Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas in a Buddhist nation

As most of you know, Love In Action helps spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the tiny Asian country of Myanmar (former Burma), through indigenous pastors and a small Christian college that prepares students to go into the mission field of their country.
Myanmar's population is more than 53 million and 80 percent of them are Buddhists. It is estimated that 40 million have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why we are excited to help spread the Gospel in this nation ... to reach the unreached.

Jesus says in Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." The word "nations" refers to people groups, and there are many people groups within Myanmar that have never heard the Gospel.

Our brothers and sisters there are extremely poor, but they do incredible work with very limited resources. There are several goals we all pray to accomplish such has purchasing property to build the college and church so they don't have to keep moving when rent increases. Another is to purchase a vehicle so they can pick up people for church and do more outreach.

But this month we were thankful to be able to help with their Christmas celebration. At the college, they celebrated Christmas with a church service on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas night.

I thought about that this morning. Christmas Day in the U.S. usually focuses on gift giving and Santa Claus. In Myanmar, they focus a lot more on Jesus. In his epistle, James writes in chapter 2 verse 5, "Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?"

The more I travel to Third World and Developing nations and minister and fellowship with our brothers and sisters, the more I understand what James wrote. No matter how poor they are, how many disadvantages they have, or we perceive they have, the happier and more joyful they are. They walk with Jesus unlike anyone I know. They are truly rich in faith. I've experienced it in Myanmar, Philippines and Haiti. 

One year, if God wills, Martha and I will spend Christmas in Myanmar, and another year in the Philippines. When we spent Christmas in Haiti two years ago, it was the best Christmas we ever had. There was no commercialism, no frantic pace, it was a celebration of Jesus, and people were saved that Christmas Day.

Thanks to a local married couple who give to LIA to support an indigenous missionary in Myanmar, more of the unreached are hearing the Gospel. On Christmas day, Bro. Solomon reached out to Buddhists living in thatch huts around near his home. He was able to share the great news of the birth of Jesus with 60 people. Praise God!

I have posted photos with this blog that shows their Christmas celebration in Myanmar. I thank God for our Myanmar brothers and sisters. Please keep them in your prayers, and please pray about helping us with our work there. Bro. Solomon is a graduate of the college, and our goal is to sponsor more graduates to go into the mission field to share Jesus with the unreached of Myanmar.

Your financial help could help that, and could also help us with helping them rent their current facilities, which as you can see are extremely modest. You can also help us provide food for the impoverished and malnourished, especially the children.

If you would like to help us in Myanmar, please mail your tax deductible donation to: Love In Action International Ministries, P.O. Box 85, Dothan, AL 36302, and write "Myanmar" in the memo of your check. You can also give online via PayPal by clicking on this link, http://tinyurl.com/h8s8zyl

Sunday, December 27, 2015

We need help with our roofs at LIA Ministry Center

We have a big need at Love In Action. It’s our ministry center. The roof on our main building leaks.

It’s a flat metal roof. The metal is not very old, but when it rains, we find new leaks. The leaks have damaged stuff inside the building, including a computer, not to mention ceiling tiles and carpet.

God has blessed us with a wonderful facility and we need to take care of it. We have two buildings and both roofs need to be taken care of. We are asking for any professional roofers to contact us and look at our roof. If you know of someone who owns their own roofing company, please tell them about Love In Action and ask them to contact us.

It may be that we need to put a coat of sealant on the roof. I don’t know, I’m not a roof expert. Once we can get the leaks fixed, we can do more inside the building, which means more ministry to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you are a professional roofer, please contact us by email at ken.tuck@loveinactionministries.comken.tuck@loveinactionministries.com. Thanks and God bless you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Truly make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year

A popular Christmas song declares this the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year." The way many people act, it makes you wonder if it really is such a grand time.

As with many things, our society, especially in the Western world, altered the way Christmas is celebrated. Today, people pack the malls and shop online for gifts they feel pressured to buy for family and friends. It's an attitude of, "I have to buy a gift for him or her." For many, it's changed from wanting to do something nice for someone to begrudgingly doing it.

Some spend thousands on gifts that take years to payoff, so the stress of purchasing presents turns into stress of being in debt. Does any of this make sense? It doesn't to me. That's why Martha and I pretty much forego all of the gift giving, and instead enjoy the time we spend with family and friends on Christmas Day. Family time is a gift. With our busy ministry and work schedules, we don't see many of our family members often, so that is our Christmas gift.

