Kathy's Blog

The light shines in darkness

The Team God Builds January 14, 2012

Filed under: American Christianity — Kathy Morgan @ 1:14 pm

Recently someone suggested to me, I should tell stories of ordinary people God chooses to intersect our lives when he decides to use us in ministry.  He truly is the one who takes ordinary people like me, and arranges divine appointments with other ordinary people to accomplish something great that we could never do on our own.  This is how he receives the glory, and credit for the work to be done.  As I think about this, I see that throughout the Bible, God always chooses ordinary real life people who the world would not have necessarily chosen!  Throughout my ministry experience I remember all those who prayed for and encouraged me; family, single adults, stay at home moms, church/ministry staff, church members, friends, those who  stepped up to help with the workload, and those who opened doors to give me the opportunity to use my God given strengths, abilities, and gifts.  These people for the most part have done this as servant leaders, not looking for something in return, using this opportunity not to promote themselves.  Americans today, including many Christians, have confused Christianity with karma.  Tim Tebow who is in the national spotlight is under much scrutiny.  He is an ordinary person God is using on his team accomplishing something that could not be done on his own, and Tebow is giving the glory to God.  In an article written by Rick Brown, America does not understand Tim Tebow, Christianity he says:

“…much of Americas, of Tebow’s Christianity is all about what Tebow does or doesn’t do.  Reilly went on to say on The Herd that he had hired a lip reader to make sure Tebow wasn’t swearing on the sidelines at football games, and he hired a private investigator to make sure Tebow wasn’t going to strip clubs or involved in any similar behavior during the week.

If this is America’s understanding of Christianity, than any of us calling ourselves Christian have failed…miserably.  What Reilly described is an evaluation of works. “Good things” done, “bad things” not done. But central to Christianity isn’t about doing things. Tebow loves on hurting kids in hospitals because he has a heart for them. It’s an opportunity to help them.  That’s something he does that thousands of other Americans do every day. And Timmy would tell you that too.

Tebow also does those things because he believes that good works show himself to be a witness of his faith, but Tebow is not working on a system of karma. And karma is exactly how modern America perceives Christianity.  Modern America has all but forgotten its Judeo-Christian heritage, and with it has a total misconception of what it is to claim to be a Christian. Today for the average American, Christianity is about works. It is a lifestyle choice that when failed illustrates to the voyeur that the claimer must have been fakeBut what the media and America doesn’t understand is that Tebow doesn’t claim to be perfect and his Christian faith doesn’t make that claim of perfection of its followers or make him perfect either

Tebow’s claim to being a Christian is not a claim of karma, a belief that if he does enough good things he can one day be weighed on some ubiquitous scale of right and wrong and be proven righteous.”

I am so thankful it is not up to me to earn what job I will have in heaven, how many crowns I will receive, or whether God will bless me with what I think I need in this life.   In God’s eyes, my value and what others think of me is not based on position, status, or achievements.  I am grateful for the people who God has used to allow me to be on the team God uses.   At this time 2 years ago, I never dreamed I would be going around the world ministering to people in third world countries.  God used Mary Dean to ask me to be on God’s team with Stonebiar Community Church in India.  Last year I thought I was going to India in August, but God instead used Lila Farmer, a member of my Sunday class, to introduce me to Solomon Kimuyu a native Kenyan.  I spent 5 weeks with Solomon and Lila in Kenya ministering through Solomon Center for Leadership to the church in and around Nairobi.  Through these experiences, I saw the power of God at work, using ordinary people to do extraordinary things, knowing God was receiving the credit and glory!

 

Life in Nairobi January 9, 2012

Filed under: Kenya — Kathy Morgan @ 11:57 am

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After I entered Nairobi, a warning was issued from the U. S. State Department asking travelers not to go to Kenya.  Kenya had invaded Somalia, and Al Shabaab (Al qaeda) was threatening to bomb American citizens in Nairobi.  All of a sudden I was a target!  The shopping malls now had security screening for people and cars.  I could not walk on the streets or even think of public transportation.  I could not leave the church compound unless I was in a car with a trusted driver.  Being thankful to not be staying in a hotel is an understatement.  I knew the American hotels were a prime target for Al Shabaab.  Our church compound always felt safe.

