Sunday, September 01, 2002

VOLUME 10 - 2002


I wake up far from home and the comfort of my own bed. Where am I? If I am hot – probably Africa or Cuba, if I am cold most likely Russia. And if I am sleeping in the middle of the day, I am in China, where afternoon naps are a welcome part of the culture to a jet-lagged and weary traveler.
I am a stranger in strange lands, an alien constantly adjusting to time zones, climates, and culinary oddities that keep my mouth quiet, my stomach asking, and my heart praying for grace to eat what is put on my plate.
In 2002, the Lord showed Himself in a myriad of ways, diverse as the places and faces of the countries I found myself traveling. Others ask me, “How do you do it?” I answer, “through Him of course” and because of your faithful support and prayers. And as we have gone this message has been preached: The kingdom of heaven is near! Matthew 10:7


Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child
Wheels to the World

3,000 gift boxes to orphanages & hospitals
120 wheelchairs in Cape Coast region

Beyond Nowhere

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place … obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

You have to know where you’re going to arrive at the Village of Hope Orphanage. This is not “the middle of nowhere”; this is a hundred miles beyond nowhere! The facility houses 125 orphans (most lost parents to AIDS) in the Central Coast Region of Ghana. Our team of 3 Americans, 2 local missionaries, and 7 African church workers and pastors, drove the coastal route passing through suburbs, slums, and the mayhem of the marketplace. The sight of uncountable impoverished masses, crowded in stalls at the open-air bazaar, buying and selling their wares, is hard to describe. Commerce reigned amidst trash, raw sewage, stagnant water and stench. Another day’s existence bargained for, exchanged and secured - this day’s daily “bread”.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-3

Our uneasiness rose with the dust around our van. We turned off the main road onto a dirt path, following the last sign leading to the Village of Hope and the children awaiting our arrival.
Several wrong turns later, we reached our destination. The orphanage is a complex of 5 housing units on several parched acres of land. The Director was eager to give us a tour of the facility showing us living conditions of the children. Each “house” was arranged comfortably as a family-style unit with living and dining areas, and sleeping quarters neatly decorated with curtains, pictures and other semblances of normal family life and childhood. Cardboard signs were placed in the hallways for furniture and a future yet unseen. “Computer Lab” read one, “Library” read another.

But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish. Psalm 9:18

The program began with songs of praise and worship, the children singing with enthusiasm and joy. Then the Director led them in a chorus that sounded written just for them: “When I have lost my mother, when I have lost my father, when I have lost it all, I still have Jesus”

From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise. Psalm 8:2

How many Christians sitting in pews on the other side of the ocean, understand such loss and yet such gain? Fighting back tears, we finished the program and distributed the gifts. But there was no question that the gifts we shared with the children that day paled in comparison to the one they sang of.

Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach … the unsearchable riches of Christ. Ephesians 3:7-8

Reasons Why

I have counted stars in Cuba
Seen the sunset on the beach
At the shores of western Ghana
Places that seem so out of reach

I have walked the Forbidden City
Stood and marveled in Red Square
You’ve been a faithful Travel Guide
Gone with me everywhere.

Yet I have seen the children suffer
I have heard the mother’s cry
And too often Lord I ask You
“Why, why, why?”

Why are some born into privilege
And some abandoned in the road
Some grow strong and healthy
Yet others carry heavy loads?

Africa, China, Cuba
And former Soviet Lands
You are sending forth Your servant
So I can be Your hands.

I will trust You in Africa
Though a child’s wounds crawl with flies
When hunger swells their bellies
When questions fill their eyes.

I will trust You in China
Where Great Walls stand against the Word.
When tears run down an orphans face
The Good News yet unheard.

I will trust You in Russia
With 600,000 souls
Forgotten in the orphan homes
For them I will be bold.

I will trust You in Cuba
With the things I don’t understand
Politics and embargoes
And such suffering in the land.

