charity for life ministries

Bridging the Gap Between Beliefs and Behaviors


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TRANSFORMED TO TRANSFORM

Romans: 12

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)

The world in which we live pursues change, personal change. Diet books abound and gym memberships are proliferate throughout the land. The desire for change is evidenced through those annual New Year resolutions. Desire for change is never the challenge. Translating that desire for change into reality is the challenge and what a challenge it is!

Change always always begins with good intentions, a better diet, better health, better work ethic, better relationships. We take those initial baby steps towards change, but somewhere along the way, the challenge of change becomes a tedious burden. We hit the wall and voila, it’s back to square one!

In Romans 12, the apostle Paul exhorts us to present (place at the disposal of Jesus) our bodies as a living sacrifice. According to Bible teacher/pastor Charles Stanley, the language of the text means this is a “one and done” presentation, that we are to die to self control and immediately surrender all control to God. Now that is a real challenge for those of us who are used to the “start and start over” cycle of change.

Yet, if we are to be transformed, in order that we might not delay the process, we must move out of the way right away to allow the Word of God to renew our minds as we surrender who we are to His transforming power.

Here’s the thing: Ultimately, as we are transformed by the Word of God, we are then called to be instruments of transformation in the lives of others. As we are instrumental in the transformation of the lives of others, we are transformed even more into the image of Christ. This is a victorious cycle of growth and maturation for all.

Charity For Life Ministries did not know that the ministry’s journey into transformation would begin with a mission trip to India, but that is exactly what happened. As our Director, Gina E, watched change take place in the lives of those who desired to change in that place, she experienced a transformation  that can happen in all our lives when we truly embrace and live out Romans 12:1-2.

The journey continues….

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Mission Trip To India – My Sister Jacqui’s Story

My heart to reach people with the love of Christ comes from my Heavenly Father, as I am a follower of Yeshua. I have been involved in missions with various ministries since 1988, and I have fallen in love with the people of Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and Central America. This past June, I had the opportunity to visit and minister in Chennai, India with my sister Gina and my daughter Aquila.

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I have had a heart connection with Chennai for the past 6 years, as I have hosted Pastor P and his wife in my home in Denver whenever they travel to the United States. Pastor often shared with me the vision the Lord gave him to plant 1,000 churches in Southern India. He also shared the powerful testimony of his entire family’s conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. Pastor’s vision to plant these churches is becoming a reality as he has planted 126 churches and is operating a Bible school to train up local pastors to lead these churches.

My visit to India was a wonderful time of ministry. It opened my mind and heart to the needs in Chennai and the surrounding villages. Pastor is a humble man that lives a simple life. I witnessed the great sacrifices that he and his family make to spread the good news. The best part of this trip is that we stayed in Pastor’s home in the heart of the bustling city of Chennai. His wife, a great cook, fed us plenty spicy Indian food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They gave us their best. It is always great to be exposed to the heart and soul of a culture by actually living with them, and not in a resort hotel somewhere outside the city. I truly now have a family in India, and many young Indians that call me Auntie Jacquie.

Another great blessing was our visits to many of the villages in which the people are very poor. In one of the villages, we gave out some of the items donated by people in the States to the lepers that come to the village church. In another village, we went door to door giving out rice and blessing the people. The people were so gracious and thankful; many ask that we would come into their small home and share a meal with them. The people of India are very hospitable. Our last village stop (in the dark) on this day was one in which no church has been established. Pastor simply found a light post, took out his accordion and begin to play while his wife sang. People begin to gather around. Gina and I preached the gospel, and 16 people gave their heart to Jesus. It was that simple, that beautiful and that powerful. Pastor will now plant a church in this village, and we believe God that we can sponsor a pastor to lead this new congregation for a mere $100.00 per month. These young men make great sacrifices to live in the villages. They live in homes with no bathroom; they sleep on floors and work tirelessly from village to village to care for the people for such a small wage (amazing). The next week, we visited another Hindu village where no church is established and this time my daughter Aquila and I preached the gospel message and over 26 people came to the Lord. So now, we have two churches and pastors to sponsor (exciting).

It was a privilege to preach to the congregation on Sunday morning, as well as to the village pastors at a monthly Pastor’s Meeting. God truly filled our mouths with His words. Christians in India are committed to a life of prayer. We joined in their customary Friday all day and night fasting and prayer time. In addition, we witnessed a village church baptism. Yeshua is moving in the hearts of people all over the world. After visiting India, I can say first hand that this ministry is truly good ground in which to sow seeds for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God on this earth.

To partner in supporting the two churches planted during the mission go to Charity For Life Ministry and click the “Donate” button.

