February raced by, and it seems we did one thing more than any other—shovel snow! We had 37” of the beautiful white stuff in those 28 days! It truly was beautiful, and cold with temps going as low as -22 in Billings. We were shoveling in -35 degree wind chills! So far, with the exception of the first couple of days, March has been much warmer. Please be in prayer for those along rivers. The sudden thaw is causing ice jams and flooding.

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I wanted to share specifically this month about just a couple of things, starting with a report on the Green Bean Project. Some of you should have already received thank you notes by now. One thing has changed since I sent them out, so I wanted to give a full update here.

This year’s GBP came in at just a little under the min. $600 goal. But, little by little a few late gifts have trickled in. So, we’re within about $25 of that goal. Praise the Lord for His provision!

The last couple of years we have purchased A Beka textbooks for the children’s home in South Asia. This year they have asked us to purchase special classroom supplies from Oriental Express to use as teaching aids! This is the one part of the project that hasn’t been completed yet, but we’re working on it.

The missionaries working with the Orphanage in Central Asia were in the States at the end of the GBP. We sent their portion to them, so they could purchase items to carry back with them. Or, could apply it to needs when they returned to the field. This saved a great deal in shipping expenses and will allow the funds to go further.

The Kenyan portion was used to sponsor 10 orphans for one month! Which brings me to the next area that I wanted to share with you…

Since spring of 2013, we have been trying to pull together a sponsor program for the orphans now living at one of the three schools in Kenya. We are very close to having that program up and running. If you would like to get a sneak peek at our webpage, you can check it out here. Please, drop us a note if you are interested in finding out how you can become a prayer partner, supporter ($20/mo) and correspondent with one of these precious children.

Please be praying for the local ministry with single moms. Pray that I will have wisdom. The women I am working with need the Lord! It seems on an almost weekly basis one or another of them is making decisions, which have the potential to destroy their life and threaten the security of their children. I need wisdom in helping them to make the right decisions and learn to break old habits—but most of all they need Jesus.

Please, also be praying for clear, daily direction and wisdom to balance the needs of the FTN ministry, church ministry, and work. Thank you so much for your prayers! Without them and the strength God gives in answer, I would have given up long ago!

Where did 2013 go? You may have also begun to wonder where I went! The last three months have been incredibly busy. I am so sorry it has kept me from being able to give full update. So, here’s a quick rundown:

Travels and Meetings

• October – Our Annual Ladies’ Retreat went very well with ladies from four other towns in attendance. We had a great day of fellowship centered on God’s Word!

• November - I took a trip across the state to meet up with my good friends who are missionaries in a little known and very cold part of the world. Not only was it one of the most encouraging days of my entire year but it also provided a new way of communication with the ministry in Kenya.

Kenya

After months of trying to send info back and forth without success, my friends pointed me to a simple, free, phone app that has made it possible! Since then we have been able to update the Sangs’ website and to get a start on the orphan sponsorship program. In addition to the responsibilities with the church and their three schools (about 400 children) the Sangs are now caring for twenty-two orphans. If you would be interested in becoming a prayer partner and/or sponsor for one of these children, please follow this link: forbidthemnot.webs.com/sponsorachild.htm

We’re also looking into setting up a laptop program for the children in the schools. This is new to me. If anyone is aware of a program or ministry that helps with this type of project, or if you would like to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact me. (In other words, “Help!” :) )

The Green Bean Project

This year’s Green Bean Project has come to a close. I want to thank everyone who gave to the project. Your generosity is a great blessing! I have been very encouraged by one family in particular who went well out of their way to help with this project. Thank You! We came in about $90 short of our minimum goal, but I am grateful for what God has done. I look forward to sharing a full report in the next update!

Bible Institute Materials

I am excited to report I have completed the rewrite of the Old Testament portion of the materials! I also started working on the New Testament portion last week. We have moved the Bible Institute course back to the spring. We’re still working on setting up the exact dates.

