In the World

In the Jaws of Destruction

I was invited to come to Ukraine in 2018 to help people explore the content of He Loves Me, which had earlier been translated into Russian. What a wonderful people and beautiful country! The picture above is off of the cover of a book they gave me in appreciation for my time there. It celebrated the beauty of their country, which has now been destroyed by Russian military aggression. It is estimated that nearly 3,000 Ukrainians have been killed, including over 200 children. Almost three million have fled the country as refugees.

I’ve continued to get updates from those inside and hold the tragedies they experience every day in my heart. No one thought the Ukrainians could hold out this long against Russia’s might. I also hear from my Russian friends who lament this disaster as well.  This is on Putin, not his people. Here’s a look at the inside. It is painful to read but good for our hearts to recognize the profound suffering that others are going through in the world because of greed and human contests for power.  Some of the information below is a few weeks old. I’ve been too preoccupied to work out a blog about it, but I want you to hear what I’m hearing from those inside Ukraine.

Irpin, the city where we had the conference you attended, has been all over the news. Irpin, is considered an evangelical center for all of Ukraine due to the conference centers and seminaries located there.  I heard the place where we gathered was destroyed. It is highly likely considering what the Russians did to the city.

I have known Valeri since 2007 when he passed from his old life as a drug addict and hooligan to his brand-new life in Christ.  He has been a part of rescuing hundreds of men and women from addiction into freedom in Christ. Now he is rescuing hundreds of people from the danger and horror of war. He is currently on another dangerous mission. He is one of many that we know risking their lives to bring people to safety.

Last night a rocket flew into the house of my friend and pastor in Kharkiv and did not explode. The rocket broke through the roof and on the second floor broke up into three parts. The explosive unit fell on the first floor where Serhiy was with deacons and brothers from the church. There were six of them. The power of this missile would have been so great that half of the street would be destroyed by the explosion. Sergei lives on the outskirts of the city. There are only private houses. There are no military or civilian facilities. The shot was intended to kill civilians.

You know from the news about the crimes of the Russian Nazis. Unfortunately, they are committing more and more crimes every day. This only confirms that they did not come to deliver us. They came to destroy us only because we are Ukrainians and because we are a free nation. Russian slaves can’t stand it.

Yesterday my cousin, who lives in Zaporizhzhia, told me about the death of several pastors. They accompanied the humanitarian cargo to the occupied towns of Zaporizhzhia region. They were shot dead. Yesterday our brother in Christ, the father of 6 children was buried. He was killed by Russians. He was a bus driver who evacuated civilians.

In the occupied territories, Russians kidnap people, torture and rape women and girls, and shoot civilians. There are hundreds and possibly thousands of these cases. Our soldiers are buried with great honors in the cities of Ukraine. They are real heroes of Ukraine and the world because they have fought against the evil of the world.

The 45th day of the war lasts. In the early days, the brain refused to accept the fact that Russia had deployed a full-scale war against Ukraine. Now it is only capturing new, scary information that on;y makes the soul ache and the eyes cry. Why have hundreds of children, women, and the elderly in Ukraine become martyrs? Why were they ruthlessly tortured by young people from Russia? Is it a crime to be Ukrainian? How can this happen in the 21st century?

How do children whose parents were tortured in front of their eyes, supposed to live now? How do women who were collectively raped by Russian forces supposed to live? How about those who were forcibly deported to Russia and sent to Siberia as slaves? How, how, how? We hear these questions from Ukrainians every day.

A mother and a 9-year-old boy fled from Gostomel (a city near Kyiv). Their car was shot. The woman died; the boy was later rescued. Here is a letter the boy wrote to his mother after her death: “Mom, this letter is a gift from me to you on March 8! If you think you raised me in vain, you are wrong. Thank you for the best nine years of my life! Thank you for the childhood! You are the best mother in the world! I will never forget you! I wish you happiness in heaven! I wish you to go to paradise. See you in paradise!”

Today we took Galina to Poland from near Kharkiv. She is 78 years old. This woman is a friend of my parents. She was with us for three days. She was injured after the explosions.  “It was very early. I was still asleep when the explosions erupted. The glass in the doors and windows flew out. I didn’t even have time to shout “Lord.” I lay under the bed and asked the Lord to take me to Himself as soon as possible.” This morning she prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for this heavenly home. I was very comfortable here. You understand that after the bombing, for Galina, our ordinary house seemed heavenly. We are glad that we can share a piece of God’s love with those who have suffered from the war. Right now, sevenpeople are living in our house.

In the midst of this, they keep praying every day that the war will end, and yet it drags on day after day with no sign of stopping:

I wish this letter on “War” to be the last one. Thousands of prayers were said in our hearts. Every hour, and even every minute, we await the announcement of the end of this terrible war. We know that you and millions of Christians around the world are praying for an end to the war in Ukraine. We are sincerely grateful to you for sharing our pain with us and all Ukrainians. This pain tears our souls apart. We feel helpless.  Pray for our spirit. Sometimes we feel broken, depressed, and powerless. In every conversation we want to support others, and sometimes we need support.

