Tag Archives: poverty

Almost aborted, Bianka is a sterling youth. What would the(ir) world be without her?

almost-abortedBoth moms were convinced that pregnant 15-year-old Diana wasn’t old enough to be a mom. They thought she would be dumping off her baby for either mom to raise, and neither wanted the duties. The solution was obvious and logical.

The young teen received an ultimatum: get an abortion or move out.

Pressured and confused, not knowing any options, Eric and Diana – naturally – scheduled the appointment to terminate their unplanned pregnancy. No one would ever know – and not because they lived in Las Vegas, but because that’s the way abortion laws work.

But a funny thing happened. The nurse called Diana’s name once, then twice over the public address system. It was time to hand over the money and terminate the pregnancy.

But Eric Pagan looked at his girlfriend, and she looked at him.

“Let’s just get out of here,” he said.

church-in-the-park---san-fernando-valleyThey stood up together and skipped out.

Just this June, Bianka – a strikingly beautiful teen with pink rose petal cheeks – graduated from high school in the San Fernando Valley. She’s planning to earn a teaching credential. She cares for her four younger siblings. And she broke the cycle of teenage pregnancy. She’ll wait until marriage. Now, for the parents, it’s inconceivable that she almost didn’t come into existence.

“Not once in my life did I ever regret NOT having the abortion,” Diana said. “No matter how hard things got, how hostile the relationship between my husband and I became, we’ve never ever regret, NOT having the abortion.”

How Eric and Diana met and fell in love is not the plot line of a fairy tale. He was running from police heat in his neighborhood. A gang leader, Eric saw patrol cars prowling his neighborhood, and he figured the cops were looking for him.

abortion-on-demand-withou-apologyWhen some acquaintances cruised past, he jumped in front of their car and asked for a ride. His buddy was with him and remembered a certain señorita in another neighborhood at whose house he figured they could hang out.

That’s where Eric saw the dark brown eyes of Diana. He had time to kill, so he tried to strike up a conversation with her. It was no easy matter because she spoke Spanish exclusively.

Of mostly Hawaian descent, Eric didn’t know much Spanish. What he knew was the rough lingo of the streets where words were used to steal cars and fight rivals.

So what sparked the romance? Cupid’s arrow smote not “in spite of” but “because of” the communication barrier. She could only understand the most rudimentary English, and he had to be careful not to use street Spanish laced with expletives.

abortion-and-over-populationIt was a challenge to get to know each other, and the challenge made it an adventure. The difficulty of conquering Diana was part of the attraction.

It was a challenge also because she was dating someone else – a fact she tried to communicate to Eric to throw water on his evident interest. He either didn’t understand or didn’t care.

Eric kept visiting the dark-haired beauty secretly. Sometimes, he would tap on her window after midnight, and they would talk – or TRY to talk.

Their romance had all the precursors of an unwanted pregnancy. He was 17, a mere two years older.

“Our parents told us to get an abortion, but I had a feeling come upon me not to do it,” Eric said.

Uncertainty prevailed in Diana’s heart. “I felt cornered. I had only known my husband for six months. My mom felt she was going to end up raising my baby, so she said, ‘Either get an abortion or move out.’ To me, I kind of didn’t even know this guy, so I only saw the option of going through with the abortion.” Find out how Diana heard a lucid baby’s cry the night before she was considering abortion.

Sultry Selena is Christian

selenaSelena Gomez surprised more than a few when she took the stage of a Hillsong Young & Free concert to sing praise and worship Feb. 25th last year.

It seems the baby-faced pop star has revitalized her relationship with Jesus Christ.

“I’m a Christian,” the 24-year-old said unabashedly in a YouTube interview.

selena prayer circleSelena, whose Instagram account has 117 million followers, has prepared for concerts by listening to Hillsong and by gathering with her team for prayer, as a recent Entertainment Tonight video revealed. She has voiced admiration for Brooke Fraser.

Selena was born to teenage parents in Texas and suffered emotionally as a child. She blamed her mom for her parents’ separation when she was a five-years-old. Without dad, the family struggled financially. They scrounged up quarters to put gas in the car and frequently fed on spaghetti from the Dollar Store.

selena gomez christian“I was frustrated that my parents weren’t together, and never saw the light at the end of the tunnel where my mom was working hard to provide a better life for me,” she said, according to Wikipedia. “My mom was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. She gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me, sacrificed her life for me.”

