada and the European Union.
- Asia and the Pacific region is home to over half the world’s population and nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry people.
- Women make up a little over half of the world’s population, but they account for over 60 percent of the world’s hungry.
While I am not suggesting that we should not enjoy our Christmas feast – I certainly plan to – I hope that we will do three things this Christmas season:
- Before we begin our feasting, let us truly take time to thank God for allowing us to be born in a country and in a family where we have plenty to eat.
- Let us look around us and see the needy in our own community, our own church, perhaps even in our own family – and DO SOMETHING to help make their Christmas a little better.
- Let us purpose that in the coming year we will make some changes in our own spending habits and use the money saved to help someone else – in our city, our state, our country or around the world.
What better way for us to really “keep Christ in Christmas” than to remember those less fortunate than us.
*Sources: http://www.wfp.org, http://www.unicef.org, http://www.crin.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.bread.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.childinfo.org
Poverty – It’s Real!
Poverty – for many of us it’s just something we read about or hear on the news from time to time. We may take a moment to think about those in need – but too quickly we move on to our comfortable life.
Take a moment to reflect on these stats on poverty. – But remember behind these stats are faces of REAL people!
9 important stats on poverty
- Worldwide 600 million children are living in extreme poverty.
- The cost of eradicating world poverty is estimated at 1 percent of global income.
- Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
- The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.
- 1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.6.9 million children under five years of age died in 2011, nearly 800 every hour.
- The highest rates of child mortality are still in sub-Saharan Africa – where 1 in 9 children dies before age 5.The number of under-five deaths worldwide has declined from more than 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011. Nearly 19,000 children under five died every day in 2011.
- Globally, the four major killers of children under age 5 are pneumonia (18 percent), diarrhea diseases (15 percent), pre-term birth complications (12 percent) and birth asphyxia (9 percent).58 percent of deaths in children under age five are caused by infectious diseases.
- In 1981, 52 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty (defined as living on $1.25 or less a day.) Data from the World Bank released in February 2012 estimates that 22 percent of people live in extreme poverty.Country with highest number of under five deaths: India.
- Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
Sources: www.unicef.org, www.childinfo.org, www.crin.org, www.who.int, www.globalisses.com
Ten Things Food Banks Need But Won’t Ask For
At this time of year as we plan our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, we need to remember not everyone has the resources we do. I am reposting an article on
10 Things Food Banks Won’t Ask for:
(Check source below)
Some items are in high demand at the food bank and you may not realize it. Because they aren’t essentials, the staff doesn’t publicly ask for them. A survey on Reddit.com asked volunteers what items people would be most appreciative of and we’ve listed the top 10 below. If you’re looking for an easy way to help out, pick some of these up while shopping and drop them off at one of our area food banks.
Think about it. People who rely on the food bank eat a lot of canned food, rice, oatmeal, white bread, etc. They love spices. Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil and so on.
2. Feminine Products.
Can you imagine being worried about affording these? Pads, tampons, panty liners, etc. Recommended: Buy in bulk at Costco for donating.
People don’t need it, but think about being in their shoes and how nice it would be to be given a chocolate bar or brownie mix along with your essentials.
Grocery stores are great about donating surplus or unsold food, but they have no reason to donate toilet paper, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. Food stamps often don’t cover these.
5. Canned meats and jerky.
This isn’t true of all food banks, but some struggle to give users enough protein.
6. Crackers and tortillas.
They don’t spoil and everybody likes them.
7. Baby toiletries.
Diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby food, bottles, etc.
8. Soup packets.
Sometimes you look at rice, beans, instant potatoes, and cans of vegetable and think, “What do I make with this?” Hearty soup is a complete meal.
From a former homeless person: “Socks mean the world to you. They keep you warm, make you feel like you have something new, and just comfort you.”
10. Canned fruit other than pineapple.
Food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. Their clients love it when other kinds of fruit are available.
And remember! Food banks love cash donations because it allows them to buy whatever they need!
Read More: 10 Things Food Banks Need But Won’t Ask For | http://1027kord.com/10-things-food-banks-need-but-wont-ask-for/?trackback=tsmclip