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Saturday, December 16, 2017


Dear Friend of Vision for the Children International,

We are quickly approaching our 5-year ministry anniversary to at risk children, I am reminded of the importance of remembering the "Why" of what we do. A little over a year ago I was departing for two weeks to visit our ministry outreaches in the countries of Ukraine and Georgia. I remember sending up a quick prayer asking that this trip would be encouraging and give me a clearer understanding of our "Why".

Little did I know that I would find that answer in a small village 60km from the Russian border in the Republic of Georgia. It had been raining for over a week before arriving but that day the skies had cleared, the air was crisp and the views of snow covered mountains where spectacular as we made our way through puddles and mud to the village preschool. As we entered the Soviet era building we where greeted with warmth from the little wood stove and children full of excitement as Outreach Directors Johan and Marina setup and lead the children in songs and games that taught them English. As I watched the fun, one little preschooler (pictured above), stood out to me. Her beautiful smile, big eyes and enthusiasm were captivating and I realized that she didn’t need hope, she was full of it! Later as I reflected upon this time, I began to realize what she needed was for that hope to be protected. Sadly, to many children are growing up and losing this innocence through abuse, slavery and trafficking.

As I think about her and hundreds like her, I am reminded of how important it is to surround them with safe loving community where they are not forgotten and left to those who would prey upon them for selfish gain. At Vision for the Children International we are all about protecting the hope children have and restoring hope to children who have lost it. This is the “Why” of what we do.

To learn more about Directors Johann and Marina and see pictures of our ministries in The Republic of Georgia please visit our website at www.VFTCI.org

As you enjoy this Christmas season would you please consider supporting a child through your giving and prayers. Thank you so much for all you do in helping us continue to bring Hope and a Future to at risk children.

Blessings,
Christopher Green
President

If you would like to help protect or change a Childs circumstances consider a gift that will.
www.vftci.org/give 



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Who Can Understand the Mysteries of God? The ending of a chapter.



I wanted to wrap up the last two blogs I have posted by bringing everyone up to speed on the progress. Scott has been on a liver donor waiting list for nearly two years without any luck and it was not looking good for him to receive one. Thus the reason I volunteered to become a live donor for him and set a surgery date for this coming May 17th. Last week, Scott, for the second time in less than a month ended up in the hospital with another episode with only 12 days remaining before our surgeries. Prayers were going up like crazy that he would recover quickly and remain healthy enough to enter into surgery. Honestly I was becoming afraid he wouldn’t make it so close to the finish line but in a whirlwind of events that lasted for two days, doctors and surgery team announced that a 21-year-old had died locally that might be a match for him. Incredibly he was the correct blood type and his liver was a match as well. Then word came that the liver was a unique liver with two completely separate arteries entering into it so it could be divided and shared. Amazingly across the street at a children’s hospital, a two-year-old was also waiting for a liver transplant and everyone had the same blood type. Two surgeries later both Scott and a toddler have a new lease on life and are recovering well. Two years in the waiting and suddenly everything changes.

As I try to process all of this, I am left in profound awe. It is without a doubt that we serve a God who is mysterious in his ways. He is incomprehensible in magnitude and full of love beyond anything imaginable. How can we possibly understand our parts in his story or the impact we have when we submit to his leading.

The book of Job sums it up like this...

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.”  Job 11:7-9 NIV

Or King Solomon who said:
A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?
Proverbs 21:30

As much as I would like to know the “Why” of what he does, it is not mine to question in disrespect but to seek to understand and obey his promptings. Honestly, my heart is heavy and elated at the same time. Today the good news of Scotts successful surgery and of a young toddlers, is weighed against the loss of a young man who died in the prime of his life and took my place as the life giving donor. On one side, a wife, mother and family rejoice at the future they will have and on the other side a mother and family grieve the loss of their son. Who knows or who can comprehend Gods plans for us but we can rest assured that he is working all things for our good to those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Little did this young man know that in his death he would heal a family or answer the prayers of countless people. How do any of us know the effect of our obedience to a God who so loved the world that he gave his only son to save it. How can we know the impact of our lives that are lead in obedience to his requests?

I would not say that the last 6 months have been easy for me but I am very glad to have been allowed to be a part of Scott's story. In this life we are allowed the privilege of entering into the tapestry of another person’s life. Each one of us has a choice, like the Good Samaritan to stop or walk by. I would personally advocate that life really does not become worth living until you are willing to lose it.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Matthew 16:25-26 NIV.

