Our Heavenly Father’s Religion & A Day of MERCY

What an incredible joy to see Tasha (second from right) baptized into Christ! The sisters rejoiced along with the whole family of God here in Phoenix! Certainly, no one could be as fired-up as our God in heaven who welcomes Tasha home as his daughter!

What an incredible joy to see Tasha (second from right) baptized into Christ! The sisters rejoiced along with the whole family of God here in Phoenix! Certainly, no one could be as fired-up as “Our Heavenly Father” God in heaven who welcomes Tasha home as his daughter!

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” Ps 68:5-6

Our Heavenly Father Has A Heart for the Fatherless

Our heavenly father has a special place in his heart for those who do not have a physical father in their life.  It is our Father’s plan to set those who are lonely in families and to defend the widows.  Today, June 21st, is “Father’s Day” – a day for many where they express their gratitude and love for their earthly father.  On the other hand for some of us it can be an emotionally tough day because we’ve lost our father or they are not in our lives for one reason or another.  There was a time where Father’s day was a day I disconnected from my heart – as I had a lot of mixed emotions and sentiments I did not know how to navigate.  I attempted to endear myself to my first stepfather and sadly eventually realized it was something he was not ready to do.  I did not understand the subtle distance and sense of rejection in the relationship that came from him having to negotiate marrying my mother who was a very young “single-mom.”  When I began to feel these awkward feelings and became aware of the coolness I began to seek out my biological father.  I was 9 years old when I finally spoke to my actual physical father for the first time in my life on the phone.  It was a strange conversation to say the least and ended oddly.  It would be over 20 years later before we would speak again.  I began to harden my heart to the sense of a “father” in my life after this experience.  My second step-father was a lot like an older brother or a friend I looked-up to.  We had a good relationship for the most part but not the sense of “father-son.”  Unfortunately he died abruptly in a tragic car-crash when I was around 12 years old.  My third step-father really tried to reach out to me, he was a single parent as well and really did his best to make things work at first.  We moved to Hawaii during that time and once we settled there it was clear that divorce was unfortunately brewing on the horizon.  After their divorce my mother married a “local” (from Hawaii) man who’d grown up in Hawaii.  My current step-father and I got off to a rocky start.  I was a cocky, selfish, self-centered, arrogant teenage boy and very awkward in my insecurity.  Sadly, by this time, I’d become very cynical in my “father-son” relationships.

What an amazing day serving the Sunshine Acers Orphanage!  Almost 70 disciples came out along with over 30 guests!

What an amazing day serving the Sunshine Acers Orphanage! Almost 70 disciples came out along with over 30 guests!

Despite all that, I have a deep gratitude for how my fourth step-father has “stuck it out.”  My family is not always the easiest to get along with!.  I’m grateful for the times he’s “put up” with us and sacrificed for our well-being.  I’ll never forget the time he stood up for my faith and expressed a sincere respect for Amy and I’s choices and lives – even though he himself is not a “Christian” (yet!).

God Has A Plan For Our Hearts – Discipleship!

I’m also very grateful for the brothers who called me out on my bitterness towards my physical father which had taken the form of apathy and denial.  I remember sitting down with the evangelist of the Portland church in 2001 and the campus ministry leader and the two of them relentlessly pressing on my denial, my hardened-heart, and my unbelief.  I will never forget how they brought up that I was very resourceful with the new “Internet Ministry” and was slated to become the first “Cyberevangelist” and yet I refused to use the resources of the Internet to find my physical father.  It was clear, my heart was hard and I had become bitter, cynical (aka “sin”-a-cal) and unwilling to make things right.

How refreshing to see the brothers and sisters in unity working together in service to Our Heavenly Father!  From sorting out the entire warehouse of donated goods to dusting and scrubbing the entire thrift store’s displays and furniture—it was a joyful time!

How refreshing to see the brothers and sisters in unity working together in service to Our Heavenly Father! From sorting out the entire warehouse of donated goods to dusting and scrubbing the entire thrift store’s displays and furniture—it was a joyful time!

