Oil On My Plate: 3 Ways Caring for the Fatherless is Near God’s Heart

It had been a stressful morning at the orphanage—like most that school year. One of the children was doing her best to make life miserable for everyone around her. She was pushing all the buttons. She was testing every puddle to see if she could create a storm. By the time lunch came around, I was exhausted. We stood around our table for prayer, and then I reached for the pot of soup to begin ladling it out for the girls in our group.

Our youngest girl stood next to me, watching and sometimes commenting on what was going on at the table. As I reached to fill a bowl, a drop of oily soup spilled out of the ladle and onto my plate. It landed in the perfect shape of a heart. I couldn’t help a quick, little gasp at the sight. Tears came up into my eyes, as my little companion said excitedly,

“Miss Rachel! Look! God loves you!”

God does love us! He loves us so very much that He gave His Son for us. Since that day in Russia, surprise hearts have been special to me. And God has faithfully sent them at some of the most difficult times in my life, just as His little reminder that He loves “even me.” As His child, however, I want more than just to know that I have His heart.

I want to know that He loves me, but I also want to know that what I do pleases His heart.

I was definitely a “daddy’s girl” growing up. I always wanted to know that I was doing what pleased my dad because I looked up to him more than anyone else in the whole world. I remember how, in the early days after my dad passed away, one particular phrase could send me into tears faster than anything else. A lot of responsibility fell to me in those days, a lot of new things that required standing up strong all day long. I kept most of my grieving for the quiet times after the rest of the world had gone to bed. But it took everything within me to contain my emotion when someone said, “Rachel, your dad would be proud of you.”

But my dad, as amazing as he was, was just a man. More important than pleasing him, is living a life that fulfills, honors, and upholds the things that are precious to the heart of God. I want God to be able to say to me, “Your life made my heart glad.”

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In order for our lives to fulfill this, we have to know what is close to God’s heart. He isn’t silent on the matter. He clearly lays out in the Bible many things which are precious to His heart. One of those things, a very big one, is the care of the fatherless.

This is one the biggest reasons that Forbid Them Not Ministries exists. Sure, there are plenty of tangible, material reasons for a ministry such as ours, but this—this is the biggest why behind what we do. I wrote a couple weeks ago about how each of us is born for the purpose of magnifying God. (You can read that here.) What we do is one of the ways that we can accomplish that, but pleasing His heart is the why.

So if this is the why behind the what, then HOW does it work? Here are three ways that carrying for the fatherless both magnifies God and pleases His heart:

Obedience –
God commanded us over and over again in Scripture to care for the fatherless. In the book of Job, it is clearly seen as the dividing factor between the righteous and the wicked. In the books of the prophets, neglect of the fatherless and the widow were two of the major sins that led to the captivity of Israel. God takes this command seriously. Obedience is a statement of love. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Worship –
How is caring for the fatherless worship? Surprisingly, the answer to this is incredibly clear and simple in Scripture, and yet it took me years to see it. In Deuteronomy 10, God bases His command to care for the fatherless and the widow on His own character. He says in essence, You should do this because I do this. What can be more worshipful than carrying out an act that magnifies the very character of God? Beyond this, God included it in His own definition of religion (which is simply the means by which we carry out our worship). He said,

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

I often hear people decrying religion these days, even people who are consistently in church. No one wants any part of religion. I humbly submit to you, that it is because we have forsaken God’s definition of religion and have practiced man’s version of it. We focus on the second half of the definition because it makes for easy check boxes:

Wear the right clothes? — Check.

Listen to the right music? — Check.

Participate in the right activities? — Check.

Carry the right Bible, go to the right Bible college? — Check.

Checked boxes prove nothing. They change nothing. They magnify nothing but our own pride. But when we truly seek to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, while walking in the trenches (as muddy as they may be) with the suffering and sorrowing, the misfits and the outcasts, and the hurting and hungering—then by our obedience, by the required sacrifice, by the reflection of who God is—He is magnified. That is worship, which pleases Him.