If you do give gifts let me ask you to change your perspective. Look at how God gave His perfect gift to all of us. God gave us His one and only son, Jesus Christ, because He wanted to. God didn't say, "Geez, I don't want to do this, but I feel pressured to, so here ... here's my gift."

No, as we read in John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, and whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."

God gave because He loved us. God saw His creation and decided to give us His very best because He loves us.

That's how our gift-giving should be. Give to someone because you love them. Let your giving come from a heart of love.

God also gave us a gift we needed. We were lost and going to Hell, but God saw that we needed the perfect sacrifice for our sins. So, what did He do? He sent Jesus, who lived and walked on this earth just like you and me. He was tempted in every way, however, He did not sin. He was unblemished. Perfect. Therefore, Jesus, the son of God and our perfect gift, died and paid the price for all of our sins.

He didn't stop there, though. On the third day, Jesus arose. He came back to life to live and reign forever. If only we believe in Jesus, repent of our sins and confess Him as our Lord and Savior, then we will receive eternal life with Him. No gift can ever be better than that.

When you give, do you look for people's needs and help fill them? Martha and I are like many people living in the U.S. We really don't need anything as far as material possessions. We have a house, electricity, food, fresh water to drink, vehicles, clothes and many other things that are not needs.

We see people in our own community who are in great need. We see people in countries like Haiti, Philippines, Myanmar and Pakistan who have nothing. No roof over their heads, no food, no fresh water, no medicine.

There are great needs all around. Try to help meet some of those needs. Help bring fresh water to a village in Haiti. Help feed impoverished children in the Philippines. Help build a school and church in Pakistan. Help support a pastor and his family in Myanmar. Help provide food and hygiene items for the homeless in Dothan. Help provide medicine and supplies for our Samaritan Clinic.

You can help by donating financially to Love In Action or to any other ministry God has placed on your heart. Give Us Hope Mission is another great ministry to give to as they do great work in Haiti. Whoever you give to, just do it. Help show the love of Jesus to people who feel abandoned and unloved ... lost.

The best Christmas Martha and I have ever had was two years ago when we traveled to Haiti with Give Us Hope Mission. On Christmas Day we handed out bags of rice and beans and shared Jesus with people who lived in mud huts and cardboard boxes. Many got saved that day. I will aways remember what one elderly woman told us after she received her bag of rice and beans. "This is the best Christmas ever."

Would you say that over a bag of rice and beans? Probably not. But when you live on $2 or less a day as much of the world does, rice and beans would be an answered prayer. You can be an answer to  prayers. Will you? You can help make Christmas, truly, the most wonderful time of the year.

If you would like to give to Love In Action, you can mail your tax-deductible gift to:
Love In Action International Ministries
P.O. Box 85
Dothan, AL 36302

Or, you can give online via Pay Pal by clicking on this link.

Thank you, and may God bless you and your family this Christmas season and throughout 2016.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

God is faithful

Recovery began with the use of a walker.
I haven't publicized or told a lot of people about it, but the past six weeks I've gone through the toughest physical battle of my life. Before I explain this fight, let me start with the good news that God is faithful and is bringing me through, restoring my health.

It all began on Nov. 3, when I traveled to Birmingham to have a biopsy on my prostate. That was due to high PSA tests. Following a MRI on my prostate, in October, the doctor zoned in on some suspect places and then 12 random samples. The good news is the biopsy samples all came back negative. The bad news is I became extremely sick following the procedure. On Nov. 4, I was teaching Bible study at Love In Action when chills overcame me. I was shaking uncontrollably. Martha brought me home, and that's when I became violently sick.

Being a hard head, I didn't want to go to the hospital, even though I had a fever of 103.9. It finally broke around 3 a.m., but the next morning I felt bad again, and this time I let Martha take me to the ER. As if the chills, body aches, and 103 fever weren't bad enough, I was also extremely dehydrated to the point my kidneys were not functioning.

So, they hooked me up to all kinds of fluids and antibiotics and did a lot of lab work. Soon afterward I was admitted to the hospital where I would spend the next 10 days, some of those days feeling like I was battling for my life. The truth is, I became too weak to fight. I remember calling out to Jesus and asking Him to help. He was always there taking care of me and working through the doctors and nurses, who were all wonderful. And, He was working through my precious wife.