My heart goes out to them. How often do we lift our prayers with loud cries and tears to God, knowing that what we ask for is only to stop the suffering and pain? What do we do with prayers that go unanswered? Could God stop the war today?  Sure he could. Why doesn’t he?  That’s the question people want answered when they cry out from their pain and want God to fix it.

But God is not the one causing the war, and part of his purpose in redemption lets the chaos of evil seem to win for a season. It’s not because we don’t pray hard enough or aren’t sincere enough.  It has to do with God’s greater purpose in a world that yet needs to be redeemed back to the Father. Somehow the chaos would grow greater if God just fixed everything according to our need for peace and security. He is about far more significant matters, and instead of begging him to do what we want, we’ll find more wisdom and direction by noticing the wind of the Spirit that blows through our circumstances and learning to ride it. He is the Master at bringing great triumph out of horrendous tragedies.

We can pray for the war to end, but we might find greater wisdom and peace waking each day and asking what it is that God is giving us today? What does he want me to know? Who is he giving me to love? How does he want to make himself known in my pain?  The insights gained from those questions will allow you to rise above your circumstances and find peace in your heart regardless of the outcome.

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Voices from Ukraine

My post yesterday brought a load of response from people in the know about what the Ukrainians are facing and how you can best help them.  Check the comments in my previous blog if you want to hear about other places you can send funds.

First, this is from Timmy, the friend who coordinated my trip to Ukraine in 2018. He has been engaged with the people there for over twenty-six years:

Reliant, is sending 100% of all donations to Ukraine. I am one of two people giving primary oversight to the fund. We help with evacuations, lodging, and food for refugees, but also are helping with people who are sheltering in place. We also put resources into the hands of people who are ministering and caring for people on the frontlines. Because there are so many needs and the resources have a limit, we are trying to first care well for people within our relational circles. So far, we can still get funds to people in Ukraine immediately. Here is the link to help:

He is in touch with many people throughout Ukraine and this is his summary:

It is horrific beyond words. What is shown on the news is sanitized. It is gut-wrenching to have thousands of people that you know, and hundreds of close friends in some kind of unimaginable crisis. In this day and age, we are getting real time information of friends who are in bomb shelters hearing missiles overhead and constant air raids, ones who are trying to flee and cannot get on the train or a bridge is blown out and they have to find a new a way in their car.

Thousands of people we know are hiding in bomb shelters, are living in constant danger, and many are frantically trying to flee the country. Putin has uprooted and destroyed the lives of tens of millions of people, and their suffering is immeasurable. Words cannot express how gut wrenching and heart breaking it is to know the horrors which our friends and all the people of Ukraine are experiencing.

One dear friend who was at the conference with you, sat on the border for 80 hours cramped in a cold car with his family. He is glad to have made it out, but his parents and his sister’s family are hunkered down in Kyiv amidst constant shelling, and he asks “but what now? What will we do?” Another family you know dhas had some shelling where they live in the West, but they look at what is happening with the war and prepare for the worst, while caring for as many as they can that have fled Kyiv and cities east of them.

I could go on and on with the horrible information we receive hour after hour.  Close to forty–eight million people’s lives have been completely uprooted and changed forever in the past week. We care about them and we deeply love them. We are praying and we are doing all we can to help them by raising funds, and coordinating relief to meet their needs for travel, housing, food, and basic necessities. You can help them at the Reliant fund:

This email came in today from one of the Ukrainian families I met there who live in the western side of Ukraine. This is :

It is the 8th day of the war. It seems to us that this is the 8th week. Half an hour ago I talked to my brother-in-law, who is the pastor of the church in Kharkiv. His family is now in Poland, and he himself remained in Kharkiv. It has been heavily bombed. People are dying. A man and a woman died today on the way to the maternity hospital. She was to give birth to twins. The children were saved by doctors, but they are orphans from birth.

Many people are hiding from the bombing of Russian planes at subway stations. Alexander said that this is a poignant spectacle. The whole floor of the station is filled with people sitting, lying down, eating … People are upset and depressed. Putin and his demons continue to convince their people that the Ukrainian military is doing this.

Yesterday, I asked the Lord how much more we have to endure and I understood the following. We must endure this terrible war until the full enlightenment of all the people of Ukraine and all Western countries comes. Many Ukrainians before this war sympathized with Putin and Russia. In a few days the situation changed dramatically.

Western countries flirted with Putin, and used him as a prostitute to satisfy their business interests. We hope that the whole civilized world has seen. Of course, the enlightenment of the Russians is yet to come, but I hope that we will no longer have to endure the bombing because of them. Only God can give them insight.

This day passed quietly for our region. We continue to help refugees reach the borders, looking for those who can accept them in Europe. Today, the military in the city was provided with water and food. We pray unceasingly and believe that the Lord will give us victory.

Our whole family, church and Ukraine are infinitely grateful to you for your prayers and all your help.

