The Return of the Prodigal Son

Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son

Only a few works of art carry on in the minds of people from one generation to the next. The majority end up forgotten in the dust of history. The number of memorable art decreases even further as you increase the amount of time. For a painting to continue to impact people almost 400 years after it was created, testifies to its status as a masterpiece.

Rembrandt was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch Reformed father and a Catholic mother. He created The Return of the Prodigal Son, in 1669, towards the end of his life. At this point, he had lived a tumultuous, roller-coaster existence. He had experienced great wealth and financial bankruptcy. He knew deep loss through the death of his first wife and betrayal on the part of a spurned woman. He was the target of criticism from colleagues and church leaders.

Looking for extra reading? check out Henri Nouwn’s The Return of the Prodigal Son book. 

This painting captures the moment when the prodigal son returns to his father to beg forgiveness. The tender hands of the father rest gently on his kneeling son’s shoulders. The father leans forward with a posture of acceptance and love. It is clear that no matter what the son has done, no matter what mistakes he made, no matter how his choices hurt the family reputation, the father welcomes him home.

Rembrandt’s famous painting depicts more than a simple family reunion. To be sure, the viewer recognizes that something significant and life changing is taking place among the cluster of family members. The emotion is unmistakable and made even more emotionally full-bodied by its display of quiet dignity. As we gaze at the face of the father, we discern the visage of God.

One person who was deeply moved by this painting is Henri Nouwen. He first glimpsed a poster-version of the painting on the back of a university’s colleague’s office door. During this period of his life, he was going through emotional restlessness and spiritual dryness. What he discerned as he reflected on this painting was home. “The tender embrace of the father and son expressed everything I desired at that moment. I was, indeed, the son exhausted from long travels; I was looking for a home where I could feel safe.”

Home. Aren’t we all on a journey towards home? We all long to be embraced by our father. We all yearn with a deep desire to be home.

Although we don’t know much about Rembrandt’s personal faith, few of his writings survive, we can piece together a picture from his life’s work. His drawings, etchings and paintings give a good sense of what he held to be most important. His art focused on biblical themes more than any other genre. There are at least 500 drawings, 100 etchings and dozens of paintings that bring the Bible to life. In fact, his first major painting was a depiction of the stoning of Stephen based on the book of Acts.

It is worth noting that Rembrandt, unlike most of his contemporaries, always wanted to honour the Biblical text in his paintings. He always desired Biblical realism and built his art on the text of Scripture. This indicates that he not only was an avid reader of the Bible but that he relished the small details of the text. At a time when anti-Semitism was common, he read the works of Josephus, consulted with Jewish rabbis and often used Jewish models in his attempts to be authentic.

Over the course of his life, Rembrandt also painted countless portraits of Christ. He blazed a new trail in that he portrayed a Christ who is serene and introspective. The images are not so focussed on the divine power of Jesus as much as they balanced both his humanity and divinity. Rembrandt brought a unique perspective to the life of Jesus.

Mission Evangelique Vie Abondante En Christ

I spent a week in the west of our country. I went to train a group of pastors and church leaders on evangelization. Brother There is a great need for evangelization here.This region hi be devastated by the war that this country has experienced in 2010.

These servants of God promised to go to the people who live in the bush to announce the gospel.Please continue to pray for me, I need some means to realize well this great work in this country. All these missions, I do them with the meager means that I receive. May the Lord grant me the essentials to better continue his work to reach the unreached peoples in this country.

 Your brother pastor James.

[If you want to support Pastor James please contact Solomon’s Porch directly and we can arrange.]

Our friend Muteti Abed – Global Prayer Safari

We wanted to introduce you to our friend Abed from Kenya. He is a local pastor serving his community – Machakos – with his family. He has the opportunity to be part of a prayer event trip to Ethiopia. This is a unique opportunity for him and as you can see below he needs financial assistance for the cost of travel. He needs $500. If you are able to help please contact me directly for donation information.

Visit https://www.resonateglobalmission.org/opportunity/global-prayer-safari-2019-ethiopia for more information.

Help cover the costs of travel for Abed Muteti to attend the Global Prayer Safari organized by the CRC – https://www.crcna.org/events/global-prayer-safari-2019


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INVITATION GPS ETHIOPIA 2019
RE: Invitation to the Global Prayer Safari, Ethiopia, 2019

We are pleased to invite you to join us for Global Prayer Safari scheduled for February 1 – 10,
2019 in Ethiopia. God tells us in His word in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will
humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear
from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

A group of Christians from Africa, USA, Canada and other parts of the world will join Christians
in Ethiopia for prayers. We shall pray for Ethiopia, Africa and the world at large. The goal is to
pray for the families, national and local governments, organizations, businesses, schools,
churches, youth, individuals etc.

