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the whisper of hope

If you're going to whisper to someone you have to be really close to them - close enough to touch. And that is how God talks to us most times - in a whisper. And if poverty is more an inward condition of hopelessness than of outward circumstances how ab

Updated: 2015-09-17T02:40:34.559-04:00


I drove past Jesus 3 times today


So I'm near the University of Akron today heading to a job-site and I see a woman in a wheelchair on a corner with a sign asking for food or clothes ("anything helps......God Bless" the sign notes). But the light changed and I wasn't going to block traffic and get out of my I drove on.

Then as I approached another intersection there's a guy with a similar sign and the light has just turned red so I'm thinking "I have plenty of time to get out, or even call the guy over". But there's this big SUV in the lane closest to the sign guy and I'm in the middle lane, so I pull up beside the big SUV and it hides my car from the sign guy. Then I sit there and wonder why the guy in the big, shiny SUV with the chrome rims doesn't give sign guy a little something. I mean he is CLOSER to sign guy after all. But he doesn't and the light turns green and ..............I drive on.

Very next light, no kidding, is sign person number three. So I've noticed beggars near the highway at the U of A before and I'm now starting to wonder why they're near a college campus and not downtown near all the big office buildings. Perhaps panhandling laws? Or maybe the asking is better near 20 somethings who work and go to classes and have just enough vs. those of us who have plenty and work hard for it thank you very much? Okay that's a subject for another posting. Let's go back to my short story of being UNchristian today.

So yeah the very next light is person number three. But the light is green and I'm on the clock for work anyway so.................I drive on.

Then I thought of Matthew 5:42 where Jesus tells us to "give to those who ask". The sadder part of that is I just listened to a sermon about this teaching last Sunday!

I'll bet somewhere today, just outside my range of hearing, a rooster crowed.



So what do an RN, AHC, Pharmacist, Carpenter, Marketing Director and 4 nursing students have in common? Not much.

Right now we are acquaintances.

Tomorrow we arrive in Peru together.

In a few days we become fast friends.

Those of you who've been on a mission trip understand this dynamic. There is something amazing about experiencing God together that binds you to each other. It happens with every team. This one will be no different.

Some of us are stressed. Some are unemployed. Some have never volunteered for anything in our life. Some have had a week that turned them upside down.

Tomorrow it all gets set aside.

"Jesus, show us your heart for your people and children in Peru."

100 years of Progress


We’ve come a long way baby……………….

I received an email this week with some interesting statistics about 1909:

- The average wage was 22 cents an hour
- 95% of all births took place at home
- Eggs were 14 cents a dozen
- 8% of homes had a telephone
- 6% of Americans graduated from high school
- 2 0f 10 adults couldn't read or write

I cannot corroborate any of the above.

The email also listed the 5 leading causes of death, one of which was diarrhea. So I did look this up ( and found that diarrhea was indeed the 4th leading cause of death in 1909. By 1911 it was down to 6th, 8th in 1918, out of the top 10 in 1933 and gone from the top 20 by 1960.

We’ve come a long way baby……………………….or have we?

One of the top 5 culprits in killing 30,000 children under the age of five today (and by today I mean in the last 24 hours): diarrhea.

And tomorrow we lose 30,000 more.



Read Ezekiel 16:49. Better yet read Ezekiel chapter 16. It's basically the story of God picking up the nation of Israel out of the the blood and muck after her being discarded and thrown away at her birth. How God saw her and rescued her and gently and lovingly cleaned her up. God nurtures her and adorns her with fine clothing and shining jewelry. He puts a crown on her head and takes her as his wife.

And she prostitutes herself.

So in verse 49 God compares Israel to a town called Sodom. Sodom was completely wiped out by God because the town was so wicked. There was constant lewd sex and drunkenness and revelry all day and night. So God wipes out the town.

But verse 49 clarifies Sodom's sins some and they sound a lot more broad and general to me. It says "Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony and laziness, while she closed her borders to the poor and needy, in hopes of protecting her own interests."

