Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Merry Christmas from Ed and Donna Edwards at Living Well. Hope you will take less than a minute to watch our video greeting!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Gifts for Children of Wisdom

After ministering at Wisdom Community School, outside of Ndola, Zambia, last summer, several of the mission team wanted to send Christmas gifts to the 175 children who attend Wisdom. They inspired their friends at Putnam City Baptist Church to give toys and candy for the children. We acquired all of the children's ages and gender, so age appropriate gifts could be sent.

The group packed 12 boxes full of Christmas love for the children.

The boxes were mailed near the first of November and have successfully arrived in Ndola. They recently arrived. The children go to school year round; December is one of the months that they take their break. Before leaving for break, the children were asked to return on December 21st to receive the gifts that our team has sent.

Hot Wheels and Trucks abound!

And myriads of dolls!
Pat Foster, Tommie Clemmer, and Martha Battle
Sort and pack LOTS of gifts!


Pat is packing them in!



12 Boxes of Gifts
Each box number corresponds to a list
Telling which age & gender receives the gifts


Ron and Kathy Jackson, part of the Zambia Mission 2012, were the impetus behind putting together the boxes. Their friends not only purchased and packaged the gifts but also gave $900 to cover the shipping of the boxes.

The generous heart of these people demonstrates the love of Jesus to these children who live in a slum and are predominantly orphans. We pray for their well-being!




Thursday, November 29, 2012

DECEMBER 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

Most of us approach Christmas with the strange paradox of excitement and dread, of joy and anxiety. We love the season - the good cheer, the time with family, the music, the celebrations. We dread the shopping, the attempt to keep the reason for the season, the family tensions, the crowds, the money we spend on gifts, deciding what to buy…..

How did we ever get caught up in the frenzy of buying gifts and spending so much money?
Most people believe that the idea of buying gifts may have started in reference to the gifts the Magi brought to the baby Jesus as recorded in Matthew 2:11, ... they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Accounts of St. Nicolas giving money to the poor in the 4th century shaped the beginnings of the Santa Claus tradition.

The examples of giving were 1)as worship and 2)to the those in need.

What would happen if we used those examples as our criteria for giving?

Would our children suffer? Would our dads still have enough ties?

Perhaps this season we might re-evaluate how we spend our time and money to celebrate Christmas. We could look at the messages that we convey about what we value.

When thinking of the investment of prayers and donations of many during the past year, you can rejoice and praise the Lord with us in remembering how they have touched many lives. 

Some of these people include:
  • 160 poor, young children in Zambia who can continue to attend school.
  • A young boy named Albert who was overjoyed at hearing about Jesus and John who prayed with him in that Zambian slum.
  • The marriage of a young couple was restored after almost losing it because of pornography addiction.
  • A couple now has sound finances and a marriage that is stronger than ever after being overwhelmed with debt which caused intense marital strife.
  • A young girl was able to unload her burden of despair from losing her parents and being mistreated by her caretakers, after hearing Karen share her own story of hardship.
  • A couple can now communicate and resolve conflict for the first time after years of hurt feelings and pain in their marriage.
  • A woman carrying the burden of years of abuse and pain who can now be a healthy, Christian wife and mother.
The end of the year is often a time when people consider their giving to the Lord in a special way. We are very thankful for the people who support this ministry. These end-of-the-year donations are a vital part of our budget. Please pray for God to supply our needs at this time of the year. [to donate]

You are a valuable part of our ministry! We love and appreciate you and your support of what God is doing at Living Well!

Donna and Ed Edwards
P.S. Please pray for the Lord to provide the remaining $8700 for our mission to Zambia in January.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NOVEMBER 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

Thank you for your prayers for our annual dinner. We had several people who said that they thought it was the best one that we have ever had. If you would like to see more about that event, you can go to our website. The homepage has a link to more info and several videos.

One of the videos is a testimony from a couple with whom we have met by Skype over the last year and a half. We recorded their testimony through a Skype interview also. We told them that they did not have to share their specific issues, but to share where they were and what God did. One line from the video that characterizes our work with couples: “You truly cared about our marriage and wanted it to survive - even more than we did.” We know that God can heal any hurt. We are thankful for their “new” marriage! [see the video here]

You can also see what we believe that God has for us during the coming year. We don’t know why He called us for this mission, but we believe that God has placed us in Ndola, Zambia, “for such a time as this.” In the midst of training pastors/wives on marriage/family, we encountered an opportunity to become involved in Wisdom Community School. Because the Lord placed it on our hearts and, consequently, the hearts of many of our friends and supporters, the school is able to stay open. Some ministry groups go for one-week, short-term missions to places and then never go back to the same place. We are committed to go back! We are committed to provide and strengthen the education and spiritual training for the children of Wisdom who live in the slum area surrounding the school. Many of these kids are orphans.

We are going back to Ndola in January. Another couple from our last trip, John and Darla Holinsworth, are going with us. John worked on the building and Darla worked with the children last time. We will go to the school to provide and further evaluate the school needs educationally, spiritually, and facilities. Please see the this sheet with more information about the school project and our January return to Ndola.

We will also have several opportunities to teach and will follow-up with couples, whom we have taught on previous trips. Our plans are to return in June 2013 and take more friends! If you are interested in being a part of that trip, please let us know.

Through the generosity of many people at our church, we shipped 12 boxes of Christmas gifts for the 175 children at Wisdom School! We also were able to send gifts for the three teachers and the caretaker couple at the school.

Our ministry partner in Ndola no longer has a computer. Our desire is to take a laptop with us in January to give to him. If you have a functional laptop, which you would like to donate, or would like to give towards the purchase of one, please use the enclosed return envelope or contact us. Not only would a computer be a great aid to him in his ministry there, but it would also expedite our communications with him.

