Friday, August 09, 2019

Butterflies & Second Chances, a Mom’s Memoir of Love and Loss

Unless you’ve had a severely handicapped special needs child, you cannot know how hard it is—both for the child and the parents. But in order to help these families and pray for them in the right way, we needto know. That’s why memoirs are so wonderful; they allow us to enter the author’s personal experience, to “feel” their pain with them. They help stretch our compassion. That is precisely what Butterflies and Second Chancesby Annette Hines did for me. It enlarged my empathy.

Butterflies and Second Chances, A Mom’s Memoir of Love and Lossbrings you into Ms. Hines life as a young wife and mother with her first child, Elizabeth, who was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease—a degenerative, life-limiting illness. The news shook Hines’ world and rattled her marriage. That was bad enough, but what played out during the early months, then the ensuing years, was more alarming. 

It seems that little is known about mitochondrial disease because of its rarity, which makes it unworthy of much-needed research and resources. (After all, most people haven’t heard of this disease so they would likely not donate to research.) But when you see a child suffer with this debilitating sickness, and when you see a family struggle to survive because of it, it is clear that more needs to be done. 

After numerous problems with finances, marriage, the added stress of endless cycles of traipsing Elizabeth to and from hospitals—something that was especially traumatic for the child—Hines saw the need for a total revamp of the system from medical to advocacy and everything in between. 

The system needed an overhaul for children like her daughter. Hines later passed the bar exam and became part of the solution. She created the Special Needs Law Group of Massachussetts

Elizabeth did not remain an only child. And although her younger sister, Caroline, did not suffer from the same ailment, she was not spared of deep pain. Her mother’s preoccupation with Elizabeth’s needs crippled Caroline with a sense of isolation, even abandonment. But not everything that happened to Hines and her girls was negative. God had some incredible surprises in store for the family. 

Entering Annette Hines world of pain and trauma is eye opening. I encourage anyone who cares for children, and especially those who know families with special needs children, to read this book. It will change you. 

Published by Lioncrest Publishing, Butterflies and Second Chances, A Mom’s Memoir of Love and Loss can be found wherever books are sold. 

This article also appears in Assist News

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © August2019

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Shrewd Samaritan—Faith, Economics, and the Road to Loving Our Global Neighbor

This book took me by surprise. As founder of Orphans First, I was already passionate about concretely loving our global neighbor—but economics, not so much. That word seemed scary. But I was blown away by what I learned from Bruce Wydick in his book, Shrewd Samaritan—Faith, Economics, and the Road to Loving Our Global Neighbor. 

Most of us want to do more to help the poor, but we often don’t know the best way to go about it. Should we give, go, serve and whichever we feel led to do, where are our efforts best used? Where will we make the greatest impact with what we have to offer? 

Bruce Wydick explores these questions by sharing his prolific research on the diverse impacts of giving. He walks us through the thinking process to help us discover the way or ways in which we are individually called to care for our global neighbor. He gives us the tools to analyze whether our best impact would be in donating time, talent, funds...or all of these. 

Not every form of giving has the greatest impact. It is useful to evaluate the best possible way we can do the greatest good with our limited abilities. And then just do it!
The catchy title, Shrewd Samaritan, is a combination of two parables taught by Jesus. We know them best as The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and The Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-9). As Wydick points out, we all understand the Jesus’ message in his parable of The Good Samaritan. But the Shrewd Manager, that flies over our heads. Why would Jesus commend a dishonest, deceitful trickster? What does he want us to learn from him? 

The author tells us, “…money is temporal, but people and relationships are not. He goes on to explain that the Greek word used for worldly wealth in this parable is “mamonos” (“mammon” in the old King James Bible translation). It means more than money; it means our possessions. That certainly adds a deeper meaning. We are accountable to steward our belongings wisely. 

Remember how the word “economy” scared me? (All those numbers and spreadsheets.) Well, not any more. Wydick points out that the word “manager” in the Greek is “oikinomon” which means economics. Now that I like. 