I do wonder why God presented to me this opportunity and then like Abraham and his son at the very last moment is rescued from the course he was on (Gen 22). In this case, the "Why" may never be answered but I can search in my finite way to understand and learn from it. In my willingness to lay down my life for a friend it has been far reaching. My decisions ultimately affected my wife and my children and in the last six months I have had some very special talks with Monique and each of my children. Each one supported my decision 100 percent but each had to come to terms with it in their own way. I remember asking Monique if she was willing to lose me to death in my desire to save the life of a friend and his family. Her support of this came with a definite "Yes". I am thankful for her view on life and the realization that life is short and we must live it fully and with purpose. I am also grateful for my children who supported me and said that this was fitting of who I was and of my life's purpose.

On a personal note, I have become much more in tune with my own mortality. Life is very short but was I willing to ultimately give it up for a friend? The answer was "Yes" but there were many days I spent time with my children and granddaughter that I asked God for my will and not his. I love my family dearly and I especially love watching them live life to it fullness. It is an unbelievable feeling to sit back in the warmth of your life and just enjoy watching your children live life. I have been amazingly blessed in this life despite myself and my many mistakes. I feel as though God has graciously overlooked all my wrongs, the many years of my rebellion and blessed me with mercy and grace.

To sum up this chapter in my life, I am so thankful that Scott and his family will enjoy many years ahead together. I am also grateful to those who spoke to me of how this was encouraging and impactful to them. I appreciated the cards in the mail from complete strangers who wanted to just say thank you for the inspiration and that they were praying for me. I am thankful to my family for supporting me in this and their willingness to see this through to its conclusion. I am also deeply thankful to so many of you have given generously and sacrificially to Scott and his family, who signed up to bring meals, volunteered to take our children off our hands while I was recovering and to my parents who were willing to fly out and help us through the process. 

 In closing, let me encourage each of you to take risks in helping those we walk by in this life. It may not always turn out the way you hope, or be painless in the process but you will never know the impact you will have unless you try. If I have learned nothing else of the “Why” of this adventure, I have come to understand that I am cared for and loved by many and leave appreciating this precious gift called life and the journey God has me on.

CS Lewis sums it up so well in the following:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity





Monday, March 21, 2016

Its been a month since my last post and time for a quick update on our liver transplant process. As part of the surgery preparation, Scott met with his surgeon to evaluate his condition and go over next steps and his options.  In this meeting, Scott's surgeon deemed his health good enough to risk postponing his surgery for a couple of months.  The reasoning behind this was to make sure that my part as a live donor was only used as a last option.  At the same time, Scott was placed at the top of the liver donor waiting list to assure every possibility was given for him to receive a liver through traditional means.  The whole reasoning of this was to protect me from the risks involved in this surgery.

So to simply state what is happening.  We have set a final date for our surgery for May 17th.  If before that date Scott receives a liver through traditional means, then my part in the process is over. If this does not happen, I will be going into surgery on May 17th and donating my liver to Scott.  In all of this we are hoping for the best in either scenario.   There is a lot of preparation that needs to take place for this to happen and we would both appreciate your prayers and support.

I am very grateful for all the encouragement, support and love I have received since making this decision.  I want to also publicly thank my son Jeremiah, who spent so much time in helping set up, film and produce a short video of our situation.  He did this without hesitation and with such compassion.  It has been a very helpful tool in getting the word out.  I hope you can take a  moment to watch the video he produced.

I also would like to personally ask that you share this post and information in any way you can.  It is very rare when we are given such a tangible and real means to save a life.  You can be a huge part in the process of changing Scott's life and the future of his precious family for ever.  For more details on Scott, please watch the video below and follow the link to our GoFund account for a better understanding of the story of my dear friend and his family.





To help support or advocate for us, please share a link to this post and/or our gofund account below. Blessings to you all for your part in the process!

https://www.gofundme.com/c5ua4sws



Monday, February 22, 2016

An Announcment I am not too comfortable making...


What you are about to read is difficult for me to write. For one, I just simply don’t feel comfortable bringing attention to myself in this regard and the other reason is it really is not about me. The reality is that the news is out there and I thought it was important for you, my friends, to know what is going on in our lives. It is my hope that you will hold us up in prayer and support during this time. So please indulge me while I take a moment to ramble and shoot from my heart. 


