Friday, December 24, 2010

A Breakthrough in the Backdrop of Baltimore

Part 5 of this story series ....

Baltimore Inner Harbor's perpetual carnival-like atmosphere draws both kids and grownups by throngs. During the day, the place hums with street jugglers and musicians that wow the crowds. Tourists promenade a plaza while bathed in the Chesapeake Bay's breeze. A Naval ship is always docked alongside a length of shops and restaurants. It eclipses small "water taxis" that ferry families to the Fort McHenry National Monument (where Francis Scott Key composed "The Star Spangled Banner").

Seals playing in a pool outside the National Aquarium of Baltimore bark their greetings to kiddos. And if you'd rather eat your seafood than see it, restaurants galore offer the best of Maryland cuisine.

Combine all of this with Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles, and the bar-hopping night life in the nearby historically-quaint Fell's Point, and you have a recipe for weekend bliss.

All of this was just about an hour's drive from my little apartment near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border. I loved going to Baltimore as much as I possibly could manage it.
So when Joy suggested I meet her and her sweet little girl one Saturday at the Harbor, I enthusiastically said yes.

It had been about six months since Joy shared she was sick with breast cancer. I wasn't quite prepared for the physical change she'd undergone. Gaunt and frail, she still managed to keep her energetic child under control with her Steel Magnolia voice. She was obviously struggling physically to get through the aquarium exhibits, so when she suggested that we meander to the busy shops and restaurants, I was surprised.

"Are you sure you don't want to go home?" I asked.

"No!" she protested. "We came to meet you for the day! This is fun!"

We strolled by the street performers that were entertaining crowds under colorful, wind-whipped flags. Joy, never one to shirk an opportunity to tease, elbowed me as Navy seamen passed us and exchanged flirtatious glances. We indulged in Maryland crabcakes (ahhh, the days before my allergy to shellfish) and saltwater taffy.

Then Joy suggested that we hit a kids' science store, which contained shelves of "experiments," inflatable solar systems to hang from ceilings, butterfly nets, books about the human body and all manner of create-your-own-volcano kits.

"We love this store," Joy sighed, as if she was in her own personal heaven.

"I can see why," I agreed, not yet a mother but appreciating its kid-appeal. "I can probably find Christmas presents in here for my nephew."

As her child perused collections of plastic dinosaurs and plushy dolphins, Joy walked over to a large bin containing multi-colored crystals and rocks. I watched as she gingerly fingered each one, stroking edges as if the rocks were jewels.

"What are these?"

"These," she said dramatically, "have healing powers."

I laughed.

She shot me a dirty look.

"No, really. Why are you interested in these?"

"They really do have the power to heal!" she protested. "Native American tribes believe they have energies and can provide therapy."

"Joy," I sighed. "Joy, Joy, Joy. You're an atheist. Are you listening to yourself?" I said, but then stopped laughing when I saw the hurt look on her face. "Listen," I said, quickly realizing that I'd treaded too far. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you took this so seriously."

She was holding a smooth, flat, grey stone with a $20 price tag. "Would you like me to buy one for you, too?" she asked.

I caught my breath. I was flabbergasted at both her strong desire to believe anything -- anything, except for God -- and at her earnestness in wanting to share her newfound discovery of "crystal healing" with me. But I shook my head.

"Joy, you're so sweet. That's so kind of you to offer. But, no. If you need these to feel better, get one for yourself, but I'm okay. You know I don't believe in anything like that. I believe in God's power."

She nodded and asked me to watch her child while she went to the cash register, buying the rock and a stuffed dolphin that the little girl had selected.

As I drove home from the outing, I was extremely troubled, but at the same time, hopeful.

If Joy was willing to embrace the idea of the healing power of a rock, did that mean she was not far off from considering God's existence?

Would she die without knowing Him, continuing to search for life's meaning through things like crystals? Or was she on the cusp of finally accepting something so much greater?

I didn't know ... but I resolved to pray.

And I did.

Tune in for part 6 of the tale ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Persisting Joy, Resisting Joy


Part 4 in this story series ...


I don't know about you, but I always know that someone is the truest of friends when they love me and care for me in spite of myself.

Joy was one of those friends.

Three months after my father died, I landed a job at a much larger newspaper in Pennsylvania, hugged Joy goodbye and set off for "better things" in my career. However, I was a sick kitten emotionally, sinking into the blackness of grief.

At my new job and new location, I knew no one. I could have forged new friends, and as an extrovert, that's pretty easy for me. But I chose to isolate myself. I'd wake at 6 a.m., go to work, return home by 4:30, eat dinner at 5 ... and fall asleep at 6 p.m. I'd sleep for 12 hours and repeat the cycle the next day. On weekends, I slept. And slept. And slept. I turned down offers from colleagues for weekend outings and parties ... and slept.

My slumber of sadness lasted nine months. During that time, Joy persistently called me. Sometimes I returned the message. Usually I screened my calls and listened to her plaintiff sweet voice on the machine ... and then just went back to sleep.

Joy never stopped caring about me, even when I resisted her. And when I "woke" from my depression, she was still my faithful friend. She didn't have any expectations of me or any self-involved motives. She was just kind. She was just being Joy.

I realized how much she valued our friendship, when one weekend she took a three-hour drive with her 6-year-old daughter so that they could visit me. They showed up with sleeping bags and camped out on my tiny living room floor.

Joy was not going to let go of her friendship with me, even though I'd given her every indication that I was not worth it. During her visit, she regaled me with hilarious stories of the antics of my former newsroom colleagues and of the people in the community. We talked long into the night hours about Bonnie and Clyde and speculated about their post-prison futures. We ate Chinese, toured the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, watched Chick Flicks and inhaled one bowl of popcorn after another.

That "slumber party" weekend woke me into realizing that even if a person doesn't know God, they can still be the kindest and most noblest of people.

I honestly can't remember if God came up as a topic of discussion that weekend. All I can tell you is that Joy was the sincerest of people, someone who cared despite our differences of belief.

Joy was my true friend.

And so when she called a few months later to tell me that she had breast cancer, I realized it was my turn to be the friend to her that she'd been to me.

Tune in for part 5 of the story ...

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Comfort and Joy"

Part 3 of this story series ...


No surprise -- the judge found "Bonnie" guilty after a week-long trial. Yes, Bonnie had opted for a judge trial over a jury trial, which amazed me. But after Joy explained Bonnie's logic that a jury of her peers would never believe her story, it made sense. That said, even Bonnie's good looks and scripted prairie-girl innocence didn't faze that Maxwell-House-drinking judge in the slightest. When he brought that gavel down, the girl was gone for years behind a wall of prison steel.

As for Joy, the trial had awakened a need for more permanency in her employment status. She was a correspondent, which is a fancy word for "freelancer" for her newspaper. My newspaper editors knew they'd glean a jewel if they could swipe her, so they offered her a full-time job with benefits as a senior reporter.

She took it.

Suddenly, I found that my competitor was in my own newsroom as a colleague. And I couldn't have been more excited.

While other women reporters looked askance at Joy's leggy size 4 body and whispered among themselves that she was probably sleeping with sources to get her scoops, I was enthralled. Joy was the epitome of the news reporter I aspired to be. Panache doesn't quite cover it, actually.

Joy could smooth-talk and coddle the toughest of sources, when other reporters would just get a grunt if they were lucky.

She'd sashay into a meeting of the county commissioners like Princess Grace on a cloud, mesmerizing men and drawing dagger looks from women. She'd whisper-talk in her femininely evocative way, oozing Southern honey to camouflage loaded, vinegar-laced questions.

And she always received the answers. To anything.

Joy made it her mission to mentor me, giving me insights not only on the local personalities, but also on human behavior in general. She taught me how to mine gems of quotes and transform the saltiest character into a sugar plum.

We never discussed God in those early months of our friendship. Every chat revolved around our profession, and Joy gave me the keys to reporting a story with style. An old Irish saying goes that, "An Irishman can tell you to go to hell and make you look forward to the trip." Pretty much, that summed up Joy, and she imparted her secrets to me on how to pull that off.

But the depth of my friendship with Joy continued to expand, after my father told me that he had less than a year to live.

At age 25, the concept of life without my father was unimagined.

Joy was there for me at every turn of my father's illness. She kept my spirits up on days when I didn't think I'd ever smile again. She'd gently encourage me and offer her shoulder for me when I didn't think I'd ever be able to put two words together on deadline. She showed me how to keep my focus on the job and compartmentalize the grief so that I could perform at top speed.

It was during this time of comfort from Joy that the whole "God subject" came up.

"What do you see happening to your dad after he passes away?" Joy suddenly asked me one day over a steaming coffee cup at a local haunt.

The question caught me off guard at first, but when I looked up from my plate of spaghetti into her gaze, I immediately knew what she was trying to ask.

"He'll be in Heaven. With God," I answered simply.

