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Entries from July 2009

Sound Mind

Yesterday I wrote about Reality Versus Fiction, and the response, both here and on Facebook, has been interesting. Basically there are two sides, those who like fantasy and those who do not.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some folks in the ‘do not like’ category who have spiritualized their dislike. Let me be upfront and say that yes, many strange and unexplainable things happen in this world. I have seen miracles with my own eyes, heard them with my own ears, and seen God do things in my life that can only be explained as miraculous.

Yet, I cannot say that is true of evil. Of all the demonic or satanic encounters I have had, none of them are unexplainable. In fact, most of them can be described as my emotions or my strong desire to see something spiritual happen.

I have said before that I do not believe in a personified evil, and I stand by that. However, I do believe in evil because I see it each and every day.

Poverty is evil. Children dying because of lack of food or healthcare is evil-- especially evil because those things are available, but greed prevents an equitable distribution. Christians refusing to fellowship with non-Christians is evil. Christians refusing to fellowship with fellow believers, just because they don’t believe in a personified evil, is evil. Christians supporting torture, war, greed, corruption, materialism, and sectarianism is evil.

These things are evil, and they have nothing to do with any fallen angel. They are all human in nature and origin. God created us with the capacity for evil, and unfortunately we have embraced that evil whole heartedly.

Our very society is set up on the inequitable distribution of wealth, which in turn means that children do not have access to food, education, and healthcare. All just because their parents are poor, just because those who are not poor do not want to be poor.

Yet we get caught up in things like Harry Potter and the casting of spells. We choose to say that pretending to make something levitate is evil. We persecute pagans, and claim their faith is evil. We hype up the devil and look for him everywhere.

All the while the real evil goes about it’s business unabated.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but instead one of love, power, and a sound mind.

If I am to be in my right mind, I cannot just let evil go unanswered. I must do something about it. Which I guess is where the love and power come in. By loving the unlovable I am fighting evil. By realizing that poverty is not always the fault of the poor, I am fighting evil. By feeding the hungry, I am fighting evil. By setting the oppressed free, I am fighting evil. In other words by preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, I am fighting evil. By relinquishing my power, I have become powerful.

Yes I feel strongly about this, and I wish more believers did as well.

Johnny Brooks


Reality Versus Fiction

Well it has happened. I always suspected it would, but now I have email evidence. Andrew’s, our eleven year old son, choice in entertainment cost us a potential donor. Actually, I am kind of proud of him. Andrew has a decent grasp of reality and is learning to stand up for what he believes. He is learning to think for himself, which is not an easy task in our day and time.

“I find it very disturbing that you would be reading these kinds of books.”

I shudder when reading such lines. Censorship of any kind horrifies me, and I just don’t see it being helpful. Essentially because Andrew, and I have to admit I enjoyed the series as well, enjoyed reading Harry Potter (who could easily be a Christian, though his faith is not mentioned in the stories,) this person chose not to support us.

harry-potter-0036Now I realize, we are not everyone’s cup of tea so I have no problem with people choosing not to send us money. However, I find it disturbing that people actually believe that witches and wizards are flying around on brooms in England.

Harry Potter is fictional. There is not really a school for wizards and  witches in an alternate universe found in some back alley in England.

Notice the bold type? Fiction is not real, that is why we call it fiction.

This former potential donor replied again. Here is an excerpt:

“Very early in my walk with the Lord, I realized that anything to do with magic is not from God.  So it must be from some other, which I feel is demonic.  Therefore, we do not let our children watch shows with magic in them,  and we do not and will not read the Harry Potter series.  We don't wish on stars or candles on a birthday cake but let our requests be made known to God.” 

Now let me say I am sure this person is genuine with her feelings and faith. In fact, I used to have very many similar feelings, that is till I believe God set me free from religious bondage. Yet religious paranoia has an answer for that as well:

“Satan is always trying to copy what God is doing and now you think witches are OK people and let yourself and your children hang out with them via the HP series.”

HP is short for Harry Potter and not Hewit Packard. Though after owning a few HP laptops I could almost believe Satan was running that company.

So are there really witches? All depends on how you define witch. The witch with a pointed hat, black cat, and flying around on a broom is fictional. There is nothing wrong with enjoying her and her friends. I have grown up reading stories about witches, wizards, dragons, and other fantasy creatures. I do not worship Satan. I worship Jesus. In fact, a fantasy story, The Lord of the Rings, has had more impact on my faith than any other story. (Apart from a few from the Bible.)

