Bangladesh Adventures

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kevin’s Top Ten Reading List

Over the years I have promised a number of people (very limited) to give them a top ten list of the books that have made the most impact on my life. Below is the list, don’t get real excited I didn’t start reading until I was 24 years old and I’m not a ferocious reader. However, I am veracious witness for these books; they will change your life if you read them. In addition, I am not a speed reader but when I’m done with a book I have it all over my face. It’s all about the impact…..

#1. The Bible: New International Reader’s Version

By the International Bible Society with WTL Publications, IBS06-30000. Book introductions, margin notes, and reference material by Keith J. White (I had him as a professor during Grad school); Illustrations by Andy Bisgrove; and Maps by Tony Cantale. This Bible presents the whole Bible in the usual way but makes it clear what is story in full page paragraphs, and what is a different kind of writing (details, poetry, proverbs, laws, family trees and letters) in double columns.

#2. Rich Christians in an age of Hunger, Moving from Affluence to Generosity

By Ronald J. Sider, W Publishing Group, 1997. Everyday 30,000 children still die of starvation and preventable diseases… “Ron Sider has given us a Kingdom challenge to live and love sacrificially and to give and serve generously amidst cultural voices of materialism and personal wealth. This book is strength to anyone who finds themselves wrestling with the how and why of being a good steward of earthly treasures.” Dan Haseltine, Jars of Clay.

#3. Small is Beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered
By E.F. Schumacher, written in 1973, before such ideas started gaining popularity, Schumacher makes a clear and profound case for small-scale, local production, applicable to places like a third world country as well as the U.S. It blows your mind in this day and age of Globalization!

#4. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, A Fruitful Branch on the Vine, JESUS

By St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2000, ISBN 0-86716-424-7. Mother Teresa personified Jesus Christ by showing God’s love and compassion among the poorest of the poor. She saw Jesus’ face in every person she every met, including the dying on Calcutta streets.

#5. What’s so Amazing about Grace?
By Philip Yancey, 1997, Zondervan Publishing House, ISBN 971-511-519-5. In this 1996 Gold Medallion Book of the Year, Mr. Yancey gives us a probing look at grace: what it looks like…what it doesn’t look like…and why only Christians can and must reveal the grace the world is searching for. Do you have Grace- received it and given it?

#6. Pedagogy of the Oppressed
By Paulo Freire. “This is the “bible” of popular education. It describes a new kind of literacy that can liberate the oppressed. It was revolutionary enough to win Freire many years in exile from his native Brazil and has influenced educational practice all over the world.” David Diggs.

#7. Our Iceberg is Melting, Changing and succeeding under any conditions
By John Kotter, 2005, St. Martin’s Press. What I like about this book is it is for life whether you are in business, non-profit, education or family matters. This book is a fable about change and the need for change when nobody else sees it.

#8. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best Run Companies
By Tom Peters, 1992. Ranked as the "greatest business book of all time" in 2002. What I like about this book is every business book written since is nothing more than expanding on Peters’ book. Read this one and you don’t have to read all the other business “experts” books.

#9. Discipling Nations, the Power of Truth to Transform Cultures

By Darrow L. Miller, 1998, YWAM Publishing. I have worked in Development for more than 21 years now. If the truth be told and the truth is the Gospel- the power of the gospel has what it takes to transform individual lives from the darkness of poverty to the light of the Son. Christians and Christian Development agencies have underestimated the power of God’s truth to transform entire societies.

#10. People’s History of the United States
By Howard Zinn. The winners get to write history, whether it is the truth or not. This book offers an alternate history of the U.S. from the point of view of fellow human beings who have lost the political, military, and economic conflicts. You won’t find these stories in our history books. Good read.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pray for Compassion and the World's Financial Crisis

From Compassion's Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, CO.

If you’ve been reading your local newspaper or listening to the latest news reports, it comes to no surprise that the world’s economic situation looks grim. Bankruptcies, emergency government interventions and sharp cuts in interest rates dominate the world’s headlines.

While most indicators show that this is a difficult time – we must not lose hope, faith and confidence in God who has brought our ministry so far, proving over and over again that His grace is sufficient.

That’s why I’m requesting you to ask your churches, partner churches and all Compassion-assisted children to pray for a season of growth in spite of the obstacles that appear to threaten us. Ask and have them ask God what direction and action He wants our ministry to take in the midst of this circumstance. Ask the children and Leadership Development Program students to pray for their sponsors/donors, Compassion leadership and staff – that all may experience God’s peace, provision, security and wisdom during this period of uncertainty.

This is a time to demonstrate courageous leadership. In fact, I have no doubt that God has been actually preparing us for a time such as this. Last week, Compassion International’s Executive Vice President, David Dahlin encouraged all U.S. Compassion staff to be light in a world that seems dark right now. David reminded staff to stay focused on Compassion’s mission and purpose, saying, “God has called us to be an advocate for children in poverty and they need our voice to ring strong and clear when speaking out on their behalf. We know that when the rich of the world catch a cold, the poor get pneumonia. When the well-off suffer, the poor die.”

