Friday, March 30, 2007

Touch A Life Ministries-What the Eyes See

What the Eyes See

On a trip to New York in October 2006, Pam Cope saw a full page story in the New York Times showing the face of six-year-old Mark Kwadwo, enslaved to fishermen.

Before five each morning the child was awakened to work a 14 hour day, bailing water from a fishing canoe, paddled by an 11 year old, another indentured child. Each year over one and half million children are sold into slavery and brothels. Some parents are promised their children will be treated well, but the opposite is the norm because ruthless people use child labor to line their pockets.

The photo of Mark's face uploaded into Ms. Cope's heart. When she arrived back in her home state of Missouri, she made many phone calls to find the exact location of Mark Kwadwo. She longed to purchase his freedom.

Several years ago, Randy and Pam Cope's athletic son Jantsen died due to an undetected heart defect. With his memorial fund, they set up a foundation, Touch a Life Ministries. James 1:27 became their guide: Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.

TV empress Oprah saw the same New York Times story and Mark's picture haunted her, too. She ordered a search. By the time her many resources found the fishing village in Ghana, Pam Cope had already rescued Mark and six other children, who by then thrived in The Village of Hope orphanage.

Pam Cope was invited to tell her story on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah and her audience gave Ms. Cope a standing ovation, because a mom with few resources chose not to turn her eyes away from exploited children.

Through Touch A Life Ministries, the Copes were already rescuing children in Vietnam and Cambodia, and had adopted two Vietnamese orphans. Their eyes saw needs.

Jesus set the example of eyes-that-really-see. Every day, his eyes looked beyond his current condition to the despair of others. Because of his example, many people, both rich and poor, had heart changes.

Poor fishermen helped the lame. Rich Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus after his cruel death. Joanna, Susanna, and other women financially supported the ministry of Christ. They had eyes for service rather than eyes for their riches.

The season of Easter shouts renewal. "Refuse to let the world corrupt you." When we remove our eyes from temporal treasures, they can focus on the real jewels of this earth-little children. Like the Copes, we can hand out passports to a better life.

(As you read this the Copes are now in Ghana rescuing 14 more child slaves. To keep up with their campaign to free these children, visit

You may contact Cathy at

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bare Feet

I wear shoes in public, but at home I go barefoot most of the time. My ancestry roots run back to the red dirt of Arkansas, but probably have nothing to do with my barefoot habit. To me, wearing shoes in my intimate home setting doesn’t feel comfortable.

In a recent women’s Bible class, the subject of bare feet came up. We studied the life of Moses, called at age 80 to lead the Israelites from slavery. At God’s command, Moses took off his shoes near a bush that had internal fire. God eventually caused flames within Moses, igniting a deeper devotion to God and for the oppressed.

The Bible includes other barefoot remembrances. In innocence, the first humans Adam and Eve were barefoot in the Garden of Delight (Eden). Much later, during the tabernacle and temple eras, the High Priests entered the Holy of Holies shoeless, anointed on their right ears, right thumbs, and right big toes, the whole man set apart to serve God.

Outside of Jericho, Joshua removed his shoes, instructed by an angel of the Lord to do so (Joshua 5:13-15). Also, Hebrew mourning traditions included taking off shoes (Ezekiel 24:15-17). Later, on the cross and barefoot, God rescued our High Priest Jesus from life, and Jesus reentered holy heaven to plead our cases.

At age 8, my grandson Jack and I talked about these events. Since our fellowship practices baptism by immersion, Jack said, “And we’re barefoot when we’re baptized.” Why are these moments so significant in the lives of Bible heroes? It’s about more than not having shoes on our feet. Each meeting with God offers an opportunity for a light-catching, for becoming more like his goodness.

Speaker Rick Warren, addressed a group of 20,000 young people and asked them to hold up three fingers to form a “W”. This sign signified “whatever, whenever, wherever” for the cause of Christ. Speakers often use prompts such as Warren's illustration to help audiences remember presentation points, to propel the message beyond an immediate hearing into everyday living.

Your bare feet can be a prompt. Next time you wiggle your toes out of sandals, socks or shoes, think about “holy ground” moments and the humble heroes of the Bible who encountered God and took off their shoes.

Whenever we humble ourselves toward God, we become kindling, lives where just a spark from God can light fires within.

You may reach Cathy at

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saint Patrick's Shield

Today's post from New Wineskins Daily Lent Reflection:

Shield of Saint Patrick

I bind unto myself today the strong name of the trinity,
by invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.
I bind this day to me forever by power of faith Christ's incarnation,

His baptism in the Jordan river, his death on the cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb, his riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to harken to my need,
The wisdom of my God to teach, his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech, his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name, the strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
Praise to the God of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord!

New Wineskins Online Magazine

Friday, March 16, 2007

Right Hand Shade

The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand. Psalm 121:5

This week thoughts about shade and the right hand sleuthed through my mind: shade, as in any shelter from harshness, and right hand, as the one most people on earth use, about 85 per cent.

Several years ago, I longed for shade when my pickup truck quit running. The breakdown happened on a rural, sparsely traveled road, and before I had a cell phone or a network.

I began a ten mile trek to the nearest town. Drawbacks were numerous: August afternoon, 100 plus temps, no hat, a pair of cutesy not-made-for-walking sandals, and only three ounces of Diet Sprite.

After two miles of walking, eight vehicles had zoomed past me. I counted. They avoided eye contact. So did I. Meanwhile, I wrestled with the idea of roasting or getting into a vehicle with a stranger.

