Out of sight – out of mind – lament.

Written by Jason on November 29th, 2011

I’ve been listening to the band Blue Sky Black Death a lot recently. Its a hip hop, instrumental duo who have a knack at creating somber yet potent music — which is what I enjoy listening to as I grade late into the night.

One of their songs has been haunting me since my return from India.  The song itself is rather upbeat – a pop culture rejections anthem of sorts. If it wasn’t for the image that keeps coming to mind as I hear the words I suspect it would just be another song I’ll forget about a few weeks from know.

Title of the song: Absentee.

Here are the haunting lyrics with pieces of the image that I can’t shake.

Mark me as condemned.

Mark me as vacant.  

I’m out of sight and out of mind. 

Strike through my name; forget my location.

I’ll stage a coup when the timing is right.

I’m working through a book on The Lords Prayer and it has proven helpful as I work to replace the pain with hope. There is a section in the book that addresses what it means to lament via prayer. The Lords Prayer holds a clause that is asking that God rescue and deliver us from evil. This petition is often a lament, is it not, as we serve as lambs among wolves? Or as we see the injustice in this world lay claim to the sweet little ones that are ours to care for? Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil – oh God! Come! Arise! Consider! Be not silent! Remember! Help! Free! Protect! Vindicate! Sustain! Rescue!

I am reserved to believe that those who work in ministry, especially among the the poor,  must be as realistic as the prayers in the Bible concerning life. The fact that the Bible include dozens of prayers of lament denies any theology that imagines that everything can be resolved and we can always go from strength to strength. There is no basis for this type of theology. Life is beset by hurt, loneliness, disease, anxiety, etc. My own sin and forgetfulness makes the pain of this girls situation all the more potent.

Candor, honesty and realism stages a coup against the hopeless feeling this picture temps me/us to embrace. They remind us to pray – Lord, lead us not into temptations, but deliver us from evil. And as we pray this for ourselves, and lament – How long oh Lord? we better wrestle with our depravity and the worlds. Hurt and suffering acknowledged before God and laid at His feet. It also helps to remember that this little one, who is last in this world will some day be first. She is not vacant or forgotten. Someday I’ll see her again – what a wonderful day that will be!

Oh God! Come! Arise! Consider! Be not silent! Remember! Help! Free! Protect! Vindicate! Sustain! Rescue!

Nebraska – tools

Written by Jason on November 23rd, 2011

We’re Nebraska to visit Gramps and Grandma for Thanksgiving.

Grandpa has a shed full of tools, tractors and more. Here are a few pics of some the tools I found as I looked around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayers in India set

Written by Jason on November 13th, 2011

Prayers in India

Some of my favorite pictures of prayer during the recent trip to India. I’ve paraphrased some of my favorite prayers from men with greater minds then mine through out the post too. 

We pray for the poor, the sick, the prisoners, the helpless and the troubled, for all who suffer – perhaps from something only you know – that you yourself may comfort them with hope of your kingdom. Amen. (Barth)

This man is the husband of one of the church members (deep forest church). He is not a believer, suffers with illness and is a drunkard. He heard us worshiping and wanted to see what as going on. His wife convinced him to let us pray for him.

True, whole prayer is nothing but love. (Augustine)

Rebecca, CRI missionary, praying for a mother and her child in the deep forest.

Prayer is not a way of making use of God; prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. We pray and wait in silence for God’s voice to us; we linger in His presence for His peace and His power to flow over us and around us; we lean kneel forward in His everlasting arms, for hope and security. (Barclay)

Kneeling low, heads covered – they call out to the Lord they know and trust.

Children at the RCH say prayers together before their meals.

If your word were not at hand, what would be left for us to do but despair? But your word in all its truth is at hand and so we cannot despair! Even if the earth is moved under our feet, all things in their entire course are in your strong and loving hand.  When it is all said and done we shall be allowed to see that you have reconciled us and our dark world to you, that you have already brought its salvation and its peace despite all men’s arrogance and despair: in Jesus Christ your son, our Lord and Saviour, who died and rose again for us and all men. Amen. (Barth)

The wife of a Deep Forest pastor prepares to pray for the team and congregation.

It is good work the Lord has given us to do!

Lets continue to pray that the Lord will do a mighty work with us and through us!

J

Between Sets -pics of the kids.

Written by Jason on November 8th, 2011

Hey All!

I’m working on two updates (“sets” of pictures from the India trip -Fruit &Prayer ) but felt it was time to share a few family pics. It’s been a while and our little ones are growing fast!

