Clay Pots

by Jonni Sliver

While driving home after work one day I heard a pastor on the radio tell how he had been in a car accident, along with his five year old daughter. The car had been nearly demolished but both he and his daughter walked away with just scratches. The pastor said a congregational member who heard the story exclaimed “God is good!” and the pastor replied “You are so right, but God would be just as good if we had both passed away. God is good regardless of the circumstances.” That simple truth has been ringing in my ears lately. We have had several opportunities to see God’s goodness in the difficult moments.

Vilma and Alex came to the Miriam Home this week. Vilma is 16 years old, Alex is her four month old baby boy. She lives with the baby’s father (17 years old) and is doing the best she knows how to care for her son, but she has very little knowledge of raising a child.  Alex is drastically under weight, he has trouble breathing and at four months he can’t follow objects that pass in front of his eyes. We are taking him to doctors to see how we can help this precious little boy. His young mother feels like she has failed, but some of the problems may have come during her pregnancy. Alex is just one day younger than Daniel, the son of one of our house moms, and Vilma sees how different these boys are, and it breaks her heart.

Silvana, 35, has been a friend of the Miriam Home since it opened. She was a house mom for several years and continued to be ready and willing to help in a hundred ways as needs arose in the Miriam Home. Recently she was working part time in the house, helping with a sudden overflow of little ones. On Friday she was on her way here, to setup for a Christmas party on Saturday, together with her fiancée, when they were hit multiple times in a drive by shooting. Silvana passed away Saturday morning, and the loss for her family and friends is hard to put in words. In the time it took for their motorcycle to go the length of one block a life was stolen.

Last night our pastor shared 2 Cor 4:7-10. We are clay pots; fragile; easily broken. There is something in that declaration that blesses me. God knows our weaknesses; He knows how easy it is for us to be brought to dust. But He fills our fragile clay pots with His power, with His glory! That is why we are not crushed, forsaken, destroyed by the things that afflict us, persecute us, strike us down. When it seems like we are surrounded by pain, by loss, we see the Life of Christ manifest!

There has been a lot of hurt here this week; the pain of a tiny little life already suffering and the pain of a young life stolen away.  And our Father, who knows us better than anyone, has healing, unique for each one of us. We are not forsaken and though we are bruised, we will heal!

Christmas Greetings from the Pillmans

We have so much to be thankful for and rejoice in at this Christmas season.  Christmas in Ecuador has different sights and sounds to what we are used to in the US, but the reason to celebrate is still the same. Jesus came at Christmas for the purpose of saving us from our sins. It is so neat to be able to celebrate Christmas with the Ecuadorian believers in their own ways and culture.

Thank you for your part this past year in our ministry. Thank you for joining with us in sharing the good news of salvation, Jesus and Christmas with the people of Ecuador!

Click here to listen to what Christmas sounds like in Ecuador. If you would like to share this video with your church, it can be downloaded herePillman Christmas header

In Christ,
Justo, Tricia, Nathanael, & ?

Little Things for God

by Sarah Langness

I’ll be honest: when I hear about people like Katie Davis, I feel guilty. At 24, she is the mother of 13 orphaned Ugandan children. She has also started a child sponsorship program, a feeding program, and a vocational program for women. She also wrote a book, “Kisses from Katie” and started her own organization, Amazima Ministries International. Ya know, I’m also 24. And my list of life accomplishments isn’t nearly that impressive.

In fact, I live in little Beulah, North Dakota. I’m a wife and a mom (to one). My involvement in youth ministry and church ministry has drastically declined as I now have a little man to care for and a bedtime to meet. I  missed last summer’s mission trip to Haiti, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be going there or to Africa in the near future. I hang out with middle schoolers for a hour or so on Thursday afternoons, but the Bible teaching doesn’t come from me. On Sunday mornings I lead a group of elementary kids in singing songs and dancing around like a hippopotamus. No adopted orphans. No starting feeding programs or sponsorship programs. No book to inspire fellow believers.

By all appearances, I’m not involved in anything “big”; anything “significant”.