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Help for Ukraine

The picture above was taken at a gathering I was part of outside Kyiv in Ukraine in 2018. I find my heart grieving every day for this war and what it may mean for them and their families. I’ve written about them before and in response I’ve got a lot of questions as to the current events there. Many have asked me if I’ve heard from my connections in Ukraine since all of this happened.  I have not. I’m sure they have more important things on their hands.

It is a horrible thing to watch every night on the news the destruction of this country by a dictator that is willing to destroy so many lives and so much property for his political ambitions. It has been difficult to watch western leaders take so long to take this threat seriously and to help the Ukrainian people. I know nothing more than what you’re seeing in the news. I have marveled at the bravery of Ukraine’s president and the people who are standing for their freedom at great personal risk and cost. We are seeing the best and worst of humanity in one event.

I don’t know how to pray here, except with groaning too deep for words and in the Spirit. I want his glory to be revealed even in the atrocities fallen humanity creates for others. It is our long history of humanity that the strongman forces his will on the weaker. It happens all the time in our world, not just in wars by megalomaniacs, but in the abuse, exploitation, theft and murder that goes on every day all over the world. Thus, it will be until the Creator of all brings this world to conclusion. Who knows, but that this may be the start of a final chapter in earth’s history? Or maybe not! Maybe it’s just yet another bully causing mayhem for others. It has made my heart cry out even more for the end of days and the coming of the true King of the earth.

Others asked if I know of ways to help.  I do not have any direct ways myself, but an LA Times article this week shared a list of links from California organizations that are helping there.  I’m also including them below if you’re interested in helping financially. I’m not vouching for any of these organizations, how how much administrative fees they take out before getting your gift to Ukraine, but here are some ways to help: Revived Soldiers Ukraine. This organization funds medication and medical supplies for field and army hospitals at the front lines of eastern Ukraine. International Medical Corps. The Los Angeles-based organization provides emergency relief to those struck by conflict, disaster and disease. Direct Relief. The Santa Barbara-based organization distributes donated medicine and medical supplies. Nova Ukraine has several humanitarian efforts, including Heart2Heart, which assembles and delivers aid packages to Ukraine. Hromada. This San Francisco-based organization runs a charity, the Anhelyk Foundation, that supports the children of families whose parents died in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. International Committee of the Red Cross. The Red Cross humanitarian work aims to help people rebuild their lives and cope with the wider consequences of conflict. UNICEF. UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps provide conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, health and safety services.  CARE is an international organization that fights global poverty with emergency response and long-term development projects.

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A Heavy Heart for my Friends in Ukraine

In September of 2018, I was invited to Ukraine and met many incredible, passionate believers there. When I see Ukraine in the news, I don’t think of a country over there somewhere; I think of those people I got to know during those few days.

I sat with them at meals, worshiped with them in the woods, walked in beautiful parks, and celebrated their homeland and their passion for Jesus. Their lives will change drastically in the next few days if Russia invades. They could be at war or captives to a Communist regime once again. It is easy for us to think of this conflict in terms of states and political gamesmanship among world leaders. But it affects people that I know and love.

When you hear about Ukraine these days, please don’t see them simply as a country. These are brothers and sisters with the same hopes, dreams, and aspirations that you and I have.

That’s why Jesus reminded us to love in the singular: “Love one another.”  That’s how God loves, not the whole of humanity but each one individual. He says he loves us all because he loves us each.

Love the Ukrainians today, even though you’ve never met them as individual people and families just like you treasure here. And, please, pray for them.

And see those suffering in Kenya the same way, not with guilt or shame that we have it so good, but with the intense love that the Creator has for his people and the suffering they endure in this fallen world.


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It’s Not About Boxing

Yes, Luis does look fierce in the ring as he trains them to recognize and deflect any attack.  This is him helping a local gym of MMA hopefuls perfect their boxing technique.

Most of the time, he’s with far younger kids in the corner of an abandoned church parking lot. I’ll be honest; I don’t like boxing. I never have. But Luis was a Golden Glove boxer in his youth, and kids seek him out to teach them boxing. And for him, it isn’t really about boxing. It’s about using the skills he has to incarnate the reality of Jesus among kids from troubled backgrounds, many of them prime targets for the gangs to recruit. He has almost 150 of them now in two different cities in my county.

And, he does all of this for free.  He cleans houses by day with his wife, and in the late afternoon, finds his way to a corner of a parking lot and works with a few of them at a time. You should see what happens between them. These kids enjoy being with Luis even more than the boxing. Some come who are not even training. Others just hang out there, calling these moments with Luis the only safe place in their life.

I hear from people worldwide enjoying the My Friend Luis story as to how God found this abused boy growing up in Mexico and, over the trajectory of his life, drew Luis into his love.  Now, he lives that love not only among his family and friends but with a growing group of young boys and girls who are drawn to God’s work in his life.

It started with some friends of his daughters who found out Luis had been a Golden Glove boxer in Mexico in his late teens. They wondered if he would teach them some boxing techniques, and he offered to do so. In the time he spends with them, he teaches them character—to be honest, kind, and respectful, staying away from the gangs that prey on them, and in all of that, discovering how much God loves them.