Enjoy.

Crosses (The Burden Bearer)

Written by Jason on October 30th, 2011

I’ve been working through the 1000+ pictures taken during my time in India. Only a handfull are worth sharing. I hope to post “themes/sets” along with a few thoughts over the next few weeks. This is the first set.

Crosses

I was surprised at how many pictures I took of crosses. Standing welded, carved, plastered, painted or worn among false idols and/or hindu temples and/or street kids or poverty stricken forest dwellers it “stood out”. Are there more appropriate places this image, the thing that places the “burden bearer” on the minds and hearts of those who look and see, could be shared? Listening to what it shares - all the sins, all the trespasses, all the transgressions, all the aberrations, all the wrongs of the  whole world, of all times and lands, including our own, were loaded onto Him, willingly, letting our sin be His. He took the burden, wiped it out, abolished it by dying on the cross.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross.” 1Peter 2:24 (more thoughts at the bottom.)

Cross around neck of boy

Outside RQ church

Inside RQ church

Cross in reflection - at Mother Teresa's home

Mother Teresa's tomb - cross at top on plaque

Deep forest church plant

 

Deep Forest Church = the "Hub" (where the dozen pastor we support come for training.)

Gate outside Deep Forest church plant "Hub Church".

Cross in bottom right corner

As our burden bearer, our liberator, he rose from the dead and rules now and forever in eternity. The world is his kingdom, his property and he is our lawgiver. What is it He (his law) wants from us? That we who are liberated by the great burden bearer might be able to live through him.

(Paraphrase from Barths Insights)

Snap shots – Rock Quarry visit

Written by Jason on October 21st, 2011

On our final day in India the team visited a rock quarry (where CRI has a micro loan ministry), the public school where the Rajah kids attend and the local market to buy some supplies for the kids and church plant pastors.

Rock Quarry Visit

Most of those who work in the rock quarry fall into the  ”Rock Quarry People group”. Numbering over 10,000,  generation upon generation break rock in small clearings around the city. Their work is hard. Their livelihood and lives are often cut short due to shards of rock claiming their eyes, hunger, illness (dust in their lungs) and more. The corrupt system they work under requires that they buy the rock from the quarry owners. They can’t afford to pay so they get loans, for which the quarry owners charge astronomical interest. In the end the people are no better than slaves to the quarry for their entire lives. I can think of few environments that are more hopeless and a rooted in the evil that the love of money can create.

The Rock Quarry (the leaf shelters in the background are what the people work under to avoid the brutal sun.

"Mr. Rock Hauler" - this is the front of the truck that drops off rock at the quarry. Both sides have eyes painted on it - for good luck and safety.

This is the home of one of the rock quarry families. They rent it from the quarry owner - adding to the debt.

Another "quarry owned" rented home. Does it get more humble/poor?

Here are a few quick pics of the kitchen the RQ ladies have to cook in.

Rolling pin and "kitchen counter" in a rock quarry home.

Rice prep area and sink (the bowl)

The oven

The tap - it is public and about 20 feet from the house where the pic of the "kitchen" were taken. All the families in the community use it.

Makes you (me) thankful for your kichen (as new or outdated as it may be) doesn’t it!

Remember the eye on the truck? This looks very similar. It outside the door step of the quarry home we visited. Seeking good luck and protecting from the gods.

CRI partners – the G. Brothers have been giving out small micro loans to the Rock Quarry people. Close to 100 now. The fruit has been good. More food on the table. Some hope in their step. Most importantly the loan gives the brothers the opportunity to share Christ as they are often asked – why would you help someone like me. Their response is always – Jesus Christ loves you and so do I.

At the end of the day we returned to the quarry to visit the church plant the G Brothers have established there. Pastor Bill shared an excellent message and we laid hands on and prayed over the congregation.

View as we left the hotel for the RQ church

Inside the RQ church as we waited for the people to arrive.

The RQ church plant has lots of woman and children attending. It was a blessing to be able to lay hands on and pray for those there.

It is good that CRI is doing in India in Christ’s name. We do it with gratitude and thanksgiving. We do it because we love Christ. We do it because we believe He asks us to remember the poor with all that we are and do.

What will become of him and the many others in the RQ fold? We have hope it will be much, with Christ in his step and on his lips.

Thank you for the suppor and prayers.

Remember the poor today and each day.

J

Happy Birthday Moose

Written by Jason on October 21st, 2011

Our dog turned 5 yesterday. Lindy and I bought him a week after our wedding. He’s a big part of the Pieratt household.

