Happy Thanksgiving!

Psalm 86:12  I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.

The Thanksgiving Day holiday is always a good reminder of something that needs to be woven into the very fabric of our day-to-day routine. We need to give thanks to God day in and day out. Why so? Beyond the fact that thanking God is a clear mandate of Scripture ... we must also thank God because EVERY blessing we enjoy in life is from HIS gracious hand (James 1:17). Thanking God should become as natural to us as breathing! I encourage you to get more intentional about giving thanks to God ... not merely on the fourth Thursday of every November . . . but on every day of the year!

Thanks for stopping by . . . pj

By the way . . . I want you ALL to know how much I thank God for YOU! 

A Few Moments with a Friend!

On the first leg our our journey home from Naya Akola, India, we made a stop at Prakash Institute in the city of Nagpur. In the past few years, Children's Fellowship of India has sent a number of boys to Prakash to learn a trade (Computer Operation, Welding, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning and Electrician are the four courses of study opened to boys). On all four of my trips to India, I have had the privilege to share God's Word with the male students. It has always been a joy.

In addition to preaching, I had the opportunity to briefly reunite with a pastor friend I had made during my last trip to India in August of 2010. Promot might be short of stature but he is long on love for others and for God. He lives and serves in the city of Nagpur. I have met few people who can beat his smile (don't you agree?). 

Promot has not had an easy life. He grew up in an orphanage and, when it was time for him to get married, he was often stymied in his attempt to find a wife. Most women did not want to marry a short orphan whose design in life was to be a poorly paid pastor! But in spite of his "shortcomings," God provided a beautiful wife for him and has used him to further God's kingdom there in that spiritually dark land. 

When Promot saw me last week, his face broke into that engaging smile of his as he embraced me with a huge hug. What a way to end my time there in the heart of India! As you celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday, be sure to let those whom you love KNOW that you love them. Show them ... tell them! It is sure to make their day! 

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Back from the Far Side of the World!

Every time I have gone to India (and this was my fourth trip), I come back home both totally drained and fully satisfied! Sounds a bit strange, yes? Allow me to explain.

What drains me most is the travel required to get there: three crowded flights (two of which are over 8 hours in length), two van rides (of about 3 hours each) and a partridge in a pear tree! (Sorry ... got a bit carried away there with the holidays fast approaching!). Add to the planes and vehicles was a bunch of time just waiting around three different airports! If that 30+ hours of continuous travel was not enough, we got do do it all in reverse as we traveled home. I am still trying to get my energy back!  Indeed the travel demands are heavy! But I also find myself drained by the overwhelming need we encounter in India. Spiritual darkness lies like a heavy blanket upon the land. The poverty and its devastating impact upon so many is constantly in one's face. And this leads me to what I find most satisfying about the trip. In the midst of all this spiritual darkness and material poverty, there is a ministry called Children's Fellowship of India. It is an orphanage located smack dab in the heart of India (about 500 miles east of Mumbai [Bombay]). Currently 178 boys are finding relief from the abject poverty they once experienced (often when new boys arrive, they are unable to eat the amounts the other boys eat as most of them had very little to eat prior to coming to CFI). But even more important than the relief from poverty - these boys are introduced to Jesus Christ. Wow! What a joy to hear them singing heartily to Jesus Christ. The vast majority make faith commitments to Christ. And here is where this gets me excited. After leaving CFI and going on for more training, these young men return to the general population, taking their faith with them. This is already
happening. While at CFI, I met again four boys I had first met in 2006 (see adjacent photo). All four are now in the work force in different "nearby" cities. All four are following Jesus and involved in churches! Wow! Only eternity will reveal the impact CFI and its boys will have for the kingdom there in India!

If you would like to explore becoming a sponsor of one of these boys (ONLY $30/month!) . . . please let me know (jsmith@gracewv.org)!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Today is D Day (Departure Day!)

As I stumbled out of bed this morning it hit me – today is the day we leave for India! At that, thoughts began to flood my mine. Thoughts like: “Goodbye nice comfy bed!” “Now what important, vital-to-life item did I forget to pack?” “I’m really going to miss the Fam!” “Do I really want to go to INDIA?” etc., etc., etc. By the time the fog in my mind cleared and the thoughts began to subside I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror. I looked at my reflection. My reflection looked back at me. Together we smiled – yes the day that had been set for our departure was here! All the praying, all the planning, all the prepping is now complete. It's time to "hit the trail!"

As I think about this trip I am grateful for a number of things. I am grateful for the group from Grace who will be accompanying me (see the prayer list). I am thankful for Philip Dongre. I have met few like him. His passion for Christ and the children of Children’s Fellowship of India is contagious. I am grateful for the opportunities I will have to teach God's Word and serve the children and staff of CFI. I am also grateful for the joy of being able to preach at a local Indian congregation.  I am thankful for our church family here at Grace and their generous support for our India ’13 team – both in the giving of their finances and the ongoing prayer support - not to mention the boxes of clothing given for the boys! Finally I am thankful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If He had not extended his grace to me when I was a teenager, I am not sure where I would be today. But I am sure where I would not be – and that is on a plane to travel to the far side of the world in service for Jesus Christ!

Would you do me a favor and pause right now and offer a prayer for our team, the people whom we will serve in India (both children and adults) and our families we leave behind? Thanks for your prayers. James tells us that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Thanks so much.

This will be my last posting until I get “back in the saddle” during Thanksgiving week (Yep, Thanksgiving Day is only a few weeks away!). 

Thanks for stopping by . . . and thanks for praying for us!

