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Making the invisible visible

Making the Invisible Visible

Armed with a video camera, an iPhone and a bag of socks, Mark Horvath travels the country capturing compelling stories of America’s homeless. He uses the footage as well as social media to share and supply needs for some of these poverty-stricken individuals and families.

In 2009 Horvath drove a car packed with Hanes socks across the country to raise awareness for the homeless and posted his candid videos on InvisiblePeople.tv. At times, some of his 6,000-plus Twitter followers have met him at grocery stores around the country to buy food, clothes and other supplies for the families he encounters.

Horvath feels drawn to minister to homeless people because he’s lived on the streets himself. He insists that he’s not “called” to this work—he’s forced. “If you’re called, you can hang up the phone,” Horvath says. “I don’t have any choice.”

Horvath’s life story has the ups and downs of a roller-coaster ride. After a career in the TV industry, Horvath ended up on the streets. He got back on his feet thanks to the commitment of the Dream Center, a Los Angeles church.

But in 2005 his six-figure income instantly disappeared after losing his job. Only weeks away from homelessness—again—Horvath used the opportunity to launch InvisiblePeople.tv

“Don’t waste a good crisis,” Horvath advises. “Tonight there are people who were homeless that are sleeping inside because I had the courage—or I was dumb enough—to drive around the country.”

 


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Messiah among the Maasai

Messiah among the Maasai

How a God-hating tribal warrior found Jesus 

I was the instigator of all the trouble among my tribe. If there was mischief to be done, I was leading it. I was vicious.

People were leaving our traditional Maasai ways. Some of the older people lost faith in our witchdoctors and started worshipping a God I didn’t know. Even a few warriors left our traditions and started following this God whom they were calling “Jesus.” It really made me angry, and for nine years I persecuted the people in the church.

Determined to stop this chaos, I confronted the woman who started the church. I went to Sabina and jabbed my stick into her throat. “Why are you stealing my girls from me?” I shouted at her. She just stood there and calmly said, “I will teach anyone who wants to learn about my God!” Then, she cursed me saying, “You are a snake, and in the name of Jesus you will slither in the dirt !”

That night they began to sing songs about Jesus. I flew into a rage. I picked up a stick from the fire to beat them, but as soon as my hand touched that stick my mind completely left me. I couldn’t think clearly. I fell to the ground, and I began to eat dirt for weeks.

I don’t remember that time at all. All I remember is that when I woke up, I wanted to worship Jesus. Sabina told me that I lay like a snake on the ground for months ... and I begged her to pray for me.

I must have tired of lying on the ground because I finally agreed to serve her God. She prayed for me, and I immediately got my mind back. She told me, “Now your name will be Yona (Jonah), because you ran away from God just like Yona in the Bible.”


Most of  Yona’s village now serve Jesus. This testimony was excerpted from the photobook En Kátá. It can be purchased at en-kata.com. read more


Moms Get ‘Red Carpet’ Treatment

By the time most moms get their children ready for school, go to work, then come home and cook and clean, they’re too drained to pay attention to their own needs. But single mom Danette Crawford wants to help mothers feel appreciated—and pampered.

During her annual Mother’s Day Celebration, Crawford and her team bus in some 2,000 women from Hampton, Va., and surrounding cities, and shower them with love. Military wives whose husbands are deployed, widows, single moms, women from homeless shelters and assisted-living facilities all attend the event.

“When they first arrive, we give them the red carpet treatment,” says Crawford, who will sponsor her 10th celebration on May 9. “We give them a red rose or carnation, and a five-star meal. They have dinner with their children, and we just pamper them.”

The author of Don’t Quit in the Pit: Power to Turn Any Situation Around, Crawford provides activities for the children and shares the message of Jesus and teachings from her book with the women.

“When there’s no dad in the picture, these women go without honoring,” she says. “Our message is, ‘Don’t give up. You are loved.’” read more

Students Go Hungry to Feed Others

Students in the United States and abroad not only turned down their plates to fast during World Vision’s latest 30 Hour Famine, they also helped raise money for starving children in other countries.

In late April, participants fasted for 30 hours, performed community service projects such as feeding the homeless, cleaning up shelters and giving care packages to hospital patients. Some students even slept outside to try and duplicate the experience of young people in impoverished nations. Partakers also raised money to donate to World Vision’s efforts to end child hunger and build wells in nations around the world.

At press time, the total amount of money raised was unknown, but organizers were hoping to collect $12 million as a result of the famine. Since 1992, students worldwide have raised more than $130 million for the project.

But for some kids, saying no to food was a challenge. “I wanted to open their eyes so their compassion for the hungry would increase,” said youth minister Ross Runnels, of Canoe Creek Christian Church in St. Cloud, Fla. He said it was important for students “dragging their heels” to get involved with the famine. 


                   Students are sacrificing by:

» Fasting for 30 hours       » Sleeping on sidewalks

» Feeding the homeless    » Making care packages read more

Finding God ... and other things to do during a One-Year Airport Layover

Finding God ... and other things to do during a One-Year Airport Layover

Some people dread airport layovers that last longer than an hour. Imagine a layover for more than one year.