I will trust You, I will trust You
Because it is required
For faith is built on Hope unseen
Eternal treasure, Your desire.


As it is written: "He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever." 2 Cor 9:9

Each day the gift boxes were handed out into the hundreds of waiting arms of village children, orphans and patients at the Accra Children’s Hospital. The brightly wrapped Christmas packages were opened with uncontainable happiness and obvious joy.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

The Pastor from one of the first distribution sites came to the home of Alan and Patsy Fulton (our mission coordinators) with a report to share about the children of the village. “You should hear the laughter, see the smiles on their faces, why, they haven’t been able to sleep for two days marveling at the wonderful gifts contained in the boxes. They can’t believe it is all for them. They are too happy for words to describe!” As I listened to the pastor’s comments, I felt the Lord ask me, “What gift would produce that reaction in you?”

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God 1 Timothy 1:6

I am a believer, quantitatively committed to following the Lord and serving Him faithfully, but I ask myself, “why isn’t the knowledge of the free gift of salvation – of His bountiful love, making me sleepless at night with the wonder of it being all for me?”

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6

The memory of their smiles, as they opened boxes filled with things they have never seen (like an Etch-a-Sketch) or could never afford (like a toothbrush) will always stay with me. But the lesson I learned through His grace, about the abundance of the gift I have been given, will last much longer. I am left with a heart filled with thanksgiving and far more than joy.

The Woman and the Well

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat … without money and without cost. Isaiah 55:1

I don’t understand the timing of the Lord. While I have learned to trust Him with my schedule, there are still financial provisions, time constraints, too many places to go, too many people to see that leave me full of questions with no answers! He makes me laugh with His sense of humor about my “itinerary” and He grows my faith with His timing of where and when I go – into the “wild blue yonder”.

In 1999, after my first Wheels to the World trip to Romania, I spoke to the national director of the distribution and said, “can I please go on EVERY trip to deliver wheelchairs?” He laughed at my enthusiasm, and replied “well, I guess you will be with us in Ghana in March”. I was thrilled to be a small part, seeing how the gift of a wheelchair made such an immediate life-changing impact on lives. In January of 2000 I eagerly went to the health department, rolled up my sleeves and took all the necessary shots required for Africa. Yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis – bring on the vaccinations, I am ready to go! But the Lord had another plan.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Prov 16:9

Not too long after the soreness in my arm wore off I received a call from the national office of Joni and Friends regarding the upcoming distribution in Ghana. The voice on the other end of the line said, “our team is fully staffed, and we just don’t see how a clown will fit into the program established there”. I sighed heavily, but knew somehow, someway, someday the Lord would fulfill my desire. I was busy throughout the year traveling to new places and old (Bosnia, Siberia, Russia, Israel) and rested knowing the Lord was in full charge of my goings out and comings in.

You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; Ps 139:1-3

In January 2001, I received a strange invitation on my voice mail. Someone I met in Israel several years before called to say “there is a trip to Ghana with Samaritan’s Purse next month, and it sounds like it might be something you’d be interested in – here is the number to call…” I did not pass go, I did not collect $200 dollars, I did not put the receiver down – I made the call! (see 2001 Volume 9 Issue of the Forecast) When I heard the requirements and specifics of the trip, I knew without a doubt the Lord was opening a door to Ghana and I was not only ready to step through it, I was inoculated for it!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8
By the time my second trip for Samaritan’s Purse in February of 2002 came around I decided to check when Wheels for the World would be in Ghana. Seeing it would coincide with my time there, I called the national office of Joni & Friends Ministries to offer my services. With my prior experience in Africa, the program facilitator suggested I contact William Agbetti, the director of Echoing Hills, who heads the distribution of wheelchairs out of Accra. After exchanging several emails, with explanations of what CARE EE can do, has done, is willing to do, he replied “sounds like a distribution with no clown is no fun!”

