If I’ve learned anything from this journey of becoming a Christian writer, it’s that sometimes God breaks your heart. It is in the breaking that He leads us to discover His desire for us. When we submit to Him, we allow God to use us for His purpose and not our own. It happened to me shortly after 3am this morning.
I had my “CHRISTmas blog” planned, and partially written for over a month. My plans were to do a final read through, minor editing, and it’s published in less than five minutes. My original post was full of whimsy and encouragement, building upon a well-known CHRISTmas classic, the animated movie “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”. I swear I could faintly hear Burl Ives singing as I read the post.
Almost all of us remember the storyline. After battling a fierce storm, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey the misfit elf, and Rudolph found themselves on the Island of Misfit Toys. A sad little place where trains with square wheels, boats that couldn’t float, and horses that went “Oink” were discarded and forgotten. My post was focused on how the church Jesus Christ established was meant to be such a place. A place where those of us who are broken, sad, alone, and discarded by the world could go to find peace, joy, and a sense of belonging. Christ’s church is where His words of Luke 5:31-32 are supposed to be lived out.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who
are well have no need of a physician, but those
who are sick. I have not come to call the
righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
(Luke 5:31-32, NKJV)
I went on to remind folks that the church is not the building, but the people within it; and that we are all misfits in one way or another. It isn’t our fault, but we were each born with a sin nature and in many cases, we’ve only added to our troubles since then. Yet, if we Christian people will truly embrace the character of Christ, we can be that island of solace and peace to other misfits among us. Those who are discarded by society, alone, lost, afraid, and uncertain can find a welcome and inviting place to rest and be made whole. I reminded us that the church is not the building, but the people in it should remember who we are and who we represent.The church is not the building, but a band of misfit people who worship, learn, grow, and welcome others into it; together as one body of Christ. Click To Tweet
Then a string of powerful tornados hit the Midwestern United States (Kentucky most severely) and super typhoon Odette arrived in the Philippines over the weekend. What we in the US would call a Category 5 hurricane, Odette’s fury was released against the island of Mindanao (in Cebu province). These natural disasters, seemingly arriving more often and with more intensity, has left many of us reeling as we near the CHRISTmas holiday. Our hearts are broken, and minds overwhelmed by the grief and suffering of so many.
In the Philippines, the powerful storm appears to have hit Surigao City and its Sabang, Mabua, and Lipata neighborhoods directly. This was especially impactful to me because three churches, part of the Fruitful Harvest International Ministries group I support, were impacted. While the devastation there is widespread, my grieving heart can’t move from three dear friends and their families that mean so much.
- New Hope Baptist Church, Lipata, Surigao City, Philippines
- Led by Pastor Orland Ungang, a young man of God who struggles each day to care for and guide his flock; serving as a dedicated under-shepherd as he works tirelessly to evangelize his small part of the world.
- New Life Baptist Church, Mabua, Surigao City, Philippines
- Led by Pastor Adriano Balbarona and his wife Ms. Annetta, both devoted Bible teachers with a heart for serving children through feeding programs, etc.
- New Beginnings Fellowship Baptist Church, Sabang, Surigao City, Philippines
- Led by Pastor Russel Piang and his wife Ms. Jessica (currently with child). The Lighthouse campus houses an orphanage/school and a Bible school for young Christians to learn to become church leaders in their communities throughout the Philippines. Their Child Feeding Program ensures hundreds of children get a hot meal and hear the word of God.
While I’m praising God that none of these dear families suffered loss of life (as of this writing), I’m praying for God’s protection and provision for everyone impacted by this devastating disaster. May God comfort and lead each of these men of God as they work to rebuild the lives and communities around them and their facilities.
I messaged briefly with my young friend, Pastor Orland (someone I’ve been praying with for nearly three years now) on Tuesday morning. Once he returned and assessed the damage, I could feel the pain inside him. The destruction is so widespread it’s difficult to even determine where to start. He expressed how he was overwhelmed with so many needs, placing those of his family and the community over his own.
As I communicated with Pastor Orland, he told me of his desire to help his church members and community, but the need is so great he cannot get his mind around the situation. He shared with me how many members of his tiny church are sleeping among the ruins of their homes and in the streets. Pastor Orland added, “I don’t know what to do and how to start praying for the financial needs of so many sir. Please pray for us.” As he shared, God broke my heart just a bit more and tears flowed. In responding to him, I offered the following, which I share with you.