"And you really believe that, don't you?" she pressed.

"Yes. I really believe that."

Joy sighed, cast her eyes down at the coffee and tapped her index finger against the side of the cup. It was the first time I'd ever seen her drop the cool facade.

She looked back up at me.

"If that brings you comfort, you should keep believing it."

"You don't believe that?"

"No. I think this life is the end of life. There's nothing more after this. I don't think God exists. But I'm glad that you do. I'm glad you find comfort in believing that at a time like this."

I wasn't sure how to respond. She sincerely meant it, and I knew her words weren't supposed to be insulting. But I also saw that in her own way, Joy was pitying me.

And yet, she didn't know that even though I was facing my own personal tragedy, I was the one pitying her.

Tune in for part 4 of the story of how my atheist friend became a Christian ...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bungles of Bonnie and Clyde Cement a Friendship

Part 2 of this story series ...

The trial had all the drama and hilarity of the Keystone Cops meeting Bonnie and Clyde. I had to hand it to these two bank robbers. Their modus operandi was fascinating and brilliant, and they managed to avoid capture for several months as a result.

"Clyde" was a small, slight man, all of 5 feet, 5 inches and with a whisper-thin build. His angular face of delicate features and jet black hair gave the impression that the Stork got confused and had mistakenly put a woman's face on a man's body.

And Clyde knew that, too.

So his bank robbing scheme was simple. He dressed in a long black coat, topped his head with a wide-brimmed woman's hat -- and strapped pillows around his abdomen. He made up his face, wore women's gloves and carried a large tote bag. Then he robbed the bank -- as a pregnant woman.

In fact, when the Keystone crew first put out news reports, they said bank tellers described the robber just as that -- a small pregnant woman who was probably in her 7th month.

"Bonnie" was the getaway driver. And this was the funny thing (or, not so funny, depending on how you look at it). She really was pregnant. She sat behind the wheel waiting for Clyde, and as soon as he exited with the tote filled with cash, she took off with a tire squeal. That started everyone looking for two pregnant women with a Thelma-and-Louise streak.

When they were finally caught, no one was more surprised than the detectives that the robber who was politely taking money at the point of a gun -- was really a man. And, of course he was the father of Bonnie's child.

The trial that Joy and I were covering was for Bonnie. Clyde was a witness for the prosecution. See, he'd sold his girl out for lighter sentence. But she, loyal to the grave and even after having given birth in prison, vowed that she would never turn on him.

Ironically, it was this pair that united Joy and I in a unique friendship.

Each morning before the trial started, as I sat on a hard, pew-like courtroom bench, Joy would sidle in next to me with her conspiratorial smile and give me a gentle arm squeeze. "I heard some good gossip about Bonnie," she'd whisper, and then would regale me with the latest jail house activities of the femme fatale.

I was amazed that even though Joy knew I lived for beating her at the story, she still would share nuggets of color that she'd gleaned from bailiffs, detectives and court officials. She showed me how to work the ropes of the courthouse and gave me tips, the more experienced reporter to the cub reporter. She introduced me to people who had worked the case -- and even introduced me to Clyde himself.

Bonnie would show up for court usually in a prairie skirt or frilly white blouse, looking very much the ingénue. I'd marvel at her seeming innocence to the detective who would plant himself in the seat behind me and Joy.

"Don't feel sorry for her," he'd snarl in a Northeastern Maryland drawl. "She's not as sweet as she'd like you to think." He rolled his eyes at Joy, and she covered her mouth like a Southern Belle and quietly chuckled.

"But look at her," I said to both of them. "She just had a baby. There's no way that she wasn't manipulated by her boyfriend."

"Listen," the detective answered, leaning forward so that his head sat on the back of the bench between our two heads. "She's not going to fool the judge like she has you, I can tell you that much. The night we arrested her, she fought like a tomcat, kicking, scratching, biting."

I sucked in my breath, and Joy smiled at me and nodded her head.

"Not only that," the detective continued, "if you heard the words that came out of her mouth, you'd wonder if she'd risen straight from hell's belly. It's a good thing her child is in foster care, that's all I can tell you."

All three of us glanced in Bonnie's direction. As if sensing our collective gaze, she looked over her shoulder at the three of us, then made a face at the detective, whipped her head forward and defiantly crossed her arms.

"See?" he said with a laugh. "No remorse. To her, we're the bad guys for calling off her little bank robbing party."

"Um-hmm," said Joy in agreement as the bailiff announced the judge's entry.

We rose as the door to his chambers swung open and the aroma of the brewed Maxwell House filled the courtroom.

"I want coffee," I whispered to Joy.

"I know, it's not fair that he can brew that and make all of us smell it while we wait for him," she mumbled back.

"Wanna get some coffee after this?" I asked, catching myself by surprise that I'd even suggest lunch with my biggest competitor.

"I'd love it," she said. "I'll buy the coffee. And I'll take you to a place that has great Maryland She-crab soup."

"Deal," I said.

We sat simultaneously as the judge settled behind the bench and called the first witness, both of us flipping open our reporter notebooks and pulling the pencils that were tucked behind our ears.

And in that moment, I knew that Joy was going to be one of those friends I'd have for life.

I was too young to consider that within six years, she would be gone forever.

Tune in for part 3 of the story of how my atheist friend became a Christian ...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Joy in the Mourning

Part one of this new story series ...

Maxwell House coffee.

Even today, 21 years since those three weeks in November 1991, I know the aroma of Maxwell House over any other brand.

And every time I snatch a whiff of it, I see Joy in my mind's eye:

Joy, with her Shirley Temple auburn tendrils that lushly framed an ivory complexion and soft brown eyes.

Joy, whose silky Alabamian drawl perpetuated a facade of seduction mixed with innocence.

Joy, the envy of every woman within 30 feet of where she stood, the embodiment of charisma and grace.

And Joy was my rival -- not only in the feminine sense, but also professionally.

We worked for competing newspapers in northeast Maryland -- she, for The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., and I -- for a 150-year-old daily rag called "The Cecil Whig," which had all of a whopping 13,000 readers.

What she had on me in experience and age, I had in pit bull aggression. For it was my goal to beat Joy on every daily story imagined. We both covered county politics and also occasionally court trials. Joy had an arm sleeve of contacts and sources that she'd developed over several years. I was an upstart who had only arrived on the scene a couple of months earlier.

Every time I beat Joy on a scoop, I did a little victory dance in front of my desk in the newsroom. Every time she walloped me? I put my head in my arms and moaned at her headline.

I didn't like Joy at first, not at all. To a cocky 24-year-old, Joy and her 38 years of maturity were infuriatingly annoying.

But that all changed in November 1991, when both Joy and I went head to head, covering a court trial for a Bonnie-and-Clyde bank robbing team.

You see, that's where I first took a whiff of Maxwell House coffee, which brewed every morning in the judge's chamber and wafted into the courtroom before proceedings began.

And that's where my life was changed forever ... by Joy.


Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of the story ....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Blog Story Series to Start Soon

Thanks to all of the readers who regularly check for new postings!

I'm in the midst of writing up 13 stories for one of my magazine clients. When I finish, we'll be jumping into a new story series. The topic? An atheist friend who accepted Jesus as her Savior before she died in 1996.

Stay tuned for "Joy in the Mourning ..." to be released this coming week on Christian Safehouse.

Thanks!

--Heidi Rafferty

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

HEIDI_RAFFERTY ON TWITTER IS NOT ME

UPDATE ON THE POST BELOW: TWITTER HAS REMOVED THE IMPERSONATOR. MY NAME HEIDI RAFFERTY HAS BEEN RESTORED TO MY ACCOUNT AND IS PROTECTED BY AN OPEN CASE NUMBER ON FILE AT TWITTER. THANKS TO ALL OF MY SUPPORTERS AND FRIENDS WHO HELPED ME THROUGH THE ATTACK FOR MY FAITH.



MY IMPERSONATOR HAS JUST CREATED A "@HEIDI_RAFFERTY" ACCOUNT ON TWITTER. THIS IS NOT ME. PLEASE BLOCK AND READ STORY BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS. THAT'S @Heidi_Rafferty, with an underscore between first and last names. Thanks.

The Tale of Queen Aravis & The Thief in the Night

Jesus told a parable that has come true in my life during the past few days.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." -- John 10:10.

I had to change my Twitter name from Aslansmane to Queen Aravis after an atheist continually copied my identity, followed people I knew on Twitter and pretended to be me. He/she tweeted blasphemy as well as other things.

After I changed my name to Queen Aravis ... the thief found it and changed his name to Queen Arivas (He switched the I and the A). He is now following many people who know me and is doing what he can to destroy my name.

As a result, I have quit the social network Twitter to debate atheists for a few months, until I decide whether I want to continue with this. If you know anything about my personal life, you know that I have lost everything during the past 12 months. Now someone is trying to take the only thing I have left, which is my name. It's the one thing I have left to protect.

