This week we’ve been highlighting the work of four Christian organizations based in Canada. I realize that our readership here is three-quarters American, but I wanted to give visibility to these groups, and if you’re in the U.S. and choose to donate remember that while you won’t get a valid U.S. income tax receipt for this one, your dollars will go a lot farther because of the currency difference.
A few years back, when I told someone that our oldest son was helping out with an orphanage in Haiti, the person rolled their eyes and said, “Sure; right. In Haiti everybody is running an orphanage. But how many of the kids are true orphans and how many of the orphanages are legit?”
We live in a world that is automatically skeptical when it comes to charities. Compound that with further cynicism that in very poor countries, corruption means that aid doesn’t reach those who need it most. If only there was a way of meeting these objections and being able to give with confidence.
As it turns out there is. I want to share a bit of the story with you and also explain how it intersected with our son’s story, and some portions of what you read are taken (directly or loosely) from the Welcome Home Children’s Centre (WHCC) website.
We got to meet Camille Otum and her husband Sam for the first time in November of last year. She was born in Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti, and raised in the town of Cabaret about two hours north. At the age of nineteen she left Haiti and chose to settle in Montreal, Québec, where she could better leverage her French language skills and familiarity with the culture. After getting married, Camille and Sam and their family moved west to Ontario, settling in a bedroom community small town outside of Toronto.
In 2004, a group of teenagers from her church were headed to Haiti on a short term missions trip, and Camille volunteered to be a chaperone and give something back to her country of birth. She went to connect with her old friends in her hometown of Cabaret but was quite distressed by what she saw. It was not the same place; not the village she had left many years ago. Instead, she was witnessing homeless children begging in the streets, desperate and malnourished.
With this image imprinted in her mind Camille began discussions with her family and friends about the situation in her homeland and her deep desire to help. With the support of her husband, and her church friends, their husbands and one other friend, she shifted into what my wife calls ‘entrepreneurial missions’ mode and decided to open an orphanage. Welcome Home Children’s Centre was incorporated as a non-profit entity in Canada. A hired agent now working for them in the country was instrumental in helping secure a three-bedroom home with fenced yard that could be rented and converted into a home for homeless children. (Fences and walls are a non-negotiable necessity in Haiti, since people will break in and steal anything that might have value.)
A few years in, with the lease running out, Welcome Home began looking for another property which would offer the possibility of greater expansion. They had about ten children but dreamed of being able to house up to seventy. They called Engineering Ministries International (EMI) for help designing a new orphanage on recently acquired land.
This is where the story first connects with our family. Our son Chris had graduated in Engineering and it would be several months before he would find his first job, so with a little bit of fundraising he signed up to do an internship with EMI in Calgary for four months. (The organization has about ten offices around the world.) As it turned out, one of their two projects for those months was the Welcome Home Children’s Centre and in February of 2015 he flew with a team of a dozen people from Canada to survey the land and help design the three phases of the new centre. He was one of only two people on the EMI team who spoke French with any proficiency and did his best to learn Haitian Creole.
As it turns out, language is a big part of the Welcome Home strategy for those they serve. Chris writes,
A big part of their education is learning the French language, which in Haiti is the sole language of business and politics. The vast majority of Haitians can only speak Creole, which makes it easy for the elite to exclude them from anything involving influence or serious money. The Welcome Home kids will have access to the upper strata of Haitian society because of their education, and it is my hope that they will hold onto their Christian values, continuing to acknowledge God in all their ways while wielding the privilege of education, and be a blessing to their neighbours and communities in adulthood.
With the exception of only a handful of EMI volunteers in the entire history of the organization, our son decided to get involved with the charity itself. He returned to Haiti with a group of WHCC volunteers three years later in February, 2018. He said, “It was amazing to go see the building we had designed on paper actually realized in concrete.”
Which brings us back to November, when we got to meet Sam and Camille. I don’t like to show up for meetings unprepared so I decided to do some research. In Canada, the annual financial statements — think of it as an organization’s income tax return — of churches and non-profits are posted online for the world to see. I couldn’t help but note that the line item for compensation (i.e. salaries and benefits) for WHCC was Nil. Zero. Nada. That was refreshing.