I am relieved to hear from you and know that you and all the members are still alive. I want to remind you that the building was not New Hope Church. The people are. And now more than ever, they will look to see how real Christ is in your life my friend. Will you stand in prayer and trust God for His provision and protection, or will you surrender to despair? Your people will be watching. Remember the building was but a central gathering place. Yes, the Holy Spirit would often come and meet with you and your church members in that building, but the Holy Spirit did not live there. He lives in the heart of every Christian. We are His home. So, I praise God with you that His worldly homes (His people) are all safe and well. Afraid, unsure, unsettled, and without buildings perhaps, but alive and host to the greatest power in the universe. Remember the name given the Christ child? Immanuel, God with us. Not God in the building, but God with us.
I humbly ask that each of you please remember this also and request your prayers for all those impacted (both here in the US and abroad) by these most recent natural disasters. As this world continues to march toward Christ’s impending return, we will see more devastation and loss of life. How we as Christians handle it does matter. The world is watching.When adversity happens, it becomes an opportunity for Christians. Click To Tweet
In speaking with my friends at Fruitful Harvest International Ministries here in Texas I’ve learned how they too are overwhelmed by all the damage and the immense need for help. In total, Fruitful Harvest has planted over 30 churches in the Philippines and has helped perhaps thousands of Filipino people find salvation through Christ Jesus. Along the way, they’ve improved life and living conditions in every area they’ve touched. I can’t tell you at this writing how many other churches and communities have been destroyed as communications is still almost non-existent. I’m told that right now, it’s even unclear if Fruitful Harvest can electronically transfer funds to help the island ministries.
What I am certain of is that a great need exists. A need for both financial and spiritual support as our brothers and sisters in Christ work to rebuild their lives and communities. I have never asked for money, and never will for my Christian writing ministry, but if you are moved to help, then you can send a tax-deductible donation (please designate for Typhoon Odette relief) to Fruitful Harvest International Ministries via PayPal or mail to:
Fruitful Harvest International Ministries
PO Box 1130
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483
As CHRISTmas arrives in just a few days, I leave you with a prayer that you find the peace, comfort, and joy only a true relationship with God can bring. It is available only through your acceptance of the greatest gift mankind will ever receive (John 3:16). Remember that we are all misfits in one way or another and no one is an island unto themselves. Instead, we are a united “family of faith”, the body of Christ.
God’s blessings and Merry CHRISTmas,
Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.
44 thoughts on “An Island of Misfit Toys”
Lift them up, Mr. J.D. With tears in my eyes and heart for all.
Thank you Ms. Ane. I so appreciate your kind prayers for my friends, and for everyone who is broken and hurting around the world this year. God’s blessings, and Merry CHRISTmas, sweet friend.
Such a powerful message. We are surely all spiritual misfits the Savior was sent to rescue one holy night. Praying for these sweet people in God’s flock who are called to minister to the needy and helpless.
Amen! We sure are Ms. Karen. Thank you so much for your prayers of support, comfort, and care for all of God’s children ma’am. Merry CHRISTmas!
Yes, we are all misfits, made perfect only by the love of Christ. I will pray for all those folks, and gladly give a donation to help them rebuild. May each one of them, and we, find peace at Christmas.
Blessings, J. D.!
Thank you Ms. Martha. I’m certain the folks you help all around the world are most appreciative of your and Mr. Danny’s kindness ma’am. Like you, we acknowledge that 100 percent is from God, so giving back a portion of all He has blessed us with is simply exercising the good stewardship He has taught us. I’m sure also that you’ll agree with me that we can never out-give or out-love God. Merry CHRISTmas sweet family.
I am so happy Jesus found me twice and put me on the same island with you. No matter my faults, your ministry reaches around them.
The reports of devastation and your response to a young pastor raise the bar for him and his flock. I’m reminded of the rebuilding of the walls in Jerusalem. Even though the devastation seemed complete, everyone took up their tools and worked on their own section of the wall. I think it was a work of faith and a demonstration to all of how such faith overcomes destruction.This would seem to be the Lord’s plan for each to consider.
May God richly bless His church, no matter where they stand during these end times. Amen.
Absolutely Mr. Warren. I’m actually excited to see how God is going to use these young men to accomplish wonderful things for His kingdom in the coming weeks and months. Something I’m certain of is that each of them will give all the glory to God. Merry CHRISTmas my faith-filled friend.
Beautiful message of truth and hope. Thank you for sharing the information to support their efforts. God bless those pastors and those watching over these congregations and all these precious people impacted by this devastation.
I join you in those prayers Ms. Ann. And thank you also for all the kind and encouraging words ma’am. God’s blessings; and Merry CHRISTmas ma’am.
Mr. J.D., what a wonderful message of hope. Thank you for your words of encouragement to Pastor Orland. I am sure they helped him during this time. I will pray for these people, that there every need will be provided for through our Lord Jesus Christ!