We did not have much in our house, but I had a good bed!  Those who know me well know I need a good night sleep in order to function the next day.  We had hot showers, a small communion table borrowed from the church, with 3 chairs.  In the small kitchen we had a sink, a 2 burner gas camp stove, and a microwave.  No refrigeration, oven, or any place to store kitchen utensils.  We also borrowed 3 plastic chairs from the church to sit in the kitchen.  I learned how to cook stews, rice, and cabbage African style.  They have wonderful spices, many from India to flavor all their dishes.  I had fun experimenting with all the spices; always trying something new. Chai is a staple.  We drank Chai all day long, so there was always a pot on the stove filled with tea.  Tea Masala spice was added, or mashed fresh ginger for taste.   We shopped daily for the perishables, as well as bread to make honey sandwiches for visitors. Everyone likes honey sandwiches!  I added banana and some orange marmalade to mine and had a breakfast treat!  We always cooked with fresh produce, the farmers bring produce in daily from the hills   the papayas were so sweet and good.  When I arrived, the house had been freshly painted and new curtains had been hung.  It all was clean, and we had green plants all around us.  The air was crisp and sunny most of the time.  When rain came, everything dried up quickly so mud was not a big problem.

When I was leaving Nairobi, I met a woman of Indian origin waiting to board my flight to London.  Her grandfather was an India Cooley the British had brought to Kenya in the late 1800’s to build the Kenyan railroad from Mombasa to Uganda.  She grew up in Nairobi but moved to London in her teens.  We talked about how the world had changed, and all the violence that we now see.  When it came to terrorism, she kept saying “they are brainwashed.  Don’t they know we have to live together respectfully in peace, and work together?  Jesus is coming soon, I tell my sons this every day.  All the signs we are told to look for are happening in our world now”.  She asked me if I was a missionary, and I told her I was.  I asked her what church she went to, and she looked puzzled.  She then said “I am a Muslim, not a Christian.  We all know Jesus is coming and he will fight the beast.  I hope he wins.”  Jesus is not her savior, he is a good prophet.  She, a Muslim, knows more about the condition of our world then most Christians.  Jesus is coming soon!

 

Out of Africa January 1, 2012

Filed under: Kenya — Kathy Morgan @ 3:23 pm

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What a year 2011 has been!  We have seen so many changes in our home towns, our country, and our world.  When I hear “The world is getting smaller” the full meaning of that phrase doesn’t hit me until I start traveling abroad.  I spent 5 weeks in Kenya this fall, and everywhere I went I would meet people who have lived in America, or have family living in America now.  Many of these women are shopkeepers, seamstresses, those with large gardens and small farms.  I was privileged to be with men and women who are hungry for God’s Word, its Doctrines, looking to Him in order to make some sense of the world they live in.  At their core, they are just like American Christians with the same needs, and desires.

In Kenya, poverty is high, corruption runs deep in their businesses, government, and in some churches.  The prevailing attitude is that of entitlement.  You should get something from someone else, whether you are rich or poor.  You should be paid for your time, transportation, meals, lodging, even for existing.  While I was in Nairobi, I witnessed a large slum located on airport property, bulldozed in the middle of the night leaving thousands homeless.   The next week a subdivision where homeowners had a title for the land, was bulldozed.  The MP had sold bogus titles to them; it was airport property.  This attitude has hurt the integrity, value, and self-esteem of the people who live in a beautiful country full of flowers, hills, tropical plants, and wild animals.