We are thankful that we live in a country that allows us to vote. We consider voting a privilege and responsibility! We are thankful that we live in a country that will continue in peace regardless of the results for the election. Join us in praying for our country and this election.

We pray that you will experience a true season of Thanksgiving for all that God has provided for you and all that He is. May He bless you in this season and in the time with your families.

Donna and Ed Edwards
P.S. Please pray for the Lord to provide the money for our mission in January.

TO DONATE to the ministry of LIVING WELL

Thursday, September 27, 2012

OCTOBER 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

“Timing is everything.”

Think of the importance of timing in:
Baking a cake …. Selling a house …. Telling a joke …. Talking to your spouse about a problem …. Buying/selling stock …. Going to class …. Traffic signals on a busy street …. Approaching your boss for a raise …. Asking “the one” to marry you …. Being in the right place at the right time.

The wisdom book of Ecclesiastes shows the importance of timing. In chapter 3, it says:
    There is a time for everything,
          and a season for every activity under heaven:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
    …. He has made everything beautiful in its time.




Our 10th Annual Dinner centers around For Such a Time as This ..... 



Our responses to God’s timing in our lives can make an enormous difference in the outcome. At our dinner, you will see what God’s timing has brought about during the last year at Living Well. We will also share what we believe He has for us in the coming year.

We would love for you to come and share our joy! The dinner is October 16th. We will have dinner and a silent auction from 6-7:30. Yes, Ed is cooking a magnificent meal! You can eat at any time while you are bidding on some outstanding auction items. The ministry presentation will be begin at 7:30.

If you can attend, please RSVP by October 9th. You can call us at 792-2586, or go to this link for more info or to RSVP, or email info@livingwellokc.org.

Please feel free to bring guests who may be interested in hearing about what God is doing! Just let us know who is coming.

The fact that God called us and gave us a passion to see marriages and families restored still amazes us! We thank Him everyday for the opportunity of having such a critical ministry in our world. We thank Him for the work He does in marriages every day in the lives of so many families that we see. The need continues to increase.

The voices speaking against marriage in our culture are gaining volume and strength. The Divine voice does not shout but comes gently, not with lures but with wisdom. Our influence does not increase by yelling louder but by caring more deeply and engaging more personally. Read more about that topic on our blog, Living Well in Marriage, "Me, Marriage, and Culture."

During the pre-election season, we get very focused on which candidate might be best for our country. Many think the country is going to collapse if their candidate doesn’t win. As Americans, we have the responsibility and privilege to vote and participate in the selection of our leaders. But as Christians, we must not lose sight that our hope is not in a candidate or in our government. Our hope is in Christ!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Our love in Christ,

Donna and Ed Edwards

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Economics of Marriage and Divorce

A company in the U.K. put this graphic together, using the U.S. population as their database because of our size, diversity, and high rate of marriage. The graphic is only about the economics of two-parent families versus single parents.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

SEPTEMBER 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

“Find a church that offers marriage oriented classes and attend those regularly.”

We recently asked our class to tell us one important thing that they had learned about marriage. If you could give someone who was about to be married one piece of advice, what would it be? The opening quote is one of the answers. Of course, we loved that answer.

Our class actually had a lot of great answers. Another person talked about how he and his wife had grown up in good Christian homes, read the Bible, and had parents with good marriages. But after going to a marriage conference with a group that we put together, they realized that they still had a lot to learn about marriage. He was thankful for finding out what he didn’t know! He believes they are to continue to learn about marriage, in the same way he does continuing education on his job.

When is the last time you did a continuing ed class for your marriage?

Or maybe you know someone is preparing for marriage or in the beginning years of their marriage. We have a class coming soon for all of the above. We are teaching a marriage class at our office on Monday nights this fall, September 10 - November 5, 7-8:30 pm (eight classes). For more information, you can call or email us or go to this page on our website to find out more.

A couple of weeks ago, our landlord (a wonderful, Christian man) came to us and said that someone wanted to rent the room that he has been letting us use for the last two years at no cost. We use the room for our classes, meetings, and trainings. Our agreement with him was that we could use the room, which adjoins our office, at no charge, but he would continue to make it available to lease. Then, if anyone wanted to lease it, he would give us a chance to lease it first. We prayed and consulted our board. We believe that God wants us to continue to use the space. We know that God will raise up the additional $350/month for the rent for the room. Please pray with us for the Lord to touch hearts of those who will join us in continuing to provide classes and trainings.

We recently completed a series, THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY Marriages in the Bible (and what we can learn from them). We are gradually posting the complete lessons (and more!) on one of our blogs. You can read the complete series on our marriage blog.

The Wisdom Community School has a website, www.wisdomcommunityschool.com and a facebook page. [like their page here] You can now see more pictures and video of the children online. And you can see our team in action! More will be added to both in the days ahead. They have a year-round school schedule there, going to classes for three months, then taking a one-month break. They are about to start back to school for their fall semester. We are thankful for the ongoing commitment and prayers for those children.

And … save the date for our annual dinner - Tuesday, October 16!

Thank you for your continued prayer and support of the ministry of Living Well.

Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Please pass on info about our marriage class that is starting soon!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

AUGUST 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

Our country is grieving over the latest shooting tragedy. Our hearts are heavy; many continue to seek the answer to the question “Why?” We don’t pretend to be able to understand what was going through the mind of the shooter as he planned and carried out such a horrific act.

Most of us cannot understand the depths of the depravity of a human being. We do not know the answer to the “why?” question, what we do know is that evil is very present in our world today! No amount of analysis or speculation will be able to explain the motive of this man.

Our government leaders and politicians have re-energized the national debate on firearms. Unfortunately, an endless amount of laws will not change the fact that millions of firearms are already owned by millions of Americans.