God bless you and Ms. Diane! Merry Christmas
I pray my humble words somehow help Ms. Edwina. I try and live by the words of Proverbs 27:17, as there have been so many times when others have spoken God’s truths into my lives; helping me to grow stronger in my faith. Merry CHRISTmas to you and the entire Cowgilll family sweet sister in Christ.
Thank you for sharing this. Praying that much good comes from this tragedy and that our broken hearts allow God’s love a wider passage into our being as we respond how He would have us respond.
Merry Christmas, Friend!
Amen Ms. Candyce. I can’t wait to see how God is going to apply the words of His promise in Romans 8:28 to these shaken lives. God’s blessings ma’am; and Merry CHRISTmas.
My husband and I sponsor a child in the Philippines. We sponsor through Compassion International. As soon as the typhoon hit, we began receiving requests for prayer for everyone there. We have not heard if our sponsored child is safe. We are lifting up the people of the Philippines and the people of the US who have been affected by these awful storms. God is with us all. Thank you for the reminder to pray for everyone.
Oh how I pray your precious child and their family are safe Ms. Melissa. It’s heartbreaking when I pause to think of all the blessings I’ve been given. I sit in the den of a comfortable, warm, safe home and write about the hurts, fears, and basic needs of so many all around our world. The words of one of my favorite songs from Matthew West have been echoing in my heart for a while now. “I asked, ‘God, why don’t You do something?’ He said, “I did. I created you!” I’m so very proud to know that my friends Ms. Mimi and Mr. Alan are doers and not hearers only. God’s blessings ma’am. Please update me on your little sponsored loved one when you hear. It’s been a quiet few days here, so I’m praying it’s only that lack of communications capability, but trusting God to see them through. Merry CHRISTmas sweet friends.
From one misfit to another, my heart breaks along with yours for the people in the Philippines. As I sit in my warm and comfortable house with food in the cupboard and a few dollars in the bank, I’m intensely aware that Diane and I aren’t better or more deserving than our brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling. Our time of testing will come, no doubt, but right now the test is not whether we can endure suffering, but whether we can relinquish some of our treasures that we’re tempted to trust instead of the One who gave them, and reach out a helping hand. May God give us all special direction in what and how we’re to do in response. Thank you my friend for once again pouring out your heart and bringing us into a world we weren’t aware of.
Oh, how I am blessed by your wisdom, encouragement, and heart for serving God my friend. How often I’ve prayed. “Lord, help me to be more like my friend Mr. Ron, which makes me more like Your Son as I grow ever closer to You.” Thank you so much for your prayers for these wonderful friends across the way sir. I’m confident that they are so appreciative of all we do to help them. God’s blessings sir. Merry CHRISTmas to you and your beautiful, intelligent, wise, funny, and amazing wife Ms. Diane. I too wonder often, “Whatever in the world could I have done to deserve a helpmate like this?” I think the answer is, we didn’t. God gave us our wives to challenge us to strive to live up to the standard they set for us.
So much devastation. Thank you for realigning our hearts today as we get caught up in all that is “Christmas” in America. I’m sitting in Kohl’s waiting for my husband to pick me up after his radiation treatment, all pleased with the last-minute sales and my 30% off Kohl’s coupon. Such a stark contrast to the lives that have been devastated in all the places you mentioned. I needed to hear this today.
Thank you Ms. Karen. I felt exactly like you, which is why I needed to write it ma’am. God’s blessings to you, Mr. Russ, and the entire Sargent family. Merry CHRISTmas sweet friends.
I am praying for the light of Christ to shine even brighter through these fine folks. May God be glorified, especially in the midst of such terrible destruction.
Yes ma’am Ms. Lori. I join you in those prayers my friend. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I can’t wait to be able to brag on my God when I see all He’s done in the aftermath of this tragedy. God’s blessings, and Merry CHRISTmas Hatcher family. My family is so blessed by yours.
I remember the misfit story very well as it is a favorite of mine. I am so very grateful He found this misfit and brought me into His very own family. J.D., thank you for reminding us to think of those facing such devastating and challenging days. May the Lord be with them, bringing restoration and hope in the days ahead.
I think my favorite animated CHRISTmas show Ms. Joanne. Perhaps because I can relate so well to the residents of that island. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement for my Filipino friends. I know they are warmed and comforted by your kindness sweet friend. Merry CHRISTmas!
I have always felt like a misfit toy as I have never full fit in with any group of people until I met my writer friends! Prayers for all who suffered loss of property and/or life in that string of storms in the Philippines and here in America.