Camille shared a story with us about a woman who had been giving to what I call a “blue chip” Christian charity and how appalled she was at the amount of compensation being received by its key personnel and staff. The woman then stumbled onto the same information I did, with the realization that this was the type of grassroots charity she wanted to support.
Part of this is possible because Sam and Camille have had decent jobs in Canada. But if Camille isn’t there in person, she’s very much present, admitting to calling the orphanage for an update every single day.
The Welcome Home team conducted numerous interviews to be sure that the children they received actually were orphans. In some cases parents will see an opportunity for their child to have a better life and are willing to let their child go. This is a heartbreaking scenario that the team have seen played out over and over. To turn them away is difficult, but their commitment is to help the most needy orphans; children who have no other options.
It’s true that the overall financial scope of the organization is small. But the building referred to above is only part of what the EMI people designed. There is a Phase II, which involves another building that would dramatically expand the size of the operation to eventually include 70 children. The budget for construction is a half million dollars. (Labor is less costly, but building materials are expensive. The island has been deforested; so wood is extremely rare. Most buildings are formed from concrete.)
Right now, WHCC cannot issue tax receipts in the U.S. (I know there are U.S. readers here for which a receipt is not the bottom line, and your dollars go much further because of the currency exchange.) For a grassroots charity, operating in Canada, with a very limited donor base to raise $500,000 is a daunting task, but in Christ, nothing is impossible. You can help plant the seeds for Phase II at this link.
I’ll let our son Chris have the last word,
I want to live in a world where everyone loves the place where they were born, where we don’t have people clamoring to get across borders because the country they were born in just isn’t livable. And I want to live in a world of rest and gratitude, not one of strife and pride. I believe the theory is true that the developing world will keep improving itself economically until the imbalance that has characterized the last three centuries levels out a bit, but we can help speed up the process.
This week we are highlighting the work of four Christian organizations based in Canada. Even though our readership is three-quarters American, I wanted to give visibility to these groups. The group featured yesterday and the one featured today have American offices, so people on both sides of the border can make donations and receive a valid income tax receipt. In the case of the organization featured below, they are based in Colorado Springs, CO, but it was through the office in Calgary, Alberta that we first came into contact, so they are truly, one of Canada’s best kept Christian charity secrets.
I’m a working on a building
I’m a working on a building
I’m a working on a building
For my Lord, for my Lord
~Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys
(click here to listen!)
In January of 2015, my oldest son began a new chapter of his life, doing a 16-week internship with a Christian organization that nobody we’ve spoken to has ever heard of, but once you get the concept, you would be more concerned if nobody had thought of it.
Here’s their purpose statement from the landing page of their website:
Engineering Ministries International (eMi) is a non-profit Christian development organization made up of architects, engineers and design professionals who donate their skills to help children and families around the world step out of poverty and into a world of hope.
Poverty is a key element of the projects they choose. As much as you’d like to get all your engineering and architectural drawings done cheap for the new gym and fellowship hall at Church of the Affluent Suburbs, I don’t think they’re going to be able to help you. But they do have a host of mission organizations they’ve served since 1982 working on over 1,100 relief and development projects in 90+ countries; with many of the relationships developed alongside ministries such as Food for the Hungry, Mission Aviation Fellowship, and Samaritan’s Purse.
So, in the case of the project my son was involved in, they designed a building for an orphanage in Haiti that at the time housed ten kids and desired to expand to a goal of future growth to 75 beds, plus a chapel, plus a school that will be profitable. All on land they already own. eMi works with organizations in partnerships like that.
This wasn’t a paid internship for him. He actually paid them, about the equivalent of another full year of school, for a time frame involving a single semester. But they picked up travel and living expenses for his week in Colorado Springs (where their world headquarters are) the time working in the Calgary office (one of five satellite offices) and a trip to Haiti to see the project site and meet the key players there. Their finished drawings were given to a local construction company that built the first phase of the facility to their specifications. (Check out the scope of this project they consulted on in 2009.)
