Thursday, June 23, 2011

love is power

Check out the video at to see and hear about the completed mural. There was also an article in yesterday's Waterloo Courier that you can read here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

stories in the stats

I work at Orchard Hill Church,and one of our strategies as a church for reaching out to the under-resourced is to focus our efforts in a few areas where we can build longterm relationships, work in partnerships, and address needs wholistically. One of these communities of focus is the Gorongosa region in Mozambique where we partner with friends at Food for the Hungry.

A team of nine from Orchard Hill is just wrapping up a trip to Mozambique. Below are some numbers reported by the team leader...they sure do reflect a lot of stories in these stats.

325 Hygiene Kits and
21 soccer balls presented on behalf of the sponsors to children in Gorangosa delivered to Moz in
900 lbs of checked luggage
159 years of marriage experience in trip members
2149 (and counting) pictures taken with
4 hours of video recorded.
5 near misses on the drive back to Beira of which
2 caused Barb to see the pearly gates more clearly.
5 live chickens gifted to us
1 tin sounding speaker outside our Gorongosa guest house window which played
1 song ad nauseum most nights
22 songs in one Sunday morning worship service sung in Portuguese and Senna (local dialect)
0 hot showers in Gorongosa despite new in line water heaters
83 combined man/women hours of training to
97 FH staff, nurses, pastors and community leaders
1 nonchicken lunch or dinner meal for Dave the entire week (the restaurant was out of chicken)
400 linear feet of sugar cane gifted to us
1 man riding a bike with his wife breast feeding their baby on the back
10 hits between Halkeno and Adam per day (usually to the shoulder)
2 falls off the seat for a sleeping Neil during the ride back to Beira
1 pack of elephants sighted by 5 members of the group while the other members saw
5 piles of elephant dung
8 hours of combined car and plane time that Mapanza (Moz FH Country Director) to come to spend
4 hours with us in Gorongosa
2 weeping marathon runners receiving thanks from the community leader while the cornerstone of their school was laid
1 house blessed with laying on of hands and prayer by the first
3 child sponsors to ever visit Caia when the child sponsor found out that his child may be getting mistreated by the stepdad and intentionally not at home
18 hours for our longest flight
1 "Just clean the brain off and throw it away" to make us thankful for great translators we usually had
3 cm - the distance from the other parked car as Taylor pulled in
5 new John Deere hats in the communities
3 purple UNI shirts seen also in the communities
275 Orchard child sponsors that affect an average of
825 kids in those families and partially fund
22 FH staff in the field that work with an average of
800 kids in
7 communities in Gorongosa
50 additional sponsors over the next year as a goal
264 families turned to Christ last year in the sponsored children of Gorongosa
9 Hearts wrecked to never return to "ordinary" over what they have seen and been priviledged to be involved in over the past
2 weeks
154 prayer warriors who laid the foundation for a successful trip

For the team, see you in
2 days, Neil

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The 5th annual Hoopin' 4 Jesus basketball tournament this weekend was a part of a broader celebration called Juneteenth. Over the past few years, I have been learning about what Juneteenth celebrations represent. Here's a wikipedia explanation:

Though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863, it had minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in the Confederate States of America. Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation, and though slavery was very prevalent in East Texas, it was not as common in the Western areas of Texas, particularly the Hill Country, where most German-Americans were opposed to the practice. Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865. June 18 is the dayUnion General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, 1865, legend has it while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.[11]

That day now since became known as Juneteenth, a name coming from a portmanteau of the words "June" and "teenth" like "nineteenth" and other numbers with teenth.

Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year. Across many parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land specifically for their communities and increasingly large Juneteenth gatherings — including Houston’s Emancipation Park, Mexia’s Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin.

Friday, June 17, 2011

hoopin' 4 Jesus

SHOUT Ministries hosted their 5th annual "Hoopin'4 Jesus" basketball tournament this weekend. Nine teams, lots of good basketball moves on the courts, and a lot of opportunities to observe and take part in Juneteenth festivities at Lower Gates Park, Waterloo.

Monday, June 13, 2011

God's work in Haiti

An update from our friends in Haiti who lead UCI...United Christians International:
United Christians International

Life changing News!

