Category: Unbound

Jun 8 2009

Holy Spirit, breathe on the CFCA community

By the CFCA Prayer Team

On June 8 and 9 the preachers and presenters of CFCA gather at our headquarters in Kansas City for our annual Preachers Conference. The conference is designed to build community, share the work being done in our overseas projects, and energize our preachers and presenters to go forth and spread the good news of CFCA sponsorship across the U.S. On June 10 the CFCA governing board will convene and work hard to give guidance and encouragement to CFCA all over the world. Please take a moment to pray for our CFCA preachers, presenters and board members.

Please pray:
Gracious God, you have created a beautiful and powerful movement in CFCA that desires nothing more than to do your will. Please surround and guide the preachers, presenters, staff and board of CFCA so that individually and collectively we may all work together to serve the poor of this world. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Blessings,

CFCA Prayer Team

Receive CFCAís weekly Prayer Partners e-mail.

Apr 27 2009

Trees for travel

One hundred and twenty-one international flights within the last year. Thatís a lot of travel. And a lot of carbon emissions.

Thatís why CFCA employees are planting trees in an attempt to offset carbon emissions from our international travel.

Watch this short video to learn more!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/4357207 w=500&h=350]

Apr 8 2009

A present-day transformation

Lenten reflection: Week 7
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

ìLord, remember not only the men and women of good will but all those of ill will. Do not only remember all the suffering they have subjected us to. Remember the fruits we brought forth thanks to this suffering ñ our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, and generosity, the greatness of heart that all of this inspired. And when they come to judgment, let all these fruits we have born be their reward and their forgiveness.î
-Words scratched on the wall of a concentration camp in Germany

Transformative power: that is what bursts forth out of the tomb on Easter morning. The power of God to change that which was ugly to something beautiful. Changing darkness into light and destroying death to give us the chance for a real life. That is what we celebrate on Easter morning. Somewhere amidst the candy and Easter eggs we find the message that no matter how hard we try to get rid of God, we cannot and that God will transform our lives and our world if we only let God in.

If a woman in India is a widow or comes into a marriage with little dowry, she is seen as a burden and written off as worthless. This is a rather practical consideration for a family living on the edge because she is seen as not contributing to the family and is, instead, just another mouth to feed.

For the thousands of women who participate in CFCA mothers groups, however, they are given the chance to begin small businesses and bring income to the family. They are literally transformed in the eyes of their family members, as well as in their own eyes. They are given a new-found dignity and respect.

There are elderly in our projects who, after a life of hardship and struggle, were slipping away all alone, bereft of help or companionship. But, they are now part of a life-giving CFCA community where they can watch out for each other and care for each other.

And then there are the children. Hundreds of thousands of children that our sponsors have watched over the years transform into confident young adults. Our sponsors have seen the change from the first pictures of the small children, dressed in borrowed clothes, looking much too small for their age. Sponsors have watched them grow, overcome obstacles in their path and reach maturity with the ability and confidence to use their God-given gifts and talents.

Through womenís empowerment in the mothers groups, a childís maturity into adulthood and the companionship of the elderly, we are given the opportunity to watch, in present day, the transformative power of God that burst forth from the tomb on the first Easter morning. It is an amazing thing to watch God in action.

Happy Easter

From all of us at CFCA around the world, we wish you a most blessed and glorious Easter!

Apr 1 2009

A quiet moment of friendship

Lenten reflection: Week 6
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

This Sunday we begin our journey with Christ toward the tomb. The week begins with a celebration of Jesusí triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ends with his resplendent triumph over death. However, throughout the week we walk with Jesus through the valley of the shadow of death as the evil forces of the world close in and eventually overtake him. We watch the agony of betrayal, denial and doubt. We imagine a motherís suffering at the brutal death of her son.

But tucked within all of this suffering and darkness, we are given a quiet moment of friendship and kindness.