Boxing lessons allow him to be with them as he gives them the wisdom to navigate the challenges of their lives. He’s often texting them through the day and held numerous Zoom sessions throughout the early days of the pandemic.

Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist (which is a fantastic read, by the way), said. “Love is just a word until someone comes along and gives it meaning.”  That’s exactly what Luis does with these young kids. His love for them is infectious and has garnered the attention and support of the police departments in both communities where he works with them. There is a ministry in the making here that is rescuing some incredible kids from going down some dark roads.

A friend of mine from Ohio listened to the My Friend Luis podcast with his family traveling for vacation this summer.  At the end of the podcast, they felt moved to help Luis find and lease a small space so he could  gather with these kids year-round.  We are currently looking for that as the weather turns more difficult to be outside.  Many others have sent donations to help free Luis’ time to be with these kids. Lifestream started a fund to support Luis and Maria in their work with these kids. Luis is calling it Fighting Chance of Ventura County.

I share all this for two reasons. First, to encourage all of us to celebrate the exquisite beauty of how God wants us to give meaning to love for those he’s placed near us.

Secondly, to invite any of you looking for year-end opportunities to share your resources with things God is doing in the world, to consider this new ministry.  Luis has not asked for this. He is content to clean houses and work with kids as he has the opportunity, but I see a life that Father wants to free up to have even more impact in this corner of the world. We are helping him form his own nonprofit to see how far God might take this. In the meantime, we are happy to have Fighting Chance of Ventura County as an outreach locally of Lifestream.

If you’d like to join us in helping this embryonic gift of God grow in the world, we’d love to have your help.  You donate to Luis’ work here, and either send a one-time gift or set up recurring support for this if that’s on your heart.  He has rescued so many kids from a trajectory that could have easily led to dropping out of schools and getting involved with gangs. Some of his kids have been murdered for trying to leave their gang, but he persists with courage and passion.

Thank you for considering this with me.


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Seven Characteristics of the Deluded

No one wants to live inside of lies. All of us are doing the best we can with what we believe is true. But what if the light we think we have is actually darkness.  Jesus warned us that when you treat the darkness in you as if it is light, that darkness will overwhelm you. (Matthew 6:23)

I’ve lived most of my life deluded.  First, by the lies of sin that promised a fulfillment it couldn’t bring, then by false religious teaching that God needed me to perform well to earn his love and blessing. It’s only in the last twenty-five years that I’ve watched God slowly help me recognize the difference between what is true inside of him and what is not true inside myself. It has been an amazing journey and it’s still ongoing. I continue to wake up to the increasing light in my journey and continue to shed the lies that have sought to control me.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched many people I know sink into darkness, genuinely believing the lies of politicians, alleged dreams and visions of religious leaders who don’t know my Father’s heart, and Internet posts from Russian troll farms and QAnon. I am convinced that a great delusion has gone into the world to disempower God’s people. These are people I love, and to watch them manipulated by a clever deception that appeals to their fears and hopes makes my heart hurt.

I know how easy it is to misinterpret the times especially when we feel afraid and vulnerable. It isn’t easy to watch your culture move away from the moral underpinnings you prefer or to feel despised, ignored, and belittled by the national media or called “deplorables” by leftist politicians. It makes it easy to gravitate toward those who offer easy answers and not realize that the freedom we cherish cannot come at the expense of oppressing others we don’t like.

Of course, I know many think I’m the one who is deluded. All you have to do is look at the comments many made to my Facebook post in the aftermath of the insurrection at the Capitol last week, and how President Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election have triggered the fears and anger of many people. I was accused of all sorts of things, told I was deceived, and even had my faith questioned. Don’t feel badly for me. People’s attempts to shame or manipulate me don’t have a place to land in me anymore. I am more concerned for the pain that causes them to lash out so carelessly.

I listen carefully, because I don’t consider myself above a few well-placed delusions myself. That’s why I’m in constant conversations with people locally and around the world about these things to check my thoughts as to whether they are flowing from Jesus’ heart or my own thoughts. And, if it turns out I’m wrong about any of this, I’ll get to admit it, to apologize, and change accordingly.

We all have to live by the light we have, but we also need to ensure that the light we think we have is light. There are extremist groups right and left that want to use the polarization in our culture to tear us apart, but I thought almost all of my evangelical friends would think an armed assault on the Capitol was a bridge too far.  Apparently, for many it wasn’t.  Neither is it enough to know that those who claimed God told them through dreams, prophecies, or a voice that President Trump would win a second term were prophesying their own hopes, not God’s.

I’m not writing this article for those of you who have yet to see through this delusion. Time will tell, you know. It always does. Lies never stand up to reality, but that may take awhile to sort out. I’m writing this for people who are questioning their own conclusions and wondering what God sees in all of this. How can we know when events unfold if we’re being lured into a delusion or finding a way into the truth?

