Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Helping the Widow and the Orphan in Lent

Giving to the poor and those in need is probably the most overlooked historic Lenten discipline. This, despite the fact that the appointed Scriptures for Ash Wednesday clearly tell us otherwise: "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" (Isaiah 58:6–7) Here we see, yet again, that much of what God calls us to in Lent is really just the normal Christian life.  These are things we should be about year round: prayer, the Word, fasting and caring for the poor and oppressed.  (Let me recommend you read the book of Amos in the Old Testament to drive this point home, or perhaps Luke 6:20-49).  

I have been praying for some time that the Lord would give me opportunity to help those in need, and I think God gave me one avenue to help this Lent.... and I want to share it with you.  

A close friend of mine has been involved with a ministry to Christians and to the poor in Pakistan for sometime.  Right now, they have a specific need they are asking for help with. This ministry has been closely investigated and vetted by my friend and his family, and I trust their judgment.  Here is the letter I received from them: 

Dear Friends,

You may know that for the past several years our family has been in partnership with a Pastor in Pakistan, Asif Raza. Over this time we have supported his ministry in a mostly Muslim region and have seen a tremendous amount of fruit.

Since his graduation from seminary a few years ago, he has worked with the believers in his community to establish:

• A vocational training center for widows. Each woman enrolled can learn to become a seamstress and receive a quality sewing machine upon graduation. The Gospel is preached daily during the opening of class and many widows have professed faith and been baptized.

A Christian school. Children attending the True Vine English Medium School receive a quality education, including foundational Biblical studies. Pastor Raza has also opened the doors to over 50 orphans from the area. These children can receive education and frequently receive lunch – sometimes their only meal of the day – through the school. Widows in the vocational school training center make uniforms for the school children as part of their project work.

A small dairy farm. This is one of many ways Pastor Raza has been diligent over the past few years in seeking ways to raise his own support. Soon he will also have chickens on the farm. He is never idle!

• All of this is in addition to Pastor Raza’s regular responsibilities of teaching and preaching...

Until now, our family and a few others have supported this ministry with our own tithes and offerings. As God has blessed this ministry, it is continuing to grow and experience new needs that are beyond our financial capacity.

This is why I’m writing today. Pastor Raza asked if we would stand with him in prayer, believing for the finances to purchase some machinery and materials that will enable widows from the training center to begin selling their own items. I wanted to go a step beyond praying for this request and cast the nets out to you, our believing friends and family. Would you consider partnering with us in this, both prayerfully and financially?

US Dollars go a long way in Pakistan. For about $600, we can supply most of the machines and materials these widows need to begin generating their own support through a small local business. What the $600 doesn't cover has been donated by several of the widows in the training center, who have agreed to forego the award of a sewing machine – which is normally given to every woman who completes the training curriculum! Their willingness to sacrifice when they have so little to begin with has touched our family deeply. As such, Amy and I have agreed to match donations to this project up to the $600 goal.

Our family has created a 501(c)3 educational charity to support this cause, so donations are tax-deductible. 100% of donations go directly to support Pastor Raza and his ministry.

Following are some pictures of the widows at the Sewing Center, the children at the True Vine School, and of Pastor Raza and Daud (an associate pastor who is in Bible School) working together.

If you partner with us in this, you will no doubt become the recipient of Pastor Raza’s frequent and delightful email updates. Donations may be sent directly to our 501(c)3 at:

An Interrupted Life Foundation (AILF) 
4300 Steven Drive
Edmond Ok, 73013

Please contact us with any questions.

Looking forward to working with you for Kingdom growth! 

Best Regards,

James & Amy Gattis -

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