Local Ministry

It has been my desire since early 2010 to start a ministry to the single moms in our area. This year the Lord has done it, seemingly out of nowhere. In my last email update, I mentioned a woman I had been working with since June or July. Through her, God has brought along another single mom who is trying desperately to put her life back together. Last week, I was contacted by a third woman who was referred to me by a local Christian organization. Please pray for all of these moms. Their situations are very difficult.

Working with these women has made our community’s needs incredibly obvious. We need a place of safety and stability, both for emergencies and where those who are serious about changing their lives can go, not just to get established, but most importantly to be introduced to Christ. I would ask that you pray with me about this. It would be an enormous undertaking; but if God is in it, He will accomplish it.

Looking Ahead

Last year, was a year of stretching and of remembering that even when things don’t go as we think they should God has a plan, usually a much better one. 2014 will be equally as challenging. Please, pray for this ministry. I see all the lives it touches and am amazed. I also know the struggles, the needs, and the massive amount of work involved. Please pray the Lord will give wisdom for each decision, provide for each need, and clearly guide each step.

What is God doing in your life and ministry? Are you seeking to reach the fatherless in your community? I’d love to hear about it!

Thank you for your prayer! May the Lord greatly bless you in 2014.

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Kind of a silly picture, but it was the only one I could find! ;)

Kind of a silly picture, but it was the only one I could find! ;)

I recently joined a small group of women in writing for a Facebook Bible study called Worthy Daughters. One of the things we were asked to do was to share our testimonies. It occurred to me that I have never done that on this blog. So, I thought I would just go ahead and share it here as well. I hope it’s a blessing!

Good Morning! My name is Rachel Miller.

Fifteen minutes after I was born, my dad held me in his arms and said, “Rachel, I love you, but you are a sinner and on your way to hell…” Of course, I didn’t understand anything he was saying, but his words that day are a testament to the burden that my parents had for each of their children.

My mother faithfully made sure that my sisters and I memorized Scripture. God used His Word to plant the seeds of understanding in my heart. During one of our Bible memory times, after a week of Vacation Bible School at the church my dad was pastoring in Illinois, I told Mom I knew I was a sinner and needed to be saved. I remember kneeling at Dad’s hideous, gold recliner and calling upon the Lord for salvation. I was baptized about a year later, and about two years after that I surrender my life to the Lord during camp at Triple S Christian Ranch.

In early 1988, my family, USA missionaries with BIMI, took part in a missions conference as part of our deputation trail. On the last night of the meeting, at the age of twelve, I surrendered to a call to missions that had long been growing in my heart. That night the Lord first burdened my heart with orphan ministry.

As time passed and I entered my high school years, things distracted me from that call. But the summer after I graduated, the Lord used Ecclesiastes 5:5-7 to get my attention, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed…”

That day I surrendered again to go wherever He wanted, to do whatever He wanted me to do. One year later, in the fall of 1995, I found myself on the way to Moscow for what I thought would be a nine-month missions trip. I had been there just over four months when the Lord made it clear that I should stay longer. That nine-month stay turned into twenty-two months, and for the next ten years God just kept taking me back. I was blessed to work with many different churches, orphanages, and schools, as well as in widow ministry and ministry among refugees. During that time, I began to see how vital churches were to successful work with orphans and how few churches were actually involved in the work.

In 2005, while back in the States for a short time, the Lord made it clear that I was not to return to my former place of ministry. I began prayerfully considering what the next step would be. My desire was to return to Russia as quickly as possible. Because I had gone to Russia right out of high school and most missions agencies require at least two to three years of Bible college training, I began looking into various colleges. I had just chosen one, when we received a call that my grandmother was in the hospital and the family needed someone to care for my grandfather. Upon my arrival in Ohio, however, it quickly became evident that my grandmother would no longer be able to care for the two of them. For the next 15 months the Lord blessed me with the opportunity of being their primary caregiver.