As Jordan and I wrestled with a difficult decision over the past weeks – a decision that would definitely lead us down the road of something that appeared “big for God”, I was reminded of an Adventures in Odyssey episode I heard back in November. It’s called “Something Significant” – and if you’re lucky, you may be able to go back in the archives and listen to it for free at  If not, all you need to know is that Trent DeWhite found himself in a similar position as myself: wanting to do something big, something significant, for the sake of the Kingdom. After sending him on an Imagination Station adventure, Mr. Whitaker told Trent:

“I know you want to make a big difference for God, but often times that means doing the little things, whatever we can do – and letting Him decide if they ever become big. More than anything, He should receive the glory. Because anything good that happens, happens ultimately because of Him.”

Doing the little things. Letting God decide what becomes big. I needed that reminder. God calls me to be faithful with what He has entrusted to me. He has placed upon me a different calling than He has Katie Davis. He has gifted me to do certain tasks, to impact certain people.

“‘It is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his ability; and he went on his journey. . . Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents . . . His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”” – Matthew 25:14-15, 19-21 (emphasis mine)

The question is not “What big things will I do for God?”; the question is, “Will I be faithful in the little things God has called me to do?” May we all be faithful . . . no matter how small and insignificant the tasks seems to be.


by Velma Amundson

I’ve heard the experts say that animals do not anticipate things. They’ve never watched my cats when they know they’re getting a treat. They dance around, meowing, and their tails stick straight up in the air quivering with excitement from the base all the way to the tip. Or, if we have food they think they want, they will come running, licking their lips in anticipation of getting a good bite to eat (and if it’s protein like a piece of turkey, I might give them some).

Advent is all about anticipation. First we anticipate Christmas. Christ came to earth humbly, as a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. I know that I look forward to Christmas every year. The excitement and love that seems to surround everything. I enjoy the children’s Christmas pageant, the choir’s caroling, and having an “open house” for all our church members to come and enjoy some goodies and company.

The other thing about Advent is anticipating Christ’s return. We’re in a period of waiting. We don’t know when He will return, only that He has promised that He will do that. There was a time when I feared that, or I should say the unknown about it. I wanted Christ to come, but…. You know what, we should be excited and eagerly waiting. Christ will come and take us home with Him. We will get to go to Heaven, where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, and Christ will be the light of the world. The old song says, “The light of the world is Jesus.”

This Advent season, I pray you have the peace and joy of knowing that Christ loved you enough to come, and the excitement to eagerly anticipate His return.

No More Goodbyes

by Sarah Nelson

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  John 14:1-4

Saying good-bye to people who I love and cherish has been an oft repeated happening in my life.  This afternoon, my two youngest children spent many minutes on the telephone, catching up with their friends and neighbors they left in Michigan.  I loved hearing the laughter, the questions and answers, and even an ukulele solo my son played for his buddies.  After the hellos and good-byes, and everything else in-between were done, my daughter told me she had a tummy ache.   I gently asked her if she thought it was because she was both happy to have talked with her friend, and sad at the reminder that she is far from her that was the cause of her hurt.  She thought about that for a few seconds and responded with a question, “How can I be happy and sad at the same time? Because I am.”

This past year I am sure that you, like me, have said farewell to family and friends.  Some of those good-byes have been with the hope that we will see that loved one here on earth.  Some of those good-byes have been in the words “I will see you in Heaven!”   For those who have been suffering, their leaving this earth has been a time of mingled joy at knowing they are in the presence of Jesus –  healed and well forever, and sadness for those of us left behind who will miss their words, music, and presence in our lives.

As we are nearing the celebration of Jesus come to earth as a little babe, we rejoice in knowing that because of His coming to earth, we have been given the gift of heaven by believing in Him.  He has gone before us to prepare a place for us.  A place where all of us who have known and received His forgiveness will be reunited forever with Him.  I am looking forward to seeing many loved ones again when Heaven becomes my residence.  There are great-grandparents, aunts, uncles,  friends, and six of my little ones that I will rejoice to see again.  My greatest joy however will be to forever be in the presence of the One who went and prepared my eternal home for me.  I hope to see you there, and together we will celebrate no more good-byes, only “WELCOME HOME!”

