Category Archives: gospel

Charles Mully – A Life Well Lived

IMG_2154

I am flabbergasted tonight after watching the life of Charles Mully of Kenya! From orphaned, unwanted and utterly hopeless to the Midas like businessman and millionaire leading to a Paul like encounter with God from which sprung a life of sacrifice and surrender resulting in the care of over 12,000 orphans and eternal treasure! Wow! I am so moved and awed by this movie, I almost feel paralyzed. You can watch the trailer of the movie Mully here.

Why did this movie particularly impact me? Because it is the biography of a man who is a hero. As my husband, Peter said, “It’s a true life fairytale, worth far more than the cost of the tickets!” There are almost no words to describe what this man has done in his lifetime – puts the rest of us to shame. His life plays out like a modern day Moses story. He is possibly one of the most amazing men living on the face of the earth being used by God in a powerful way to fulfill His command in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans…in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT)

Impact #1: God Chooses the Weak of the World: “For consider your calling, brothers [sisters]: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

This passage describes Mully! He came from a very impoverished family which boasted an alcoholic, abusive father who could not find a job and provide for them. They lived in a mud hut out in the village. From there, his family abandoned him and left him to his own devices which led him to utter hopelessness and despair. He begged and stole to make a living. He had no chance of an education nor a job. Yet, today, it is Mully and his wife Esther who have impacted the lives of thousands of orphans in Kenya giving them a future and a hope here, in this life, and in eternity while the rest of us who had that comfort and stability, family, home, education and job sit back doing very little in comparison to impact God’s kingdom. The Bible does say that to whom much is given, much is expected. Let’s rethink our lives.

Impact #2: Dying to Live:“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25.

Mully had a God encounter when he was at the peak of his business success with a transportation empire, real estate business as well as becoming the oil baron in large parts of Kenya. He was a millionaire who was respected and worshipped, living in huge houses with servants to tend to his family’s needs. While on that peak, he had an encounter with God where he wrestled for hours with Him and surrendered, choosing to stop all his business dealings and instead remembered his own life struggles and went out to take orphaned children off the streets to help them have home and family. This required his entire family, including his six children to make major changes. His was a family that had grown up in the lap of luxury, living the high life of comfort, wealth and travels, with servants at their beck and call. Dad was now acting like a crazy man, not bringing in any more money and expecting all of them to change with him. They now had to give up all that luxury, roll up their sleeves and help in care of the filthy, angry, hurting, lice-infested orphaned children from the streets of Kenya. They started out hating the kids and even had to be sent away to boarding school. But as funds ran low, they could not even afford the school and were forced to return home to live and study and care for the orphaned kids. They soon saw the power of God at work in their parents’ lives and the effects of their love and care on the orphaned children’s lives. Today, all of Mully’s biological children serve in the Mully’s Children’s Family Ministry. Each of them had to die to self to gain eternal joy. The entire family exemplifies John 12:24-25.

Impact #3: Equality in Christ: “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:9-11

Two of Mully’s adult children married rescued children. This may not seem like a big deal in a western culture like we have in the US but in most developing nations, bloodlines, family, education, success, and morality play a HUGE role in how people are treated. This is true in most Christian communities too. So, for a son or daughter of the organization’s head to marry a rescued, street child and former orphan speaks volumes. It means that they went counter culture and ensured that every person’s value and identity was seen through the eyes of Scripture and not through the world’s lenses. It implied that all the children whether biological or rescued were rightfully treated with the value and dignity endowed on them by their Creator! What a gift Mully has given his family!

Impact #4: Welcoming the Orphaned & Vulnerable Children: “So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” Luke 12:22-23

 

Mully exemplified this truth. Most of his friends did not understand his mission and watched from the sidelines. But, he was clear that as a former rescued street child, his mission was to rescue the most vulnerable, orphaned children. He welcomed them in droves into His home. Starting from three kids, he went on to invite over 12,000 children to become a part of his family and a part of God’s family. He was “Daddy Mully” to all the children. They were loved and cared for as his own in obedience to God.