Through the procedure in Birmingham I developed a severe prostate infection and E. Coli. To make matters worse, two days into the hospital stay my back started hurting to the point I couldn't stand, much less walk.  The pain was intense.

But, through all of that I couldn't stop thinking about how Jesus understood, because He went through much more severe pain to bring healing and salvation to me and to everyone who believes in Him. I kept calling out to Him and kept thanking Him.

As it turned out, the infection settled in my lower spine in the L4 and L5 disks. It also effected muscles deep in my back that would spasm causing excruciating pain. I know everyone on the fifth floor of SAMC could hear me yell when the spasms hit.

When I made it home I was so relieved. There's no place like home. In less than a week I was done taking antibiotics intravenously once a day. Two days later, Thanksgiving afternoon, the chills returned. I was in bed and I called out to Martha and told her I was cold. I never say that unless I'm sick. We decided not to wait this time and went straight to the ER.

I was admitted again, this time adding C-Diff to my list of infections. Six days later, I returned home. This time, the doctors said I needed to take antibiotics intravenously three times a day for six weeks. Thankfully, Martha has a medical background, so she administers the antibiotics to me. I would be in horrible shape if not for Martha. She's never left my side through all of this, and has gone above and beyond to help me.

Still dealing with significant back pain, I knew I needed to get up and walk to begin recovering and building up strength. I had to use a walker to get around. A week later I graduated to a four-prong cane. This week, I'm thankful to say I do not need the walker or the cane. I walk kind of funny because of the pain. I tell people I walk like Fred Sanford.

I'm so thankful. Through all of this, God has been right there with me. He gave Martha and me opportunities to pray with nurses and staff at the hospital. He gave us opportunities to bring encouragement to others. One of the coolest moments happened during one of the most painful times. My back was in a long spasm. The nurse came in to give me some medicine to try to help. She asked if there was anything else she could do. I said, "pray with me." With her on one side and Martha on the other, the Holy Spirit just took over and I started praying for her and thanking God for the great care she gave me. She looked at me and said, "You're the one in pain and you prayed for me." I told her Jesus went through great pain for us, prayed for us and died on the cross for us, so we should pray for one another even when we are in pain. That was all the Holy Spirit.

Through these past six weeks God has spoke so many things into my heart and has shown me different things. He has refocused me and has given me more clarity for the ministry. He has made me very excited about 2016, and it's not just the usual excitement of a New Year. Martha and I have gone through a lot this year. I told a friend we have gone through the refining fire of God this year.

That's not always fun. It hurts. It challenges. But if we just persevere, God will do His complete work and we will be better for it. That's what 2015 has been for us. God has also been setting a lot of things in motion, and I believe with all my heart He will bring many of them to fruition in 2016.

God is faithful. He truly never will leave nor forsake us. The phrase "Fear not" is in the Bible 365 times, so I 'm pretty sure God doesn't want us to live in fear. When times get tough, we need to grow closer to God. When things are good, we need to grow closer to God.

If we follow Jesus, then we need to be faithful like He is to us. I have determined to be like what the prophet wrote in Isaiah 50:7, "But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame."

I have made up my mind and purposed in my heart that by the grace and power of God,  I will endure whatever comes my way and stay the course God has put me on. The direction of LIA is directed by the Lord, and it excites me about everything He has done over the past 15 years. I look with great excitement to everything God has in store for us in 2016 and in the years to come until Jesus comes back.

I want to thank all of those who have been and still are praying for my healing and complete recovery. God has heard all of those prayers from throughout the U.S., Haiti, Philippines, Myanmar, Pakistan and China. I thank my beautiful bride for her constant love and care she has given me. I thank the nurses at SAMC who were wonderful, and all of the doctors who worked hard to figure out what was wrong with me and to provide the proper care to make me well.

Most of all, I thank Jesus. It's by the grace and power of Almighty God that I'm still hear and getting better every day. Yes, yes indeed, our God is faithful.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hope Through Education

Children in Pakistan waiting for a school to be built
so they can receive an education.

God has clearly shown us what our next big phase of ministry in foreign lands will be - providing education for those who no hope of receiving one. We are calling it “Hope Through Education.”

