Young @ Heart-By Tanya Byl

Parents are encouraged to read the meditation with their children by way of introduction.

In a beehive, there are two kinds of bees besides the queen: the workers who make the honey, and the drones who mostly sit around and eat it. So who are you? Are you a worker bee in God’s kingdom here on earth? Do you look for ways to help other people? Are you kind when kindness is needed? God tells us we must love our neighbors as ourselves, and that means we have a lot of work to do. Make this craft and hang it up to remind you of your very important job in God’s kingdom.

You can add to the craft by using each petal to write down a specific activity that you have done or would like to do. For example, pick up garbage on your end of the street, make a card to cheer up a sick person, teach your younger neighbor to play soccer, write a letter to a Word & Deed sponsor child, smile at the new kid at school, or share cheerfully with your brother or sister. Or make a family “bee”, with first names on the bees and your last name on the flower.

I would love to see what you have made – send me a picture of you with your finished craft.

What you need
one paper plate
construction paper (for petals and/or flower)
black and yellow paint or markers
a paintbrush and a cup with water
waxed paper

1. Paint the paper plate yellow. Let it dry. Or cut out a yellow construction paper circle and glue it on the paper plate.
2. Paint (or color with marker) the bee’s bodies with black and yellow stripes. Let them dry.
3. Print “[your name] is a worker bee” on the paper plate.
4. Cut out petals from construction paper and glue them around the edge of the plate.
5. Cut out wings from waxed paper as shown and glue on bee bodies.
6. Punch or poke a hole at the top of the flower and attach string. Clip as many bees as you’ve made onto the flower.
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. – Matthew 25:21

By Rev. Eric Pennings

During my college years I worked one summer for a beekeeper. That limited experience doesn’t make me a professional beekeeper, but it did teach me a lesson about serving Christ. I learned that there are two kinds of bees in a hive – drones and worker bees. The worker bees (females) are the ones who do all the work of searching for nectar and producing honey. The drones (males), though larger, eat the product without earning their keep. Consequently, the beekeeper often purges the hive of the drones while pampering and maintaining the worker bees.

There’s a lesson in this about making ourselves available for service in God’s kingdom. We need to ask ourselves if we are like drones or like worker bees. Are we willing to volunteer in promoting the cause of the kingdom of God? Or are we like the proverbial drones, taking advantage of the benefits of God’s kingdom, but unwilling to shoulder its responsibilities and privileges of service?

Jesus teaches this lesson in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. In the parable, the master (referring to Jesus Christ) is about to leave the servants (referring to followers of Christ). He entrusts his servants with the responsibility of maintaining and developing his property (referring to the kingdom of God) during his absence. He provides his servants with talents (referring to resources) to be used faithfully in fulfilling the mandate given to them.

In the parable, the master distributes the talents among his servants, some more … some less. In the same way Christ in His sovereign wisdom distributes His resources among His followers, each according to his or her abilities. Notice the enthusiasm with which the first two servants use the resources provided to them by their master. With joy and thanksgiving for the honor of serving their master, they selflessly and faithfully volunteer their time and effort, duplicating their resources in service to their master. With contrasting unfaithfulness, the third servant selfishly and begrudgingly buries his talent, expressing resentment for what he believes to be exploitation.

Our historical confessions apply this parable concretely. They teach that “all people are obliged to join and unite with the church … by serving to build up one another, according to the gifts God has given them” (Belgic Confession, Article 28). In our commitment to the communion of the saints, we are taught “that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members” (Heidelberg Catechism, Answer 55).

The beekeeper illustrates in nature what Jesus teaches in this parable. The worker bees are rewarded as our Master encourages his faithful servants with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The drones, however, are purged from the hive, just as the Master casts the unfaithful servant into “darkness.”

Here are some questions for reflection as we consider our willingness to serve in God’s kingdom either in full-time service or as volunteers. What are the resources that God has given to me? What am I doing with these resources? Am I a drone … or a worker bee?

Rev. Eric Pennings is the Central American Regional Coordinator at Miami International Seminary (MINTS).
By Rick Postma

Where would Word & Deed be without volunteers? In the past week alone, I’ve relied on an army of volunteers to:

-run, chaperone and participate in a 24 hour hunger awareness campaign at Rehoboth Christian School which raised over $12,000;

-organize and plan to take part in choir concerts in Ontario and Michigan;

-organize softball tournaments in Lethbridge, Alberta; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Lansing Illinois;

-organize our third annual Niagara bike-a-thon

-put up special websites for the promotion of the above events

-write and edit articles for our quarterly magazine

-Help me organize my week long trip in Alberta including presentations at two churches, two Christian Schools and meetings with four Word & Deed Business Groups

Many more are busy in the background making and selling cards, selling honey, knitting blankets and clothing and much more. In this issue we profile two of our volunteers and we also have our Chilliwack organizing committee tell us about themselves. There are countless other unsung heroes and to one and all, we offer our heartfelt thanks.

In his meditation, Pastor Eric Pennings of Miami International Seminary (MINTS), an organization we are delighted to partner with in Nicaragua and Ecuador, draws a beautiful and effective comparison between worker bees and our calling to use our talents and time to serve in God’s Kingdom. Pastor Ken Herfst provides a fascinating update on our agricultural project in Guatemala and Caroline Van Dyken provides a realistic look at what it is like to volunteer in Malawi.

