Please take a moment – look into the lives of these precious children. Then ask God how you can help.
This month’s mission is going to take us all on a journey to a place most of us would never want to go – the slums and Dalit villages of Asia. We are going to meet some children and hear their life stories. And it won’t cost you a cent.
Please order – then read – K.P. Yohannan’s FREE book No Longer a Slumdog. Go to www.gfa.org/book to order your free copy. You can also visit www.nolongeraslumdog to watch the video stories that accompany those in the book. These resources will take you into a world you may never have heard of, but one that is more real than these “slumdogs” would like. They live it every day.
Here’s a short excerpt from the story of a boy named Nadish, who was abducted and sold into forced labor:
“He would lock me in a small room with the animals. Days turned into weeks, and my stomach would growl. He never gave me enough to eat,” said Nadish. “Weeks turned into months, and my body would ache. The work was hard, and there was never enough time to rest. Months turned into years, and I began to think that this would never end.”
But through a miraculous event, Nadish found his way back into the loving embrace of his mother. Dr. K.P. Yohannan’s newest book, No Longer a Slumdog, unveils the true-life accounts of many of South Asia’s children, like Nadish. The message hits hard. He speaks of “winds of change” and a powerful move of God.
The children’s stories tell of going from a life of heartache and poverty to finding joy, laughter and a bright future. Despite the affliction these children face, Yohannan shows us there’s opportunity for change as many find new life in God‘s redeeming love.
No Longer a Slumdog inspires faith that a better tomorrow is truly possible. Order your FREE copy today, and allow God to take you into a world where pain, hunger, slavery and hopelessness abound. This is where Jesus walks every day, and brings hope to forgotten people.
ED. NOTE: I’m reprinting this article, first published more than a year ago. I believe the message is as timely as ever. Your comments and opinions are always welcome. – Brother Dennis
THE UPSHUR ANCESTRAL HOME in England — Sheringham Hall — stands to this day, surrounded by more than 800 acres of lush gardens, forests and fields. Once teeming with high-society folk, carriages coming and going, and throngs of servants waiting upon every need and whim of the householder, the property now belongs to a government trust. It remains a beautiful place, but the old glory is gone.
The Upshur family in America has a rich and well-documented history — one of landowners, military heroes, aristocrats and statesmen. They operated plantations on the choicest land in Virginia, endless fields brimming with slaves who gazed across the ocean toward Africa, longing for their far-off homes and families.
Arthur Upshur arrived on the shores of Virginia around 1637, the forerunner of one of America’s most respected and influential early families. The family grew, prospered and built mansions with names like Warwick, Vaucluse, Rose Cottage and Quinby Place.
Vaucluse — the famous Upshur estate — is located on Hungars Creek, near Bridgetown, Northampton County, Virginia. Built in 1784, Vaucluse is today one of the showplaces of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
The brick part of Warwick was built in 1672 by Arthur Upshur as his seat on 2,000 acres granted him by “Pyony, King of the Machipungoe” for “four good coats.”
Upshur was truly Lord of the Manor, and it seems that his sense of entitlement gave him free conscience to acquire 2,000 acres of prime forest, farm and oceanfront property from a Native American Chief for a few coats.
This isn’t to say that aristocrats are necessarily evil people, but they have a certain bearing that never changes. They are not servants and never will be. They may serve on occasion — maybe even carry some sweet tea out to the slaves in the cotton fields — but they will never be servants. That just isn’t their place in life. They are Masters.
Of course, people in charge need others to serve them, and that’s where the true servants come in.
Frequently we call them slaves, sometimes servants, often volunteers. Even Jesus knew that we’d always have the poor, because he understood that those in charge have an insatiable need to be served.
And it seems they’ll do most anything to ensure the steady supply of servants — from buying them, coercing them, deceiving them or just plain reminding them that their “station” in life is to submit to leadership so the greater good can be served. Of course, the “greater good” most often translates into what’s best for those on top.