What are we to do?

Ultimately, the issue is the heart. Darrell Scott’s daughter was killed in the Columbine shooting. He testified in 1999 before the subcommittee on crime of the House Judiciary Committee. His testimony included these words, “The real villain lies within our OWN hearts. Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers….We do need a change of heart and an humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God.”

You may be thinking, “My heart is okay; I would never go on a shooting rampage.” As Christians, we must look beyond ourselves. Through His Word, God says,
    “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
                                                                  (Romans 12:21)
    “Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult,
         but [repay] with blessing,
         because to this you were called
….” (1 Peter 3:9a)

As we minister to the hurts of those around us, we open the door for our Lord to make changes in their hearts. Our attitudes and compassion offer the love of Christ to those we see. Each of us can be inspired by good and by God or inspired by bad and evil. We are all inspired by someone or something. We will have some writings on inspiration on our next blog post.

We are excited about developments at Wisdom Community School. We received enough donations to provide security bars for the doors and window. Those bars are being installed now. Someone donated lightweight backpacks for the children of the school. They are perfect for shipping and for the needs of the children. We have enough monthly financial commitments to engage a principal, one day per week. He will provide oversight and support for the teachers but also be the spiritual instructor for the students and the teachers. We have established some reliable contacts for drilling a well.

We are starting a three-lesson series called "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Marriages in the Bible: and what we can learn from them" in our Sunday morning Bible study class on August 5 at 11:00. [see more info] We are teaching a marriage class at our office on Monday nights this fall, September 10 - November 5, 7-8:30 pm (eight classes). [see more information here]

We are excited about our expanded roles in leadership at church. We are leading the development of a comprehensive marriage and family ministry. The team has 10 ambitious goals for the coming year. Our mission is to: engage, enlighten, encourage, equip, and enrich families with Biblical strategies and training. Some results include a class this fall for parenting teens and a marriage celebration event with recording artist, Michael O’Brien, on February 23. 2013. [for more info, call our office, 792-2586]

Thank you for your continued prayer and support of the ministry of Living Well.
Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

Friday, July 13, 2012

THE NEXT STEP

What is my next step in my career? ..... in my marriage? ......in ministry? .... in my life?

We all face those questions. The question is easy; the answer doesn't always seem clear.

We have had a lot of people come to us with those questions. Usually, we want to know what is at the end of the road first and, secondly, how to get there. We have found that God doesn't always show us the end of the road, but He will always show us the next step.

Our answer to most people is "do what you know that He wants right now for your next step." After we take that step, He will show us the one after that.

School girl running after our bus
as we left
What's our next step in Africa?

We know that the Lord wants us to continue to help the children at Wisdom Community School in whatever way we can right now.

Our supporters and Zambia mission team have invested financially, emotionally, and spiritually in the school.

We believe that our next step is to provide security bars for the three doors and the one regular window of the school. The school is in a high crime area. When the vandals in that area learn that there are new books, etc. in the school, they will break in and steal whatever they could sell. The cost is about $650.

If you are interested in donating towards the security of the school, go to our donation link here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

LIVING WELL Ministers at Wisdom Community School

Wisdom Community School, in Ndola, Zambia, is operated by Better World Ministry, headed by Brother Charles Mwila Mutambala. The school is in a slum area, called Twapia (means "we are very broke").
Home in Twapia


Ed and Donna Edwards, of Living Well, visited the school in January, 2012. They learned that the school no longer had funding for the teachers and caretaker. They presented the need to their young married Bible study class at Putnam City Baptist Church. Several members of the class committed to provide the $400/month funding needed for 2012. Because of their contributions, the school is able to remain in operation.


Market in Twapia

Most of the children are orphans or "twice orphaned" (both mother and father have died) and live with a grandparent, older sibling, or even a neighbor. The families cannot afford the uniforms, books, meals, and materials that have to be purchased to attend public schools.
Children in area came to meet us
as we came to "preview" the school.

The school is for grades 1-5 and teaches 160 kids in two rooms without electricity or running water. Living Well is partnering with Better World to help Wisdom Community School continue to operate. Many more children in the neighborhood are not attending school, but Wisdom Community School is now full. The school is adding a grade each year to be able to teach the children as they move to the next grade.

Since Living Well began partnering with Better World Ministry in January, the Lord has provided several of the needs of the school through donations and the MISSION ZAMBIA 2012 Team.
The eight on the team plus Ed and Donna as the week
at Wisdom Community School begins.

Eight team members from the Oklahoma City metro area travelled with us to Ndola at the beginning of June, 2012. Three team members (John Holinsworth, Lois Jeffries, Karen Russell) painted the school inside and out, as well as doing repairs, replacing the doors and locks, and working in the flower bed. Previous to the trip, Living Well raised the funds to plaster the school on the outside in preparation for painting.

Five team members (Darla Holinsworth, Mary Kay McCormick, Norma McKinney, and Ron & Kathy Jackson) provided Bible teaching, crafts, music, and recreation for 160 children for 5 days.

So far in 2012 ....

MISSION accomplished:
  • Monthly monetary support for three teachers, one caretaker amounting to a total of $400/month (commitments for 2012)
  • Painting the interior walls (materials/supplies cost: $500)
  • Cement plastering the exterior of the building to prevent deterioration of the earthen bricks (cost estimate: $1000 labor and materials)
  • Painting the exterior walls after plastering (materials/supplies cost: $500)
  • Teaching materials (books, paper, pencils, teaching aids, etc.)
  • New doors and locks
  • Recreation equipment - soccer balls, etc.
  • Music equipment, hand instruments
  • New Testament for each child
  • Books and bookcases
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste for each child (thanks to Dr. Russell Danner and Dr. Glenn Ashmore)
  • A week of Bible teaching, crafts, Bible stories, music, and recreation
We did a lot of work, accomplished a lot, and left them with a lot .... but the reality is that we were the ones who benefited the most.

