March 31, 2012

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Swaziland Reflections, Pt. 4: "The Hope Chest Model" [NOTE: This series of blogs is a compilation of reflections from our NewLifeSundayNight trip toSwaziland in March, 2012. A separate absolute monarchy surrounded by South Africa,Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world. 60% of its population lives on less than USD$1.25 a day. Our church is partnering with Children's Hope Chest to "sponsor" two communities where orphans and vulnerable children abound. My goal in writing this blog series is primarly to help our church understand the nature of this partnership, and to find ways of getting involved. Read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE. Read Part 3 HERE.] As promised, in this fourth and final installment of my reflections on our recent trip to Swaziland I will give a sketch of the model of partnership and development that Children's Hope Chest employs. Here are the key bits: 1. A local church in the US agrees to sponsor a community in Swaziland. (There are other countries where Hope Chest works, but I can't say how it works there, only how it works from my perspective in Swaziland.) At the heart of this relationship is child sponsorship: the people from the US church sponsor a child from the Swazi community. The funds from child sponsorship are pooled together to launch a "Care Point" that provides meals for all the children from that community who come, regardless if they are sponsored or not. Thus the greater the percentage of children from a commnuity who are sponsored, the more meals a week they can have. Because our New Life Care Points have just begun, only roughly 30% of the children have sponsors from New Life. As a result, our Care Points in Gege and Mankayane can only offer meals three times a week. 2. Each community in Swaziland has a...
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If You Can "Apply" What I Preach, I've Failed You The past few Sundays, I've found myself saying to my congregation that if they could leave a service and apply what I've just preached, then I've failed them. Sounds a bit strange, I know. But I was explaining to them why communion is now at the end of our services-- as the climactic moment not an afterthought-- instead of having it right after the singing portion of our worship, as we had done for the better part of two years. (We made the switch during Lent.) The reason is quite simple: The proper response to the preaching of the word should not be, "Oh, that's a great little insight. I think I'll go apply that." I think it ought to be, "O God, what are we going to do now?" The New Testament often records people being "cut to the heart" after one of the apostles preached. Their goal was not to give people a few tips on their marriage or a few pithy phrases to guided their business transactions. (Though there are "wisdom" books in the Old Testament that do that...there is a place for it.) The overall goal in New Testament preaching was to reveal Christ-- Christ as the full revelation of God the Father, Christ as the only Savior of the world, Christ as the true and rightful King of this world, even now! When you preach that way, people will inevitably see how far off we are. No theatrical voice inflections or guilt trips required. The Scripture is sufficient. I had a professor in my undergrad who used to say that we read the Bible so that we can "know God and become His people." When the Word is proclaimed, when we enter the story and soak ourselves in the narratives, not only is God revealed,...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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