out of the ashes rises hope ….
It was mid-morning, yet the heat from the sun was already intense. From over the hill, smoke was rising up and blowing north with the smell of rotting and decaying earth. Vultures circled overhead, patiently waiting as Job drove towards the smoke and ash, turning onto the dirt road that led him to a discovery of immeasurable value. At first glance it appeared there was only fire, smoke, and mountains of destroyed and discarded waste in the city dump, but as Job gazed thought the haze, he saw children scouring the smoldering heaps, looking for something of value to take home. As he watched, his heart grew heavy, knowing these kids were seeking anything to make life better for their families … even the possibility of food that might still be suitable for the dinner table. Wondering where these children lived and if he could help them, Job decided to follow them home.
He was led to a community wrestling with the effects of poverty. A number of the families had little more to eat than red beans and tortillas, and many of the children appeared malnourished. His heart moved, Job was convinced that he and his wife, Adria, could affect positive change within this community. Read more
There are no paved roads, sewage systems, landscaped thoroughfares, or places of commerce as you drive into Purna. The compelling story is the reality of the families struggling to keep their heads from slipping under the suffocating waves of extreme poverty.
Each day, the families in this enclave wrestle with the rigors of working from sunrise to sunset, living with hunger as a constant companion. There are the telltale signs in full bloom Read more
In September of this year, Ed Apffel of TerraMica spent a number of days in Thessaloniki, Greece speaking to refugees and Independently Displaced Peoples from a number of Arab countries about business ethics and entrepreneurship. He incorporated biblical principles into the business presentation, speaking to Muslim men and women who are learning how to make a living in a new country and culture… and he had a number of incredible interactions after the seminar and the following days. Here is one of the most moving:
One global narrative would have you believe that Mohammad and I should not be holding hands and praying together. For you see, I am a Christian from the West and he is a Muslim from the Middle East. Yet, I firmly believe Mohammad, his wife, and daughter were created by and made to reflect the image of God. Mohammad was blinded after a bombing raid destroyed his house in Aleppo. He and his family fled Syria for their lives, leaving everything behind. I am thankful to have spent that Sunday, in Thessaloniki with Mohammad, quietly listening about his journey and his aspirations and hope for his family. During our long conversation, I realized his belief was that Allah was not a relational god, but distant and demanding god. I asked if I could share my experience of who God is, and afterwards asked if we could to pray together for he and his family. I was humbled that he agreed and said yes. Together, we held hands firmly and I asked for God to pour His love upon Mohammad and his family. I then asked God to pour out His wisdom and reveal His Truth to Mohammad and lead him throughout the remaining days of Mohammad’s life. Afterwards, we sat there silently, a Muslim and a Christian holding hands.
It was Mohammad (blind), who eventually broke the silence and said, “I sense God’s love here and in you.” I confess, it is ONLY because of God’s immeasurable love for me that I was able to love Mohammad, my neighbor, as myself. The two greatest commandments ever are “love God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” When we finally turn our focus from ourselves to knowing and loving God, that is when we can truly begin to love our neighbor as ourselves. ~Ed Apffel~
“You know, you don’t throw a whole life away, just cause they’re banged up a little … “
It’s an incredible juxtaposition. The beauty of the animal trained and well suited for its task. Every element of this creature is working at full capacity. Fighting for the lead and focused, the animal digs in deeper and presses its limits, risking all. Then, as quickly as the sound of the gun that started the race, SNAP! Somewhere along the track, the animal goes down. It’s a mess. It’s ugly, and by all intents and purposes, it’s over.
The animal has been hauled off the track and is being restrained and held down, so that the shot to the head will be clean, quick, and effective. Our rational to end this life is that the animal is incapable of performing its task to race … it is limited and compromised.
So, now the shooter stands over the animal and is ready to pull the trigger, when from out of the crowd, a handler walks up Read more
While working along the coast in southern Mexico, our team was digging an irrigation well to supply much needed water to a new agriculture project we were developing for a tiny remote community. There was a lot of excitement around this well, because we knew that without it and the life-source it would provide for the crops, they would eventually die and fade away. The fresh water from the well would sustain countless farms and families for years to come.
