The Simplicity of Compassion

Thanksgiving was just around the corner, and for the first time ever I was standing in line at the food bank. I wasn’t there for myself. I was just the driver. Beside me, stood a single mom and her four-year-old son. She had contacted me days earlier in a panic.

“I’m wondering if your church can help me. I need a ride to the food bank to pick up my Thanksgiving box,” she said as soon as I answered the phone. “I just keep getting the run around. No one will help me.”

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We talked for a few minutes. She explained her situation, and I realized this mom didn’t have a car because of a car accident. She just needed a ride. That’s it. How easy is that? So we made the appointment to pick up her Thanksgiving box on the day the food bank was distributing them.

There we stood, waiting in line, getting acquainted, watching the well-oiled system and the energetic volunteers at the food bank. Tina (as we’ll call her) turned in her slip that said she had completed the necessary paperwork and went about filling her boxes. Some of the boxes were prefilled, and she conscientiously removed items she would not use so that others could use them. The process took less than fifteen minutes, but it put food on the table so this little family could eat, not just on Thanksgiving but also beyond the holiday.

As we were loading the car, Tina stopped mid-action and looked at me, her eyes sincere and grateful.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome.” I replied, “But it’s not a big deal. That’s what we’re here for.”

She shook her head emphatically. “No, you don’t understand. I called churches all over town, but your church was the only one willing to help a single mom. Thank you.”

My heart sank. How could that be true? Later that week, I started doing a little research. I already knew that 41% of American children are born into fatherless homes. I discovered that in Billings 32% of children are growing up in single-parent homes, roughly 75% of those homes being fatherless. But tears came to my eyes when I discovered that nationwide, only 1% of churches has any type of ministry specifically to single-parent families. How could there be such a vast disparity between the need and the number of those reaching out to meet it?

Often the needs of the fatherless seem overwhelming. We see pictures of droves children with big eyes, empty tummies, and outstretched hands, and we wonder how we will ever meet the need. And then we walk away. Not because we do not care, but because we’re overwhelmed. Meeting those needs, however, doesn’t have to be overwhelming. No, we may not be able to meet every single need, but perhaps we can meet one. One need met, followed by another need met, followed by yet another need met leads to the meeting of many needs—a simple fulfillment of the compassion which moved us in the first place.

Earlier this year, a friend of Forbid Them Not was moved with compassion. A homeschool mom, she considered the amount that it would have cost her if she’d had to buy school supplies for all of her children to attend public school. Then she considered the many families that would struggle to buy everything on their school list. She approached Forbid Them Not about partnering together to help meet that need.

As a result of last year’s Green Bean Project, we had forty pounds of school supplies waiting to be put to use this fall! We’d also been given some beautiful children’s Bibles as well as some coloring books on forgiveness. Between those things, and the donations of individuals and local businesses we were able not only to help ten children with backpacks and school supplies but also to help supplement a third grade class with many students who were not able to get everything on their lists!

Did it take a little effort, organization, and time on our part? Yes! Of course it did! But that simple act made a difference—a lasting difference. You see, I’ve since had reports of the children using their Bibles with excitement. One grandmother thanked me for the coloring book and said, “This is so needed. We will definitely be going through this.”

Maybe you were part of last year’s Green Bean Project and felt that you didn’t do much. Maybe you weren’t sure it would really make that much of a difference. But it did! Not only were we able to provide these school supplies as a result of the GBP, but over the course of the year the funds that went to FTN also helped us to provide a car battery in one situation and groceries in several other situations. Your simple act of compassion made a difference and will continue to.

Earlier this year, we interviewed two single moms to learn from them and gain their perspective on how a ministry like FTN can best walk alongside of them and others in similar situations. When asked, “What do you feel is your greatest asset?” one of the moms gave an answer I will never forget. She said, “God bringing the right people into our lives at the right time.” Each of us could be that person so long as our hearts are attuned to God’s leading.

The answer does not lie in a massive government program. The struggle these families face sits at our door, waiting for us to take action. Compassion isn’t complicated. It’s simple. It is love and sorrow compelling us to move. All we have to do is act.

Will you join us in making a difference? Click the link below to be a part of this year’s Green Bean Project.