Before we took the mission trip, some people asked if it wouldn't be better just to give the money to have local people do the work. Our answer is that then you wouldn't have the experience of ministering to these children.

Much more is needed at the school. Will tackle that one in the next post.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Leaving Wisdom Community School

After ministering for a week at Wisdom Community School, our team got on the bus and drove off with severals kids chasing after us. We started singing Amazing Grace out of the gratitude of our blessings for the week.

video

Thursday, June 28, 2012

JULY 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

My life will never be the same! . . . . The most often heard comment from our team members after they returned to the U.S.
Our words come slowly when trying to process all that our senses encountered. 
  • The mind says my life is different even if I don’t know what that means for my future.
  • My spirit tells me that I am united in love with those who walk such a difficult life path.
  • My emotions reveal that I don’t really understand joy yet, but I have met those who do.     
  • My heart longs for a way to give of what God has given me so abundantly.
  • My desire is to follow God’s path should He graciously allow me to return.
  • We know that we have received more than we gave!
Thank you so much for your prayers! Answers:
  • A great mission experience!
  • Good health - no one got sick or hurt or even too fatigued to keep going. (Only prayer can explain that outcome for 10 “mature” missionaries.) 
  • The teamwork and flexibility was beyond anything that we thought was possible. We can’t begin to explain what an outstanding job each person did. 
  • Every plane connection was successful. No lost luggage (two bags were delayed 24hrs). 
  • Full conference for pastors and their wives. Each couple received a notebook of materials and a new study Bible.
  • The physical work at the school was completed - painting the school several coats inside and out, cleaning flowerbeds, new doors and locks, bookcases.
  • Teaching through stories, the Bible, crafts, memory verses, games, and music prepared the way for children to come to Christ.
  • Left the school with books, balls, Frisbees, musical instruments, and many school supplies.
  • Gave each child a Bible, a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste (thanks to Dr. Russell Danner and Dr. Glenn Ashmore!), and lots of love.
  • The team still loves each other after 18 days together.
 God put together such a gifted team!
We had a wonderful time of worship on Sunday; everyone wanted to hear more of their singing. As one team member said, “even when we didn’t know the words, we knew it was worship.” All of the team felt a close bond with the Christians there, even though we are different cultures and much different circumstances. We immediately felt the oneness of the body of Christ with our brothers and sisters there.

Now what? Those children need lots of prayers for their future.

The school still  has immediate needs:
  1. burglar bars on the doors
  2. a deeper water well (the present well goes dry part of the year) and a water storage tank
  3. better toilet facilities
  4. another building for classrooms and more teachers for the growing school

Our Bible study class is providing 100% of the financial support for the school this year. Without that support, the school would close. No education would be available for these 160+ kids. Many more neighborhood children are not attending school. Wisdom Community School is at a capacity level and cannot take any new enrollees. Many of those children lingered around our story times and activities; they were able to hear about the love of Jesus too.

See future posts and our facebook page for pictures of this year’s mission. Thank you again for your continued support for God’s work through Living Well.

Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

June 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

Just a few days left until we leave for Zambia!

Thank you so much for your prayers for our preparation and support! We are almost finishing preparing and God has provided the funds! We just received the remaining amount needed! We value your prayers while we are gone! Our mission dates are May 30-June16.

What do we do to prepare a team for a mission such as this one?

First, we pray that God will raise up the people that He wants to go with us. Once someone has indicated an interest in the mission, we share some of the basic information about the time and financial costs. If they are still interested, we meet with them to share more details about what the mission would entail. Then, they pray and we pray.

Once the team has been finalized, we begin meeting with them as a group. We do the best we can to prepare them for what God is going to do spiritually in them, in the group, and in the people we will meet. We pray for love and unity within the team. We believe that God does more in each of us than the people to whom we minister .

We pray and decide what part each of us will have in teaching, leading, and work. We ask them to read materials about international missions and the objectives of short-term missions. They prepare a testimony to share. We develop VBS materials appropriate for their culture.

We spend a lot of time going over logistics - long flights, airports, how to dress, weather, packing, varying weight limits on airlines, food, water, money exchange, medical preparations (shots, medicines to take), hotels, and schedules.

A large part of our training is to prepare people for the culture. We give them materials to read about Zambia in particular. As we show them pictures of previous missions, we try to communicate some of our experiences. We hope to help them understand aspects of the African culture that are different but also to see it isn’t wrong or bad.

We pray together and have prayer requests during the days leading up to the mission.

We do all that we can to prepare them for the mission. BUT …. Through all of the preparations, we tell them, “There are some parts that we cannot prepare you for, you will just have to experience them.” For us, one of our greatest joys of the mission is seeing new people experience Africa and her people for the first time. As some tell us who have gone with us more than once, it is really hard to internalize and enjoy it all the first time. They really get the full experience the second time. The sights, sounds, and smells can be overwhelming.

Our mission teammates have always returned with a new heart in their own walk with the Lord, a new vision of what the Body of Christ looks like, a love for the African people, and a shift in their thinking about wealth and possessions.

We were very excited to learn from our contact in Zambia that we already have the maximum number of pastor couples signed up to attend the pastor’s conference. The plastering is finished at the school and waiting to be painted. The 160 children and teachers are ready for us to come. All of the Bibles, books, and materials, which we shipped, have arrived.

Please pray with us for this mission. As we prepare to leave, pray that we get all of the remaining materials in our luggage and have some room left to take our clothes! Pray for the hearts and health of our team and those we will meet!