If you are being followed by Queen Arivas on Twitter and are my friend, please block this person, and please report this person to Twitter for impersonation. Twitter has allowed this person to continue to harass me unabated.

Additionally, a few minutes ago I learned that the impostor has copied a second protected Twitter account named, "abusedsurvivor." This was an account I was using to help victims of domestic abuse. He/she has renamed it "amusedsurvivor" and is now trying to pretend he's me. If you are followed by "amusedsurvivor," please block.

I also want to give everyone the heads-up that this impostor is now trying to copy my blog. I have changed the title to "Christian Safehouse" from "Priscilla's & Aquila's Place." I spent about two hours last night overhauling the design, after he/she repeatedly tried to copy mine. The address for this fake account is http://christianfakehouse.blogspot.com. The person has gone so far as to copy my former ID badge and copy my profile information word for word so that people will think this is me. I have reported this harassment to Blogger but am skeptical anything will be done. I realize the Internet is like the Wild Wild West with no rules, and this is the chance I take.

If you are willing to let me know if this person takes any other measures to rob my identity, you may email me at randrwriting@gmail.com.

And let's not forget -- the thief in the night comes to rob and destroy -- but Jesus does provide abundant life. We are treasured children. I believe on His Name.

Thanks.

Heidi Rafferty

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Note To Readers from the How Good Is That Wordpress Blog

A step out of the current story series for an important announcement:


It's come to my attention that a lot of you are now visiting Christian Safehouse because of a blog entitled, "How Good is That" on Wordpress.

I have not read the blog entry, because it has been written by a person who is angry with me for backing out of a book deal with him.

He is unemployed. I met him on Twitter and shared with him an idea I had for a book. He asked if he could co-write it with me. I received his first draft and saw he was going in a direction that was opposite of what I'd intended. I tried to back out. He persisted and suggested that I do two books, one with him and the other on my own with my original idea.

At the same time, I was working on his behalf to find him magazine freelance work with my editors. I write for eight magazines. I thought this guy deserved a break and wrote letters on his behalf to people in the industry.

At first it seemed to be like an okay arrangement. But then my co-author decided to smear me on his blog because he disagreed with a matter taking place on the social network Twitter. This matter had nothing to do with my professional life or the book we were supposed to be co-writing. I also was uncomfortable with the chapters he was submitting to me, as he seemed to be trying to determine the sole direction of the book content.

I decided it was in my best interest to back out of the book project. He'd only written 2 chapters, and not much work had gone into it. We did not have a contract. We always had the agreement that if we decided it wasn't going to work relationally, one of us could back out.

In retaliation for my decision, rather than accept it as a professional would and move on, he has chosen to write about me on his blog.

As I said earlier, I have no idea what the content is -- only that he is promoting this on Twitter and doing what he can to discredit my reputation.

You can believe what you want, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I tried to help this individual, and this was his repayment for my professional kindness and courtesy.

Oh. No comments will be posted on this entry. It's my blog, and it's my right to moderate comments and print them or not print them. If you don't like it, go read another blog.

Thanks.

Heidi Rafferty

Monday, November 8, 2010

ATHEISTS POST SECOND IMPERSONATION ACCOUNT OF ASLANSMANE ON TWITTER

We'll continue with Part 5 of "The Great Twitter Experiment" tonight.

Please be advised that for the SECOND TIME, atheists on Twitter have created an impersonation account of my Aslansmane account.

If you are a Twitter user, be aware that they have switched the "L" and the "S" so that it reads "alsansmane." It is a protected account and so far is following 448 people.

PLEASE BLOCK THEM.

Thanks for your attention to this matter. Back to our story tonight! Be sure to tune in!

Heidi Rafferty.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jesus Cooks Me Spaghetti

In my dreams.
Last week, in REM sleep.


I am dreaming, and it's one of those dreams where you dream you've just awakened from sleep.

In my dream, I am in my soft bed, slumbering. Suddenly, the aroma of garlic wakes me. I see myself sit up from my pillow and look around. I know someone is in my house -- and I know exactly where they are because of the deliciousness wafting into my room. I pull my legs to the side of the bed and sink bare feet into pink slippers, pull on a robe and walk down my hallway, towards my kitchen.

The lights are dimmed. Only the sink light and the microwave light over the stove cast a glow. Steam rises from a pot of boiling spaghetti. The source of the garlic ... a pan of rich meat sauce.

And who is standing in front of my oven, stirring the pasta, sampling the sauce with a wooden spoon?

You won't get over this:

It's Jesus.

"Wow," I say to myself. "Jesus is in my kitchen, cooking me spaghetti!"

Spaghetti is my favorite meal. It has been since I was a small child. It symbolizes comfort, nourishment. It brings to mind lunches in first grade, when my mother would pack Ragu-flavored noodles into a small thermos. It is the embodiment of care-taking for me.

And Jesus is making it for me.

"You're here!" He says, smiling at me. I stand at His elbow, the steam from the boiling water surrounding me like a warm hug. I watch Him stir the sauce.

"I have something for you," He continues, turning to grab something on the counter. He hands me a heavy frosty glass, filled with a rosy liquid. "Have some Communion wine. It's your favorite."

I bring the wine to my lips -- ahhh! It's the same wine I receive during Communion every Sunday morning! And it's COLD! It's delicious! It coats my throat, gloriously quenching my thirst, setting off my taste buds like fireworks.

Jesus keeps smiling at me and turns back to the stove. I say nothing. I'm simply in awe of Him, amazed that He's actually here in my kitchen, making me dinner, giving me Communion wine with His own lovely pierced hands.

But what is most amazing ... there is a song playing over and over as Jesus and I stand side by side while He cooks. It sounds like a Lutheran liturgical chant. Lilting tenor voices tenderly massage the melody.

And these are the words they are singing:

He prepares a table before me ...

in the presence of my enemies ...

He prepares a table before me ...

in the presence of my enemies ...

He prepares a table before me ...

in the presence of my enemies ...


Over and over they sing the words.

Over and over.

Over and over.

And then I wake up.

I'm in my room. It' 6 a.m., time for Neil's school bus to arrive shortly. The bedroom is black. The sun hasn't risen. There is no garlic, no cozy kitchen, no Jesus standing at my stove.

But my heart is warm.

And within two hours of waking ... I face enemies.

I face people who don't understand me, who judge me, who fear me. I face betrayal. I face hate. I face mortification. I face undeserved shame. I face callousness.

But in the midst of it -- in the midst of all of it ... I see Jesus in my mind's eye, standing before my stove, cooking spaghetti for me, handing me an ice cold glass of wine.

I hear the song of monks.

He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

He did. He prepared me for my day. He reminded me before it started that He would be with me, that no matter what was ahead of me ... He'd prepared the table.

On Sunday morning, a few days later, I went to the front of my church for Communion. As my pastor poured the wine into a small cup for me to drink and I lifted it to my lips, the same fragrant bouquet hit me as in my dream.

I closed my eyes and smiled.

"Hey," I said to Him.

"Thanks for the spaghetti. Thanks for preparing the table before me. Thanks for Communing with me. And thanks for Your love."

I heard Him speak in my heart.

"You're welcome."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Answer to the "Spiritual Atheist" Point of View

Conclusion.

The video from yesterday by a young atheist who defined "spiritual" for himself was a great summation of what I've heard from atheists on Twitter who have seriously thought through their decision of non-belief.

And now for the other side of the coin.

Here's an excerpt from "The Silver Chair," which is part of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, a former atheist turned Christian. And IT is the perfect summation of why Christians choose to believe. One reason I love the Narnia Chronicles is that although they're children's books, Lewis conveys difficult-to-understand spiritual concepts so succinctly and easily. This is a fantastic example.

Read it, compare it to the video posted below ... and post your thoughts. I'd love to hear from both atheists and Christians on this.

The Silver Chair – Chapter 12

“One word, Ma'am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spirituality for Atheists?

An atheist on Twitter brought this video to my attention. It's completely gorgeous and well-done. I'd like opinions from both sides on this. What do you think? Let's open the door for some constructive discussion. Tomorrow we'll look at the other point of view, from the book "The Silver Chair," by C.S. Lewis.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Forgiving the Haters: Parental Discretion Advised


Parents: Please make sure young children are not viewing the screen with you as you read this blog post. Thanks.



Have you ever been faced with someone who outright hates you because you proclaim the Name of Jesus?

This week, I have met several of them on Twitter. In fact, although I had a Twitter account with 2,200 followers, I had to shut it down due to incessant harassment from these individuals.

I received photos like this, which I won't post here because it's so shocking, but go to this link:

http://www.funny-games.biz/images/pictures/39-attention2.jpg

I received messages like this on my blog:

"You do recognize that it's not the fantasy of a loving "deity" we're offended by. It's the crazy bitch who won't SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GET OUT OF OUR FACES. In other words, it's YOU."