I’m with you Ms. Teresa. When God brought me my Ms. Diane, when He led me to become a Christian writer and He filled my life with great mentors, encouragers, and friends. When He gave me an adoptive family who loved me with His love and helped me grow to love Him. All these things and more were to restore me from broken, misfit toy, to glorious child of God. He’s still got a lot of sanding and polishing to do, but I’m looking forward to one day being transformed into His perfected glory so I might serve Him more. God’s blessings ma’am; and Merry CHRISTmas!
What else can I say? You have said it all. We are so blessed and we are called to help those in need. Thanks for sharing this with us. Blessings!
Such kindness. Thank you Ms. Barb; and Merry CHRISTmas sweet friend.
Your original post sounds great but I am so glad to know about these precious people in need of our prayers. May God use this time to draw more people to Himself. I will be praying
Thank you so much for your prayers Ms. Yvonne; and as always, for your kind words of encouragement ma’am. Merry CHRISTmas
Remembering your friends and the ministry in prayer. May these hardships serve the purpose for which Almighty God intended that, otherwise, would not have moved God’s people to giving and prayer as it did you.
Glad to be counted among you as a fellow “mis-fit” for building the imperishable Kingdom of God
Amen Ms. Mary. Thank you so much for your comments ma’am. I love how so many of us can resonate with my misfit characterization. We are, we acknowledge it, and we’re growing through it with God’s help. Merry CHRISTmas gentle friend; and God’s blessings.
What a terrible disaster! I will be praying for these dear folks and their churches! Thank you for telling us about them, J.D.!
I know they are so appreciative of our prayers Ms. Kathy. Thank you ma’am. Merry CHRISTmas!
So much need, so many places. Oh, LORD, touch hearts with Your love and help.
“Yes Lord!” Thank you for your gentle, loving thoughts and prayers Ms. Jackie. I know you also have a “heart for missions”, so you understand more than most what it’s like in various other parts of the world. God’s blessings to you and Mr. Lynn, and Merry CHRISTmas sweet girl.
God gave you the perfect words to share with your pastor friend. Remembering that “the Lord giveth and taketh away” is not exactly the comfort we can share in times of devastation, but the truth is nonetheless there. Material possessions are so fleeting; our lives are but a breath. I sometimes feel so useless but remind myself that the time we are given on earth can indeed make a difference. And that difference is seen in relationships, time, investment, and spiritual work among other things.
I was touched by the plight of the Philippines and the tragic loss of life in Kentucky especially right now at Christmas. It’s devastating to think how you might feel if it were to happen in your community. But I always go back to the truth, like you said, that God will never leave us. Not His presence, not His love, not His desire to provide. I shall go to bed this late hour with these people in my prayers. Merry Christmas, J.D. (And I loved the misfit concept. I think we can all relate in one way or another. )
I pray you’re right ma’am. These young pastors are faced with challenges that I think many more seasoned men of God (myself included) would struggle with. I pray for my own pastor each day, because I know how hard it is to lead, direct, guide, and care for my own little family. Imagine having the responsibility to that for an entire church full of families. And knowing that they are all looking to you. Now that’s responsibility. Merry CHRISTmas Allen family. Know that you are dearly loved and prayed for daily.
J.D. I’ve found that when I’ve invested in a ministry what happens to them impacts me. The “Where you treasure is there your will heart be,” principle at work. Thank you for sharing this. My heart goes out to those suffering. May the Lord use this to reach many unbelievers as they see the church at work and God’s provision through this.
Amen! So very true Ms. Debbie. I pray for, and care for these folks, every bit as much as I do your and Mr. Larry’s Lighthouse Ministries; and what happens in the lives of those we care about and pray for very much impacts our lives. God’s blessings and Merry CHRISTmas!
My heart is broken for the loss your friends and their community have suffered. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words, the exhortation to live as misfits in the world for Christ, and for living out your faith as an example. Praying for our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, Tammy
So very kind Ms. Tammy. Understanding that we are all “misfits”, I pray, will help us to be more open and welcoming to others. If more of us start living our lives in this manner (Coram Deo), and exhibiting the character of Christ in our everyday, then I believe we can then once again make the impact on this world that Christ foresaw. God’s blessings, and Merry CHRISTmas to you and your beautiful family my gentle and encouraging friend.
Thank you so much for this reminder of what CHRISTmas is truly about. Your post was an interesting answer to a very specific prayer. May you and your family have a blessed CHRISTmas.
Oh how this pleases me Ms. Rosemarie. When others acknowledge that I allowed God to use me for His purpose, I feel blessed even more. How important it is that we always seek to align ourselves with His will. Merry CHRISTmas sweet lady, and may God bless you throughout the New Year.