Sharing the Well with Poonatha and Ambilu

India-Rob 182India-Rob 181 India-Rob 183

This is Rob with Poohatha the first time we went to Kalavia to visit the small village in the Irula colony of Untouchables.  We didn’t find them untouchable at all.  It was love at first sight for us. 

When we first visited Kalavai, she seriously had a wild look about her. Her hair and clothes were a mess. She was muddy and dirty, but had an amazing smile.

Rob was dancing with a bunch of kids, and her eyes were wide as saucers. She didn’t really know what to do, so Rob grabbed her and started dancing around with her. All the kids laughed and laughed, and she was really embarrassed and shy, but was loving the attention.

Ever since that day she has had a special place in my heart. I told Rob the other day that there is something special about her. All of them are special, but I feel God’s hand is on her in a very special, powerful, and unique way.

   I was so happy when we finally decided on this picture for the front cover of our book.  Poonatha is on the left and her friend Ambilu on the right.

Book Cover

Our book is full of stories.  Stories of men and women who grew up in villages  like Poonatha and Ambilu, but whose childhoods were never happy.  Most of them were never really deeply loved by anyone.  Many of them were abused, neglected, and near death when Jesus reached His hand out to them, and they were forever changed by His love.

I am hoping when Poonatha and Ambilu grow up, they don’t have stories of sadness and despair to tell.  I hope they will always know they are deeply loved by Jesus, their families, and their funny looking friends from America.

Pray with us this month as our book release date comes closer and closer.  We really want this book to be an experience for people that will change them and deepen the love they have for Jesus and His people. 

We want to continue to provide hope and light for kids like Poonatha and Ambilu.  When people buy this book, every penny past the cost of publication will go right back to the church planters in India.

Flash Mob

I’ve seen Flash Mob’s around on You Tube, Facebook, and various places online, but none in real life.  I watched this one yesterday, and it really got to me.  I think the reason why is because of the ordinary-ness of the setting.  Just a plain old food court.  People are just sitting at a mall, lost in their conversation and their medium Diet Cokes, eating fries and burgers.  Suddenly, a soprano voice rings out, and everyone stops and stares.  A baratone voice joins her, and in a few minutes, hundreds are singing the Halleiluia Chorus, surrounding the ordinary people at the mall.

Majestic meets ordinary.  Surprise awakens mundane.  Praise lifts heads and hearts to worship…at a mall food court.  I can’t watch these videos without bawling like a baby, so I won’t watch it with you, but I thought I’d share it here.

I think the reason that it strikes so deeply in me, is because I know that I am called to be that voice in the figurative sense.  If I were to sing out for real in a food court, people wouldn’t tear up, they’d run away!  But, I can try to sing out with my writing.  I can sing out by loving people in extraordinary ways.

How about you?  How are you singing out?

Help Baby Girls In India

 India Iphone 047 

November 20 is Universal Children’s Day .  It was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children. It was also chosen as the day to celebrate childhood. 

In honor of Universal Children’s day, I thought of one specific and practical thing you can do to help girl babies and children in India.

If you haven’t ordered Christmas cards for your family yet, here’s an idea:

 Rhema Christmas CardYou can    Buy handmade Christmas cards and support the work of the Rhema project, which saves baby girls like the one you see Whitney holding from infanticide.  .

You can also find the Rhema Project on Facebook  or follow them on Twitter

Writer Brains Change The World

Typewriter

One may think about us writer-types as wordsmith’s who sit down, hack away at a few ideas, re-arrange words on a page and cheerfully hit “send” as we go merrily along on our way, assuming all of our other responsibilities with true diligence because our call of duty is done.

Truth is, I used to think it was that easy-until I started taking it seriously.

My writer brain frequently gets interrupted throughout the day with what I think are fabulously creative, unique, thought provoking, and insightful words.

Sometimes I just stop and stare…rearrange words in my head while noise happens all around me.

My children pull on my apron strings (as if I’ve ever worn an apron) reminding me that the stew is boiling over, or the dog has the neighbor’s chicken in it’s mouth, or they don’t have one stitch of clothes to wear.