God is Not Watching From a Distance

by Sarah Langness

I’ll admit it: I was getting worried that we were going to have a brown Christmas.  I really like snow – especially at Christmastime. But it seems like I forget how awful it is to drive in during the few short months we are without snow. This past weekend as we traveled to Minneapolis to visit family and attend a concert, I was reminded of how scary it can be to drive on icy, snowy and slick roadways.

After spending nearly an hour in the ditch where I-494 breaks off into I-694 and I-94, the lyrics to the song “From a Distance” played in my head. As they did, I wondered where on earth I had ever even heard that song. My heart also broke for those who believe such a truth as “God is watching us . . . from a distance”.

I guarantee you that the Lord’s hand was upon our little Ford Focus on Sunday night. He orchestrated events so it turned out that there was no one behind or next to us. He orchestrated events so that the snow was still soft and not hard-packed. He orchestrated events so that no other cars hit us while we waited one hour for a tow truck. I know and believe without a shadow of a doubt that we do NOT serve a God who watches at a distance. We serve a God who is ever-present with us wherever we go.

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge. . .” – Psalm 73:28 (emphasis mine)

“‘Do not fear, for I am with you . . .'” – Isaiah 43:5a (emphasis mine)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea. . .” – Psalm 46:1-2a (emphasis mine)

What a fantastic, wonderful, blessed promise! What a comfort! Know that whatever heartache, pain, or fear you may find yourself in: you are not alone. God is indeed watching you – but He isn’t simply watching. He is right there with you.

Thank You from Jonni Sliver


Nativity scene

Precious Ladies of the WMF,

The middle of Advent is a wonderful time for thinking about the gifts the Lord has brought in to our lives! I am so grateful for the Gift of life, grace and power God sent in His Son. And I am grateful for the lovely sisters in Christ I have in the WMF. You have encouraged me in so many ways and I can only thank the Lord and you for the rich blessing you have been.  The Lord bless you in wonderful way this Christmas and in 2013!

Love Mercy: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey from the American Dream to the Kingdom of God

Book Review by Faith Nelson

Caution!  This book may be hazardous to your lifestyle

It’s the story of a journey:  a vision trip to Swaziland undertaken by Christian novelist Lisa Samson and her teenage daughter, Ty.  They want to “look beyond their borders,” “see the hard things of the world” and “be exposed …remember and record.”

Swaziland, South Africa has the highest rate of AIDS infection in the world.  Robbery is epidemic and basics, such as blankets, are precious.  The Samsons meet twelve year olds, elderly relatives and even neighbors raising children who have been orphaned by AIDS and other diseases.  Ty compares her experience to “having someone wake me up with a baseball bat” and Lisa says “less than a week into our trip, suffering was beginning to look so normal.”

As life changing as this journey is, the book documents a second journey that is just as transforming.  It begins and ends with a journey of sanctification as the Samson family struggles to replace “the American dream with dreams of the kingdom.”  They go from living the typical suburban life in a 5000 square foot house to a home in downtown Lexington, Kentucky where they live as part of an intentional religious community.  According to Lisa, “we buy most of our clothing used … a full-on trip to the (beauty) salon is out of reach.  …We keep our heat down to 60 degrees in the winter to lower our utility bills.”  The trip to Swaziland was “a single chapter in the longer story of God snatching us out of our complacent, consumerist Christianity.”

Lisa and Ty are open and honest in their struggles to live a more Christlike life.  Lisa says, “After the trip, I’d planned to eat only beans, rice and fresh vegetables for Lent … my Lenten fast lasted three days.  So much for eating the same thing every day and being thankful.”  She realizes we are all called to different places spiritually and cannot judge others for not being where we are.  But she does not hesitate to ask hard questions that none of us should ignore.   “… Where do you think God might be calling you?”  “What can I do?”  “Who is my church keeping out?” and finally “What if every Christian in the world reached out in love and deed to one sick AIDS patient, one lonely orphan, one poor widow, one hungry family? Why does that sound impossibly hard to us?  What if we did it anyway?”

You will find this book challenging and thought provoking.  Since it alternates between the viewpoints of Lisa and Ty, it would be a great choice to read with a youth group or with a young adult son or daughter.