The last line is so true, "when the rich of the world catch a cold, the poor get pheumonia. When the well-off suffer, the poor die." I have been working with the poor for the last 21 years and this sentence sums it up best. I just wish the well off in the West could understand this.

Thanks for praying!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Global Economic Uncertainty

Dear friends (from my friend Jonathan in Philippines),

At this time of global economic uncertainty and need, I would like to share a passage which I find very meaningful, from the website of the Irish Jesuits (

Lord, all this financial turmoil seems to touch my prayer in two ways.

Sometimes I feel moral indignation at the greed of the fat cats whose desire for ever-greater profits has exploited the weak. I hope that they may move from blindness to a sense of the real world of people, and realize the futility of their greed that wants more and more money. "What does it profit to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of your soul?" (Mark 8:36) But I know that such indignation is not always from the good spirit; it may be mixed with “Schadenfreude” (enjoyment taken from the misfortune of someone else) in which there is little charity. I need to watch it.

At other times I feel fear and insecurity for myself and my loved ones. This pushes me to look at myself. Does insecurity make me more self-seeking and less caring about the needs of others, lessening my humanity, clouding my sense that people matter more than money? Or does this worldwide turmoil strengthen my compassion? Poverty is not good in itself, but where it leads to a deeper dependence on God and coexists with generosity it can be a rare grace - remember Jesus marveling at the widow's mite (Mark 12:41-43).

‘Trop est avare à qui Dieu ne suffit.'

You're too greedy if God is not enough for you.

Keep praying and trusting the Lord!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

(Mamaw) Louise Shipman 1914-2008

The Wife of Noble Character (Excerpts from Proverbs 31)
4 February 1914 to 29 September 2008; 94 years old

A wife of noble character who can find? She worth far more that rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children (and grandchildren) arise and call her blessed.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Let’s praise the Lord for our grandmother, Mamaw! She was a grandmother of noble character!

As a boy our family went to Mamaw and Poppy’s farm near Williamsport at least once a month or more for the weekend. It was a two and half hour drive north from Harrisburg.

What do I remember about going to the farm all those years, now? That includes Mamaw- The smell of homemade bread being made by Mamaw. Is there anything better than fresh homemade bread coming out of the oven and then putting butter on it? When I was very young Mamaw use to cook me French toast from homemade bread, putting white Karo corn syrup on it, and then cutting it into lots of pieces. Do you know how many middle pieces of French toast you can get from homemade bread? Lots! Boughten bread give you two pieces of middle, that’s not really bread. Mamaw always had white Karo corn syrup, never Maple syrup and she only used Peter Pan peanut butter- funny what you remember when you think back.

I remember one Thanksgiving Holiday at the farm when I was around 8 or 9 years old. Poppy got up early and went to another farm to butcher pigs. When I woke up, Mamaw got me fed and took me to the other farm to help Poppy. In no way did she have to do that but she knew I wanted to be with Poppy.

Remember, Mamaw and Poppy went to the western US and I asked her to get me a cowboy shirt. I come to find out she had to search high and low to find one but she did and I loved it. She always brought us grandchildren something back from her travels. She went on a number of trips to Europe with other ladies after they sold the cows. And on each trip we would get something i.e. cowbell from Switzerland.

Her pantry room was a collection of all sorts of wonderful things from old and new. It was great to roam around in there or better yet use it as a place to hide when we played hide and seek. But you had better not knock anything over.

‘Real Thanksgiving’ was at Mamaw’s. It started with her yelling, “Suuuupeeeer!” out the door to us playing out in the barn or yard. Real meaning they lived on a dairy farm, lets be truthful you can only have a real Thanksgiving on a farm. The adults set in the dinning room and us children where around the kitchen table- remember the kitchen had a wood stove in it- again a real farm kitchen. I created my favorite Thanksgiving meal right in that kitchen: you start with a thick piece of homemade bread, put on a big pile of mashed potatoes, followed by turkey pieces (mostly dark meat), add some stuffing to the top and then cover it with a lot of homemade turkey gravy! YES, that was a meal! Sean appreciated that type of meal. Mamaw’s cooking filled the whole house with a wonderful smell.

Let’s not forget about the chocolate marshmallow ice cream she would always have in the freezer for a night snack. Her refrigerator was unique also; it had the freezer on the bottom- I never understood that since I came from a freezer on the top type of family. I think the refrigerator was always a green one. I’m 45 know so my memory is going- kinda like Mamaw’s, bless her soul.

Close your eyes and think; picture walking from the barn (Poppy’s domain) to the house on the little stone path. You open the big closed-in porch, check the boot taker offer (an iron, naked women with her legs spread so you could put your boot between them- not sure why we never questioned that artifact- I think Sean has it now, figures), maybe only us young boys checked it out but you had to give it a glance. Keep your eyes closed as you pass the chest freezer on the pouch (again a real farm), you open the wooden door and walk into the warm friendly kitchen- there was Mamaw cooking or kneading bread. She would give you a hug. And I would ask her to cut me a piece of homemade bread, might as well start the weekend off right.

It’s a nice feeling you get when you close your eyes and think back to being with Mamaw in that kitchen.

Mamaw was all about family.