A need I cannot ignore

This is not a normal post from me. It is an urgent need, and I hope you are not offended by my sharing it here.

Around ten years ago a young woman came to sub as a piano player for our contemporary service. A line of young children followed her in, sat where she instructed, and behaved amazingly while we practiced, and throughout the service. Afterward I learned Nikki and Brian Seiller and their children had traveled from Zimbabwe with nothing by suitcases in hand to start a new life in the United States, fleeing the chaos in their country, seeking a safe refuge to raise the children.

We quickly became friends and I’ve cherished her love for people and the Lord, her open heart and deep spirit. She plays and sings with tremendous inspiration, and always inspires me.

Her parents remained in Zimbabwe, her mother, Aurell Olivier, intent on continuing to help orphans, whose situations grew more desperate every day. About six years ago thugs broke in at night and beat them mercilessly, knocking out her mother’s front teeth and almost killing her father. He never fully recovered, and three years ago died of a massive heart attack.

After his death, his “friend” and business partner seized everything, even Nikki’s childhood home. Nevertheless, her Mum has remained in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, to help others.

However, Aurell just received a blow she cannot recover from alone. Years ago, when life was “normal,” they purchased a home in South Africa for retirement, and had been leasing it out to cover mortgage payments. (Being outside of Zimbabwe, it is the only asset that survived the economic and cultural destruction in her country.) The bank just gave notice that, since the house was in his name only, they are calling the mortgage and will not give her a new mortgage because of “her age.” They will auction the house on September 23th, unless Nikki’s mother is able to pay off the mortgage for $20,000.00.

Nikki and Brian have constantly worked long days and weekends since arriving in Sarasota to make a home for their children. She has never asked for handouts, and would not for herself. But her mother’s need is too great.

Only a massive response from friends and strangers will help her mother keep the only thing left for her future.

Aurell has spent a lifetime helping others who can never pay her back. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for her to be cared for now?

If you feel inclined, here is the GoFundMe link.


You can read the story in detail there and see pictures of the family.

Please “like” and share this post. Many small gifts can fill the need.

And pray for AURELL OLIVIER.

Thank you.

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress James 1:27 HSB

It only takes one person

American FlagWhen I unfurl our American flag to hang out front, I often recall our first year in Honduras. We lived in Tela, on the north coast (on the Caribbean). The pervasive poverty had hit me hard and I felt impotent in the face of all the deprivation surrounding us. What was my offering among so many needs? When a U.S. Navy ship docked at the banana loading docks as part of a friendship effort by the Navy, I gained an insight.

The crew brought shoes and clothing personally collected in the States, and they shared freely throughout the community. They used their weekend liberty (time off) going around town to repair a roof for a widow, fix a door, or help in any way they could find. Several sailors painted the school where we taught. Our two teenage daughters drew the interest of a couple of junior officers and we ended up hosting all the officers for a delightful, encouraging dinner. Before the ship left the next day they gave us a tour, along with locals who had been impressed with the sailor’s generosity and behavior.

We stood on the beach as they shoved off. With a lump in my throat, I watched the American flag wave. I was proud of those boys. Proud of our Navy. Proud of my country. And I’d never been so proud of the red, white and blue. I covered my heart, and had to hold myself back from belting out the National Anthem.

A student during the height of the Vietnam years, jaded by watching the assassinations of our president, John F Kennedy, presidential candidate, Bobby Kennedy, and peaceful civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the lies and deceptions of Watergate, it had been a long time since I’d been proud of my country.

Here I stood, on foreign soil, savoring the values that had made our country great.

That make the United States of America a place many still struggle to immigrate to.

Not speeches and politicians,
not railroad magnates
or corporate giants.
Not fat wallets
Or impressive churches.
Not grand houses
Or flashy cars
Or well-lined retirement accounts.
Not stardom
Or notoriety
Not tall buildings or big cities
or luxurious shopping centers.

Over two hundred years ago, it was simply people, of many nationalities, unnamed individuals who worked hard, but always had time, energy and “a little to spare” for someone in need.

I believe it remains the only way for the United States to be a great country, a nation with a future.

My husband and I were on a road trip a few days ago and listened to an awful audio book. (We kept thinking it would get better.) But one character’s viewpoint was worth the listening time.

Each one is valuable, or no one is valuable.

Wherever you are, whatever your country, as a citizen of this great Earth, tune in to opportunities before you, and around you, for lending a hand.

For caring.
For affirming each person as worthy, made in the image of God.
Even if you all you have to share is a touch or a smile.

It doesn’t really take a whole village. One person can make all the difference.
One teacher.
One neighbor.
One friend.
One stranger.

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’ . . .
‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Matthew 25: 35,36,40 MSG

Has one person made a big difference in your life?
Have you acted to bless someone who never expected it?

Is the world spinning crazy?

My heart is aching. It feels like the world is spinning crazy, how it must have for European and Russian Jews during WWII. Too many broken lives, hearts, homes, even whole villages.

Yet the parking lot at the new upscale mall is full. The most expensive homes move quickly on the market. Plates piled with food go back to the kitchen, to the garbage, while bored diners toy with their cocktails and the dessert menu. Landfills are loaded with the now upgraded gadgets — phones, tablets, computers, T.Vs, appliances … Storage units are a thriving business, for all the overflow of large homes, growing larger.

But are our souls growing larger?

Don’t we shrink every time we turn away from the pain across the ocean,

or across the street?

We watch headline news, men of the Cross, kneeling, their hands tied behind their backs. Blades shine in the hands of their captors, standing behind, ready to show the world how powerful they are. What they will not tolerate in the “new world” they are intent on creating. The price of being other.

After heads roll, and we flinch and turn away, the blades march on, raping, destroying, killing, crushing, stomping out any life they judge unworthy.

Hitler was a schoolboy compared to these.

When news of Nazi persecution of Jews leaked out, it fell on deaf ears. The first pictures of the death camps were deemed fakes, flukes. No one could do something so inhuman. Jews who fled the approaching German machine found little refuge in a comfortable world who couldn’t be bothered with the refuse of that little strutting man.

Until he threatened too close to home.

How close to home does it need to get for us to care about those being crushed now?


I admit, I haven’t know what I could do about a threat so large. I pray for the persecuted and displaced, for those who have lost their loved ones, but what is that among so many?

Ann Voskamp asked herself, and went to see. Please click on the links below to read her postings. Find out what is really happening beyond the sensational news.

And see how you can make a difference, without a trip to Iraq.

Be the difference. The hands and feet of Jesus to love a broken heart, body, people.

Ann goes to Iraq.
What we can do.