You will take care of your flight ticket while Resonate Global Mission will be responsible
for your room and board. Also, get a yellow fever vaccine.

Thank you for joining us for GPS 2019 as we pray on-site and off-site with insight.

Please confirm your attendance and your participation to Rev. Njue Mugo (+254713919538)

Indeed, God acts in response to prayer!

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Mission Evangelique Vie Abondante En Christ – October Update

Dear brother & siser.

By the grace of God we had an excellent moment of communion with the Lord Jesus last night. God filled our hearts with happiness by his presence. We were 210 Christians blessed by the word of God.By the grace of God 25 new souls have accepted the Lord Jesus as savior and personal Lord. It is a real pleasure for me to the serve the Lord Jesus with you. Thanks for your support in my ministry.

I want Christian partners or Christian organizations to work together for the well-being of the people of this country and also for the expansion of the gospel in Africa. There are many unreached peoples in this country. Please I need your Help to go the light of God in these regions full of darkness.

Here are my contacts:

eglise.mevac@gmail.com
02 PO.BOX 426 San Pedro
Tel: 225 07329768
Pastor Wheagar James
COTE D’IVOIRE

The Queensland Foundation for Children

The Queensland Foundation for Children, Health and Education presents you its greetings for the good work you do in the world and in Haiti at Pignon.

Having noticed that your organization works in the following activities, education, health, agriculture, we are a small Christian non-profit organization whose main mission is to work to improve the living conditions of the Haitian population living in the zones rural and urban areas of Haiti.

In previous years, we found in Haiti, a small Christian university called: Queensland University (UQ) www.uqstegnetwork.org which was completely destroyed after the passage of the earthquake of January 12, 2010 in Haiti.

[ads-quote-center cite=”]The School Institution Mixte Queensland a small elementary and High school that serves to help disadvantaged children and youth go to primary and secondary school.[/ads-quote-center]

We are building a new Queensland University Campus and Queensland University Hospital in the Northeast Department, and starting a farm in the northeastern department of Fort Liberty.

Since February 2018, Queensland University has opened a mini-campus in Pignon, near the Hospital Bienfaisance to help young people in Pignon stay at home to continue their university and professional studies. Queensland University begins with the nursing school with about twenty girls and boys from Pignon including the Queensland University School of Education which opened in Pignon, Haiti to help teachers perfect their skills knowledge.

The main purpose of our letter is that we seek solidarity and collaboration of your organization either to help us complete other activities or to support us with the Queensland University School of Nursing or the construction of the Queensland University Hospital in the Northeast Department, Fort-Liberté and other activities you decide to help us.
We thank you already for your cooperation and your prayer.
Respectfully

Jean-Claude Dorsainvil
Queensland Foundation for Children, Health and Education (QFCHE)
www.qcfhaiti.org
Email : queenslandchildrensfoundation@gmail.com
Tel (509) 4310-5050
Nord-est, Fort-liberte,
Pignon, Haiti

Mission Evangelique Vie Abondante En Christ

May God bless you richly. Thank you for your prayers.By the grace of God the training I told you was very good.We had a good week of training in Yamoussoukro the capital of our country.I was able to meet with 30 pastors and church leaders from different parts of the country.There is a great need for training here in Africa. Many pastors here do not have any Bible training.This causes a misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

Prayer request:

1 / Pray for our future evangelization programs with an unreached people

2 / Let’s pray because we have a need for Bibles to distribute to new souls who have accepted Christ here.

3 / Pray for me this Friday 19th I am invited by a church to teach about repentance.

Your brother and servant

Pastor Wheagar James

3 Principles of Effective Trainers

We train Africans to reach Africans (and beyond).

When you first arrive in a foreign land, the learning curve is steep. There are new non-verbal cues to take in, cultural norms to understand and contextual barriers to identify and overcome. After eight years, you would imagine that we have become experts at doing this. The truth is that we are still learning.

When we deliver fresh material, our credibility goes up.

Read more3 Principles of Effective Trainers

Mission Evangelique Vie Abondante En Christ

Located in West Africa, Cote D’Ivoire is a beautiful county. Pasteur Wheagar James is serving God there. Find out more about Orphan Sunday Cote D’Ivoire and connect with him directly on Facebook

In this region where I live; there are many unreached people, and my passion is to proclaim the gospel to all these people. Please publish all those (Servant of God or Organizations) who have the burden of announcing the gospel let them come we are going to join together to accomplish the task that the Lord has entrusted to us all.

Pastor Wheagar James
02 BP 426 San Pedro COTE D’IVOIRE

Kenyan Urban Development Neglects the Poor

From Quartz:

Residents of Kenya’s biggest slum Kibera started their week on a bleak note: government cranes and bulldozers demolishing homes, schools, and businesses in certain sections of the slum to make way for a new $20m dual-carriageway in the capital Nairobi. Over 30,000 dwellers were rendered homeless in the process on Monday (July 23), a move Amnesty International Kenya said, “betrays the public trust and violates our laws.”