As my grandparents’ needs increased it became evident that I could no longer meet them sufficiently. I returned home to Montana at Christmas, and it was agreed by all that I should not return to Ohio. So once again, it was time to consider the next step. My heart’s desire was still to return to Russia, still to work with the children that the Lord had placed on my heart, and to get back to that ministry as quickly as possible. At the encouragement of my Pastor (and father) I enrolled in Mountain States Baptist College in Great Falls, MT.

The time at Mountain States was a great blessing, a time to learn and pursue studies that I had long desired to pursue. While there, the Lord opened a special door to work with a group of girls from our bus routes. The time spent with these girls and members of their families opened my eyes to the needs among the fatherless of America.

After college the Lord allowed me to take an extensive survey trip to work with an orphanage in Central Asia and to visit several ministries in Russia. As I went from place to place the burden the Lord had begun to lay on my heart while in college only grew stronger.

It was out of that trip and the experience of the years in Russia that Forbid Them Not Baptist Ministries was born. The burden of my heart is to help churches and missionaries start, strengthen, and maintain ministries to the fatherless of their communities—ministries that are centered around Christ, His Word, and the local church. God has blessed and opened doors to work with orphan ministries in four countries. He has also opened doors locally through my home church, and I’m excited to see a course on the Bible and the fatherless beginning to take shape.

Around the same time, the Lord began opening doors of ministry through writing and editing. This has been one of my greatest joys! I have been blessed to see the orphan ministry and the writing ministry overlap. Bible lessons taught in my local church and then in ladies’ meetings in Kenya became the basis for my first book. And a devotional that I developed while still in Russia became my second. Some women like to bake or quilt or craft and give these things as gifts to encourage others, I’ve never been especially good at those things. But I find a similar joy in sharing the simple lessons God has been teaching me in the quiet moments.

One of the orphans in Russia once asked me what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” I told her I wanted to be a magnifying glass. She looked at me like I was insane, and then asked me if I knew what that Russian word meant. I told her that I did understand, and that what I wanted more than anything was for my life to magnify the Lord—my desire is still the same.

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:20,21

I have just discovered that the Forbid Them Not website is completely down. I’m not sure when this happened, though it had to be sometime between yesterday morning and this morning. Yesterday, was Giving Tuesday, and I had posted links back to the site in a couple of places that would allow people to give to the Green Bean Project. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how long those links actually worked. I want to apologize for this inconvenience. I have put in a support request and hope that the site will be up and running soon. Until then, I will add a PayPal link to this page.

The Green Bean Project (Oct 1 – Dec 31) goes to help three orphan ministries in Kenya and South and Central Asia, reaching nearly 500 kids. 100% of everything that comes in goes to the project. In fact, the last two years FTN has added substantial amounts to donations. This year, we may not be able to do that. No donations came in yesterday, and we are still less than halfway to our goal. So, even if you cannot give, I would ask you to please pray with us that the Lord will help us to reach our goal. He is faithful!

Below are two PayPal Donation Options:

The Green Bean Match is a $1.15 donation matching the original GBP seed money.

This second option allows you to make the donation of your choice.

Here’s a little GBP History:

In just two weeks FTN will enter one of the most special seasons of the year – Green Bean Season. Yes, you read that right – Green Bean Season!

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What started with a trip to the store to buy beans for a Thanksgiving casserole has grown into an amazing opportunity. Over the past two years, through just a small handful of everyday, ordinary people (who are actually pretty extraordinary in my book), we have been able to provide textbooks, school supplies, fabric, clothing, and financial gifts to a school working with orphans in Kenya and two children’s homes in South and Central Asia. This has touched the lives of more than 350 children and now has the potential to impact nearly 500.

This year, I would love to see the Green Bean Project grow. All of these ministries have huge needs. I believe God could use us to help meet those needs. But I need your help spreading the word and getting others involved. So, I’m opening up the floor, so to speak. I would love to hear your ideas for how to share the Green Bean Project with others.

Here are some of our existing ways of sharing this exciting opportunity:

• Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. (Whatever you prefer.) – Feel free to share the FTN posts with others, but if you really want let people know you’re behind this, create a few posts of your own. Your personal involvement will show that it’s close to your heart, not just a button you’re pushing.