And I received messages like this on Twitter:

"Jesus did not die for me, he should have asked first, I would have told him not to be an idiot. I forgive you for being a moron."

I watched as people pilfered through my blog posts like voyeurs, quoting, misquoting, maligning, criticizing, deriding. I was amazed that they went so far as to look up my contact information on my professional Web site and conspire to publish my phone numbers and call them (no longer good numbers, by the way). They came up with a Twitter hashtag campaign, WWHRD (What Would Heidi Raff(erty) Do?) to mock me and also talked about a parody Twitter account called Heidi Rat. They pulled up my body of work, magazine articles I've written during the past nine years, and circulated them to laugh at them.

Then, when I closed down my Twitter account and launched a new one with an incognito identity, they trolled through the timelines of known friends of mine on Twitter. They figured out who was talking to someone new and discovered my account. Then they published that account with my ID and continued their harassment throughout today.

Here's the thing.

They aren't attacking me.

Whether they know it or not, they are attacking the One who loves them.

Why do you think people go out of their way to harass one individual like that, with such venom and hatred? Why do you suppose they get upset when told, "God loves you," or, "Jesus died for you?"

Could it be that deep down, they hear the Voice of the One who seeks them, even in their bigotry, even in their darkest actions?

Absolutely.

And here's what He brought to mind to me today, when all was said and done:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." -- Matthew 5: 38-47


So.

I will love my enemies.

I will pray for those who persecute me.

I will bless those who deride me.

I will pray for them, pray for their children, ask God to bless them and to wrap them in His arms.

Why?

He commands it.

And He loves them.

And I forgive them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Joe's (Unholy) Jihad Against Atheists

SECOND NOTE TO READERS OF "HOW GOOD IS THAT" WORDPRESS BLOG:


Originally there was another blog post here, as you can see from the title. I'm not sure what's occurring on Twitter or why people have been hitting this particular blog entry in droves since yesterday (April 4). But I can tell you one thing:

I am no longer using Twitter. At all.

I am not seeking drama. At all.

I am minding my own business.

If Jim Gardner is now waging a new character assassination vendetta, please tell him to get a real life and that I'm praying for him.

And if you want to know what happened ... read the first note I posted to all of you in November (below).

Whatever is going on, I don't care. You shouldn't, either. But feel free to peruse my blog if you want to read more about Jesus.

Thank you, and God bless you. Even Jim.
Heidi Rafferty




FIRST NOTE TO READERS OF "HOW GOOD IS THAT" WORDPRESS BLOG: (This was posted in November 2011)


It's come to my attention that a lot of you are now visiting Christian Safehouse because of a blog entitled, "How Good is That" on Wordpress.

I have not read the blog entry, because it has been written by a person who is angry with me for backing out of a book deal with him.

He is unemployed. I met him on Twitter and shared with him an idea I had for a book. He asked if he could co-write it with me. I received his first draft and saw he was going in a direction that was opposite of what I'd intended. I tried to back out. He persisted and suggested that I do two books, one with him and the other on my own with my original idea.

At the same time, I was working on his behalf to find him magazine freelance work with my editors. I write for eight magazines. I thought this guy deserved a break and wrote letters on his behalf to people in the industry.

At first it seemed to be like an okay arrangement. But then my co-author decided to smear me on his blog because he disagreed with a matter taking place on the social network Twitter. This matter had nothing to do with my professional life or the book we were supposed to be co-writing. I also was uncomfortable with the chapters he was submitting to me, as he seemed to be trying to determine the sole direction of the book content.

I decided it was in my best interest to back out of the book project. He'd only written 2 chapters, and not much work had gone into it. We did not have a contract. We always had the agreement that if we decided it wasn't going to work relationally, one of us could back out.

In retaliation for my decision, rather than accept it as a professional would and move on, he has chosen to write about me on his blog.

As I said earlier, I have no idea what the content is -- only that he is promoting this on Twitter and doing what he can to discredit my reputation.

You can believe what you want, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I tried to help this individual, and this was his repayment for my professional kindness and courtesy.


Thanks.

Heidi Rafferty

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The R.J. Corman Car Game

Plunked in the middle of Kentucky's blue grass are rows upon rows of stark white fences. They roll from one hill to the next like dominoes and stretch on the horizon like a yoga master. They wall off the fiefdom of a 21st century railroad magnate named R.J. Corman.

Corman's presence in central Kentucky is distinctive. Besides the white fences, he has other trademarks: Red spindle-tops adorn white Churchill Downs-like barns. Stone gates to long driveways herald their owner's name. But what really stands out are the railway cars themselves. Around corporate headquarters, several are grouped like fattened cows by the River Nile, all of them, red, all of them, lettered in bold white: "R.J. CORMAN."

So when I drive Neil 45 minutes to his little country school, he and I make the most of our trip by playing what we call, "The R.J. Corman Game." Adults would quickly tire of it, but for a 6-year-old, this game is the bomb.

As we drive, whoever first spots a white fence, spindled barn, stone fence or railway car shouts, "R.J. Corman!" The winner, of course, shouts the name the most.

This would seem to be a pretty open-and-shut goal except for one thing. There are some copy cats along the road, people who have obviously admired the Corman panache and have tried to emulate it with their own red-and-white barns and fences.

Sometimes this really confuses Neil. In his excitement, he'll yell, "R.J. Corman!" only to have me shake my head and say, "No buddy, see? Look how that place doesn't look new or clean. And the fence is white, but it's really old."

"Oh, wight, Mommy," he says in his lisp, substituting his ws for rs. "I forgot!"

The game then goes downhill as we also coast downward and across the Kentucky river. Now there are grey barns, ramshackle homes and derelict structures. Neil loves to "put on his silly face," as I call it, and start pointing willy nilly at these lovely objects. "R.J. Corman! R.J. Corman! R.J. Corman! R.J. Corman!" he gleefully shouts, and I finally have to put the nix on it with a tickle in his ribs and a sighed, "Let's do this again tomorrow morning."

So what's my point in telling you all of this?

It occurred to me this morning, as we were playing this little game, that the return of Jesus to earth will be as easy to spot as ... well ... an R.J. Corman railway car.

Do you ever worry that this anti-Christ stuff will be just a little too confusing for you? Sometimes I have worried that. I'm like any other Christian, pulling out Revelation when I have insomnia and scaring myself with the various prophecies. But the anti-Christ prophecy is the one that scares me the most, because so many people will be fooled by this guy.

And it hit me today: I have nothing to fear. Neither do you, if you really know Him, because just like Neil and I can easily identify the Corman name and Corman properties, knowing them from the pretenders and even those that are obviously not anywhere near "Corman quality," we will also know -- clearly -- when Jesus has shown up.

Check out Matthew 24: 26-31 ... and take heart. It will be as clear to you as R.J. Corman:

"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

"Immediately after the distress of those days
" 'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Indian Princess, Unveiled


Conclusion of this story series.


A Performance of “Riverdance.”
Wednesday night.
Norton Center for the Arts.
Danville, Kentucky.


She dances.

My breath, caught in my throat, struggles to expel through my lungs, but I am holding it fast … while she dances.

She stands atop a staircase, against a backdrop of tall flames, her crimson dress matching the image of consuming fire.

She dances.

She raises her arms over her head, mimicking the arc of ire, moving, bending … writhing.

She dances.

Is she symbolic fire?

Is the fire symbolic of her?

Is the flame … within her?

I cannot tell which. Perhaps it is one, perhaps all three, but there’s no mistaking that as I watch muy bonita, she most definitely personifies one thing for me: My Indian Princess of long ago.

She whirls down the stairway, her skirt flaring as she whips her hips and stomps dainty dancing shoes. The drum rhythm, repetitive and primitive, accelerates. She and the beat are one, passionate, painful, unrelenting, unstoppable.

I see her dancing on the hot coals, my Indian Princess, unveiled, exposed, burning, hurting. She is all that I am, all that I feel, all that I have experienced. She is the anguish churning in my heart. Salt touches my lips, and I realize that tears have traveled down my cheeks. I am transfixed, just as I was on that long ago summer night around the campfire at age 10, listening to the teen-age camp counselor weave the tale of the princess in search of love.

Then.

She is surrounded by other dancers. They move with her, angling with the direction of her body, bringing their arms around her waist and behind her back.

And they lift her.

High above their heads, she is held. They dance in her place. I see in my mind’s eye the suitor who grabbed the princess, rescued her from the coals and danced in her place.

It all makes sense, this journey, one that began with a child’s imaginings, continued in a symbolic lifelong habit of walking on hot sand and pavement and culminated here, on this night, watching this skilled dancer unknowingly play out the tale.

No longer does it matter what I am experiencing – the harshness of life, the unfairness of circumstances, the heartache of my soul.

