A Family is Shown Love
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a CAMACrafts staff member’s nephew in Southeast Asia became gravely ill. The local, district, and provincial hospitals did not have the resources to help this little boy. In desperation, the family gathered all the funds they had and brought the little boy to one of the best hospitals in the capital city. Shortly after they arrived, a COVID outbreak struck the city, and all travel in and out of the capital was shut down to prevent the spread. Later that week, the doctors told the family that there was nothing more they could do for the little boy.
What was the family going to do? They had no place to stay in the city, and there was no way to get back home under the COVID travel restrictions. The family was worried that they would spend all their money and go into debt while they waited for the travel restrictions to be lifted, and they were horrified to think that this little boy would succumb to his illness far from home. The family feared that they would not be able to give him a proper funeral so far from their friends and relatives. In their culture, people deeply value the thought of spending their last moments on earth in their homes and with their loved ones.
Some believers on the CAMACrafts staff realized the situation their coworker and her family were in and felt deep compassion for them. The staff members took the initiative to negotiate with the hospital and the local government’s COVID taskforce to hire an ambulance to take the little boy and his family back to their home village. This was the only way the family would be allowed to travel. The staff members also approached CAMA for the funds to hire the ambulance, an amount equal to a month’s salary for an average worker.
Sadly, the little boy did not recover. He passed away a few days after returning home.
But it is during times of great struggle or pain that people need to know that there is a Father who loves them and a family that is eager to come around them in love. This CAMACrafts employee remembers the compassion that her believing coworkers showed to her relatives. She talks about the sacrifice they made of their time and resources to see that her relatives could return home during the travel restrictions. She now listens a little more carefully when they tell her about a compassionate and all-powerful Father who is calling her to be His own.
Please pray for CAMACrafts. The company’s goal is to train additional producers from a second minority group this year.
Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the CAMACrafts ministry in the South Pacific region. We have set a goal to raise $17,000 for the expansion of this vital ministry to women. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.
Circle of Hope – Our Dreams of Expansion
In December of 2020, the Circle of Hope made its first trip to the town of Quniceo in the state of Michoacan—four hours south of Guadalajara—as part of an integrated church planting strategy to reach and train the Purepecha, an indigenous people group. The goal is to plant a new church, Breath of Life, in the nearby town of Paracho and establish the community development ministry of Circle of Hope. Once a suitable office is found in Paracho, the church and Circle of Hope will begin to offer Bible studies, spiritual counselling, legal aid, and job skills training for home micro-businesses.
A great challenge for Circle of Hope will be to identify and then train women in this distant city who will become workshop leaders and future leaders of the ministry. Workshops being considered for this area are focused on meeting the needs of the women in this indigenous community, relieving the poverty and illiteracy so that the gospel can bring hope and dignity.
Workshops under consideration include:
- Literacy and GED-Type Programs—In this area and in many parts of Mexico, many women are taken out of school after fifth grade to work, either in the home or as helpers in other homes or to begin the process of learning their indigenous crafts and selling them in the city square. Boys are allowed to continue their education, which causes a great inequality in education, jobs, and pay. This situation is more prevalent in indigenous communities.
- Sewing—In this community, the women create tapestries and clothing made of intricate stitching designs, and it can take up to six months to finish one skirt. Each design tells a story of their beliefs and traditions, which are usually syncretistic in nature, including many gods. The Circle of Hope sewing workshop would include techniques known to the women but would be presented in a different medium, possibly through a type of quilt-making workshop where women would learn how to make coverings for beds. The designs in each square would be biblical, telling the God-story instead of the animistic symbols and gods with which they are accustomed.
- Artisan Jewelry—This would give each woman a new skill and an outlet to earn money, either by selling their finished products along with their typical indigenous crafts or making bracelets for the Circle of Hope ministries around the world as we distribute bracelets to churches and ministries in the Alliance world.
- Basic Health Care Instruction—This is a vital element of the indigenous and rural Circle of Hope, providing basic training for mothers with an emphasis on nutrition for young children. This instruction will depend on the support from outside sources such as short-term medical teams.
- Computer Skills—Our focus would be on school-age girls and single mothers. Circle of Hope would be willing to launch into this area given the lack of employment opportunities for young women. We believe that with the provision of stable Internet, we can dedicate one room permanently to computer access as we develop a micro-business for women at the center focusing on skills in database entry and graphics arts design.
Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the Circle of Hope ministry in Mexico. We have set a goal to raise $16,600 for this vital ministry to women. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.
