Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Amazing Grace, Modern Slavery and the Plight of the Orphan

I've been a busy little girl the past few weeks, so I haven't been blogging. My biggest distraction was a phenomenal, four-day trip to see the Hamstra clan in Chicago. I had the best time with Michelle, Johnny, Addy and John Michael. They are precious, precious friends to me.

There isn't much news on our trip to Mexico. The team is in the process of fundraising for individual trips. There is still time to support me if you would like to. Email me at leslie_bowden@hotmail.com for details.

Many of you have probably heard of the new film Amazing Grace that chronicles the life of abolitionsit William Wilberforce . Wilberforce used his seat in British Parliament to fight against legalized slavery in the British Empire. The publicity surrounding the film has brought much needed attention to the tragedy of modern day slavery. Did you know that there are more people trapped in slavery than during the height of the trans-atlantic slave trade?

So, what does this all have to do with orphans? It is simple really. In many nations, no system exists to care for and protect orphaned children. Therefore, they are easily exploited, kidnapped and traded for sex and bonded labor. A major source of slave labor today are children. When you make the connection of the vulnerability of children and the horrid exploitation they face it is easy to understand why our loving and merciful God calls upon us to care for them. God loves the weak, He cares for the oppressed and asks us to do the same.

For more information on modern slavery, its affect on children and what you can do check out the links below:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

An early Valentine

I opened the mail box today to find a Valentine that had arrived one day early. It was from my longest running, all around fantastic friend Jenny and her husband Todd. Inside was a sweet note and a check to help send me to Mexico.

How do I even begin to express how special and significant Jenny is to me? We have been friends since we were four years old, we spent endless hours in her basement laughing and being stupid, we've been on random trips, and we have kept Hallmark, AT&T and Verizon in business for the past ten years. Most importantly, I point to Jenny as the main human influence that led me to Jesus. Jenny has a beautiful, generous, joyful countenance about her and I always wanted to be like her. Little did I know at the time, her joy was from Jesus Christ and His forgiveness of her sins. What better friend could I have than my dear Jennifer Lynn? And Todd, well Todd is one of the funniest people that I have ever met. I'm so glad that such a wonderful man married my wonderful friend.

Thank you Gartens! "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." Numbers 6:24 - 26.

Todd & Jenny on their trip to India in December

Todd & Jenny's wedding (just because its cute!)

Jenny and I take notoriously bad pictures together, so below are some pics that I stole from Todd's myspace. (Thanks Todd!)

Running for Orphans

This is my friend Andy. Andy is cool for many reasons:
1) He is from St. Louis and now lives in Knoxville (like me!).
2) He likes to run.
3) He likes orphans.

On April 1, Andy will run in the Knoxville Marathon to raise money for I Run for Orphans. This orginazation was started by a pastor in Columbia, Mo., to raise support for orphanges in Kenya, Sudand and Russia.

Here is why Andy is running for orphans, "... while in college I took a ten day trip to Port au Prince, Haiti, to work at a girl's orphanage, House of Hope. While I was there I saw several little kids who had been faced with major obstacles in there lives at a very young age. The Christian orphanages that were housing these kids were the only reason these kids could feel safe and loved and know that God loved them. That is why I have decided to run for orphans. It takes support to keep these orphanages operating. When I think about how important the smallest donation can be to these kids it is impossible for me to pass up this chance to brighten their lives."

If you'd like to support Andy on his run, click here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Adoption Stories

Family Life Ministries has been pleading the cause of the orphan for many years. They regularly broadcast radio shows on adoption, listen to these two heart touching shows about a family who adopted two children from Ethiopia.

Regarding Mexico, plans are rolling along and we hope to book the teams plane tickets very soon. If you are in Knoxville, mark your calendar for Sunday, April 29, for our team's fundraiser lunch. Cornerstone will host a fundraiser fiesta! The money we raise will go toward our construction projects at Rancho 3m. We are praying to have enough money to do significant construction on a high school facility at the Ranch.

Love you all! More info as it becomes available.

Friday, February 02, 2007

U.S. Adoptions

Most of the time, this blog will focus on the trip to Mexico, buit from time to time I want to direct you to information I come across regarding adoptions.

In the U.S. the foster care system has replaced orphanages. There are currently 120,000 adoptable children in U.S. foster care and Anthony Bradley has a stinging challenge to Christian families on his blog. Read, ponder, develop your family's convictions.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The low down on the trip and how you can help

If you have found your way to this blog, you probably know that I plan to be a part of a mission trip to Guadalupe, Mexico this summer! Single adults and families from the youth ministry at Cornerstone Church of Knoxville will be serving Rancho 3m Christian Orphanage and School from June 30 – July 7.

Currently, there are approximately 55 children at Rancho 3M, many of them come from extremely abusive backgrounds. Some of the children are abandoned; some have parents who are either in prison or rehab, on drugs or alcohol, prostitutes or dead. All of the children come to the Ranch with varying degrees of heartache. So they receive the most important thing: the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are also given everything that loving parents would give their own children: food, clothing, education, and a warm and secure place to live and grow with justice, discipline and discipleship toward loving Jesus Christ. While at the Ranch we plan to do general maintenance and repairs, assist in building a high school facility and plan fun activities for the children. You can find more information on Rancho3M at http://www.rancho3m.com/

For a number of years, God has been expanding my love for orphans, victimized children and the idea of adoption. I have been stirred and challenged by the Bible's description of God as our Father, protector and provider. Surely our God cares for the weak and the fatherless and surely He calls us to do the same. This passion has led me to ponder how I should spend my life in regards to orphans. While I hope to one day be married and adopt children, for now I am asking God how to serve Him in this realm. I have considered volunteering for local foster agencies, or to perhaps change jobs to work for an adoption agency or an international orphan care ministry. No definite changes lay in my future, but as I wade through seeking God's will for my life, I feel that this trip is a concrete opportunity to be involved in orphan care and continue to ask God to show me His designated path.

As I pursue this opportunity, I am looking for partners who would support me with their prayers and financial contributions. Please consider making a pledge of $50, $75, or $150 or by investing any amount to help me reach my goal of raising my goal of $700 by May. The trip cost includes airfare, meals and the cost of construction projects at the Ranch. If you are interested in supporting me in finances or in prayer, please contact me via the email address on my profile page and I will send you the appropriate information.

Thank you so much for your consideration. I am excited about all that God will be doing in our lives and in the community at Rancho 3m. I hope to speak with you soon and answer any questions you might have.

With much love,

Our Team of 50 being introduced at church