Nigeria-born Elizabeth Woleta was left stranded for more than a year in a terminal in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport after her passport was stolen in March 2007 in a 15-foot section considered a “legal no man’s land” that’s couched between Russian and international territories yet governed by neither. Despite her predicament, Woleta, now 31, found Christ when American traveler Brian Dodd told her God loved her. She later used her desperate situation to minister the gospel to people from more than 17 nations.

“It’s just the grace of God, “ she told Charisma. “I was saved by that grace and that same grace had to continue and moved me to preach the Word of God to as many as I could.”

Woleta said before praying with Dodd she was a “tortured” soul who’d never experienced love. “Brian … showed me an example that Christ really cares for us,” she said.

Despite her numerous attempts to get help from governmental authorities, airport officials and other travelers, Woleta was unable to depart the terminal.

After Dodd returned to the U.S. he immediately began working to find a way to help Woleta leave the airport. He and some of his companions smuggled food and a cell phone in for her. Despite their efforts, Woleta would go days without eating and sometimes resorted to drinking water from the toilet. Seeking some form of sustenance Woleta turned to the Word of God.

“[People would] see me reading a particular book for quite a long time,” she said. “In fact, I’d sit in one position for more than six hours just reading the Bible. Others would come to find out what’s making me read that Bible. I actually preached the Word of God to them.”

She’d even use her cell phone, which could only receive calls and send text messages, to ask others to translate Bible verses so she could minister to people speaking other languages. Though Woleta said she didn’t keep count, she estimates that at least 50 people accepted Christ after she witnessed to them in the airport.

After one year, Woleta was finally able to leave the airport when Dodd contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to have her returned to Nigeria, where she continues to host Bible studies. 

“The Holy Spirit of God actually helped me. ... [He] has been my food all along,” she said. “I continue to thank God for what He has done in my life.”  read more

Walking for Water

Walking for Water

You’d think walking 3,400 miles across 170 North American cities in only 374 days would be a pinnacle lifelong achievement for one person, but not for Daren Wendell. This was just the beginning of his global trek known as The Earth Expedition (theearthexpedition.com), which he founded in 2006 to raise awareness for the lack of clean water and AIDS pandemic in Africa.

“I had to sell everything I own to do this—literally. All the walkers [who commit to walking a leg of the expedition in various countries] do so by raising their own support,” Wendell explains.

Participants often sacrifice everything to hike thousands of miles for each leg, most often alone. Along the way, they visit various coffee shops, conferences, churches and schools to raise awareness and funds for the effort.

Together Wendell and the group plan to traverse three continents, 14 countries and 18,000 miles—taking 36 million steps in all to provide clean water to Africa. read more

Love and Remarriage

Love and Remarriage

For years statistics have shown that Christian marriages are just as likely to end in divorce as non-Christian ones. Adding to the bleak snapshot of the American church is the fact that clergy divorce rates are lock step with their congregations. But pastor Isaac Pitre and his wife, Denisha, (pictured above) who helm Christ Nations Church in Texarkana, Texas, say God wants to restore all marriages—even if couples have already divorced. Charisma recently spoke with the pair, who remarried each other six years after their 2003 divorce. You can hear the entire interview at pitre.charismamag.com.

Charisma: After 10 years of being married, what led to your divorce?

Isaac Pitre: It was basically just not understanding that my ministry was really to be at home and to [Denisha] as much as it was to the church and the world.

Charisma: What caused the two of you to reconcile your relationship?

Isaac: I had to accept personal responsibility for what I did and what I caused, and that it wasn’t the devil. It was my own pride and selfishness and neglect of really honoring and loving her. It took me awhile to come to that conclusion, but when I did, I immediately knew that our relationship could come back together. If I helped tear it up, then I could help fix it.

Denisha Pitre:  Immediately during the separation I realized that this was not the will of God, so I ... tried to reconcile with Isaac. After a few years of realizing that the relationship was not going to be reconciled, I just started to pray ... for soberness of mind. I continued to pray for myself and that God would just cleanse me and make me whole.

Charisma: What happened next?

Isaac: The night God broke through to me was the same night I picked up the phone. I went after Denisha and told her what the Lord had showed me—that I was wrong and it wasn’t her. It wasn’t about the ministry. It was my arrogance and my pride, and I wanted her back.

Charisma: Denisha, what were you thinking at that point?

Denisha: When he called, I just didn’t trust it because I thought there was a hidden agenda. But the faith that was built through [the previous year’s trials] helped me to accept him calling and accept that what he said was true.

Charisma: What happened after you decided that you were going to reconcile?

Isaac: We dated for six months, just to make sure we were really transformed. God had really started working on us, and Denisha wanted to make sure I was this new and improved Isaac, and I wanted to make sure she was the new and improved Denisha. After the end of that, I think another month and a half we were married.

Charisma: What would you tell someone who is currently going through a divorce or is contemplating getting one?