• YouTube Videos – Please feel free to share the original Green Bean Project video and any of the subsequent videos with friends, family, Sunday School classes, homeschool groups… however the Lord leads and gives opportunity.

 Original Video (GBP Story)

Relevant Results (How Your Involvement in FTN Projects Touched Impacted Lives in Kenya)

Fill The Boxes (Last Year’s Short Video)

Fun Extras (The Kids You’ll Be Helping)

A Favorite Moment (From Kenya VBS)

Kenyan Smiles

• Printable items – On the FTN webpage you will find two printable items. The first is an information card, which can be used as a bulletin insert or just something you can pass on to others to encourage them to get involved. The second is an 8.5×11 poster than can be used in on missions bulletin boards or any other place where you would like to display it in order to encourage involvement.

Some new ideas.

At this point, I only know of a couple of people who have actively used any of the above ideas to spread the word about the Green Bean Project. I would love to see that number multiply – by like a hundred! But I would also love some new, creative ideas (my creativity runs out after about week six). So I would love to hear YOUR suggestions!

One new idea suggested by a friend was an online “event” or “party” for various host/hostess type products. I think this is an excellent idea and hope to be giving you more info on how one such party will work in the days to come.

Some other ideas that have crossed my mind are:

• A video competition to create this year’s new GBP video.

• A meme competition to create Facebook memes with a “Green Bean Theme”.

• Our church has a Green Bean Jar (see pic at the end of this blog). This is a great way to allow people to contribute whenever they are able and also to do it anonymously. I would love to see what creative ways others can find to incorporate green beans into their jars!

• I have never pursued the idea of cause bracelets because of the initial cost, but is there something we could do to make a Green Bean related item that could be given as a thank you for donations and a reminder to pray?

These are just a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head. What about you? How would you like to help spread the word about the Green Bean Project? Please leave your ideas in the comment section below or email us at gbcmissions127(at)yahoo(dot)com.

I’m excited to hear your ideas!

Green bean Jar

I promised quite a long time ago to share this story, so here it finally is. The following was adapted from a newsletter written in January, 2004. Hope you enjoy it!

Some gifts just keep giving. They make memories and they liven up both your life and your home. In December of 2003, I was given such a gift.

A dear Russian babushka, whom I had been visiting for a long time, found out in November of that year that I was going to have a birthday. She began planning and scheming, trying to come up with the “appropriate” gift. I assured her it was not necessary, but she insisted she would find something. After some time she made her decision. On her kitchen wall hung two large, pottery platters. One was decorated with rather nice green flowers; the other bore a painting of a young couple in traditional Russian dress. They were both quite nice. She decided the latter would be the perfect gift.

I wasn’t so sure. After all, where was I going to put a platter that was a good 18 inches across! It would take up an entire wall in my little room. I had a lot to carry that day as it was, so I thanked her profusely and told her I would take it some other time. I was hoping she would forget all about it. But she didn’t. The next visit the issue did not come up, and I did not bring it up, my room was not getting any bigger after all. But I could not avoid it forever, and before I knew what was happening I was caught with no way of escape.

It was late December. Two friends and I had gone to visit this dear lady and help her do some cleaning and sorting. The woman’s grandson was there that day, so she took the opportunity to declare and enforce her decision that the plate was going home with me—that day. She directed him to take the plate off the wall and to put it with our things. I was cleaning the living room while this conversation was taking place in the kitchen. I heard her grandson grunt as he strained to reach for the platter, which hung above the refrigerator. The grunting was followed by an exorbitant amount of snickering and the exact words I had hoped would NOT follow: “Grandma, it has roaches! You’re giving Rachel a gift with roaches in it!”

The grandson found this quite amusing. The grandmother couldn’t quite comprehend how it could be possible. I was beginning to feel a bit nauseous.

There was no way around it. The plate was going home with me, so how do you deal with inhabited gifts!