We will post updates on this blog as we are able to get internet access.

Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards


Previous post on mission trip, read here....
Read mission details here.....


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Believing without Seeing

"Seeing is different than being told." African Proverb

We try to prepare our teams going to Africa as well as we can. Words and pictures cannot convey some parts of the journey.

Words do not adequately describe what it is like to sit down with kids who have never had new clothes, who have never wondered if they will have enough to eat, who have never sat on a toilet that flushed or ridden in a car or used a computer or watched a TV.

Words fall short when you try to explain the life of pastors who have never been to a Bible college or seminary or to a bookstore to buy a commentary. How do you describe the life of a pastor who shepherds a congregation who barely has enough food or water for themselves, much less something to pay the salary of a pastor or the upkeep of the church?

We can't adequately express the grace and gratitude of people who have no formal training in etiquette or diplomacy. Breaking down the barriers of preconceived ideas is impossible when those ideas have never risen to the level of consciousness. Most of us assume a lack of education means a lack of intelligence or desire to learn. Just a few minutes of teaching and interacting with our African brothers and sisters exposes and defeats those assumptions. More unknown assumptions lie in the minds of the average Christian in the U.S.

Those who sign-up for this journey go by faith - faith that God has called them, faith that He has given something to share, faith that He will provide the funds, the health, and the strength to complete the journey.

For us, one of the most exciting parts of this mission trip will be these eight people experience God in a new way, see the Kingdom from a larger perspective, and grow in their knowledge of Him.

 When we go, we expect the unexpected. We believe that God has gone before us; the unexpected for us is not new information for Him. We pray and plan but are assured that His ways are higher than our ways. We want to make a difference in the life of one less fortunate but we know that our lives will be the ones that are changed the most.

"Put simply, faith is believing in something you haven't seen."

                                     John MacArthur

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Giving and Generosity

I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I’m afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare….if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, and amusement, is up to the standard common of those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.   C.S. Lewis

This quotation from C.S. Lewis challenges our ideas about giving and generosity.

We see people who live much beyond their income for many years, then it catches up with them. They are strapped with debt, unwilling to follow God’s will in spending or in giving. They end up in bondage (not enjoying what they have) or in bankruptcy (enjoying what they have at someone else’s expense).

We see others who live within their means but spend most of their money on themselves and their family. They spend money on vacations, entertainment, their house, or new cars, but rarely give to God’s work.

We don’t give to get, but we firmly believe that you cannot “out give” God. We have experienced it ourselves and seen others that continue to give more and more but God still meets all of their needs.

Generosity is a “readiness or liberality in giving.”

What stands in our way from generous giving?

Generosity is a condition of the heart. When we are unwilling to give, we may not have a heart for God’s work. We may not have compassion for the poor or disadvantaged. Or we may have such a fear of the future, that we are unwilling to turn loose of our money.

God is trustworthy. He has told us that when we follow Him and His principles that He will meet our needs. The question is whether we are trustworthy. As defined in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25), God wants us to acknowledge that He has given us everything that we have and that we are to follow His guidance on where and how we are to spend His money.

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.        (Deuteronomy 15:10)

The place to begin …..

A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver. Thomas A. Kempis

Generosity begins with giving of ourselves in time, emotions, and money. 

The majority of Christians are not willing to give even a tithe. A recent survey shows that among born-again Christians, only 9% tithe. One cannot be generous if he does not give.

The place to begin generosity is the basic principle of giving. We only give to God’s work and according to His will if we truly love Him above all else. Once we truly love Him, we must believe that He is trustworthy.

Do I trust Him enough to follow Him, ....
even if His direction seems "irrational" to me?


Reason says that you don’t give if you aren’t paying all of your bills.

God’s Word says "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 3:10)

Our personal testimony is that we began tithing at the point in our financial lives that we had the lowest income and could least “afford” it. But God was faithful. We never missed a meal and all bills got paid. We pray about how He wants us to spend the 100%, not just 10%. It all belongs to Him.

Read testimony of a young couple and giving ....
Read about generosity in marriage and with others....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

May 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

“When I heard Ed and Donna say that you can pay cash for a car, I didn’t believe it. I will never be able to do that.”

That statement came from a young man who attended one of our financial seminars 15 years ago. He recently shared his testimony of faith in the financial area of his life.

He didn’t come from a wealthy family. One summer while he was in college, he had an internship in another city, a couple of hours from home. He was so broke that he didn’t have any money to put down on a deposit where he was going to live. He had saved a large jar of coins through the years. He emptied it all out and took the quarters. He lived on that money the first week. The next week he took out the nickels and dimes to live on until he got his first paycheck.

Shortly after graduating from college and getting married, this couple came to the class that we taught for newly married couples. A few months later, he attended a one-day financial seminar we taught. He and his wife had about $25,000 in debt, mainly from student loans, plus they owed about $14,000 on car loans.

They began paying off debt. They were faithful to follow what God showed them on how to spend all of their money, not just what they gave to Him. They learned that they can pay cash for their cars! They have paid cash for three and paid off two within six months. They sought wise counsel as they took steps in their journey of faith with Him. They pray about all of the money that He has entrusted to them. They both have a generous heart and a love for the Lord. They are quick to respond to a need to demonstrate His love. God has blessed their hearts, their work, and family.

God designed us to give to others and to Him. When we live according to His design, we are the happiest, we have the greatest joy. Giving is never about whether we can afford it. We often hear people say that they can’t afford to give to a need or to God’s work. Giving is about our heart towards Him and our trust in Him. Jesus showed us the example of the widow who gave all she had to live on (Mark 12:43-444). He commended her above the wealthy who gave more money.