Happy 5th Birthday Moose!

Snap shot – Day 4 Deep Forest

Written by Jason on October 20th, 2011

Deep Forest - see the mountain through the trees?

Deep Forest

Day 4 – The team headed to hills known as the Deep Forest. There we visited 6 (12) of the churches CRI supports. As we drove through the forest we saw monkeys, a beware of bear sign (bear in India – who knew?), and satellite tv dishes attached to mud and thatch huts (a wild image of poverty and technology if I have ever seen one.) Technology has reached even the poorest of the poor.

deep forest "iwheel" - every kid has one.

Ox charts are common

Church visit #1

First church we stopped at - about 2 hours into the forest.

 

The church honored us with garland and sodas. We were humbled to be ask to lay hands on and pray for the congregation.

Pastor Ryan sharing a word with the people.

During prayer the ladies kneel and cover their heads.

Church visit #2

The pastor is in his 80′s and has been waiting/praying for a long time that the Lord would bless him with a church building. One of the things I find amazing about his story is that he doesn’t have a home. He lives with different families from his church, spending a few weeks at each of their homes. Amazing.

Front door to the church - the handle says WELCOME

This is the handle on the door at the second church we visited. All are WELCOME.

We were greeted warmly by all the churches.

Generosity - more sodas and garlands.

Prayers and worship

It was clear that group had very little when it comes to worldly possessions – and  just as clear that their worship was authentic, thankful, hopeful. Pretty awesome to be a part of it.

Pink Cross on the door

Church visit #3

This was by far the poorest community we visited. Everyone looked sick and hungry. We spent a some time praying for the sick and due to a generous donation from Trinity Harbor Church we were able to hand out much needed bags of rice. While here we were also asked to dedicated the water well that was dug just a few days before we arrived (The well was paid for by a generous CRI donor. Thank you!)

The 3rd church was then neediest of the 6. They are praying for a new church building.

Prayer for the sick.

Thankful for the food!

Dedication of the new water well.

plaster/clay(?) cross(s) on wall of church

Church visit #4

At the 4th church we visited we prayed for the sang a few songs, prayed for the sick and distributed rice to the needy.

Pastor Raju was sick but his wife was quick to step up and lead worship.

More rice distribution - many in this congregation were elderly and "bent" from years in the rice fields.

Church visit #5

This is the King of Kings Ministry “hub” church – where Pastor Isaiah brings the 12 pastors we support (plus lay members) for bible training and support. It is a beautiful church. I look forward to recruiting and leading many a team to this spot to provide bible training in the days, months and years to come!

The "hub" church

Prayers

Welcomed by the congregation with (more) garlands!

sweet little one

Church visit #6

This was our final visit of the day. I was a little worried about getting out of the forest before dark but the G brothers were determined that we visit this final church. I am glad we did. This congregation is praying for a perminant building. If you would like to see what this church looks like and the water well that was built there this past spring go to…http://vimeo.com/20489274

Introductions at the church

Praying for the sick

Rice was handed out here too. They were very thankful.

It was a humbling day in the Deep Forest. The fact that we have so much and they have so little…their need is so great…the opportunities so few…makes a day like this almost overwhelming. A whirlwind of emotion: grief, thanksgiving, pain, hope. I am troubled by the deep poverty and can easily be overwhelmed – but (on the good days) I choose to hold tight to the amazement the comes with work that is done in Christ’s name. (Amazement a feeling we get when we experience a phenomenon that is hard to integrate into the realm of what we believe to be possible. Jere. 33:9 says They will be amazed by all the good. )

Despite heavy economic, political, cultural, religious etc. barriers – children are being fed. Widows cared for. Churches built. Water provided. The Gospel shared. It’s unexplainable how CRI can work to make this is possible (in the places we work) without Christ.

When the depths of depravity (or anything else) tries to cheat us away from the hope and amazement that is part of being a Christ follower – rebuke it  - through word and deed. Remain amazed – once and for all.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

(I am home!! It is great to see my babies and Lindy. I’ll be posting Day 5′s pics soon!)

Snap shots – day 3

Written by Jason on October 17th, 2011
We arrived in Rajahmundry mid afternoon and were greeted by a bus load of children. The kids from CRI’s Rajah Children’s Home were there to greet us!

In Rajahmundry!

After lunch and a short nap we saw a few of the sights around Rajahmundry. The first stop was a Hindu cemetary. It’s a place that is both beautiful and tragic.There were cremations going on when we arrived and a number of drunk, morning men standing around so we did not stay long.