I do not have to dance on the hot coals alone.

I can be – and I am being – carried. Others are lifting me up, dancing in my place, bringing my concerns before my Father. They’ve always been there for me, too, these princes and princesses, stomping their feet, fervently praying, taking my place when I am too weak to stand alone and utter the words, “Help me. Dance for me.”

They are the Christian safe house.

They are the Indian suitor, rescuers, who love and who sustain.

They … are you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Indian Princess Dances

After that summer camp story of the Indian Princess dancing on the hot coals, for whatever reason, my childhood mind aspired to do the same.

So everywhere I went in summer months, I went barefoot.

On scorching pavement and concrete, I went barefoot.

On blistering beach sand, I went barefoot.
On patios, sidewalks, on walking trails that meandered through public parks and on the melting Macadam of driveways in front of my houses … I went barefoot.

By the time I was a teen-ager, the desire to be an Indian Princess had recessed into the imagination of childhood … and I’d forgotten the reason I went barefoot everywhere.

I just did.

I continued to go barefoot, to traipse the heat of the world’s surface, because … well, it was just a habit.

My teens merged into my 20s. My 20s became my 30s.

And I was still going barefoot, hither and yon. Whenever the opportunity arose to shed my shoes, I did so with glee, not quite remembering the reason, just knowing that I loved to be free to walk … barefoot.

Then I got married.

My husband noticed that my feet were hard and calloused. He complained that they weren’t soft and supple, like other women he’d been with.

I started wearing shoes again.

I became embarrassed about the state of my soles.

And before I knew it, my body itself was protesting the long years of my barefoot existence. My feet grew painful corns, tough ridges of skin on the edges of my heels. I could feel the real skin underneath the protective layers – but the layers themselves were actually painful.

I tried to rid myself of the problem I’d created.

I used all manner of cutting devices, even a grating device, to recreate the feet I had before the summer of the tale of the Indian Princess – the feet of a child. I had infections in my feet, cuts, sores, blisters. I covered them in antibiotic ointments, always trying to self-correct them, then always trying to self-heal them.

All lotions, creams, pedicure instruments, advice from a doctor even – nothing would rid me of what I now saw as ugly, repulsive, disgusting, painful … and worst of all … ridiculous.

I would think to myself, “All of this started because of that stupid story about the Indian princess and the hot coals.” And I would berate myself and chide myself and even hate myself for it.

What I didn’t realize, though, was that the matter was much more than about calloused feet.

It had everything to do … with a Christian safehouse.

Tune in tomorrow for the next part of the story …

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gao Zhisheng Confirmed 'Alive!' Thanks to International Support

A step outside of the story for an important announcement from China Aid:


SHANXI -- On Sunday, March 28, 2010, missing human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng spoke to his wife and children for the first time in over a year - confirming he is still alive! False rumors of his death, torture, and escape from the custody of the Chinese Government have shrouded Gao's absence with mystery for over a year. Gao's brief phone conversations with western media mark the first official contact the public has had with him since his abduction by police on February 4, 2009.

Yesterday, Gao informed reporters that he had been released from detention six months ago, and had taken up residence at Wutai Shan mountain, a Buddhist landmark in northern Shanxi province. He refused to give details on his condition or whereabouts, saying he could not legally give interviews.

Close friend and fellow human rights lawyer Li Heping confirmed he had also spoken with Gao on Sunday. Gao told him he had "friends around him" - indicating he was being held under close surveillance by Chinese authorities.

Gao's wife Geng He and their children were overwhelmed with emotion as they spoke with Gao on Sunday morning. The children could not stop crying. In a statement released on Monday morning, Geng He appealed to the Chinese government to allow Gao Zhisheng to join the family in New York. Gao's family has suffered greatly in his absence. Geng He's parents have been severely harassed in recent months, for which Gao feels guilty.

He told the Associated Press, "I just want to be in peace and quiet for a while and be reunited with my family. Most people belong with family. I have not been with mine for a long time. This is a mistake and I want to correct this mistake."

While on his campaign in Europe to promote awareness of Gao's cause, ChinaAid President Bob Fu attributed the breakthrough to increased international pressure. "Thanks to the more than 124,000 supporters in over 180 countries around the world who have signed the petition to Free Gao, the Chinese Government has been forced to respond and to allow Gao Zhisheng to reconnect with his loved ones."

ChinaAid thanks you for your continued support and urges you to continue to take action. From Argentina to Zimbabwe, you, the international community have answered the call. And this is just the beginning.

Gao is not free yet. His movements are still being watched and monitored. He is not free to speak publicly or without surveillance. We must continue to press the Chinese government to free Gao Zhisheng, to uncensor his movements, and to allow him to reunite with his family.

Take Action:

Encourage more to Sign the Petition. Every voice counts, and every voice will be heard!
Call on your local representatives to take official action on behalf of Gao Zhisheng.
Urge U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to hold the Chinese government to the international covenants on human rights.
Thanks to you, the world has now regained contact with Mr. Gao Zhisheng. Because of you, Gao was able to reconnect with his family. With your continued support, we can make their dream of reunion a reality!

For more ways to get involved, visit www.FreeGao.com.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tale of the Indian Princess and the Hot Coals

Part one.

Summer 1975.
The Salvation Army's Camp Allegheny.
Near Ellwood City, Pennsylvania.


I am 10.

For the summer, I live with my parents at The Salvation Army's camp for inner city children. They run the entire operation, and my brother and I have full run of the place -- an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a creek, forest trails, even a barn with a rope for a swing and a massive pile of hay on which to fall.

And during one week in the summer, I get to experience what the other kids experience -- I get to be "a camper." As the school buses bring in children from all over Western Pennsylvania hovels, I am assigned with them to an A-frame cabin, where I sleep on a cot and trade ghost stories and participate in all of the programs as one of them.

This particular night, we're sitting around a campfire. As the logs pop and the sparks crackle in the cool northern Pennsylvania night air, my teen-age camp counselor puts a flashlight underneath her chin.

"Do you want to hear a freaky story?" she asks.

"YES!" we all shout, and we scoot to the edge of our log-carved seats so that we don't miss a word.

"Once," she begins, "there was a beautiful Indian princess. She feared no man. She hunted deer and bear and made beautiful winter coats and blankets from their skins and roasted their meat in open fires. She went to war alongside the warriors, while the squaws of the village tended the fires and took care of the babies. She had the heart of a lion.

"One day, the princess was in the field, gathering herbs for a special banquet. She was going to be married, you see, but she had to choose the man who would be worthy of her. It was her job to create the feast and judge each suitor as he came to eat it. She was perplexed, for there was more than one man who could easily become her husband.

"As she bent over to pull some of these herbs, she suddenly saw a pair of bare feet standing before her. They were rough and worn. She looked up into the face of a mysterious old woman.

"'Princess,'" the woman said, "'Tonight you will choose your husband. To find the man who is worthy of your heart, you must do one thing. While they eat, you must perform a dance. But this is no ordinary dance. You must take hot coals from the fire and while the men are dining, dance like you've never danced before -- atop the coals of the fire of the feast.'

"Suddenly, the woman vanished! The princess wondered if she was losing her mind, but she decided to do what the ghostly woman had commanded. As the men gorged themselves, she went to the fire and with stick pulled hot coals from it, laying it before their table. Then she stepped onto the coals to the beat of the drum. And as the coals seared the flesh of her feet, she began to dance wildly, chanting and singing.

"She didn't get far into her dance, when she felt strong arms grabbing at her and pulling her up from the fire. The warrior held her as a baby to his chest. And as the drum continued to beat, he danced on the coals for her.

"And this, my children, is how the Indian Princess found the true love of her life."



We were aghast, silent, amazed.

As I tucked into my sleeping bag on the small metal cot later that night, I stared at the slanted roof of the A-frame cabin. I replayed the story over and over in my mind.

I wanted so badly to become that Indian Princess, who danced on the hot coals.


What does this have to do with a Christian safehouse? Tune in tomorrow for the next part of the story.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How God Wants Us to Get Along



Sometimes a picture really is a thousand words.

Take a look at this photo and just do one thing for me: Remember that no matter what differences you have with another believer, this is really how God wants us to love each other.

Please pray for His love to envelope us in the sweetness we see here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Uproar in Heaven

Pause. Stop.

Consider.

When you pray for another person -- really pray -- you have just created an uproar in Heaven.

How do I know?

I have this week experienced a storm, a fallout, a catastrophe.

When I have been unable to think straight, other people have decided to pray on my behalf.

And when they prayed, I knew that all of Heaven was in an uproar.

For me.

I knew that the Son who died for my sins was pleading for me to the Father. I knew that the forces of His armies came to my aid.

And why?

Because I heard the sound of His voice, clearly, succinctly, without question.