 

If you haven’t already, please join us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

 

Back the Green Bean Project Here!

 

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How the Great Commission Shapes the Green Bean Project

I grew up in a missionary’s home, so it’s no surprise that the verses often referred to as the Great Commission are very familiar. I grew up hearing the importance of reaching our Jerusalem, our Judea, and yes, even the uttermost parts of the earth. But that is such an enormous task! How could we ever fulfill it? When Forbid Them Not first began, our primary focus was on that uttermost parts of the earth portion of Acts 1:8. That was where I saw the biggest need, and the Green Bean Project was an awesome way to fulfill that part of the Great Commission. But over the months and years following, God began to reveal other needs much closer to home.

The thoughts and ideas of how to best reach the fatherless grew and the vision for the ministry grew with them. I began to hear people saying, “This is too broad. It’s overwhelming. People will say there is no way one ministry can do all of this, and they won’t support the work.” But as those of us working directly with the ministry prayed about a shift in focus, God’s Word kept coming back to us. We are called to reach our Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and (not or) the uttermost parts of the earth.

Like any missionary, we have one mission “field”—the fatherless—but their location is not limited to one town, country, or continent. God has called us to reach them, whether they are near or far.

So what does that look like for a ministry as small as Forbid Them Not? Here’s a little breakdown.

Our Jerusalem

Based in Billings, Montana, this is our home and our Jerusalem. Since I was a little girl, the city has boomed. While the city itself has a population of just over 110,000 the metro area includes more than 165,000, and it serves a trade area of more than 500,000. According to 2012 census information, approximately 32% of Billings’ children are growing up in single-parent homes, 75% of which are fatherless. Due to an increase in drug activity, our local and state systems for caring for neglected and abused children is in crisis. Billings is an amazing place to live, but many of our children and families are broken, hurting, and in need of the love and hope of Christ and His people.

Our Judea and Samaria

As mentioned above, the crisis our families are facing is not just a big city problem. The system as a whole across Montana is in crisis. Our legislature and Governor have been scrambling to find help. Montana is not alone. The numbers out of surrounding states are similar. God has deeply burdened our hearts, not only to reach our city but also our region and beyond. Obviously, we cannot be everywhere at once, but we can help walk alongside churches that are seeking to reach their fatherless and those caring for them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Uttermost Parts of the Earth

Through the Green Bean Project, we are able to walk alongside of ministries to the fatherless in other parts of the world. God has led us to support three missionaries in three separate countries over the past few years, and we are currently looking at adding a fourth. Each year, we have been able to provide for various needs including textbooks, school supplies, fabric for uniforms, clothing, vitamins, and small financial gifts to each of these ministries. This year their needs are much greater, but we believe that God is able to meet each of those needs. We may not be able to sit with the children one on one to share the gospel with them, but we can help those who are able to do so.

During the first two weeks of this year’s Green Bean Project, we’re going to be sharing with you more about our Jerusalem, our hometown of Billings, MT. Last year’s Green Bean Project was our only source of funding for meeting the needs of fatherless families here in Billings, so you can see the importance of this project to the local ministry. The need here is great, far greater than many would imagine. Billings has been home to me since I was 12 years old. It has woven itself deep into my heart, but it is a city with a host of hurting children and broken families and lives. My heart yearns to see the hope of Christ brought to its darkest corners.

If you haven’t already, please join us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

 

Back the Green Bean Project Here!

What IS the Green Bean Project?

Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me, “Just what is the Green Bean Project?” To be honest, I know when I share about the project everything in my heart tends to well up and a TON of information pours out. To me, it seems simple and straight forward, but sometimes I leave people in a dither. So this is my attempt to simplify all that heart gushing in one clear and concise post.

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The Short Answer:

The Green Bean Project is a fundraiser. That’s the ugly truth. Ministries have needs and often those needs are met by funds. But there’s more to it than that. There’s a vision behind the fundraising.

The Vision:

The vision behind the Green Bean Project is to give God’s people an opportunity to visit the fatherless in their affliction (James 1:27) as we bless ministries working with the fatherless by meeting their specific needs through the love, giving, and action of those who participate in the project.

Why?

