Update on Shamneet

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been sharing the story of a 14 year old Pakistani boy named Shamneet who was kidnapped and brutally tortured by a man his father had a financial dispute with. He needed surgery to repair his injuries, but his family lives hand to mouth and had no way to come up with the $800 for his care. I have been collecting funds to pay his medical bills.

We still have a ways to go, but I have some good news to report on his case. Two days ago the doctor checked on him and, alarmed at his condition, agreed to perform surgery to in exchange for a partial payment upfront and the remainder later. He wanted half up front, which we didn’t have, but I sent Atif, my friend who is helping the boy and his family, what we had and he was able to negotiate with the doctor to accept that as a down payment. Yesterday Shamneet had surgery to repair his internal injury. His blood work after surgery looks good and doctors expect him to make a full recovery. Yay!

Now he just need surgery to repair fractures in his shoulder. Atif is currently pushing the doctor to go ahead with that surgery and the doctor is pushing Atif to make arrangements to finish paying off the bill. As I write this, there is $500 remaining on his bill.

So if you are one of the people who have already made donations, thank you again. You quite literally helped to save a boys’ life. It would not have happened without your help. If you have not made a donation yet, now’s the time to get this done. It’s been almost 2 weeks since Shamneet was attacked which means two weeks with breaks in the bones in his shoulder. Obviously, the longer he goes without surgery, the greater the chance that this injury will result in permanent, life-long disability. Any amount you are able to offer helps. The $300 we’ve collected so far was pieced together from donations ranging from $80 all the way down to $5, so any amount helps.

I will be updating the amount still needed as donations come in. So . . . whatcha waiting for? Let’s do this!

Amount needed: $0! We did it!

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Rules For the Wilderness: Do What You Can

Yesterday I shared a vision of a walled city and falling towers which you should go read if you haven’t already. In the vision, the area around the city was wilderness and in this wilderness people lived according to God’s rather than man’s ways. Over the next few days, I want to explore more about this idea of “God’s ways” and what they look like in real life. And today we’re going to start with what I said yesterday was rule #1. Which is an exaggeration. There are a bunch of other principles for living in the wilderness according to God’s ways which probably come first. But this is an important rule and pertinent for today, so I’m gonna start here:

Do what you can for those in desperate need before you do anything else.

Now, the amount of people in desperate need probably numbers in the billions, so “do what you can for those in desperate need before you do anything else” is far too broad a statement to be practical. So let’s narrow this down a bit. Which of the people in desperate need should you personally be concerned with? Well, highest priority goes to the person in desperate need who God, in some way, places in your path. This could be someone you know personally, someone you run into in your daily affairs or someone who is brought to your attention by others. When it comes to your attention that an individual is in desperate need, assume that God intends for you to help that person. Like actually help that person. As Pope Francis says, “you pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. This is how prayer works.”

It should be noted that whether the person in desperate need deserves help is irrelevant. Part of living in the wilderness, according to God’s ways, is that you assume that God is arranging all things for good. If a person in desperate need has crossed your path, assume that God intends for you to help them. Whether they deserve it or not is completely irrelevant. God works in mysterious ways. Do your part and let God worry about the rest.

Of course, not only are the number of people in desperate need probably in the billions, the needs of any individual person who is in desperate need will frequently be far in excess of what you can meet. Which is why this rule says “do what you can”. Your job is not to meet everyone’s needs and/or fix their problems. Your job is to do what you can. Sometimes what you can do is nothing more than a smile and a kind word. Sometimes you are in a position to be the angel who meets the need entirely. But more often than not, you may not be able to do more than offer partial or even token assistance. And that’s fine. What is important isn’t that we are going around saving people or fixing their problems, although it’s lovely when we can do that. What is important is that we are doing what we can. That’s our part. In the wilderness, we aren’t responsible for anything more than our part. We do our part and trust God to do the rest.

So now we get to the last part of the rule: before you do anything else. Remember those old Nike commercials that said “just do it”? Whoever came up with that tag line was a genius because rarely have truer lines ever been spoken. If human beings would just do all the good things they think about doing, we’d all be fit as a fiddle and well on our way to fixing every problem in existence within months. See, our brain has this little quirk; when we think about doing something, it creates the same sensation in our brains as doing it. So simply thinking about doing something makes us feel like we’ve done it. It’s true. When I’m angry, I frequently think about punching a heavy punching bag until I collapse. I visualize wailing on the thing and feel what it would feel like to move my arms and for my hands to hit the bag and have it softly bump away. And this drains my anger just like punching the bag would. The catch is that since I don’t have access to a heavy bag, I don’t get the muscles or skills that would come from actually engaging in the activity.

It’s very much the same thing with helping those in need. We think about helping them. We think about how it’s a good thing to help them. We maybe even think about how we might carve out a few bucks or some time in order to do. We may make our plans to help them. And then we feel like we’ve actually done those things. Which is the point at which talk ourselves out of helping them. Or we just move on and assume that the need will be met somehow. After all God is in charge, right? This is why it’s so important to “just do it” when you encounter someone in desperate need. Doing the right thing or even the best you can is a great idea. But in the real world, simply doing what you can before you do anything else is what gets the job done. If God puts it on your heart to come back later and do more or better, that’s fantastic. But the reality is that once the moment has passed, we’re not going to do anything. Immediate action is the name of the game when it comes to helping those in desperate need.

