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Friday, January 21, 2011

Snowy trees (Photo by Nancy Martin)
We had a fresh covering of snow overnight but this morning it is bright, clear and very cold. Several days ago our friend Nancy Martin sent us this photo of the snowy trees in her back yard. Click here to enlarge.

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"The Least of These"

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).

In the late eighties and the early nineties we were involved with
a humanitarian outreach available to third world families called “Healing the Children”. The purpose was getting medical intervention for children from other countries with severe medical conditions where treatment was unavailable in their own country.

At that time we, and a number of other families in our church in Northern Pennsylvania, became host families to these very needy children. We hosted two boys and two girls from Guatemala and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of our lifetime.

"Healing the Children" volunteers and airline attendants escorted the sick children from Guatemala to the U.S. Airport where they would then be transported to their host families. After they underwent life-saving surgery, recovery, and therapeutic intervention they would then be returned to their own families. Saying good-bye was the most difficult task for us emotionally after they’d lived with us as our own children for months at a time. Thankfully, Ester, the fourth child who came to us from the Guatemalan orphanage at three months of age, became a Weber in time.

It was such an honor to have helped these families whose children were not expected to live apart from the voluntary efforts and donated expenses from the hospitals, doctors, host families and the HTC voluntary staff who arranged for transportation, visas, etc. Children such as these are often looked upon by many, even in their own countries, as “the least of these.”

The Bible teaches that one of the truest evidences of an authentic follower of Jesus Christ is our attitude and our response toward "the least of these." One of the last lessons Jesus taught before His death was on this subject. In Matthew 25:32ff He uses representative examples of those who might be referred to as losers, the unlovely, the damaged in society, etc.

Our approach toward the "least of these" is proof of our true discipleship. In this parable the way we deal with the "least of these" determines whether we are a sheep or a goat.

I am heartened by examples of grace demonstrated to the least of these. All over the world today both institutionally and individually true followers of Christ are actively demonstrating compassion to a hurting, broken and sin-filled world. Some will give up their own life’s ambitions and resources to help others find meaning and purpose in life.  I consider a medical doctor who has spent much of his career, risking his own health, working at a mission hospital deep in Africa where he treats a huge population of AIDS patients.

In our own little world we have seen it often; those who give their time and energy to protect the unborn by reaching out to those in a crisis pregnancy; those who expand their family to welcome displaced, abused or orphaned children; those who regularly visit the prisons bringing the hope of the gospel to inmates who might otherwise perish in hell; the street preacher who faithfully proclaims the Scriptures in the public square to mostly scoffing, uninterested passersby; compassionate people who embrace and lovingly engage the mentally and/or physically handicapped, dedicated workers who risk their lives to deliver Bibles to closed countries where believers are desperately desiring a copy of the inspired Word of God.  And, of course, there are so many who cannot go or do but give abundantly of their finances to support those who can. This is only a partial list of so many examples we could write about today.

The needs are vast and always will be until we’re called home. The opportunities are unending and wide-ranging so that when we respond to God’s leading He utilizes our giftings, our skills, our knowledge, our training and experiences in life. He equips us for that which He calls us to do.

Today, let us ask ourselves, when we come into contact with people regarded by the world as the "least of these", "How does God want me to reach out to those considered the least on these?"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Loving Father, we don’t want to turn the other way when You bring into our view the hurting and neglected people of the world. When we see the hungry or thirsty, the stranger in need of clothing, the sick and frail, those imprisoned, and the countless other oppressing needs among us Your loving compassion compels us to reach out in whatever way we can to be an extension of Your kingdom. For we know that when we do it for those considered the least on earth we not only empower and bless them but we also obey and please You. May the “evidence of the grace of God” be visible in our attitudes and in our actions as we respond to the opportunities You give us everyday. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Today we will share some photos of our Guatemalan children in past years.

Mirza and Ester
The younger Weber couple with Ester at 18 months sporting a feeding tube for several months following her 2nd heart surgery.  Stephen is holding Mirza at (almost 9 years of age, but the size of a 4 year old) with her newly fitted braces that enabled her to walk with the help of a walker for the first time in her life.

Heber and Marvin
Heber (2 years) sitting on the piano with Marvin (6 years) as I took this photo.  Heber, our first child, had undergone his third heart surgery in this photo in 1989.  Marvin was here for surgery on his airway to remove the blockage that prevented his ability to breathe properly.  He'll be pleased to see his photo today as he is a regular Daily Encouragement reader. Now in his late twenties, married and raising his family in Guatemala, he is in Christian ministry as well.

In Guatemala with Marvin and Heber's families
This was our second trip to Guatemala where we returned Heber to his family (on the right), but as you can see he was very attached to his American family and refused to let his mother hold him for the photo. His parents were very gracious saying they were pleased that he had bonded so well with us.  Marvin (7 years) is standing next to his mother and younger brother whom we joined later for a wonderful meal in their home.

We really like this photo of Mirza.  She came to the U.S. to be treated for Spina Bifida which involved three surgeries and a lot of therapy.  Up to this point she had only been able to get around by walking on her knees.  She endured major surgery and then was fitted with a spica cast that went from her neck all the way down to her feet for several months.  It was quite an ordeal to care for her and Ester together with all their medical challenges, but it was also an incredible time of trusting God for their needs and seeing Him at work in their lives and our own.  Many in our church came to our aid and helped us when they were able.

Much to our disappointment we've lost contact with Mirza and Heber, but hope that we will someday be able to contact them again.  Marvin might be able to help us since he's very resourceful!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Rescue The Perishing"  Video  Billy and Cindy Foote  Normally I prefer my hymns to the tune I am accustomed to singing to but this couple does an outstanding job (IMHO) with this Fanny Crosby hymn. Whoever put this together also did a great job of using related photos. Here's a video (first verse and chorus only) with the original tune.  This was performed right here in Lancaster County!

Fanny CrosbyBrooksyne's Side Note: This Sunday I am quite excited about a special dramatic presentation to be presented at our church featuring Fanny Crosby, the famous blind poet of the 1800's, who wrote "Rescue the Perishing"
along with thousands of other hymns.  Hundreds of them are still sung today such as "I Am Thine O Lord", "Blessed Assurance", "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" and many, many more. Of course it's not Fanny, herself, but Debi Irene Wahl who portrays her character at times humorously and other times solemnly as she breaks into a number of her famous hymns. We don't normally use this site for promotion and realize only a small fraction of our readers live in our area but we certainly welcome any who may be able to join us for this special service at 10 A.M. Contact us for directions.

Fanny Crosby tombstone
Brooksyne standing beside Fanny Crosby tombstone in Bridgeport Connecticut

"In Heaven's Eyes"

A fervent prayer rose up to heaven,
A fragile soul was losing ground,
Sorting through the earthly babble,
Heaven heard the sound.
This was a life of no distinction,
No successes only trials.
Yet gazing down on this unlovely one,
There was love in heaven's eyes.

In heaven's eyes there are no losers,
In heaven's eyes no hopeless cause.
Only people like you
With feelings like me,
Amazed by the grace
We can find in heaven's eyes.

The orphan child, the wayward father,
The homeless traveler in the rain.
When life goes by and no one bothers,
Heaven feels the pain.
Looking down God sees each heartache,
Knows each sorrow, hears each cry.
And looking up we'll see compassion's fire,
Ablaze in heaven's eyes.

Note:  Due to early morning ministry appointments we were unable to prepare a message yesterday, Thursday, January 20, 2011. Email readers who are accustomed to receiving daily messages may want to check the website for status if a message is missing. We will try to paste a note on the main page.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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