The Lord was orchestrating one of His great mysteries between 2001 and 2002. The in-country missionaries (Alan and Patsy Fulton) who organized the Samaritan’s Purse distribution were primarily in Africa to dig wells. The night before we drove out to meet William, Alan received an email from his parent organization in the US (Living Waters) stating, “We have money for well projects, as much as you need, just submit the project and the money is available”.

“See if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. Malachi 3:10

Driving the next morning, Alan wondered as we approached Echoing Hills, how the facility got the water needed for the 30 mentally challenged and disabled residents and the substantial support staff who care for them daily. Seeing the location of the compound situated at the bottom of a valley he said, “This looks like a good place to dig a well.” After the initial introductions were made, Alan asked one of the most important questions in Africa, “Where does your water come from?” William explained the cost of a digging a well on the grounds was so high, they were forced to pay a premium price to have water brought in twice a week by truck.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: … The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. 2 Peter 3:8-9

As the conversation progressed, William’s eyes filled with tears realizing how the Lord had arranged the paths of a Texas clown, two transplanted well drillers from Odessa, and an African serving the disabled in Ghana! We all praised God for the miracles in His providence and timing. If I had gone to Africa in 2000 (my original desire), I never would have met two missionaries who happened to be handling the Samaritan’s Purse distributions aside from their well drilling projects. And if I hadn’t met them, Echoing Hills would not have water freely flowing from the two wells today funded by Living Waters. I learned once again sometimes the Lord’s small “not right now” answers lead to BIG miracles in parched lands and desert times!

For in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:6


Wheels to the World
April - 175 wheelchairs in Havana
November - 267 wheelchairs Havana & Ciego de Avila
Yes and yes, are the answers to the first two questions I hear when I tell people I have been to Cuba twice in the past year. Yes, it IS illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba (unless you have a letter of permission from the US Treasury Department for humanitarian relief efforts) and yes, I did carry back the allowed amount (by above) of Cuban cigars.

Five months before my birth the last revolution in Cuba succeeded, and Fidel Castro became the leader of this small island nation. The first Wheels to the World wheelchair distribution in April of 2002 occurred on the anniversary of that victory, the last in November, on the 40th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis. And what are my impressions of a country and political climate 43 years in the making? Aside from the breathtaking tropical scenery, one of the first things noticed (especially if you’re a guy) is the cars. In 1957 more Cadillacs were purchased per capita in Havana than any other city in the world. Even today, probably one out of every ten cars seen in Havana is American made (from the 1940’s and 1950’s). American manufacturing integrity or Cuban ingenuity has kept these gems of a bygone era running for 50 and 60 years, with NO American imports, auto parts, or classic car collector’s expertise and enthusiasm.

Sometimes, tourists forget when they board a plane for foreign destinations, the conveniences and comforts of home don’t pack as easily into their suitcase as the “don’t leave home without it” toilet paper. Phones don’t work, bathrooms leave a lot to be desired, and a bureaucracy that can’t be explained rules each day’s timetable. Bringing wheelchairs into a country under US embargo made us very aware of a lack of control over our schedule, regardless of the Passport we carried, or the conveniences we packed.

"Toto, we are not in Kansas"

In general, the people, even the Communist officials, were not openly hostile. But they definitely had their way of letting us know (wearing T-shirts emblazoned with political slogans) we were not in Kansas, USA – we WERE in Cuba.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

Both the April and November distributions faced trials and tests of patience, as the wheelchairs were held in port by the customs officials days after the scheduled release. We were frustrated. Couldn’t the powers that be see and understand? It was their people suffering. Bussed 12 to 14 hours into Havana they sat waiting - patiently, hopefully, helplessly, for the wheelchair they could never afford. The therapists invented new ways to accomplish what they had come to do. They made medical notes and took pictures of those waiting so that when the chairs did arrive, they were able to make fittings based on the information gathered. In a country where medical and social services are free, yet imprisoned by economic embargoes and political upheavals, equipment (like a wheelchair) is given to those with the greatest chance of becoming productive members of the society. To the great sadness of parents, if a child’s disability or mental capacity is diagnosed severe enough, little is done in the way of therapy or treatment. In our land of opportunity, hope is around every corner; in Cuba it is 90 miles away.