Your prayers are powerful. When you take a cause to Him, when you stop in your day to ponder the plight of someone else, when you bow your head and whisper their name and beg for His intervention ... Heaven sounds alarms.

Heaven answers.

You may not know the result of your prayers immediately. You may not even realize that as you breathe the person's name in your thoughts that an answer is coming soon.

But I can tell you with all certainty: You've just summoned the aid of the Almighty, the Powerful, the Loving Father, the Prince of Peace, the Spirit of Truth.

Think of it.

There's an uproar in Heaven when you pray.

Have you prayed today? Have you summoned the alarm for someone else who needs it? Have you begged their cause to the King? If you love Him, you can be assured He's getting the message, loud and clear.

The uproar begins with a whisper on your lips and ends with a trumpeting shout before God Himself.

And in His mercy, love and kindness, He will rescue.

So try it now.

Pray for someone.

Raise an uproar in Heaven.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When is it OK to Leave a Church?

My sweet cousin Windsor just sent this video to me. It's 2 minutes long, and it has some great points. If you've been following the blog you know the events of the past four days.

I'd like to say that I am in process of discussions with top leaders at Quest Community Church and also seeking the counsel of wise Christians who do not attend. This, coupled with prayer, the study of I John and also requests and acceptance of forgiveness on both sides, is helping me put Humpty Dumpty together again. Thanks to all of you who have supported and loved me. Take a moment to watch the video below, and I continue to covet your prayers. -- Heidi

Phillip Jensen asks Mark Dever - When is it ever right to leave a church? from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Rice-and-Bean Fast for Haiti

On Thursday night, I was given the opportunity to fast for 2.5 days. While fasting, I was to pray for the people of Haiti. The menu – ½ cup of rice and ½ cup of beans – for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing more. The fast was to end Sunday at noon. It is 10:15 p.m. on Saturday night, and I made it 50 hours.
While I did this, I kept this small journal. I’d like to share it with you. Please read it prayerfully and consider giving whatever you can to the people of Haiti. Here’s a link if you don’t know where to start: www.questcommunity.com/haiti.
Thank you.


Day One, Friday

7:15 a.m. My stomach is grumbling during my devotions. I see images in my mind of children with grumbling stomachs. I will wait for breakfast while I think about and pray for the people whose stomachs grumble with no relief in sight.

8:55 a.m. – Eating my first course of Vigo “completely seasoned, easy to prepare Black Beans & Rice” (and the package also says authentic Cuban recipe). Topped it with red wine vinegar. Actually, with Starbucks coffee, it’s tasty, even for breakfast. But then I start wondering … the seasoning offerings and the Starbucks are definitely not available in Haiti. Does this take away from the full experience?

3:17 p.m. – REALLY struggling now. Want so badly to stop this fasting. I had rice and beans for lunch, and I never thought it would be this difficult to stay focused. How do people do this, when food is scarce? It affects your mind, your mood, your alertness. Hunger is uncomfortable and painful. I am really hating this.

4:12 p.m. – HUNGER. IS. PAINFUL. I’m so sick.

Day Two, Saturday

8:33 a.m. – Last night I gave in and ate 8 gummy candies. Then I felt guilty and even sicker than I do with just the rice and beans. As I put Neil to bed and he went to sleep in my arms, I looked at his beautiful face, so full and healthy. He does not know what it means to be hungry. My stomach was hurting so badly, and I thought, “This is how someone’s baby feels right now in Haiti.” I cried, not just for the children who are hungry but also for their parents, who must feel so frustrated and heartbroken that their babies have nothing to eat. What a terrible thing this is. What a horrible predicament. I prayed so fervently for the children, while Neil’s breath puffed from his mouth and as he slept, totally unaware of the plight of others his age.

2 p.m. – Just ate my lunch of rice and beans. My head hurts. My stomach is raw. My concentration is off. My mood is grumpy. I’m sleepy. I don’t know how people exist like this. And it’s only been a day-and-a-half! Praying for God to help workers rebuild infrastructure so that the food can get to the people. It is so amazing how this is clarifying the situation in my mind.

5:20 p.m. – Woke from a three-hour nap. The lack of food made me so tired that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. What has surprised me, probably the most about this experience, is my cavalier attitude of the past towards people in famine. I would see photos on the news of people receiving rice and think, “Well now they have something to eat. I could survive on rice! It wouldn’t be completely nutritional, but it would be enough to live on.” How horrible of me. Only someone in a country like America, where there is plenty on top of plenty, could possibly think like that. I’m ashamed at my past calloused thinking. This experience, though short-lived, has given me such an incredible window into what happens to the body and mind. And I’ve only been doing this a day-and-a-half! What if we were without food for days, weeks, months? When we see photos of emaciated people and children with protruding stomachs, we are looking at suffering, plain and simple.

6:09 p.m. – I would give anything for an apple on my kitchen counter right now. I thought when this started, “I’ll probably crave pizza or a Big Mac.” Wrong. I crave sweet, juicy fruit. Even a glass of milk feels like a luxury. Why don’t I eat it? People tell me I’m not accomplishing anything by doing this. Here’s what I’m accomplishing: I’m learning how other people feel, experiencing something at the same time that they are. Though we are thousands of miles apart, every time my stomach grumbles, I hear their stomachs grumbling. Every time my head hurts, I know someone in Haiti has that symptom, too. Every time I feel like I want to cry for hunger, I think of the babies who are crying to their mothers, “I’m hungry, Mommy. I’m hungry.” And I think of the helpless moms, who can do nothing but try to shush and quiet them, as they themselves battle these same physical symptoms.
God, bring the resources to these people. Help rescue agencies build the infrastructure to get there. Rescue them! Help them! They are dying. They are dying.

10:06 p.m. – I broke my fast about 30 minutes ago. Came downstairs after putting Neil to bed, and I was dizzy. My head was pounding, and I was so nauseated. I opened up a small yogurt and weighed whether to stop fasting. I decided … I have to stop. I feel much better after eating that, plus an apple and a 4-inch pizza.

I made it 50 hours.

But my heart aches, knowing that while I can choose to stop eating like this, hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti are still on this rancid diet … if they are lucky to have food at all.

How do people live in these conditions?

Not only that, they’re in tents. They don’t even have a home. I have all of the trappings of American life around me.

Tonight, Neil and I went to Wal-Mart to pick up some milk and other sundries. I looked around me at all of the food, all of the people mindlessly throwing it into their baskets. Until Thursday night, when I started this fast, I was one of them. I will never go into a grocery store again with that attitude.

We have so much. They have so little. And the little they had was taken from them in one terrible moment.

No, I haven’t traveled there. I haven’t seen the tragedy with my own eyes. I really have no idea – NONE – about what they are experiencing. I can’t even fathom it.

But this was an amazing opportunity for me to try to get a tiny peek into what their bodies feel like. And with that physical discomfort, I get another look into their emotions. What if, on top of all of this, my child was dead? Or what if I were dead and my child was wandering a street, with his hand out, asking people for food, looking for shelter and protection with no one to help him? The idea of that alone just breaks me in half.

We can’t forget them.

We mustn’t forget them.

Pray.

Pray for Haiti.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Our Future with The Mysterious King on the Throne




I told you the story wasn't over.

In fact, the ending hasn't even occurred yet. But if we believe in the Mysterious King on the Throne, if we place our trust in Him and accept His love and forgiveness, we have this assurance: We will be with Him forever.

An atheist friend of mine is trying to understand the concept of Heaven. What does it mean to worship eternally, she wondered. I have come to realize that for people who have not personally experienced this lavish presence of the Mysterious King on the Throne, it truly is inconceivable, and the reasons behind it may seem foolish.

When we love someone, we just want to spend every moment with them. I gave my husband a card once that said, "I'd rather do nothing with you than something with anybody else." That's how it is, isn't it? We just love being in the presence of the one we love. We don't want to separate from their warm embrace or be far from their voice.

If you know Jesus, then you know that with Him, the depth of feeling is indescribable -- all other human relationships are just tips of an undersea mountainous glacier.

Worship.

It seems unfathomable that we would worship Him forever. And yet, when I do have the opportunity to worship, when I have had the awesome experience of glimpses of that heavenly communion, I can barely stand the wait.

Just to give you a taste of it ... here's part of John's vision in Revelation. It won't surprise you that it matches up with what Isaiah saw in the temple, thousands of years earlier.

Guess what ... we will be there.

And we will worship Him.



Revelation 4

"After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[a] of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being."

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Mysterious King Hangs Out with Heidi

Part five of this story series ...


My car.
Circle 4 Beltway, a highway.
Encircles Lexington, Kentucky.



It doesn't matter where I'm driving or the time of day.

Every time I pass this place on Circle 4, a loop around our city of Lexington, Kentucky, I feel the same magnetic pull.

I can see it in the distance, about two miles after I pull off the entrance ramp. As it gets closer, it's all I can do to keep my eyes on the road and other drivers.