How did we hear about all this? We ran into eMi at an annual event in Toronto called MissionFest, which I’ve written about elsewhere, a sort of trade show for mission organizations. Since I know a lot of people, I pitched a number of options to him, but he set the bar really high in terms of the type of Christian organization he wanted to work with, and eMi met his criteria. His degree is in Electrical Engineering, but they taught him some of the Structural Engineering principles and the whole thing will count toward his professional designation.
I should also add that to the best of my knowledge, eMi is always looking for Structural Engineers and Civil Engineers, especially on the short 8-day field trips. If that’s you and your schedule allows you some travel time; or you’ve taken an early retirement, you might want to get to know these people. Same applies to architects and surveyors.
I once heard it said that Youth with a Mission was the Evangelical world’s best kept secret. I’d like to nominate eMi as a runner up. When you think about the concept, this thing gives new definition to meeting a need.
As I get to know this organization better, I expect to be writing about them again. For my Canadian readers there’s eMiCanada based in Alberta, and for my UK readers eMiUK is based in Oxford.
Tomorrow: Unlike most eMi volunteers, he ended up getting involved with the charity they did the work for, right up to last weekend (July, 2019). Tomorrow we’ll introduce you to that charity.
This week we are going to be highlighting the work of four Christian organizations based in Canada. I realize that our readership here is three-quarters American, but I wanted to give visibility to these groups, and as it turns out, the first two we’ll look at have a very definite presence on both sides of the border, but as this one isn’t well-known in Canada, it meets the definite for this series.
Last March I had what I consider the special privilege of spending nearly 2½ hours getting to know the work of Mustard Seed International (MSI) a Christian organization whose tag line is, “We teach. We love. They lead.” I had a very focused lunch meeting with Craig Jeffrey and Lucie Howell who direct the U.S. and Canadian operations respectively from an office near Toronto.
When we think of organizations like this, usually two models come to mind.
The first is all about proclamation. This suggests the image of the individual who learns the language of a particular tribe and embarks on a program of Christian education and evangelism with the goal of ‘winning souls to Christ.’
The second model is all about relief and development. This suggests going into a particular area and providing nutritional food, clean water and medicine. The goal of evangelism is not at the forefront; neither is it pushed entirely into the background for such organizations, but the primary purpose is to bring “a cup of water” in Christ’s name.
Mustard Seed International provides an alternative, what might be a third model, namely a focus on education. As we discussed this, I could not help but think of something my oldest son said to me having just returned from his second trip to an orphanage in the third world. He pointed out that without a decent education, the kids are going nowhere. Education is the key to allowing a child to have, as the prophet Jeremiah conveyed it, “a future and a hope.”
Through the schools we start, staff, and operate, we provide Hope to our students, teachers, and the communities they live in. The education, training and discipleship they receive nourishes their hearts and minds. In every classroom and children’s home we run, we teach in words and deeds about our greatest Hope. Driven by that Hope, teaching is our small act of worship. It starts mustard seed-sized, but with God’s blessing it will grow into something much bigger.
Some of the brightest and the best kids are given an opportunity to further their education in ways that would be not be practical without the organization’s intervention. With the possibilities that presents, do some take advantage of that to move on to better things? Craig Jeffrey said there is a small percentage of students who are lost to the lure of careers in larger cities and towns, but a larger number take their expertise and return to their home communities to bring leadership to those villages; hence the “they lead” part of the aforementioned tag line.
I don’t have stats for last year, but in 2017 alone they accomplished the following:
34 teachers-in-training who are preparing to become world changers in villages.
33 teachers in Java.
30 teachers in the remote mountains of Southeast Asia.
6 teachers in an outreach center in Java.
8 teachers serving in a kindergarten.
29 teachers in 3 schools located in a village along the K River.
40 part-time teachers in Borneo.
A pastor and his wife who have dedicated themselves to teach in a remote village where Mustard Seed has opened a school.
Support for a widow who was left alone to raise her 5 children.
The rent to keep a kindergarten rolling forward, and a new 6-year contract for a kindergarten that serves 32 children.
The materials for 3-day training for 35 teachers on an Eastern island.