Pictures of His Redemptive Plan –
Caring for the fatherless and the widow, the stranger, the poor and the needy magnifies God and pleases His heart because it pictures His redemptive plan. In the Old Testament, God commanded His people to care for the fatherless because it was to be a reminder to them of the way in which He brought them out of their captivity in Egypt. In the New Testament, God makes the picture even more clear: adoption=redemption. In nearly every place the word adoption is used, it is linked directly to redemption. When we, through obedience to His commands, portray the plan that He set out for our redemption—it pleases Him.

People often ask me, What does Forbid Them Not do? Usually they want to know specific actions, tangibles (which are very important) but this is at the heart of the ministry. Each action that we take, whether walking alongside of a single mom, a missionary, a church, or a foster family in their care of fatherless children, is taken for this purpose: To fulfill that which is close to the heart of God.

Did you find this blog helpful or encouraging? Please share it with others!

Want to help support Forbid Them Not? Click here to find out how you can partner with this ministry.

Friday Digest 2/24/17

This week on Facebook:

Forum Speakers, An Opportunity, and George Muller

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Praying for our Counties. [Combined posts.]

As we are preparing for the upcoming Forum on Fatherless, we thought we would share a few things to help shed light on why this is such an important topic. As part of that, we will be sharing, in Alphabetical order and by county and state, the rates of children growing up in single-parent homes in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Be watching for your county and please be praying for these children:

Counties starting with “G” and “H”:

Montana – Gallatin – 20%, Garfield 10%, Glacier – 44%, Golden Valley – 39%, Granite – 36%, Hill – 35%

Wyoming – Goshen – 27%, Hot Springs – 25%

Idaho – Gem – 26%, Gooding – 21%

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Counties starting with “I” and “J”:

Montana – Jefferson – 23%

Wyoming – Johnson – 22%

Idaho – Idaho County – 35%, Jefferson – 14%, Jerome 29%

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Counties starting with “K” and “L”:

Montana – Lake – 39%, Lewis and Clark – 28%, Liberty – 15%, Lincoln – 21%

Wyoming – Laramie – 31%, Lincoln – 16%

Idaho – Kootenai – 27%, Latah – 27%, Lemhi – 32%, Lewis – 34%, Lincoln – 17%

Are you from one of these counties? Let us know so that we can pray with you today!

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February 22, 2017 – Click here to Meet the Speakers for the Forum on Fatherlessness

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February 21, 2017
In order to live a life that magnifies and to see that life, power, and reality of our faith, we must let our faith step beyond the walls of church and into the circumstances or our life.

#LetHimProveHimself

#DeclareHisDoings

#WalkByFaith

#OneStepAtATime

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Speakers for the Forum on Fatherlessness

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You may have heard by now that we will be hosting our first ever Forum on Fatherlessness at Grace Baptist Church in Billings, MT on March 24th. At this all day event, we will be discussing the biblical need and basis for ministry to the fatherless, the cultural effects of neglecting such ministry, outreach to single moms and a host of over things. Here is a little about those who will be speaking that day:

p9Pastor John McKinney — As a young man, born and raised in East Tennessee, I had the precious opportunity to hear the Word of God; which led me one night to the realization that I was a sinner and that without salvation my eternal destination would be hell. I realized that the payment had already been paid in full by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It was then that I believed and acknowledged that precious sacrifice. I also acknowledged my sinful state, asked for forgiveness as well as repented of my sins. In that instantaneous moment my sins were forgiven and I was birthed into the family of God.
In 1996, God blessed me with a wonderful wife, Jennifer, and has blessed us with four precious children. In the year 2000, I surrendered to the call of God to preach the Word of God. It is such a privilege to serve the KING of kings and LORD of lords, and we are excited to serve here in Billings, Montana at Grace Baptist Church.

