Author: | David Z. Nowell

Valentine Cards SPEAK LOVE, Transform Lives

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Many of the girls at Hope have been sexually abused and exploited. Thanks to the grace of God and staff members who SPEAK LOVE, that appalling truth is forever in the past as soon as they reach our campus. Unfortunately, it’s a more difficult and much slower process to change their self-perception. These children have been taught since birth that they have value only as a sexual object. But Hope Unlimited is about transformation. Our story is of a tragic beginning absolutely overwhelmed by a triumphant end. Each February, churches and individuals across the U.S. add a little something to …

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Life Wish of a Street Child

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As I’ve mentioned here before, my wife, Susan, blogs at My Place to Yours. She’s my partner on this journey of dirty faith, and this week you get to read her thoughts about a recent story about a street child in Brazil…   Whoever Steals Has to Die That was the headline last week in the Brazilian newspaper. The article (translated below) tells the conversation between a reporter and a 12-year-old boy arrested and awaiting a hearing about his participation in the attempted murder of a thief in the city of Cariacica. Tribune: Did you participate in the beating? Twelve-year-old: …

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Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gleice

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A Saturday night service at the City of Youth. One hundred fifty or so children who call this place home fill the chapel. Throw-away kids, abandoned, exploited. They all have scars of abuse on the inside; some wear them on the outside. Prayer time. Gleice walks forward from the back row, takes the microphone from Pastor Derli, bows her head. “God, thank you that I am perfect in Your eyes.” Yeah. God, make her perfect in my eyes, too. Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. That verse again.  The one that demands activity—and it is …

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GETTING EVEN (or perhaps) Why I am Comfortable as a Pharisee

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I’m not altogether sold on this idea of grace. I mean, seriously, love with no strings attached? On the surface, at least, I have always been the kind of guy God should want on his team. Some mischief as a teenager, but nothing serious. Always hard-working, loved the Lord my God, and pretty much honored my parents. I’d have made an excellent Rich Young Ruler. I want Jesus to pat me on the back and say, “Good job.” And I really, really want him to recognize what a good deal he got when he got me. Instead… I find that …

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We are the Pharisees

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Didn’t expect to meet God there . . . Over the past decade, I have had the chance to experience grace in some very unexpected places. In a remote village in Mexico, while holding the baby of a teenage prostitute in Brazil, on death row at Angola prison in Louisiana. These are places of darkness, but as I read the New Testament, it becomes more and more apparent that these are the places where Jesus walked. These are the people he loved. This is where we encounter grace. We are lovers of structure, of hierarchy, of people who understand their …

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Santa: From dirty streets to a clean sleigh

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Stories. The best ones catch us by surprise, bring a smile, and perhaps refocus our priorities. This one—this week—from (missionary/Hope Unlimited for Children CEO) Philip Smith in Brazil: Christmas 2014 in Brazil. Think hot. Sometimes Santa is not who we expect him to be. Sweltering in the Hope Santa suit this year was a former street kid. Luciano graduated from Hope in 1996, got a good job, married, and became a worship leader at his church. A few months ago, he reached out to me saying he felt called to return to Hope as a houseparent. Then in July, he …

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Christmas Blessings

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May the Truth of Christmas permeate your thoughts in these last days of Advent waiting. May the peace of God fill your heart as you learn to trust. May you experience God’s richest blessings as you celebrate our Savior’s birth.   Merry Christmas to each of you! Thank you for stopping by here during this busy season. I look forward to continuing our journey of dirty faith in the year ahead.

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God’s gift to the world: Himself

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 Wasn’t it just like God to become man? The name of the college text is long forgotten, as is the name of the author, but the words still ring true. Because, yes, it was just like God to become man. This is the lasting reality of Advent, that God himself took on the form of a man, and encountered us in our humanity, our brokenness, our need. But… the incarnational …

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Life Lesson from Orphans #4: Bless as you have been blessed

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It’s a really wonderful part of the worship tradition at the City of Youth. At some point in each chapel service, our kids have the chance to give back.  Not financially, of course, but of what they have. They do this through their prayer requests. During what we might call an offertory, the kids walk forward and place written prayers and prayer requests in a large bowl at the front of the auditorium. Many of the prayers are simple, a line or two composed at the last minute, but nonetheless heartfelt. Lord, thank you for giving me this place to live. …

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Life Lesson from Orphans #3: Dependence gives birth to faith

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Easy lesson here, but it is one we tend to forget. God can handle this, whatever “this” is. Every time I travel to Brazil, I am absolutely overwhelmed by the experiential faith of our kids and graduates. Experiential because it is faith based on a reality that has already been made manifest. They get this faith thing because they have seen the hand of God in their own lives. I have told you before about the impact our graduate church is having on the neighboring community. Our graduates see the drug addict sleeping in the weeds who believes he has …

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