In Moscow, the hot water is supplied by the city. It is very hot, almost boiling. This gave me some hope. As we were getting ready to leave, I took the plate to the sink to wash it off. It barely fit in the sink, but I managed to wedge it in facedown. The plate, made specifically for hanging, had been designed with two holes in the back. Several strands of nylon fishing line had been drawn through these holes and knotted into a very nice hanger. Because of this design, the plate was hollow thus providing the perfect home for little brown creatures.

I put the faucet into one hole and turned the water on full blast. Within moments, hot water and steam were pouring out the other hole as the water filled the bottom of the plate and spilled out. I was relieved when little carcasses began to slip out along with the other dirt that had gathered in the bottom of the plate over the years. When the flow seemed to be bug-free, I turned off the hot water, emptied the plate, turned it around, and did it all over again; this time with the water flowing through the second hole. I hoped this would be sufficient.

We girls gathered our things—which included at least one back pack, a large purse, a trash bag full of dirty rags, a box of beads that the grandmother wished to donate to the children, and the enormous plate—and began our walk home.

Now, to understand what happened next you must remember that these events are taking place only a week or so after some young women detonated a bomb in downtown Moscow; that we, like those women, are all wearing long skirts, that our arms are loaded down with this stranger menagerie of stuff, and that it is now dark.

We were less than two minutes from home and were about to cross a side street when I saw a car slowing beside us and then quickly swinging into the side street and stopping abruptly. As the doors opened, the dome light lit up the interior of the car revealing three militiamen. Two of the men got out and came toward us. Of the three, one was attired in street clothing. He moved quickly, asking to see our documents. I told the girls to get out their visa/passport copies and began to pull out my own. My heart was at peace; I knew our documents were in order. At least I thought our documents were in order.

We each gave them our photocopies. This puzzled them. I explained that replacing the originals was very difficult and expensive (not to mention the legal problems that could ensue) and therefore we did not carry the originals. This did not satisfy them. They asked why the girls could not speak Russia. I explain that one of the girls had just arrived in Moscow. Apparently, one of the men thought I meant JUST because he asked to see her airplane tickets. This is understandable considering the odd assortment of things we were carrying, however, at the time, the request struck me as so strange that I nearly started laughing. Who would actually carry their ticket around with them!

The two men went to the car to speak to their superior. They talked for a while, looking over the documents. Then the uniformed officer returned to us. He handed me my documents and said that the girls would need to come over to the car.

“They do not speak Russian.” I reminded him.

“Then you come with them.”

We went to the car where the superior officer began his interview.

“Why don’t you have the originals?”

“We don’t want them to get lost or stolen, so we carry copies.”

“Don’t you know Moscow is a city under a regime!” he bellowed. “You should carry the originals. The copies are not right.”

“May I see them?”

He held the papers up to the light and showed me that the registration stamp was not there.

“You see how this paper is stapled into the passport,” I explained, “they have begun putting the stamp under this paper and whoever made the copy didn’t know that. I am sure that if we looked at the original we would find that the stamp is there. We are very close to home. You see we live in that orphanage right over there.” I pointed down the street in the direction of the children’s home. “If you like we can go there right now and look at them.” I paused, waiting for his response.

The man simply looked at the papers.

“It’s only about a two minute walk from here.”

He remained silent, flipping the papers over in his hands.

“Or, if you would be more comfortable, you could drive us over there and our director could show you everything.”

“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully.

“Or, if you have the means we could call our director, and he could bring the originals here. It wouldn’t take long.”

With that, he seemed content that we were neither illegal nor ready to pay a bribe.

“Well, never mind, go on.” He handed the papers back to me and waved us on.

“You mean we can go?”

Da. Go on.”

“Thank you.”

I took the papers and handed them to the other girls. As I did so, the uniformed officer that had called us over to the car kept looking at us in dissatisfaction. He seemed to doubt that we were truly American citizens and that we were just on our way home. At last he spoke.

“What’s in the box?”

“Beads.” I answered, moving toward my friend who carried the box.

“Beads? Not a bomb?

There it was. The word I knew he had been thinking all along.