She got her start in acting with a childhood role as Gianna on Barney and Friends. Later, she landed the starring role of Alex Russo on the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place from 2007-12. She was following in the footsteps of fellow Disney stars Miley Cyrus, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, who kept squeaky clean images as Disney teens only to rampage with drugs and sex when they branched out of their own.

selena and justinSelena seemed to be falling into the post-Disney depravity. She cultivated a sultry songstress image and ran with the Hollywood A-listers, including BFF Taylor Swift. Song after song topped charts, and she became the girlfriend of drug-troubled Justin Bieber for a year, only to stumble through another year of on-and-off-again rumors.

But then she started suffering from lupus, with depression and anxiety compounding her malaise, and she canceled the rest of her Revival Tour in 2016 to enroll in a rehab program. She wasn’t fighting drugs, she maintained. She said she just needed help to get a grip on her emotions. Selena eschewed the typical Hollywood luxury rehabs and instead chose a Christian-run facility. Read the rest of the article about Selena Gomez Christian.

Out of poverty in Detroit, to lauded surgeon, now presidential candidate, Ben Carson

ben carson for presidentAs a teenager, Ben Carson and a friend were arguing over a choice of radio stations. Things got heated and Ben took out a pocketknife and lunged the knife blade toward his friend’s stomach.

The blade hit his friend’s belt buckle, broke in half, which saved his friend from harm and Ben from becoming a murderer. Frightened by what nearly happened, Ben ran home and locked himself in the bathroom with a Bible.

Ben turned to the wisdom of Proverbs, reading “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1); or “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (29:22), and a final admonition, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).

Humbled by the power of God’s Word, Carson realized that if left to his own devices, his anger would drive him toward ruin. Instead he prayed that God would help him control his temper instead of letting it control him, and God answered his prayer.

“When I came out, my temper was gone and I’ve never had a problem since,” Carson revealed in a talk he gave to the LifePoint Assembly of God in Osceola, Iowa, as reported by The Des Moines Register.

He chose instead to live by the words of James 1:19-20 which says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

The retired neurosurgeon – who has inspired millions to overcome adversity with his book and movie Gifted Hands – is now campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination – the only African American running in either party this voting season.

Read the rest of the incredible story.

The cantina brought him back to Christ

Iglesias del Companerismo Cristiano | GuatemalaOnce drunk with co-workers in a cantina after hours, former Christian leader Otoniel Rodriguez began to defend the gospel against their trash talk.

“Don’t mess with the gospel,” growled Oto, who, despite being backslidden himself, respected the truth profoundly. “Men make mistakes. But the gospel is something that God has given and is perfect.”

The argument grew heated, and he and his boss fell to blows. The police came, and Oto punched a cop. They wrestled him to the ground and handcuffed him. If it weren’t for a friend who just happened to be a friend of the cop, he would have been carted off to jail.

Whew! What a way to come back to Jesus – by way of a beer brawl!

The next day he woke up hung-over and spied a dirty Bible in the corner of his ramshackle sheet metal and wooden post house in the poorest neighborhood of Guatemala, only four blocks away from the city’s dump. Over time, he managed to block out the repulsive stench wafting from the dump, he says.

All he got out of the Bible that day was more condemnation for his sin. He cried out to God. For two and a half years, he’d gone from being a respected church leader to a heavy drinker and womanizer.

“God, I don’t want to go to Hell,” he cried. “If You can give me a chance, do it.” Read the rest of the amazing testimony.

Out of poverty and alcohol surfaces an avid evangelizer of Guatemala’s drug neighborhood

barrio el Gallito zona 3 ciudad de Guatemala | cristiano
His dad was a philandering dentist, who plied a young woman with alcohol to take advantage of her.

From that unholy union, Douglas Barillas was born. He can’t remember a time when he wasn’t hungry as a child. He grew up with his grandparents in the poorest neighborhood in Guatemala City, El Gallito.

Neighbors paid him five cents to carry the trash to the public dumpster. It was enough for him to buy a hot, thick drink made of grains, a chuchito (similar to a tamale), and a couple bananas.

photo(143)

When there was nothing to eat, he would walk a few miles with his grandmother to his dad’s dentistry office to ask for five or 10 quetzals (Guatemalan currency). His dad, with a look of disgust and sometimes an insult, would give it to him.

Pain piled up in his heart.

When he was 12, his dad had a client come out and look at him. “Don Guillermo, this boy is not your son. Look at his eyes. They’re different,” she said. It was a greater humiliation than ever.

“I threw the five quetzals in his face,” Douglas remembers. “I needed the five quetzals to eat. But I had my pride. I told him, ‘I’m sorry, but never again will I come here to look for you.’” Find out how Douglas got saved and changed his life here.

I love what I do

cute girl | Guatemala

What’s there not to love about this job? (Altruism).

In the USA, I’m surrounded by people who love to make money. I don’t. I love to help people. It makes for awkward conversations, like, “What do you do for a real job?”

Ummmm. Idk. This is what I do.

Fortunately, my wife supports me 100%. Praise the Lord! I’m very sorry to say this, but it seems to make that making money is so empty.

I’m in my old stomping grounds as a I write this, Guatemala, where for 16 years I was a missionary. We planted churches and a school. Just today, I got the chance to talk heart to heart with a kid who needed help. Hopefully, he’ll make some good decisions.

Helping people makes me hum with excitement. I really don’t know why I am this way. God made me this way?

I love these kids. All of them are in a (semi?) safe place, the Door Bilingual School in Guatemala. In addition to doing government paperwork, I’ve been teaching English and Bible. I’ve been helping strategies to help improve finances for the school. I’m making preparations for a medical clinic to be realized by Lighthouse Medical Missions in September.

This is what I love.

She cried at her graduation

photo (23)It’s a beautiful gesture, but usually I ask bluntly: Why are you crying?

Jenny graduated from our Guatemalan school in November. And I just found out that she cried because I wasn’t there to celebrate it. I founded the school and opened the doors for her, and many other Guatemalans without a whole lot of money, to attend.

Finding out about the reason for her crying makes me want to cry. It melts my heart to see good produce good. It motivates me to keep on serving Jesus and people.

Teachers who inspire

inspiring friendsIn 2007, Marcelino de Leon saw kids in the his neighborhood who didn’t sign up for first grade. Illiteracy is high in Guatemala, where people struggle to survive and have a hard time supporting their kids in education.

So Marcelino decided to teach them himself. Every Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 he taught nine kids first grade materials. When the next year came around four of those kids tested into second grade.

Nobody paid him for this. No one applauded. Marcelino didn’t get any awards. A professional teacher, Marcelino just wanted to help where he could. He lost track of those kids when he moved, but we expect them to find him one day and report on their success at college.

Marcelino helped us at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta. As always, it was voluntary, since we were/are strapped for money. We charge most students a minimal fee, and it doesn’t cover expenses.

I was so impressed by his willingness to pitch that I offered to teach him English. Extraordinarily, after I left Guatemala, he continued helping our school.

It’s people like Marcelino who inspire me.  Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds — Heb. 10:24. He came to visit me today. I’m wanting to do more for God.

God favors the unfavored

God favors the unfavored

Mary is rejoicing. She’s about to have a baby, impregnated by the Holy Spirit. He will be the Messiah. God has chosen lowly, poor Mary, a nobody who simply loved God and was passed over for every important assignment — passed over by others, not by God.

This IS a Biblical pattern. God chooses the foolish things to shame the wise. Over and over again, He chose the second born (or last born)  against the father’s preference for the first born.

Often those who enjoy power or riches think themselves too important to seek God. They sort of unchoose themselves.

If you find yourself lacking money, talent, beauty, intelligence, _________________ (fill in the blank), congratulations! You are a prime candidate to be chosen by God for a special mission.

What type of person goes on medical missions to Africa?

dr. janice hull

Dr. Janice Hull with the 9th generation descendant of the brother of Kunta Kinteh.

BANJUL, THE GAMBIA — Dr. Janice Hull leads a double life. She has a clinic in Century City and another in Inglewood.

Not Dr. Jeckle and Ms. Hyde. Rather, Dr. Janice and Mother Teresa.

The humanitarian side bubbled up strongly when she saw patients for free in Guinea Bissau as part of the Lighthouse Medical Missions March 31 and April 1. Together with team leader Dr. Robert Hamilton, a Santa Monica pediatrician, and nursing students, they saw 450 patients in that nation. It’s called blitzkrieg medicine.

Sadly, the mission was cut short as an unprecedented Ebola virus outbreak in adjacent-nation Guinea whipped fears. Doctors opted to play it safe and return 100 miles north by bus to The Gambia, where they had started their medical foray. Premature clinic closure seemed prudent given that 25% of Ebola contagion is health workers.

Dr. Robert Hamilton in Africa

Dr. Robert Hamilton in Africa.

“I thought I was going to see more pathology, but we didn’t get to see the more serious cases because we returned so quickly,” Dr. Hull said. Lighthouse Medical Missions have run week-longs clinics in Africa since 1998, and usually more serious health cases arrive later as word gets out.

Rumors of Ebola outbreak in Gambia fizzled April 3 when health officials here got back negative results from the grade 4 lab in Dakar, Senegal, of the samples of two patients with symptoms who had recently emigrated from Conakry, the capital of Guinea where more than 80 have died.