87299606f062Bob Thompson was raised in a Christian family and accepted Christ as His Savior at age 7.  He made a decision at summer camp at age 12 to give his life to serve as a missionary.  His plans developed, and he entered Bob Jones University to prepare as a medical doctor to serve on a foreign field.  While at BJU, God changed Bob’s direction to prepare for “traditional” missions service.  He completed his studies in 1981.  He then married his high school sweetheart, Deb.

Upon completing his studies, Bob served as associate pastor at Southside Baptist Church of Rock Hill, SC, for nearly five years.  He and his wife prepared and left for Brazil in 1988 where they served for fifteen years.  Their ministries included church planting, theological education, literature ministry, deaf ministry, and encouraging the development of missions among Brazilian churches.  The culmination of their missions work was to join a colleague in assisting a Brazilian family settle into Mozambique for fulltime ministry.

In 2003 God changed their direction of ministry.  Bob and Deb joined with Bibles International and began a ministry of assisting the ministry of Bible translation for the millions who wait for the light of God’s Word.  Bob served as Projects Manager.

Baptist Home Missions invited Bob to be their General Director in 2012. He serves in this capacity giving leadership to the mission, promoting missions in churches and Bible colleges, and encouraging the missionaries under the care of the mission.

The Thompsons have four daughters.  Jennifer is married to Grayson Cartwright and they serve the Lord in Winston-Salem, NC.  Julie is married to James Kieser, and they are on deputation to serve as missionaries in Ghana, West Africa. Joy lives in Greenville, SC, and is active in her local church and continuing her studies for future ministry. Jessica is married to Michael Dunlop, and they are preparing for a missions career.

 

spilger-picPastor Ken Spilger  graduated from Tennessee Temple University and Temple Baptist Seminary and completed further education under Pioneer Institute of Biblical Ministries. He has been the Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO since 1977. In 1980, Pastor Spilger was the sole survivor of small plane crash, sustaining 3rd degree burns over 30% of his body. God has used this to strengthen his ministry in many ways. He and his wife Beth have co-authored the book Plucked from the Burning to share their testimony of God’s working in their lives in the days following the crash. Through their ministry in St. Louis, God has laid a great burden for the fatherless upon their hearts.

 

yvonne-picMiss Yvonne Brown was born in St. Louis, MO. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Cincinnati from 1966-1969 majoring in chemistry and minoring in education, but did not complete a degree. In her junior year, Miss Brown became interested in the field of medicine and went on to work in a medical research laboratory. She became a licensed medical technologist, working in hospital laboratories until 1990. Having a desire to be in full-time Christian service, she went on to work in two children’s homes. In 1992, she began ministering with Rock of Ages Prison Ministry. Miss Brown is now the Director of their Women’s Department and ministers to women in prisons all over the western United States.

 

author-pic-copyMiss Rachel Miller trusted the Lord as Savior at the age of 5. While on deputation with her parents, God burdened her heart for orphans at the age of 12. Shortly after high school, God opened up an amazing opportunity, and she spent 10 years serving in various capacities at an orphanage in Moscow, Russia. There she worked directly with orphans and guardians, assisted and trained caregivers and teachers, and was part of the material development team, preparing materials for family and church leaders’ seminars, which were held in five countries in the region.

After returning to the States, she attended Mountain States Baptist College in Great Falls, MT where she earned a degree in Biblical Studies with special emphasis on languages and the relationship of the church to the fatherless. Since that time, she has worked with missionaries and their orphan ministries in various countries. She has overseen the day-to-day operations and development of Forbid Them Not since its inception in 2008. She is a happy auntie to ten nieces and nephews and the author of four books.

The Falegelling Glass

When my oldest nephew was a little boy, he would often go to Grandma’s house while his mom was at work or running errands. One afternoon, he discovered the falegelling glass. He held it up to his hand and saw that his hand got bigger. He held it up to Grandma’s nose and found that her nose got bigger. What a discovery! No matter what he looked at through the falegelling glass, it always got bigger.