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

Waiting is never easy and Americans are probably the worst “wait-ers” in the world. Why do you think we invented microwaves? But in the waiting, God’s great work goes on. Without the wheelchairs, evangelism took center stage. The greatest gift - the Bible - was the only gift some would receive because of the bureaucracy. Even in our frustration, we saw God’s hand at work as the customs official and the truck drivers asked “what is this work you are doing?” and took the Bibles offered to them at the end of the day. One customs official even stood in as translator for a team member while she was explaining the Good News we had come to share. The Director and I laughed thinking, just perhaps, the two day hold-up of chairs was really the Lord orchestrating this man’s work schedule to be available for “such a time as this”.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

I had many questions about Cuba before I arrived. Most of them remain unanswered. I returned and read more of Cuban history and the complicated relationship with its big neighbor to the north. I didn’t understand before and even now, after two trips and hours of study, I understand less. There are no simple solutions for such complex problems. I remember Abraham, who questioned God about problems in the midst of His promises. The Lord offered him a visual example to strengthen his faltering faith:

He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars- if indeed you can count them." Genesis 15:5

Our God is faithful yesterday, today and tomorrow. He offers each of us examples to strengthen our faith in times of doubt. Let me share with you a few of the uncountable “stars” in Cuba He faithfully showed me. They shine bright and deep in the heart of this Texan:

  • God’s Gift: Before I left for Cuba in April I read articles on what issues faced the Cuban church. I spoke with the Pastor after arriving and asked him personally of the persecution. He immediately said, “There is no persecution in Cuba!” I felt as though I had crossed an invisible line in faith etiquette, or perhaps someone was listening. Startled by his reaction and response I continued, “But what about Christians losing their jobs because of their faith? What about the arrests?” He replied, “This? This is not persecution; this is God’s gift to the Cuban church. Before the revolution my parents were well off and we had few hardships. When the revolution came, I was arrested and sent to the labor camp. I was next to murderers and thieves. I had no idea of what their life was like until I worked alongside them in the sugar cane fields. Who, more than a murderer or thief needs to know the love of our Lord? How would they hear it, if God had not given me this gift?”
  • Under Cover Cubism: On my first trip I left one of the interpreters an “EvangeCube” (an unfolding cube containing the entire Gospel message). She told me with great enthusiasm on my return in November – that the cube had gone “undercover”. Her husband (a doctor) carries it in his pocket at the hospital. As he examines his patients, they often inquire about the “lump” in his pocket. He brings it out and shares the whole message of hope in Christ to all who ask.
  • Unbelievable Provision: On the first day of our arrival (before the chairs were released) the coordinator was asked if a chair could be fitted for a triple amputee war hero, who lost both legs and his arm in the battlefield (Bay of Pigs). Knowing this takes a very special type chair (a “hemi-chair” that can be used with only one arm) she sadly replied, “Probably not, those wheelchairs are rare and very seldom donated.” The team members (participants of numerous distributions worldwide, and one who actually heads the collection for a multi-state area) all concurred they’d never seen this type of chair donated. There was great joy when the shipment of wheelchairs was finally released from customs – but there were tears of unbelievable amazement as the “hemi-chair” was unpacked from the crate!
  • Interpreting Angels: Our team had the privilege of visiting with some of the recipients of wheelchairs in the prior distribution. At one point during the meeting we needed a translator to give therapy instructions to the parents of a young boy with cerebral palsy. Just as the frustration with charades and hand signals was heightening, a man walked up and joined in the conversation, easily interpreting from English to Spanish and back from Spanish to English. After the thank-yous, the therapist asked his name. “Jose Angel” he smiled in reply. “So you’re an Angel?” she asked. “Well something like that” and with a final handshake and grin he was gone.
  • Feliz Navidad: The Director and I traveled 4 days before the team to attend a conference for Christians with disabilities. One of the presenters was a former Catholic Nun who now creates nativities as part of her ministry. The new generation of Cuba, she explained, has no background of the Christmas story, and having a nativity displayed is a way to bring the message. The whole Gospel story is there. As we prepared to leave for Havana this kind woman made a special presentation to the “two ladies with such love in their hearts to work for the disabled.” She handed us both boxes filled with 50 hand-painted statuettes. I was overcome by the honor she had shown us, and overwhelmed by the priceless gift she shared - out of her poverty.