After the 2007 elections, sectarian violence broke out displacing and killing tens of thousands of men, women, and children.  The election reflected the social disease that had been taking root for so long; the people felt the only alternative for constitutional change was a violent resolution.  At the end of this election a Country that had been governed by a Christian majority, now had to share power with a U.N. mandated coalition government made up of Muslims.   The Obama government sent $23 million US aid not to the Christians where it has traditionally gone, but to the Muslim coalition.  They have a new constitution, with U.N. mandated goals, one of them being the empowerment of women.  Traditionally women have not had any value in African society.  They have the same rights as property, or animals.  They are beaten, sold in to sex trafficking, brutalized along with their children.  Children are to primarily spend time with the father’s family.  The Son’s are to be educated; the women stay home to care for the home and children.   Everything in life goes through the father’s family.

The society is now starting to respond to the needs of women and children, through the empowerment of women mandate.  Kenya is now 51% female due to the killings, and these women are handling family finances, educating their children, and working where they can to help supplement the income of the husband, especially during these difficult economic times.  They are changing the communities they live in, and gaining respect from their husbands at home.  Many are widowed, and out of need are aggressively pursuing a business, their only alternative would be to become prostitutes, to support themselves and their children.  Merry go round groups are started as small banks that they contribute to.  They are raising and selling livestock, milk, fruits, vegetables, making baskets, jewelry, wood carvings, and have small kiosks as souvenir shops.

These are the men and women I had the opportunity to bring God’s Word too.  My topic was the role of women in society – how God is using women to be His warriors, working with men to accomplish God’s Kingdom purposes.  All presenters spoke about the end times we live in, and what that means for the Christian today.  As Christians we will have to make the choice, we can no longer have 1 foot in the church, and 1 foot in the world.  Our choice will be :  1) stand for Christ not compromising our faith and His message no matter the cost (even death) or 2) fall away from the faith and choose to be at the mercy of Islamism, Socialism, Communism which is Atheist.  Similar to what the Weimar German Republic faced when Hitler was coming to power in the early 1930’s.  Kenyan Christians will be making this hard decision as they vote in December 2012.  They are on the verge of becoming an Islamic state, implementing Sharia Law.  All human and individual rights are lost in Sharia Law.  The people below, where I spoke,  welcomed the challenge.  They want more Bible knowledge, discipleship, and economic opportunity.

  • Athi River Baptist Church Women’s conference – 200 attending
  • Baptist leaders Conference men and women – 50 attending
  • Nairobi Bishops Conference – 100 attending
  • Mlolongo Baptist Church (main message) – 50  attending
  • Baptist Women’s Conference for Rural church leaders – 100 attending
  • Athi River Baptist Sunday English Service (main message) – 300 attending
  • Athi River Baptist Women’s Business skills conference – 100 attending

Many of the women who attended, had never been to a conference before, they live without indoor plumbing and electricity.  I saw deliverance from witchcraft, repentance from prostitution, and compromised living.  The Pastor’s wives want additional training to better lead their flock.  I believe the true church will become more unified globally as we move in to 2012.  We need each other, to stand together and support each other against a common enemy – the “isms”.  God is at work throughout our world, not a day went by I did not see his hand directing, leading, and providing divine appointments.

I have been asked to come back and help them start more merry-go-round groups for businesses.  They want business training, Bible teaching, and evangelistic training.  The Lydia Movement is the tool God is using to address the whole woman – spiritual formation, family counseling, and business development.

 

The Lydia Movement September 7, 2011

Filed under: The Lydia Movement — Kathy Morgan @ 1:28 pm

As I finish up my D.Min. degree at Gordon-Conwell, I am also in the process of starting a new ministry to women, The Lydia Movement.  I believe God is creating a global movement using women to build His Kingdom.  A new mission a new way to empower women.

Lydia was the first Christian convert in Europe.  She was a business owner and active in the Philippian church.

Mission:  To mobilize women to invest their influence as leaders in the world for God’s purposes.

Vision:  To equip women leaders with the tools they need to impact others in business, governance, and community with Christian
principles and witness.

Global Strategy:  Partnering with local churches and ministries in countries where women are emerging as economic and governmental catalysts.  To provide leadership development, build vocational skills, Christian discipleship, and relational
evangelism.

