Monthly Archives: September 2012

What is a mosaic?

This morning, our Sunday School teacher told us what a mosaic is. The word “mosaic” can mean several different things. Usually, it refers to one whole something that is made up of smaller pieces. It can be a big picture made up of tiny tiles. Or, it can be one big country made up of smaller pieces—states, counties, families, individuals. All come together to make up one country.

She said Laos, where Kham and Vieng’s story happened, is like a mosaic. Lots of different groups of people living in many different places. Some live in the mountains. Some live in the valleys. Some of them believe in Jesus. Most of them do not. Then, she gave us a puzzle to put together, a mosaic map of Laos. I prayed for the people of Laos each time I found the spot one of the pieces went.

“Dear God, please help all the people of Laos, whether they live in the mountains, the valleys, or the cities, to hear how very much You love them. Help them believe in You, and please give them the courage to trust You and do what You say, no matter what. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

If you’d like to try to put together a mosaic puzzle of Laos, you can try the 15-piece or the 42-piece one. Just print whichever one you want to put together. It will be easier to put the puzzle together if you use cardstock paper. Cut it out on the dark lines. Then, have fun! And, don’t forget to say a prayer for the people of Laos.

Laos-15 piece puzzle

Laos-42 piece puzzle

Driven from Home-Part Four

We finally got to hear the end of Kham’s story today!

Driven from Home-Part Four

“You’re hurt.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Why do you live this way, starving in the jungle and drinking dirty water?  Does it really matter what spirit we worship?”

Kham reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, wooden elephant.  “Do you remember when you carved this?  You said it was more than a piece of wood.  It was a gift of joy.”

“Because it was a piece of myself I gave you forever.”

“Jesus gave me a gift of joy, too.  God is with me, and He didn’t give me just a piece of Himself, but all of Himself.  He and His joy will never leave me.  I hate starving.  I hate seeing Bua so sick.  But I realized something just now.  I’d rather be hungry and sick with Jesus than full and healthy without Him.”

Boun turned and looked toward the village.  “Aren’t you scared of the villagers?”

“Sometimes.”

His brother turned to face him.  “Do you have room in your camp for one more?”

“Always!”

Boun picked up his brother and carried him down the trail.  Just as they reached the camp, they saw their father, the pastor, and Vieng.

“What are you doing with Kham?” their father asked.

“I thought I would bring him home.”

The pastor studied Boun’s face.  “Will you be staying with us?”

Boun nodded.

Their father beamed.  The pastor looked to the sky and prayed, “God, we thank You for bringing Boun home.  Help us celebrate the joy You feel now that one more of Your children has come home.”

Home.  Kham looked around.  They would not live in exile forever.  Whether or not they were allowed to live in the village again, he knew one day they would live in a new home with Jesus, just as He had promised.  And now, his brother would be with them.

***

“Dear God, please help the people who love You, all over the world, to remember that You are with us, always and forever.  Thank You that You will always take care of us, even when we can’t understand why things have to be hard sometimes.  Please help those who are sick and hungry.  And, help the people who don’t have Your joy in their lives yet.  Thank You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.”

If you would like a printable copy of today’s story, click here: Driven from Home-Part Four

Driven from Home-Part Three

I couldn’t wait to get to Sunday School this morning and find out what happened!

Driven from Home-Part Three

The chief continued, “The spirits must be made to understand your decision to follow Jesus is not our fault. Otherwise, they could punish us for your betrayal.”

Deep in the jungle, the sound of thunder shook the ground. Kham dove to one side and glimpsed Vieng dive to the other.

Three elephants charged into the clearing. Kham scrambled to his feet and watched them race straight toward the mob. They ran with their trunks tucked close to their heads, waiting to plow both head and tusks into whoever was careless enough to get in their way.

The villagers scattered into the bushes.

Kham pulled Vieng to his feet and ran for the shelters.

Gradually, the village sounds faded. Kham glanced behind him to see if anyone had chased them. He thought he had heard someone.

The next thing he knew, he was lying with his face in the dirt.

Vieng dropped to his side.

“Are you all right?”

“I think I broke my ankle. And maybe my arm.”

“Stay here. I’ll get your father.”

Kham nodded. Vieng disappeared into the jungle. Suddenly, he felt very alone. He was stranded between what used to be his home and a small, make-shift camp far from food, clean water, and almost everyone he had ever known. His sister was sick, he was hurt, and he didn’t expect things to get better any time soon.

“God,” he prayed, “why did You leave us alone out here in the jungle?”

He leaned his head back and closed his eyes. Whispers from pages of the Bible his pastor had read started to float through his mind. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Suddenly, he heard it again—that sound. Kham’s eyes flew open.

“Who’s there?”

Boun stepped from the bushes.

***

Have you ever felt alone like Kham did today?  Do you think you were really alone?

“Dear God, please help me remember that no matter how lonely I feel sometimes, that You are always with me.  You love me and never ever leave me.  You know what I am feeling and what is happening, all the time.  Please help the kids like Kham who face persecution because they love You.  Help them know that You are with them.  Thank You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.”