Jesson Vilfort, another long-time witchdoctor, came to know Christ as his Lord! As many of you
know, we have a program where we pour cement floors for people so that we can get people out of the mud and dust. UCI had decided that we would do this for anybody in need and use it as a way to show God’s love. We have seen a tremendous response from this program which began as an alternative Christmas giving project from one church. Jesson lives near one of our nutrition centers and we poured his floor last April. When Eliberne, UCI board member and director of construction projects, went to his house, he talked to Jesson. Jesson realized that even though he had been a witchdoctor for most of his life, he couldn’t even put in a cement floor for his house. Having a Christian group come in a do this for him really made him think about his life of worshipping spirits. Last Sunday we were picking up some food and water from our nearest town and saw a huge crowd in the road next to our nutrition center. We saw Elfis, our center leader, in the middle and stopped to talk to him. Elfis and the crowd were standing around a big pile of vodou paraphernalia. Elfis told us that it had all belonged to Jesson and he wanted it burned to symbolize how he was leaving that life! Jesson had such a huge impact in his community that there were close to 100 people watching what was happening! People were afraid of Jesson because of what he used to do. Imagine how this will influence their beliefs now. They are set free! What a testimony of what happens when Christians love and care for others, regardless of who they are or what they have done, and share the gospel. May Jesus’ name be glorified.

UCI has completed 213 cement floors, 22 complete houses, and 4 churches. God is at work.
We have talked in the past about the struggle that we had in finding water and the blessing it has
been since we dug our well last May. In the last 2 months, UCI has also been able to dig 3 more
wells and in the process of digging a 4th for 4 different communities. There is a reason why Jesus
used the illustration of water in the Bible so many times. Water is a precious, precious gift and we are so glad that UCI, through the help of our supporters, has been able to bless these communities. Praise the Lord!

It is raining in Haiti. Usually our rainy season starts sometime in the middle of end of April so that by the beginning of May, we have the crops in. Our rain didn’t start until the end of May and we were worried, but it has been good rain and the crops have been planted. Jehovah Jireh, God is the great Provider.

God is also our great Hope. Andre Chansman passed away from cancer. In January, this witchdoctor of over 40 years became a brother in Christ. Those of you who were able to hear his testimony could see the joy that Christ gave him in these last months of his life. Andre had even testified on Haitian radio that he was no longer practicing vodou and debts from former services were cancelled. At his visitation we found out that Andre had 31 children with 21 different women. That is common for a witchdoctor. Of these children, only a couple were not in vodou. We met and talked to many of these children and asked if they had seen a difference in their father the last months of his life. Many admitted that they noticed how changed he was. At the funeral that JeanJean conducted, JeanJean gave a salvation message. He asked if anyone wanted to give their lives to Christ and 10 of Andre’s children raised their hands. These men and women live in a town that is hours away from us but we have contacted another pastor to disciple them. Please pray for them. And rejoice because the wife that Andre lived with in his last years and youngest daughter are coming to our church faithfully. Bob and Starla Jansen built Andre and his family a home so that he could have a new start on life. This house will be a big blessing to his family.
"Now Jesus did so many other signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book but these are written so
that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

Since February, we started a 7:00 AM service at our worship center. We have now added Sunday school
and 2 evening services on Monday and Thursday nights. Please pray for these ministries to reach many
people for Christ.

Other Updates:
* 4,216 dozen small and 228 big cassava bread sold/made by UCI’s cassava mill in the month of April.
* Over 32,000 fruit and reforestation trees sold or given out by the tree nursery. Over 10,000 orders for
* New kitchen and eating area almost completed for the UCC school and Caiman nutrition center
* New stove to be made for the nutrition center in Lapila
* New drip irrigation gardens in Lapila, Ticitron, and Lajeune nutrition centers.
* 5 more irrigation pump gardens to be installed.
* Kindergarten graduation scheduled for July 1, 2011. Exams for the school start next week.
* New mobile dental unit for UCC. Dr. Jeff Joiner helped 204 patients with dental needs this week.
* New wire feed welder for UCC.
* Jude (JeanJean’s brother) and his family moved into their own house Saturday night. It is a beautiful
house that is nearby. They have lived with us since the earthquake 1 1/2 years ago and we will miss
them. We now only have 3 extra people living with us.
* Tana and Kerri are done with school for the year. Tana is desiring to complete a year of science during
the summer break so that she can start biology in the fall. Her teacher (Kristie!) is not as excited
but is glad that her daughter is so ambitious. Kerri is quite content to have the summer off.
We continue to ask for prayers for our Bible and trade school. We believe that we can transform Haiti by
forming Christian leaders that are willing to spread the gospel and Christ’s love one community at a
time. The Bible will be the foundation of every single subject taught in the school.
Thank you for reading the letter, for praying for us, and for being a partner with UCI’s vision.

