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Archive for November, 2008

This is for the people who have heard that we are planning to move to Haiti in the future,  but don’t know the details, thereby drawing such reactions ranging from “Ummm  Haiti…umm ok” to “That’s great to hear…good LUCK” to “What are you CRAZY!!!”  So, I hope the 5 W’s and the H (who, what, why, when, where, and how) bring some clarification.

WHO: Cody and Maria Whittaker and their 2 daughters (Isabela 4 yrs old and Susana 2 yrs old), 1 son (Ervin 16 yrs old)…and our chocolate lab Casey (picture not available at the time)

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WHAT: Moving to Haiti as missionaries under a missions board (yet to be determined).  We will be ministering to the orphans and poor children.  We have connected with a Haitian Pastor and his wife who have planted churches in Haiti as well as built schools, a large missions house, and recently an orphanage.  We want to be working with the orphaned children (there are currently 10 children…and the orphanage is full)  There are still several hundred orphans in this tiny village, therefore one part of our vision is to build a larger orphanage and oversee the daily operations.  Another part of our work will be providing education to the children through working with the school there that was started the same time that the church was planted.  Most of the people in Haiti are uneducated, which leaves them very little hope for the future.  We want to help change that.  We also plan on hosting several missions teams throughout the year so that people can come and help serve and grow this ministry.  There is probably much more that God will reveal to us as we get settled in there.

WHY: Because God has always given me and my wife a love and desire to help orphaned children…that’s probably why most of my career has been in social services working with troubled youth, including those in the foster care system. And because God has given us no greater desire than to serve the orphaned children in this country…and we believe that this is His will for our lives, as we have prayed through this thoroughly.  In God’s sovereignty, He connected us with this pastor and wife who started this ministry.  We originally went down there the first time because we were planning on starting up an orphan care ministry (sending supplies, raising support, leading annual mission teams) with the churches that we are working with in Delaware.  But after going down there a few times, our desire just became greater and greater to actually move there and serve with this ministry. And Lord willing, in the future, we will do just that.

WHEN: We are not sure.  We are just trusting that the Lord shows us when it is time.  It could be 9 months from now or it could be years.  Only the Lord knows.

WHERE: The orphanage, school, church, and mission house is located in Camp Coq, which is in a little mountain village in the north part of the country.  The village is very primitive (no electricity, no running water).  There is a lot of poverty.  We will be living at the mission house that is right next to the orphanage and the church.  Camp Coq is a very pretty mountainous region.  The people there have been so kind and friendly towards us.  We have felt very welcome.  We already know some locals there, and they will help us get adjusted.  We will also be working with the Pastor of the church who we have become friends with.

HOW: We have to raise our own financial support.  We will apply with a missions agency that serves as a 501c3 non-profit organization for friends, family, and churches to give to us through, so that the giving is tax deductible.  Once we raise the support needed that will enable us to move there and draw a monthly salary that will meet our families needs and the needs of the ministry, then we will move to Haiti.  First, we are planning on moving back to Asheville, NC where we used to live and where our “home” church is.  The cost of living is very cheap there, and therefore we will be able to pay off some of our debt and get ourselves ready.  I will hopefully get a job again working with at-risk kids and families. There, we will also be able to reconnect with our church who we love so much.  A woman just recently contacted the church and told the missions coordinator that she would like to offer a home to a missionary who might be between assignments and is in need of a very cheap place to stay.  That took place only 1 week before I contacted the same missions coordinator and asked her if she knew of any person that would be willing to rent us a place for cheap!  Therefore we will be staying there.  God is good!!

If you are interested in supporting us financially and/or through prayer and would like to be added to our newsletter list,  please leave me a comment or email us at codyandmaria2002@yahoo.com

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions.  God bless you

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I mentioned a few days ago that we are planning on moving to Haiti in the future to work with orphaned children…now I will give the details and how this all came about.