He carried the falegelling glass all around the house, using it to discover new things. He used the glass to discover things on the table and things under the table. He used it to discover more about the plants in the front room and the books on the shelf. He even used it to learn more about his snack, which is what got him in trouble. He looked through the falegelling glass, examining his pizza and then the plate and then the table and then…then there was nothing more to examine, and he was falling through thin air right off of his chair and onto the floor. His relationship with the falegelling glass was forever changed. His fall didn’t keep him from using the glass. No, it only made him wiser in his use of it.

By now you’ve probably guessed the more common name for my nephew’s falegelling glass. (We never did figure out why he called it that.) This story always comes to my mind when I think of magnifying glasses. This and Philippians 1:20, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Have you ever wondered about that nagging feeling down in your heart to live a life that means something? That desire to leave a legacy, to make something of your life, to live with purpose? I think most of us have wondered about that little nagging voice. In a sense, it is a natural tendency, born out of an understandable desire not to merely live and be forgotten. I believe, however, there is more to it than that. I believe God created us with that nagging inside of us. He built that motivation into us so that we wouldn’t simply survive but rather thrive.

It doesn’t end there, however. You see, He built that nagging into us because He has a purpose for us—for all of us. I’m not talking about individual purpose right now. I’m talking about the purpose for each and every being, which He created— the purpose of glorifying and magnifying God. The apostle Paul stated it well, when he said,

“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.” (Philippians 1:20)

We were created to be magnifying glasses.

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Revelation 4:11 says, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

We were created for His pleasure, not our own. He does not force us to seek that pleasure, but it is the desire of His heart. The Greek word translated pleasure there in Revelation actually refers to someone’s will. This takes the meaning of the verse to a whole new level: We were created to do His will, and He is to receive glory, honor, and power because of it!

You could look at this from two different perspectives. You could say, “Wait, I don’t want to do anything but what I want to do. I’m not going to worry about what someone else wants me to do, even if that someone is God.” Or you could say, “What an amazing privilege we have been given. We have been chosen as the only part of creation that has words and language and powers of reason not only to declare the power and glory of our Creator but also to magnify Him.”

This is the purpose that nags deep within our hearts, the yearning placed there by a God whose love and grace and desire for fellowship formed us. Like my nephew’s falegelling glass, God wants to pick us up and, as we pass through life’s circumstances, use us to make His power, protection, provision, love, mercy, righteousness, holiness, grace, strength, comfort, and so much more—bigger to the world around us.

He wants us to live in a way that allows Him to show Himself strong on our behalf, so that others can say, “What an amazing God!” He wants us to live a life of faith and trust that will allow those around us to see that they too, without doubt, can trust Him to care for them and to be faithful to them. He wants our lives to magnify Him—in everything we do. What an adventure!

I’m often asked, “What does Forbid Them Not do?” I could answer that question in many different ways, and I will over the next few weeks, but this is where I want to start. This is the first purpose of Forbid Them Not Ministries—to honor and magnify the Lord. My prayer above and beyond anything else is that God’s hand would be clearly seen in this ministry. That He would have the freedom to astonish both us and those who are watching us with His amazing grace and power. But I don’t just want this in our ministry. I want this in my own life. I want to be used for the purpose for which He created me, and I want to invite you to join me in learning more about living this amazing, astonishing life that magnifies our God.

I’m going to be posting more about what the Lord has been teaching me in this area over the last year, as well as about how it applies to FTN. I encourage you not just to follow along, but to walk with me. Ask the Lord to magnify Himself through you, and don’t be afraid to “declare His doings.” Let’s take this journey together!

Trip Update

I can’t believe I’ve been home for nearly two weeks and still haven’t had a chance to send out an update on how the October trip went. In short: It was wonderful.