My personal thoughts are that this life was never meant to be lived in so much comfort that we become blind to the hurting of our world. Like the parable of the Good Samaritan it is important that we do not become so busy, complacent or uncompassionate that we walk by opportunities that we can have a positive impact on. This is not easy but I believe it is a part of the Christian walk. If Jesus was willing to lay down his life for us, then we too must be willing to do the same for others. All of us in this life take calculated risks for what we feel important. Take for example driving to work. Each day, we hop into our cars and risk life and limb to get to work. Why? Because providing shelter, warmth, food and a future for ourselves and our families are worth that risk. How about sports we enjoy? I love to ski and many of you do to but the reality is that it can be dangerous. We take that risk because it is a calculated risk. The pleasure and enjoyment it brings to our lives is worth it. Sometime we choose to suffer temporarily to obtain something we view as having value for the future. Examples: exercise, training for a marathon, or putting aside immediate pleasures to invest in a future retirement or save for a rainy day. The end results make it worth the temporary suffering of the moment. Life is short. I hope we all have come to some understanding of that. What we do with our time and short lives has value now and for the future of those we leave behind. 

Well there is my introduction to the motivation and what follows is the why and how. A few weeks ago I sent this letter to my family and a few others who would be impacted by the news. The following is a little modified for better understanding but keeps the original essence of the original letter. Thank you for joining us in this journey and feel free to write me if you have any concerns or questions. I have been so blessed to be surrounded with so many of you who have expressed their care, support and love for us. This choice literally takes a village as the saying goes. 


Dear Friends,
I wanted to keep you in the loop with something that is going on in my life. About two years ago a dear friend and father of six and someone I hold in the highest esteem, was diagnosed with liver disease and was placed on the donor waiting list for a transplant. In the last few years, he has battled the symptoms and has ended up in the hospital many times battling for his life. A year ago I found out through Monique that I was the same blood type as Scott. After some prayer, I decided I should let him know that I was willing to become a live donor for him if it came down to it.

Around five months ago he went through a very bad episode and his doctor said it wasn't looking good for him to get a transplant on the waiting list and he should contact those who had offered to be a live donor. The reality was he might not live through the next episode. I was contacted and I told him I was still willing to go through the process. Three months ago, I called University Colorado Hospital and started the process of getting approved, I did labs, interviews and last week I spent two days at UCH Medical Hospital with Monique getting MRI's, Cat Scans, X-rays, blood tests, and meetings with numerous doctors, surgeons and social workers. Honestly, I didn't think I would pass the physical piece and be a match for him at my age. The vast majority of people get rejected for being a donor.

In my case, on Thursday, all my blood work and mental capability were approved by a hospital panel and on Friday they reviewed my body, intestinal and organ images etc. and I was deemed completely healthy. I was told I was approved and a match to be a live donor transplant for Scott. According to my live donor coordinator this is very rare. Without a transplant Scott will most likely die this year and leave six children fatherless and his lovely wife a widow.

I have taken this process very seriously considering all the possibilities that may result and have spent a lot of time in prayer (and few sleepless nights). Monique and I both agree that this is the right thing to do and worth the risks involved. So I have decided that I will be doing an elective surgery and donating my liver to Scott. It is not an easy one, it has risks, a 7-10-day recovery in the hospital and somewhere between two and three months’ recovery time for me. I will not be incapacitated during these three months but need to take it easy and it will be exhausting on me as my body regrows a new liver. I will be able to continue to do things and I plan on focusing home recovery time towards running Vision for the Children International and a few other things that I can do while sitting at a desk. Once I have recovered, there are no known long term issues for me and I will return to life physically as if it never happened. For Scott, it is the same but he will get another chance at life and his family will hopefully have a husband and father for many years to come. 

There is still a chance that Scott could get a cadaver liver while on the waiting list (he has been escalated to the top of the waiting list now) and that is preferred all around. The medical doctors will not allow me to proceed if one comes available (please pray this happens, it is the best option). If all continues as planned, I will be having the transplant surgery at University Colorado Hospital the third week of May and they are the best in the US. I will be treated with the best care and have a private nurse 24/7 monitoring my health and recovery while in the hospital. The liver is the only organ in your body that will complete renew itself. After they take 2/3 of my left liver lobe it will grow a completely new one in about 6 weeks. I will gain a nice scar under my rib cage that looks like a hockey stick about 5-6 inches long as the only reminder of the procedure. 