Okay it doesn't say that exactly. My paraphrase.

In the New Living Translation: "Sodom's sins were pride, gluttony and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door."


If you're a reader check out "The Last Town on Earth" by Thomas Mullen. It's a novel set in 1918. While the country was embroiled in war a plague of biblical magnitude erupts on the home front. The town of Commonwealth, Washington decides to isolate itself and keep everyone from coming and going, by all means necessary. Check this book out and see how it worked out for them.

The Hiding Place


I just finished reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom. This story of a family from Holland that hid Jews during the German occupation was incredible. The faith they lived out makes me jealous and introspective. My life looks cushy and boring in comparison. I don't wish their hardships on my life. But I am jealous of their wild adventure with the Savior.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: "I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work he will give us to do."

The saddest story in the book is when the ten Boom family asks a local pastor to care for a Jewish baby that just arrived at their home. Corrie picks up the story as she pulls back the covers so this pastor can see the baby: "There was a long silence. The man bent forward, his hand in spite of himself reaching for the tiny fist curled around the blanket. For a moment I saw compassion and fear struggle in his face. Then he straightened. 'No. Definitely not. We could lose our lives for that Jewish child!'"

Oh my, this guy probably missed the adventure of a lifetime. And didn't a Jewish child lose His life for this pastor already? Hmmm.................

One lesson Corrie learned from her sister Betsie: to give thanks in all circumstances. When the sisters arrived in Ravensbruck concentration camp they soon discovered their barracks and straw bedding were flea infested. Betsie insisted they could give thanks even for fleas. I read this thinking, as the author did also, that there is no possible way God can use fleas for anything positive. And as I write this there is a verse that comes to mind that goes something like "my thoughts are higher than your thoughts; my ways higher than your ways" ...........or something close. And months later Corrie writes that she never could understand the freedom her and the ladies of Barracks 28 had while on knitting duty. You see, the German guards and officers NEVER entered this area. Why? The fleas! And while the knitters of Barracks 28 worked, the ten Boom sisters were able to read to the others from the bible they managed to smuggle in. And light shined in the darkest of places.

So you may assume, as I did, that "The Hiding Place" is where Corrie ten Boom and her family hid and cared for Jews. A physical place.

You would be wrong.

Read the book and find out what the real hiding place is.

a person of influence


I wanted to encourage any readers of my blog (okay, both of you) to read this one as well:

Kathleen is a high school student that is a great writer, an aspiring actress, and a Jesus follower. I found her most recent blog, titled "Tom Hanks!", very interesting. She writes about how awesome it was to meet him and spend a day with him.

But I can tell you I have met someone way more interesting than Tom Hanks. I know this young lady, let's call her Kat, that is way more influential than Tom. She recently spent time in a foreign country learning about God's heart for children on the margins and the poor. And she came home different.

She writes and blogs about her experiences and life and all kinds of interesting things. She has hopes and dreams that include building the kingdom of God in her lifetime and not just about how much stuff and money she can collect. And then she went to a theatre teacher along with her sister (let's call her Liz) and stated her concern about the inappropriateness of the play the class was to learn and perform. And lo and behold the teacher................changed the play!

That's leadership! That's courage! That's influence!

So you see, I know this girl with way more influence than Tom Hanks. A young lady with the hope of Christ in her heart who not only learned from me on a mission trip, but taught me as well.

Kathleen Finley!

Got peace?


"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock." Isaiah 26: 3,4 (NLT)

Trust: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence; hope.

Trust is not superficial or easy. It doesn't happen overnight. It comes from a deep relationship and time spent with someone. And trust is a two way street.

You don't, shouldn't even, trust someone that you met last night. You can't really know someone that you may or may not even spend an hour with on the weekend.

So how can we trust God if we really don't know Him?

I've been chewing on this verse this morning and I notice that the "perfect peace" comes from keeping my thoughts on God and trusting Him. I have to act. I have to move toward God.