Giving is a response of love and gratitude to God. We give to His work and to others out of our love for Him and our love for others - not to get something in return. “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” (Romans 11:35) “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. (1 Chronicles 29:14).

Because of the generosity of people who support God’s work through Living Well ministry, we have learned, grown, and taught others. Those that we have taught have given and taught others. Generosity is multiplied into many lives. [read about generosity - marriage and others here]

We are in the final phases of preparing to go to Zambia for our mission trip. We will multiply God’s Word into the lives of 160 poor children and 50 pastor couples. We shipped study Bibles for the pastors and children’s Bibles for the children of Wisdom Community School. They have all arrived!

Because of the generosity of many, we were able to have the school covered with a cement plaster and is now ready for our team to paint it, inside and outside.

We are responsible to raise the funds for the school project, for both the physical work and for the Bibles and other materials, as well as funds for the pastors conference, and our own transportation, lodging, food, etc. Our team has their passports and shots. They are diligently planning and praying.

Please pray with us for this mission - for the planning, preparation, people, and for the funding.

Our love in Christ,

Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Pray that the Lord will provide the $6,000 that we still need for the mission trip to Zambia. [to donate]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

His Heart Belongs in Africa

"God had only one Son,
and He was a missionary.”
David Livingstone

Zambia enjoys the great history of David Livingstone exploring and bringing the gospel to their land. David Livingstone died in present-day Zambia on May 1st,1873, from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery. He took his final breaths while kneeling in prayer at his bedside.

Britain wanted the body to give it a proper ceremony, but the tribe would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut the heart out and put a note on the body that said, "You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!". Livingstone's heart was buried under a Mvula tree near the spot where he died. His tombstone in Westminster Abbey reads, "Brought by faithful hands over land and sea, David Livingstone: missionary, traveler, philanthropist. For 30 years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize the native races, to explore the undiscovered secrets, and to abolish the slave trade."

David Livingstone was the inspiration for many missionaries going to Zambia, Africa. They have been heavily evangelized and are somewhere between 50-75% Christian. The Zambian constitution even declares them to be a Christian nation.

Unfortunately, these factors do not translate into Christian lifestyles in all aspects of their lives. Sex outside of marriage is common, which has become the means by which HIV/AIDS is spread. Zambia has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS. About one in every seven adults is HIV+. The life expectancy is around 50 years old (up from 39 years at the height of the epidemic).

Children have been much affected by the AIDS epidemic in Zambia, where 120,000 children are estimated to be infected with HIV. In 2009 there were 690,000 AIDS orphans in the country and made up half of all orphans in the country.

In 2003, it was revealed that increasing numbers of child rape cases were being fuelled by the "virgin cure" myth (which wrongly claims that sex with a virgin can cure AIDS). Older men will have sex with a younger girl, a virgin, thinking it will take away the AIDS. The reality is that it further spreads the disease.

The church can be one of the most effective means of changing the direction of the epidemic and ministering to those who are affected by it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

APRIL 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

Spring has come early to our part of the country! We see tulips and daffodils popping up from the seeming lifeless ground. They remind us that the dead-looking soil holds new, living, beautiful creations. These spring flowers are a powerful picture of the Easter story.

Jesus Christ died and was buried. Out of that physical death came a new life, a resurrected life. Because of His death and resurrection, we have hope for our own death and new life. We do not have to wait until we die physically to experience the new life. As we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, we die to our sin and gain a new spiritual life while still on earth. 

After His resurrection, He ascended into heaven. However, He didn’t leave us on our own. He left us with a promise. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18) His Spirit came to indwell us. His Presence lives within us.

What is like to be an orphan?

An orphan is someone who has lost one or more parents. We both had two wonderful parents, who loved us and gave us direction as we grew up. Now, we have each lost one of our parents. We no longer call them up or spend time with them or ask them for guidance. We miss their presence in our lives.

Jesus was saying in John 14:18 that when He left earth He would send someone to be with us, someone to talk with us, someone to give us guidance, someone to express the love of the Father to us. We don’t have to wander around, feeling alone or lost. We don’t have to rely on our own resources to make it through life. When He comes to live in us, we become a child of God. Each of us is truly an orphan in this life until God becomes Our Father.

As we prepare for our next mission trip to Zambia, this concept becomes especially meaningful. Part of our mission is to minister to 160 orphan children at Wisdom Community School. Our theme for the week is God as Our Father. We will focus on different attributes of God each day - loving, forgiving, kind, compassionate, and merciful.

Because a person forms his view of God from the characteristics of his earthly father, someone who doesn’t have a father may see God as distant or uninvolved or even unloving. When the father is present in African households, he is often emotionally and physically harsh to his children. He is not involved in their lives and doesn’t express love and kindness to them. We want these children to know God as He truly is - as a perfect Father who loves His children.

We are excited to have on our Zambia 2012 team: (l-r, bottom to top) Karen Russell, Lois Jeffries, Norma McKinney, Donna Edwards, Mary Kay McCormick, Darla Holinsworth, Kathy Jackson, Ed Edwards, John Holinsworth, and Ron Jackson. Part of the team will do physical work (painting, etc.) on the school and the others will be ministering to the children with Bible activities, music, crafts, reading, and games. [read more about the mission]

By faith we have already shipped 160 Children’s Bibles and 50 Study Bibles (for our pastors conference). We have already sent funds to have cement plaster put on the outside of the school, so it will be ready for paint when we arrive. We are shipping crafts, children’s books, and musical instruments this week.

We are responsible to raise the funds for the school project, for both the physical work and for the Bibles and other materials, as well as funds for the pastors conference, and our own transportation, lodging, food, etc. We have already purchased our plane tickets!

Please pray with us for this mission - for the planning, preparation, people, and for the funding. We still have about $14,000 to raise before we leave.

Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mission Zambia - June 2012

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

On our last trip to Ndola, Zambia, God touched our hearts with that verse.

We visited Wisdom Community School in a slum area outside Ndola. In two rooms, they teach 160 children, grades 1-4, who could not attend school otherwise. The kids are orphaned or twice orphaned (both parents died). They live with an elderly grandparent or an older sibling. The school has no water, electricity, or toilets. They have very few books but can read and speak English. The school is community-based but Christian sponsored. The way out of poverty for these kids is to have an education . . . . . . . unreachable in their present circumstances, without this school.

The school has many needs that we believe God wants to meet through our ministry. The school is made from basic earthen/cement bricks and a tin roof. The first need is to put on cement/plaster on the outside to preserve it and then paint the outside and inside.
  • We are assembling a team to take with us to do the painting. We are raising funds to have the plastering done before we get there and to buy the paint.
  • We are assembling another team to work with the children while the team is painting the school. They will do VBS type activities, Bible stories, and soccer. 
In conjunction with the Water 4 Foundation, we are evaluating the possibility of drilling a well and providing toilet facilities. We may not be able to complete that part of the project on this trip, but will in the near future based on feasibility.

The children at our church are donating new (or slightly used) books, which we will ship over and give out when we arrive. We also want to provide a Bible for each child.

When we visited there, the school no longer had funding for the three teachers and one caretaker. Our young-married Bible study class took on the funding of the teachers and caretaker for 2012 at the cost of $400/month.

While the teams work at the school, we will teach a pastor’s conference on marriage and family as we have done over the last 10 years. We provide study Bibles for them and fund all of the expenses for 50 pastor couples to attend.

We pray that you will consider being a part of our team to go or to send. [see our website for more information]

John Piper said, “There are only three kinds of Christians when it comes to world missions: zealous goers, zealous senders, and disobedient.”

Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards
P.S. The cost of each team member is over $4000, we have to pay $3000 each by the end of this month for our plane tickets. Please pay that God will provide the funds.

To donate.....

Thursday, March 01, 2012

MARCH 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

How would you feel if you suddenly became deaf and blind?  

Helen Keller
Most of us would not be happy; in fact, we would probably be depressed. However, Helen Keller who was deaf and blind, said, "I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man made world."

Helen Keller’s concept of sight was different than most of us. To her, the loss of sight and sound was not a handicap but a gift. How I see life, and consequently my happiness, has more to do with my own heart and mind than it does with my eyes.

In our November letter, we wrote about the connection between happiness and gratitude. We quoted some statistics from Dr. Henry Cloud’s book The Law of Happiness: How Spiritual Wisdom and Modern Science Can Change Your Life. In the book, he points out that 50% of our happiness factor has to do with our internal makeup (genetic characteristics) and only 10% has to do with our circumstances. Even that 10% factor is short-lived. But 40% of our happiness quotient is tied to habits or attitudes that we can choose and cultivate.

We do not have to get stuck in life, thinking that nothing will ever change. Research shows the list of factors for happiness closely aligns with behavior and attitudes that God shows us in His word. In our next post, we will write more about the Law of Happiness.

We shared in our last letter that we visited Wisdom Community School in Ndola, Zambia. The school is in a slum area and provides instruction for 160 children in grades 1-4. It was started by a local ministry so that these disadvantaged children would be able to get an education. Their public schools are free but the families must buy uniforms, books, school supplies, and lunches for the children. In the slum areas, most families cannot afford any of these expenses. The children are orphaned (one parent has died) or twice-orphaned (two parents have died). They now live with an elderly grandparent, older sibling, or other family member.

The ministry which started the school is no longer in Zambia but a new ministry has taken on the oversight of the school. The school has no means of support. They have three teachers and a caretaker. The school has two rooms in which to teach 160 kids. They have no running water, electricity, restrooms or playground. Their teaching materials are very limited.

Part of our next mission trip to Zambia this summer will be to work on improvements to the physical building and minister to the kids and teachers. We are expecting to take a team that can provide a Bible school and activities while some work on painting and other aspects of the building and grounds. Our young married Bible study class is providing $400/month to pay the teachers and caretaker. If you are interested in this project, please give us a call (405-792-2586) or see more information on our website.

We cannot even begin to tell you how much your love and support means to us! Your prayers and donations are an essential part of our ministry. Thank you!

Our love in Christ,

Donna and Ed Edwards

Thursday, February 09, 2012

February 2012 Letter - LIVING WELL

We are back from Zambia! We had a great trip and have hit the ground running! 

We spoke to seven different groups in eight days. As they have each time we have taught there, the people in Ndola responded with enthusiasm and attention.
  • After preaching at Glad Tidings Church, the church gave Ed a blazer and Donna a dress made from the elaborately printed fabrics of that country.
  • We were hoping for 50 to attend the women’s seminar, over 125 showed up!
  • At the first of two couple’s seminars, they filled up the space, leaving some to sit on children’s chairs.
  • We saw half of the 160 children of Wisdom Community School packed into two classrooms.
  • The plight of many single mothers became apparent at our first single parent’s seminar. We broke new territory in bringing together these vulnerable women.
 
Our website has more details/pictures about the trip to Zambia and our future plans. Our desire is to return to that area of Zambia at the end of May. Besides teaching our Pastoral Family Enrichment conference, we hope to minister to the Wisdom school, so that they may continue to teach children from the adjacent slum area.
 
We just finished teaching a retreat for the Caddo Baptist Association. We feel honored to be able to teach this retreat for the third year in a row. This year, we taught on the Character of Marriage (topics - commitment, compassion, courage, and contentment, see our marriage blog for those teachings).
 