I have had a long time to process this and although I don't slightly want to go through the pain and discomfort of the process, I know it's the right thing to do and I am totally at peace with this decision. Monique also feels the same way about this and is at peace with this decision as well. Let me say that this goes far beyond Scotts and our friendship alone. I couldn’t imagine how painful it would be for his wife and their 6 children to lose him to so soon to death. This family has suffered so much all ready, from Scotts past fight with cancer, current liver disease and recently their oldest daughter nearly being killed in a car accident. I also can’t imagine how painful it is for his family to live day to day with a future full of so much uncertainty. The thought of me suffering for three months is nothing when compared to the hope of seeing a family restored and healed. I have been so blessed with my family and I have enjoyed a long enough life to see my children grow up an even enjoy a grandchild. I want Scott to have that experience as well. 

A major contributor to this whole process has been the love and support of Monique through all of it. This has been no small thing for her but in her words “The risks are worth the possibilities”. Without her approval and support of my decision this would not be a reality. She has been willing from the very start to do whatever is necessary to help support me.

There is still a lot to do before this can happen, work forms, Family Medical Leave, short term disability and fundraising to raise money for lost wages and income during the three months etc. I understand that this is all of a sudden but I wanted to write you so that each of you had time to process this. It was not my plan to keep it a secret from anyone but it did not make any sense to worry you with the slim chance I would be approved in the first place. 

Thanks you for your prayers and support in this.  My son is putting together a video interview shortly and there will be more posts  to follow as we journey through this together.

A recent picture of Scott and his beautiful family...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Doing more with less.



In August of 2012, I took the second most impactful trip of my life. The first was a six week trip in Ukraine to adopt our two children Daniel and Lydia. The second would launch me into a future I had only dreamed of. Traveling for two weeks in Ukraine leading a group of missionaries and researching the launch of a Transitional Home for orphans I began to catch a vision for what would later launch a ministry called Vision for the Children International. Underneath the surface of it all was something, that I believe helped change our lives and make this new vision and journey a reality.


I have a profound respect for those I have met who live outside our western culture. Most families I have encountered in Eastern Europe have lived in apartments and homes about a third the size of our home I live in with simplicity, contentment and gratitude for what they have. I have been the guest of those who have given their last chicken to bless us with a dinner. I have slept in beds that sagged so much that I have felt I was sleeping in a hammock. And in every instance I have seen eyes full of love, hearts of gold and a contentment with what they have been given and yet I could not understand or grasp how this could be when they live with so little? How could living with less bring so much contentment?


Perplexing as this was for me, I began to be overwhelmed with a simple truth that I lived in the exact opposite realm as they did full of stuff, excess and clutter. My life was packed. Every room, closet, drawer and hour was full to the brim. For years I had been asking to be used by God but the reality was how could he. I had no time left for him. A simple realization happened, for us to be used, we needed to make the space and time for it to happen. Needless to say, it was not easy to un clutter our lives but fast forward three and a half years and Monique and I are living a much simpler life, having greater impact than we have ever had and learning to be content with what we have. Much of this has been a result of four major changes we have implemented in our lives.


1. Turn off the TV. 5 years ago I just stopped watching it. I needed more time and it was a simply way of gaining more time in the day. Besides, If you haven't noticed, TV is loaded with constant commercialism designed to make you discontent with what you have and desire something more. That said, it doesn't mean I don't watch movies. I love my Netflix and the ability to choose what I entertain my time with when I want to disconnect and just relax.


2. Simplify your home. In other words, get rid of the excess. This has not been an easy one for us and has been full of great learning experiences and periods of unhappy times as I learned you don't thin out excess in certain areas ( like the kitchen ) without full agreement from your wife. A lesson I learned quickly and will never do again but it's been worth it all in the end. Learning to live with less has been such a huge freeing experience. Life flows smoother when you don't have to maintain a house full of excess stuff. Things are easier to find and areas are easier to keep clean. It also allows your stuff to go to those who might need it more than you. It also enables organizations to do so much good through the profits made by selling your unused stuff and as a bonus you just might get a tax break. Simply rule of thumb. If you haven't used it in the last two years, give it to those who might.


3. Simplify your life. Find ways to make it easier. Set up all your bills to be paid automatically and cut back on unnecessary events. Learn to say "No" to every request for your time. And, a hard one for me, stop being a control fanatic and allow others to share your load. For you to be used by God you must free up time for that to happen.