Isaac: First of all, everyone should understand that God hates divorce. Even though God forgives, divorce outside the groundworks of the Bible is wrong. The next thing is to understand that if there is a possibility for reconciliation, meaning the other person is not remarried, instead of asking God for someone else, ask God to fix the marriage you had. If the man is not fixed and the woman is not fixed, no matter who you remarry, you’re going to have the same issues.

Charisma: Pastor, do you have any specific advice for husbands? Isaac: Yes I do, and it is simply Ephesians chapter 5, that we are to love our wives as Christ loves the church. First Corinthians 13 says that we can have power to understand mysteries; we can preach with deep revelation, and we can have faith to move mountains, but the Bible says that if we have not love then we are nothing. That became very real to me.

Charisma: And how about you, Denisha—any advice for wives?

Denisha: For all wives, but especially for pastors’ wives, you should learn not to be a clone of what you think a pastor’s wife should be. I urge women to look inward and discover who they are. Focus on developing that. Everything you need for your spouse is wrapped up in who you really are.

Charisma: How do you now view your experiences?

Denisha: One of the greatest things I see in retrospect is that staying together is really one of the easiest things to do. You simply love each other, be humble and put God first. If you’re sincere with who you are in Christ, then you don’t have all those flaws and pride that cause separation. To actually stay in the relationship ... is one of the easiest things to do.

Isaac: We give glory to God for our reconciliation ... but instead of saying that God put us back together, we like to say that we allowed God to put us back together. God is trying to fix every marriage in every home, but He’s often not allowed to [mend relationships] because people don’t yield to Him. He is either trying to put every home back together or He is trying to keep every home from falling apart. It’s not a question of what God can and cannot do; it’s a question of what God is allowed to do. read more


Love and Remarriage


Church on the Front Porch

Church on the Front Porch

After spending lunch breaks driving through an impoverished Nashville, Tenn., neighborhood in search of an investment home, Thom Hazelip began feeling an undeniable burden for the people in the community. Forfeiting his upscale home with a pool house in the backyard, he decided to move his wife, Michelle, and four young children to the drug-infested area of McFerrin Park.

“What changed it from being a business venture, to us moving down here to be a part of the community was God,” Thom says. 

Michelle admits she thought her husband had “lost his mind” when he first proposed the idea of moving to McFerrin Park. But after she saw the numerous needs of the kids in the area and their parents, some of whom were only 13 or 14 when they became parents, she felt a change of heart.

As the family began spending more time “eating Popsicles and painting” with the neighborhood kids on their front porch, it became obvious why God had prompted the move. 

“We [now] know all our neighbors,” Thom says. “We know all the kids, what’s going on in their lives.”

The Hazelips have created the nonprofit Front Porch Ministry to offer financial and volunteer support (frontporchministry.org). The organization provides scholarships and rehab assistance to children and their parents respectively.

McFerrin Park resident Armentria Kelly is grateful for the Hazelips’ ministry:  “They have touched many lives ... and it’s helping me to want to change and want to be able to do what they are doing, to be able to give back.”


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Church on the Front Porch

Humbled In Haiti

Humbled In Haiti

How did you respond when you heard about the magnitude 7 earthquake that rocked Haiti in January? For Maribel Landis, simply offering a prayer wasn’t enough. A registered nurse, Landis grabbed her scrubs, medical kit and Bible, and boarded a plane bound for the impoverished country.

It didn’t take long for her to join in with other volunteer doctors and nurses treating wounded people at the Harvard Humanitarian Relief Initiative/Love a Child field hospital in Parisien, Haiti.

“It was painful to hear the screams of burn victims who had undergone skin grafts to get their wounds cleaned,” Landis says. “But I tried to show them God’s love by treating them and praying for them.” She says she left the country “humbled” by the resolve of the Haitian people.

Landis, wife of pastor Randy Landis of Lifechurch in Allentown, Penn., is no stranger to Haiti. Lifechurch operates Rescue Children Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, where the majority of the estimated 230,000 earthquake-related deaths occurred. Fortunately, all 11 of the ministry’s orphans made it out alive as their home crumbled around them. read more

The Face of Love in Southern Sudan

The Face of Love in Southern Sudan

Born without her left hip, leg and kidney, Michele Perry, 32, has faced adversity from birth. By age 13 she had already undergone 23 surgeries.

Not allowing her disabilities to sideline her, the Florida native went on to become a missionary in the slums of Bangladesh, India and, most recently, Yei, Southern Sudan.

“My visible sign of need opens doors ... to share Jesus,” she says. “People want to know why I am here and how I could possibly be happy, so I tell them about the One who is the love and joy of my life—Jesus.”

Perry is the founding field ministry director for Iris Ministries Sudan (IMS), a ministry that works in conjunction with Heidi and Rolland Baker of Iris Ministries Inc. in Mozambique.

She and the indigenous IMS team now care for 110 children in residential care and around 90 children in their community care program.

“I’ll be honest, I do miss hot baths and 24/7 power and the Internet, but in the long run, it is a small price to pay.” For Perry, these challenges can’t compare to living God’s dreams for her life. read more

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