Have a
great day!
JeanJean, Kristie, Tana and Kerri Mompremier

Sunday, June 5, 2011

highlights from the first PIP of 2011

God could not have provided a more beautiful day for our first Picnic in the Park of 2011. A few highlights from the day:

*I was driving around downtown handing out flyers and letting people know that today marked the beginning of another season of PIPs. One man was walking his dog, and I approached him with a flyer. "Oh ya, I know Picnic in the Park. Harvest, right? They accept me just as I am. I don't have to wear no fancy clothes or anything." Amen to that, brother.

*I sat down with a man at a picnic table and asked if he was going to eat. He said, "No, I don't eat here. I'm too independent, and I'm not that low. There are other people who need it more." I encouraged him to stop thinking of PIP as a charity picnic and more as a family picnic. He later came up for food.

*We had a great mix of OHC/Harvest/Neighborhood people serving on the food line today. And lots of kids stepped in to give relief to some of the others so they could get some food to eat. It was beautiful.

*I could overhear Brion teaching and caught a couple of his phrases that stuck with me: "I will preach the Gospel; not overbearingly but uncompromisingly." "I know who He is. And because I know who He is, I know who I belong to. And because I know who I belong to, I know who I am."

*After clean-up, Alizae was given the microphone and sang through some verses of "Amazing Grace" while several others cheered him on and sang along.

Other highlights from any of you who were there?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

journey of reconciliation

Sometimes I begin to realize that God is taking me on a journey in which He wants to show me and teach me about something in a deeper way. He wants to reveal Himself and His vision in new ways. It often has to do with a point of transformation needed in me, and something that God then wants me to be about. This seems to be true for me regarding the journey of reconciliation. Racial reconciliation, yes, but deeper yet, to the very heart of reconciliation in every relationship.

I'm coming to understand reconciliation as the ballgame. Being reconciled to God through Christ and being reconciled to one another. If Jesus is the Great Physician, then reconciliation is the surgery he performs to heal and mend the brokenness and bring the shalom and restoration for which all creation groans.

But what is reconciliation? What does reconciliation mean and not mean? What am I learning? How do I live and work toward reconciliation? What is God's role and my role? What will it cost and require of me?

That's what I want to spend some time blogging on this summer. A book that has been particularly wonderful for my life and this journey is Reconciling All Things by Rice and Katangole. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner also has provided rich insights. And let me tell you, there are plenty of opportunities daily that provide the training ground needed on this reconciliation journey.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

loving God and others through art

So, tonight the Youth Art Team met in the park at the mural to debrief their entire youth art team session and to talk about the meaning of the message "Love is Power." (Three kids are missing from the picture, but maybe Photoshop can do a little magic in the next few days)

One father who has two children on the team stood next to me and and I tried to catch every word he said to me. He summed up the mural with words very close to the following...."People see this and they don't just see the words or the picture. The mural shows what the next generation can do when they work together. I walk by this everyday on my lunch hour and my heart just fills up to see that the younger generation is capable of doing much more than people think they can."

Youth empowerment. Development.

I drove several of the team home tonight and was so moved by how this group of multi-age kids has begun to know and care about each other and to build bridges as they've worked together.

Love. Community.

I got an email from one of the grown-ups on our team, Derek, who couldn't be there tonight. This is what he wrote:

"The mural looks great guys! Wish I could have been there to help finish everything, I plan on being at the dedication next Wednesday.

Quick praise report: I picked up one of my kids the other day whom I mentor, and he said "Derek, do you know Love is Power?" He told me he saw that phrase at a park across from the Salvation Army, and it was a topic of our next discussion. Praise God!"

Jesus, you are so good. I love you so much. Thank you for helping me to see how love is power right here in Youth Art Team.