A youth center in Java that provides discipleship for 461 teenagers on 8 campuses, and CEC which provides discipleship materials and homework assistance to 55 children.
The tuition, food and other expenses for 50 abandoned or orphaned children in Seeds of Hope Children’s Home.
You can’t tell the story of Mustard Seed International without dropping a few names.
Lillian Dickson aka ‘Typhoon Lil’
I was interested in knowing more about Lillian Dickson (1901-1983) mainly because she was a huge influence on Bob Pierce who founded World Vision. In a section about her, Pierce’s daughter Marilee Dunker writes:
It is fair to say that my dad met his match when he was introduced to Lillian Dickson in 1953 on a visit to Taiwan (then called Formosa). Her willingness to take on human need wherever she found it reaffirmed my father’s own conviction that God will do impossible things when we don’t put limits on Him. Their lifelong partnership would bring thousands to Christ and become one of the enduring cornerstones of World Vision’s ministry.
The story of the diminutive founder of Mustard Seed International is all the more remarkable in that Lillian came to Formosa in the 1920s as a missionary’s wife. Her husband, Jim Dickson, was the “official” missionary in the family, and his bride devoted the early years to their children and home.
But when the kids got older, Lillian decided she wasn’t going to “sit out her life.” With Jim’s blessing, she packed up her Bible and her accordion and began hiking with a team of medical missionaries into the most remote areas of Taiwan. They went where neither modern medicine nor the hope of the gospel had ever reached.
During the next 30 years, “Typhoon Lil” (as she was affectionately named after surviving a particularly savage storm) walked thousands of miles, fearlessly wading through rushing rivers, crossing dangling wooden bridges, and facing down angry witch-doctors and headhunters. She slept, ate, laughed, and cried with the tribal people she loved, and every day God trusted her with new needs and a bigger vision…
The other name that’s inescapable in the MSI story is Paul Richardson, International Director. Paul is the son of iconic missionary Don Richardson, whose book Peace Child is both a powerful story and the textbook on a particular aspect of missions and evangelism called contextualization.
As Richardson and his family began to settle down in Compton, Calif., he and his wife received a calling from God and they were led to return to his hometown, a small village in Southeast Asia.
They arrived in the Muslim-majority country to find a generation “as lost as you can imagine.”
“HIV/AIDS is spreading there more rapidly than almost anywhere in the world, a lot of the streets and cities are ruled by violent gangs, there’s a tremendous amount of drug abuse and alcoholism and there is illiteracy, a lack of skills,” said Richardson, director of Mustard Seed Southeast Asia.
But what was most shocking upon returning to the land where his parents served was the extent to which the society had fallen to within two generations.
“During the 1960s to 1970s there were as many as 1,400 missionaries who moved there… As an adult I have a chance to go back to that same island … and what I see there, to be completely truthful, has been very shocking to me.”
In the same article he provided a reason why MSI chooses to work in education as opposed to traditional mission modes:
“In missions we are responsible to do far more than just start churches but we are to unleash a movement of discipleship in the young and instill this as a core value in the hearts and the minds of anyone who chooses to follow Jesus,” he stressed.
Mustard Seed Southeast Asia is currently involved with approximately 3,000 children across the region, working with indigenous leaders, other local teachers and the government to equip and mentor them with hopes they will rise up as the future leaders of the world.
The school has attracted teachers from all the over country to participate in training programs.
“We have increasing influence in education methods among many teachers and just helping to set them free as teachers and discover God’s creativity in the classroom,” Richardson explained.
Our lunch meeting ended all too soon. Nothing I write here can capture the passion that Craig and Lucie have for this work. MSI is not an organization on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but I hope that with this article, by raising awareness, I can motivate some of you to pray and as God leads, give to support this work.
If you are among the givers and are looking to support a new project or cause, let me encourage you to connect with MSI using the following links. MSI is both EFCA (USA) and (CCCC) Canada approved.
TPT Matt.13.31 Then Jesus taught them another parable: “Heaven’s kingdom realm can be compared to the tiny mustard seed that a man takes and plants in his field. 32 Although the smallest of all the seeds, it eventually grows into the greatest of garden plants, becoming a tree for birds to come and build their nests in its branches.”