This is why character is so important to me. When I gauge another person’s perspective, I take stock of the fruit of their life. I tend to distrust the voices of fearful, angry people, who mock and make accusations when people disagree with them. I look for those who demonstrate a passion for what’s true, humility in their own exploration of it, and generosity toward others with whom they disagree. They take the search for truth seriously, but hold it lightly realizing no one has a corner on it, especially them. They live confidently inside what they know, but are always open to new evidence that might change their perception of truth

Over a lifetime of wrestling with truth in my own heart and decades of helping others heal from involvement in religious cults, political manipulations, and toxic relationships, I have observed these seven characteristics in people who are unknowingly living under delusion:

First, they see their side as all good, and other side as all evil.

They don’t realize that humanity is a mix both of the honorable and dishonorable and that is reflected in each of us as well. I liked many of the policies President Trump put in place but at the same time I was dismayed at his arrogance and toxicity in working with others, even on his own staff. In my Facebook comment section last week, you’ll see people say that those in the Capitol were from Antifa, that their side wouldn’t do that. When those arrested all turned out to be Trump supporters, then the story shifted to that’s how frustrated the other side has made us. We’re all a mix. Some of our intentions are good and some are selfish and we’re not always the best ones to sort that out, but sort it out we must.

Second, someone expressing disagreement makes them visibly angry.

I think this is true because intuitively they know they are caught in something that isn’t quite true, so feeling threatened makes them angry. They lash out with false accusations and attempts to shame others as a way to bolster their confidence. If they were truly confident, however, they wouldn’t resort to such things. Disagreement never puts someone beyond the reach of love and kindness unless you’re insecure.

Third, they refuse to consider that they might be wrong.

Honest questions threaten the false comfort they have built for themselves. It’s like the young girl who falls in love with her dreamy boyfriend. She thinks he can do no wrong. And even after he hits her, or cheats on her, she will blame herself for ticking off the dreamy boyfriend, rather than reconsider whether her knight on a white horse may not be such a knight after all. If you’re growing, you are always wondering where you might be wrong and learning what you can to bring your life more in line with his.

Fourth, they eliminate conflicting inputs.

All cults isolate people from family and friends and other groups because they know the delusion is so fragile it won’t stand up to real life. They can’t be around people who question them and must get their version of “accurate” information from approved sources. This is why both right and left advocates have ended up in separate media silos. They can only read what affirms their bias. Truth is not that fragile. Growth-minded people question their conclusions every day as they pick up new information and grow inside the truth God is giving to them over a lifetime.

Fifth, they believe in the infallibility of their leader or their own thinking.

They embrace every word from their pastor, author, political leader, or guru not realizing that we are all flawed. No one speaks with absolute truth, even if they quote a Scripture or cite a dream as proof. If you give the aura of infallibility to anyone, you are only hiding from your own need of discernment.

Sixth, they cast aspersions on people’s faith or motives that won’t agree with them.

This is truly a defensive position. When they can no longer answer your questions, they will attack you or question your relationship with God. Assuming you know someone else’s motives is particularly heinous since no one can disprove their motives. They can’t keep the conversation about ideas because they are afraid their arguments will not hold up.

Seventh, they justify their bad behavior by pointing out how bad their opponents are.

No, President Trump has not been fairly treated by Democratic leadership but for the most part he has played into their hands as well.  I get this from a political standpoint, but for those of us who claim to be ambassadors of a different kingdom, we can’t take our cues from the worst examples among us. Just because I’m unfairly treated does not give me the right to do the same to others. Jesus called us to love in the face of attack, to lay down our lives for the good of the other, not to demand our own way.

If you want to know the truth about these things, you will. God’s Spirit is faithful to reveal it to those looking for it. The last word on all this has not yet been written. Something of God is afoot in all of this inviting the tenderhearted out of the delusions that have disfigured them. It may hurt a bit when that happens, but the fruit of living in God’s reality is worth whatever cost it takes to get there. I pray all of us will have eyes to see and ears to hear what he is saying in all of this.

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Pouring Out God’s Love in a Broken Place

It always brings a smile to my heart to see people smack-dab in the middle of their calling, especially when it invites them into the most desperate needs of human culture. I love that God calls people to invest in people in places like this when they could be living easier lives back home. And yet, the way they live and love here it is obvious that this is not a painful obedience to do something God demanded of them. Instead they are here with great joy and overwhelming love for the people they get to serve.

One of the things that blesses me about how God works in our lives is that he puts a passion in our hearts for that which he invites us to be a part of. I’ve watched Penny and countless others over the years come here and pour out their lives to help make a difference with people who have so little and to share with them how deeply loved they are by God. Their joy in the task God has given them, overflows in my own delight at the incredible ways in which our Father works.

I told Penny Dugan’s story in He Loves Me, the lady that returned to live with and care for her ex-husband as he was dying with AIDS. It began a worldwide ministry of loving people infected with AIDs. Based in Kansas with a care center and homeless ministry there, the ministry took on this project here to spread more of Father’s love in the world.