This person also mentioned seeing witches, mostly female ones, at her local grocery store. Here is where I see the lines of her reality getting blurred. I highly doubt she saw Minuerva McConagal at H.E.B. or Albus Dumbledore at a Super Wal-Mart. So if the witches she saw were not these, why lump them all together?

Besides how can you tell someone is a witch just by looking at them? I am not all that up to date on the various types of witches out there, but the Wiccans I have met look pretty much like everyone else. That is they look like people, and they bear the image of God.

The simple truth of the matter is that magic is not real. Magicians use illusion to entertain us. They trick us. Harry Potter is not a real boy wizard. The scar on his forehead is not real. Brooms that fly through the air are not real, unless of course they are tossed by someone.

Let’s keep our feet planted in reality. God can do so much more with us when we have a firm footing.

Johnny Brooks 

Johnny Brooks, I am not endorsing Harry Potter as a great work of literature, just trying to encourage us to discern reality from fiction. That’s all.


Blessing from God or selfish gain?

I was just thinking about the 'prosperity' message. Don't run, just keep reading, ok?

See, many people believe that it is our faith that gives us 'blessings' from God. prosperity Or that 'all good things come from Him' and therefore the more we get, the more we are 'blessed by Him.'

But I began to think about what Father says about blessings and our abundance. Does he not say that he will give us abundance so that we can SHARE it? I think that we should not abuse 'blessings' by attaining things we are 'dreaming of'-- like a BMW for example, when we could get a perfectly reliable car for less and then share the excess. But some folks would declare that it is because they have great faith that they have that BMW or because God has given them such great favor.

Sooo, I continued on in my thinkin', and used a little Algebra to apply the two scenarios to each other. If it is HIS blessings that got me my BMW, and not my selfish desire, then I should want to SHARE it with others, right? I mean, not just sayin', "Hey, let's go for a ride," but more like, "Hey, I don't need my car today and yours is broken, so here's my keys."

I was thinkin' even a little bit further.... perhaps we can TEST if a blessing is really from Father. Here's my test:  If I get 'blessed' with something, how am I feeling about it? Am I wanting to protect it or share it?

simple as that.

If I am not wanting to share my blessing with others, then perhaps it wasn't actually a blessing from Him. Perhaps it was I misusing a blessing that could've been abundance for helping someone.

Ok, that's just how my brain was thinking last night. Feel free to disagree. :)

~Kate


Facebook Conversation

Had this conversation on Facebook with a guy who wants to do some fundraising for us. Thought it would be interesting to share with everyone else as well. Hope he doesn’t mind.

I am so interested and what you are doing……

I have so many questions for you!!…if you don’t mind!!!….I know you are very busy too and please respond whenever you can!

Here is a list of them:

1) I read that there are millions and millions of orphans in Africa…Do you know…are most under the care of an orphanage????…or are most on their own??

There are millions of orphans in Africa. Here in Kenya the official number is supposed to hit 2 million by 2010. The unofficial number I believe is much higher. There is very little government assistance for these orphans. Our experience here in Kenya is that government run or sponsored homes are extremely corrupt. For instance when food is brought in the employees first takes the best parts to their own homes, and leave behind what they do not want. Same goes for clothes, toys, or anything else. Still the numbers of orphans are too many to be housed in these homes. Here in Nakuru orphans are often times kept in the remand home, which is where juveniles who break the law are housed. There are a number of orphanages, but there are still more orphans. Not all orphans need to be housed in an orphanage. They could live with grandparents or other relatives. Unfortunately many of those relatives are too poor to properly care for the children.

2) Also, the city you are in…Nakuru…is it dangerous?? I looked it up and I saw there were ethnic wars going on last year…Whats the status of safety over there? Have you had any problems?

Nakuru is not a dangerous city. Yes we did experience ethnic related violence after the election at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008. Foreigners were not targeted during that violence. The real danger here is theft or robbery. We have lived here for 4 and half years and have not had any problem. I am careful when in certain parts of town, but that is true of any city. Over all, the city is not dangerous.

3) Also, how did you start this orphanage…did you rent a place???

We started our orphan care project by renting a bigger house and looking for orphaned girls to care for. I did not concern myself much with the legal aspect of it; I just wanted to take care of some kids that no one else was caring for. Now that I have done it for a while I have encountered some of the legal aspects of it. It is not always easy to do things perfectly legal in Kenya due to the corruption. Yet we are attempting to do our best.

4) If you dont mind me asking….How much does it cost monthly to run an orphanage like you are running??

Don’t mind you asking about the monthly costs. Let’s look at our new home for boys; That home is set up for six boys, plus there is the house parents and their 2 children. They own their own home so rent is not an issue for them, to feed them and pay for utilities is about $230 U.S. a month. That does not include school or any emergencies or anything. Just the basic meals and utilities. The expenses of our own home are higher, as we feed more people, rent our home, have vehicles to maintain, and we eat more American foods which tend to be more expensive to make.