IMG_2157

 

Impact #5: God’s Kingdom vs Man’s Kingdom: “And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.” Luke 12:24

Kenya is a predominantly Christian country. Yet, when Mully, the street kid who had lived years begging on the streets and had travelled by foot for hours to reach the big city of Nairobi, went from person to person and house to house begging for help to find a job, nobody wanted to help him. If they did look, it was only to tell him to stop being lazy by begging but instead to go find work! The only person who willingly gave Mully a hand up was an Indian woman living in Kenya who welcomed him into her home and gave him the job of a maid! That gesture of acceptance made a world of difference for Mully. It was the first time in his life that he had a place to stay and food to eat. He worked extremely hard and in just six months they promoted to a Manager of 70 people in that family’s business. It was in their business employ, in the fields that Mully met and married his beautiful wife. He was now well on his way to hard work and success!

In contrast, when Mully rescued children from the streets, many of whom had serious problems, the church that Mully attended decided that the children didn’t fit into their societal norms and he was told to not return with “those children” or he will be kicked out of the church! What a tragic picture of Christianity. How often do we feel the same way in our churches too? Are we welcoming of the differently-abled, the hurting, the angry, the abused, the messy people of this world or do we turn our backs on them because they don’t fit into our pretty, neat, moral Christian ideological box? Do we remember Jesus’ words when He began His ministry? “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Luke 4:18 Is our ministry and welcome in our churches and homes in line with Jesus’ vision and mission?

Mully went on to create a mini paradise in the desert with the help of all the children he rescued. Today, his family joyfully partners with him in serving the Lord so beautifully caring for over 12,000 children. This is a jaw dropping movie which can only be explained as the hand of God moving to raise up a modern day Moses! Wow!

Impact #6: The Gospel in Action: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:3-10

Mully is a type of Christ. He laid everything down – his wealth, status, power, control, family, friends, and life itself for the sake of unknown children who could very well retaliate in anger, even kill him. He was paying the price to rescue them and make them a part of his family. Mully chose to lay it all down, knowing he could lose his very life on the streets at night to give them temporal and eternal hope. So too, God chose to send His beloved Son into the world (John 3:16), knowing that we would hate Him, reject and persecute Him and finally torture and take His very life. But, He willingly paid the price for us orphans so that we could become Sons and Daughters of God Most High! We just have to accept His invitation and His love to gain eternal peace, joy and rest as His beloved children. Don’t delay – accept His free gift today! He paid the price, its free for us!

Impact #8: Gratitude and Fruit: “We love each other because he loved us first. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:30-21  And. “And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”” Luke 10:27

Finally, this movie should drive each of our hearts to be moved into action. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few! Let’s pray that the Lord of the harvest will nudge many of us to step out of our comfort zones into the suffering world to  care for the least of these. In so doing, we could give eternal hope to a child and bring Jesus much glory. Friends, there are over 450,000 children in the US foster system and over 17 million (17,000,000) orphans in India alone. Each child has been created by God for a purpose and like Mully has the potential to impact many lives if we step down and walk with them.

Would you please prayerfully ask God to open your eyes to His truths – it might look like you are losing here on earth if you stepped down but you gain eternally like Mully and his family are gaining! I want to encourage everyone to see the movie Mully (https://mcfus.org). It is worth every dollar you pay.