The History of the Call

It all started way back when I was a baby…just kidding…we don’t have to go that far back.  Seriously, ever since I became a Christian at age 19, God has always given me a heart for the poor and the broken, and particularly towards the black people.  I don’t know why a call to the poor and broken…perhaps I have always been able to relate more to these people…not so much due to being poor on the outside, but rather feeling  poor and broken on the inside and knowing that it was only through the redeeming love of God that He rescued me from a life of inner poverty and despair…I don’t know if that makes sense, but its true.  I know how broken, poor, and wretched I am without Jesus in my life, therefore I connect with the poor.  Now, why do I have a specific heart for the black people…I don’t know…but I do

Whenever my wife and I would look through missions magazines and see pictures of this white American family in the middle of a group of black Africans in the jungle, something would resonate within me and I would say, “That’s us.  I can see us doing that.”  And so I have always had a desire and interest in foreign missions.  And I have always had a particular interest and desire to work with orphans.  I was just looking through an old journal of mine a few months ago and was reading an entry that I wrote over 10 years ago where I mention to God that I have a desire to work with orphans.  Then, a week ago, after forgetting things written from such long ago,  I found myself reading a journal entry that I wrote about 5 years ago where I mentioned the same desire to minister God’s love to the orphans.  That’s probably why God led me for so many years into the field of social services where I worked with troubled youth and families, including children that were in the foster care system (the American type of orphanage)  Even now, as I am a missionary with the North American Missions Board, much of what God has called me to do involves ministering to the poor and broken in the inner city, particularly children and youth.  Many of these kids might be considered to be “orphaned by the living”.

The Call

Since I have always had a desire to work with orphaned children, and within the last year or so God has birthed a tremendous desire to work with orphaned children, we began to sense that God was calling us to start an orphan care ministry…a ministry that would help collect supplies and resources for orphaned children.  A ministry that would be based here in Delaware and would involve collecting supplies from different churches, sending them to the orphanage, and possibly leading missions trips once a year.  We had been planning a vacation to Puerto Rico so that my wife could see her family (that is where she is from) and I would get to see where she grew up.  In the course of planning, we felt that we wanted to make this more of a ministry trip rather than laying around on white sandy beaches everyday.  So, we made some contacts with different orphanages and made plans to visit them while we were there.  We had also started trying to make some contacts in the Dominican Republic…we had no thought of Haiti whatsoever…I knew nothing about Haiti.  Well, Puerto Rico was great, but we did not sense the Lord leading us to pursue ministry there…same with Dominican Republic…it just didn’t seem to materialize into anything.  I shared this desire to start an orphan care ministry with my Director of Mission, but nothing seemed to open up at the time.  Then, a few months later, my Director of Mission came to me and said that he was speaking with a Haitian Pastor in Delaware who has started an orphanage in Haiti a few years ago in addition to planting several churches.  My Director told him of my desire to start an orphan care ministry and then put me in touch with this pastor.  After my wife and I met with him, we felt like God was opening up a door for us.  The Delaware Baptist Association (where I serve as a missionary) sent me to Haiti for 4 days so that I could visit the orphanage and talk to the leaders and determine if this was a ministry that God was leading us to partner with.  My wife also came with me and we were both excited to see what God was going to do.  During our time in Haiti, we really fell in love with the people and the village in Camp Coq and believed that God was definitely calling us to partner with this …but I had no thought of moving there!  I was just thinking that we would start a ministry in Delaware that would support this orphanage.  It wasn’t until my second trip down there (which was not even planned, but came about because I felt compelled by God to go back immediately after our 1st trip since the people were just devastated by a few major hurricanes) in which I felt that God was calling us to a lot more than just starting an orphan care ministry in the states.  After spending an extended amount of time with the orphaned kids and other kids in the village, I just really got the sense that the Lord was showing me that He was calling us there permanently.  Upon returning, I shared this with my wife and was curious to see how she would react. (She was not with me on the 2nd trip)  When I asked her, she told me that she felt like God was showing her the same thing on our first trip down there.  And so, we began to seek the Lord in constant prayer and ask Him to show us if this was, indeed, His will.  And the more we prayed, the more we became certain that God was calling us.