Jacqui Graham, Denver, CO

 


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The Villages of Bonneri, Panapakkam, Ari and then a Church is Planted in Mel Patti Part 1 – The Village of Bonneri

Two hours outside of the city of Chennai, India in the midst of rice fields, herds of goats and cattle, and cement hunts with leaf roofs are families living in the villages of Bonneri, Panapakkam, Ari and Mel Patti.  Churches have been planted in three of the villages and God has called us to plant the third.  Yet, this is only the beginning of our journey to the task ahead in the days to come.  On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, we hired a van service to take us to these villages for mission and ministry.  Two words that I will share in a later post that have been redefined by my experiences over the last couple of years.  Making few assumptions, from America, we bring with us clothes and shoes donated by friends and family, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and crayons and color books to share.  Making no assumptions and understanding the significance of partnerships in ministry, we inquire of the senior pastors of the known needs of the people in these villages.  It is from this information that we evaluated, negotiated and contemplated our budget and determined that with putting our (me, my sister Jacqui and niece Aquila) monies together that we would purchase and distribute a little more than a 1,000 lbs of rice along with the tooth paste and toothbrushes for approximately 100 families and almost as many color books and crayons to the children of the villages and the pastors would distribute the clothing as they determined.

The trip began with congested city traffic like we have never known that was accompanied by honking horns and motor cycles in numbers that we have never seen, cars and trucks that were ignoring traffic lanes and rules, and buses with bars instead of windows overly filled with people traveling outside the city limits.  As we crossed the city limits into the country roads, my imagination took me back to the days of old when the Apostle Thomas carried the gospel to this area.  A memorial has been built to honor His martyrdom in the city of Chennai.  Between long roads of empty fields, rice paddies fields, every now and then passing herds of cattle and goats, spotting groups of men gathered and congregated in various nondescript areas, we approached cross roads of village squares of trading post and meeting places.  I can’t image these squares looking much different then back in Thomas’ days except for current types of products, goods, and merchandize being purchased or traded.  With no obvious highway, street signs or marks of direction to the various villages, Pastor P instructed the driver when to turn or to continue straight.

As we enter the village of Bonneri, we are greeted by members of this leprosy colony and Pastor Emmanuel Sr. (there are two pastors who are not related with the same name so they are called Sr. and Jr. because of age only to distinguish one from the other).  On our whole trip to this village, I contemplated with great wonder, the existence of leprosy in the world today.  Of course, my only reference to the disease or condition was stories of lepers in the Bible.  Escorted into the cement church, we leave our shoes at the door and move to the front of the dusty, unlit sanctuary.  Just like in Sunday Service at the mother church, the men are seated on one side of the room and the women on the other.  We are stared at with both appreciation of our visit and curiosity as well as anticipation of what we to offer.  The women are making sure that their children are noticed and recognized by us and that the children are aware of these different people from America.

Visually navigating the sanctuary searching for evidence of leprosy, I find that it is only the senior members of the colony who show physical signs of having been once infected with the bacteria.  Some have deformed hands and use their arms to carry our gifts.  Another is unable to walk, so our gifts are carried by a member of their family.  Others have shortened toes and fingers.  As we organize the manner in which we will serve the people, the members of the colony are blessing us with smiles and hands clasped in prayer form to their mouths whispering (phonetically spelled), “Strollthrum” (Praise The Lord).  WE ARE THE MORE BLESSED FOR THE OPPORTUNITY!  Before we begin distributing our gifts, Jacqui speaks directly to the children and the listening ears of their parents and family members of God’s love proven by His sacrificial gift in His Son Jesus Christ.  The excitement and joy of the children receiving the toothbrushes and tooth paste and crayons and color books is spread like wild fire among all both members of the colony and us.  Mothers stand next to their children making sure that they are attended to and are receiving what is intended.

On the other side of the room, the heads of families or their representatives line up to receive 5 kg (11 lbs) of rice per household.  We pray God’s blessings over each head of and household of each family as we pass the bags of rice from our hands into theirs and the blessings are immediately reciprocated with words of, “Strollthrum”.  News of the serving is spread throughout the colony as people leave the church and share what they have experienced with other colony members who do not belong to the church.  We have given away everything assigned to this village and have to move on to the next before it gets too dark.  But, before we leave we lay hands and pray for people as they request.  We pray for families, pregnant mothers, senior men and women, young couples and the children.  We lay hands on pointed out aliments and hurting places.  We touch heads and hearts and we hug shoulders and hold hands.  All who reach out to us we reach out to.  Our visit is prolonged a little longer because as we leave the village taking pictures a new energy arises with the children’s, teen’s and their mother’s desire for us to take more pictures of them so they can see themselves and to see themselves in pictures with us.  We board the van with the voices of all of our new nieces and nephews posing and yelling, “Me Auntie, take me”!  We are sent off with smiles, laughter, blessings and the resounding voices of the children shouting Auntie while waving goodbye.

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Lord, thank you for calling us to partner with you in mission and in ministry!!!

