Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aid or Band-aid?

None of us would just slap a band-aid on a deep cut, a broken arm, or a severe burn and say, "There you go. All better now!"

In each case, a band-aid would be grossly inadequate.

Our Sunday school class recently did a study on helping the poor in the neighborhood around our church. The members of the class expressed a deep concern that often our assistance is about as effective as applying a band-aid to a broken arm. In retrospect, we wondered if instead of helping, we have actually been fostering  co-dependency.

As we discussed our concerns, someone quoted, “If you give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” (Author unknown)

Sadly, on further reflection we realized that, although our motives were laudable, all we had been doing was giving out fish—not teaching people to fish.

While doing a Google search to trace the source of the quote, I discovered that the fishing quote encapsulates the philosophy of Dan West, founder of Heifer International. West formed this organization in the early 1940’s after serving as a Church of the Brethren relief worker during the Spanish Civil War.

Heifer International (H.I.) teaches the poorest of the poor to not only become self-sufficient but to share with others their knowledge, resources, and skills, creating an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance. H. I. equips people to aid themselves, offering them a hand-up rather than a hand-out. This organization doesn’t just slap on a band-aid.

Interested in learning more or contributing to this ministry? Click on Heifer International.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

Type in “North Pole Sunset” on Google and you will find what looks like a photo of tranquil waters at the North Pole, a sliver of moon hanging heavily above the setting sun.

But things are not always what they look like.

Although this image looks like a photograph, it is, in fact, the work of artist Inga Nielsen. She created “Hideaway” using a scenery generator program called Terragen™.

According to professional astronomers, Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell, Nielsen’s scene “could not exist anywhere on Earth because from Earth, the moon and the sun always have nearly the same angular size.”

Things are not always what they look like in our Christian walk either. Proverbs 14:12 tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death.” Most of us have learned that not everything that looks like it would be good for us turns out to be so.

However, we often find it harder to accept that what looks like dire circumstances can turn out to be for our good. It is difficult to truly believe that, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)

David Brandt Berg, on his website says, “One of the most encouraging and comforting things that a Christian needs to realize and constantly remember--particularly when going through times of trouble, trials and tribulations--is that our Heavenly Father LOVES us, and is in absolute and total control of our lives!”

Are you in a loving relationship with God but facing a tough challenge right now that looks like no good could possibly come from it? God is there, watching over you, working for your good, empowering you to persevere, even in the worst hardships, bringing about what looks like the impossible—good!

Blessings upon blessings!

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Still Bearing Fruit

“The righteous . . .  are like trees planted in the house of the Lord, that flourish in the Temple of our God,
that still bear fruit in old age and are always green and strong.
Psalm 92:12-14 (TEV)

Reminiscent of a bygone era, Aunt Mary wore her long, white hair twisted into a tight bun and fastened at the back with old-fashioned hairpins. Every time she went out she slipped on a pair of short white dress gloves, fastened at the wrist with a pearl button. At 93, time had weakened Aunt Mary's eyesight and slowed her steps, but, like the psalmist claims, the Spirit of the Lord kept her spiritually strong.

Although her voice faltered and wavered, it didn’t keep Aunt Mary from volunteering to sing one of her favorite hymns every year at revival services. With no thought of retiring, she shuffled her way forward supported by two accommodating gentlemen. Swaying slightly as she passionately sang, she gripped the sides of the pulpit to remain upright. Afterwards, the men would come forward and escort her to her pew. When the altar call was given, Aunt Mary took Jesus’ command to “Go and make disciples,” (Matthew 28:19) very seriously, and offered to pray with anyone who wanted to commit their life to Jesus.

Genuinely concerned for people’s physical and spiritual health, she knew when anyone was sick or facing surgery. If she could not go herself, she would telephone the pastor and say, "Ed is having surgery tomorrow and I'm not sure if he is saved. Please go talk to him."    

Aunt Mary never lost her spiritual fervor. Several years before she passed away, she embroidered a pillow with the words "Dear ones, I'll see you in Heaven." She left specific instructions about where to place it in the casket. Pointing to the pillow and smiling, her nephew said, "Aunt Mary always did have the last word."

The lovingly stitched message reflected the faith she treasured her whole life.

Aunt Mary spiritually flourished like a well-planted tree and bore fruit in her old age. She loved the Lord and shared His message of salvation with everyone, leaving a legacy of Christian friends and loved ones, many of whom can say, "Aunt Mary introduced me to Jesus."

Oh, that I would warrant such an epitaph!

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When God Says No

When God Says No

At times I pray and feel as though
The Lord is nowhere near.
I ask, I plead, I even beg;
It seems He doesn’t hear.

I think that my request makes sense
For ev’ryone involved.
But God says “No, that’s not my plan
To get the problem solved.”

The Bible says the Father knows
Just how our lives should be.
And His solutions are the best
For all, including me.

God’s answers may not match our plans--
Our times may not agree,
But if we put our trust in Him,
His wisdom we will see.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Swinging lends itself to pondering. The old swing set behind the Kishacoquillas elementary school looks perfect for daydreaming away an hour on the hot breath of summer. Can you hear the rusted chains screeching in rhythm?

The Indian’s outstretched arms have born the weight and responsibility of countless little children. Though he now flakes faded paint, exposing more and more of his metal surface to the weather, he still smiles

Kishacoquillas was an Indian chief whose name means “the snakes are all in their dens.” It makes sense that a chief would carry such a name. If the snakes are all in their dens, it is safe to be out and about.

Perhaps the children called this swing set, made like a big metal Indian, Kishacoquillas, since it provided a safe place for them to play. I wonder how many boys and girls have scrambled onto the swings dangling from the arms of Kishacoquillas? How many have pumped back and forth, back and forth to gain speed and then, as the swing reached its apex, let go of the chains and flew out landing feet first in the grass? How many have twisted the swing around and around and then let it go in a dizzying twirl that left the rider stumbling like a drunken sailor?

The ground beneath the swings now sprouts a bit of grass—a sure sign of abandonment. The feet, that kept the dirt packed hard and that wore away anything daring to take root, will no longer push off twice a day during recess.

Kishacoquillas longs to be of use again and to hear the shouts and squeals of happy children. Now is the time to linger here, allowing the to-and-fro, to-and-fro of the swing to lull you into contemplation. Where do your thoughts lead you?

©2011 Pamela D. Williams