This article was voluntary on my part and was not requested or expected by MSI.
The link isn’t important. There is one of these stories all too frequently. A youth pastor. An underage teen. You know the ones.
Is it time to re-think the role of Youth Pastor? It wouldn’t stop everything that’s happening in some churches from happening, but it also wouldn’t stop the church from having a decent youth program anyway with an associate pastor and some lay-leaders and not some fresh-faced Bible college graduate whose ability to measure the consequences of actions still hasn’t caught up to his academic youth ministry credentials.
Look at it this way, if current Youth Ministry training includes some lectures on appropriate boundaries, then it’s not always working. A more seasoned ministry staff member would be better equipped to avoid temptation and understand what’s entailed in crossing the line.
The kids in the group would also benefit from inter-generational ministry.
The guy in charge of youth at my church was a semi-retired insurance salesman. On staff half-time. Really connected with teens. Today it would be called a megachurch. It was a great, diverse youth program. There were music nights. Sports nights. Pizza nights. Serious Bible study nights.
It works. And it avoids putting young men (usually) and women (sometimes) into situations they all apparently can’t handle.
Since there won’t be a Wednesday Connect column this week, I wanted to share four things which developed over the weekend that are of Canadian interest, but also worth sharing with the larger readership here.
Overwhelmed, little Ayo Moran gets the view from the stage as he meets his new Canadian church family yesterday in Abbotsford, BC. (Facebook)
First and foremost, Ayo is home in greater Vancouver, British Columbia!
This is an adoption nightmare that shouldn’t have happened. The general feeling is that the Canadian government simply didn’t do all that it might have done. The story just didn’t get the publicity it deserved, and it wasn’t in the politicians’ interests to make things happen. So this family languished on the back burner, having to fly back and forth to Africa for months because their son, Ayo was at that point theirs, so they couldn’t abandon him at that point.
Not in their worst nightmare could Kim and Clark Moran have imagined it would be almost one year before the three would be together at their home in Abbotsford — 50 weeks of taking turns flying to Africa to look after now three-year-old Ayo while red tape and runarounds Kafka would’ve blushed at using as plot devices made them dizzy and despairing.
The couple are pastors at Abbotsford Pentecostal Assembly.
In November, we linked to a story from the CTV News Network where the couple had hoped their son would be home in Canada by Christmas. In fact, it would be another six months. At one point the couple was accused of trafficking him.
Here’s the updated report from the Vancouver Sun:
Family celebrates adoption after years-long ordeal | Vancouver Sun - YouTube
Next, the Anglican Church of Canada did not ratify same sex marriage. The vote would have required a two-thirds majority from three constituencies consisting of lay-delegates, clergy and bishops. It was the bishops who failed to reach the two-thirds, coming close at 62.2%.
The Anglican Church of Canada will maintain its traditional definition of marriage after a vote to amend the marriage canon failed to pass at General Synod 2019.
The 42nd General Synod voted against Resolution A052-R2, which would have amended the marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriage, after the resolution failed to pass by a two-thirds majority in all three orders. While two-thirds of the Order of Laity (80.9%) and Order of Clergy (73.2%) voted in favour, less than the required two-thirds (62.2%) voted in favour of the resolution in the Order of Bishops…
…The announcement of the result left many synod members visibly in shock. A scream could be heard. Many members began crying, and one young delegate ran out of the room in tears…
Canada’s David Wesley’s latest acapella video has really connected with people. It’s hard to quote numbers here because the count is rising so fast (about a third of a million as I type this) but you should give this a listen. It’s 1500 years (560-2017AD) of Christian music crammed into 7.5 minutes. I’ve embedded here — which will still count as views — but if you want to see some of the over 3,000 comments, click this link.
Evolution of Worship Music (560-2017 A.D.) - A Cappella Medley - YouTube
On a rainy Friday morning it seems like there are a couple of hundred people waiting in the corridors of the Landratsamt (that’s District Office in English), waiting for their number to appear on the screen, waiting to see an immigration official.
