Light of Hope

PNKS1

By: Diane Harvey, our fearless justice leader from Perth, Australia

I had the opportunity to go to Cambodia in a team of six from Perth, Australia. We went to visit two projects, which are supported by Baptist World Aid Australia. Lisa has allowed me to write three posts for you. This one will be about PNKS, the second will be about Peace Bridges and the last one will be about two other organisations doing great work that I found while I was there.

I really didn’t know what we were going into. This was my first trip to a third-world country. I shouldn’t have worried. My team leader and the partner organisations did a great job of planning the itinerary and showing us around.

It was called an “Exposure Tour”. We weren’t there to do anything as such, just to observe, listen, learn and ask questions. It wasn’t all hard work either. We did some sightseeing on tuk-tuks, took a ton of photos and were able to Skype the kids at home every night from the Wi-Fi in our comfortable hotel room.

PNKS2The first organisation we visited was called PNKS (light of hope). They are a Cambodian Christian NGO working in community building, agriculture and livelihoods training and health. We were out in the rural areas, guests to their community meetings and got to observe some things that PNKS have introduced to help build the communities.

Climate change is a big issue in these communities. Rainfall used to be predictable and the rice harvest as a result used to be predictable, but now late rains could mean poor crops. PNKS is working with the locals to teach/share farming practices, skills and techniques, work towards diversification of crops, so families might plant vegetables and have a fish pond as well as just the rice field.

Communities were also taught in monthly meetings about various topics such as health care, civil rights, domestic violence, and other things. The communities also had the opportunity to have a shared savings account, which had lower interest than what was offered by the microfinance institutions. We heard one example of this being used when the community needed funds for a funeral.

PNKS4You’ll see in two of my photos that there is plastic sheeting and plastic bottles being used in agriculture. This is to avoid evaporation during the drought. The locals have to endure both droughts and floods in a year and often lose everything they have gained during the drought. We heard that there isn’t enough water for their animals to survive the drought. Fish, however can be kept in plastic bags.

I really loved visiting the rural communities and having the chance to talk to some people who were happy to show us the improvements that PNKS had brought to their communities. In one community meeting I asked what was their greatest need, and they said that they needed consistent rain for the remainder of October for their rice crops. You can imagine our collective joy when it started to pour down!

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This photo is of me talking to the community ladies. I am wearing a blue blouse and the translator is on my left.

The other photo is of the savings group. If you would like more information on PNKS, there is a good article here.

 

He gave you the goods

breathe(Kristine, me, Amelia, Amy)

This weekend I attended Breathe Christian Writers Conference in Grand Rapids.

My dear Amy Sullivan (newly published!) trekked all the way from North Carolina. I met the talented Amelia Rhodes (the mastermind behind Praying A-Z) in person finally! I also met a writer that I have followed for a long time Chad Allen in person. He is truly just as encouraging and genuine in real life. I grew to know other talented women from the area like Melanie, Kristine, Catie and Jenna. I love that in a crowded and enormously competitive field, I have only met generous and encouraging people.

Amy stayed up until 1 am with me, getting me on track and brainstorming. God is so good to give us special friends to journey with us in our lives. I think He knew I would need someone to kick my butt, but love me all the same. Also nachos can come with waffle fries instead of chips?! Who knew.

 

The key note speaker was Julie Cantrell. I can’t wait to read her books. She has a beautiful story of faith despite enormous loss. She could not be humbler (hello, New York Times Bestselling Author.) Check her out.

 

This is what I want to share with you. Whenever I go anywhere or do anything, I feel so inadequate… like I so do not belong at a writing conference. Why in the world are these people friends with me? I am the worst. I have imaginary conversations constantly.

 

Another presenter Tracy Groot shared this:

God is the ultimate gift giver. 

The gifts God gave you are not broken. 

The anti-thesus of creation (satan) wants us to believe we drive a gutted car. 

 

I waste way too much time buying into this lie. I think I have some major stock in it.

 

So, this day I want to extend this encouragement. He gave you the goods. Beautiful, unique, utterly you gifts. He poured them out with generosity like no other. Own them, they are yours and yours alone to live out for him.

I think that covers our ordinary days with a layer of joy and bright and purpose, for that I am thankful. I am thankful for all of you and the way you reflect that gift giver.

What lie do you buy into? What are your gifts? Share what you do best! 

 

listen

listen

Listening at the Margins.

I love this article from Do Justice.

Our best service comes when we listen.