You helped make the vision possible. Your financial support and prayers light the way in times of questions and places of darkness. I hope these few “stars” remain shining brightly in your memory and cause remembrance of all that only God is big enough to answer and accomplish!


Camp Allen
Joni & Friends

Over 75 families ministered to
100+ Short Term Missionaires
Clowns Clowns Clowns

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us… For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

There is not much to be added to Paul’s words. And since it’s said, “a picture paints a thousand words” I could be counted as being verbose if I did write much more about the smiling photo above of Joni Erickson Tada with camper Lori Cross. But I do want to share a little with you about my special friend.

The June Family Retreat was Lori’s first year at Camp, and from day one, she was having a great time with friends new and old. She knew CARE EE from the Special Delivery program, where she and her class from Prince of Peace came to visit the patients at Our Children’s House (long-term care facility of Baylor Hospital). She smiled often and Camp added to her bank account of grins.

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

Family Retreat gives parents and their children an opportunity to be just that. No labels apply, no expectations, nothing but a sincere effort on the part of the many volunteers to make it a time of rest, joy, and fun, fun, fun! It is a little like heaven; people seeing and acting with a Kingdom perspective. One day we will all have perfect hearts, perfect bodies, and perfect minds. On October 22, less than six months after camp Lori stepped through the Gates into the arms of her awaiting King, and smiling, He gave Lori her perfection.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15


East West Ministries
Construction Project
Ministry to 450 children in 3 orphanages
Snack Food
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Acts 2:44
A pleasant part of any new adventure is the camaraderie formed in shared experience. From Madagascar to Moscow, those we share adventure with hold a special place in our hearts. Veterans offer advice to newcomers and we laugh and cry together, on our way in the journey. We arrived in Moscow, all fourteen of us, with the usual two thousand pounds of allotted luggage packed with humanitarian relief and American necessities of travel (blow dryers, toilet paper and snacks).

As we boarded the train, we were quite a sight. Easily spotted by one of the interpreters (Zhenya) making his way back to Kirov from a business trip in Moscow. He was eager to join with us and experience the fun of fellowship in the happily crowded train compartments. Zhenya made a comment when he saw all of our “snack food” crowding the train table. Piled high with candy, peanuts, chicken flavored chips, soda pop in a variety of flavors, diet, caffeine free, juices of mixed fruit, cherry, orange – anything, ANYTHING one of us might think we would hunger for at some point in our journey. Are we so afraid of being hungry for 30 minutes that we carry peanuts 14,000 miles to satiate an appetite we might develop on our way to do the Lord’s work? His words rang a very loud, poignant truth about our “cultural” differences.

These were His instructions: "Take nothing for the journey except a staff -no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Mark 6:8-9

Jesus sent His disciples out two by two and specifically told them not to take anything with them but the coat on their back and their shoes. Their reliance was to be on Him – their focus traveling light. And here we travel with good intent thousands of miles unwilling to hunger for the few minutes in comradeship with our fellow brethren who live on far less, and concern themselves with less than their American counterparts - with our bubble gum and peanuts.
Have we developed a fat and fat-free society living on a religion that we can take small bite-size morsels out of the bigger more lasting?