As Kenyans watched the shanties being removed, one image by Reuters’ photographer Baz Ratner captured the farcical nature of the evictions and the dire ways in which road construction and urban development habitually neglect poor city populations. In the photo, a golfer tees in the background while people stand opposite watching the destruction site—both groups separated by only a short bricked and burnt wall.

The photo is not only an exemplar of the stark inequalities that define Kenya’s capital but is also indicative of how unequal land access, poor urban design, lack of political will and public accountability, besides prioritizing road construction and expansion instead of investments in mass public transport converge in an increasingly urbanizing and fast-paced city.

Over the last decade, economic growth in Kenya has created a rising middle class in tandem with increasing rates of urbanization. With its property boom and shiny new skyscrapers and malls, Nairobi has especially been at the heart of this transformation, attracting both global tech companies and wealthy investors looking for second homes. And given the lack of public transport infrastructure, this has meant wealthier residents move around in private cars, leaving the city congested and one of the most dangerous places to be a pedestrian.

To ease this, the government has taken to expanding roads and building new highways—often with the help of Chinese firms. But as much as these new roads are welcome, new research shows that prioritization of road construction without consideration for the consequences of urban mobility and safety has had a dire impact on the city’s majority population: slum dwellers. A report from the Overseas Development Institute and funded by the FIA Foundation shows that within Nairobi, over half of all road traffic fatalities occur on new high-speed roads, primarily affecting poorer people who have to walk everywhere.

The sprawling nature of Nairobi also means residents are unable to easily move from one part of the city to the other due to unreliable and inefficient transport networks made up of matatus and boda boda motorcycles. And with poorly digitized land registries, disputes over land ownership are common, with corrupt land deals sometimes subverting formal development plans.

Besides, constructing new roads have a political salience, especially for politicians who use their visibility as “tangible signs” of their performance. Public contracts for road construction also offer opportunities for private gain through kickbacks or rewards to political patrons. Donors and governments also support paving new roads, pegging their justification on economic grounds: Kenya’s roads authority estimates that for every shilling invested in roads, the country stands to gain two shillings and fifty cents in benefits.

Yet building more roads, and not investing in light railway or a rapid bus transit system, haven’t reduced congestion—hence why Nairobi, ironically, is thinking of proposing car-free days. And while thousands of Kenyan pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists die every year in road crashes, road safety continues to remain a distant issue in the public sphere.

On Monday, facing criticism, the government defended the demolitions, saying only 2,000 households were affected and that a resettlement plan for those evicted had already been completed.

Languages shape the way we think

A fascinating TED Talk about the way we think based on our language.

See Transcript

So let me tell you about some of my favorite examples. I’ll start with an example from an Aboriginal community in Australia that I had the chance to work with. These are the Kuuk Thaayorre people. They live in Pormpuraaw at the very west edge of Cape York. What’s cool about Kuuk Thaayorre is, in Kuuk Thaayorre, they don’t use words like “left” and “right,” and instead, everything is in cardinal directions: north, south, east and west. And when I say everything, I really mean everything. You would say something like, “Oh, there’s an ant on your southwest leg.” Or, “Move your cup to the north-northeast a little bit.” In fact, the way that you say “hello” in Kuuk Thaayorre is you say, “Which way are you going?” And the answer should be, “North-northeast in the far distance. How about you?”

Book Review: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands


Book #2:

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change

From Amazon:
“In many ways, the church today has more consumers than committed participants. We see church merely as an event we attend or an organization we belong to, rather than as a calling that shapes our entire life.

Many of us would be relieved if God had placed our sanctification in the hands of trained professionals, but that simply is not the biblical model. God’s plan is that through the faithful ministry of every part, the whole body will grow to maturity in Christ.

This book explains how God’s work follows an “all of my people, all of the time” model. If you followed the Lord for a thousand years, you would still need the ministry of the body of Christ as much as you did the day you first believed. This need will remain until our sanctification is complete in Glory.

This is a comprehensive treatment of how God uses people as tools of change in the lives of others, people who themselves are in need of change.”

One of my favourite quotes from this book was:

We forget that God’s primary goal is not changing our situations or relationships so that we can be happy, but changing us through our situations and relationships so that we will be holy.

If you’d like to get it on Amazon, here’s the link.

VIEW FAVORITE BOOK #3

Book Review: The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions


Book #3:

The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions

From Amazon:
“The author uses the biblical story of the Israelite’s journey through Sinai desert as a metaphor for being in undesired, transitional space.

After enduring generations of slavery in Egypt, the descendants of Jacob travel through the desert (the land between) toward their new home in Canaan. They crave the food of their former home in Egypt and despise their present environment. They are unable to go back and incapable of moving forward.