In the next couple of weeks they will be taking over 100 kids from the township to a camp they sponsor to share the love of Jesus with them. This ministry operates on a shoestring and is one of two ministries we support through Lifestream to help with their challenges. Many of you know about our outreach in Kenya and we appreciate your help there.  The Ukukhanya Care Center is the other one, and having visited there this morning I’m aware of their great financial need to keep things running here.

If you are looking to make a difference with some of your resources somewhere in the world, would you give them your prayerful consideration?  You can find out more on their website, or you can donate through Lifestream here. As always, every dime goes to the ministry itself. Lifestream take nothing out of it for our own administrative needs.

Here are some pictures from our visit this morning:

Above:  The township of Ntzuma

Residence wing at the Ukukhanya Care Center

Penny (left) and the Hillary (right), director of Ukukhanya Care Center with
two children from Ntzuma who are headed for camp next week.


Guess who!



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A New Challenge for our Friends in Kenya

Last year it was too much rain that caused diseases to run rampant, and you helped us buy medicines to keep people alive. This year there is no rain and the people in Pokot are starving.  Here is our report from Michael:

Dear brother Wayne,

Greetings in the most powerful name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I am sorry for what is taking place here countrywide. The drought has affected people and their animals almost everywhere. We thank you for the monthly support, but the need is greater than we can bear.

This week we managed to receive the donation of clothes with the contribution of 20 bags more, but the situation here is becoming extremely worse and we came with over 20 volunteers to serve the villagers who are suffering with hunger.

So we have discussed with our coaches to ask you if we may have one emergency for this year 2017. We have distributed for over than 300 families and other more families are here who have walked over 30km from the different villages, and they are now camped here in our school. According to our estimate we need the emergency of 150 bags of maize for Ksh 480,000 and 50 bags of beans for Ksh 300,000 and Ksh 20, 000 for fuel, all total is Ksh 800,000, which is $8000.00 US.

Because of this situation that it is here we decided to distribute the food in the night.  I Michael and the team w are still camping here but Thomas has travel today to Kitale to share with churches and he will write to you. If you can pray and see in this emergency issue it will help us to serve the remaining families, it has been difficult for us to go and leave people camped here, so we cooked here for them every day.

Cooking for the people in Pokot

So I am coming to the readers of this sight once again. I am always amazed at the response that we get from those of you who have partnered with us in this corner of the world. If you don’t know our ongoing story here, you can check out this blog from last year.  If you have it on your heart to help these Kenyan people suffering under such a huge strain, you can direct it through Lifestream as contributions are tax-deductible in the US.  As always, every dollar you send goes to the need in Kenya.  We do not (nor do they) take out any administrative or money transfer fees.

If you would like to be part of this to support these brothers and sisters and see the gospel grow in this part of Africa, please see our Sharing With the World page at Lifestream. You can either donate with a credit card there, or you can mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Thank you in advance for your gifts and prayers.

A New Challenge for our Friends in Kenya Read More »

“You Have No Idea!”

It’s now been three weeks and a day since I had my surgery. Someone asked how I felt this morning and I told them today when I woke up I already feel like you’ve been run over by three busses. But that’s better than the seven busses last week, or the twelve the week before that.

So, yes I am getting better, but even in the best scenarios this is a long climb out of a deep hole. I had no idea how much it takes for the body to heal the trauma caused by cutting my chest and my heart open. I am embracing the rest but wishing I had the energy to at least do some writing that I’m excited about. I just don’t have the stamina or focus for that yet. But I am getting better each day and it is a delight to notice something new every day that lets me know my heart is healing, my body is stronger and my mind is sharper. I’m grateful for that.

Take last night, for instance. My specialized heart surgery recovery team came by yesterday after school. You can see most of them pictured above, though it doesn’t include Sara or Julie. It’s always a joy to see them and nothing helps my heart more than spending time with them. Their dad was out of town so we took them to dinner afterward at one of their (and my!) favorite restaurants, Bandit’s in Thousand Oaks. As we were ordering I noticed a young couple sitting at a table behind Sara making goo-goo eyes at each other and doting over a one-year old sitting in a high chair at the end of the table. It was so sweet and I was touched by the love of that young family.

I pointed them out to Sara and suggested we pick up their check as a way to bless them. She agreed. It’s something we do now and then ever since I was involved in a fight for the check at an ice cream place in Framingham, MA twenty-five years ago. When our hosts pulled rank demanding to pay it, we decided to pay the check of a young couple on the other side of the restaurant as an act of surrender. The whole situation turned out to be hysterical and gracious all at the same time and we’ve laughed about for decades. So occasionally Sara and I do it for people God seems to put on our hearts, though it’s probably been a few years since we’d last done it.

But last night was different. I didn’t really feel like God nudged us to, I just wanted to as a way to celebrate their love for each other. So I told the waitress to bring me their check when they were done and I would pay it. She asked if I wanted to keep it anonymous, which we usually do, but this time I felt like saying that she didn’t have to. If they asked it was OK to tell them.