Finally, with a parched voice I said aloud, “Lord, I trust you to send someone. So, the first person who offers me a ride, I’ll get into their car.”

Soon after, an eighteen wheeler pulled to the side of the road, and the kind driver gave me a lift to Montgomery. Good enough. I like big trucks. The shade of the cab was as cooling as the biggest floppy hat I’d ever worn. What relief!

The second element of the scripture is about the right hand. This week, I experimented with not using mine. For 15 minutes I put my work hand behind my back and proceeded through my early morning routine.

With my chin and ingenuity, I unscrewed a soy milk cap, and poured the liquid on bran cereal, without spilling. But spooning bran and liquid soy with my leftie caused a few dribbles down the chin.

After breakfast, I gathered clothes hangers to place fresh washed garments over them. My meager successes were accomplished only after frustrating, clumsy attempts that took ten times longer than normal.

In this psalm’s metaphor, God is described as shade over a right hand. When someone offers shade under an umbrella, an awning or a tree, respite arrives. Cruel conditions pause.

Also, the portrayal of someone near your work hand is the depiction of aid. A trusted friend or coworker may even be referred to as a “right hand man.”

How many times do we strike out to work without noticing that God is near our work stations, longing to shade pleasant and strenuous chores.

“The LORD watches over you.” Sun block is available. Help is near because the Tree-of-Life God is shading your right hand.

You may reach Cathy at

Friday, March 09, 2007

King Cake

Early this year I bought a king cake. I told my Ohioan friends about it, and they had never heard of one.

Centuries ago, the church took a pagan treat and attached a higher meaning to the sweet. Traditions vary, but in some Eastern churches on Epiphany or Twelfth Night (after Christmas) a feast is held, celebrated on January 6th. The feast is in memory of “the appearance” of God’s son in human form and the visit of the kings from the East, the magi.

These feasts usually include a cake with a bean or trinket baked inside. Whoever gets the slice of cake with the trinket gets to be king of the feast. Early French settlers brought the king cake tradition to Louisiana, mostly a family celebration until after the Civil War. Afterwards, the cake became part of public feasts.

In the Southern United States the king cake is sold by bakeries from January to the beginning of Lent. Since the 1950s, the trinket most often added to the coffee cake like pastries is a small plastic baby. Some attach no significance to the trinket, while others see it as a symbol of the baby Jesus, carried over from Christmas celebrations.

I see the king cake as an opportunity to teach my grandchildren about the life of Christ and doing something for the sole benefit of others. Another tradition associated with the cake involves Southern hospitality: the one who finds the trinket in their piece has to throw a party and supply the next cake. In the south, schools, office workers, and society circles keep this tradition alive.

Of course, most partygoers are eager to get the piece of cake with the trinket. However, during the Great Depression, many southern mothers had limited resources and dreaded their child receiving the coveted trinket. Custom dictated the receiver furnish the cake for the next week’s school party.

I know our family is breaking protocol, but we’ve stretched the tradition. Our timeframe is from Christmas to Easter. When we ate our first King Cake with the grands, it opened an avenue to talk about Jesus, his birth, baptism, forty day fast, ministry, final sacrifice, and resurrection.

Watch for opportunities to engage your little ones in conversations about God. This week, I’ll help a grandchild bake another cake with a trinket inside, one to share with his siblings. We’ll talk about Jesus while stirring cake batter. When we divide up the cake, we’ll discuss what it means to make a place for Jesus in their lives. Each child longs to find the baby Jesus in their slice of cake.

Grandma longs for Jesus to be hidden in four young hearts.

“These commandments . . . are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along on the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

You may reach Cathy at

Friday, March 02, 2007


I’m borrowing a coined phrase from the current issue of New Wineskins Online Magazine. The word is “ex-aisles.” Many Christian periodicals emphasize, with new zeal, the mission of the church outside of our meeting places. After we leave our Sunday pews, what happens Monday through Saturday? How do Christians act like Jesus in their communities?

Jesus set the outside-of-the-synagogue standard. Daily he engaged in conversations, helping the most religious and the outcast. He shunned no one.

Because of past and current language, the term “church” has weakened. We go to church. We wear our church clothes. We ask, “What church do you go to?” or “Where is your church building?”

The “church,” the living body of Christ, resurrected people, is a fellowship of believers assembled by the grace of God. The “church” is not a place. The church doesn’t have a physical address.

The church is built of “living stones.” We walk on two legs out of the aisles after our corporate worships to live like Christ. Much of those days will be engaged in bread-winning and keeping our families nourished and tidy, but beyond those expected tasks, where do our hearts roam?

One way hearts travel is the movin’-on-up path. When you get a raise at work? What are your first thoughts? We can eat less hamburger. We can have steak and shrimp once in a while. I can buy more expensive and deserved clothing. I’m trading up from the old Chevy to a sporty car.

When blessed with more, how do we choose to spend it? Do we have thoughts of others or simply how to better our own lives? Who comes first in our hearts? Me-first is a tough little devil to slay.

And the old lying devil is good at feeding us propaganda. He daily offers up tasty procrastinations: When you have more time, you can help the poor. When you get more money, you’ll redecorate your home, and then invite your neighbors for dinner. You’re not in any position to really help that troubled marriage. Wait. Tomorrow. Maybe. Try later.

Oswald Chambers said you shouldn't worry about being useful where you are, because you certainly can't be useful where you aren't. Start today. Be the church, the body of Christ, Sunday through Saturday. Be “ex-aisles.”

Give the church a new address—General Delivery to the World. On Sundays, when we hug and shake hands goodbye, we’ll know the church has left the building.

You may reach Cathy at