Why the Lydia Movement? It is meeting a need that is missing in Christian mission work globally.  In the West and the East, women in workplace leadership are not being equipped with a Biblical worldview of leadership.  The sacred / secular divide is still
prevalent today.  Many Christian women in America do not have an opportunity to use their workplace skills in the church,
so they go to secular non-profits to serve.  What can be done?

  • Provide Biblical worldview of leadership to  workplace leaders globally.
  • Build a team of indigenous women leaders to  work with the women in their country who are pursuing business, governance, and  community development.
  • Provide US women a place to serve using their  workplace skills by engaging with leaders in other countries through in country  seminars and conferences.  Follow up and  mentoring would be done via webcasting and Skype.

Current Opportunities:

Kenya has United Nation Millennium Development Goals to be met by 2015.  They will have an election in 2012; depending on who is elected will determine if these goals will be met.  Because one of these goals is gender equality- empowerment of women, there is an opportunity for professional Christian women to influence the direction of their country.

  • 1/3 of the Kenyan Parliament must be women (constitutionally mandated)
  • Christians are still in control, but Muslims are waging a battle to take over the government.
  • Kenya’s population is now 51% women.
  • Women leaders make health care, education,  and nutrition a priority for their country.

The ministry partner in Kenya/Tanzania is Solomon Kimuyu, PhD, Solomon Center for Leadership.  Fall ministry trip to Kenya /Tanzania is in October.  Purposes for this trip are:

  • To speak at a Kenyan Bishops conference in Nairobi concerning how the church has lost its connection to society, can it
    change?
  • To speak at a Professional Women’s conference in Nairobi concerning the opportunities for women in society – business,
    government, and community.
  • To speak at local churches on Sundays.
  • Meet with local women leaders in Kenya and Tanzania to hear leadership needs, and start to make plans to meet those needs going forward.

Opportunity International has started a bank for micro-lending in Raipur, India.  These loans are empowering Hindu women to start a business that will provide food and education for their families.

  • Women represent 70% of those living on less than $2 a day.
  • Women spend 90% of their income on their families, while men typically spend 35%.
  • Women, who contribute to family finances, have greater decision making power, resulting in better nutrition, health, and
    education for their children.  When family needs are met, women are more likely to invest in their communities.

The ministry partner in Raipur, India is The Alpha and Omega Society (supported by Stonebriar Community Church).  Fall
ministry trip currently scheduled November.  Purposes for this trip are:

  • Provide Hindu women with business skill training
  • Share Christian principles applying those principles to business.
  • Meet with local Christian leaders to discuss needs of these Hindu women and start to make plans on how to meet those needs going forward.

Partners are needed to help make this ministry grow and develop.  Support for the Fall trips to Africa and India is needed.  Would you consider participating?

(more…)

 

Housebound in an Igloo February 3, 2011

Filed under: American Christianity — Kathy Morgan @ 12:53 pm
This week I have felt like I am under house arrest – can’t leave my home, or live in freedom as I normally do.  I am not used to living in an igloo, and don’t do well being house bound…can anyone else identify??  This morning as I thought of this, I realized how much freedom and liberty really mean.  So many times it takes loosing something before we realize how much we want or need it (thank you Mexico for no more rolling blackouts).  As I sit at home, I have been watching what the Egyptians are going through.  How they hunger for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness….what we so often take for granted in America.  Egypt is one of the few Arabic countries that has a significant Christian population – 10%.  They endure much to be the witness of Christ in that region of the world. 
 
The Lord is so gracious and merciful to us…He always provides in advance what we need to learn so we are prepared for whatever happens…..it is in the Bible.  Prophecy tells us what the end times will look like, what signs to look for, and what the end will be.  The Holy Spirit prepares those who belong to Christ….we need to take notice!  I have been de-cluttering my home…preparing for a garage sale, and taking much to the Frisco re-sale shop (most of last year).  I have too much stuff (probably because I am a good consumer…I love to shop).  I need to live a leaner life…less stuff, less buying, less “wants”.  Bigger is not always better…is my “need” standards too high?  I am a very American Christian who is looking at what living the Christian life really means.  I am preparing for what is coming in my country….can we get beyond self fulfillment to see the reality of our world?    
 