I've also noticed that perfect peace is a place inside of me and not necessarily me getting what I want.

One Less Toothbrush


This past weekend my wife Chris and I moved our 19 year old son (our youngest) to Tennessee.
The state.

I wish it were a town close to here. But it’s not. It’s over an eight hour drive away. And I miss him already. As a father I have secretly looked forward to the empty nest days. And I think it hit me this summer as we were preparing for Andrew’s move: I miss yesterday more.

As I drive past soccer fields I think back to the days when both my kids played. It was drudgery sometimes, that getting up early on a Saturday morning with much of your day planned out. Not to mention practice a couple times a week. And then there was baseball. Man did we spend lots of time together. Practice several times a week before the season started and then two or three games a week. You learn a lot about each other as a father and son. As I drive past a ball field I have specific memories that stand out for each one. And the great families and friends and kids I met along the way. And more recently the concerts we’ve gone to and even driving to the recreation center to work out and play some hoops. I even miss the thrash metal music emanating from his bedroom.

I miss those days. My dad always told my wife and I to appreciate them. He said they grow up fast. I didn’t get it at the time. And I can give the same advice to other parents. But you have to experience a little separation to really get it, I think. Maybe when they go off to college. Or if they move away.

You look forward to some “down time” on the raising kids thing. And then that time comes. And suddenly you realize they were not yours alone to begin with. They were created by God for His glory and you were just a partner in raising them.

One day every parent will walk into the bathroom and realize what I did today.

There’s one less toothbrush in the holder.

Tennessee and RN life


What a difference a year will make in the life of mi familia.

Today my wife Chris and I leave for Tennessee to move our son Andrew down there. He and some old and new friends are forming a band. They will worship God with their life and their music.

Our daughter Sara just stated her senior year of nursing school at Kent State Stark.

So this time next year Andrew will have recorded and published some music. Sara will be an RN.

Time marches on.

Got Hope?


My Grandpa Evans passed away last night. My grandma passed away some 25 years ago so it's cool that he finally gets to see her again. He waited a long time.

Even as a believer I sometimes wonder if heaven will be boring. Are we just gonna bow at the throne and worship all day and sniff incense? And then I remembered that God put over 200 different muscles in a single caterpillar. If He bothered to be that creative with the earth and everything in it, how much more will heaven rock?

My grandpa was basically blind. But no more. A line from a Mercy Me song comes to mind: "The blind frozen, by colors in view."

Are you coming to the party?

Closed door or Challenge?


Our time at Austin Peay State Univ yesterday was fruitful. We learned a lot. But not what we wanted. Basically the only way for a student to get in-state tuition is for the parents to move (we're not moving) or to not claim the student as a dependent. Soooo...... we are kicking Andrew out!

No, not really.

But we were pretty bummed. Stunned actually. We thought we knew what the plan was. We sat around at the University Center wondering what the heck to do. Then Jacob called about the church being open so we drove there to unload Andrew's drums. When we got there most of the band members were present so we got to meet them for the first time. Andrew felt pretty good after that.

We talked some and went apartment shopping and found some decent places. So it looks like the plan right now may be for him to take one year off school so we can file 2009 taxes without claiming him as a dependent. Then in a year he can get the in-state tuition rate. We will see.

It was cool talking with him late last night about how God works. And we both wondered out loud if this is a closed door from Him or the enemies attempt to keep Andrew from following God. Anyone else wonder why He doesn't just speak audibly? That would make this so much easier. But maybe that would take the whole faith equation away. I think God is way more interested in us connecting and seeking Him than He is in just giving us an answer. It's all about who we are becoming on the journey and not the destination.

I've noted this quote from Brennan Manning numerous times and it is so appropriate here:

"Craving clarity we seek to eliminate the risk of trusting God."

A big day


I'm in Clarksville, TN with my son Andrew. He is moving here to join a worship band and go to college at Austin Peay State University. Today is a big day. No, today is a huge day. There is about $10,000.00 per year difference in tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents.

We can not afford the out of state rate.

