"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone, everywhere," Jesus told His followers. Every day, in over 100 countries, Family missionaries share Jesus' message of hope and love with many thousands. Following are some highlights of their recent activities and experiences.
Copyright (c) 2001 by The Family
In the Aftermath of Sept. 11 - Comfort and Support
From Marc and Claire, USA
Like millions of others, we wanted to offer our support to the survivors of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Members of our Family community had prior experience in disaster relief work, and since we live in the Washington area, the need was close to home. However, since this was not a natural disaster but a national security crisis, we were told it wasn't possible to get involved in the ways The Family normally does, helping directly with the rescue and relief work and comforting survivors and the bereaved. We got our chance to help, but it came in an unexpected way. Some friends of ours, who happen to be Muslim-Americans, own a gas station where we do occasional car washes to raise funds for our work. So when the Red Cross asked them about holding a fundraiser at their station, our friends agreed and then asked us to provide the manpower. We were more than happy to. In addition to raising $800 for the disaster relief effort, this event gave us an opportunity to spread a message of comfort and hope to people who were directly affected by the attack on the Pentagon, including many workers from the three departments of the government. We gave each customer/donor a packet containing Reflections on the subject of comfort and a short message calling people of all faiths to pray for the victims and their families. Many people read through the material on the spot and thanked us, some in tears. We found that many people were looking for faith to see them through this difficult time. We were so thankful for this opportunity to point them to the One who has the love and reassurance they needed.
Three Days of Joy
From Prem, Sonia, Sharon, David, and Rohit, India
For the last eight years, we have been working with the children of female inmates, children under the care of the Spastic Society, and school children from New Delhi's largest slum. We have found these children to be sweet-spirited, bright, and tremendously responsive to our educational programs. For a while now we have wanted to do something special with them, over and above our regular programs. When we expressed this desire to one of our friends and supporters, she graciously offered to host a three-day carnival for the children. Here's what transpired: Day 1: Our children's show troupe, The Fantastic Friends, performed a lively and meaningful music and drama program for 50 children of the Spastic Society of Northern India. The highlight of the program was a funny yet thought-provoking drama called "Trusting?-Or Doubting?" that demonstrated the importance of having an optimistic attitude. The children in the audience loved the show, and though it was physically difficult to do so, many got up and danced along with Bobo the Clown. At the end of the program, we presented the Spastic Society with 25 Family-produced music tapes for children, in Hindi-enough for all their classrooms. We also gave each of the children an abacus, which will be a great aid for their motor development as well as their schooling. Day 2: It was a memorable day for 55 slum children and 20 children of inmates. (Here children under five years of age stay with their mothers inside the jail, but receive nutritious meals and qualified care at a local facility.) The day began with the kids arriving at the carnival location and tucking into a delicious meal of homemade chane bhature and gulab jamuns (north Indian favorites). They then played games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, feed-the-clown, etc., won prizes, and romped around in a huge, inflated rubber castle. They also went on a toy train ride, and enjoyed ice cream treats and cold drinks. The day ended with the children participating in an art competition. Each child was given a box of crayons and a sheet of paper, and asked to draw a theme-based picture. Ten winners were given toys as prizes, and each of the children received a gift of a pencil box and stationery items. Day 3: Forty older children arrived and made themselves comfortable in a large hall that had been converted into a makeshift movie theatre. They spent the next three hours watching a hilarious yet meaningful Hindi movie. They were served snacks and drinks as they watched the movie, and had the time of their lives. At the end of the day, each received a new school uniform, a pair of shoes, a stationery kit, and a kite. One of the teachers of the slum children remarked, "You have no idea what a tremendous impact this will have on the minds and hearts of these children! Many of them come from broken homes and very unhappy backgrounds. The love and concern they have felt from you today will stay with them forever!"
Christmas in August
From Maya, USA
Christmas came early for some Houston children this year. After severe floods devastated parts of the city, three Family communities teamed up to open a Family Aid Project distribution center. With the help of a group of Girl Scouts and cheerleaders, they made a lot of children happy with grab bags, donated toys, and raffle prizes of Family-produced children's tapes and videos. Two local TV stations covered the event.
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes!
From Micah, Merry, Richard and Joy, Japan
We recently received a donation of 18,000 pairs of new children's shoes, to be distributed in the Family's humanitarian aid projects in developing countries. There was just one small glitch-all the shoes needed to be re-boxed! We put an ad in the local paper asking for help with the re-boxing, and a number of people responded. Two box manufacturers supplied 18,000 new shoeboxes, and we managed to get all the shoes packed for shipping in one day. A Singaporean company shipped the shoes to Cambodia for free, where the Family will distribute them in a joint project with the Cambodian Red Cross.
Building Better Lives
From Kay, Mexico
For over four years, our Family community has been helping impoverished families in Morelia, Mexico. This project got started when Rejoice and her husband Stephen began giving classes and distributing food and clothes to about 40 women for their families. These people live in very simple makeshift shacks, and in most cases the parents and their children are illiterate. When the group coming for monthly classes grew to about 80, we started giving separate classes to the children that many of the women bring with them-and the classes continued to grow. Now we teach about 160 women and 100 children. The classes focus on simple, practical ways for the women to improve their families' standard of living. For example, one class on nutrition was about soybeans and soy products, which are inexpensive and readily available here, and more healthful than what these families had been eating. At the end of this class, we gave them soy products to take home and try out. Another month, Jason and Jessica gave a class on first aid and taught the women how to prevent accidents. We have needed to teach these women a lot more than just what is presented in the classes. They also needed to learn to come on time, to be orderly and considerate, to not steal from each other-and most of all that God's love is the key to finding solutions to their problems. While the mothers have their class, Elaina (14) and Elizabeth (9) help lead activities for the 100 children, usually with a baby on each hip while directing games or telling stories to the others. Each month we also enlist the help of a group of students from a local high school. They come the day before to help sort and package the food and clothes, and the following day help serve the refreshments and distribute the goods after the class. It's wonderful to see how much these women are learning and changing. Life by life, we're helping to change their world, and that's very fulfilling!
Picture Caption 1: Help from our friends. When the classes outgrew our house, we moved to a nearby school. Here a local baker who supports our work teaches the women how to bake bread. He also offered more classes to any who wanted to find jobs in bakeries. At the end of the class, we gave the women all the ingredients they would need to bake a batch of bread when they got home.
Picture Caption 2: Small beginnings. Kay makes announcements at one of the first classes, which were held on the patio of our home.
Picture Caption 3: Cleanliness counts. During a class on cleanliness, Manantial and Timmy demonstrate how to keep clean with only a small amount of water. (Most of these families must haul water from a communal faucet, so every drop counts.) We always encourage the women to apply the things we teach them, so we ended that class by telling them that they and their children need to be clean when they come for classes, and they have ever since.
The Family is a nonprofit, volunteer organization. Each of the activities you have just read about was made possible through donations from businesses, associations, and concerned individuals. If you would like more information about The Family, or if you would like to help sponsor Family volunteers or projects, including those mentioned in this report, please contact us at one of these addresses.