Pray for the Christians in Egypt and other countries where they suffer for their faith.  God has purposed us to be His ambassadors pointing others to Him!
Great book to read “Radical: taking back your faith from the American Dream” by David Platt.  Another great book to read “Hebrews”…in the Bible. 
 

When one woman says “yes” November 11, 2010

Filed under: India trip Delhi — Kathy Morgan @ 6:55 pm

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The finale of my trip to India – Delhi!  What a city of contrasts…ancient ruins, the British Raj (New Delhi), and modern buildings which speak to India’s growing economy.  Half of India’s population is below the poverty level, but an economy which is 3rd in the world expresses itself in a new middle class which is prospering and growing.  I had 4 days to experience this national capital….shopping, seeing ancient ruins, and New Delhi which houses the national government.  Trying to put this experience in words is difficult – masses of people, traffic, poverty, incense and spices in the air.  A modern city set in the ruins of an ancient civilization…the 7 cities of Delhi.  One thing I will always remember is the graciousness and hospitality of the Indian people. 

In Delhi, I saw what God can do through one woman who said “yes”.  Dr. Ananthi Jebasingh, a mother with small children, answered the door one day to find a child who asked “will you teach me?”   Through that divine encounter, a new ministry to the slum children of India was started.  Here is the link to her remarkable story: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycERNWFKCRY&feature=player_embedded#!  Because she said yes, schools all over India exist for the “outcast” children who would never get an education, or hear about Jesus.  I heard about her remarkable story 9 years ago when I attended Dallas Seminary.  Her daughter Shalini Patras and I had several classes together, and became great friends.  When this trip materialized Shalini and Vinay (her husband) arranged for me to visit the schools, as well as see Delhi.  I will always remember the children, and the staff of Good Samaritan….these schools are God’s oasis in the slums of India!  The first school I visited is one if the oldest Good Samaritan schools.  I walked off the street into a building with about 5 rooms….I met children who were nicely dressed, who welcomed me in English, and who quoted scripture and sang songs for me.  In India, learning English is essential for educational and business opportunities.  After I left this school, we walked the streets of the slum….I saw a boy playing in front of a pig, who loved posing for the camera.  I followed a group of women and also photographed 3 girls playing in the street with garbage all around.  As always, cows were with us…they live with the families.   

Sunday I went to another school located in a slum where church was being held.  When I walked off the street into the school I felt like I had gone to another world.  the area was clean, all the class rooms were clean, and there was a garden next to the building where church was being held.  I LOVE gardens, and this one really touched my heart.  It was so beautiful, with flowers and blooming vines.  Next to the garden was a big yard with green grass where the children could play….no cows, trash, or bricks.  What an oasis this place was!  The Pastor asked me to share a message so I spoke from Hebrews.  I know many of these Christians are persecuted when they leave the Hindu faith….their families reject them, as well as their friends.  I wanted to encourage them to not go back to their former ways, but to stand firm in their Christianity.  The Pastor spoke after I did, and expounded on what I had said.  I was so honored to be with these Christians in their church, and saw first hand the work God is doing in India.

 On Monday, I went back to the school where church was held.  I visited most of the classrooms, and talked with all the children.  They were very inquisitive, eager to learn, and just plain cute!!!    The Principal was so gracious to tell me about the work they are doing with the families, and what they want to accomplish with the students.  The teachers and staff are so dedicated and committed to the children and their families.  After I left this school, I went to the big school that was opened in 2005.  It is 4 stories high, and has 1,000 students K-12 grades.  The feeder schools I visited prior, are K-5 grades.  The students sang for me when I arrived..I felt like a V.I.P.!!  The Principal escorted me throughout the school and I met with students of all ages.  To see all of these children, and to listen to their dreams was such a gift to me.  I want to thank Roslyn who was my companion and guide the entire time I was in Delhi.  She graciously took time away from her family, and her school duties to make my time in Delhi so special; a time I will always remember.

