In Anticipation of Easter
Many churches celebrate the season of Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and runs approximately 6 weeks followed by Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Traditionally, this is the season when Christians spend extra time in spiritual examination of their lives and offer some form of personal sacrifice.
I often hear of Christians giving up something for Lent. For some it's giving up Diet Coke, for others it might be candy or even a personal habit. These practices vary amongst various faith groups, but the idea is that one gives up something and substitutes something. In some cases a person might simply choose to spend a little extra time in self reflection and anticipation, a heartfelt acknowledgment that Christ was crucified and died for the forgiveness of our sins, was resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will come again!
My husband and I spent many years as youth and family ministers. I fondly remember our youth spending their Saturday decorating the sanctuary and working late into the evening prep cooking and decorating the fellowship hall to provide Easter breakfast to our church families and their guests. When the last Easter service was over, we would spend another few hours cleaning up. I remember how the youth worked in shifts so that they all had a chance to attend one of the Easter services. It was a very special time that reflected personal sacrifice and service with a deep reflection on the One who sacrificed it all...for us.
Whatever your faith tradition practices, please take time from your busy schedule to spend a little extra time in personal prayer and reflection. Consider lending a hand at your local church or favorite community outreach center. As you bless others, you too will be blessed.
For those of us who live and worship here in the United States, we are fortunate that, for the most part, we are able to express our faith without fear of reprisal. Especially when compared to other countries where a Christian might be shunned, imprisoned or in extreme cases even murdered.
Here in the U.S. we get excited about purchasing new clothes for Easter so we look our best, while in the Middle East parents have to worry about providing school uniforms and tuition for their children. Buying special outfits for Easter simply isn't a reality for them. It's sad to think that in the lands of the Bible, families sacrifice and suffer so much for the very things we take for granted.
I am not suggesting that we, as westerners should feel guilty - not at all. But if we put our Christianity into practice, we know it's God’s will that we show empathy and compassion to the less fortunate.
Venture International's Mission Statement says that we serve as a bridge between those in need and those who want to help God's people. In 2003 I left a well-paying career in corporate America because my Christian faith compelled me to seek a position where my skills would serve others who needed help. After several interviews, Venture International offered me an entry-level, administrative position and I gratefully accepted it.
I worked very hard and learned everything I could. Before long, I took on more and more responsibility. What I've learned over the past 15 years is that, no matter how hard I work, I can not do everything - nor am I the best at everything. Regardless, with God's help I continue to press forward each and every day and am thankful for those who have been faithful supporters as I can not do this without your help. I need those who want to help God's people. I really need you.
I truly believe that God will lift up those who believe in our mission to help support the ministries of Venture International. There is nothing I can say or do to make this happen other than to ask that you pray about it. There are several ways you can help:
Top 5 ways we need your help
1. Family to Family - We desperately need at least a 20 new family to family sponsors right now.
2. Refugee Relief - Our ministry partner in Jordan who works with refugees is asking for financial support as he tries to make hundreds of refugees as comfortable as possible during the ongoing crisis.
3. Skills Training - We need additional funds to help with skills training in Egypt.
4. General Fund - Due to a budget shortfall last year, Venture's General Ministry Fund is at an all-time low. We need to raise at least $25,000 as soon as possible. Usually we get caught up through year-end contributions, but this year we fell painfully short. We have no debt, but are praying that a few people, who are able, step up and help us get back on our feet. As you know, I run an extremely conservative budget. You can trust that if I ask for financial assistance, I really need it.
5. Fundraising - It has become more and more difficult for me to fundraise all by myself. If you are able to help by spreading the word about our ministry I would truly be thankful. We used to get a fairly large portion of our budget through corporations and churches. Unfortunately most of that has fallen off over the past decade and some of the foundations have closed.
I find it very difficult to ask for financial help. I am not a good fundraiser. I am praying that a few people hear God's calling and, if they are able to do so, come along side me to support the fantastic work Venture International has been doing since 1986.
I pray that our brothers and sisters in the Middle East find peace and prosperity. I pray that those who are displaced are able to safely return home to gain some form of normality in their lives. I pray that everyone feels, deeply, the love and grace that Christ poured out upon us through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
Happy Easter! May everyone truly receive His blessing and share his blessings with others.
Cherrie Dickerson, PresidentVenture International
Instructions for giving:
Online - Go to www.ventureint.org and click on the donation link of your choice. Once there just insert the amount in the contribution line.
By Check - Please write your preference on the memo line.
By Phone - Please call 480 730-2702. If I am not able to answer the phone, please leave a message and I will call you back ASAP. I am able to process credit cards through Venture International's banking portal.
Please consider donating today: