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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Power Shortage

So I'm sitting at my desk on one night and my brother Sam brings Tshidiso and Ndiphwe into our flat to ask me a question. I can only assume that the question they asked was prompted by Sam showing them his pythons (biceps), which he feels are big enough to need a heavy equipment license to operate. Tshidiso comes up to me and says "Let us see your power". I first had to tell them to stand back a ways for safety reasons. Then I showed them my power, as demonstrated in the picture. Tshidiso feels my muscles, then looks at me with all seriousness and says "Uncle Louie, why is your power so short?" A bit of a blow to the ego...

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - New Home

In June POG Team 10 spent two weeks here helping with the ministry, working on projects, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I guess the nuisance part doesn’t apply to all of them (I’m looking at you, Tom).

While here they did some electrical work, put in a new wall and door in the team area, worked with the children, helped with homework, played and did crafts with the children, and any number of other things that cropped up on a daily basis.

One of the projects they took on was building a new shack. You may remember that a couple months ago a shack in the #7 squatter camp burned down. The team along with Brian pitched in to erect a new place to live for them. While still made out of tin it is much more sturdy, larger, and generally very well built. And of course, the tin is new, not salvaged from some other shack or old mine buildings. So it is in much better condition and will serve to better protect the family from the elements. It is also made with a solid wood foundation - set in concrete - rather than the normal structures built with scraps salvaged from other old buildings.Although one side effect of it’s new condition is the bright glare. You really needed sunglasses to work on it. I’m afraid some pilot flying over will be blinded and cause some sort of accident.

As a good side-note, on our way to church this past Sunday, Alice and her kids were standing out by the road waiting for us. They came along with us and we pray that they will continue to join us each week. This team showed by example the truth of James 2 - that faith without a lifestyle that matches is really no faith at all. They saw a need, pooled together the resources that they had, and reached out to someone less fortunate. Because of that tangible show of love we now have a doorway to more effectively communicate to this family God’s love for them. A big thank you to POG Team 10 and the others who helped.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Baby Zakhona & Baby Annah

For several weeks now we have been tentatively scheduled to get a new baby here at The Pines. We are currently at our capacity of 24 children, but considering the situation we thought we could make an exception for this case. The lady who operates the daycare in the building where we meet for church, Anne, has been fostering this baby for the last 6 months, along with the baby’s mother.

The mother, Ntabeleng, is 14 years old and from Lesotho. We are not sure how she ended up in this area, but we do know that the reason she became pregnant with this little baby is because she was raped by her own father. He is now currently in prison but she is scheduled to be deported back to Lesotho. She doesn’t want the baby, for obvious reasons, and Anne was adamant to the social workers that the baby be raised in a Christian home. She is the one trying to pull the strings to get the baby placed at The Pines.

We have known of this situation for several months and have agreed to take baby Annah. In the meantime, Brian & Lois received a phone call early one Sunday morning from a “social worker” in Hani Park. They asked if we could take a 4 month old baby because the parents couldn’t be located and the neighbors claimed the baby had been abandoned.

The Niehoffs, along with a couple team members along and Okuhle to help interpret, made a trip to Hani Park that morning. You may remember that this is one of the roughest living areas around Welkom. When they arrived they soon discovered that they would be hoofing it around as the roads/paths mixed with recent rains had become completely untenable. Surprisingly, the directions they had received were coherent enough that they were able to locate the house fairly quickly.

Upon arrival they learned that the mother had been living with her boyfriend, who is the baby’s father, and the boyfriend had beaten her badly enough to put her in the hospital. That is why the baby had been left alone in the shack. The father was nowhere to be found, shockingly enough. Seems like that is the story of South Africa right now.

Brian & Lois agreed to take Zakhona for the time being until things could be sorted out. Obviously, when situations like these come up our long-term hope is to be able to keep the child, but you never can tell what will happen as the details are sorted out.

Throughout the following week Lois worked diligently to get the details sorted out, and we learned that not everything was as it appeared. When she contacted the social offices she found out that the woman who claimed to be a social worker was actually just posing as one in order to get the baby to us. Apparently our cards are being passed around the community as a good place for children to be cared for. While we appreciate the good reputation it isn’t ideal if it will lead to fake social workers trying to put random babies with us.

Lois was able to confirm that the mother had indeed been beaten by the baby’s father. What she wasn’t able to do is locate the mother. She had been discharged from the hospital and was nowhere to be found, at least for several days. After she was finally tracked down we learned that she hails from the Eastern Cape, a province about 6 hours away from here. Apparently she has a husband in the Eastern Cape but has no idea where he is. Eventually, it was determined that she would be leaving her boyfriend and returning to the E.C. to live with her family.

After having baby Zakhona for two weeks Brian & Lois returned her to her mother. At this point the police had gotten involved and it was agreed that the baby wouldn’t be given back to the mother until she was at the bus station. Brian & Lois, along with Wendy – the team member who had been caring for Zakhona for the past two weeks – brought the baby and items for her care to the bus station, then waited until the mother and baby were on the bus and it left the station. The police were concerned that she would attempt to stay in the area and return to her boyfriend.

Situations like this are difficult, but at times like this you trust in the sovereign will and power of God. A week after we got baby Zakhona, baby Annah arrived at The Pines. She is adjusting nicely and it seems that she will be here for quite a long time. We trust that God brought her to us in order to do a mighty work for His name.

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - African Safari

This past week our family had the opportunity to get away for a few short days (since we are in the southern hemisphere the days were literally the shortest of the year). Along with my brother and sister we took a trip to Pilanesberg National Park, about 5 hours north of Welkom. We spent a day on safari around the park looking for all the African animals. Africa has what is known as "The Big Five". The Big Five consists of the Elephant, Lion, Rhinoceros, Leopard, and Cape Buffalo. I'm not sure why these have been selected, but amongst all the animals unique to Africa, these are the ones people usually like to see. I think The Big Five concept is artificially generated for commercial purposes, kind of like Valentine's day. Unfortunately, we were only able to spot one of the five. However, we did get a chance to see many of the other splendid wildlife and landscape of Africa. After our safari we were able to spend a couple days at Warmbaths, a hot mineral springs. Even though we are in the midst of the winter season the pools were fantastic. As most vacations do, ours ended much too quickly but we're excited to be back at The Pines and back into the work here.

Impala - seen by Amber. Note the bird giving it a facial. 5 points awarded to Amber.

Zebra - seen by Louis. 8 points awarded to Louis.

Cheetah - seen by Sam. It was walking right along the road, then as we drove up it slid into the bush. We got a couple good pictures before it disappeared. 10 points awarded to Sam.

Another Impala - Seen simultaneously by everyone. No points awarded

Water Monitor Lizard - Pointed out by some European dude. No points awarded.

Helmeted Marsh Terrapin - Seen by Amber. 3 points awarded.

Giraffe - Seen by Louis, although Sam claims to have seen it first. No points awarded because of Sam.

Blue Wildebeest - Seen by everyone simultaneously. If you've ever seen nature shows you'll know the wildebeest is the rabbit of Africa, basically the bottom of the food chain. Their main defense mechanism is to reproduce faster than they can be eaten. No points awarded.
White Rhinoceros - Seen by Rosina. 16 points awarded.

Hippopotamus - Seen by all simultaneously. Hippos kill more humans than any other African animal. No points awarded.

Crocodile - Seen by Louis. 10 points awarded.

Not pictured is Warthog. Seen by Amber. 8 points awarded but we didn't get a good picture, at least not at Pilanesberg.

Two classic quotes by Sam heard throughout the day: "There's something over there." He was frequently wrong but he thought that if he just claimed it and then there turned out to actually be something over there he would attempt to claim the points. The other quote was "There is a ____________." When we all turned to look he would say "Oh, there it goes bounding away through the underbrush." So you can't really believe anything he said.

I am asking for help from our reading audience. During our safari we had a minor debate as to which animals would generally be considered the "Quintessential African Animal". We want to settle this Family Feud-style. If each person reading this would take the time to email me their personal list of the top five animals they think of when they think of Africa (besides snakes) I would appreciate it. Email me at

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Hani Park Outreach

While our friend Judson Pietsch was here we took the opportunity to do some outreach in a nearby settlement. In South Africa you have a variety of different types of communities. There are those classified as proper towns or cities. People living in these areas typically live very similar to what those in the US would be used to. Then there are townships. These are primarily black settlements that started under apartheid. Life in these varies greatly, from nice but small brick houses to tin shacks. Then there are informal settlements. Typically there is no electricity or plumbing in these areas. They can be anywhere from a handful of scattered shacks to hundreds of structures squeezed side by side.

Hani Park is considered an informal settlement. It is here in these types of communities that so much of the poverty, disease, and crime hits the hardest. Several of our children have come from Hani Park. Okuhle & Cebisile, Boetie Boetie, Lelohonolo Mahloua, Ndiphewe & ‘Kazi, and now our newest baby Zacona have all lived in Hani Park at one time or another.

Over the last several months we have attempted to do outreach and evangelism in the areas around Welkom. We started at an old mining complex near The Pines, then moved to Thabong, made a visit to the hospital, and now have spent some time in Hani Park. By no means have our visits been exhaustive. There are close to 400,000 people living in these areas around Welkom so we still have plenty of opportunity ahead of us (and we could use some help from you).

We use these outreaches to try and minister in many different ways. It allows us to show our children firsthand the work that God wants His children to do. With the food parcels it gives just a small amount of physical relief to these people living in such difficult conditions. It gives us a chance to make contacts. Most importantly, it gives to these people the message of real hope: the hope of eternal life.

We spent the morning putting packets together. Each child was in charge of a specific part of the packet. Motshidisi rolled out the plastic wrap, Tankiso handled the sugar, Pheello the rice, Nazo did the sweets, Refiloe the beef seasoning, Okuhle gave the tracts, Ntswaki did the chips and Dieketseng added the tea bags. Sam & Judd wrapped the packets and Rosina was quality control. The completed packets were then put in bags that we would carry around Hani Park to hand out.

Before we left we had a quick lesson as to why we do this sort of thing. Many people think the reason we tell other people about Jesus is because He commanded us to in the Great Commission. That is part of the reason but the heart of our outreach is found earlier in the book of Matthew. When Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest He responded “The whole of Scripture can be summed up in the following statement: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second command is closely related to it: Love your neighbor as yourself. In these two lie all the teachings of the law and the prophets.” The reason we do what we do is not to merit God’s favor through obedience. It is to show our love for Him through obedience.

Each child was paired up with another child, then assigned to an adult for supervision. This allowed us to each have a translator. The kids have grown to the point where they do most of the talking, but in case they get stuck or are asked a difficult question hopefully we can be there to help.

We spent about an hour handing out packets in one section of Hani Park. Once people realized we were passing out free things we didn’t have to walk too far. They pretty much came to us. We had five Bibles to hand out and those went fast.
As an interesting side note a lady came up to me asking for a Bible. I told her we were out but could bring back more as they arrived from the States. She asked if it was King James Version. You may remember that a couple months back I had asked for Bibles, preferably in versions with easier English. The feedback we received on KJV’s we had previously handed out was that it was a bit too complicated for many of the ESL people here in South Africa. I told her that the ones coming from the US were in a version easier to understand. Her response? “No, I need King James. I only read King James.” What are the odds that in a settlement like this someone would need only KJV? Fortunately, we still have a few here that I’ll be able to give her. As long as people are asking for God’s Word, we’re happy to oblige.

While no one, as far as we know, made any decisions as a result of our outreach, we are confident that God will use His word as He sees fit. The pamphlets and Bibles we handed out give a clear message of eternal life and we pray that the seed that is scattered will take firm root.

Something strange happened on our way out of Hani Park. An old lady to whom we had given a packet stopped us. She asked how she could buy one of our children. I started to tell her that the children are not for sale, but then I thought I should at least listen to her proposal. So I asked how much she was offering. She said maybe 200 Rand. This would be the equivalent of about $25. I told her that wasn’t enough. Just kidding. Actually, I asked why she needed to purchase a child. She said that all her children were gone (likely meaning dead from the way she said it) and that she needed someone to take care of her in her old age. We told her that if she wanted to care for children there were plenty of children around to care for. She said she wasn’t looking for a child to care for but for someone to care for her.

This is a classic example of what is happening to the South African culture. The very young and the very old typically do not have HIV. The pandemic is decimating the population who are in the prime of their lives. Those who should be caring for the old and young. This leaves grannies to care for several grandchildren when they don’t have the energy anymore. It leaves children to fend for themselves or older children to care for the young ones, sacrificing their education or chance for a different life. And the cycle repeats itself.

For those of you who have or are giving funds to support our work, we thank you. Our goal is to break this cycle. It can only be done through true heart change. As people are reached with the message of salvation in Jesus Christ their lives will no doubt change. If they are trained to reach others we can start a new cycle of life, spiritual life. Thank you to everyone who supports this ministry financially and spiritually through prayer and encouragement. Your contribution is of utmost importance.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - For the Record...

My brother Sam and sister Rosina are visiting right now until August 15th. In addition, another brother Joe and his wife Angie are also visiting for 10 days on their way back home from China. Not that South Africa is really on the way between the Far East and Des Moines, but considering they were already a whole hemisphere away they figured they would complete the circle.

As a bonus, Sam & Rosina stopped by China for about 3 weeks on their way to the Dark Continent and spent some time with Joe & Angie. Many people think that African food is scary, but I'd encourage you to look into what they serve in China. Even the kids here know that. Last year I was trying to encourage them to eat a large grasshopper we had captured. Even after I offered to pay them 5 Rand they refused. The response was "No way, that is gross. Only kids in China eat bugs." Nothing like mass generalization. Unfortunately, we have photos to prove they're not wrong.

So tonight we were sitting around conversing about the latest goings-on in our lives. Out of the blue Angie says to Rosina "Oh, by the way, there's something I've been wanting to tell you. The first night when you were in China, do you remember those raisins we ate?" Rosina says "yes". Angie continues "Well, I didn't want to tell you then because I wanted you to still eat while you were in China, but while we were eating those I looked at one of my raisins and it was crawling with maggots...but I did check and didn't see any other raisins with maggots on them." (Note of Rosina and Angie were eating the raisins, Rosina was just telling Angie about some parasite medication a friend had given her for the trip)

For the record, I want everyone to know that if I'm ever eating with you and you notice maggots (or for that matter any other thing considered a non-consumable by most normal western-minded people) either tell me immediately or never tell me at all. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - Sherlock Holmes, Fenton Hardy, and Ben Matlock All Rolled Into One

In a recent monthly update we posted a schedule for the winter, or summer for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. That schedule included 3 teams of two weeks each spread over three months. It also included visits by Sam & Rosina - two of my siblings, Joe & Angie - another brother and his wife, Sally Seefried - the director of AIMI, Judd Pietcsh - a good friend of ours from college, and Allison & Wendy - two young ladies who will be helping here for a month. So you can see our travel schedule will be kind of booked for the next few months.

The first visitors to arrive were Sam & Rosina. They had spent about 3 weeks in China visiting Joe & Angie, then traveled on to South Africa for a couple months with us here. Normally teams coming from the US arrive about 5:00 in the afternoon, giving us ample time to drive to the airport and fetch them. Unfortunately, people traveling from the East via Hong Kong tend to arrive about 7:00am, meaning one must leave The Pines about 4:00am or spend the night in Johannesburg in order to arrive at the airport on time. For this particular pick-up we chose the latter. It worked out nicely for Brian Niehoff as well. His grandfather had become quite ill and Brian was able to hitch a ride with us to make a quick trip back to the US. He brought Liam along with him and was able to get back to Iowa a couple days before his grandfather passed away. The timing turned out to be a blessing so their family was able to be together at that time.

Normally we are able to get a very nice hotel for very cheap through a bidding website. This time however that was unavailable so we stayed in a budget hotel close to the airport. Since Amber and the kids had been ill recently they went to bed about 7:30. I stayed up watching The Bourne Identity on our laptop. When we had arrived to check in we were given the handicapped room because they told us all the other rooms had been booked. We, of course, bought that excuse, as the alternative was that the lady at reception did actually think one of us was handicapped. About 8:30 I heard a group arrive at the hotel. It was obviously a bunch of young people from the amount of noise filtering through the door.

After a minute or two it occurred to me that all the voices were American. The typical accent around here, at least for white people, falls somewhere between British and Austrailian, with occasional German "hoch-ing" thrown in. It was clear that these folks were speaking our language. Then as I was thinking about this I heard someone start singing an old Sunday School song. It was at that point that I started putting pieces together like a regular Sherlock Holmes.
1. Hotel is completely booked up. This indicates a large group all together. The frivolities outside served to confirm this suspicion.
2. Accent. Clearly American, likely mid-western or Sacramento, CA.
3. Young people. Probably college aged. Obviously not people with young children or they likely would have considered making less noise.
4. Sunday School song. That indicates at least one of this group has been exposed to church from a young age.
5. Budget Hotel. That confirms it. I knew where these people were from.

After putting all the peices together like a 52 piece jigsaw puzzle, I arrived at the conclusion that I may actually know these people. The only problem was that I didn't want to wake Amber by getting out of bed and leaving the room. Fortunately, about that time she rolled over and asked what all the commotion in the hall might be attributed to. I told her that I had a sneaking suspicion that we knew said people and she encouraged me, nay demanded that I investigate.

I slid Meredith out of the way (we placed her mattress strategically in front of the door so in the event of attempted break-in we would quickly know -very clever on our part) and stepped into the hall. Since we have now been out of college for 6 years, I didn't fully recognize anyone right away. The first few faces looked familiar but I wasn't exactly sure. The way they looked at me confirmed they were thinking the same thing. "I think we know this guy. The shirt he is wearing is from our college..."

It wasn't until I saw the cousin of my best friend that I knew for sure that this was indeed a missions group from Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny. Turns out that one of the leaders of this team was Brenda Hendrickson, a close friend and former co-worker of Amber. She quickly came running down the hall laughing at this strange serendipitous event. Seeing her coming I poked my head back into our room and told Amber. She then proceeded to wake our two children to show them off. Meredith & Drake were not impressed and made it clear they intended to promptly return to a nice REM sleep.

So while we intended to get to bed early we ended up staying awake for the next several hours, recounting recent events with Brenda. We squeezed in a couple hours of sleep before it was time to get up and head to the airport for the arrival of two of my siblings. We had been looking forward to their visit since my other family members departed in early February. Meredith in particular had been filled with anticipation of their arrival. For the last several months she has been counting down the days and finally it seemed the time had arrived. The wait was excruciating for her, as you can see in the photo. Finally, she was rewarded to see them dragging their weary carcasses down through the terminal. The reunion was quite enjoyable. For anyone that knows my sister you'll be happy to learn that it remained relatively dry, with only a few tears shed. This time, unlike my wedding day, she didn't cause me to start sobbing like a schoolgirl. I'm sure you'll hear tales of their adventures at another time.

As a quick post-script, about two weeks later we were back at the airport dropping off Judd and picking up Brian & Liam and Allison & Wendy. While waiting at the airport we saw a family browsing through a Christian bookstore. Putting my Sherlock skills to use again, I deduced that this family was probably missionaries. With my extensive experience as a homeschooler growing up in a big family, I also suspected that this family was likely large and probably homeschooled their children. After a bit of prompting, my brother Sam, serving as Watson to my Holmes, approached this family and struck up a conversation. Not only were our suspicions confirmed regarding the missions work (church planting and discipleship up north), size of family (11 children), and choice of schooling (of course), but it turns out the husband/father, Jerry Wilhite, grew up in Iowa. They said I'd probably never heard of the town Russell. However, our pastor, Don Michaelsen, had spent several years pastoring at the church in Russell. Like a regular name dropper I mentioned his name and what do you know but 20 or so years ago they had known each other. Small world.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Life & Times of Louis & Amber - World Cup 2010

CONTENT ALERT: The following article touches on some subjects of a sensitive nature. Use discretion, please.

With June now upon us, we are coming up on one year until the 2010 World Cup commences in South Africa. The events will be held in different venues all over the country, culminating in the final match to be held in Johannesburg on July 11, 2010. For the last several years South Africa has been preparing to host this international athletic event that is second only to the Olympics. Excitement here is already at a fever pitch.

Just this past Saturday we had the opportunity to take advantage of some of the soccer mania that exists here. A good friend of ours, Judson K. Pietsch, has spent the last couple weeks here at The Pines. As he was on the soccer team at our college and now is coaching high school soccer, we thought it would be a great chance to combine his skills and knowledge with a bit of our ministry. When it comes to coordination, I'm a bit lacking, so it was a huge benefit to have Judd there to run things. The boys from our Bible Study gathered 28 of their friends and we held a soccer clinic at the school. Judd ran a few drills, then we held a competition complete with prizes. After that I had the chance to share the Gospel with all the boys, and finally we ended with a tournament. Soccer really is king here and it was a great chance for an open door to the message of salvation. Everyone is excited about the World Cup. You see billboards with the message "Bring it on, we can't wait" and one can frequently hear street vendors quoting the mantra "2010 is coming."

However, the preparations have not been without controversy. As many of you know, the problems in this country run much deeper than economic hardship. The heart of the problem goes back several thousand years, to when Adam & Eve chose to rebel against God’s command and choose their own way. The results of the sinful choices made down through the ages are very evident in the culture here. Government corruption, theft, murder, rape, drunkenness, substance abuse and any number of other vices can be observed all over the country.

South Africa has been criticized on numerous occasions, both internally and internationally, for its seeming intentional ignorance to the problems faced by its people. While millions are spent on upgrading the infrastructure, stadiums, and other facilities related to the World Cup, the people of this country continue to suffer. It is not the responsibility of government to solve societies problems, however, many of the choices made only serve to enhance the problems already here.

One significant problem that I have been concerned about for some time in relation to the World Cup seems now to be coming to the forefront. In 2006 the World Cup was held in Germany, admittedly a more advanced and educated culture. The German government expected over 50,000 prostitutes to frequent the venues of the event. In anticipation of this happening, they chose to legalize prostitution. In order to prevent these women and the lifestyles that accompany them from infiltrating portions of cities where they would not be welcome, the government actually developed temporary cities or red-light districts for this behavior to be propagated. Now, the South African government appears poised to do the same.

The reasons given for the legalization of prostitution are many. They claim it will allow the industry to be regulated which will make it safer for the women engaging in the trade (as if the government has a fabulous track record of regulating things). If it is regulated they think they will be able to keep it isolated to specific areas and that it will lower instances of rape. It is pointed out that it was a very popular decision in Germany so therefore it should be okay here. Legally recognizing this profession makes it a taxable industry and I think this is the true reason for the strength behind the movement. The people in government see it as a financial opportunity.

Consider for a minute the social ramifications of a decision of this nature, not only locally, but internationally. South Africa has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. According to the latest statistics 33% of women in their 20’s are HIV+ ( Doctors in our area say that it is more likely that 50% of the population in this demographic are HIV+. It would be safe to assume that women who engage in this kind of behavior have a significantly higher rate of infection.

When you take into account the global nature of soccer and the popularity of the World Cup, you will understand that people will be coming from all over the planet to participate in the festivities. People who may become infected will likely take it back to their own countries and spread it to their own families and beyond. I don’t want to sound like Chicken Little, but with the levels of immorality in this culture and the possibility of hundreds of thousands of foreigners participating in the “world’s oldest profession”, this could be a vehicle by which the HIV pandemic continues to spread from it’s heart in Africa to all parts of the world.

Already some at The Pines have been personally affected by some of these events. A granddaughter of one of the staff members recently ran away from home. When she went to the social workers she was told that they no longer even look for girls that disappear over the age of 15. For the past year already, in anticipation of the 2010 World Cup, organizations have begun recruiting young girls for training to become prostitutes. Whether it is voluntary or under compulsion, many young people are entering work that will endanger their lives and significantly shorten their life expectancy. Two years in advance of this exciting event there are people who are making plans to profit through the exploitation of young women. Fortunately, the granddaughter has since returned, but how many other girls have disappeared with no hope of return?

Many people are attempting to paint prostitution as an economic decision for these women. That may be true in a few cases, but the portrait painted speaks more to the moral depravity of humankind, and the enormous failure of the family unit. God’s primary institution of society is the family. When fathers disappear, when mothers sleep with any man that give attention, when the structure that God has ordained to provide guidance, discipline, and instruction breaks down it is inevitable that all kinds of corruption will naturally follow.

This is the culture we live in. This is the life that our children have come from and in most cases has led to the situation that causes the need for them to be here. The goal of The Pines is to break this cycle of licentiousness that leads to death. It is so clear that the immoral lifestyle practiced here leads to physical death.

What so many people fail to understand is that each and every person, no matter how moral they think they are, are destined to the same fate. James 2 tells us that whoever keeps the entire law, yet breaks it only in one small point, that person is guilty of breaking it all. The payment of sin is death. Where HIV is concerned it is physical death. Where God’s law is concerned it is spiritual death. That’s the bad news. The good news is that God has provided the antidote for our sickness of sin. Jesus Christ died and in so doing took the payment of our sin on His own shoulders. By His wounds we are healed. Just as a person with HIV cannot heal themselves, so a sinner cannot heal himself. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from our sin. While it is so easy to see the consequences in this culture, please don’t miss the consequences of sin in your own life. It must be paid for, and can only be paid for by Jesus Christ. Come in faith to Him and know the blessing of peace with God and confidence of eternal life.