4. Be still. You can't find direction and contentment without pausing for times of reflection and peace. This is one of my biggest weaknesses so I decided to challenge myself in 2016 to take a baby step and consistently set aside 10 minutes a day to sit, be still, pray, meditate and just listen. So far these ten minutes are my favorite part of the day and often lead to more than ten minutes as I enjoy my mornings times in meditation.


5. Lastly, Be positive. The bible says to renew our minds. Focus on the positives. Take time to thank God for the good in your life and the promises he has given us. When we do this, our focus changes from the have nots to the haves. I generally do this in the morning and it is amazing how this sets the tone for the rest of my day.


The ultimate purpose of all of this is to allow for the space, time and change in mindset in your day to day life to allow God to enter into it, speak into you and fill it with purpose and direction. If you find yourself with barely enough time, these few suggestions might be what you need to change your future and impact others in the process.



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lose Your Height

A learned pleasure for me lately has been teaching Sunday school for a bunch of little kiddos at my church. At 6'1" I tower over these little guys. You would think that at my height I would have some type of intimidating authority, control and rule but instead the opposite seems to be true. My words seem relatively useless as I direct them to a loud, rambunctious, and often silly group of children. There seems to be this two and half foot gap of disconnect between me and them. But something amazing happens when I leave my lofty perch and get down on my knees, sit in their tiny chairs, play and draw with them. They begin to connect with me, their eyes light up and I am allowed the opportunity to enter their beautiful tiny and sometimes scary little world.

I woke to these thoughts this morning in Kiev, Ukraine as I reflected on how I have changed over the last few years. One valuable life lesson I've learned during this time, is to check my American ideology at the airport before leaving to another country. We cannot go, live life or influence others significantly if we think ourselves or our ideology better than others. When we do this we will naturally look down on others if they do not align with our way of thinking. When God said Go into all the world he did not want us to condemn but to serve others in truth and to represent grace and mercy. I believe God never asks us to do anything he hasn't done. So how has our God demonstrated these principles to us? In simplicity, He came from his heavenly thrown to come down to our earthly level. He then showed through his life to serve others by taking it even further. He humbled himself by going two and half feet further to kneel before us while he cleaned our dirty feet. Can we do that? It's not easy to humble ourselves and become vulnerable but when we begin to put this into practice, everything begins to change. Blinders come off our eyes and a precious and beautiful world opens before us. Verses likes "It's better to give than to receive" begin to actually make sense. Greed, gluttony and excess begin to rub you wrong and it naturally influences the way you live. You slowly begin to care less and less about what you personally can get out of life and how you can give more away. At the risk of sounding preachy, I often wonder how kind history will be on our super sized McMansion lifestyles. How can we live so blessed and ignore those in our world that barely survive and have so little hope of anything better? It is our responsibility, biblically speaking, to care for this earth and to bring good news to a hurting world. It's not someone else's problem it is ours. We are commanded to go, to give and to care for the least of these in our world. Let us not someday stand before our God making excuses for our mega flat screen tv's while our worlds children died because they went without our love and care. Lets begin to do today what we can, to give from our richness and blessings. Let us model our saviors example and get down on our knees and look up into those hurting and wounded eyes and wash some feet.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Where are my KEYs?

Something I take for granted, as long as they are close to me, are my keys.  I personally hate having them in my pockets so they always end up in my backpack or tossed in a basket.  I must have at least ten keys on my key ring and it would take me a bit to figure out which one goes to what but carry them I must.  One exception to this rule is when I travel.  I have no need for keys when I travel so I abandon them on my desk to be left but never forgotten.  Without them close by, my mind often franticly does a search for them.  Which pocket of my bags are they in?  Were did I last have them?  On and on my mind will repeat this as I go from one place to another.  Its like a strange invisible umbilical cord that attaches me to them. It is amazing to me how keys have become such a part of my anatomy.  Its a strange feeling, as though I need to know that I can lock myself in or out, open a door or turn the ignition on and speed away.  So here I fly to Eastern Europe again with this nagging feeling that I need them but in reality I have no need for them at all. What I need more than to open a physical door or to turn on a car, is the assurance that my God has spiritual doors waiting to be opened that I can walk through.   Maybe today my need for keys are just a personal need to control the doors I want opened.  Whatever the case, today I release that control to God and Go in faith.   He holds the keys and I look forward to the journey and the wide open doors...  

1 Corinthians 2:9  However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"   James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.