The Plan

We first shared this call with our sending church in Asheville, NC, Biltmore Baptist Church.  They are very supportive of us and have been such a tremendous blessing to us since the first day we walked into that church.  They are working with us and helping us work out some of the details.  This has given us all the more confidence that we are moving according to the lord’s will.    We were also told by the Haitian Pastor that has started this orphanage and has also built a large mission house, that we would be able to live at the mission house as long as we need to.  Therefore, we will not have to worry about finding a place to live in Haiti.  Again, this just seemed a confirmation from the Lord.  Then, we decided that the best way for us to get ourselves ready for this move would be to leave Delaware and move back down to NC where the cost of living is so much cheaper.  Then, we were told by one of the missions leader in the church that a woman has offered to rent us her home for a very low cost.   We were so excited to see God providing already.    We will move to this home in Asheville, NC and we will begin to try and raise financial support once we get approved by an international missions board, and hope that we can be on the field in Haiti soon, but only God knows exactly when that will be. We are so excited to see how the Lord is leading us.  This is a HUGE step of faith that we are taking…but we both have never felt more certain as to where God is leading us.  The thought of raising my 2 little girls on the mission field is just so awesome.  Even though we will be living in a primitive area where there is no electricity and no running water, we are just so thrilled to be part of God’s plan to bring His love and truth to the orphaned and poor of Haiti.  Our plan is to help build a bigger orphanage since the current one only holds 10 children.  We also want to be able to help educate the orphans and children in the community.  And we plan on hosting mission teams throughout the year to help bring supplies and resources to the ministry there…so…if you’re interested in taking a missions trip there…please let us know.  Wow…serving the Lord is just such an adventure…

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For many in Haiti and other parts of the world, clean water makes the difference between life and death.  That is something that I guess I have a hard time wrapping my head around.  I mean, here in America, we think that if we are forced to drink our tap water…then we’ll just die…from the awful taste.  And so the market continues to grow for the likes of Poland Springs and Aquafina…and America is happy that they don’t have to drink water that tastes like bleach.

But in Haiti and other countries…it is not a matter of taste, but rather a matter of necessity for life and health.  If people do not have sources of clean water, especially children, they suffer great risk of getting diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, intestinal diseases, etc.

So, here is an excerpt from this organization that contacted me, called International Action

In Haiti, contaminated water is the leading cause of infant mortality and illness in children. Germs for hepatitis, cholera, and chronic diarrhea are carried in water used for cooking and drinking. Nearly every water source in Haiti has become contaminated with human waste because of the absence of a sewage sanitation system.

Haiti now has the highest infant mortality rate in the western hemisphere. The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that more than half of all deaths in Haiti were due to water-borne gastro-intestinal diseases.

In 1990, The US Army Corps of Engineers said of Port-au-Prince, “Epidemics including malaria, typhoid, chronic diarrhea, and intestinal infections are caused by water contaminated by rubbish and fecal matter.”

Haiti remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with an staggering unemployment rate above 70% and approximately 75% living in poverty beyond US dimension.

These statistics speak for themselves…it is a reality…water is the source of life for many.  God bless the organizations that provide safe drinking water for the people in the world who depend on it for their lives.  And God bless those people that support those organizations.  And God bless YOU!!!!

I encourage you to visit their website and get more informed…and hopefully get involved.

Another organization that is doing similar work in Haiti is  Clean Water For Haiti.  Check them out also.

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We are planning to move to Haiti

We’re moving to Haiti to minister to the orphaned children.  It’s…somewhat official …but we still have to get approved with another missions board and then raise our support)

We are completely confident that this is God all the way that has called us and is already orchestrating incredible details to begin moving us forward.  It will take some time…I’ll share more details later, but I am just so excited that I had to get the first word out…”We’re moving to Haiti!!!”

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I was reading my bible this afternoon and meditating on my favorite chapter in the whole bible…Romans 8.  As I was reading, I took great notice of Rom.8:15  “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  This one verse caused me to weep as I thought about the amazing love that God has for me where He would give me the Spirit of sonship.  What a joy!!  What an honor!!  What amazing grace!!  Why would He choose to do this for me?  Doesn’t He know who I am?  Doesn’t He know how wicked and ugly my heart can be?  Doesn’t He know how awful my thoughts and attitudes can be?  Doesn’t He know the things I’ve done and said…not only years ago, but just hours ago.  The answer, of course, is a resounding “Yes”.  He does know.  He is God and He knows all things.  He knows my deeds, and even more scary, He knows my thoughts.  That is why I am left in awe to see that He has still chosen to give me the Spirit of sonship.  So, what does that really mean anyway…sonship?