IMG_2155

Eve of Sorrow, Dawn of Joy

It’s a girl!” So began my life in a hospital located right beside a lake where unwanted baby girls were drowned near Bangalore, India. Fortunately for me, in a country where over 50 million baby girls are missing through gendercide, my birth mother chose life! I was then adopted at 10 months old, just six months after my severely traumatized six year old brother. He had seen his birth-mother take her life by setting herself on fire, and suffered from severe RAD and PTSD. We were given love, family, encouragement and a future in the US with our new “forever family” and more importantly, the hope of an eternity with Jesus.

sneha

My adoptive parents felt God’s call to adopt, as it stands as a testimony reflecting the heart of the gospel, where God adopts each one of us who repents and accepts His free gift of forgiveness through His beloved Son Jesus’ death on the cross. Just as Christians become a part of God’s forever family, my brother and I would become a part of their “forever family”. However, my family and I faced much rejection from other Indian families and friends because orphans are deemed less valuable than their biological peers with bad “karma”.  Adoption is discouraged in Indian society.

During the teen years, my world started spinning around me as life overwhelmed me. I struggled with the primary trauma of losing my birth-mother, and the secondary trauma of living under my older brother’s severe suffering. Everyone around me seemed to have easy, perfect lives. I had many deep questions but no answers. Why would God allow me to be abandoned? Who was I? Where did I belong? What were my roots? Why couldn’t I meet my birth family? I was angry at Jesus and at my adoptive parents, and began rebelling. Meanwhile, God in His grace miraculously touched and transformed my older brother’s life. He had suffered for eleven long years, and our family had struggled much along with him. God’s touch on His life was awesome and complete. But I didn’t care. I was angry. My brother had been my ally in suffering, yet now he had left me behind! Additionally, my beloved ninety-one year old great-grandma who had come to live with us died of lung cancer. This further devastated me. I felt like I was living a nightmare and was lost and alone. By my high school years I didn’t even feel alive.

Then, two years ago, I made my first visit back to the hospital where I was born and had been relinquished near Bangalore, India. For years I had felt unwanted, lost and broken. I was looking for answers to my confusion. Excitement, nervousness and fear overwhelmed me. Would this open a Pandora’s box? It felt like my future hinged on this visit!

The Mother Superior of the bare-bones orphanage greeted us and then introduced us to twelve tiny children. They played on stone floors, slept in uncomfortable cribs, had no toys, and were impersonally cared for by their caregivers. Practicality ruled the place. Then, I saw the lake behind the orphanage where all the local unwanted baby girls were drowned! Realization hit me hard!  This could have been my end, had I not been adopted! I was overwhelmed by God’s grace! My parents had gifted me with temporal and eternal hope through my adoption! I was gently told by the Mother Superior that I may not get answers to my questions on this side of eternity, but that I must learn to trust God’s perfect plan. She challenged me to live my life with a passion for God’s glory! I realized that mine was a rare life preserved by the very hand of God, for the purpose of becoming a voice for the millions of voiceless Indian girls who are being abused and killed! While new hope coursed through my veins, I still struggled.

I have met several adult adoptees over this year and though our stories may be very different we all struggle with tremendous loss rooted in the separation from our first families. For me, the loss was real. But as my Pastor recently said, “Yes, life is unfair, but God is good”. I know that for me, my hope comes from the fact that I have had the privilege of being adopted permanently into God’s family. Jesus paid a very heavy price for my adoption- he gave up His very life for me, and because of this; I am a new person, with a new hope and a new identity because I have put my trust in Him. And though this life is painfully hard, and there are days that I don’t feel like I can even take one more step, I know that one day all my tears will be wiped away, and I will rejoice for all eternity as a daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

IMG_2149

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

This song has also been a source of great encouragement to me over the past year: Just Be Held by ‪Casting Crowns‬

To those of you that are parents of kids from hard places, I plead with you to not give up on your children. Keep them rooted in the Word, through Bible Study, church, family devotions and prayer. Even if your children hate you and hate the Word, keep them in the Bible. You are not the answer to your child’s struggles, ultimately, Jesus is the only answer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help us to remember that You are our only hope. I pray for those who are struggling because of their life losses. Remind them that You are the Good Shepherd who walks with them even through the valley of the shadow of death. I thank You that You have promised to always be with them and never leave them nor forsake them. Bring them Your comfort, hope and peace.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

He is the Propitiation for Our Sins

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin,we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-3).  