I started out speaking at a Ladies’ Conference in Layton, Utah. What a blessing! We had a wonderful time fellowshipping around God’s Word and being reminded of God’s amazing love and redemption for us. These ladies also gathered a huge pile of supplies to donate to this year’s Green Bean Project.

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From there I went down to Fruitland, Utah where I was able to spend a couple of days catching up with friends and speaking at a ladies’ luncheon. It was a blessing to share about the importance of ministry to the fatherless and how that is one of the forms of worship, which God desires most from us.

 

I made a little side trip on my way from Fruitland to Cheyenne through the Medicine Bow National Forrest and over to Fort Fred Steele, WY—remind me never to do this again in a fully loaded (possibly overloaded) vehicle. I am very grateful for God’s protection as I drove. The drive was BEAUTIFUL!

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My next stop was in Cheyenne, WY. We had been trying to set this up for several years and finally it all came together. Throughout the day, the Lord’s working was evident, and I was not completely surprised when they emailed later in the month asking me to return to help start the process of beginning a ministry to the fatherless through their church! What a blessing and answer to prayer! This has been a desire for a long time: to see the work of FTN spread to other churches and communities.

 

From Cheyenne my journeys took me across Nebraska and Missouri to St. Louis. It was a joy to be back at Grace Baptist Church in St. Louis, which has been a church home-away-from-home for many years. It was good to catch up and visit with many people who have a very special place in my heart.

 

The main purpose of the trip to St. Louis was to visit with several pastors as they pray about how to help a struggling church in the area. One of the topics they were discussing was fatherlessness. Please pray for St. Louis. Nearly 57% of the children there are growing up in fatherless homes. This has an enormous impact not only on the community itself but also on the way a church reaches into the community.

 

While in the area I was also able to travel out a short distance and visit with a couple of other churches in IL and MO. Each church was an enormous blessing in their own way. It was a joy to be in such sweet-spirited churches where their love for one another was so clearly evident.

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After leaving St. Louis, I traveled back to Cheyenne for a meeting with a second church as well as a meeting with the first church to discuss starting a fatherless ministry. Both meetings were a huge blessing and encouragement. It was good to see how God is working in the city of Cheyenne. I look forward to being back in the area and watching how He continues to do great and mighty things.

 

I headed back to Billings from Cheyenne on November 1st and made it safely home about 6:30 that evening. Believe it or not, I’m still unpacking! It’s been a bit of a wild ride since returning home. But that’s a story for another letter.

 

I have so many things for which to praise the Lord as I look back on this trip: For new friendships, for God’s provision along the way, for God’s working in the hearts of those who heard His Word at the ladies’ meetings (including my own), for new ministry partners (I went out with only 7% support and we are now nearing 9%!!!), for safety on the roads, for safety in the campgrounds and motels, and for His grace and faithfulness at every turn. AND for each of you were who were praying. I very often felt those prayers, and I am so grateful.

 

Prayer Needs

Since I have been home God has continued to work (because He never actually stops!). Please continue to pray for me and for the ministry of Forbid Them Not. Pray that the Lord will continue to provide and raise up partners who would stand with us in both prayer and financial support. Pray for those we are working with. We so often encounter single moms who are in such precarious situations. Pray that in each of these the Lord would give us His wisdom to point them to Himself and to meet the needs they are facing in a wise and truly helpful manner.

 

I travelled over 4,000 miles in the month of October. We would still love to see each of those miles matched with a Green Bean Donation ($1.15). What a blessing it would be to the ministries and orphans we are helping through the project! To find out how you can be a part of that, please follow the link below. (We have currently matched about 190 of the miles!)

 

I am excited about the work the Lord has begun through this trip and even more excited to watch Him unfold His plan for the days ahead! Truly we serve an amazing God!