If you’d like to download a printable copy of today’s story, click here: Driven from Home-Part Three

Driven from Home-Part Two

Are you ready to find out what Vieng discovered?  I am!

Driven from Home-Part Two

 Vieng stepped closer.  “I have to see if my uncle and cousins are all right!”

“Not now.  The villagers might spot us.”

“But I have to help them!”

“Your family is probably working in the fields.  I’ve heard that villagers in other places have torn down a house as a warning.  They probably did it after your family left.  But if they see us here now, they might think your family is still helping us.  Maybe we can get the tools from my family’s home instead.”

“Your uncle and cousins hate us—even your brother Boun.”

“My brother wouldn’t tell anyone if he believed in Jesus because he was scared.  But he doesn’t hate me.”

Vieng followed Kham deeper into the jungle.

“There, you see—everything is quiet at my old house,” Kham said.

The moment he stepped from the bushes, he realized how wrong he was.  His uncle and four cousins stood in the shadow of the house.  And Boun stood with them.

“I knew you’d come here after you saw what happened to Vieng’s home,” his uncle said.

“Bua is sick.  We have to get tools to dig a well.”

The frown on his uncle’s face deepened.

Kham turned to his brother.  “Please, Boun, we need your help.”

Boun looked away.

His uncle shouted, “We told you to leave!  If the elders think we have helped you, we will suffer the same as Vieng’s family!”

Another man’s voice called out from behind the house.

“We’ve heard your refusal to help these Christians.”

Kham swallowed hard.  The village chief.

The chief walked to the front of the house.  “We were willing to let you live in peace outside the village, but you have broken our rules and returned.”

Kham thought of his sister lying sick in the shelter.  A wave of boldness surged up in him.  “Live in peace while we starve to death and drink bad water?”

“You chose that life when you chose to follow the one you call Jesus.  He is not the spirit our grandfathers worshipped.”

Behind the chief, a great murmur began to grow.  The chief held up his hand.  A mob of villagers stepped out of hiding.

Kham prayed for help.

***

How would you feel if you and your friend were suddenly facing a whole village full of people, who are all mad at you for believing in Jesus?

“Dear God, please help Christians whose families are angry with them because they love You.  Help their families not to be angry, but to learn why their loved ones have chosen to follow You.  Thank You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.”

If you’d like to print a copy of today’s story, you can find one here: Driven from Home-Part Two

Driven from Home

Are you ready to go exploring again with me?  This time, we’re off to Laos.  Our teacher gave us the first part of a story about some people who live in Laos, but were driven from their homes because they loved Jesus.  The story is based on what happened to some actual people in Laos a few years ago.  I hope you like it.  I can’t wait to read part two next week!

Driven from Home-Part One

 Kham closed his eyes as the pastor prayed.

“God, thank You for this rice and not forgetting our exile.  Be with us and bring us joy in the things that bring You joy.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.”

Kham looked at the smiling faces, ready to enjoy the first good meal they had eaten in over a week.  But he didn’t feel joy.  He was worried about his sister, Bua.  She had not been feeling well, and she needed good food, more than just once.  And she needed clean water.

As soon as the meal was over, he grabbed his friend Vieng’s arm.

“Vieng, we have to do something.  Bua is getting worse.”

“We can go to my uncle’s barn.  We’ll get some tools and dig a well.  The clean water should help some.”

“If we get caught—”

“My uncle and his family wouldn’t turn us in.  They left the rice for us to find.”

“We’ve been starving for weeks!  And we don’t know for sure who left the rice!”

“My family doesn’t hate us for believing in Jesus.  They’re just afraid of the other villagers.”

Kham sighed.  “I’m glad some people in our families believe in Jesus.”

“We’ll leave for the barn first thing in the morning.”

Morning could not come soon enough.

As soon as the sun began to shine above the trees, they set out on the four-mile hike to the small village nestled deep in the jungle of Laos.  Overhead, a parakeet called to her children.  The last time Kham had walked this path, the shouts of the angry mob had drowned all songs.  One morning, the villagers had forced everyone out of church and forbid them to ever return to their homes or the village.  Sometimes, Kham didn’t mind living in the shelter his family had built.  It kept out the animals and most of the rain.  But every day that passed, they had less to eat.

Then yesterday, someone had left them rice.  He thought his sister would finally have something good to eat.  But when Kham had peered into the cooking pot, the dirty water he saw made his stomach sick.  And it was not only dirty, but crowded.  Crowded with bits of plants and crawling with bugs.  How could anything cooked in that make Bua feel better?

“Vieng, wait!”

Kham stopped his friend just before he stepped out of the bushes.  A heap of boards and pieces of a grass roof lay right in front of them, right where Vieng’s home used to stand.

***

How would you feel if you had to use dirty water like Kham’s family?

“Dear God, please help all the Christians in Laos.  Help those who are sick and don’t have enough food or water.  And, please help the people who don’t know You yet, to understand how much You love them and want to be with them.  Thank You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.”

If you’d like to print a copy of today’s story, you can find one here: Driven from Home-Part One