Well, to get a real understanding, you certainly have to read at least the whole chapter of Romans 8.  And to get even a greater understanding than that, you should read the whole book of Romans.  But for the sake of this entry, let me just share how this verse spoke greatly to my heart.

First of all, the context is all about receiving the Holy Spirit through placing our faith in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice for our sins that He made on our behalf when He went to the cross.  As a result of placing my trust in Jesus and  this sacrifice that He made, I am free from living in fear of being under the judgment of God.  I do not have to worry about being under His wrath if I sin.  The opposite of the Spirit of sonship is also mentioned in that verse…it is the spirit that makes us a slave again to fear.  If you read the beginning of Romans 8, you will see that the spirit that makes us a slave to fear is the whole concept of living under the law. The bible says that the law only brought sin and death because we were not able to keep the whole of the law due to the fact that our bodies are so prone to sin (I know my body is certainly prone to sin).  So basically, before Jesus, the only way that we were able to live without fearing the judgment and wrath of God was by following God’s laws completely, not breaking any of them.  But the bible says that the law was powerless to save us because we simply just can’t follow it completely…we are just too sinful.  and that is why Jesus came…so that through His perfect fulfillment of the law, as we place our trust in Him, God can see us as righteous…as if we too have fulfilled the law.  Therefore, through putting our faith in Jesus, we are given the Spirit of sonship.  We are no longer bound by the law…we are set free by His grace.  Our relationship immediately moves from fear to freedom.

Here is an example of what this all means:  Take 2 types of relationships:  An employer/employee relationship, and a father/child relationship.  If I make a major screw-up in both of those relationships, with whom would I fear most might cause me a complete severing of that relationship?  Now, if you have or had somewhat decent parents, then the answer to that question is clear:  the employer/employee.  I mean, if I am in a contractual agreement with a company where they say, “Cody, as long as you do these things, we’re good, and you’ll get your check.  But, if you make any major screw-up and fail to do these things, then you’re done and we will fire you.”  But, would a father say that to his children?  I really doubt it.  Sure, there might be consequences, but the relationship will always remain as a father and child.  Therefore there is much more security in the relationship of father/child than there is of employer/employee.

That is the same concept of the spirit that leads to fear (because of having to follow the law and fearing the judgment if that law is broken) versus the Spirit of sonship, which brings tremendous freedom and security knowing that, no matter what, you will never have that relationship severed…it will forever be a Father/son relationship.  How amazing!!!

I thought about my little girls and the unending and ever strong love that I have for them.  I tell my 4 yr old daughter Isabela all the time, “I love you so much”  And then I ask her, “How does that make you feel?”  And she always, with a smile on her face, says, “good.”  And then I thought about God saying that to me…”Cody, I love you so much…How does that make you feel?”  And I can’t think of a better feeling in all the world.  It brings my heart to a place of such great security, rest, and an overwhelming gratitude.  I just know that He loves me so much.  He may discipline me when I do something stupid and foolish…just as I discipline my daughter…but, just as she is still so completely confident in Daddy’s love for her no matter what, so too does this make me completely confident in my Heavenly Father’s love for me no matter what. “…but you received the Spirit of sonship.  By Him we cry, Abba, Father.”  Abba is the Hebrew word for Daddy.  So, the Spirit of sonship that I have been given causes me to look to God in such a way that I would call Him “Daddy”  Just like my little 4 yr old, resting so securely in my love for her no matter what, runs to me all the time calling me “Daddy”.

So, being told through the word of God that I have been given the Spirit of sonship just caused me to weep today…thinking how much He loves me.  I am so undeserving of such love.  I blow it all the time.  I stumble and fall, I doubt in His truth, I do my own thing, I run to other places instead of running to Him, I just would never choose myself as the one who would be given the position of “sonship” under the God of this universe. And yet…He has given me the Spirit of sonship…by which I am able to call Him Abba Father.  I stand amazed by His love.