Trip Itinerary:

Nov. 10 - Depart Dulles 9:55 pm (via United)
Nov. 11 - Arrive Frankfurt 11:45 am; Depart 1:15 pm; Arrive Bombay 1:35 am (via Lufthansa)
Nov. 12 - Depart Bombay 6:40 am; arrive Nagpur 8:00 am; van to CFI, arriving 12:30 pm
Nov. 12-20 - Ministry on campus of CFI and in nearby vicinity
Nov. 20 - Van to Nagpur; depart Nagpur by plane 8:40 pm; Arrive Bombay 10:05 pm
Nov. 21 - Sight see Bombay
Nov. 22 - Depart Bombay 3:25 am; Arrive Frankfurt 7:45 am; Depart Frankfurt 11:25 am; Arrive Dulles 2:30 pm

All times posted are local times. Frankfurt is 6 hours ahead of Lancaster County. India is 10 1/2 hours ahead.

The Team:

Pastor John, Janet and Teddy Long, Brian, Pam and Josh Fulmer, Milly Shepherd, Gary McMullen, Maryann Torino and Philip Dongre, Director of CFI and his wife, Somyalata.


- For all members as we share devotionals with both the staff and children of CFI
- That we would encourage the children and staff as we strive to serve them
- For cultural sensitivity on our part
- For unity among our team
- For safety in travel
- That we would point many to Jesus
- For Pastor John as he preaches at
- For good health
- For God's blessing
- For grace to handle the unexpected

Off to India!

In just two days, I will be departing for a two week trip to India. Traveling with me will be ten other individuals. We are heading to Naya Akola, India which is located pretty much in the center of the country. Now Naya Akola is not on any Trip Advisor list of places to visit in India. In fact, the village contains not much more than a run down school, a few shops and a handful of huts and houses. But just on the "outskirts" of town sits the campus of Children's Fellowship of India, home to nearly 200 orphaned boys.

Now whenever I travel to India ... it takes only a moment off the plane in Mumbai to realize that I am not in Lancaster County any more! The smells, sounds, sights in India always initially appear WEIRD to my senses – very different from what I am accustomed to smelling, hearing and seeing back home. Some of these sensations are pleasant, many are not. Talk about feeling out of one's comfort zone!

As I was reflecting on this, God reminded me of something I often say – and it is a reminder that I need to "hear" anytime I travel outside the United States.  Just because something is different does not make it either WRONG or WEIRD.  So people in India drive (if that’s what it’s called – it’s actually more like a demolition derby!) on the left side of the road.  Different? Yes. Wrong? No! So Indians like to eat their food hot and spicy. Different? Yes. Weird? No!  Just because people eat differently, dress differently, live in a multitude of different ways – this makes them neither WRONG nor WEIRD. 

Now there is a lesson in this for ALL of us.We all have our ways of doing things. Often  we encounter others who do things or look at things differently than we do. We must remind ourselves that DIFFERENT does not equal WEIRD or WRONG. Rather we must, with God’s help, learn to graciously “bear with each other” (Colossians 3:13). 

 Thanks for stopping by . . . 

How Long Will YOU Live?

According to a government statistics, life expectancy in the U.S. now stands at 78.64 years (76 for men; 81 for women).  This is an all time high and is up from 75.4 in 1990.  The government attributes this to advances in medicine combined with a drop in some unhealthy practices like smoking. As I thought about all of this, my mind went to these words of King David, All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). God knows (because he numbered our days!) just how long each one of us will live on this earth. That information is something He is not telling us!  So should we worry and fret that this day might be our last?  Absolutely not!  Our earthly existence is in the hands of a loving and faithful God who ALWAYS does what is right.  We can trust Him with our lives.  What we must be doing is living each day for Him.  After all, each day we live and each breath we take is a precious gift from Him.  Don’t waste a moment but “carpe diem” (seize the day) – all by God’s grace and for His glory!  

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Friday Coffee with PJ

The other day when I was out and about, I went through a Starbucks drive thru. Ordered a cup of their boldest brew and boy was that good!  Glad you could stop by and join me for this edition of Friday Coffee with PJ!

1. I heard a report on my car radio the other day about the practice known as "wardrobing." If you are not familiar with this, wardrobing involves purchasing an article of clothing (usually on the more expensive side), wearing it once (without removing the tags) and then returning it to the store for a refund. When I heard this, I asked myself, "Do people really do this?" Yep. And probably more than you would think (retailers estimate that this practice of wardrobing cost the industry almost 9 billion dollars last year!). But in the minds of many wardrobing sure beats laying out the money for a fancy outfit that you will probably only wear once! Some retailers are now fighting back by placing gaudy tags on the more expensive garments. And if you try to return the clothing without that tag attached ... forget it!  Hmm. Trying to get around paying for something. Reminds me of what many of us do in our Christian walk. We try to get around paying the price for spiritual growth (which is a lot of hard, intentional effort - see 1 Timothy 4:7-8) and then wonder why we are not growing!

2. In just nine days, I will be leading a team (mainly from our church) to serve at an orphanage in central India. Children's Fellowship of India is home to just under 200 boys. If it were not for CFI, the state of these boys would be nothing short of desperate. Please pray for our team as we make our final preparations. If you have some time ... you might want to watch this video that will introduce you to CFI's ministry.

CFI The Children's Fellowship of India from Martin Wild on Vimeo.

3. Finally, there's a challenge that's coming for Grace Church at Willow Valley. This challenge, for those of us who choose to take it up, will, I trust, help us to better know and live God's Word! So if you are a part of our church family here at Grace . . . stay tuned for more info that will be coming your way in the not-too-distant future!

Thanks for stopping by . . .

Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning means COFFEE! (frankly, every morning means coffee for me)! So why not pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join m...