Where the Hindu's lay their dead to rest.

Next, we visited a dam that was built in the early 1900′s.
The river  that flows through town is huge and has the 5th longest bridge in the world crossing it.

Godavari River

We walked past a local fish market as we climbed the steps to the dam.

fish market

This litte guy followed us around as we toured the  dam. He REALLY wanted his picture taken.

Picture please!

Our final stop was the river front. This is were Hindus come to “baptize” themselves in the cleansing waters of the “holy river”. This is were many of them also do laundry, swim, etc.

river front worship

At the top of the stairs are a number of idols that the people worship.

idol worship

This fat troll dog thing is holding up one of pillars that goddess Shiva stands under.
troll dog (that is my name for it)
This is an idol I’ve blogged about in past trips. It is such a bizarre thing. I was told underneath is the body of a “holy man” who is now a god. Strange from any angle.

orange god

It didn’t take long for our group to be surrounded by people eager for a photo.

river front pictures

more pictures please!

Here are two of my favorite shots.

what a smile!

proud grandpa

The people here are very kind. Sweet smiles and honest interest in why we are here. A nice change from the harsh streets of Kolkata.
As we walked back to the van I saw this on a cab window. What I did not take a picture of was the left side of the window which had sticker of Ganesh – the elephant god. I wonder how the driver understands Jesus vs Ganesh?

Jesus

After the river visit we went to the Rajah Children’s Home. It was nice to see all their smiling faces.
I recognize most of the kids and they are getting so big!

Welcome to Rajah Children's Home

The home is full of brothers and sisters who come from the Deep Forest area. Their parents are either too poor to take care of them or no longer living. At the home they are given food, shelter, education and an opportunity to hear about Jesus.

Sisters

sisters

The kids at the home seem to get along and are well behaved. They also like to let loose and show off some of their talents (dancing, drawing, singing etc.!)

good times

Jesus and His children

After almost two hours of talking, singing and playing…

nate thumb wrestling

we sat down to a feast of meal.

feast

It was a full day – a great day.
I felt thinking – What great kids! What a great ministry!  May God bless these little ones. May they be a generation that shares Christ with word and deed in their families and communities.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
An update on our Deep Forest visit is coming soon!
J

Snap shots: 2nd half of day 1

Written by Jason on October 16th, 2011
The second half of our first day in India was spent visiting the Mudpaths ministry.
This is a slum outreach ministry that currently spans two slums and includes Weekend Bible Club, a small Pre-School (20+kids), and after school tutoring for the older children.
The name “Mudpaths” came from the environment we found ourselves in during the first visit. Trash, raw sewage, mud – everywhere. Small mud paths weaving around the muck that reaches into the shadowed door ways.

Mudpaths

The Classroom.
Smriti rents two small rooms at the front of the slum.

Mudpaths classroom

We knew it was going to be a full house when we saw all the shoes outside the door.

the little ones shoes

We were greeted with flower garlands and kind smiles from the kids.

view of garland from above

Nate and Rev. Ryan with garlands

It wasn’t long before they filled the room with singing.

40 plus kids stuffed into the little room

It was so hot in the room I had to stand outside! Not to worry though – their little voices could be heard from blocks away!

Watching kids through wicker walls

Part of each Saturday Bible Club is “snack time”. Check out the little ones licking the hard boiled eggs. They were asked to wait until everyone had their food. These two were hungry!

snack time!

This little gal wasn’t too sure about my camera being in her face.

not too sure about something

After the snacks were handed out the older kids asked me a question. They wanted to know if I could buy the Mudpaths ministries some Christian movies that they could watch during Bible club. Not just movies though – they need a TV and DVD player too.
Total cost – $300.00.
I told them I’d do my best. Anyone want to pitch in and get this for them? I’m good for $100.00 (personal funds – not CRI’s)

Christian movies please!

Its hard to say no to faces like these! I recognize them from trips past. They are always so happy to see us. And me them!
I can’t help but wonder what will come of these little ones. My heart hurts when I consider the choices they have. My hope grows when I think about them being exposed to Christ through our programs during these impressionable years. The tangible love of Christ – prayers, hugs, food, Bible stories, craft time, etc. all done in His name for His purposes. Through these they will have felt Him, known Him – at least for a time.

What will she become?

Being a part of providing this sort of love to children in need it such a blessing.
Thanks for your support and prayers!
More to come.