My writer brain wanders to imaginary places frequently throughout the day.  Figuring, calculating, agonizing about how to say what is circling in my head in a way that is not only compelling, but illuminating, causing others to want to zip out and save the world.

Truth is, I zip in and out of that state a zillion times a day.  Trying to keep all that balanced with what needs to happen around here can be challenging, but I am so thankful for a time in my life where I have the time to sort through some of the thoughts and words all jumbled in my writer brain.

If you are compelled to write…do it!  Find time somehow, somewhere.  It is such a powerful tool.  Pick up a pen and change the world!

But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.

Jeremiah 20:9 NIV

When Darkness Comes

Dustin-India There are days that some of the things I have seen in this world come around and weigh on my chest like a million pounds.  I sense a darkness that is overwhelming.

I have images stuck in my head of a naked baby wandering through piles of trash with no one to care for him.

In another, I pass by a group of women caught in an act of shame unknown to me, but I think they don’t want to keep the girl baby that has just been born.  The mother is young and sick and has a vacant look in her eyes.

I see an old woman bent over her work table, nearly blind from the intricate loops of silver she creates day after day in order to provide our children with cheap jewelry they will no doubt cast aside after a few days of wearing.

I hear Sangeetha’s mother telling me her baby boy died of brain fever.  I feel the tears wash over me again, helpless.

Someone once told me that I can not be Jesus to the world.  Sometimes, like today, a sunny and beautiful day in November, the images come back, and the weight with it.

 I can’t be Jesus to the world, but I can be His voice. 

Today, remember those that hurt.  Remember the poor.  Speak up for the weak.  Pray for the persecuted.  Do something with the amazing life God gave you.  Be Jesus to your world today.

photo by Dustin Maust

Every November 3rd

A tragedy occurred in our neighborhood 22 years ago today that makes me terribly sad every November 3rd.   I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in Dolton, IL.  My neighbors were not perfect, but it truly was an all-American neighborhood.  Every summer night, my Mom, Dad, and brothers would sit in our front yard, and all the neighbors would gather on our front lawn.  We would share drinks and snacks.  We would laugh.  The kids would play games and show off for the adults.  We would laugh some more.  As the sun would set each evening, I knew even then that this was a golden time-something I should treasure and hold close.

There was a family that lived down the block from us that never came down to sit with the neighbors.   There were two boys in the family that occasionally played with two of my brothers.  I played with them when I was young, but kept my distance as I grew older and more wrapped up in my own world to care about anyone on the fringes.

One Wednesday night I decided to walk to our youth group Bible study.  It was a warm night for October, and our church was just a few blocks away.  The images of that night are embedded in my brain–why, I am not sure.  Nothing was out of the ordinary.  I remember walking by Eddie’s house and seeing him wrestling with his brother and some friends in their front yard.  I also remember holding my Bible under my arm and not saying a word or acknowledging them whatsoever as I walked by.  No eye contact.  No words.  A silent cold wind, that’s all.

The next Wednesday, November 3rd, 22 years ago today, was a nice night.  I decided to grab my Bible and head to Bible study.  The air was different.  It was heavy with something I didn’t understand.  I sensed something strange was happening.  I passed a boy named Mikey’s house and he came out shouting, “Eddie is dead!  Eddie is dead!”  In the time it took him to say those words,  the bottom dropped out of my reality.  The golden time was over in a flash.  Done.  Eddie was dead and I was sure it was my fault.  I didn’t say hi.  I didn’t acknowledge his existence.  I was a cold wind in his life, nothing else.

The event of Eddie’s death scarred me.  It was a tragedy of monumental proportions in my 15 year old life that I am not sure I am fully over yet.  I understood my own hypocracy as well as man’s depravity on a level I never knew was possible on that November third 22 years ago.

I miss Eddie.  I know his brother and Mom miss him too.  He was a funny kid.  When we were little, he always made me laugh when we played at the park.  He was just a child when he died.

November 3rd is a holy day for me.  My soul is centered and quiet.  I am somber as I remember.  I am over the “what-if’s”, but I reflect on the state of my own soul and how I am treating those that are not like me.