Shrewd Samaritanis full of helpful examples illustrating diverse ways a person can impact the lives of the poor. He demystifies the call to help and makes it appealing. 

The book is published by Thomas Nelson and is in bookstores everywhere. Bruce Wydick is author of several books and professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco. 

This article also appears in Assist News Service

I highly recommend Shrewd Samaritan. As director of Orphans First, I plan to reread often.
Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © July2019

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Unplanned, the R-rated movie everyone should see

Unplanned, out in theaters this week, is the R-rated movie everyone needs to see, including teenagers. I know, I know. R-rated is bad. Really bad. So why do I think everyone should see it? Hmmm. It could change lives. It could save lives. It could spare people from heartache. 

Unplannedis based on the book of the same title by Abby Johnson. This is her story, her own personal experience as someone who used to work for Planned Parenthood. Abby was a Christian who believed she was doing good. (Hard to believe, for sure, but to understand her mindset, you must see the film.) 

This movie is not a documentary, but a true story that uncovers what really happens behind the closed doors of Planned Parenthood, and what young girls are told about their fetuses. Let’s look at why this movie might be R-rated. 

R-rated means Restricted; kids under seventeen years of age must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to see it. The criteria for a film to receive an R-rating include any of the following factors: adult material, nudity, sexual content, profanity, extreme violence, drug use… Unplannedhas no profanity, no sexual content, no nudity, no drug use, no adult material per se…In fact, it is the story of what many girls under the age of seventeen do every day—without telling their parents. Abortion. Andabortion is violent. 

In most states in America, a girl thirteen years or older can get an abortion withouther parents’ consent or even their knowledge. But she cannotsee Unplannedwithout parental consent. She can have an abortion but she must not know what an abortion really incurs. (Some have suggested that the R-rating was given to prevent young people from seeing this movie for fear it would swat them from pro-choice to pro-life—something that would be especially inconvenient for the abortion industry whose existence depends on them meeting their quota of abortions.)

Political hypocrisy! 

The characters in Unplannedare superbly credible. Robia Scott, former actress in Buffy and the Vampire, plays the antagonist, Cheryl the director of Planned Parenthood. Cheryl is poised, coercive, convincing, cold and cruel, quite different from Robia’s real-life personality. 

Interestingly, as a follower of Jesus, Robia had walked away from the compromising world of Hollywood to follow the call of God in ministry. Fifteen years later, a random person introduced her to Unplanned. Says Robia, 
“I loved the idea of portraying truth. But I was still hesitant when I saw the script because of the character I was being asked to play, and the intense dialogue. Do I really want to take this on?I asked. Then I thought, “For such a time as this” and was quickly compelled to see this role as an important piece to tell this story.” 

Just as God prompted Robia with, “For such a time as this,” so it is with the timing of the movie’s release. Producers Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon had procured the rights to this movie six years ago. But year after year, they received a check in their spirit that this was not the time. Until last year when they felt release to move forward. 

Talk about timing. This very year, abortion has moved from early abortion to full gestation (partial) abortion—and even to infanticide in some states. This movie is pivotal to open people’s eyes to what is taking place in this country!

Things to note: 
·     Unplanned isnota low budget Christian movie. It is top-notch Hollywood quality.
·     Unplannedis not even a “Christian movie” per se. It is simply the true story of Abby Johnson. 
·     Unplannedis not a gory sensational documentary. It is not a documentary at all. And although parts of it are drawn from documentation and are disturbing and shocking, the film is nonetheless “entertaining” because it tells a story of a woman, a family and real people—a believable story. 
·     Unplannedhas surprising elements and twists—not the least of which is Abby’s incredible deception and blindness. She is a Christian, wife and mother working for Planned Parenthood. Hard to believe until you see her story. 
·     Unplanned may change your perspective about abortion workers and kids and women who choose abortion. It may stretch the boundaries of your compassion. (It did mine.)
·     Unplannedis not a feel-good story, but it doesleave you on a huge note of hope and encouragement. And hopefully disgust—enough to make you want to encourage more people to go see it. 