The sad truth is that in the same way Masters have a bearing of entitlement, Slaves possess a bearing of servitude, acceptance and defeat. Slaves see themselves as slaves, and innately understand that their role in life is to serve those who lord it over them.
Just look at politicians and how they’ve become our masters — and all while telling us that they’re here to serve us! What a joke. Are they truly our servants?
The truth is, it’s always been like this. Master and slave. Rich and poor. Lord of the Manor and servant. This country was founded like all others — not on principles of equality, but on the backs of the shackled. Ask any Native American how he or she feels about our founders’ statement that “all men are created equal,” and I think they’d just laugh sadly, knowing that their people have paid dearly for not being as “equal” as the European invaders.
I think we’ve got to start asking ourselves why we continually allow ourselves to become enslaved to those who consider themselves rulers. Do we enjoy watching others benefit unfairly at our expense? Do you think in the end that “Pyony, King of the Machipungoe” was happy with the deal he got? How long did those four coats last? “How’s that working for ya’, King?” My guess is that he later resented the white man taking advantage of him, but by that time it was too late. The rich man had become Lord of the Manor, and he’d do whatever was required to protect it.
How does this translate into our life of following Jesus? Aren’t we supposed to become servants? In fact, yes. But the only way it works properly is if we all become servants. Otherwise, some of us have a knack for taking advantage of others. Jesus sets it out for us very clearly many times in the Gospels, but here’s just one passage:
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23
Jesus actually presents us with a pattern that’s upside-down from the world. He excoriates the religious leaders of the day for their arrogance and desire to use their position for their own gain. He even prophesies their downfall. But Jesus doesn’t say that we — His followers — should be on top. In fact, He says none of us should be called Rabbi — or Master — because “we are all brethren,” equal in the Kingdom of God.
But wait, there is a way to be the greatest, and He points it out by saying that “the greatest among you shall be your servant.” That can be taken two ways: 1) If we become servants to others, than we will be judged greatest of all; or 2) The “greatest” among us — pastors, preachers, politicians, parents and potentates — are called to serve. Not to rule over others, but to truly give their lives for those “under them.”
Real problems arise in the Body of Christ when men set themselves up to be rulers, apostles, prophets, healers and “clergy.” They separate themselves from the common man and most people think it’s OK, because most of us just want to be humble and do the right thing, right?
Our honest desire to serve God can become misguided by unquestionably submitting to the authority over us, and often plays right into one of the fundamental weaknesses of mankind: pride, arrogance and the desire to gain power, prestige, recognition and this world’s goods.
If “we are all brethren” and none should be called Rabbi, as Jesus said, then why do we habitually cede so much power to those who neither deserve it nor need it? Why do we allow ourselves to be dominated, and then think it glorifies God?
It never glorifies God when a few benefit at the expense of the many. He does not like this. Was He pleased when the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites? Of course not! And when they were free, He didn’t even want them to have their own King. Why not? Because He wanted to be the only Master in their lives, and knew that any man ruling over them would be corrupted by that position. Did Paul make money on the Gospel? No. He worked for a living with his own hands, so that he would not be accused of acting improperly. Paul was a real leader, but truly became a servant to the early Church. Where did it all change?
Don’t get me wrong — the Body of Christ needs leaders, but with leadership comes an awesome responsibility. To become servants. Jesus set the example over and over again with His disciples, and that’s the pattern He expects us to follow. How can we call ourselves followers of Jesus if we refuse to do what He did? It just doesn’t make sense, does it?
How can “leaders” profit from the Gospel on the backs of all those “volunteers,” and honestly think they’re servants? If a politician or a preacher or a potentate says that they’re here to serve you, then you must ask yourself this:
“If I’m in the field, day and night, sacrificing family, treasure, health and relationships for ‘the greater good’ and receive no earthly return (nor do I expect one) — but the Lord of the Manor sits in his position of prestige, power and prosperity, ruling over me and receiving the fruits of my labor — who is the true servant?”