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. 1 Corinthians 3:2-3

The Bible has many illustrations of those who craved more and the result: The Israelites in the wilderness could only gather manna for the day’s needs. Any more and it rotted in their tents. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink.” In our culture to provide more, have more, never having want for anything, we have forgotten the basic “give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus said nothing about “be sure to bring snacks.”

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34

My prayer for the week of ministry we had in Kirov was to introduce the children to the Bread of Life, to teach them about the Living Water, and in the end to hear the exclamation and invitation of our King, “Well, done my faithful servant. Come and enjoy the feast of the Master!”

Dobre Outra (good morning)

“Good Morning” Jesus said,
Though I didn’t understand

For I found myself once again
In a strange and distant land.

“Good morning back to You”
Said I -
(Through my Russian friend)

A smile broke out across His face
And then He took my hand.

“Yellow blue bus” (Ya loobluh vas)
In Russian - I love you

I winked and smiled,
And then replied“Jesus, I love you too!”

No Tears

The day of our final return to the Deaf Orphanage brought the children running. Once again acting as my Russian teachers - they quickly began pointing to their eyes, noses, ears, eyelashes – to see if I retained the words they had so carefully repeated over and over the day before. Slowly, phonetically, they mouthed out the words – laughing at the mistakes and eagerly and enthusiastically rewarding the successful pronunciation of smile. “OOO-lip-ska” I would repeat and then make varying degrees and sizes of my smile – eliciting laughter all around. Then one boy taught me the word for tears.

Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book? Psalm 56:8

He quickly took the finger he had traced the imaginary tear with and waved it emphatically to tell me “No crying!”

He could read in my eyes the connection and again he traced the tear down his face, shook his finger and his head “no tears”.

We packed ourselves into the bus, out of the cold that was quietly penetrating our clothing. The children surrounded the van for one more hug, a last wave, blown kisses and mouthing silently the words - “I Love You.”

As we drove away my eye caught the face of my young orphan teacher. With a broad smile, he motioned once more, shaking his head and finger to remind me of his heartfelt instructions. “No tears.”

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then He said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Revelation 21:3-5


Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of the age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 1 Cor 1:20
In days of high-tech presentations, we arrive in the mission field of our calling, and worry if we have a “program” that will reach the lost. The first day of our arrival in Sovetsk my bag of tricks was left behind and I did without the night’s preparation for the next day. My flesh was quick to think “How do you expect me to do what is required if I don’t have my props!”

Our co-laborers in other parts of the world rely solely on the power of His word and the testimony of His resurrection. Men stand before crowds of illiterate masses without visual aides, Teleprompters, and the latest advances in evangelistic props. Here we are 2000 years later saved by the Word of the Risen Lord – yet we go out armed with Western accoutrements, new “translations” anyone can understand, wondering which version is the most appropriate for our audience. We have countless Study Bibles: men, women, students, teen, new believer, discipleship, prophetic, and apologetic. Bibles designed to suit the latest spiritual trend. But have we become a more faithful population? Is our spirituality deeper, our belief in God stronger, our ability to share Christ growing bolder with so much variation on the same theme?

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Centuries have passed without the information of the “Information Age”. Are we growing soft in our confidence that the message proclaimed boldly and with conviction truly has the power to save and redeem a sinner’s soul?

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32

Our counterparts in the first century prayed for courage to proclaim His Name even in
chains! We are praying our props don’t fail!


Today I met Jesus
He ran right up to me
And with the arms of a little one
Hugged me till I couldn't breathe!

Today I heard Jesus
And what a voice He had!
I heard Him in the laughter
Of a child no longer sad.

Today I saw Jesus
He had a great big smile!
I saw Him in the face
Of each grinning child.

Today I kissed Jesus
And tasted Eternity
For on the lips of the "least of these"
He said,"You've done so unto Me."