“Yes, beads. Here let me show you.” As I said in another blog, I’m not sure why he didn’t pull a gun and demand that I stop at that very moment, but he didn’t. I opened the box and pulled out a handful of the tiny red and blue beads. They sparkled in the streetlights.

The man looked at them, but still did not seem convinced. Finally, he grunted and with a wave of his hand said, “Fine. Go on.”

I thanked him for doing his job, trying to be as pleasant as I could under the circumstances, then we were on our way.

And so my gift gave me my first memory…but it wasn’t done yet.

That first night, I just couldn’t bring myself to let that bug infested plate into my room. It sat in the hallway for quite a while, but I knew that it might get broken if I left it there long. At last, I brought it into the room and leaned it facedown against the spare bed. I was soon ready to call it a night and took up my usual “quiet time spot” on the floor next to my bed.

I tried to read my Bible as I sat there, but those two foreboding holes kept staring at me out of the back of that plate. I repeatedly caught myself watching the plate to make sure that nothing was coming out of it. Then I would force my attention back to my reading, only to find myself distracted again and again. At last, I was somewhat convinced that nothing was going to come out and went, very timidly, to bed.

The days went on, and then the weeks. The plate still sat beside the spare bed since I had yet to decided where and how to hang it. I’d done another “hot water treatment” on it, and so far nothing had appeared. I was pretty convinced that the victory over the little critters had been won—and then it happened.

I had just finished up my evening quiet time and was gathering my notes when I saw it. There, under my notebook, was a little bug in the carpet. I gasped. Surely it wasn’t…It couldn’t be…It was! A baby cockroach! I immediately killed it and looked at the plate. To my horror I saw two more. One of them was just coming out of the hole, its long wispy antennas waving at me as it emerged.

“NO!” I cried, killing the invaders and looking all around me to see if I had gotten them all. I couldn’t find any more at the moment, but I knew they were small and that only meant one thing…The plate had hatched!

The thought of hundreds of little bugs crawling all over my room was not a comforting one, especially at bedtime; but after searching I couldn’t find any more of my new little roommates, and I knew I had no choice but to go to bed, roaches and all.

The next morning, I awoke to find a little brown critter crawling on my sink and another floating in the little bit of tea that had been left in my cup. I groaned. That settled it, mine was now the outnumbered species in my room. I felt sick. The plate had to go, but where? How? How do you dispose of a gift in a way that won’t offend the giver?

I told our director’s wife about my dilemma. She suggested that I hang the plate in our new coatroom on the backside of one of the buildings. Since it was unheated, she thought perhaps it would be cold enough that any remaining eggs would freeze and the bugs would die off. Since we also felt it would be an appropriate decoration there, we left the plate in the entryway until we could get someone to hang it for us.

I went out that afternoon and got back just before dinner. As I walked through the main lobby to sign back in, I was horrified at the sight that met my eyes. There, neatly positioned against the door of our director’s office with great poise and prominence, was the plate.

“NO!” I thought. “How did it end up here?” In my mind, I could see thousands of little bugs running all over the lobby and having an absolute heyday in our director’s desk drawers.

“How did that get here!” I exclaimed. I dropped all of my belongings, scooped up the plate by its hanger and headed off to somewhere, anywhere, to dispose of it. Not knowing what else to do, I quietly slipped into the courtyard and set the plate in a little-seen corner where, sadly, it met its untimely demise under a foot and a half of snow.

It took nearly two months of waging war on my little friends, but eventually the victory was won. And so now, like all good missionaries, I have my bug story. But at least I haven’t had to eat any of them.

Oh, what a wonderful place I once called home; where nothing was ever dull, where friends were never far, and where plates “hatch”.

Week 12: James and the Fatherless

Day 5: When It’s Okay To Be Dumb

(James 1:19, 20)

The silence behind the bathroom door concerned me. I could hear the shower running, but nothing else. There should be movement. I knocked, but there was no answer.

“Alosha, what are you doing?” I said loudly.

“What?” Came the hollered answer.

“What are you doing?”

“Cleaning the floor.”

“Why is the shower running!”