I'm just drawn to it, you see.

Then I pass it, to the right, and my head just sort of turns so that I can gaze at it. I always smile. I always breathe it in.

And I never fail to want to completely abandon my original destination, pull off the highway, and drive straight to it. All I want to do is head to the parking lot, and without abandon, walk through the doors and stay there.

Just stay there.

Just sit and hang out with The Mysterious King.

The place, you see, is my church.

How can I describe this to you, this sense of longing to be there?

King David said it best in Psalm 26:8: "I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells."

And in Psalm 84:10: "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."

Even though I know there is nothing going on in the place, sometimes I just want, like David, to sit in the quiet of the place where we worship. Just being near it -- just driving past it on a highway! -- fills me with indescribable joy. Often when I'm scurrying in my errands and I pass my church, I think to myself, "If only I could just go in there and sit for an hour, just sit, and talk to Him in the place where hundreds of people praise Him."

Worship.

For many people, it's a drudgery, a scheduled necessity to their week.

For me, it's the creme de la creme, the time when I get to hang out with The Mysterious King -- the same King who appeared to Isaiah thousands of years ago, the same King who admonished the Pharisees ... the same King who died for me. And I get to hear others around me in their joy as they worship Him, too.

And yet.

When I sense these urgings to sit in the place, to interrupt my day and just be there, He comes to me.

Yes, right in my car, He comes to me.

The Mysterious King hangs out with Heidi.

"I love hanging out with you, too," He speaks to my heart. In such moments, I turn to the passenger seat and in my mind's eye see Him sitting there, smiling at me.

In those moments, which I can tell you are completely the best of my week, I sing to Him.

And He sings over me, loving me, surrounding me, enveloping me.

My car? It becomes the place of worship to which I am longing to run.

Think of the original story of Isaiah, seeing the Mysterious King surrounded by beautiful angelic creatures. Think of his lips being touched with live coals and how his sin was forgiven. Think of the majesty that surrounded him, the glory.

Now do something for me.

Realize that all of that -- ALL of that -- is available to you, too.

The richness of His Presence is tangible. Worship does not have to be a chore for you. It can, and should be, the time when you feel the deepest joy, because after all, it's how you are made! You are made to worship and adore Him.

And in doing so, He will hang out with you, Friend with friend, and possess you with that indescribable and beautiful Presence.

Even in your car.

But wait! The story isn't over yet! Tune in tomorrow (and yes, I will blog it tomorrow!) for the awesome conclusion to the tale of The Mysterious King.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Mysterious King Confronts False Followers

Part 4 of this story series ...

The Passover Feast.
2,000 years ago.
Jerusalem, Israel.


They were the most highly esteemed men.

Religious leaders of their day, they propelled an entire nation through a stormy sea of Roman-era occupation.

They’d been taught the Law and the Prophets by the best experts: the scholars, the lawyers. They were raised in the best of homes. They had been taken to the Temple as week-old infants, and because of their Levite heritage, they were even then designated as part of the priestly remnant of the people.

They answered the most difficult questions, probing ancient manuscripts for answers.

They offered sacrifices to atone for the sins of others.

They alone had access to God’s inner court, the Holy of Holies.

Everywhere they went, they were revered. Respected. Elevated. Praised.

They went through the machinations of the Mosaic texts with determined accuracy, even building “rules for the rules” so that not one ink spot would be overlooked.

Their “worship” consisted of all of these trappings of outward religious activities and symbols.

But their hearts?

They preferred to overlook the hardship of their neighbor than break a rule for observing the Sabbath. In everyday life, they preached the intention of God’s word but failed to live it out.

In short, they were religious, not righteous.

Rule followers, but not loving.

And as a result, they were proud, arrogant, angry … and hateful.

What they didn’t realize was that centuries ago, when Isaiah saw the Mysterious King on the throne in the Temple, he also received a special prophecy – concerning them:

“He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”


They were so immersed in their regimented world that they didn’t recognize the King that Isaiah saw. He walked in their midst, and they didn’t accept Him. He talked with them, and they didn’t know His voice.

Isaiah, you see, had actually seen the glory of Jesus that day.

He was the Mysterious King on the Throne. (John 12:41)

And Jesus, knowing their hearts, knowing that they were more concerned with the praise of men than with the true worship and love of His Father, didn’t mince words with them. He confronted these false followers, just a few days before they crucified Him.

“When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."


What do you think worship was like for these men?

When they arrived at the Temple for their morning prayers and business, did they see it as a chore, a redundancy in their weeks, a drudgery … a job?

If they’d seen it as Isaiah had experienced the Temple and that amazing vision of the Mysterious King, do you think they would have actually nailed that King to a cross?

And what does their attitude say to you about going to church, worshipping once a week the One who died for you?

If worship feels like a necessary evil, an interruption to your schedule, that can change for you.

How do I know?

Tune in for the next part of the story …

Friday, February 19, 2010

Shaking and Quaking and Mercy and Love

Part three of this story series ...

The sight of the mysterious King on the throne was one thing. Indeed, He was magnificently beautiful. The train of His robe filled the entire Temple. He engulfed the gigantic place with majesty.

But what was even more unnerving to Isaiah were the words he heard.

These were not words from the King, no.

They were spoken by one angelic Being to others. These Beings hovered above the King's throne. Their appearance was like fire, hence, they were called "Seraphim," as the word "seraph" in Hebrew means, "to burn with fire." They had six wings each, and they used two wings to cover their faces, two to cover their feet and two to fly.

Then one of the Seraphim spoke. The words rendered Isaiah's heart into pieces.

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!"

The sound of the Seraphim's voice literally shook the door posts and filled the Temple with smoke.

Isaiah knew well the full meaning.

To say the word "holy" twice in his native Hebrew language was to describe a person as "most holy."

But to say it three times? It meant that the holiness of God was indescribable.

And the definition of holy? to be transcendent -- different -- distant.

Yet.

What was even more shocking was the second part of the Seraphim's song: "The whole earth is full of His glory."

Basically, the angelic Being was telling Isaiah that even though God transcends the universe, He is closely involved with the earth and its people.

The King on the throne would be involved -- someday -- intricately, here.

Isaiah realized how unworthy he was to be standing in the presence of such a King. He cried out that his lips were unclean, as were the people of his nation, and yet, he'd been given the honor of witnessing the King with his own eyes.

A seraphim flew over to him, holding a live coal that he'd taken with tongs from the altar. He touched Isaiah's lips with it.

"Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged,"
the seraphim said.

What did it mean?

Who was the King on the throne, really?

And what does the story of Isaiah's experience in the Temple have to do with us worshiping in church?

Tune in for the next part of the story.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mysterious King on the Throne

Part one of this story series ...

Second half of 8th Century, B.C.
The Hebrew Temple.
Jerusalem.


The king was dead.

He'd made a terrible error, one not of misunderstanding or accident, but of sheer pride, arrogance and deliberate disobedience.

He'd been mighty.

Blessed.

Revered.

Strong.

But he'd let all of that go to his head. His younger days, those in which he relied on God reverently and humbly, were a faint memory. He'd allowed the successes of his reign to fill his head, to pump him up, to give him a sense of self-exaltation and conceit.

It wasn't always that way.

He'd taken the throne at the tender age of 16 and immediately trusted God for guidance. As long as that frame of mind existed, God prospered him. He pummeled some of Israel's top enemies: the Philistines, the Arabians and the Meunites. Even the Ammonites, another vicious people, brought tributes to him. His fame spread, all the way to the palace halls of Egypt.

He enhanced the city of Jerusalem, building towers, digging wells, planting crops and vineyards, providing ample food supply for livestock, too.

Not only that, he had a team of warriors -- 2,600 "mighty men of valor" -- who oversaw an army of 307,500, which ws outfitted with shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and slings to protect the country. Skilled men, too, invented devices that shot arrows and large stones from the tall towers of Jerusalem.

And ironically, this very strength of his was the king's downfall.

He began to believe that he'd done all of this himself. And with that belief, he felt entitled to bypass the laws established through Moses.

One day, he strode into the Temple and walked right up to the altar, a place that was reserved for the priests. He began to burn incense. Eighty priests surrounded him and begged him to stop, but he continued. After all -- he was the king, wasn't he? He'd done all of these things, hadn't he? Who were they -- or who was God for that matter -- to tell him he couldn't burn a little bit of incense at the altar?

He told them so. Angrily. He spat the words at them.

And suddenly, they backed away from him, their faces filled with horror.

"What is it?" he demanded.

"Leprosy!" one of them shouted. "You have leprosy! It's breaking out on your forehead!"

That was all it took. He knew he was doomed, not only to live a solitary life from that point forward, but also to never -- ever -- enter the Temple to worship again. Mosaic law viewed leprosy as a breach of God's holiness. It graphically symbolized defilement.