A number of CRC agencies have come together to listen to stories from people who are marginalized in various ways, whether because they are disabled, Native American, refugees, undocumented immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, etc.

Sign up here, to receive an email story each day in November that positions us to listen.

Once a week over at Amelia Rhodes online home, you can follow her Pray A-Z Community Prayer Guide series. She’s getting practical by offering stories and prayer for needs in our communities.

I’m excited to be in proximity and to kneel.

How do you truly listen? 

burning warm for the hours

burning warm

At church there were moments that the sun peeked through the stained glass window, beautiful on a gray weekend. Last weekend we were at eighty and beside Lake Michigan, this weekend the temperature was forty. The weather moves like that here. The sun shone so brightly through the top amber panes, I almost needed to shield my eyes.

In a pew Bible I found a slip of paper. Psalm 23 was written in neatly in childlike form.

thermynaThe Lord is my Shepard, I shall lack nothing. he makes me lie down in Green pastures, he lead me beside quiet waters he restores my soul. he guides me in paths. no lo thermyna. :(

not thermyna.

 

Sometimes, I don’t feel as though I deserve those words either.

Like when I hesitated to turn left on a blinking yellow and the SUV behind me laid on the horn. In horror, I watched my right middle finger fly off my hand squarely to the rearview mirror. And afterwards… I realize yes, I really did that with my kids in the backseat.

Or the tantrum on Sunday afternoon about the burnt rice that resulted in an apology to all three of the other people in my family.

 

Only I do deserve Him.

So does Thermyna.

 

God’s brilliance is like the sun shining through that amber glass. It burns warm, simply because he loves us. He knows we are never going to be so bright on our own.

I am in the hallway at my job. A friend stops even though she is pushing a baby stroller, and she puts her hand on my shoulder. ‘I’m praying for you today.’ I want to say, oh, everything is fine. In reality, that day it is not. She knew somehow. Her voice was the warm love I needed for the hours.

I need.

Thermyna needs.

We all need that burning warm. Love. Forgiveness. We are messy, messy people.

 

This week I will think of the amber colored stained glass,

burning warm in sunlight,

covering.

 

and also I will pray to remember to be that burning warm to others.

like Thermyna, a child… longing for the comfort of Psalm 23.

There a million and a hundred thousand trillion of her in this world, in need for the hours.

 

When have you felt that burning warm of God’s love? Who can you offer hope for the hours? 

we will not

fear

I have been feeling so quiet lately. Everything is just so loud. Sometimes I feel like the on-line world does not need another single word added, especially mine. Even, in these quiet days I am thinking of you all, and praying for you.

This verse showed up Sunday morning in church as I felt lost in worries. That constant nagging fear I love to embrace, that I am not enough. Can you imagine the mountains falling into the heart of the sea? The picture is striking and terrifying, even then he commands us not to fear.

And I am left wondering why I worry so.

In the midst of noise, I pray this for you all this week.

 

Do not fear.

Even in the heart of the sea, He waits to rescue.

When More is Not Enough

amy cover

When More is Not Enough! This is Amy’s big day!

Have you ever dreamed of giving your gifts away. If I ever make enough money, I’d love to… well Amy didn’t wait. ALL proceeds of her book are going to Transformation Village, a housing ministry for women and children founded by Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministries. That extravagant generosity is Amy, and you will love her book.

 

She empowers us all to be givers and to raise givers with her smart, compassionate and funny voice. She gives birth on the side of the road, converses with imaginary critics and struggles through her daughters first years on permanent oxygen. Her journey to generosity is transparent, honest and down-to-earth.

God wanted more. He expected it. God desired to take what we saw as ours and turn it into his.”

ReleasePic1Generosity (1)

Amy encourages us to leave behind the term youth entitlement. She offers practical ideas for our world, our community and in our home. I especially love the dinner table dialogue sections.

She also goes beyond the most often shared service ideas and challenges our hearts to serve through forgiveness, prayer and rest. What a beautiful invitation, that in order to serve we must rest. We must pray. And we must be ready to offer forgiveness. Providing rest, service and prayer for others is also an act of service.

 

This kind of heart shaping, deeply loving, extravagantly generous service shapes a beautiful life. We know this from the voice and life of Amy.

 

I’ll be giving away TWO copies of the book!

Just comment below to be entered. What is your biggest giving dream? What is your families best giving ideas?

Lets give Amy lots of proximity love! You can share her book, follow her journey on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and subscribe to her blog by email! We love you Amy and so beyond proud of you and difference your book will make!

AmySullivan