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I was reading through some of my old journals this morning and I came across something that I wrote over 5 years ago, but still speaks to me today.  Perhaps you too can relate.  Let me know.  Enjoy

“Tomorrow Never Comes”

It is a day when things are supposed to be better.  A day when things will be different,  a day that will be the start of something new…a day when I will change.  But it is the day that eludes me most…a day that is like sand slipping through my fingers.  A day that I can never truly get a hold of…like a dog trying to chase his tail.  That day is called “tomorrow”.  I have many promises that are stored there.  I have dreams that rest neatly in a pile…layer upon layer…dust on top of dust.  I have my new wardrobe that awaits me there that will make me look like a different person than I am today.

But this day which is only 24 hours away seems to take light years to reach.  “Tomorrow” has been my hope, my comfort, and my excuse.  “Tomorrow” always looks so much better than today, so I’ll just wait…things will be different this time.  I’m gonna be more disciplined, more committed, more loving, more holy.  I’m just gonna wait…until tomorrow.

I’m reminded of the movie “Rocky III” when Apollo Creed is training Rocky to fight the vicious Clubber Lang.  Rocky is lacking motivation and is just going through the motions.  Apollo notices this, and in great frustration screams, “Damn Rock!  What’s the matter with you?”  Rocky quietly replies, “tomorrow”.  Apollo, knowing that there is not much time before Rocky will face this merciless enemy, screams, “There is no tomorrow…There is no tomorrow.”

I often find myself, just like Rocky, saying “tomorrow.”  Tomorrow will be the day…you’ll see.  But then the words of Apollo begin ringing in my ear, “there is no tomorrow….there is no tomorrow.”  For I too am facing a merciless enemy.  This enemy not only wants to bash my face in, but also wants to take my soul.  But God has given me the instructions for how to be victorious  He has given me the equipment needed to train daily.  But the Lord would also say, just like Apollo, “There is no tomorrow…you must train today.”  Rocky had it a little easier than me.  He knew the scheduled date of this one-time, fifteen 3 minute round fight.  He knew that on a certain date, he would step into the ring to fight.  But I don’t have that luxury.  My enemy does not schedule his fights with me.  Whenever I say “tomorrow”, my enemy attacks today.  God warns me of this in His word in 1Pet. 5:8  “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 

Our adversary is likened to a lion on the hunt.  A lion that is hungry does not give warning.  Can you imagine a lion going up to a zebra and saying, “Excuse me, Mr. zebra, I just thought I’d let you know that I’m gonna be hungry in a couple of hours, so I’ll be back here to tear you apart.”  That is absurd.  But it is just as absurd to think that I can keep saying “tomorrow” when satan is targeting me today.

So, for me, there is no tomorrow…there is no tomorrow.  Training must begin today.  Discipline must begin now.  God has called me to be sober and vigilant.  To be sober means to be in the right mind, to have my thoughts in control.  To be vigilant means to be strong and take action, like a soldier.  A good soldier is always prepared for today, for they know that they must be ready at any minute for an attack.  So, I too must be sober and vigilant, ready at any minute for an attack.

“Tomorrow” is a word that must decrease in my vocabulary.  My tomorrows have turned into days, weeks, and years.  There is a thick layer of dust on all my promises locked inside a room that I can never seem to open.  In some paradoxical way, I must put tomorrow behind me rather than leave it in front of me.  I must begin training now.  I must be more disciplined, more committed, more loving, and more holy.  And these are things that I am going to do…today

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  • There are about 6 billion people in the world today
  • More than 1 billion (17%) live on less than $1 per day
  • 50% live on less than $2 per day
  • 840 million (14%) live with chronic hunger
  • 11 million children, most under the age of 5, die each year from completely preventable causes such as malaria, diarhhea, and pneumonia
  • Average life expectancy in the world is 55 years
  • 114 million children do not attend primary school
  • 584 million women are illiterate
  • More than 1 billion do not have access to safe drinking water
  • More than 2 billion lack access to proper sanitation
  • There are over 145 million orphaned children in the world today

(taken from UNICEF web site)

I think that we in America and the western world need to be reminded often of such staggering numbers.  It is so easy to forget that the majority of the world does not live at all like America.  isn’t it just so easy for us to get caught up in our own little world that we forget how much global suffering is really all around us?

I believe that God has sovereignly blessed American people with great wealth and resources…but not so that we can lavish it all upon ourselves, but rather so that we could be used as His instrument to serve the poor in the world.  May each of us be found faithful…

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