Peace and Blessings,
Gina E


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Mother Church Ministry in India

Last Sunday was awesome! We worshipped at our host’s church,  which is the mother church to more than one hundred branch churches. As we entered the sanctuary, we were shown where to leave our Sunday dress sandals and then we were seated in guest seats in the front of the church. The sanctuary is in a building with iron gated windows with no glass. The windows are shaped in the traditional shape of church windows – tall rectangle shape with the top sides rounding to a center point. The pulpit is located on a small two step platform. At the foot of the platform lies a couple of bamboo mats for those who prefer to sit in the traditional Indian manner with their legs folded. The children from children’s church join the others on the mats when they join the general assembly to hear the preached message. Everyone else is seated in red plastics chairs arranged in two sections of rolls. As I took in our surroundings, from the guest seats, I noticed that while we are visiting a Christian church the members honor Indian traditions. Both in the general service and children’s church the men/boys sat on one side of the church and the women/girls on the other. Seated in the back of the church are hindu women who visit the church. Hindu men may have been present, but I did not see them. The main sanctuary is cooled by electric fans. Though the ceiling fans were generous in their humble hospitality, I made a desperate attempt to take on some of the responsibility by pulling out my AARP gift fan to wave it for additional air, but it’s desire was to simply praise the Lord.

Children’s church is located 4 flights above the sanctuary with each flight getting hotter then the last. But the trip is well worth the elimination of fluids from head to toe on the way up. I don’t remember if there were ceiling fans, but it would not matter it is so hot in their assembly. The children and their leaders don’t seem to even notice the heat. They have been waiting patiently for me to arrive, as their guest, so they can share how they praise and worship the Lord in their own way. The song shared, sang at a up beat tempo and demonstrated by dance steps proclaims that, “Jesus’ love is bubbling over. Jesus’ love is bubbling over. Jesus’ love is bubbling over. Oh oh wonderful love! Higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, wider than the universe. Oh oh wonderful love!”. The children are humored by my gesture to learn their song and the choreography. We are all blessed by the experience and I am no longer considered a stranger though I am from a distant land.

The general service was very lively, which began with scripture reading, prayer, singing and clapping, and testimonies, which are supported by keyboards and other unexpected technology. Today was a welcomed reminder of the day of pentecost with people worshipping the same God in our native tongues – us in English and them in Tamil. We are welcomed and introduced to the congregation by the pastor and each of us are presented with shalvai (shawl). My sister (picture not included) is draped by the pastor’s wife, I am draped by one of the Chennai’s intercessors (pastor’s sister-in-law), and my niece is draped by the assistant pastor’s wife who is also another sister-in-law. The members are extremely welcoming and we are treated with great care.

My sister, Jacqui, preached from II Kings 6:8-18 while the pastor interpreted the message. Her message was about asking God to open the eyes of our hearts so that we can see by faith and not with our natural eye. She challenged us, as life difficulties, uncertainties, and unknowns surface in our lives, that we ask God to open our eyes to who He is as our protector, our provider, and He who blesses. When we see with the eyes of our heart, then we see our stations in life as inheritors of the kingdom of the true and living God who is able to do the possible in impossible situations. Her closing question to us was, In what areas of your life, do you need God to open your eyes to see the invisible possibilities of His provisions in impossible situations?

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I was able to share the Friday evening before with the Women’s group that meets every Friday night. It was a time of singing, praying, and testimonies. The pastor’s wife opened the meeting with a song and encouragement from Joel 2:26. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.”. After her presentation, women from the audience shared their testimonies. Common among women across the world, these women are praying for their children and shared how God was answering their prayers. I shared about the benefit and importance of sharing our personal experiences while not being ashamed of our failures. The benefit is in growing from our mistakes and helping others finding hope and faith in God in spite of our errors. Noting that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).

God is clearly present in our journey in mission and ministry. We will visit a leper colony and three other communities approximately 2 hours away in the rice fields tomorrow to share the gospel, distribute rice, tooth brushes and tooth paste, color books and crayons, and clothes. I cannot wait to share the experience with you. In the meantime, please continue or begin to pray for us and the people we are able to touch.    As usual,

Peace and Blessings,
Gina E
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From Forgiveness to the Mission Fields of India

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Front to Back: My niece Aquila, my sister Jacqui in the middle and me, Gina E, with my hand up

From forgiveness to the mission fields of Chennai, India is where I find myself after reluctantly, but obediently fasting in pursuit of living in the midst of God’s will and call.

It was and continues to be important for me, as a maturing Christian and the president and founder of Charity For Life Ministries, to insist that God discloses to me anything in my life that would encumber or prevent me from achieving His call on my life and to Charity For Life Ministries.

Every call to leadership is successful when in pursuit of God’s supreme instructions, directions, guidance and when His presence is beckoned . And so it was, in my hunger and thirst, that God revealed to me deeply hidden unforgiveness that was threatening my growth and call to mission and ministry.

Check out the video below (the sound is not great so you may need to use ear buds).

Unforgiveness to Forgiveness

Peace and Blessings,

Gina E