Everyone wonders if they have filled out their paperwork properly. So many pages, so many questions. What happens if you make a mistake? Will they send you back to the country you fled?
Arabic seems to be the most common language. The little German I hear comes from translators, which many have brought with them. It does seem though that everyone here speaks a little bit of German, just not enough for a formal interview. I understand that – I’m in the same situation…
Recently Brant Hansen made an entire chapter of his book Blessed are the Misfits available to readers for free. It’s longer that what I’d run here, but I thought I’d steal a small part of it, but then atone for my crime by encouraging you not to read it here at all but instead to click to the link in the header below and get the full context…
…You should know something about this particular God, the God of the Bible, and it’s immediately apparent in the first words of Genesis, even if we don’t notice it.
Now, in other ancient creation stories, the universe is the result of revenge, or incest, or wars, or murderous plots. The sun, the mountains, the trees… everything is the result of some violent clash. For example, in the Enuma Elish, which is a Babylonian account of creation believed to have been written in the 12th to 18th centuries B.C., the world is made out of a lot of conflict, to put it mildly.
Briefly: There’s the freshwater god, Apsu, and Tiamat, the saltwater god. There are additional gods, and they live inside Tiamat. They make a lot of noise, which ticks off both Tiamat and Apsu. So Apsu wants to kill them.
But the most powerful god, named Ea, kills Apsu. Ea then has a son named Marduk, who’s the new greatest god. He likes to make tornadoes. This causes problems for Tiamat, who still can’t get any sleep because the gods living inside her are bothered by all the loud stuff Marduk is doing.
So Tiamat makes 11 monsters to help her do get revenge for Apsu’s death. Other gods aren’t happy about this, so they make Marduk their champion. He kills Tiamat.
…and then he forms the world out of her corpse.
(And this explains why you haven’t seen The Marduk and Tiamat Puppet Show.)
Anyway, in Genesis, God makes the world because He wants to, and He loves each part of it. He makes this, and it’s “good”. He makes that, and it’s “good”. The way it’s written is clearly in overt contrast with the Enuma Elish. This God is different, and He loves what He made. All of it.
The world was full of gods, but this one identifies Himself this stunning way, in Exodus 15:26: “I am the Lord who heals you.”
This God is the Healing God.
As repulsed as I might be by Christian hypocrisy, including my own, I am very attracted to a God who heals. Healing isn’t a side issue. When Jesus walked among us, it’s how he demonstrated his very identity: A lame man walks. A girl is raised from the dead.
When John the Baptist’s own faith wavered, Jesus sent people to remind him of the healings. The blind see. The deaf hear. That means the Kingdom of the Healing God is here.
I could look elsewhere, but to whom else would I go? Jesus, after all, is the God who heals little girls.
No, I do not want to walk away from this. On the contrary, I want to be part of it, doubts and questions and all.
Thankfully, scripture also reveals a God who is patient with people like me. In the book of Jude, we’re even told to be merciful to people who doubt.
So I memorized that verse. “Be merciful to those who doubt.” (Jude 1:22 NIV)
Meeting quarterly in Atlanta: A gathering of cigar enthusiasts discussing life, faith and theology. Holy Smokes! [Click image for story.]
■ I think one of the biggest stories of the year is going to prove to be this week’s story on Amazon selling counterfeit copies of a Christian title. In terms of Christian publishing, it’s on the same scale as the plagiarism scandals of a few years back. This title won’t be the last one we hear about. If you missed the story, refer to yesterday’s blog post here at Thinking.
■ As if what we reported yesterday involving Amazon isn’t bad enough, we now have word the company has pulled titles by bestselling Christian author Joe Dallas. Christian Post reports, “Dallas’ book — Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity — and Paulk’s [Anne Paulk of the Restored Hope Network] book — Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction — both of which until the past few days were sold on the platform, are now no longer available for purchase.” The reason? “Amazon has removed the works of other authors who once lived and identified as gay.”
■ If your local public library once included titles by Christian authors you recognized, it’s possible that today, books conforming to the larger LGBTQ agenda have pushed those off the shelves. Activists are energetically servicing librarians with information encouraging them to have the latest titles. Furthermore, it’s happening with great intensity in the Children’s department.