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Find out more here or go straight to the Green Bean Donation Page

Why Ministry to the Fatherless

In the summer of 2013, I was sitting at church waiting for the arrival of my Sunday School students who, for some reason, were all late that morning. I had already done everything I needed to do to prepare my classroom, had prayed over the upcoming class, and had straightened things that didn’t really need straightening—and still my students hadn’t arrived. So, I started scrolling through social media on my phone and bumped into a single mom, whom we will call Marie. Marie’s post in a local Facebook group went something like this, “Does anyone know of an organization in town that helps single moms get their children to doctor’s appointments?”

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I thought, “Wow! How easy is that? I can do that!” So I reached out to her.

Marie was a self-proclaimed pagan, and, at first, she doubted whether we would help her because so many churches had turned her away for that very reason. She was not open to hearing the gospel, but the next few months would provide a chance to live it out in front of her and her fatherless son. The three of us put in hundreds of miles all over the valley: Doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, job training, and more doctor’s appointments. Some days, we put in as many as 80 miles. We also talked—a lot. Through those conversations, I learned about her needs, her struggles, and the things that were important to her. I listened a lot, but I was also able to speak. She did not come to Christ during the months that I worked with her, but we developed a relationship that lasted even after she moved out of state.

Did you know more than 143,000,000 orphans live in the world today? Did you know that in America more than 41% of all children are growing up in fatherless homes? Did you know that fatherless children are at a greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse? Did you know that they are more likely both to be the victims of and to carry out acts of crime and violence? Did you know they are more likely to live in poverty? Did you know that children in fatherless homes are more likely to have mental health, behavioral, and emotional challenges and are 2 times more likely to commit suicide? In light of these things, I must always ask myself, “What if these were my children? Wouldn’t I want someone to reach out to them with the hope found in Jesus Christ!”

In Psalms, David said that God is the Father of the Fatherless and the judge of the widows—He takes up their cause. From the days of Job, to the giving of the law, to the years of the kings and the prophets, Scripture lays out God’s desire for His people to care for the fatherless and widow because, in doing so, we picture His loving plan of redemption. He called upon Israel to remember that they had been bondman in Egypt. God had scooped them up out of a field as a babe, abandoned and loathsome. He bathed them, clothed them, and then set His beauty upon them (Ezk. 16). He wanted them to do the same for the fatherless around them, not merely as a duty but as their worship of the God who had redeemed—ADOPTED—them. Ministry to the fatherless today gives us no less the chance to picture Christ and His love to these children and those caring for them.

One winter afternoon in late 2013, I was driving across town with a single mom and her friend. We were on our way to work in the Forbid Them Not clothing exchange, which is housed in my local church. As I drove, the two young women talked in the backseat—about Christians. They talked about false piety. They talked about hypocrisy. They talked about a holier-than-thou attitude that had been displayed to them over the years.

This, as you can imagine, was a bit awkward for the person sitting behind the steering wheel. Finally, I waved at them in the rear-view mirror and said, “Um, hello! I’m right here!”

Both women laughed. “We’re not talking about you. We know you’re a Christian. We’re talking about people who say they’re Christians, but don’t do anything to help.”

That kind of blew my mind. Even today, the world understands that a follower of Christ is one who helps the poor, the needy, the stranger, the sick, the fatherless, and the widow. They understand that a follower of Christ is one who gives of their own substance (Job 31) to help the helpless even as Christ gave His own life to redeem us when we were without strength and dead in our sins.

Christ set the example in His earthly ministry. In Matthew 18, Mark 9, and Luke 9, Jesus took a child and set him in the midst of those who were standing around. He said to them, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” In all of these passages, the word translated “receive” means (in part) “to take into one’s family to bring up and educate.” Jesus wasn’t just talking about being kind to a child. He was talking about ministering to them in the same manner Job ministered to the fatherless: as a father, with his own substance, and at his own table. Just as the picture of delivering Israel from Egypt was a picture of our redemption, Christ now used the picture of adoption to draw the same analogy. In fact, nearly every use of the word “adoption” in Scripture is referring to redemption.

Often our modern thought process defines religion as going to church, singing, listening to preaching, and saying amen at just the right moment. But when it came time for God to define religion, He gave it two very simple parts: “…To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) Often our practice jumps straight to the second part because it is easier to see our righteousness when we can check off all the boxes on our list. But what happens when we skip the first part?

I knew a fatherless boy (we’ll call him Keagan). Keagan’s father had abused him for years and then outright rejected him to his face. For years, Keagan had struggled with behavioral issues and disorders. Now, at fifteen, he wanted to help his mom with repairs around the house, but no one had ever taught him how. This led him to frustration because he felt he was failing. His mom brought the issue to me and asked if I knew anyone who would be willing to mentor her son and teach him some handyman skills. My requests for help went unanswered. Meanwhile, the situation continued to escalate in the home and Keagan continued to struggle.

I followed up on my calls, in particular to a church closer to where the boy lived that had said they would look into it. But, I found that nothing had been done. Two weeks later, Keagan injured himself while trying to repair a small household appliance, became angry, and ran away. His mother reached her wits’ end and made a desperate but poor choice. Within a short time, she was in custody hearings with CPS.

Sometimes, the needs and requests that seem so very small are really so very important.

In the fall of 2014, I was standing in line in a food bank with another single mom who had called me about a week earlier. She was almost frantic when I answered the phone.

“Can someone please help me?” she’d said. “I’m a single mom, and I’m registered for a Thanksgiving food box at the food bank, but I don’t have a car. All the other churches are giving me the runaround.”

After a minute trying to calm her down and find out the situation, I told her I would love to take her to the food bank. So there we stood. The whole process took little more than 15 minutes.

As we were loading the boxes into my car, she said, “Thank you so much for doing this.”

“Oh, you’re welcome,” I said. “That’s what we’re here for. We want to help—.”

“No. You don’t understand,” she interrupted. “I called churches all over town and yours is the only one that was willing to help a single mom.”

My jaw dropped.

When we neglect ministry to the fatherless, we often do not think there is any consequence because we sense no immediate change in our lives. We do not realize that we are feeling the effects as a culture. When denied the help we could offer them, the un-mended hearts, the hopeless, and the overwhelmed turn to whatever rescue seems closest to hand. Some turn to family, but many have no family. Some turn to the government to find the deliverance they once would have sought from God. Others turn to their own means: some struggling to do right, while others pursue crime, prostitution, and the numbness of drugs and alcohol. The heartache we once turned a blind eye to, we see later as a broken and bleeding society.

But the opposite is also true. When we choose to follow God’s commands in this area, lives will be transformed and in the process our world will see a reflection of God’s grace.

On a cold February night, I sat in a coffee shop with yet another single mom and a mutual friend. This mom and I had walked through a lot together over the previous months. That night, she was overwhelmed, feeling that she would never be good enough, never meet the standards and requirements that were daily upon her. She was ready to give up.

Over the next two hours, my friend and I shared with her how God is the God of the impossible. We shared stories both from our own lives and from the Bible of how God overcame impossible odds.

As the conversation came to a close, this mom looked at us thoughtfully and said, “You guys really know the Bible. You know how to apply it to your lives. I don’t know how to do that. Will you teach me?”

I am happy to report that she has faithfully attended a Bible study ever since. She has grown. Life has not been easy, but she has continued to learn to seek God.

Ministry to the fatherless is important because it is the heart of God, it is the practical way in which He wants us to worship and honor Him, and it allows for living examples of His redemptive plan. And yet, in light of all this, only 1% of all American churches have any kind of specific ministry among single parents and their children—41% of all our children. God’s heart cries out for them. Our hearts should reflect His heart. Sometimes we look at the world’s 143,000,000 orphans and we think, “How could I ever make a dent in that.” But over the years, I have learned that it doesn’t take a huge program to change the world. It takes a willingness to change a life, to find a simple solution to their vital needs. I believe that we can make a difference in the lives of these children: That we can reach that 41% and change the course of their lives from one of potential crime, hurt, and heartache to a life filled with the hope and joy found in Jesus. It may be daunting at times. It may even be messy. But it is the worship, which God desires from each of us. What He has called us to, He will do. Will you join me?