When they finished they got up to leave and walked by our table without even a glance. Surely they didn’t know. They must have gone to seek out the waitress however, because two minutes later that young mother walked up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up startled and immediately she broke into tears. I stood up introduced myself and she hugged me whispering in my ear, “You have no idea! You have no idea!” She was right. I didn’t and it felt a bit awkward holding this young mother I didn’t know in the middle of the restaurant

When she collected herself she pulled back and asked me why. I told her I was so taken by how they were treating each other and we just wanted to bless them. “That little boy was in a hospital Sunday night with a 105 degree fever and we almost lost him.” She broke down crying again. Now I was tearing up. “You have no idea what this means to us, that someone knows.” I love that!

I told her I’d been in the hospital three weeks before with open-heart surgery and we laughed. I introduced her to Sara and Julie and off she went. I have no idea who she is, no name or number, but it was so cool watching Jesus love her through a very small act. Sara and I left the restaurant with our hearts soaring. How fun was it to be part of something like that and watch someone be loved by God without us having to tag it with our own graffiti? It was awesome. And Julie said her kids talked about it all the way home wanting to know why we did what we did and why that woman was crying and hugging grandpa!

And I recognized that I was outside my recovery enough to once again notice a bigger hand around me touching others. I love that. I don’t know anything more fun than finding a spontaneous way to love someone around me, even a stranger. I’m still so incredibly grateful for last night and so blessed that God let us be part of that couple’s story, if only for a night.

“You Have No Idea!” Read More »

It’s Where Love Took Us

“You have changed the lives of people who could not be able to feel or experience such great love… ”  You can read more in the letter below, but first let me set the stage.

If you keep up with this blog, you know that we accidentally stumbled into a huge need in Africa. And I mean stumbled. We didn’t begin as a missions organization and don’t consider ourselves one now even though 66% of our expenses this year have gone to Kenya because of an amazing series of events.  If you want the backstory on our work in this part of Kenya, you can read this blog that gives a short view of God’s work in linking us up with their need, and people in the U.S. who are ready to us help meet it. It’s an amazing story of God putting pieces together while we simply responded to what God had in front of us. Not only did we get linked to some believers around Kitale who suffered tremendously in the tribal violence post-election violence of 2008, but through them to an even more impoverished group of 120,000 in Pokot whose nomadic economy had shut down two years ago due to a prolonged drought. They were dying of malnutrition and disease and there was no government presence or NGOs in that region to help them. Truly they were a forgotten people.

So we helped them with food, medical, and water for six months, then a year ago began a five-year strategy designed to help these villagers take ownership of their own future and work together to employ their creativity and local available resources to address for water, food, health, education, and income generation. We are one year into a million dollar process to help those villages build an economy that is sustainable and easily shared with others nearby.  We just received a glowing report from the folks at Global Hope Network who have a project nearby and have been incredibly helpful in training the Kenyans we know to implement this strategy in Pokot. We have four full-time trainers from those villages who are in turn coaching the villagers.  Everything we do involves 50% sweat equity on their part to 50% resources from us.

Admittedly it has been scary to send so much money overseas and trust that it is being used for the purposes for which it has been given. We don’t have a presence there to administrate the fund but are working with local Kenyans. Fortunately God has given us enough personal relationship there to take the risk, but it is an outstanding joy to get outside verification that the project is in great shape and on target to complete in five years.  My heart has overflowed with gratefulness this past weekend looking over all God has done her and the gentle way he invited us into this huge need simply by the power of love. We fell in love with some people, who fell in love with some other people, and sharing their need touched many of you to help us provide the donations necessary for this process.  Within three days of us sensing God wanted us to target one million dollars to help them, one group in Texas called to say They’d contribute half of that.

Here are some excerpts from the recent reports and you can we will also post photos below:

“Your men seem to be starting to grasp and teach the fundamental ideas that it’s about how much the village can do, not how much the donors can do.  They saw the start of several good low-cost efforts by the village to transform their condition.”

The communities are being taught about health care, e.g causes of Malaria and prevention measures, Typhoid and Marasmus, Kwashiokor, cholera , Tracoma and others . in summary almost all Diseases are caused by dirty environment and poor hygiene, in this lesson he put more emphasizes on constructing toilet, pits and utensil rags, washing hands before eating and on side of malaria, he said that the villagers/community need to be taught the need for clearing bushes and drive the stagnant water to prevent the mosquito from laying eggs / larva. He added that pregnant women and children should sleep in treated mosquito nets, it’s the work of the committee to have one voice and go to the health office and ask for the nets.  They did. They also got solar power added to there school room from the government,, so they are learning to make their needs known and draw from other resources.

The also visit the toilet constructions. They said the toilets are good and will help prevent and reduce the cause of cholera, worms, tapeworms, ring worms and typhoid and other disease.  Our coaching team are teaching and training the community on health issues and are doing a good job.

Their current need now is to build a small irrigation system so the well can water the crops they are starting to grow for their own food.

The team from Global Hope went to the villages ands saw the work and they were very happy and joyful as our teachers.  They were happy to see toilets, utensil rag and other things, which are good for the health of the community, they encouraged us to keep it up and comment that we are doing well. They saw that we are in a pretty good process to complete this project in five years.