Our concern was how close it was in proximity to the ocean. We knew that there was an aquifer nearby but we also knew that if we missed tapping into the fresh sweet water of the aquifer, we would be tapping into the salty, bitter water pushed up from the pressure of the ocean.
As we anticipated the last few feet of digging, then breaking through and seeing the reward of our effort, the clear water swirled around the hole and began too fill it to capacity! Immediately, we dropped a bucket into the water, lifted it up, filled our cups, sipped … and in an instant, the good intentions, the hard work, the sweat became all for naught as we realized that the water filling our reservoir was bitter. It looked clean, but there was no way we could pour this water out onto the fragile plants. The salty water would destroy the crops we were preparing to invest into, hoping to establish a source of sustenance for generations to come.
The laws of nature are irrefutable, we can hope all we wanted to, but the truth was this well would never supply sweet water. It looked clean and it was cool, but the source from which it came could only provided bitter and salty water.
In today’s social environment, I see calls for love, compassion, and tolerance, yet out of the same mouths Keep Reading!
The church can be a lonely place for a sinner. I should know, as I can relate to the apostle Paul’s self indictment that he/I am the worst of all. You see, I know my heart, my thoughts, my words. While sitting in church the other weekend, I stared at the words in front of me. Here she was for all the world and history to see. The woman caught in the act of adultery. What must it have been like for her, drug out to the streets and thrust into public view for all to stare at and condemn?
Ashamed, fearful, humiliated, hurt, embarrassed, dirty, worthless, alone and surrounded by the masses who were self righteously calling for judgement.
Why do we need to have an example of hope? Are we not capable of succeeding through whatever challenge is requiring us to have hope in the first place? The answer, sadly, is no, we are incapable of successfully coming through trials in our lives unscathed. It is true that most people survive whatever it is they are going through. Each of us, though, comes out of it either nicked up, scarred, hurt, embittered, depressed, angry, aloof, distant, calloused, insecure, embarrassed, and worst of all, we can become somebody else’s emotional prisoner, or your own. That’s not what anyone would call successfully persevering through trials.
Paul, a disciple of Jesus, shares his real life, stating he is the worst of all people. A liar, an accomplice to murder, a self-righteous and pious religious individual – and that’s just the short list. Even though many Christians like to believe his comment is connected only to his past, he is, in fact, speaking in the first person present tense. He is, right at that very moment, the worst of all people, one very offensive sinner.
And yet … he states that God is using him as an example of hope. Keep Reading!
Life is challenging.
A few long hours up the road in the mountains of the Sierra Madre range that runs along the eastern edge of Oaxaca, Mexico, the leadership of TerraMica was introduced to the indigenous Mixe people who were in a fight for survival.
After years of neglect from domestic and international organizations and the lack of proper tools with which to improve cultivation of their crops, coffee farmers in the Sierra Mixe region were vulnerable to an unseen enemy. Enter a strain of soil fungus that, with a little guidance, a little help, and a little education, could have minimized the destruction that soon arrived at their door – ultimately leaving their farms and region in financial ruins. With coffee trees that were close to 50 years old, these trees were tired and uncared for, the condition for a total crop failure was ripe for the picking. Enter the La Roya plague, which ultimately decimated most of the region’s main cash crop … their coffee trees. Keep Reading!
THE ELUSIVENESS OF PEACE … THE HEART OF THE MATTER
Social media has catapulted every one of us onto our own little global center stage. With the push of a button, we can cue the lights announcing the next barrage of visual and intellectual stimulation. What flows forth is a cacophony of emotion manifesting itself by reflecting every facet of our complex personalities, trillions of times a day – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
One would think that with over six billion living souls today, all with different perspectives on how to guide people towards peace, we would be well on our way to utopia by now. Keep Reading!