Archives for posts with tag: Lent

“This particular family just touched me. They’re so cute and they need some help.” With those words, Gus Kenworthy, one of the U.S.’s Winter Olympics’ athletes, summarized why he decided to get involved in adoption while he was participating at the recent Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Adopting a family of dogs, that is…

Gus Kenworthy, athlete turned animal rights activist

Gus Kenworthy, athlete turned animal rights activist

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I think what Gus Kenworthy, Lindsay Jacobellis, David Backes, and others did is awesome. But the amount of coverage this story got is a little ridiculous. They even gave it a name, “The Strays of Sochi,” which is interesting because in Russia these “strays” are not really “strays.” They are just dogs which inhabit the streets, some of them, no doubt, in deplorable condition, but the majority just going about the business of hustling for food like a great percentage of people around the world do.

Jacobellis and her adopted mutt from Russia

Jacobellis and her adopted mutt from Russia

As we have seen recently, Russian leaders care about their naval bases, their natural gas, their nuclear weapons; they don’t seem to do enough about their “strays,” whether dogs or people. And that is what spotlighting that kind of story only outrages me.

During the entire Olympics coverage, I never saw even one story about the orphaned and disabled children of Russia. The ones who suffer in silence with no one to speak for them. The ones, as one blogger puts it, “… who sit in filth, alone and cold, digging holes in the wall, their only view, tied to their beds, as we laugh from our abundance at their hotels and empathize, become called to action to adopt and care for their lonely dogs.” (In part referring to Americans criticizing the hotel accommodations in Sochi).

No one knows the exact number of children who are institutionalized in orphanages in Russia but to give you an idea, that number was estimated at 300,000 in the mid 90’s. 1 to 1.5 million youth are also homeless. The number of orphanages has increased by 100% in the last decade. In the Sochi region alone I did a quick search and found seven.

The condition in these orphanages are so inhuman that researches have stated that children under 3 lose one IQ point for every month they stay there. “Children adopted from Russia are also more likely than any other country to have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Doctors visiting some of these institutions have even reported seeing toddlers sitting alone, rocking back and forth, staring blankly, or even banging their heads against walls. Children are often not provided with proper nutrition and are not given quality living and sleeping conditions…”  (Wikipedia).

The CRU devotional today ends with this question: “Do you want to serve a great and gracious King who has fought a losing battle for you and come out victorious?”

Sometimes, in the face of darkness, we tend to lose heart. We forget that the battle is not being fought by us alone and we lose sight of the fact that many things will not be rectified until the end of times. But what do we do until then? Knowing that our King will ultimately triumph, we should intensify our fight.

And here is where we must educate ourselves. Again, forgive me for digressing but this year I am using the Lent period to educate myself on topics that often tug at my heart but normally because of my schedule only garner a mere mental note saying “to be pursued, if time allows.”

So if you are interested, please check Kate Brooks’s photographs about orphans in Russia. Beware: some of the pictures are disturbing. Secondly, take a moment to familiarize yourself with Vera Drobinskaya, a warrior who does some courageous work, often facing threats from the Russia’s most powerful and corrupt men, the real “strays of Sochi.” If you can only commit to praying for Vera and the countless children who suffer in Russia during this Lent season, that would be a great start.

Scripture:

1 Corinthians 15: 12-19 (NLT)

“But tell me this – since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God – for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

 Prayer:

“Father, please, look upon Vera and countless others like her, who have dared to take on the establishment because they can no longer stand the evils that are being committed large scale against some of your precious little ones in Russia. Father, strengthen them with supernatural power and man-made resources that will allow them to continue their work unabated. Change the hearts of those who perpetrate evil and save the children from more suffering. And help us who have been spared atrocities, to recommit our lives re-enlist for our King in His battle against evil in the world.”

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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Lent

In my life I have done some things that would be considered, well, edgy. For example, years ago I observed Ramadan, not for the same reasons Muslims do, but in solidarity with my Muslim friends who were suffering in the aftermath of 9-11. I also used that time to pray for the world of Islam and my desire to see Christ proclaimed and accepted there.

We evangelicals tend to shy away from anything that even remotely sounds like penitential acts. We are afraid that we might be tempted to think that these things in and of themselves will help us achieve godliness. But that is nonsense. All we have to do is look inside ourselves and we will quickly realize how impossible that is. My sins are too real to allow me to fool myself, even for a second.

For example, Jesus did not speak against fasting. He only warned us not to do it for the wrong reasons (Matthew 6:16-18).

So this year I am observing Lent. Why? Here are my reasons:

1. It will allow me to focus more intentionally on the work that my Lord did for me at the cross.

2. It will allow me to force myself to give up some things I really treasure. By doing so, I will be able to walk in the shoes of the majority of the rest of the world for whom deprivation is a way of life. I will also be able to help some causes I am usually not in position to help.

3. It will make the Resurrection Sunday experience even more exciting to me this year.

And what is “lent” anyway, you may ask… Well, the word in the majority of other languages literally refers to 40 days, a traditional reference to the temptation of Jesus by the Devil. “Quaresma,” in Portuguese, “Cuaresma” in Spanish. In English it is derived from the German and it means “long,” a reference to the days of spring which naturally seem longer, although they seem pretty far away to me right now…

Different Christian traditions follow different calendars but the most common one starts the day of Ash Wednesday (March 5 this year) and ends on the Thursday before Easter (April 17 this year).

In general, I will follow the three practices of lent, which are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and helping the poor (justice towards neighbor).

In addition to giving up things that are precious to me, I will be following the daily lent devotional provided by CRU (formerly Campus Crusade) and will be blogging here about subjects I normally don’t write about.

If you would like to follow along with me, please let me know by leaving a comment. I will also be interested in your stories about lent 2014.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade