God used two days, separated by one week to teach me a life lesson. The days could not have been more different but both started the same way. A few of us meet on Tuesdays morning to pray about what is going on in the ministry.
The first Tuesday was painful, prayers were difficult and tears flowed. We had just learned about sexual abuse that had been happening to some 8-year-old boys perpetrated by boys who were also abused when they were 6 years old (this is the ‘Cycle’ we talk about all the time). Our prayers were a combined mess of hurt, struggle, anger and sadness. We all struggled to try to understand.
The second Tuesday was much different as I shared with the prayer group about the financial state of KIDS. Our prayer all year had been that we could end 2017 with no ministry debt and be able to pay the government required 13th month bonus to our employees. Truthfully, I was not confident that this would happen. It was a big goal and we had struggled all year long financially. I shared with the prayer group that the ministry had just written two checks paying the last of the debt owed by KIDS and that we were paying 13th month salary that day as well! WOW! Our prayer time was more like a celebration. We all prayed and talked about how good God was.
Then He taught me the life lesson (and, as is typically true, he used my wife to teach it to me!). As we were about to break up our prayer time, Tina shared what God was impressing on her. It was actually extremely simple (as are most things God teaches us)… ‘God is good today and it is amazing what he has done with KIM finances this last year. At the same time, he was just as good last week when we learned about the abuse. He is good today, He was good last week and He will be good a week from now.’
In photography classes they teach about techniques to produce stunning, beautiful pictures. Pictures that catch the eye. Contrast is one of of the keys. Having shadows - bright areas and dark areas that capture the attention of the viewer. Think about a sunset -- the dark hills in the background with dark clouds in the sky combined with the bright reds and yellows of the setting sun. The lights on the dark hill. Beauty in our lives comes from a combination of an absolutely good God working though both light and dark in our lives. This past 15 months at KIDS has definitely been a 'high contrast' year, a year that God is using to create something even more beautiful.
As I reflect on 2017, the goodness of God is evident at Kids International Ministry. He is in the middle of forming the ministry into what He desires. 2017 was very similar to the two weeks I described above - at times hard and at times wonderful, but one thing remained… God was, and is, and will be so, so, so GOOD.
I really struggle with writing an update for the year as there is no way in a letter that I could ever express all the things that have happened over this year, so let me share with you one story that I think sums up what KIDS is all about.
Tina received this message while we was sitting in Church a few weeks ago.
Good Evening Uncle Norman, This is one of the Community College Girls. I really need help about my Cross cultural trip all the Junior Students in Messiah College International Christian. We will be having a Mission trip some of us will go to Cambodia, Thailand and my team will go to China on May 21 2018. This trip is part of our curriculum at school that is why all the students are required. Will be staying there for 3 weeks, and I really need help about the payment. I can't pay it all Uncle Norman, was that okay If the KIM will pay the half of it. Because we need to pay 75,000 pesos. Will the KIM pay the Half of it?
I have to be honest. - We get requests for money all the time – for school, medical, food, etc. It is pretty much an everyday occurrence. At first, I saw that it was a request and I always have a struggle inside – what requests do we meet and when do we say no? It is a constant struggle and something I always pray for wisdom in dealing with.
Then I read it again and realized this IS EXACTLY what we are all about at KIDS! Here is a young adult who has been involved at KIDS for years… We help her be able to attend College by supplying some funds for tuition. Now she is asking for funds to go on a Mission trip! Talk about impacting her life for Christ and then she impacts other!!! I immediately answered YES! We will help!
The college ministry is one of my passions and an area that I believe we need to expand at KIDS. It is what I like to call ‘Finishing the process’. We have ministries that start before a child is born (pregnancy clinic) and continue through 10th grade. We have 550+ students in grades K-10… Then we have 20 students in our college ministry (grades 11 and 12 and then 5 years of college). Only 20 students in 7 grades? I strongly believe we need many more in our college ministry. We need to finish the process we started, to continue to invest in these kids that we have invested so much time and effort.
Please pray for this. We need two things. First, we need leadership – someone to ‘own’ this ministry – someone to take these students and invest in their lives – the primary purpose is not about giving funds so they can attend college (although we do need to do this). It is about investing in them spiritually during the years of their lives that they are most receptive. Second, we need funding for the program… we need people who believe that the college years are some of the best years to make a big impact on kids’ lives and truly ‘Change the Cycle’.
We have talked a lot about ‘Breaking the Cycle’ at KIDS – they cycle of abuse, the cycle of moral decay, the cycle of poverty, the cycle of young pregnancy… the list of cycles goes on and on. I would like to use a different phrase – ‘Changing the Cycle’. Cycles can be good and cycles can be bad. Our focus at KIDS is not just ‘Breaking’ but it is ‘Changing’ the cycle. How do we influence kids in such a way as to build cycles that are positive instead of the bad ones that surround them? What better way to change the cycle than invest in these young college students. As you can tell – I am passionate about the College ministry.
There are so many other things going on at KIDS but again it would make this letter too long. God continues to impact kids in the Philippines through all the ministries. Here are some things to pray for over the next few months.
After years of prayer about the need for a High School building, God is doing some amazing things by providing funds to be able to get this done. Pray as we select land, create plans and start construction. This is a HUGE Praise as well as a request. I can tell you that we have an amazing God!
College ministry (described above)
Continued focus on the spiritual aspects of the Ministry in all areas (Children’s Home, School, YMC, Community Ministry, staff, missionaries, etc)
God would continue to provide teams to come and serve alongside us. That we would be able to create an environment that REAL ministry is accomplished, and at the same time, the people who come and serve are forever impacted by their decision to serve others.
Monthly recurring funding for the Children’s Home and the School. We need to increase our reliable funding for these ministries so that we can focus on reaching into and influencing the community for Christ in other areas. We would love to extend and improve the feeding program, college ministry, pregnancy clinic and Adonai. We would like to partner with other Churches and ministries and help them reach their communities for Christ. We would love to invest in Churches in our community to help them develop quality youth programs. We can do so many other things if we have a fully funded Children’s Home and School. Pray and help us make that happen.
Leadership – That God would supply the people he desires at the ministry in order to reach our Community effective.
Thank you all for your commitment to KIDS over the years. The only way we are able to do what we do is because of all of you and your support in so many way…. in the end, the most important is your prayers. Thanks you.
Norman and Tina Denler