5) Also, do you feel like you have low reserves/financial problems???

I always feel like there are not enough resources. However that is mostly because in addition to the orphan care we work with the poor and sick in the community, and there are many of them. We have not had any real “extra” money since October of last year. Fundraising is difficult when you are full time in the field.

6) How did you find your babies / children???

We identified our children through the work we do in the community. We had some kind of contact with their families, for a few of them we knew their mothers before they died.

7) How old is your Orphanage??

Our orphan care project is just about 2 years old, though we have lived in Kenya for 4 and half years. In the beginning our mission was mostly spiritual in nature. i.e. I pastured a church, did a lot of preaching, stuff like that.

8) What are your expansion plans???

We want to purchase our own land, 10 acres or more would be great. We could then build as many homes as the land would allow. Plus we really need to do as much farming as possible to provide our own food.

9) If I can get tons of money donated to you…do you think you can handle managing a large expansion, opening a new house, taking on lots more kids, etc?

I believe we can handle a large expansion, but at our own pace. Things do not happen very quickly in Kenya, but they do happen. As long as our philosophy on orphan care is not compromised (that is providing family) we can expand to whatever size resources will permit.


It might get boring...

Yesterday evening, Johnny was spending time with me instead of sitting in his office, because I asked him to, so he was forced to 'talk.' LOL.

In that conversation, he began to tell me of all kinds of things we did during the day yesterday in the community that even I, Kate, wasn't aware of! I mean, I know we feed folks and such, but what occurred to me was that it just 572-bored-kidbecomes 'the norm' to do what we do, so much so, that we forget to even tell each other about it, let alone our blog readers.

We fed several families yesterday, saved a child from Malaria by getting her treatment, and took several other peeps to the hospital as well. We do it so much that Johnny and I CAN'T mention every time we do these things or you'd just get bored to pieces reading our blog!

So we try to come up with other things to talk about here, but hopefully you realize that most of the stuff we do just goes on without mentioning. ;)

Of course, I have to say that NONE of what we do has been done on our own. Every thing that we do has been done by YOU. (I'm not trying to get more money here.) I'm just saying that info because it is true. We have no sources of income a part from donations so that means it is you who feeds the hungry, clothes the (pretty much) naked, and takes people to the hospital.

Thanks to everyone who helps us help them!


Judge Not

Judge not, that you be not judged.

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

Matthew 7:1-2

Sounds too sacred and holy. Meaning too lofty for us mere mortals to accomplish. Listen to it from The Message Bible:

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging."

Ahh, much easier to understand now that we have brought it down to earth.

Unfortunately I find myself guilty of this very thing way too often. It’s a character flaw, one that I am working towards fixing.

It is absolutely true you know. Someone walks into a room and just starts badmouthing another person. Just on and on about how that person has failed to live up to standard. Nitpicking. Backstabbing. Gossiping.

What happens when the one doing the badmouthing leaves the room? (Those of you given to much gossip may not know the answer to this one. Because it is you who are leaving the room.) Soon as the door swings shut, the tongues start wagging. The abuser becomes the abused.

Those of us who follow Jesus need to realize that judgment is not part of the life He has called us to. At least not our rash and often times wrong judgment of other people and their actions or motives. People will screw things up, we are people after all. Let’s try not to jump on those failures.

I am working on rooting this out of my life, and the more I do the more I enjoy life and all those people who share it with me.

Johnny Brooks 

Johnny Brooks


Reminders, Again

Just wanted to share with everyone the many ways you can stay in touch with us. I know I’ve posted this stuff before, but perhaps some new readers don’t know how to reach us.

The easiest way of course is via email. Send something to back2kenya@yahoo.com .

You could write a letter and send via snail mail. Use this address:

Johnny Brooks

P.O. Box 2974

Nakuru 20100

Kenya

I, Johnny, use Twitter:

 

Both Kate and I are on Facebook:

 www.facebook.com/johnnybrooks and www.facebook.com/kate34

If you want to send us money, we do this project full time and exist off of people’s generosity, then you can use one of the following methods:

Paypal. Using back2kenya@yahoo.com

Make check out to Kenya Fund and mail to:

713 West First Street

Beaver Dam, KY 42320

U.S.A.

If all these fail or you just like the phone you could give us a ring. Do keep in mind any time difference there may be between us and you. 011-254-723-687-644

Of course commenting on the blog gets our attention as well.

Happy communicating!

Johnny Brooks