You Can Be Generous
We live in a world full of scarcities that rivals our call to generosity. During my life, I have walked through scarcities of food, love, patience, grace, time, and finances. At various times, I horded these precious items, only able to give out begrudging teaspoonfuls. The anxiety of having too little was overwhelming as my hands held tightly onto the little scraps of “enough” that I had mustered together. I was unable to give without losing the security that I desired.
Being a single mom, I realized long ago that I never had enough patience, time, or money left over for others. My house was never clean enough; my much-desired reality of laundry completion was never accomplished; I had neither time nor resources to spare.
But, secretly, in the deepest closet of my heart, I enjoyed this pursuit of being superwoman. I wanted to have a spotless house, perfect children, time to serve others, and time for myself. But I wanted it all on my own terms, without changing myself or giving anything. I simply could not be generous. I needed to change my mindset, to clean out the self-sufficiency in this closet of my heart for generosity to move in. But how?
My answer began here: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21). I had to admit that I was stuck in a cycle of giving based on what was left over, then internally sweating about what was now gone. How could I taste the fullness of God’s generosity if I was unable to test my own?
When we put our faith in God and His eternal treasures, a life of generosity can begin. The treasures of time, money, kindness, and patience do us no good stored up. But when received from God for His use through us, these resources can transform lives in the name of Jesus. God can be revealed to the broken world around us through our giving.
Is God enough? Will He be enough? Can I be generous without looking back?
Scripture promises, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
God will not disappoint; He is faithful to His promises. Trusting Him, I have repeatedly seen His riches and radical generosity. God wants to amaze us with His goodness.
How, then, can we unburden ourselves to be generous?
Take inventory of the immeasurable. Fix your eyes upward to see the abundance of God’s giving and the wealth that He offers—spiritual health, relational healing, emotional wholeness. He will overflow your accounts with unlimited blessings, friendships, security, grace, love, and patience.
Say these words today: “God, I will trust You. All I have was given by You. What I have is Yours to give.”
A Generous Person
Her name is Margarita. She is Cuban-American, and I am invited to her 85th birthday open house at a local nursing home facility. I have met her in person only once before this event. Shortly after I arrive, our eyes meet. With an expression of delight that animates her from head to toe, Margarita gives me a friendly wave and approaches me in her motorized chair. After a warm embrace, Margarita looks me over and offers a gracious compliment. When I wish her a happy birthday, she responds with an incredulous, “Eighty-five! Can you believe it?” and giggles in delight.
Margarita grabs my hand and continues her commentary on life. She expresses love and appreciation for her accommodations, her caregivers, and her Savior. I sense that her heart is a well-watered garden that provides a place for beautiful things to grow. She does not resent being transplanted. Instead, she delights in her Abba’s provision. Margarita explains, “Every morning I recite, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, the Lord is my shepherd.’ And it’s true! Some days I wake up feeling great; some days I wake up feeling off. But every morning I declare, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’” I squeeze her hand and declare, “Yes! Every day, God is so kind.” And my spirit is refreshed.
Margarita exemplifies this proverb: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).
The word “generous” (the Hebrew word “bᵊrāḵâ”) in this proverb is most often translated as “blessing” in other verses. The source of all generosity is God Himself, who declared to Abraham, “I will bless you . . . you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). I am convinced that God is the source of every gracious word spoken by Margarita. Love simply bubbles out of her from a very deep place in her spirit.
The word “refreshes” (the Hebrew word “rāvâ”) connotes a sense of being satiated or completely satisfied. Margarita’s enthusiastic welcome, her Spirit-filled words, and her tender insistence on holding my hand throughout our conversation filled me with joy as we mutually celebrated our Abba’s kindness and faithfulness. The same Hebrew word is used here: “They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights” (Ps. 36:8). I truly felt like I was drinking deeply from God’s river of delights alongside Margarita!
Finally, the phrase “be refreshed” (the Hebrew word “yārâ”) carries the idea of being taught. The same Hebrew word is used here: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you” (Ps. 32:8). Margarita’s demeanor and her effusive testimony of God’s goodness to her is evidence that our Father is faithful to refresh us through His Word and His presence. The source of Margarita’s joy was certain.
Do you know a generous person? Take a moment this week to express your thanks to her. Schedule time together if possible.
Are you a generous person? We can all increase our generosity through receiving from God all that we need. Ask God to instruct, teach, and counsel you. Allow God to rearrange your schedule and priorities. From God’s abundance we can all bubble over with joy, gratitude, and grace—just like Margarita.