Late one night after returning from a long day of ministry, the team gathered in the hotel foyer for fellowship. I chose to return to my room, warm up, and write a little before bed. I thought of all I had experienced that day; all the hugs, kisses and smiles. The poem flowed from a heart of thanksgiving. But the tears flowed when I really understood, just how many times I had kissed the mouth of my Lord.

Ministry, Miracles and Mexican Food

In summer my travel and ministry activity slowed, but with the intercontinental schedule I kept the first six months of the year it came as a welcome relief. But one activity I try never to miss is my weekly Mexican food night with Rebekah “Giggles” Berry. My time with my “best good friend” is one of the highlights of my week.
Rebekah loved the idea of being made a clown at camp the first year CARE EE was there – and every year since – she is known to all as “Giggles the clown.” She sings, dances, and does her own tricks! Her smile and laughter is straight from the angels. Since we met at the Joni & Friends Family Camp, in our weekly times together over ‘enchilada specials’ I feel as though I’ve dined with a special emissary of the King.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

Whenever we’re together she never fails to ask Jesus to bless me. She’s even been know to stop mid “chip and salsa” bite to ask Jesus to meet one of her friend CARE EE’s needs. One Saturday night I was eating dinner with Rebekah and her high priority was my answer to an invitation to her Sunday school class. Every five minutes she would interrupt and ask for an answer. “CARE EE have you thought about it yet?” “No, Rebekah, I will let you know.” When Rebekah said the blessing before dinner she prayed, “Dear Lord, please help CARE EE to think about coming to my Sunday school class. Lord, we know You can do miracles, and this would be a miracle if she came to my Sunday school class. We want Your miracle. Amen”

I was embarrassed. I should have just said yes. My acceptance of a simple invitation was hardly miracle material! Now she was praying for the Lord to change my mind and bring her a miracle. The next morning, as I got ready to join Rebekah for Sunday school, the phone rang. It was her mother Jane, asking me to bring my little wooden apple so I could share a story with her class. I packed my props and my shame and asked the Lord to forgive me, and use me as an answer to my dear friend’s prayer. During the announcements, the director told the large group (of very special people) that three of the teachers were absent and they were going to have a tough time filling in with a program.

There in my bag was Rebekah’s miracle. What she had asked for the night before was realized with the absence of the teachers. What a reception of waves and chuckles as I was introduced as a clown (even though I didn’t look like one). I stood up, took my props to the front of the room and with the help of my best good friend Giggles we told the story of the little apple tree.

Rebekah knew the next day would need a miracle … and she had no doubt her God would provide!


Taian University Program
Student Outreach to 3,000
Orphanage Outreach 80

Precious Sight

I am always amazed
By Your love and Your grace
The way that Your heart
Shows up on each face

The tenderest times
The smiles of great joy
The cackle and laughter
Of each girl and boy.

Lord, You show me You
Each day and each hour
How it’s not about me
But Your Spirit and power

From nations and lands
Black, yellow and white,
Young and old, big or small
Each a precious sight

Lord, help me reach them
For the Kingdom above
And show them Your truth
It’s ALL about love!


And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

My return to the Taian Agricultural University drew quite the crowd. After my visit last year, news spread about the funny American clown, who happened to be a writer and poet. My first appearance at the school this year was a “lecture” for 300 students; I saw many familiar faces in the crowded room. I was greeted with warm enthusiasm as students yelled out different things they recalled from my visit last year. They still express surprise that I am a mother of three, and when I proudly tell the ages of my children (22, 19, 17) an audible “wow” definitely boosts my ego. One student said, “ Please, tell us a story of your family”

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; He did not say anything to them without using a parable. "What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? Matthew 18:12