Love In Action started helping in this area in the Philippines when we first provided school scholarships to children in Sindangan, Zamboanga del Nortre, Philippines. We continue to provide scholarships, and this year we were blessed to give 60 children the opportunity to go to our church-sponsored schools in different cities in the Philippines. These schools are operated out of churches LIA sponsors. The children receive a quality education and they also learn about Jesus.

In many Asian countries, children are not afforded the opportunity to attend school like children in the U.S. They have to pay to attend school. Most pay US$50, which doesn’t sound like much. However, when your family struggles to survive on a dollar a day, food and water trumps education.

Love In Action built our first school in Punta, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines, two years ago. It has turned out to be a wonderful blessing as it is now one of the top schools in that area.

We believe God is leading Love In Action to build many more schools in the Philippines, Haiti and Pakistan. Why? The obvious reason is education. We believe a quality education is one of the main keys to overcoming poverty. Study after study proves this to be true.

Another reason for building schools is they can double for churches. Many of the areas we are in, it can be dangerous to build a church because of Islamist extremists. Constructing a school building would be safer than telling these communities we are building a church.

These schools will also be safe havens for children who often find themselves in bad situations at home. The schools will also be places where they will receive at least one good meal a day, which is one more than most receive now.

Our schools will be made out of cement block with metal roofs, and constructed to withstand many of the storms that hit these countries. Dothan architect Joe Donofro has offered his services for free to draw plans for these schools so contractors in each area can build them properly.

Each school will have fresh water and restrooms. In places like Pakistan, it can be extremely dangerous for children to go to the restroom, because most homes don’t have them. With the threat of human trafficking, children are easy prey for predators when they are walking out in the fields to find a place to go to the restroom. There are also dangerous animals in most areas.

Most of these schools can be constructed for US$10,000. That’s not a lot of money to provide education, church, food, fresh water and restrooms for these precious children.

Our next school will be built in Pakistan. We already have US$5,000, so we are halfway there. Please consider giving to help us build this school and many more. A little American money can go a long ways overseas. Please help us help these precious children. And, in doing so, we will also reach their families. Many families have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior from the few schools we have been supporting.

We are also starting a fund to pay teachers and provide food for each school. Just $100 a month will pay for one teacher, and $200 a month will provide food for the children each month. Compare that to the costs in the U.S. and you see how little it takes to change lives for the glory of God.

Please help us. Send you tax deductible donations to: Love In Action International Ministries, P.O. Box 85, Dothan, AL 36302. Please write in the memo of your check, “Building Schools.”

The children are waiting for us. Will we respond?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Homeless man helps food pantry 

Love In Action’s food pantry recently dwindled down to one can each of soup, diced tomatoes and cranberry sauce. Serving 30-plus families a week, it was obvious those three cans wouldn't go very far. We needed a fishes and bread type of miracle. Jesus answered our prayers, but not in a way we expected.

We received a number of wonderful donations of food from people who saw our post on our Facebook page, and our pantry started filling back up. Then, this past Friday the unexpected happened.

A local homeless man who we have known and served for the past couple of years showed up with a large amount of canned food to donate to our food pantry. Talk about shedding some tears. He was a man who we see nearly every week who comes to our ministry center to take a shower, eat lunch, get a bag of non-perishable food and have his laundry washed. He came Friday, not asking for anything, but rather seeking to help us.

That blew us all away. He had received some money and found a ride to the store. Instead of spending his money on himself, he chose to give to a ministry that has helped him in many different ways.

This homeless man is one we have been working with and praying with for a long time. Anyone who has ever done this kind of ministry understands there are times when you wonder if you are making an impact at all in some people's lives. You pour and pour into their lives, but you don't see any signs of them receiving anything. Often you see things to the contrary.

But on Friday, God showed us that His message was getting through. On Saturday the man was back for a shower, laundry to be washed, lunch and some food for the week. He said it felt good to do something good. Then he joined in on a powerful time of prayer and talked about how excited he was about church the next day.

God is working. He always is, even if we can't see it at times. We are all greatly humbled by this homeless man's actions, and we can all learn a great deal from this unexpected donation.

No matter what's going on in our lives, or how tough we think we have it, God can still use us. In the U.S., it doesn't get much tougher than being homeless and without hope. But as we saw Friday, even in that tough situation, we can still be thankful to God and give what we have to help someone else.

God has so many ways of showing us that, and we praise Him for the opportunity to serve the homeless here in Dothan, Alabama. He affords us the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people.