The Word of God teaches us that John the Baptist went “…on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”Luke 1:17 I learned from this passage that part of what makes us prepared for a relationship with Jesus Christ, “the Lord”, was our hearts being turned back to our fathers.  This truth is further clarified by Malachi 4:5-6 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” I had to recognize that my bitterness was deeply affecting my understanding and relationship with God and if I refused to repent of it, I was in danger of being cursed!

It was inspiring to see the kids serving with their parents as well!  What a great “life-lesson” for our children!

It was inspiring to see the kids serving with their parents as well! What a great “life-lesson” for our children!

My bitterness made it so hard for me to understand mercy, patience, and God’s kindness.  I always wanted to be wanted by my “father” figures and especially by my physical father.  It still makes me very emotional when I see that Will Smith scene from “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” – “How come he don’t want me?”  I am so grateful that the brothers in my life at that time did not settle for my bitterness masking excuses.  They saved my wife and children from a serious defilement and likely even saved my own soul from falling-away.  “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” – Hebrews 12:14-15  I am so grateful for those brothers’ perseverance, as later that year I met my father face-to-face and Amy and I were able to spend Christmas with him.  Thank God for discipleship, for open rebuke, and for forgiveness!  Because of this, I’m able to tell my physical father that I love him and genuinely look forward to speaking with him on Father’s Day!

Our Heavenly Father is Honored By Our Service to Orphans

What an honor it was to serve children who either don’t have a father or whose fathers are so estranged from them they are being raised in an orphanage.  To care for orphans is a part of “religion that our heavenly Father” considers “pure and faultless” (James 1:26).  Prayerfully today, we can embrace the standards of our Heavenly Father and seek him wholeheartedly, so that his plan to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future, we can see come to fruition in this life!  Let those of us with our earthly father’s still with us in our lives show them love and gratitude!  Let us all never forget to honor most of all our heavenly Father who gives us all good things in Christ – amen!

Jeremy Ciaramella

Jeremy Ciaramella, Evangelist.

 


SPECIAL REPORT—MERCYWORLDWIDE

What an amazing “Day of MERCY” we had here in Phoenix! It was a cool, breezy 101 degree day in Phoenix.  For our Day of MERCY, we have continued our partnership with the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home. This amazing facility provides 8 homes for approximately 80 children who have lost family through the devastating consequences of drugs, alcohol abuse, and illness. This 109 acre facility relies on mostly donations and their thrift store to function throughout the year. They have an annual budget of 3 million USD, and 1.6 million is generated through their thrift store.

100 MERCYWORLDWIDE Ambassadors braved the hot sun with many smiles and a heart to make an impact. 35 of our ambassadors were visitors and many are studying the bible and are close to baptism!  Today, our efforts helped save the orphanage over $4000.00 through 400 hours-worth of labor through organizing the donations and their thrift store.

Afterwards, we had an amazing lunch provided by Domino’s, Chipotle, and Hook Me Up (A gourmet Sandwich Shop).  Cindy Humphrey’s grandparents started the facility in 1954 was almost in tears with gratitude. “You guys have no idea what you provide for us. The fact that you come and do this for us saves us so much money and is critical for our success. In addition to the Thanksgiving food drive, the toy drive, and the Christmas party you guys provide, your group is the only one who does this with such joy. Our children love your support.

It was very refreshing to have an excellent lunch and fellowship after the Day of MERCY event!

It was very refreshing to have an excellent lunch and fellowship after the Day of MERCY event!

In John 6:44, Jesus says “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Because of the amazing impact the Phoenix MERCYWORLDWIDE ambassadors have had, Sunshine Acres has asked us to host and organize a vacation bible school for the orphans.  What an amazing privilege for the orphanage to be drawn to us!  As God has drawn us to this facility, the MERCYWORLDWIDE ambassadors here are making an impact. Darby and I are so grateful for our assistant coordinators help: Doug & Michelle Hunt, and our MERCYWORLDWIDE intern, Monica Wilson. They have done an outstanding job organizing donations and helping with the planning for our MERCYWORLDWIDE events.  Stay tuned throughout the year for more MERCYWORLDWIDE updates from Phoenix – and to God be all the glory!

 

Chris Schultz

Shepherd/Administrator/MERCYWORLDWIDE Director

 

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