Summer vacations are a good time for reflection. Are we investing our time, talents and finances so that they will give eternal dividends? Or are we only living for the here and now? As you read through this issue of the magazine, prayerfully consider what you can do.

Rick Postma is director of public relations for Word & Deed Ministries.

Click on "Read More", below, to select articles from the table of contents.

By Rev. Cornelis Pronk

The economic downturn we are experiencing these days will likely have a bearing on the amount people will give to charitable organizations. To be honest, we at Word & Deed are a bit apprehensive as to whether we will meet our budget projections this year. Will we be able to fund our existing projects, let alone, take on new ones? The needs of those whom we have been helping during our prosperous years remain the same and are becoming even greater because poor nations are less able to absorb higher prices for food and other basic necessities than we are.
We need to realize, however, that God’s command to remember the poor remains in force at all times, during good years as well as bad. Maybe the time has come when we will no longer have the luxury of giving from our abundance but must learn to give beyond our ability (2 Cor.8:3).
But even more is required of us; we are to give cheerfully and with compassion and sympathy. An example of this kind of giving is Job. We know him as a model of patience under extreme suffering. But he also serves as a model of sympathy for the poor. Before calamity struck Job, he was known as someone who truly cared for people in need. That’s why it was so cruel of Eliphaz, the Temanite, one of Job’s so-called friends, to insinuate that his suffering was partly due to the fact that he had neglected his duty with respect to the needy. “Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink,” Eliphaz charged, “and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry” (Job 22:7-9).
This was slander, and Job, deeply offended and grieved, had to defend himself against this false accusation: “If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail…if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering…then let my mine arm fall from my shoulder blade and mine arm be broken from the bone” (Job 31:16,19-22).
Job was not boasting, but merely setting the record straight. We may do that too when falsely accused. If anyone should charge us with neglect in this area, I hope we can say with an appeal to God’s omniscience that we have remembered the poor and needy in their affliction.
Yet it is not enough if we can prove to have done our duty here. We also need to examine our consciences as to whether our charitable deeds proceeded from a loving and sympathetic heart. Job could say, “Did I not weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the poor (Job 30:25)?” Whenever Job saw someone in need, he sympathized with him or her, and in a very real sense made that person’s burden his own.
If even worldly people can show sympathy when they encounter misery, should we do less? Should we not excel in caring for the poor and needy wherever they live, in our own neighborhoods and cities or in distant countries?
Such care, born from love to God and our neighbor, brings rich rewards to both benefactors and beneficiaries. Showing sympathy is the best way to secure God’s comfort in our own afflictions. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble” (Ps.41:1). Relieving the poor is also the best investment we can make. No bank pays interest like the Bank of Heaven. “The liberal [generous] soul shall be made fat [rich]: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Prov.11:25). Scripture and experience teach us that we can’t take our money with us when we die. But if we support the Lord’s cause on earth generously and sacrificially, we will take our money with us into the next world, plus interest, because “he that hath pity upon the poor lendeth to the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him back” (Prov.19:17).
Of course, self-interest, though allowed, must not be our main motive for sharing with others what God has given us. It is God’s plain command to do so. As Paul exhorts us: “Bear ye one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Our obedience to this law is the touchstone of our sincerity and the evidence that our faith is of the saving kind because it is a faith working by love (Gal.5:6) and not a dead faith devoid of works (Jas.2:17).

Pastor Cornelis (Neil) Pronk preaches at the Providence Free Reformed Church in St. George, Ontario.

by Rick Postma

You may have heard or read about the recent atheist-funded marketing campaign in Great Britain proclaiming “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The campaign is spreading and may soon come to a bus near you. A number of books by such well-known authors as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have also been published in the last year, aggressively promoting atheist dogma by repeating the many tired arguments that have already been refuted by able Christian apologists such as Alistair McGrath.

But at least one atheist, Matthew Parris, has brushed aside those childish slogans and arguments. Instead, he provides a much more powerful opposing argument by bearing witness to the changes worked by God in the lives of the many Africans he met during his recent trip to Malawi. The title of his article appears self-contradictory, “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.” You can find it on the internet by searching for the title using Google. Here is the money quote (take your time and read through it twice):

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

In this issue, Caroline van Dyken tells us about a young Christian man, an orphan, who fits the profile described by Mr. Parris in his article in exactly the country he visited – Malawi. Rev. Erwin van der Meer writes about a home for recovering prostitutes. Missy Christie de Acosta, who was the keynote speaker for our 2007 fall tour, tells us how the work of the Lord is impacting lives in Colombia. Corney Les, Chilliwack Business Group coordinator, describes a recent trip to Nicaragua. In his meditation, Rev. Pronk addresses the biblical warrant for giving even when times are difficult.

This year we celebrate Word & Deed’s 15th anniversary in North America. Thank you for your warm, generous and prayerful support over the years. Together we can humbly thank the Lord for the life changing impact our projects have had in countless lives in the developing world. May His Kingdom continue to grow to the glory of His Name.

North America needs God’s transforming work just like Africa and Latin America do. Thankfully there is a God, the God of the Bible, so let’s put aside the foolishness of this world, roll up our sleeves, and get to work – in thankfulness striving to faithfully reflect Him in thought, word and deed.

Rick Postma is director of public relations for Word & Deed Ministries.
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