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Tag: Working for Orphans & Widows

June 27, 2024

This past week my wife and I attended not one but three funerals. The first one was for a 97-year-old woman we’ve known for over 50 years. Mother, grand and great mother, she was an elegant, refined, intelligent, and beautiful woman who exemplified the Proverbs 31 paragon of virtue. Her profound faith in the Lord is her lasting legacy, a point stressed again and again by those who delivered eulogies. The service was inspiring.

The second funeral was equally inspiring. This was for an 87-year-old man who I’ve known for most of my life. He was someone whose profound impact on our world through his championing of the poor saw him admired by thousands. Nevertheless his journey had seen much turmoil and failure in the first half of his life, as he himself acknowledged. But tragedy catalyzed the birth of a profound faith in his early 40’s and led to his amazing international impact. The hymns he chose to be sung at his funeral reflected his spiritual depth. We began the service by singing “O love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong…” and then “When I come to die give me Jesus…”.

The third was for a retired Presbyterian pastor with whom I worked 50 years ago with Youth for Christ in Montreal. He spent much of his life in Bahrain pastoring a thriving church and then pastored in western Canada. His ebullient personality and love of worship music had endeared him to his congregations. As we committed his body to the ground the words of one of his favorite hymns resonated,” O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee…”.

What struck me in all three funerals was the powerful impact that men and women of faithful service to God and neighbor have had as they lived out their heavenly calling. Yes, we were confronted with our mortality (as is the case with all funerals) but the palpable presence of the Lord in these memorials predominated. We left all three refreshed and encouraged to continue to pour out our lives for the Kingdom till we die.

June 19, 2024

When my wife Kathy and I incorporated “Visionledd” (now known as “WOW”-Working for Orphans and Widows) 25 years ago, we had no idea where this vision would take us. All we knew was that we felt led to do something about the HIV and AIDS pandemic that was decimating the population of young adults and children in sub-Saharan Africa. We had a vision for the churches of that vast region of countries to be engaged in care for orphans and widows who were dying in the thousands from this always fatal (at that time) disease. Our call was, “Every church a Mother Theresa”. If that little Albanian nun could impact the world by ministering to the dying in Calcutta India, what could the thousands of African churches do for the sick and dying in their vast continent? So we resigned our pastorate in Vancouver and took the leap, “by faith and not by sight”.

Today, two and a half decades later, we’re amazed at how that “small beginning” has grown (check out our website, Instagram, and Facebook). And who knew that two of our key country engagements would be currently seen as sub-Sahara’s most seriously afflicted by drought, food insecurity, and disease? Zambia and Malawi are both in crisis.

Because of our long track record and bond with church leaders and volunteers in those two countries, we are very involved in their time of need. The rains have not come, the crops have failed, their staple food (maize) is decimated, and cholera is rampant.

So we’ve amped up our support of these needy friends. We’re doubling down on our Home Based Care for afflicted orphans and widows and providing life-saving relief. Of course, we’re not able to meet the needs of everyone but we are faithfully doing our best for those in our care.

It’s both humbling and inspiring to minister to “the least of these” in Jesus’ name. Challenging and relentless for sure. But so rewarding to both preach and live the Gospel at this critical moment.