While the virus kills 90% of infected, transmissions is not quite so easy. It’s not airborne but requires exchange of bodily fluids. While in theory mosquitoes and ticks can transmit it, in practice there has not been evidence, said Dr. Lawrence Czer, who led the Lighthouse team in The Gambia.

Dr. Lawrence Czer with his daughter, Christa, workinng in Africa medical mission

Dr. Lawrence Czer with his daughter, Christa, working in Africa medical mission

The explosion of Ebola on April 1 sparked panic among some Lighthouse team members. In addition to the deaths in Conakry, there were cases reported in Liberia and fears of it spreading to Gambia — all on April 1. The two cases followed here were quarantined at a hospital only a block away from where we were staying.

As a result, two-thirds of the team members left April 2. Only 16 chose to weather out, come what may, sticking with the original travel itinerary.

But as quickly as Ebola burst onto world health scene, it faded.

Lighthouse Medical MissionsThose of us who stayed visited Kunta Kinteh Island in The Gambia River, where slaves were infamously imprisoned before shipping to America in squalor. We saw the fort where Europeans oversaw transactions in humans and punished severely slaves who dared to resist, as did the ancestor to Alex Haley, the author of Roots.

“It was moving to be in the place of my ancestors,” said Dr. Hull. “It was an overwhelming experience.”

An obstetrics gynecology doctor, Hull mostly practiced general medicine, with an emphasis in tropical diseases, while in Guinea Bissau. She said she was surprised that virtually everyone suffers pain. The women, in particular, feel chronic pain, since they carry water and firewood to their homes and they handwash clothes.

West Africans frequently suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes. The doctors also saw cases of river blindness, which is cases by a worm that swims around in your eye. If observe closely enough, you can see the worm. Everybody, without fail, was given a chewable dewormer pill.

Without proper laboratory testing, the doctors rely on their interpretation of the symptoms, like old school doctors, to diagnose and prescribe. Before starting the clinics, veteran Lighthouse Medical Missions doctors give a crash course on tropical medicine to practitioners new to Africa.

Dr. Hull flew out with the team Aug. 6. “It’s been an amazing experience,” she said. To participate in a medical mission, click on Africa medical missions.

This article appeared in the SantaMonica.Patch.com on April 5.

Poverty is not so bad

Friends and church are better than...

Friends and church are better than…

We enjoyed life while sustaining much self-denial as missionaries in Guatemala. I worried about IF I would be able to get deodorant. For the kids, a new pair of shoes only once every six months. The menu was beans and rice — and when you got tired of that, you could have rice and beans. It’s really not as bad as you might imagine.

My daughter at right.

My daughter at right.

There are other things in life that are more important than nice clothes, nice food, nice car. For example, having a loving and fun family is great. Serving a cause, though not applause, is another. True friends, a vibrant church, soccer. Hey, if you have enough to eat, ain’t got no complaints.

With my in-laws, eating out -- something we never did on the mission field

With my in-laws, eating out — something we rarely did on the mission field

Of course, we didn’t suffer poverty like the Guatemalans do. But even they seem to enjoy life through it. On the other hand, a lot of rich Americans are plagued by anxiety. Will I have enough when I retire? The Guatemalan doesn’t have enough now. Anxiety is worse than poverty.

This is the richness of my life! I teach these students at Lighthouse Christian Academy.

This is the richness of my life! I teach these students at Lighthouse Christian Academy.

Don’t be afraid of following your dreams, even if it is not the course of ambition. My family has been back in the States now for two-and-a-half years now, after 16 years in Guatemala. I suppose we could still be classified as “living in poverty.” My wife drives a 99 Ford Escort; I call it our Lexus. Why not make jokes and have fun?

Turn brown to green

The Israelites were experienced with deserts. For forty years, they tramped to and fro until their bodies lay scattered across the Sinai wasteland. Elijah and John the Baptists headquartered their ministries in the desert. Some people actually think brown is beautiful.

But the rest of us are enchanted with lush paradise, a pine-covered mountain cut by a waterfall, a Hawaii island with rich volcanic soil great for growing pineapples. God promises to turn brown into green.

He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD
— Isa. 51:3 NIV.

Jehovah Jireh promises to turn the unproductive land into a championship garden. If your ministry is going through a financial desert, God makes the waters flow. He fertilizes and transform sand into loam.

Where sand swirls in dirt devils today, a gurgling rush of water will empty into a pool ringed by greenery. Pray and believe towards that end.