Decisions that Don’t Make Sense

Sometimes we have to make decisions that just don’t make sense…

 

Sometimes in ministry we have to make decisions that just don’t make sense to the world, to our friends, maybe not even to our families. In fact, we may just find ourselves, standing in front of the mirror one morning, shaking our heads and saying, “You really must be crazy! Are you really going to go through with this?”

I had one of those decision-making moments a few weeks ago. But first, I have to tell you about another moment.

Work was crazy that Friday. Multiple times, I’d had people on both phone lines with two or three customers at my desk, vendors in and out, and residents just passing through. For some reason (I don’t remember why), I was the only one in the office that day.

Suddenly there was a lull. It was quiet for about five minutes. Then my cellphone began to ring. It wasn’t my habit to take personal calls at work, but when I realized it was from one of my single moms, I answered.  I listened as she said, “Rachel, I think I have someone you can help.” She went into a very long explanation of a heartbreaking situation. I realized God was opening up an opportunity to walk with a mom in need from the very beginning—before the child was even born. Then someone came into the office, followed by the carpet cleaners, followed by both lines lighting up on the office phone—I had to end the call.

I promised to help in two areas: finding parenting classes (something we would like to do in the future) and chasing down some leads on housing. I squeezed in a visit to LaVie Pregnancy Center later that week and managed to make one call on housing, but there was no answer. Then my job took over again.

Day after day, I tried to get out of the office in time to follow up on other resources for this new mother, but to no avail. Day after day, I drug myself from my desk to my car at the end of the day, having not eaten since breakfast, never had a break, never stopped running—always exhausted. It got to the point that the only time I was making it to the FTN office or to other FTN related work was if there was an actual established appointment with another human being. I was overwhelmed, and keenly aware that I was failing at the work that was most important.

A week after the initial phone call, I received a Facebook message from a friend and FTN partner. “How did it go ministering to that mom this week?” she asked. I cried. Then I answered, “It didn’t.”

The decision had already been made, even before this moment. In fact, even before the initial phone call I had already been talking with my manager about an exit strategy. This incident just drove home the fact that I had made the right decision. God is good, and He has given us a second chance. A week ago, I met with the single mom who originally called me to see if we could help. We had a very good conversation about the situation. Now we wait to see what the needs truly are as things unfold.

But I still had to make that choice, the one others might not understand. I had to resign my job. Not only was the situation destroying opportunities to minister but it had also become very unhealthy. I am convinced that if I stayed even a month more, I would have been in serious trouble health-wise. I praise the Lord for giving me the job, for using the strange way it all unfolded to open the door to get FTN back on its feet after Dad passed away, and I praise Him for answering my prayer and showing me when it was time to walk away.

Now I ask that you pray with me for wisdom for the next step. God has begun to open doors unexpectedly (unexpected to me, not to Him). This week a friend has hosted an online event that has allowed us to share about FTN with several people who are new to the work. In October, Lord willing, I will be in three churches to share about the ministry and to speak to ladies’ groups. Later in the month, I will be attending a meeting in St. Louis where, Lord willing, we will talk about the need for ministry to the fatherless. These are exciting events. I see God’s hand in them, and am excited to see what else He has in store!

Please pray that the Lord will continue to guide and provide. FTN is currently only at 7% of the funding that we estimate we need to be fully functional. This means that neither Mrs. Trout nor I currently receive any personal support through the ministry. I want to give as much energy and time to the ministry as possible. We are trusting that God will provide and give wisdom as we go into this new chapter! I am excited to see what He will do!

If you would be interested in hearing more, in setting up a time for us to share about the ministry, or in partnering with FTN, please feel free to contact me.