ìAnd during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciplesí feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.î (Jn. 13:2b-5)

Bob Hentzen with students from BoliviaThrough this simple act of gentle servitude, Jesus sets for us the profound example of how we are to live our lives. If we are to lead, we must serve. If we are to love, we must submit. To those over whom we have power, we must become servants. Jesus shows us that we find freedom when we swallow our pride, move our egos to the side, and kneel down to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. In so doing we are liberated from fear, vanity, the hunger to succeed that is never satisfied and the thirst for material wealth that is never quenched.

The reason I am so proud to work with CFCA is that we have taken the Gospel and translated it into an organizational structure. CFCAís core values proclaim, ìCFCA is grounded in the Gospel call to serve the poor.î In our Ends Statements, which are the guidelines by which CFCA is governed, it is stated, ìCFCAís highest fidelity is with our sponsored persons.î

It is an indescribable joy to work for the children and aging in our projects. At CFCA we see the children, youth and elderly as our bosses. We work for them. We serve them. We strive to make them the center of every decision we make, every program we begin, every prayer we send to God. To have the chance to serve Christ in this way is an honor for which I am deeply grateful.

Reflection questions:
1. Whose feet might God be calling you to wash? How can you do that?
2.†When you have been engaged in serving others in the past, what freedoms have you found?

Mar 11 2009

Finding our voice

Lenten reflection: Week 3
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus entering the Temple in a fury of righteous anger at the unjust practices of Temple and driving out the money changers and vendors. He knew his fellow Jews had to pay to buy Temple sacrifices. Thus, a system of commerce had been established for Temple worship that would exclude the poor who could not pay to worship. (John 2:13-22)

At CFCA, we do not get involved in the politics of the countries or local areas where we work. However, just as Jesus became a voice for the poor and took on those who would keep them subjugated so, too, when poor find they have a voice (both personally and as a community), they discover the strength to take on the powers that keep them oppressed.

In Hyderabad, India, there is a CFCA community called Church Colony. It is about half a mile from the main road, so everyone walked that unpaved distance to catch a bus or get anywhere. The women in the CFCA mothers groups went to the local officials to demand that the city pave their “road” so vehicles could get to their community and walking would be easier. The local officials agreed. Then, the mothers asked the officials to pay their community members to do the construction, instead of outside laborers. Again, they agreed. So, Church Colony got a road as well as some temporary employment.

After some time, the women returned to the officials to say that the road was great, but they needed it to be well-lit at night for safety reasons. They got their lights.

The women then turned their attention to water. The community only had access to water a few hours a day, but the adjacent neighborhood (which is slightly better off) had water all day, every day. The women realized that, because of the way the local roads were laid out, people from the neighboring community often used the new road the women had petitioned for.

They organized a blockade of the road, aimed at people from the neighboring community and said that they would share the use of the road if the neighboring community would share its water. Now Church Colony has water all day, too.

Sometimes making changes in society requires righteous anger, marching, protesting and turning over tables, like Jesus did in the Temple. But not always. Creative community building, tapping into gifts of the individuals in the group, and a little non-violent opposition can go a long way toward changing opinions.

Reflection questions:
1. When have you ever felt indignation or anger? Looking back, was it warranted or were there other motives?
2. What are the elements in our society that do (or should) make us angry, and what does God require of us at such times?

Watch a video about this community in India >

Mar 4 2009

Freedom from thinking about yourself

Lenten reflection: Week two
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.” -William Temple

If this is true then what on earth am I supposed to think about? In my little world how can I not think about my next meal, fret about my finances, or worry about my work, my future, my car, my marriage, my, my, my? Even some concerns about my children are really fears about my own parenting.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mk.8:34)

This is a call to deny the self. That is, to recognize our powerlessness. When we take our “self” out of the picture, what is left? God and others. In fact, the practice of giving up something for Lent (chocolate, meat, etc.) or taking on something for Lent (attending Mass everyday, visiting the sick, reading scripture daily) is simply an exercise that helps us in the greater practice of giving up ourselves to God. When we engage in whatever discipline we have taken on for Lent, for that moment our desires are placed to the side and God is at the heart of our decisions and our lives.