“Many years ago, when my children were still very, very small, we lived in a two-story house. Inside my closet, was a little door that lead into an attic room above the roof. It was the perfect size for a child’s imaginary kingdoms and castles. The children loved to creep into my closet and escape into their fantasy world. One evening while cooking dinner, I began to hear suspicious noises above me. “Bang, bang, bang!” I ran upstairs to see what was making such a racket. The closer I got the louder I could hear my children’s muffled cries and pleading shouts for help coming from the attic. Quickly I went into my closet, opened the door, and out fell all three children landing on top of each other, crying hysterically. When I asked them, “What’s the matter?” They replied sobbing, “We were locked in and thought we would be in there forever!” I stifled my laughter. “Didn’t you know that I would come looking for you? Didn’t you realize that I would miss you when dinner was ready?” They looked at each other with puzzled expressions. “We didn’t think about that. All we knew was we couldn’t turn the door handle and get out.”

The students had a good laugh. When it happened, I know my children didn’t think it was too funny. They really believed they were destined for starvation or worse in their attic prison. But I never could overlook what the Lord taught me through their hysteria. How many times have I been sure He was forgetting some important detail or need of my life, and fret and panic in my prayers?

The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I shared with the students that insight, and the belief I have in God, who I know hears me. I know He is watching, and I know He comes “looking” for me anytime I hide myself away. I believe it for me, I believe it for them, and I believe it for the thousands of orphan children I meet each year, when I sadly wave goodbye.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18

Growing Up

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path… Matthew 13:3-4

Getting permission to visit an orphanage in China is not easy. Last year the Foreign Affairs Officer (FAO) in Taian arranged my visit. This year, the FAO was not available and the task fell to one of the University students. The director of the orphanage was reluctant, but with much persuasion and diligence on the part of the student, the visit was finally approved. After my performance for the classes some of the students expressed a desire to come along with us. Several of the foreign teachers (including my friends Jim and Deb Phalen), five students, and one clown piled into the taxi and headed off on a very bumpy life changing experience!

The children were jumping for joy seeing so many visitors. This would be a special treat for them indeed. The performance was filled with laughter, merriment and song. Afterwards, we presented a gift of school supplies and shared cake and cookies with them. We had a chance to interact with the children, talk with them, learn of their life in the orphanage, and just laugh together. Our goodbyes were exceptionally hard. Many tears fell on our way down the stairs. Sadness embraced us.

Brokenhearted by the faces of those left behind, we climbed into the taxi. As we drove away a student asked me, “Do you think a man grows by the experiences he has?” I told him in retrospect, having many years and experiences, I could agree wholeheartedly. He looked away so I wouldn’t see his tears, and replied, “Today, I think I grew up.”

But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a 100, 60 or 30 times what was sown." Matthew 13:23

I can gladly report the Harvest in Taian continues. The University student, who acted as my interpreter, committed her life to Christ a few weeks after I left China, and is growing strong participating in weekly Bible study. Several of those who made the trip to the orphanage with us have continued for the last six months to make regular visits to see the children. They are teaching them English, sharing their time and learning that being available and showing up is 90% of any endeavor of the heart.

We Proclaim...

... to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. I John 1:3-4

This issue of The Forecast contains just a few of the countless 2002 stories. I wrote, read, edited and cried at all that the Lord continues to do through Sunshine After Rain ministries. I hope you share these stories with others, for they are your stories, your testimony and your ministry too! Orphans were hugged and kissed, people with disability were embraced by grace and acceptance, elderly people shared laughter and enjoyed feeling young at heart, and those who can’t dance (after all I am a Baptist) rolled with happiness.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Jn 14:12

As you will see from the schedule, plans are being made, plane reservations confirmed and we set forth with gladness of heart and a focused purpose. As believers we are called into the mission field. Called to proclaim the Good News - Jesus saves! We are taking part in the great Commission, taking the Gospel forth unto the ends of the earth. Some go and some send. I am glad to be your emissary and the King’s Ambassador. I love Him, and enjoy the journey – and in case you had any doubt what my favorite verse is:

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:8