The answer to that is an easy one, and the solution to the imbalance is also simple. Just follow Paul’s injunction to the Philippians:
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil. 2:1-8
We need serve only one Master.
And His name is Jesus.
OK, everybody, let’s just take a breath here and pull it back a notch.
Obviously, the response from the article “IT’S BEEN A WHILE” has been overwhelming but revealing, to say the least. What it shows me is that there are plenty of wounded people out here – mostly people who used to get along with one another.
What’s going on?
Let me say right here that any nasty comments will be edited or deleted because the object of this debate is not to hurt each other – it’s to debate, to discover, to provoke, to rethink, to reveal truth. Yeah, truth. But we must do it in a loving way.
Let’s speak the truth in love, OK?
I’ll start by saying that I was personally offended by comments about my wife and I that weren’t true. We stand accused of “tearing down our brothers and sisters,” “taking off and abandoning friends,” “being petty” and carrying out our ministry as a job or looking for a job, when none of those things could be further from truth or reality.
We have faithfully worked in local churches and overseas for more than 34 years, never expecting nor taking anything in return. Anyone who really knows us knows that we have always wanted only to serve God, our church and our brothers and sisters, here and around the world. That’s the truth, and we’ve given the best years of our lives exemplifying that truth. No one can take that away from us.
However, there came a time when we saw things coming in and taking root in our church that we felt weren’t scriptural, that were out of balance and that we had to speak up about. So we did.
The reason people think we abandoned them after 16 years is that we left quietly. We had no desire to cause a disruption in the body, because we love the people we served with for so long. The last thing we were going to do was start a campaign to defend ourselves or try to turn people against one another.
We spoke our peace behind the scenes, to the pastors and elders, and were pretty much ignored or dismissed. As an elder, I shared my heart, my dreams and my God-given vision with the pastor for more than two years – several times to the point of tears. It was very frustrating not receiving any encouragement or direction, even after asking for it, directly, eye-to-eye.
In the midst of this we saw doctrinal error and danger, and were told there was none. We saw imbalance, and heard that everything was fine. We witnessed the loss of a vision, and were instructed that the original vision came from naivete and a youthful arrogance.
We kind of liked that naivete. It smelled of faith. Of dreams. Of multiplication. Of working together toward a goal that would stretch us all to the limit, but one that would bear fruit.
So we had no choice but to leave. No fanfare. No thanks. No goodbyes.
And the explanation was left up to the pastor.
So if any of you got the impression that we abandoned you, or that anybody was blindsided, you got bad information.
Let me ask you this: If any leader of a local church leaves unexpectedly, shouldn’t that arouse some curiosity amongst those who think they’re sensitive to the Spirit of God? Shouldn’t those same people ask their leaders why these people left? What’s the real story? What’s really going on, because something just doesn’t smell right?
I think some smellers are off, because it appears that most – almost all – of our friends just believed what you were told, and didn’t bother to check with us to see if it was true. A few of you called and asked, so we told you why we left.
But it hasn’t made a difference. The error is still in the church, and it’s because most people don’t want to see it, don’t care enough to speak up or are too afraid to do so. It seems there’s so much apathy few truly care – either about us or how the church is run. And when people like us do say something, we’re misrepresented or worse.
Some of the recent comments on this blog have been harsh, and that’s because good people have been hurt by other good people. Feelings run deep, and that’s OK. I pray the discussion continues and grows, because there’s a greater discussion that demands attention, and it’s not about one local church in a small suburb of Detroit.
It’s about the condition of the Body of Christ in the western world, and the model we’re supposed to be following. It’s going to take courage to look at ourselves honestly, admit our mistakes, correct our errors, forgive one another and ultimately let the world see Jesus through our love for one another.
Maybe that love starts right here, in the midst of a painful argument, just like families sometimes do. Maybe God will use this as a starting point for aiming us all in the right direction.
Or maybe nobody will read this blog again. I don’t know.
It’s up to God, isn’t it?
What do you think?