Things to do:
·     Please do all you can to go see Unplanned this week in a theater near you—and bring your friends and family. Your mind might already be made up, but by going to see the movie you are making a statement that increases the film’s impact. Your attendance counts. Movie theaters will likely show the film in more theaters, and show it for more days if enough people attend. 
·     Bring friends. This increases buzz and buzz will draw more people to see the movie. Thus, your presence and others’ can save babies’ lives, mothers’ lives, abortion workers’ lives, and even convert blinded pro-choicers. 
·     In spite of R-ratings, bring as many teens as you can. They especially need to see this movie. It could open or change their minds on this issue and prevent them from making decisions that could scar them forever. 
·     Pray for this movie. It can potentially change lives.
·     Pray for the cast and all those involved in the making of this film. Their lives could seriously be at risk as they uncover deep darkness.
·     Pray for policy makers to see this movie.
·     Pray for churches and godly people to back up this movie and promote it.

For more on the movie, go here.
To learn more about Abby Johnson and her ongoing ministry, go here

A few more tidbits:
·     Abby Johnson facilitated 22,000 abortions. 
·     At least 28 abortion clinics have been closed. 
·     Some 500 abortions workers have left the industry. (Many have found help from the and “Then There Were None” ministry. 

     This story also appears in Assist News

Ready to see this movie now? Round up your friends and go this week while its in theaters. 

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © March2019


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

It Never Rains In Southern California--But Across the Border it Pours.

Back in the seventies, Albert Hammond got it right when he sang, "It never rains in Southern California". He added that when it does, it pours.
And pour it has—for months. In fact, Los Angeles received more rain in the first 45 days of 2019 than in the entire year of 2018. And it is still not over. The forecast declares there is more to come. 

But while most SoCal dwellers have little to complain about, there are those that face serious problems during this season, including the homeless and those just the other side of our border in Mexico. 

The rain damage in California is nothing compared to the detrimental ramifications of endless rain in Tijuana. The sheer poverty of many of Tijuana’s inhabitants—especially those who live in hazardous structures made from wood, plastic or caste iron—makes them highly vulnerable. Many are victims to flooding, cold, disease, mud slides… To make matters worse, vendors close down so food is harder to come by. And for those who rely on dump heaps to rummage for their food, the situation is dire. 

Of course, there is also the migrant crisis in Tijuana where some 7, 000 people from Central America and other nations huddle under plastic makeshift tents in the Benito Juarez Sports Center. The endless rain has led to many sicknesses, not to mention a lice crisis and general lack of hygiene and comfort. While many migrants are young men, there are also about 1,000 children (including teens). 

Like the Mexicans born into dire poverty, the little ones are the most vulnerable. 

Thankfully, about forty-five minutes away by bus another center has opened up with many more resources and provisions. Buses already began taking groups of migrants to this new, dryer and more comfortable center.  Meanwhile, it is reported that thousands more migrants are heading this way, which will only increase the dilemma—particularly in light of the huge population of desperately poor people who have lived in Mexico their entire lives. 

The population of Tijuana is estimated to be about 1 500 370, of which huge numbers live in dire poverty and squalor.It is easy to forget that many Mexicans struggle to live every single day—to find food for their families, clothes, shoes, school supplies.... The plight of the children—many of whom are illiterate and thus condemned to continue the cycle of destitution. It is no wonder that so many fall prey to the drug lords and make drug peddling their way out. As always, the children are the greatest victims. 

It was particularly the children that grabbed my heart back in 2005 or so. They were God’s catalyst to the start of a new children’s Orphans First program over the border. 

When my husband and I came to California in 2004 after church planting and ministering in France for two decades, we enjoyed the privilege of teaching at the Calvary Chapel Bible College. With students eager to taste missions, we began taking exploratory day trips to Mexico. It was an adventure. It reminded us of our years in France, when we frequently crossed the border to Italy to eat gelato and minister. Here in SoCal, Mexico is our closest border and the tacos sounded appetizing. But as much as we enjoyed the delicious food, we were shocked to discover a third-world country—right on our very doorstep where some of the richest people in the world live. It bothered us. 