At last year’s retreat, we noticed a couple that was really struggling - she cried most of the time, he was uninvolved and indifferent. Shortly after that weekend, this couple called us for an appointment. They started coming to see us every week, driving an hour each way, and spending an hour with us. They committed to us and each other to work on their marriage. They came to their appointments faithfully and did their homework each week. The tears began to turn to smiles. Dissatisfaction turned to delight. Their friends tell us that they seem happier now than they ever have in their marriage. When talking to them after this year’s seminar, he compared the difference - “Last year, I couldn’t wait to get out of here when it was over; this year it is like you said in the last session, we are contented.” God still does miracles!
 
Our pastor asked us to head a team to strengthen families through focusing on marriage and parenting. Last Friday, we launched the Marriage and Family Ministry with an event to celebrate marriage - Together Forever. We had 100 couples attend. We honored long-time marriages, encouraged young marriages, and hoped to inspire all. God has given us a great team; we can hardly wait to see what God is going to do in lives as we develop a comprehensive marriage and parenting ministry.
 
As a step in that ministry, we are teaching a marriage class at our church beginning February 12, 5-6:30. The class is open to couples who are married, engaged, or “seriously dating.” [for more information]
 
Valentine’s Day is all about love.
 
Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables, wrote, "Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved."
 
We agree but another person is not capable of convincing us, only God can. God says to us “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3) “...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)
 
You are a valuable part of our ministry! We love and appreciate you and your support of what God is doing! He has a lot in store for us in 2012!
 
Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards 

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Happy New Year!

What is the most valuable commodity that we have available to us?

Money is important to many people. Money can be lost. But it can be gained again. Homes can be destroyed by a tornado but they can be rebuilt. Time is really our most valuable commodity. Once lost, it can never be regained. Time cannot be purchased or acquired. We all have the same amount, regardless of our socio-economical level, race, or gender. We all have the same amount of time and equal opportunities to use our time beneficially or waste it. 

2011 has drawn to a close. We often review how we have done with money during the previous year. We are forced to see examine the subject when we do our taxes.

 How many of us look at how we spent our time? We can put money in an investment or in the bank and leave it alone, not really think about it. It may even grow some while it sits. However, if we don’t think about how we spend our time, we will spend it all and have not gained anything.

To waste time is to squander a gift from God. (John Blanchard)

Most of us spend around eight hours sleeping and eight hours working. What do we do with the other eight? Some of that time is driving, some is eating, some is cleaning our bodies/house, some is with family members. But what about our discretionary time? How are we investing our time? On what will we spend the time that cannot be regained? 

There is nothing wrong with spending time having fun, but is that our goal for discretionary time? How much of that golden time do we lose by being angry? Or do we spend our time indulging in damaging behaviors? Or do we just do nothing, laying around, watching TV? God is interested in and cares about how we use the time He has given us, not just the money.

At our stage in life, we have many interests. Some would take a lifetime to complete. We are painfully aware that we do not have enough time left to fulfill all of our desires. So, we have chosen to seek God on what He wants for our time. We believe that the focus for our time is to bring healing and health to marriages through the work of God in a people’s lives.

During the next two months - we will go back to Zambia for two weeks, come back, teach a marriage retreat, lead a team to provide a marriage celebration event, teach marriage classes, and continue to provide guidance for marriages in crisis, financial distress, and to prepare couples for marriage. We are excited about what God has for us in 2012! 

We leave in two days for Zambia. The Lord has been faithful to provide for the mission. At the end of this letter, we will have our intinerary and prayer requests. We value your prayers. We believe that you are all part of our ministry team.

You are a valuable part of our ministry! We love and appreciate you and your support of what God is doing!

Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

Thursday, Jan.5, 7:00 am* (*Times are local with CDT in parenthesis)
      Leave for Nairobi, Kenya, arrive Friday 8:40 pm (11:40 am*)

Saturday, Jan. 7, 8:50 am
    Leave for Ndola, Zambia (11:50pm, Friday*), arrive noon (2:00 am, Saturday*) 43 hours after leaving OKC (includes 8 hours at hotel in Nairobi to sleep, shower and eat)

Sunday,Jan.8 - Sunday,Jan.15    Sunday - Ed preaches in a church
   Monday - Donna teaches a women's seminar
   Tuesday and Wednesday - both lead couples follow-up and teach
   Thursday - visit Wisdom Community School and Nkwazi Slum
   Friday - both teach Kaniki Bible College
   Saturday - both teach single parent"s seminar   
   Sunday - Ed preaches in a church

Monday, Jan. 16, 12:50 pm
   Fly to Nairobi, Kenya (4:50 am*), arrive 4:20 pm(7:20 am*) includes 24 hrs. of rest before flying home

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 10:55 pm (2:55 pm*)
  depart Nairobi for home

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 5:21 pm 
   ARRIVE OKLAHOMA CITY! (26 ½ hours total journey home)

PRAYER REQUESTS:
1. Safety in travel, good health, sleeping well in Zambia
2. Logistics and meeting schedule to work out smoothly in Zambia
3. Good weather for flights and in Ndola, so that participants can travel to meetings/services
4. God’s words and His wisdom as we speak to various groups in Zambia
5. God’s words and wisdom as we speak at marriage retreat January 27-28 in Norman
6. God’s financial provision (day-to-day expenses) for His ministry through Living Well, that He would provide for our full budget
7. Wisdom in leading a new marriage & family ministry team at our church, planning for Feb. 3 Together Forever event
8. Wisdom in knowing God’s will as we plan for 2012.
9. Wisdom in marriage/financial guidance appointments/teaching—God would speak through us and strengthen/heal the people, their marriages/finances.
10. Our family - good health, protection on our marriage; protection, wisdom for our children and grandchildren