This year, Vinay started a new ministry with the support of his wife Shalini, The Good Samaritans International.  They want to expand, and grow the current ministry in India.  They are starting Bible Study groups that will meet monthly to pray and talk about missions, and the role of missions in our world.  There are so many opportunities for this growing ministry in India such as Midwife training for maternal and child health, leadership and pastoral training, and educational and literacy for all ages.  If you would like more information about Good Samaritans International email Vinay at info@tgsionline.org     

    

 

The power of hope November 1, 2010

Filed under: India trip Raipur — Kathy Morgan @ 12:43 pm

People, cows, dogs and goats crowd the streets.  They share the “lanes” with cars, motorcycles, auto rickshaws, and bicycle rickshaws.  The auto rickshaws look like the three-wheeled US mail carts from the late 1960’s.  They are yellow and green completely covered, and can carry up the 3 people, but many are packed (I keep expecting to see a chinese fire drill).  The bicycle rickshaws are open carriages pulled by a man riding a bike (in place of a horse).  We did not see too many ox carts, though I have been told they are plentiful outside the city.  The street “lanes” really are not lanes….each vehicle makes their own lane – going either direction.  If your car does not have a horn, you are in big trouble.  You must drive fast, and honk your horn constantly to let the next person know they are about to be run over…all are aggressive motorists.  The law states that men riding motorcycles must wear a helmet, so you will see entire families on a motorcycle – husband, wife, 2 kids, with the man wearing a helmet.  Did not see any accidents, which surprized me considering all the traffic.

Another interesting revelation was that Water Buffalo and cows eat trash, or whatever they can find.  They wander the streets and neighborhoods all day then at the end of the day they line up to go home.  When I say home, I do not mean a barn or field, but a house where people live.  I watched them going in and out of homes….like our dogs and cats do.

The three-day Women’s conference was not anything I had expected.  We left Dallas planning for a three-day conference with up to 100 women who would be with us for the entire three days.  On Monday when we met at the OI office, Alicia accidentally discovered that all the women in the area had been invited, and because of the festival the women would only be able to attend one session.  The schools were closed for the week, and many families had out-of-town guests.  Because of the holiday, the women had limited time for the conference.   When ever change occurs, at first it is startling, but we could see that God was the change agent!  This would give us an opportunity to meet more Hindu women, and more would hear the gospel presentation.  On Tuesday morning we had approx. 50 – 80 women and children attend.  After the presentation we are able to tweak our talks to connect with the audience more.  I had to get used to having an interpreter, and realized these ladies like animation and comedy (like Bollywood).  I talked about providing good customer service in a dramatic, animated, and interactive way.  They love to laugh, and have fun.  For many of these women, meeting with their loan groups is the only time they get out of the house.  Several commented that their husbands mistreat and beat them.  At the conference, they would sit together on the same row, with the leader or most senior person on the aisle.  The caste system is very alive today in India.  As I looked into the eyes of these women, I could see they were searching for hope, and a better life.  They came looking for answers, for comfort, for validation, for a Savior.  The eyes are the window to the soul….I saw so many empty souls.  Hinduism is all about works, and not about relationship.  During each session, God’s presence was very strong.  Prayers were being answered, I could feel the light of Christ shining through me.  Alicia shared a bible story  about hope, and Apollos (the local evangelist) shared the gospel too.  At the end of each session, Alicia and I were mobbed by those in attendance.  They were so appreciative, and gracious.  I felt like a rock star, but knew it was not me they were

attracted to, it was the light of Christ.  Jesus was the rock star!  One woman told me she thought a new god had come….the interpreter told her it was Jesus.  Each session grew bigger and bigger.  The chairs came out of the room, so rugs could be put down on the floor to accommodate all who attended.  Most sat on the floor, and we were packed in like sardines.  At the end  750 women and children attended.  The Lord is so good…He knew what these women and children needed to hear, and brought each and everyone to hear about Him.  Please pray for these women, the local church in Raipur, and for those who work for OI in this area.  They can be persecuted for what was done at the conference – presenting the gospel.