Archive for the Third World Category

War Dance: Why We Cannot Underestimate Music Education

Posted in Africa, education, Movies, Music, Orphan Care, Third World with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2007 by len20

Music programs in public schools continue to be squeezed out of the curriculum as school administrators and school boards bend under the weight of mounting pressure to improve (arbitrary, in my humble opinion) test scores. I don’t deny the importance of teaching kids to read, write, solve problems, and learn about the successes and mistakes of our past. But if the purpose of all of this is to improve test scores, then we’re climbing a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong wall. Our purpose should be to teach students to think, to overcome the obstacles in the way of accomplishing good things, and to see the humanity in themselves and others.

You can’t take a test to prove your humanity. But you can sing a song.

I haven’t seen this documentary yet, but the preview below shows how powerful music can be in the lives of children. Check it out.

Learn more at the War Dance blog and the official website.

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Butterfly Effect – part 2

Posted in Current events, God's Kids, stewardship, Third World with tags , , , on November 9, 2007 by len20

Most ministries like ours gear up for the giving season in the last quarter of the year. This is when people are very likely to give to charitable organizations either because the holidays stir them to think of others, or because they want to finalize their tax deductions for the year. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m a little worried about this year’s giving season due to the less-than-stellar (downright crappy, really) economy.

Jeannine Aversa, a writer for the Associated Press writes, “Economists are worried that consumers, the main support for the economy, may cut back on their visits to the malls in coming months as they struggle with the housing slowdown, tighter credit and now record-high oil prices” (source).

If people are spending less at the malls, I think it’s guaranteed that they will send fewer dollars to charity.

While a lot of us are going to be tightening our belts at the department stores this year, we’ve got to remember, as HeatherN3Boys commented, that some people, “don’t have belts to tighten.”

I often think about the idea of giving sacrificially. When I took the job with God’s Kids and started asking people for money, my wife and I had to take a good look at what we did with our money. We started being much more deliberate with our tithing, and then giving to our selected ministries on top of that. And I think we now lean if not toward automatically saying yes to new worthy solicitations, than at least less toward automatically saying no. I’m dancing a fine hypocritical line here; we’re not the world’s perfect stewards by any stretch.

But then I think, are we really giving something up when we give – especially something we really want? Are we giving to others to the point of sacrificing something that we wanted for ourselves? That’s what giving sacrificially means, right? Is there a point to giving if you don’t feel it a little bit?

For those of you who’ve researched stewardship in the bible, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on what the text tells us.

Anyway, for those of you who have ministries that you support regularly, HeatherN3Boys is right, keep giving. Give even if it hurts a little, because the people that you’re helping through those ministries are hurting every day.

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Butterfly Effect – part 1

Posted in Current events, God's Kids, Orphan Care, Third World with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2007 by len20

I never used to care about the economy. It was too big of a thing to affect me and my little world. Regardless of what went on in that big world, I still went to school, and I still worked at my job. I didn’t read the newspaper or get into current events. I didn’t care about proposed legislation or announcements from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. All of that was about someone else far away. It didn’t affect my daily routine.

So now I work for God’s Kids helping orphans across the world, and I’m beginning to believe in the plausibility of the butterfly effect – that small changes in one place can cause much larger consequences somewhere else. This is not a complete definition for you physics sticklers.

Let me explain where I’m going with this. We all know that the housing market has deteriorated, and the whole sub-primeTina loan thing has hurt a lot of people in the sub-prime loan business. I fully expect a weak sub-prime loan economy to hurt sub-prime loan business people. But let me tell you how it’s affecting a little girl named Tina living in Liberia.

Sheila Reed - Director of Hebron HomeTina is about three years old and she lives at Hebron Home with about a dozen other orphaned kids. We send money every month to Hebron Home so that Sheila, the director of the home, can buy the kids food, pay her rent, and send the kids to school. I don’t think 3-year-old Tina gives a rip about the sub-prime loan business. But the ministry that pays for her food and shelter every month is corporately sponsored by a company that relies on new home construction.

So when new home construction takes a dive in Southern California, our corporate sponsor takes a hit, and when our corporate sponsors take a hit, we take a hit. And if we don’t find a way to make up what we’ve lost, well, Tina might feel the effects of a bad housing market in Southern California.

It’s a weird thing to me and maybe I’m being dramatic, but it’s all true. We were doing great when the housing market was strong and our primary corporate sponsor had a big black number at the bottom of their P&L statements. Now our primary corporate sponsor, like every other company in the housing industry, has a different shade of ink on their reports, and our orphan ministry is concentrating on getting lean until the economy picks up.

This morning I heard a news report that the analysts are forecasting a different consumer shopping pattern this year because of the economy. If consumers are shopping differently, they will very likely give donations differently. What’s that going to mean for Tina?

I’ll get into that next time.

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Keep Burma in your thoughts, prayers, and the public eye!

Posted in Burma, Third World with tags , , on October 9, 2007 by len20

The San Bernardino Sun Newspaper published an article that I wrote about my recent trip to Thailand to see thousands of people living in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. If you have the time and you’re passionate about justice issues, read the article, Digg it, spread it around, and pray that this is finally the tipping point for this corrupt military government.

Burmese land mine victim