These words come from the apostle John’s first letter.  John had started his letter with a lot of excitement, tripping over his phrases with his joy in sharing about Jesus, the “Word of Life” who existed from the beginning, and who enables him to have fellowship with God, and that also provides the basis of fellowship with all others who also believe in Jesus (1 John 1:1-3). He then proceeded to make an assertion: God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:4). By this he is referring to God’s absolute holiness and purity. In contrast, none of us are without sin. In fact, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8). As such it is impossible for us sinners to have fellowship with God. However, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

This forms a background to the verses quoted above, because as John writes this he recognizes that this has posed a serious problem that demands an explanation.

The Problem

John and all the early Christians were not troubled by the question “How can a loving God send people to hell?” at all. In fact he needed to grapple with exactly the opposite issue. When he said that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, it begs the question: “How can a just God forgive sin and take anyone to heaven at all?

You see, how would God who is light respond to sin? The Bible says: the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom 1:18). Even Jesus asserted that by default every person is under the wrath of God (see John 3:36). Paul says that we all are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), and are as such storing up wrath for [ourselves] on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed (Rom 2:5). The Bible says that when Jesus comes again, He will tread the wine-press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty (Rev 19:15).

The following is a visual illustration of this truth. The lightning represents God’s wrath, that is directed towards each one of us.

lightning

The problem is, that if God is just, He cannot simply push our sins under the “rug of the universe” so to speak, and pretend they did not happen. So here John begins by addressing this problem, and telling us the solution in two parts.

First part of the answer: We have an Advocate: Jesus Christ the Righteous

Since the question has been raised regarding the justice of God, John creates a word picture of a law court where we are on trial, and God is the Judge. He then goes on to assert that we have an amazing Defense Lawyer who is none other than Jesus Christ Himself! In fact, this Defense Lawyer is Jesus Christ the Righteous. Being righteous, He can stand before the Judge – God who is Light – and defend our case.

However while this is great to have the best Attorney defending our case, it does not really solve our problem because we actually are guilty. On what basis can Jesus – however brilliant a Lawyer He may be – make a defense for us? Let us consider some possible arguments:

1. “They do not know what they is doing”

Jesus prayed for his tormentors when He hung on the cross, and asked His Father to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing. However ignorance on its own is not a valid excuse (there is another reason why Jesus could pray this way, as we will see). Jesus Himself has taught that:  the servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. (Luke 12:47-48). In fact, the Bible says unequivocally that we are  without excuse (Rom 1:20)

2. “He/she is a good person”

Jesus told someone once: No one is good except God alone (Mark 10:18). So Jesus will not even take this line of argument to court.

3. “His/her heart is in the right place

This argument falls even before it is proposed, because the Bible teaches that: the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9).

4. “He has done a lot of good in his life

The problem with such an argument is that it does not look at our heart and our motives when we “do good”. But God who does see all this declares that: all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment (Isa 64:6).

5. “Let us be nice and let him off the hook

This kind of argument in the highest court of the universe poses a horrific assault on justice. If God is a good and just, it is inconceivable that He would do this. Confidence in the justice of God was the basis of Abraham’s appeal for his nephew Lot: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? (Gen 18:25).

Our Predicament:

So we see, there is no defense of this type which can stand in the divine courtroom! We are in a really desperate situation, and there is nothing we can do about it. Even if we try to work our way to heaven, all that we can do appears only like a filthy garment to God who is Light.

Every religion needs to face up to this truth. No human being from any religion is exempt from having to face the reality of the wrath of our holy God, and the predicament it puts us all in!