My husband and I know the third-world very well (Eastern Europe, Western and Central Africa, India and more. Louis had mentored young pastors while I, as founder of Orphans First, focused on women and children. By God’s grace, we launched children’s homes India, and programs for slum children in several countries. Since God had now planted us in SoCal, it seemed like a no-brainer to start something in Tijuana. We would just need to find a local partnering church. So we began praying. 

Several years  later, God led us to Calvary Chapel Pedregales and we began the conversation. Before long, the church was ready to partner with Orphans First and launch an afterschool-feeding program for a few kids. Now, several years later, 40 children attend our program with many more begging to come. (Sadly, we are unable to take in more until we have more volunteers.)  These children come from very volatile at-risk backgrounds.

The Orphans First program provides food, clothes, shoes, school supplies, after-school tutoring, counseling, medical support, books, toys, Bible teaching and a place to play and feel safe. The work is a beautiful reflection of Christ’s love—but not without challenges. 

Several of the children suffer from PTSD because they are abused. Most are malnourished. Almost all of them have bad teeth. (Thank God we have a dentist who works with us, but we need more.)  Most of the kids do not have a dad. Some have neither parent and live with a grandma or neighbor. All are underprivileged. And many are traumatized after seeing people killed. Children have seen relatives or neighbors shot to death—including one of our older boys who saw his mother shot and killed. 

This is all because of the seedy lifestyles so many are lured into—drug peddling and prostitution. None of this is healthy for children who are often neglected and left to fend for themselves. Some children’s situations are so bad, I am not at liberty to write about them for their own protection. Heart wrenching. 

So, while it rains in Southern California, and we are uncomfortable and cold, just a hope and a skip away on the other side of the border, it pours. May God help us not to ignore the pain of others and not to turn a blind eye. Yes it is overwhelming, and we feel helpless to do something. But everyone can do something. Prayer is a good start. 

Find out more about Orphans First children’s programs here.

This article also appears in Assist News here

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © February2019

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Israel Rising

There are many reasons I love Doug Hershey’s book, Israel Rising. Here are some of them. 

Israel Risingillustrates fulfilled Bible prophecy through scenic photos that transport us to that tiny nation, Israel, which is the central focus of prophecy. But just seventy years ago, those prophecies seemed far from reality. Today they have come to pass with remarkable accuracy. 

Prophecy—especially as it unfolds before our eyes—is a powerful faith-builder. Israel is God’s prophetic clock and her seventieth anniversary last year served as a reminder of that. God’s Word is true and His predictions always have, and always will, come to pass. Every time. Israel Risingconfirms that. 

Hershey weaves Bible passages, long and short, throughout the book. Photographs of Israel before and after her birth are placed alongside Scriptures; thus enabling the reader to seethe fulfillment of God’s Word in this land. Within just seven decades, the landscape is not only revived, it is transformed. 

In Ezekiel 37, for example, God speaks directly to the land of Israel detailing the ways in which she would change.  In the side-by-side comparative pictures, we observe it for ourselves. For centuries, Israel lay barren. But in 1948, the Jews returned and turned her into a fruitful, flowery, industrious, innovative, diverse nation. 

Highlights of this book include:
* Israel is God’s prophetic time clock.
* “Before and after” photos of the land support prophecy.
* Photographs that capture the land’s exquisite and diverse beauty—as well as stories about encounters with several locals—transport you to Israel. 
* A woven thread upholding the revelation of God’s fulfilled promises to His people. 
* Bible texts supporting the idea that it is the Jewish people’s right to live in Israel. 

This large coffee table book would make a great gift for anyone interested in Bible prophecy, Israel, eschatology, apologetics, teaching Bible or just those wanting to grow in their knowledge of the Bible. 

I highly recommend Israel Rising

Janey DeMeo M.A.

Copyright © January2019