We also learned many things which we help the community to be self-sustaining.  Through coaching and educating the community on health and business as well as development,they will be transformed to a better future, hence fighting poverty among the community.  We also learn that when the community come together to identify their Health and spiritual needs and then organize to meet there needs.   Apart from that we learn that the community to develop and the need to be solved we must see and find the available materials and facilities –to make it not expensive. We also learn different types of sickness and how we can prevent, since most of the sickness from the community come as a result of poor hygiene. So the community to prevent it , they must wash hands before eating , drinking clean water and they must be clean, in addition to that we learn that some of the sickness is a result of poor feeding and diet , they said that especially the breastfeeding mom and the children they must at least  eat  three food group, eg a) Body building food ( b) Energy giving food (c) protective food , this food group is challenge to other families , but during the training session as they ask question we find that it is not difficult since most of the nutrition are available in the community but  it is just understanding.

The first training has really help us to distribute the funds effectively compared to the previous time when we had not have the knowledge of holding the community, since the previous time we were using a lot of funds but now we are doing 50% by 50% which is not expensive as before –we thank God for using you to connect us with GHNI (Brother Wubshet and Habiba) this two people has become a great blessing to our community here.

And after all of this I received a letter of thanks for the work God has done here.  I know it is aimed at me, but it is really intended for all of you who have prayed for these Kenyans, holding them in your heart as well as those who have given money to help us meet this need:

Dear Wayne,

Greetings in the most powerful name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for your great sacrifice that we may able to learn more and acquire more skills and experience. We marvel at how God used Lifestream as a mustard seed to us here and it has become a great blessing to thousand of our brothers and sisters through touching life and imparting the life of Christ as we start with Living Loved Children Care Centre. Many lives has been changed forever and some are now working helping there relatives, this is so great to us. Some of the student who have joined university and collages are seeing there dream are coming true through this compassion ministry. Wayne you may not know since you are far away but the prayers you receive from every individual here it has become the smoke of cloud before the throne of the Almighty daily.

You have changed the lives of people who could not be able to feel or experience such great love, many religion are here but what we have learned through you and Global Hope is really amazing. It has come as a surprise, the growth of this work beyond our imagination.  Even we didn’t expect that you would extend care for years. We thought that may be it will end up in one year. But since the needs are great you didn’t want to leave them on the way but to extend the support so that they may be able to stand for themselves. Actually the extension of five year for these four villages will leave this village with self-sustainable and transformation to many people forever.

They have experienced what mankind has never thought about them since they were from the bushes.  Remember since we started working in this village they have never quit or migrated like they have before.  They have settled getting and accessing there resources nearby.  When you go to the village now the old people and the brestfeeding mom has get good health and the death rate has decreased and the outbreak of diseases has also reduced even more. On the training side it has really helped us and we have now the new experience now how to use simple and available materials for development  Through our coaching and the committee and community has the vision and know that they are the owners of the project, so they can support and protect it.

It is now so easily than the way we started doing for the first time. Because they were looking to us as the people who bring the solution to the community. But now they see that the solution is through God and themselves.  This is so great. So we appreciate the people from Global Hope who have helped us with this experience and skills. We had with very wonderful time with Global hope coach.  This time they have added the material that they feel that it will help us in future to train and add more skills and knowledge to extend more training to the committee and the community. We thank you also for helping us to buy new tires and service the vehicle and also for paying our expenses during training and expenses for the Global Hope instructors.


Brother Michael Wafula

This has all been such an incredible experience, and we have done very little here except to love the people God put in front of us and it took us to places we would never have considered. As we began to help where we could, others piled on to add to that help and what a story this has be come. Yes, there have been times of frustration–feeling overwhelmed and completely out of our element, but God kept opening doors just when we needed them. I’m dumbfounded every time I think about what a small connection point has accomplished in the world and how readers of this website and listeners to our podcast at The God Journey, jumped in with such joy. Whenever I think of all this my heart is overwhelmed with awe at the great work and planning of our God to take some people in the West and connect them with a growing need in Africa that we were not even aware of. He knit the pieces together and it has become an amazing story of the way God can work.  All we need to do is follow him as best we know how.

The need continues here and if you have some extra funds that can help them you can direct it through Lifestream as contributions are tax-deductible in the US.  As always, every dollar you send goes to the need in Kenya.  We do not (nor do they) take out any administrative or money transfer fees.  If you would like to be part of this to support these brothers and sisters and see the gospel grow in this part of Africa, please see our Sharing With the World page at Lifestream. You can either donate with a credit card there, or you can mail a check to Lifestream Ministries • 1560 Newbury Rd Ste 1  •  Newbury Park, CA 91320. Or if you prefer, we can take your donation over the phone at (805) 498-7774.

Children gathering at the well for water.
Wubshet (top row middle) from Global Hope with our coaches enjoying
the progress and helping them with new ideas.
“Utensil rag” to keep dishes clean and prevent the spread of disease.
More training for our coaches so they can help the people of Pokot.

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