Second part of the answer: He is the Propitiation for our Sins

The amazing truth is that Jesus our Defense Lawyer had died on the cross for exactly this reason. He died in order to bear the wrath of God that we deserved, and to be punished in our stead. When Jesus died on the cross, He bore the unleashed cumulative fury of God against all of our sin. The Bible says that for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

According to Paul, the reason  God did this was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:16). This particular verse shows that that God the Son was not pitted against God the Father in this, but rather, it was all an unfolding of a plan that had been conceived by the Triune God from eternity past.

As one hymn writer puts it:

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

The following picture illustrates this visually.

cross_propitation

For those of us who do put our trust in Jesus, we have the best possible Defense Lawyer, who has the best possible defense – that the penalty for the guilt of our crimes has already been paid by Him. What tremendous good news! No illustration can be stretched too far, and this one also breaks down when we think of those who do not believe in Jesus. According to the Bible they will continue to remain under the wrath of God.

There are some thing that we will never fully understand:

How much did Jesus really suffer? Though we will never fully comprehend this, we know that it was enough to satisfy the justice of God regarding the sins of every single person in the world who goes to Him for refuge (see 1 John 2:2). Isaiah described His sufferings with prophetic foresight thus: He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace (Isa 53:5).  It was the will of the Lord to crush Him;  He has put Him to grief (Isa 53:10). His repeated use of the word “crush” causes me to suspect that Jesus suffered far more than I can ever imagine. Moreover, this was Satan’s last chance to defeat Jesus, so it is likely that he faced a barrage of temptations with a ferocity that any other man would have crumbled well before Satan had unleashed his entire arsenal (see John 14:30-31). For example, we know from some of the Messianic Psalms that Jesus would have had to face the temptation to succumb to total despair. This is why we are encouraged to boldly approach Jesus for help whenever we are tempted. We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin  (Heb 4:15)

Yet there are many things we do understand!

We can understand why Jesus so desperately did not want to drink this terrible “cup” of God’s wrath if at all it were possible. We can understand why there was darkness for three  hours while Jesus hung on the cross. I am amazed that the wrath of God unleashed against Him did not completely obliterate Him! We can understand why Jesus cried out from the cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? We can understand why Jesus could pray for the forgiveness of His tormentors! In doing so He was offering Himself as a substitute to bear the punishment for their blasphemous rants. For this same reason, Jesus could grant salvation to the criminal who died next to Him. We can also understand why the veil within the temple separating the Most Holy Place was rent. Access into God’s presence has been thrown wide open through the cross.

This is the message John is so excited about. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

  • God is Light. He is perfect in His purity and holiness (1:4)
  • We are sinners (1:8,10).
  • Yet we can have fellowship with God because God will forgive our sins if we confess them to Him (1:9).
  • This is only possible because Jesus Christ is our Defense Lawyer (2:1), and in defending us His rock-solid case rests on the stupendous fact that He Himself is the propitiation for our sins (2:2)
  • This motivates us not to sin (2:1), yet Jesus’ blood purifies us when we do (1:7)
  • These truths form the basis of our fellowship with others who believe in Jesus (1:3).

What an amazing God we have. Have you been saved from the wrath of God by taking refuge in Jesus Christ who died and became sin for you, so that you can stand upright and righteous in God’s presence?

Applying these Truths

Here are some things we can think bout, as we ponder the consequences of these tremendous truths.

  • We will be able to understand how much Jesus suffered on the cross, only to the extent we understand how much God hates sin! Do we hate sin? Are we at war against our own sins?
  • The reason people in today’s society seem to struggle with the question: “How can a loving God send people to hell”?, comes from a failure to understand the terrible state we are all in by default – we are all by nature “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Have we  understood this truth?
  • Are we “narrow-minded” or “arrogant” when we proclaim that Jesus is the only way, or do we realize that this is the only loving thing we can do if we really care for the people around us who do not know Jesus?
  • Would we be really sharing the total gospel if we only talk about the love of God, and neglect to talk about His holiness, wrath against sin, and His justice?
  • Do we have a desire like John, to share this amazing message with others?