Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cama CR Feeds the Homeless

We were happy this Thanksgiving day, that over 30 people showed up for a hot meal.  Thanks to the Cama employees, volunteers, and supporters who make this possible!

Happy Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving often falls on November 26, which is also a holiday in Mongolia.

National Proclamation Day is celebrated today to remember Mongolia becoming their own nation in 1924, after beginning to fight for it in 1921.  It previously was a national holiday where people didn't have to work.  But this year they observed Genghis Khan's birthday instead on the 12th of November.  I guess this would be like our President's Day.

I've always seen the two holidays as very similar.  Our Thanksgiving is unique in the world.  Canada is the only other nation we know of that has a special day for giving thanks.  But this Mongolian holiday has overtones of our American thanksgiving.

We remember not only the 'blessings of heaven', that the sun shone and the rain fell in the right balance to produce crops, that decorate our tables.   We remember the pilgrim's plight through their first winter in New England, helped by the Native Americans.  

Mongolians were helped by the Red Man as well.  Though they consider themselves the ancestors of our American 'Indians', and there is cultural evidence to support that, it was the Red Russians that helped them win freedom from oppressive occupying Chinese.

So Mongolians, like Americans, have a lot to be thankful for today.  I hope you enjoy yours and are able to lift a mug of hot tasty beverage or a turkey leg to celebrate.

I am your representative in Mongolia.  A festive drink was just carried into my office, left over from our feeding of the homeless program.  I will lift this lukewarm mug of salty, milk-based rice-filled-with-chips-of-sheep-fat-floating-in-it tea on your behalf. 

I wonder if the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock imbibed anything this festive in 1620.  As hungry as they were, I'm sure something like it seemed tasty no matter how unfamiliar.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Let us be grateful for God and country today especially.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back Inside

Today we went back inside our local prison to serve and offer hope through Jesus.  This was the first time since the summer break, and changes in the Mongolian penal system.

Last week's post was about an act of grace letting people out of prison.  I'm pleased to report about Boya, the prisoner who came to Cama last week.  He got some help here with various needs, came to CR on Friday night, was in church on Sunday, and has been here both days so far this week!  He's looking for work and is following leads.

Rebuilding your life from nothing is not easy, materially or psychologically.  The look of fear in his face sometimes is enough to break you.  It makes you understand how some prisoners don't make it long before they end up back inside.  Pray for him.

The good news is that we were back in the prison today with CR and Boya was not there.  In fact, he came into my office after we had gotten back and asked me how many prisoners were there, and did I know any of them?  Not many, only about 4 of 5 did I recognize.  I'm hoping that some who have heard the gospel of Christ, and followed some of the CR steps are finding freedom outside like Boya.  May God grant many the grace to follow Him, and discover how deeply they are loved and valued by their Creator.

Today many prisoners took the first step to rebuilding their lives, by giving them to Jesus.  Our pastor friend led about 30 prisoners to pray to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life from Jesus Christ.  May God begin to grow them inside, so that they become strong enough to prosper and someday rebuild their lives on outside of prison walls.              

Pray they won't have to ever go back inside prison again.  Unless, God willing, they one day wish to join our team of prison ministers and go 'Back Inside' to set others free.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Act of Grace

Yesterday we heard word that the stores had cleared out all their alcohol of their shelves.

This morning I came into work to hear that 40 local prisoners were granted their freedom over the weekend.  As I was writing this, I got an email that nationwide, over 2000 prisoners have been set free from prison by a special act of grace from the president.

We were excited to hear from one guy who was a Celebrate Recovery participant at meetings at our local Darhan prison.  Then a little later a guy walked into the project center speaking English.  I sort of recognized him, but didn't know from where.   When he took off hit hat, I could recognize him easier with his shaven head.  It was Boya, a 20 year old I had in my CR support circles at the local prison.  CR Teacher Togsoo discovered a need for some clothes to wear, though Boya does luckily to have a place to stay.

We are wondering and wanting to pray for how this Act of Grace in these prisoners lives can be used to further our work as "Hands to a hurting world".  Wouldn't it be great to be able to see some of these lives set free to find Forever Freedom?  It starts with meeting immediate needs like food, clothes, shelter.  Pray we are enabled to meet the challenge.

Oh, why was the alcohol cleared off the shelves in the stores?  It was ordered to coincide with this presidential clemency.  They wanted to give the prisoners the best possible chance at a new life.  I heard that last time many of the repeat offenders first wrong move was taking a drink.  Let's hope Cama services and CR can help keep some off that road.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Hope for Homeless Week #2

Area Mongolians hear a message of hope as they are served tea while waiting for a meal.  Celebrate Recovery volunteers and workers lead this effort at our Cama Project Center.

CR Leader's Greeting - Take 2 Video Posting

Friday, November 06, 2015

Celebrate Recovery Leaders' Greeting

First time posting a video to the blog.  Will it work?

Feeding the Homeless

Our Celebrate Recovery Center started a weekly feeding of area homeless the last week of October.  This is a picture of the first turn out.  Fifteen folks showed up.  Week two, we had 17 people come.  They get not only something for to nourish their bodies, but a little bit of hope for their souls, through a short lesson based on one the 12 steps.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Our Reason for Being Here

Why are we here?  On Earth, the Universe, at this time in history?

I've been thinking and talking with our staff lately about purpose as we've been reading through The Purpose Driven Life together. It's translated and published in Mongolian.

Every Monday morning we're reading through one day of the 40 day plan.  Its going to take more than a 'month of Sundays' to get through.  But its worth it.

Its a little like having a mega-pastor show up to your morning staff meeting to share a message not once, but 40 times in a row!  Perfectly planned, published and respected throughout the Christian world, that Rick's not here in person makes crowd control easier.

So we're giving each person a chance to ask the questions at the end of the chapters, and to take turns sharing a personal purpose statement.  What's yours?

My newly minted mission might qualify as rhythmic poetry, if not iambic pentameter:
          "Man on a mission from God for what’s good and right, 
          through dark nights with the warmth and speed of light."

The Holy Spirit is the only one who can power and fire the light.  I am just a vessel, the bulb, and without Him, a little dim.  Renee may attest to the speed of light part, except perhaps when I'm holding down the couch!  I mainly include my mission statement here to help you think about yours.  And to see if anyone still reads this blog.  Let me know if you do, and whether I was right about iambic pentameter if you know.

What is your purpose?

The purpose of the project center I manage is, as part of CAMA Services International Mongolian NGO, "a Christian NGO that exists to equip and enable Mongolians to organize communities that will improve their quality of living, transform and develop society. To fulfill this purpose, we will work closely with and partner with Government Agencies, Faith Communities, and other NGOs."

Our vision is to see poverty eliminated in Mongolia.  Through our Wealth Development Project we organize people into saving groups and train them how to handle finances.

Our vision is to improve life quality.  Through our Family Counseling services, we offer healing to families who are considering divorce or battling other relationship problems.

Our vision is for a healthy Mongolia.  We offer health teaching and Celebrate Recovery to address people's chemical addiction and healing for all other 'hurts, habits, and hangups'.

What are we doing here?  We were put on earth to bring Glory to our Creator, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  By receiving His grace and freedom from sin, he puts in us the desire to serve him and help others understand that there is hope.  When trapped people find that freedom, "the angels rejoice in heaven", God is pleased and so are we.

In the words of Esther, one of the greatest hero books of the Bible.  A princess, she was brought to a position of privilege and influence for a purpose of saving her people.

"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"