■ Parenting Place: “Television dramas and films are increasingly portraying teen suicide in an empathetic light, revealing shifting cultural attitudes about death and taking a deadly gamble by letting viewers, some of them adolescents, decide whether taking one’s life is sometimes justifiable. These programs represent a risk to your children.
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV #RedactedBiblepic.twitter.com/Fj6QUp9hRL
Maybe it’s because I work in this field, that this account hit so hard, so personally. This story broke on Christianity Today yesterday morning; excerpts below are just a portion of a larger story you’re encouraged to read in full:
It took Tish Harrison Warren nearly three years to publish her first book. It was more than 18 months of arranging childcare and carving out time to write before she had a manuscript—11 chapters chronicling details from her day-to-day life paired with the rhythms of church ritual.
By the time Liturgy of the Ordinary debuted in December 2016, she and her publishing team had gone through the process of selecting a cover (an open-faced peanut butter and jelly sandwich against a bright green backdrop) and editing the page proofs to check every dot and detail.
But over the past year, thousands of readers ended up with copies that didn’t quite look like the book she and InterVarsity Press (IVP) had finalized three years ago. The cover was not as sharp. The pages were a bit off-center.
These were not IVP’s books at all. They were counterfeits.
A three-year labor of love. It’s a heartbreaking story to read.
IVP estimates that at least 15,000 counterfeit copies of Liturgy of the Ordinary were sold on the site over the past nine months, their retail value totaling $240,000. That nearly cuts sales of Warren’s book in half; IVP reported 23,000 legitimate copies were sold over the past year. IVP also found evidence of counterfeiting on a smaller scale for one other title, Michael Reeves’s Delighting in the Trinity, which came out in 2002.
But it’s probably not an isolated story, though CT’s story tilts in that direction:
Sharon Heggeland, vice president for sales operations at Tyndale said, “We have monitoring software in place that looks for third-party sellers. We have very minimal issues with third-party sellers taking over the buy buttons on our products, and we have seen no instances of counterfeit Tyndale titles.”
I think personally we haven’t heard the last story of a Christian title being counterfeited. And yet, inexplicably, this:
But within 48 hours of learning about the Amazon counterfeiters, she bought groceries at Amazon-owned Whole Foods, rented a movie on Prime, and received a package with the telltale arrow logo on her porch.
There’s a lot more; this is complicated. Kate Shellnutt has done a great job of reporting this and you are again encouraged to read the whole report at this link.
Counterfeit sales impact not only Tish Harrison Warren’s current title, but affects contracts for future titles.
Meanwhile, at her blog, Tish Harrison Warren offers readers some options, including how to identify the fake copies, and then returning the books to Amazon and obtaining an authentic copy from IVP with free shipping.
[Note: If you bought your copy from a brick-and-mortar bookstore, it probably would have been purchased direct from IVP and not affected.]
The author also says,
Pray for wisdom for IVPress, Amazon, and me. We each have decisions to make about how best to proceed now that we know that there are counterfeit books out there. This is a situation that IVP has never faced before and they in particular need prayer for wisdom about how to respond.
I also have never faced this before and need wisdom about how to most wisely respond moving forward.
Amazon executives and decision-makers also need wisdom and motivation about how to respond to improve their systems. Please pray for all involved.
Interested in reading the book? Here’s the publisher blurb:
In each chapter of Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren looks at something-making the bed, brushing her teeth, losing her keys-that the author does every day. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Tish Harrison Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of our Sunday worship. Come and discover the holiness of your every day.
Don’t just grab the lowest available price online; look for an established Christian retailer, or better yet, if a physical store exists near you, support them before Amazon has decimated the entire landscape.
UPDATE 10:05 AM EST — Determining if you have a counterfeit copy. At this Dropbox link, 11 images showing the telltale evidence of a fake book.
That was a line in a newspaper article I read on the weekend. It could have been worse. At least they didn’t say, ‘so 2005.’