So consider this your first lesson on how to live in the God’s wilderness: do what you can to help those in desperate need before you do anything else. Now here’s your chance to practice. I’ve been sharing the story of a 14 year old Christian Pakistani boy who was kidnapped, tortured and dumped in front of his family’s home for a little over a week now. He needs surgery to repair the injuries, but his family is very poor and does not have the funds. The doctor is so alarmed over the boy’s condition that he has agreed to perform the surgery with only a partial rather than full payment up front. The total cost of the surgery is $800. So far, I have collected $235 towards the surgery. We need an additional $165 by 7:30 tonight. I will continue collecting funds until he has the full $800, but the $165 needed to get half-way is urgent. I will update the remaining need as new donations come in. Please make a donation in any amount you can. Many small donations work as well as one large donation. Now . . . go. Do what you can before you do anything else.

Amount still needed: $0! We did it!

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Help Needed – Please Read!

On Monday, I share the story of a 14 year old Christian Pakistani boy who was viciously attacked and tortured by a man who had a financial dispute with the boy’s father. He is in need of surgery to repair injuries to his shoulder and his bowels, without which he will be permanently disabled and live with severe pain. Now, I know that terrible things are happening every day all over this planet. But it’s not often that we are individuals in the Western world are in a position to help a specific child in a hard to reach part of the world in their moment of crisis.

This boy’s name is Shamneet. His family is very poor – they are living hand to mouth. Surgery to repair his injuries and medication for recovery will cost $800. So far, we’ve been able to raise just 10% of that. I totally understand that money is tight everywhere. But I have several thousand readers. All we need is for 9 more people to make an $80 donation or 18 people to make a $40 donation.

This is a thing that we as the Body of Christ do for each other. It goes back to the earliest days of the church. If we do not do this together, there’s no magic wand that’s going to be waved to make everything all better. It really is up to us to take care of each other.

Amount still needed: $0! We did it!

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For those who are inclined to skepticism, please be assured that this is not a scam. I have worked with the gentleman who is arranging for Shamneet’s care on multiple projects over the past year, including acting as a go between to obtain assistance for another child through the Smile Foundation and hearing aids through the International Society of Audiologists. You can see a video which this man, Atif Jamil appears in explaining one of the projects his foundation worked on. Below are his business cards and a recent picture which you can see shows the same man as in the video I linked to. If you need further evidence, you can contact Dr. Chuck Cristo who also knows Atif and was able to perform a memorial service for victims of an earthquake in Pakistan with him. I know that scammers from developing countries are always a cause for concern, but we should not allow our fear of scammers to prevent us from supporting real people with real needs. Yes?

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When Evil Attacks a Boy

Sooooo . . . been a bit quiet around here, eh? Well, don’t let appearances fool you. I’ve been busy doing very important things. Like resting. Recharging. Recuperating. I’m filling the bucket up so eventually I’ll have new stuff to dump here. Promise. I’m just working on God’s time and apparently the God who has all of eternity at his fingertips doesn’t rush anything. Go figure.

But in the meantime, he has given me little things to work on behind the scenes. One of which is working with and ministering to a rather remarkable man in Pakistan. Some of you may remember me telling you about meeting him a while back. Continue reading

A Word About the Pakistani Church and God’s Terrible Advice

I got serious about writing this blog about 4 years ago. And as shocking as it sounds, it was not the instant success one would imagine. Incredible, but true. So I went to God and asked in my best plaintive wail, “what should I dooooooo?” And I kid you not, every time, I got the same response: “let them come to you.” And I would be all like, “but that’s really terrible advice, God! Why are you always giving me such terrible advice?” But, seeing as there’s just only so much a person can do to control the universe, I went with it. I would do my thing and people would come.

Well, the darndest thing started happening. Occasionally, seemingly random people would show up and announce, “I feel like I need to reach out to you.” And then I was all like, “well, I guess I’ve been expecting you. Howdy!” Cuz there’s a reason why I follow God’s advice, even when it’s really bad.

Well, a couple of months ago, a Christian man from Pakistan showed up and started pestering me. My curiosity was piqued by his persistence and lack of come-ons, so I was like, “what the hell do you want?” (I’m sure I was much more polite than that in real life, of course.) And he was like, “I dunno. I just feel like I need to talk to you.” And I was like, “well, howdy. I guess I’ve been expecting you.”

So the next morning I was meditating on Romans 12:2:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

because . . . Well, I don’t know why. It’s just one of those things I do. I had just said to my husband that I suspect that the verse refers to the fact that Christianity is basically a reprogramming system for the human mind. Because not only do I do weird things like meditate on random bible verses just cuz, I think weird things about them.

So I get up from my weird pondering to check my facebook account and there’s a message from my Pakistani guy sharing his testimony of coming to faith. He tells me that seeing the words of Romans 12:2 written on a church wall started him on his journey to Christ. Because, again, there’s a reason I follow God’s really terrible advice.

Anyways, the reason I’m sharing all of this with you is so you will all know how cool I am. I’m not sure how well that’s going, but fortunately for us all, there’s also another, more serious reason I am sharing all of this. As some of you may know, On October 27th, Pakistan was hit by a powerful 7.5 earthquake. Nearly 400 people died and thousands of homes were destroyed.

My Pakistani friend happens to be in a position where he can advocate for Christians and coordinate assistance for those who are in trouble. Fewer than 2% of the population of Pakistan is Christian and the persecution Christians face there can be intense. (Along with the kidnappings, murder, bombing, open discrimination and the like, I hear that the coffee shops there don’t even switch to using red paper cups during the holiday season.) So he tends to be in the thick of things.

After the recent earthquake, my friend learned of two Christian families near Faisalabad whose homes were destroyed by the earthquakes. Six family members needed medical care, but the local government hospital initially refused to treat them because of their faith. They were eventually treated, but one of the victims, an 8 year old girl I’ll call K needs surgery on her shoulder to prevent permanent disability. Continue reading