Why is this so important? The answer is multi-faceted. Caring for the Fatherless:

Is God’s Command – God’ mentions the fatherless more than 40 times in the Bible. He repeats the commands to visit them, defend them, and judge their cause throughout those passages. He also passes severe judgment upon His people when they neglect the fatherless and the widow. For a complete list of references dealing with the fatherless, click here.

Is a God-ordained form of Worship – In James 1:27, God defines pure religion (the carrying out of our faith, worship) as visiting the fatherless and the widow in their affliction and keeping oneself unspotted from the world. The second one often receives greater attention because it can easily be thrown into a checklist, but visiting the fatherless and the widows is equally important in God’s eyes.

Allows us to demonstrate God’s love and His plan for Redemption – In nearly every reference to adoption in the New Testament, God is speaking of redemption. Caring for the fatherless whether through projects like this one, praying, mentoring, fostering, or adoption provides amazing opportunity for God’s people to become living pictures of redemption.

The Green Bean Project gives us the opportunity to either to take the first steps in caring for the fatherless or to grow in the care we are already giving. It allows us to come alongside of those caring for the fatherless through their ministries in the U.S., Africa, and Asia.

The How

You might be wondering how the Green Bean Project Works. Here’s a quick step-by-step account of how it normally goes:

  1. Each year, the missionaries leading the ministries involved provide a list of specific needs. These needs touch the lives of 500-600 children every year.
  2. When the Green Bean Project launches, usually either October 1st or November 1st, Forbid Them Not shares those needs with you through our website, blog, emails, and social media accounts.
  3. Over the course of the project, we ask you to prayerfully consider what God would have you to do to help meet these needs.
  4. God’s people pray and give.
  5. At then end of the Green Bean Project, December 31st, the total amount received is tallied and we praise the Lord for His wonderful works!
  6. After the New Year, we divide the funds evenly between the ministries. Sometimes, the needed items can be purchased in country. In those situations, the funds are sent to their mission agency and applied to their account. At other times, the items need to be purchased in the States and shipped. In those situations, we do the shopping for the missionaries and then package and ship the purchases. Any remaining funds are then sent to their mission agency and applied to the missionaries’ account.
  7. A Final Update. Often things happened during the period of point number 6 that further display God’s provision. We always try to share those events with you, so you can see the full picture of what God has done—at least as full as we can give you this side of eternity.

 

So, to sum it all up, the Green Bean Project is an opportunity for us to put our faith into action. It’s an opportunity to meet the needs of children in desperate physical need, while at the same time living out for them the love Christ demonstrated to us on the cross. It’s a place to begin, a place to grow, and a place to help ministries to the fatherless thrive.

Participate Here!

2017 Green Bean Project is Here!

Today is the big day! Today launches this year’s Green Bean Project. Some of you may be very familiar with the GBP, while for others this is entirely new. For those of you who are just learning about the project, the GBP started as a result of one woman’s kindness in the midst of holiday shopping mayhem. That moment was an enormous lesson to me about the importance of stepping out of sleeve-brushing distance and right into people’s lives—specifically the lives of the orphan ministries we were working with at the time. Life situations do not always allow us to be right there on the field with a missionary, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a relevant part in their work. Each year, the GBP seeks to meet specific needs faced by each of four ministries.

Over the next six weeks, we’ll be sharing more about each of these ministry with you. Acts 1:8 says,

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

This year, we’re going to take a look at how the Lord is enabling Forbid Them Not to reach into our Jerusalem, our Judea and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the Earth, and how you can have a part in that through the Green Bean Project.

For now, we want to invite you to join us for this online event. This is an amazing way for each of us to add to our account as Paul said in Philippians 4:17. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, please join us on Facebook. We’re excited to see how God will work through this year’s Green Bean Project!

LATE ADDITION:

In the final days before the launch of this year’s Green Bean Project, we realized that the needs of each ministry are much bigger this time than any previous year. Please check out this Facebook Live video, which shares a little about those needs and what God has already begun to do.

Please help us spread the word by sharing our blogs with others!

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%

—-

Counties starting with “I” and “J”:

Montana – Jefferson – 23%

Wyoming – Johnson – 22%

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

—-

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.