The Land Between explores the way in which their reactions can provide insight and guidance on how to respond to God during our own seasons of difficult transition. The book provides fresh biblical insight for people traveling through undesired transitions (e.g. foreclosure, unemployment, parents in declining health, post-graduate uncertainty, business failure, etc.) who are looking for hope, guidance, and encouragement.

While it is possible to move through transitions and learn little, they provide our greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. God desires to meet us in our chaos and emotional upheaval, and he intends for us to encounter his goodness and provision during these upsetting seasons.”

One of my favourite quotes from this book:

Our response to God while in the Land Between is what will determine whether our journey through this desert will result in deep, positive growth or spiritual decline.

If you’d like to get it on Amazon, here’s the link.

Book Reviews: 3 Favorite Books on Transition and Change

Eight years ago, we were preparing to head overseas to Africa. Life was moving fast, we were full of uncertainty and often experienced a unique mix of exhilaration, sleepless nights, and desperate prayer! We have heard some of you are in transition or you are trying to make a change at the moment.

One thing God used to anchor us during that time of transition was a good book. Actually, there were several!

If you’re in a season of transition, looking to understand a bend in your road, or just want a good read, consider checking these out. There are tons of great titles out there, but these were really meaningful for us at that time.


Book #1:

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. (Buy It)

“Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains. Psychologists have discovered our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.”

One of my favourite quotes from this book was:

More options, even good ones, can freeze us and make us retreat to our default plans.

If you’d like to get it on Amazon, here’s the link.

VIEW FAVORITE BOOK #2

 

The Honest Mission Leader

Why do we do short-term mission trips? Have you been part of a trip like this?

There is hope! Here are 3 reasons every teenager should do a short-term missions trip.

  1. Cultural Exposure. Most of us grow up in a bubble of our own community. A missions trip gives us the opportunity to see another culture – which changes how you view the world.
  2. God’s Kingdom. Believe it or not there are God-loving, Jesus following people all over the world. Their faith, hope, and love will impact you.
  3. Do something outside yourself. Even if short-term mission trips are relatively well shielded making a connection with new people of different backgrounds and cultures.

Ready for a trip? Visit https://www.actioninternational.org/opportunities to find an opportunity that fits for you.

Unequal Scenes

I wanted to bring attention to this amazing project. Please explore the work of Johnny Miller.

Unequal Scenes – by Johnny Miller

Discrepancies in how people live are sometimes hard to see from the ground. The beauty of being able to fly is to see things from a new perspective – to see things as they really are. Looking straight down from a height of several hundred meters, incredible scenes of inequality emerge. Some communities have been expressly designed with separation in mind, and some have grown more or less organically.

During apartheid, segregation of urban spaces was instituted as policy. Roads, rivers, “buffer zones” of empty land, and other barriers were constructed and modified to keep people separate. 22 years after the end of apartheid, many of these barriers, and the inequalities they have engendered, still exist. Oftentimes, communities of extreme wealth and privilege will exist just meters from squalid conditions and shack dwellings.

My desire with this project is to portray the most Unequal Scenes as objectively as possible. By providing a new perspective on an old problem, I hope to provoke a dialogue which can begin to address the issues of inequality and disenfranchisement in a constructive and peaceful way.

[tds_warning]Join the conversation on Facebook [/tds_warning]

How do we really compare to other families around the world

If you really want to see how people around the world live, the https://www.gapminder.org/dollar-street project is amazing. Over 30,000 photos that you can filter to see how – around the world – people’s bedrooms, kitchens, front doors, pets, toilets, toys, etc compare to yours. All the filtering is based on annual income. Imagine the world as a street ordered by income. Everyone lives somewhere on the street. The poorest lives to the left and the richest to the right. Everybody else live somewhere in between. Welcome to visit all homes on Dollar Street!

For example, compare front doors for people that earn about $1,000 per year. Sometimes we feel really different than others. But we really aren’t that different.

The Problem of Inequality

I came across a website today and the title immediately caught my attention: UNEQUAL SCENES

UnequalScenes.com highlights the stark reality between the “haves” and the “have nots”. These images tell a compelling and complex story of developing countries.

I recently was able to visit Kenya with ShareWord Global (affiliated with the Gideons) and was reminded of the stark division.

[tds_warning]In Kenya, 10% of the population earns 45% of the money.  And globally, 1% of the people earn 45% of the money.[/tds_warning]

So what do we do?

  • Take time to understand the problem. Read When Poverty Hurts.
  • Explore the GapMinder.org project. It contains amazing insights.
  • Monitor our spending habits. Are we contributing to the problem?
  • Look for opportunities to help people participate in the global economy. This key step helps provide real opportunities for people. Watch the documentary Poverty, Inc.

 

Poverty Inc Trailer