A friend would periodically tell me about discussions he got into on Reddit.com. Great, I thought, Isn’t there already enough arguing going on at Twitter?
Still he got me scanning r/Christianity and r/Religion and over the past year a handful of the stories that appeared on Wednesday Connect came from those sources.
On the weekend, I could stand it no more. I couldn’t keep lurking in the shadows, chomping at the bit to weigh in on various topics.
Someone was asking a question which I felt somewhat qualified to answer. They’d received a fairly good number of answers, but I thought something was missing. I even did Ctrl+F to make sure the keywords weren’t somewhere I was missing.
I pulled the trigger.
Nobody on Reddit seems to use a real name. It’s all pseudonyms. The first three I picked were taken. I thought of just using ‘paulthinkingoutloud’ but decided to distance my responses from what I do here.
God has people out there. Just because there’s an information gap in one particular set of answers doesn’t mean I need to take this on like it all depends on me,.
I posted to three other topics. On one, the information I shared wasn’t necessarily a great fit, given where it turned out the person was located. I looked this morning at the page and nothing particularly jumped out at me.
Still, I go back to where I was a year ago. I often said after my friend first introduced me to the site that if a Christ-follower was just sitting at home each day staring at something mindless on their screen, and they wanted to have a significant online ministry apart from blogging, or Facebook, or Twitter, then Reddit would be my first choice.
I just didn’t take my own advice. I thought I had my hands full with WordPress, Twitter, Facebook and MailChimp.
Reddit is different. It’s not like “broadcasting” on social media, which sometimes feels like spitting into the wind. People are asking for advice. Your answers are going to slowly disappear into the back-catalog of the forums, but for a few hours at least, you can interact with a wide diversity of people on faith-focused subjects in something closer to real time.
A few days ago someone asked online if it was appropriate to ‘like’ their own social media posts. I suggested that it seemed a bit narcissistic. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines narcissism as, “extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance : marked by or characteristic of excessive admiration of or infatuation with oneself.”
In contrast, Paul reminds us in Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” NIV.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is quoted in Matthew 6:2, “When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” NLT
Back in March I introduced Christianity 201 readers to a reading drawn from a posting of seven chapters of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, posted by Random House at the link in the title below, where you can read all 7 chapters. This book is an all-time Christian classic if you haven’t read it. Furthermore, it can be read very, very quickly.I have made only one editing change, taking out the use of numbered paragraphs (which I believe cause readers to rush through the material) and substituting each new section with the first sentence in bold type.
Everyone has a natural desire for knowledge but what good is knowledge without the fear of God? Surely a humble peasant who serves God is better than the proud astronomer who knows how to chart the heavens’ stars but lacks all knowledge of himself.
If I truly knew myself I would look upon myself as insignificant and would not find joy in hearing others praise me. If I knew everything in the world and were still without charity, what advantage would I have in the eyes of God who is to judge me according to my deeds?
Curb all undue desire for knowledge, for in it you will find many distractions and much delusion. Those who are learned strive to give the appearance of being wise and desire to be recognized as such; but there is much knowledge that is of little or no benefit to the soul.
Whoever sets his mind on anything other than what serves his salvation is a senseless fool. A barrage of words does not make the soul happy, but a good life gladdens the mind and a pure conscience generates a bountiful confidence in God.
The more things you know and the better you know them, the more severe will your judgment be, unless you have also lived a holier life. Do not boast about the learning and skills that are yours; rather, be cautious since you do possess such knowledge.
If it seems to you that you know many things and thoroughly understand them all, realize that there are countless other things of which you are ignorant. Be not haughty, but admit your ignorance. Why should you prefer yourself to another, when there are many who are more learned and better trained in God’s law than you are? If you are looking for knowledge and a learning that is useful to you, then love to be unknown and be esteemed as nothing.
This is the most important and most salutary lesson: to know and to despise ourselves. It is great wisdom and perfection to consider ourselves as nothing and always to judge well and highly of others. If you should see someone commit a sin or some grievous wrong, do not think of yourself as someone better, for you know not how long you will remain in your good state.
We are all frail; but think of yourself as one who is more frail than others.