“I’m cleaning the floor.”

“With the shower? Turn it off. Now!”

The floor resembled a swimming pool. Fortunately, we got it cleaned up before the water could run down the walls to the next level.

* * *

The next section of the “Action” column as we go through the book of James could be titled: “Be doers, not just hearers.” And the first items in the column come from the verse we have already begun to look at: James 1:19:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

Orphan ministry can be frustrating. Not just in the moments when the children rinse the floor from the showerhead, or don’t bother going to the well to get water to rinse the toilets since the city has shut the water off, or tell you they have completed a task when they really haven’t but also in the moments when guardians do horrible things to the children you have grown to love. In the moments when they tell you they just can’t love the child because they are not their own, when government officials hold out on doing what is best for the child in the hopes of receiving a bribe; when the line to get one stamp on a document is four hours long, and the lady at the window closes things up for a two-hour lunch.

This is why this verse in James is so important. God wants us to be doers OF HIS WORD, but there are some things He wants us to be slow at. So here, in the “Action” column, we find Him saying “HEAR, but be slow to speak and be slow to wrath.” He goes on in the next verse to say,

“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

The events that take place surrounding the lives of these precious children can absolutely send you to pulling your hair out two fistfuls at a time, but God does not want us to respond, and certainly not to speak, in that frustration. He does not want us to try to bring about righteousness and justice by means of our wrath – and that can be a huge temptation at times.

The word here translated “wrath” covers pretty much every aspect of orphan ministry frustration you could contrive. The basic, very graphic, idea of the word, according to Thayer’s Lexicon, is the idea of internal movement, such as a piece of fruit swelling up with juice. It can refer to simple anger, to natural temperament, or to one’s temper and character, but the definition that seems to fit this primary idea is “movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but especially . . . anger.”

I remember standing in the courtyard of an orphanage with a guardian as they told me that they did not love the child in their custody, even though the child was a relative. This particular child and I had been through a lot together. We had become very close over a long period of, sometimes rocky, years. As we stood there, I felt those fruity juices swelling inside of me. How could this person say such things? I was horrified, angered, and absolutely disgusted. But then I realized something. Nothing I said or did would change the heart of that guardian, especially if I did it in anger. I know that realization came from the Holy Spirit because I was ready to pounce. But if I had burst like a fermenting piece of fruit and responded in anger, the situation could have gotten much worse.

The meaning of the word “wrath” extends beyond our responses to the injustices toward these children to our discipline of the children. It refers to “anger exhibited in punishment, hence the punishment itself.” In other words, in our response to children cleaning the bathroom floor with the showerhead, to the child who lies repeatedly, who steals, who bullies the other children, who manipulates, who whines, whatever the crime — we are to be slow to anger. It should not drive punishment.

I almost laugh when I read the definition of the word “slow”. It isn’t talking about physical speed or even the passage of a greater amount of time as compared to something that is quick. It’s talking about being dumb. It literally means “dull, inactive, in mind; stupid, slow to apprehend or believe.” It is the same word that Jesus used with the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:25, 26 when He said,

“… O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?”

The disciples were overwhelmed at the events of the preceding days. They couldn’t tell how Jesus’ death could possibly fit with their picture of the Messiah who would redeem Israel. Then Jesus came along, He listened, and then broke through their mind fog with truth.

God does not want our minds to be actively working towards wrath, even if it is with the intent of setting things straight. He tells us that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Nothing that we say or do to that person who has crossed the line, whatever the line may be, will bring that person into the state of being acceptable, righteous, before God. Only God can do that. No punishment on our part will bring them to that point. Does this mean that in dealing with the children there should be no chastisement or correction? No. Discipline is important. But it does mean that we should not punish in anger. It also means that we should not respond in anger to those who wrong the children in our care – or even children not in our care. That is sometimes very difficult, especially when it is a situation you know you will never be able to influence. You want to fight for the one afflicted, and anger is often the first emotion we feel. But that anger will be destructive if we act on in – let your mind be dull when it comes to wrath.