So the end of his life was spent not in his beautiful palace ... but in an isolated house. Control of the temple and the state now passed to his son, who exercised power on the king's behalf.

He died in disgrace.

And it was at this time in history when a regular guy encountered the true King -- a mysterious King on a throne. He was high and lifted up, in the very temple where the now-deceased king had made his fatal mistake.

Where had He come from? Who was He?

The guy, whose name was Isaiah, was soon to find out.


What does this have to do with going to church and finding joy in the act of worship? Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of the story ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Troublesome Question from a Radio DJ

An introduction to a new story series ...


Radio chatter peppers my long drives around central Kentucky, from my home in the woods to various business appointments and church events in the city of Lexington.

Recently on one of these trips, a radio DJ on a Christian station posed a question that needled me.

"What I wonder," he said, "is what we're going to do in Heaven. I know we're going to worship God all of the time, but I'm not sure what that means. And I'm not sure if I really like the idea."

My jaw dropped. He continued.

"I mean, when we worship at church, most of us can only take about an hour of it, and then we're ready to go home. What will it be like to worship for an eternity? I guess we'll find out when we get there, but I'm trying to understand that, and I think a lot of other people are, too."

Do you feel that way? Do you dread going to church, look at your watch and think about your lunch, or feel like the fifth stanza of that last hymn is never going to end?

Or do you look forward to worship? Are you excited to get in your car on a Sunday morning and drive hurriedly so that you don't miss the opening prayer?

The DJ's question troubled me, because I realized that most people would agree with him.

But I have good news for you.

Worship doesn't have to be that way.

Tune in tomorrow, when we'll launch a new story series.

The title of the first one?

"The Mysterious King on the Throne"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Atheist Drinking Game on Twitter

I've seen references to this "drinking game" on Twitter among atheists for a while. Today I got to the bottom of it.

Now just in case you happen to think that your encounters with atheists are productive ... take a look at the rules of this game, which I have cut and pasted.

Yes, there are some atheists who are genuinely seeking and who have great questions. There are others who speak seriously to your face and mock the entire story behind your back. How can you tell the difference?

One way is just to shine a light on things like this and to see who is participating in it. Easy to figure out. The other way is to ask for prayer. A team of people at my church has devoted to praying solely for my encounters on Twitter with atheists. Since that practice started, I've been able to see the entire group of people much more clearly -- to wit, the discovery of this game today.

So take a look at it ... and if you're engaging someone, think twice about how you are using the lines below and whether you are a pawn in a game or a light that they are following. (grammatical errors, not my own. :-)

DRINKING GAME:

This is tacitly a drinking game but have a choccie, toke, drink, mark a score card... The point is to match the Christian argument to the list (the list will be expanded as needed)and share on thread,trend, where ever. so all players get a treat.

Psalm14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” - One Drink
You can only understand the scripture if you beleive (the Tinkerbell Defence) - One Drink
Variations on Pascal's Wager - Two Drinks (bonus drink if you pull the Wotan gambit)
Altering scripture in violation of Rev 22:18-19 to 'prove a point' - One drink
Crazy redneck preaching - (Pentateuch, Revelations) one drink (Epistles) two drinks
Witnessing of banal miracles - one drink
Out of context, or 'String of Pearls' exegesis - two drinks
You were never a real Christian Gambit - one drink
Accusations of being devil bought, possessed, or being the antichrist - one drink
John 3:16 - one drink (counter with John 3:18 is a bonus drink)
It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve - one drink
Where were You when I hung the stars? defence - one drink
Circular Logic - One drink
Pious threats of God cutting you so bad your mother won't know you - one drink
'We can't all be wrong' - argumentum ad populum - one drink
"Scientific evidence is fake!" style defence - one drink
Xian blocks you online - Triple to all players
"Scientists just want to disprove god" logic - one drink
Quoting Augustine as if 'scripture' - one drink (triple if you point out Augustines claims to see headless men and cyclopses in Africa)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Car Journey

My atheist friend Nick, who lives in the United Kingdom, wrote this really good story, entitled, "A Car Journey." I asked him if I could share it with you here at the Christian safehouse, and he agreed, provided that I allow him and other atheists to comment along with all of you.

The reason I want to share it is because it offers great insight into the point of view of someone who does not believe there is a God. When we chat and debate, it's really important that we first grasp the other person's rationality. This is one of the most well-stated atheistic positions I have come across. It's simple and to the point.

Please take a moment to read Nick's take on our faith. Then respond, constructively, with yours.

Note to atheists who would like to respond: I'll post your comments to this post provided they contain no vulgarity and address the issue. I won't post anything that attacks Jesus or people who believe in Him. I appreciate you stopping by the blog!


Here's Nick's story:

A Car Journey

We're going on a drive. We'll both have to be blindfolded, I'm afraid. But this is a very special car. It will never go off the road. But if we are at a junction, it can turn left or right. Or go straight on. But I don't know which way it's going to go. And neither do you.

But before we start: Look [circles a large area on the map]. This is where we are starting from.

Right. Blindfold on.

I'm going to drive for quite a while. So you might get a little bored. Sorry about that. Right ready? Good.

[Car moves off. Various left and right turns. Car stops and starts many, many times. More turns left and right. Sorry this journey is very boring.]

[Some hours later]

Right. Here we are! Blindfolds off.

See where we are now? Look at the map.This is where we are! (points at the map) What do you notice about the route we took? Anything you can say about it?

1) You could say. "It's amazing that we are where we are. Because of all those turns we took. And we just happened to have reached this point. Isn't that amazing. If we had taken just one wrong turn, we would have stopped somewhere else. It's like it's been planned. Like that was the ONLY place we could have stopped. And that we were supposed to stop here. After all, you didn't know what direction we were going in. You were blind folded, too. And you just stopped when you felt like it. Isn't that amazing."

2) Or you could say. "It's not amazing at all That we stopped here. Lets see [ look's around the car] Look, I've just found a lot of receipts on the floor of the car. And they have times and addresses on. And if I put them in time order, I can figure out roughly the route we took. Look! I can even say something about where we started with a little more accuracy! And I can say something about what happened when we were blindfolded. Isn't that amazing!"

So which is MOST amazing? The fact that we can sit and say, "Wow we are so lucky to have this big overriding plan for our lives. That can show us the way,"

Or, is it more amazing to look around us? Look at the information we have? And use it to learn something about the world? And what has happened in the past to inform our present?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chinese Official Says Gao Zhisheng "Went Missing"

I received this email this morning from China Aid, a ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. Please read about this brave Chinese Christian man who has been tortured and is now presumed dead. There is a link at the bottom for you to go and sign a petition. Prayerfully consider doing this. Thank you so much. -- Heidi.



Since mid-December, 2009, ominous rumors have circulated about Gao Zhisheng, hinting that he has died after brutal torture in prison. However, no reports have been confirmed, and the Chinese government continues to refuse comment on his condition and whereabouts.

Gege, Gao's daughter, had been reportedly "pale and tired-looking" with worry for months. After hearing a rumor of Gao's death just before Christmas, Gege became so emotionally distraught, she was forced to be hospitalized. She remains fragile and under medical watch in a New York hospital.

This week, after searching out the policeman who originally detained Gao Zhisheng back in February, 2009, Gao's brother Zhiyi was told that Attorney Gao allegedly "went missing while out on a walk" on September 25, 2009. Gao's wife refused to comment, but was reported to be extremely upset after hearing the news.

This is the first time a Chinese government official has hinted that they no longer have Gao Zhisheng in their custody, leading ChinaAid to believe Gao's condition has taken a turn for the worse.

"It is totally unacceptable for the Chinese government to lose track of their own prisoner," said President of ChinaAid Bob Fu. "It is absolutely clear that he was forcibly taken from his home in February 2009. Nearly a year later, the Chinese government now says they do not have him."

Though the rumors of death cannot be confirmed, Bob Fu remains extremely concerned for this new development.

"We have every reason to suspect that the Chinese government has something very serious to hide. Gao's family has every right to know what happened to him. It is unbelievable that a high security prisoner would go missing while "out on a walk," without suspecting that there is a major cover up of his condition."

The Chinese government can no longer hide their actions from the world and must be held accountable for their treatment of Gao Zhisheng. Now is the time to act!

Sign the Petition to Free Gao Zhisheng, and encourage your friends and family to join the effort.

Contact your U.S. Representative and call for them to pressure the Chinese government to disclose the true condition and whereabouts of prominent human rights Attorney Gao Zhisheng. Even if you have sent a letter in the past, this new development calls for renewed action.

Gao's family deserves to know the truth, and so does the world! For more ways to help Free Gao, visit www.FreeGao.com.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Safehouse Hug of Encouragement

Please listen to and enjoy this song from Switchfoot, which I hope will encourage your heart today. After all, at a Christian Safehouse, we should sing together sometimes, shouldn't we?