When we put God and others first in every decision we make, starting the moment we wake up, our day will begin to look a little different. I can sleep late or get up and pray. I can have a fast-food breakfast or I can eat healthy, locally grown food. I can drive myself to work or I can carpool, walk or take a bus. I can complain about my co-workers or I can compliment them. I can watch TV or play a game with my family, or sit down and write a letter to my sponsored friend.

This is what CFCA is talking about when we use the phrase “walking in daily solidarity with the poor.” When we put God and others – ALL others ñ first, we have taken up the cross that Christ bears for the world and have begun to walk with Him, for Him and toward Him.

Reflection questions:
1. In what ways do you put yourself before God or others? What can you do to become more other-centered?
2. Where in your life do you find that you do deny yourself and live for God and others? How is that part of your life different?

Feb 25 2009

Our interconnected world

Lent is a time for personal reflection. Traditionally Christians engage in acts of self-denial as a means of personal discipline and awareness of the sacrifices of Christ. It is also a good time to recognize these acts of self-denial as a way to grow in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in developing countries, for whom going without is a way of life.
Every Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection that we hope will help with your own personal Lenten journey.

Lenten reflection: Week one
By Rev. Kelly Demo, CFCA preacher

The story of the flood has given biblical scholars in all three Abrahamic faith traditions much to ponder over the years. Written during the Babylonian exile, it tells of a people wiped into non-existence by their own sinfulness.

In Genesis, we hear of the first covenant that God makes with His creation. ìThis is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations.î (Gen. 9:12-13) The interconnectedness found between God, humankind and all of creation is firmly established.

It is easy in the world we live in to feel separate from creation. We buy our meat cleanly packaged, giving little or no thought to the life that was taken so that we could eat. We have grown accustomed to having whatever fruit or vegetable we want, regardless of the season and how far it had to travel to get to us.

At CFCA, we do our best to recognize the interplay between humans, creation and the divine. We hold up as examples the Dumagat people of the Philippines. When they sleep at night they choose not to sleep on a mat or bed. They sleep on the ground because they want to ìsleep in their motherís arms.î That is how intimate they are with all of creation.

Look at those in our projects who survive on subsistence farming, and you will see the tenacious and dynamic interplay between themselves, God and all that God has created.

Reflection questions:
1. Has there been a time when you have felt your world was completely washed away? During that time where did you find hope?
2. How would you describe your relationship with creation? Landlord? Caretaker? Parasite? Friend? Or something else?
3. The Christian faith teaches us that nature is not God but that God can be found within nature. When was a time when you experienced God in nature?

Feb 24 2009

The power of advocacy

Yesterday we told you about the Power of One campaign. Being a CFCA advocate is as easy as telling your own story of your sponsorship, like Ken Bresnan does in this video. In Kenís story, he shares how the gift of sponsorship isnít just contributing to your sponsored friendís life, but how sponsorship is also a gift to him.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/4592772 w=500&h=350]

If you are interested in learning more about the advocacy program, please contact the advocacy team at 800.875.6564, or by e-mail at cfcaoutreach@cfcausa.org.

Feb 23 2009

The power of one

By Kim Plumb, member of the advocacy team

NeemaNeema, shown here in the picture at the right, may be young but he already knows the power one person has to make a difference in the world. Thatís because a person named Vanessa made a huge impact in his life. Neema is a sponsored child, receiving care through the CFCA project in Tanzania. Before sponsorship, his situation was bleak. But when Vanessa stepped forward to become his sponsor, he began receiving life-giving benefits, including medication to treat his illness. Today, his life is much different.

CFCA advocates know that there are many more children like Neema, who need a sponsor to make a difference in their lives. Thatís why, from March until the end of May, we are inviting our advocates to participate in a special sponsorship drive called The Power Of One. During this time frame, their challenge is to accept One folder and Find One Sponsor.

Did you know that if each advocate found JUST ONE sponsor, it would be enough to sponsor all the children waiting in Bolivia, Peru and Nicaragua! Thatís incredible. Please keep our advocates in your thoughts and prayers for a successful sponsorship drive.

If you are interested in learning more about the advocacy program, or participating in the Power of One campaign, contact the advocacy team at 800.875.6564, or by e-mail at cfcaoutreach@cfcausa.org.