We need God to come through in a big way. Not sure what we will do if not. Andrew needs to be a full time student to have health insurance. And to not have to start paying back the student loans we already have. And then there's lodging (we have no idea where he is going to live at this point) and auto insurance and the list goes on and on.

God, are you here with us? Is this where you want Andrew to be? We've asked you before and we think the answer is "yes". I guess that's one way of determining His will. You walk through doors until they close.

I feel like I'm way out on a limb here as a father. Maybe that's how He felt when He sent His son to die for us. That is His rescue plan. There is no plan "B".

God vs. grass-eating bull


Psalm 106:20 struck me this morning.

The Psalmist is re-capping a little Israeli history. They havn't been too long from Egypt when they lost patience waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain after his conference with God. So they melted all their gold and made a calf. They wanted something to worship. Something to capture their imaginations.

"They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull." (NLT)


Makes me realize I've traded God for trivial, meaningless things.

Got any grass-eating bulls in your life?

Could we be in trouble?


"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."

- Nelson Mandela

5 Ministers


Last week in Ecuador I met five of THE best ministers I have ever know. Well, actually I already know them. I just got to see them in action like never before last week.

And here is who they are not. They are not the preacher from the church we attended. They are not the local missionaries who have been living there for years. They are not employed by Compassion International or ChildReach Ministries or HCJB or Extreme Response. They are not keynote speakers at a conference.

Here is who they are:

Matthew Schario age 13

Adam Schario age 11

Mallory Schario age 9

Jon Mark Schario age 7

Ellie Schario age 5 (going on 15 according to her dad)

None of them preached a sermon or taught a bible lesson. They were simply present. It was awesome to see Matthew get into the thick of all the soccer action and help out wherever needed. He is also a good writer and thinker. Check out his thoughts at He's also pretty darn funny too. If there is a young person more interested in the animals God created than Adam I have not met them. Adam loves them all and had a hard time tasting the cuy (guinea pig) cause he knew it was once alive. Mallory has the gifts of motherhood and shepherding to the highest degree. To see her with the kids in Ecuador is a real treat. Jon Mark is incredibly affectionate and not afraid to show it. One of the most creative 7 year old's I have been around. He loved on the mission team. And then there is Ellie. Can the gift of leadership show up in a 5 year old? It sure can. I have seen it. Ellie will take anyone young or old, rich or poor, white or brown, by the hand and lead them exactly where she thinks they should go. There is no pretense or favoritism in her being. And she already knows way more Spanish words than her dad. Probably comes from all the conversations she has with the Ecuadorian kids. If Ellie is not talking, well............she's asleep.

To watch these kids minister to kids was the gospel in action. Real time spent with people. Loving them. Getting to know them. Suffering with them. That is who Jesus was.




"And a little child will lead them."

Travelin Man


Getting ready to leave our lodging for the Quito airport. CAK tomorrow morning at 11:45 am if all goes according to plan. G'night.

Ecuador is Burning


Well, not the whole country. Just the 1/2 acre hillside beside the building we are living in for the week. We came "home" from our Vacation Bible School yesterday to find it charred and smoking. And Dan Malloy with Extreme Response (the ministry that manages our building), who, amazingly enough, is from Akron, OH, told the story. He arrived in the afternoon to find the whole hillside in flames. And no one was putting it out. So Dan called the fire department and then went on the roof with his daughter, got a hose hooked up, and started dousing the flames. When the fire departement arrived 30 minutes later...............yes I wrote 30 MINUTES LATER..............Dan, his daughter, and a neighbor had the fire mostly out. But check this out: the fire department was 2 dudes on motorcycles with water filled backpacks! That's crazy and cool all at once. So these guys really took over once they arrived (sarcasm intended). They went up on our roof and used the hoses Dan and his daughter had used and made sure the fire was out.

So either all the buildings in Quito, Ecuador are concrete because they don't have a fire department, or there's not much of a fire department in Quito, Ecuador because all the buildings are concrete. Or both.

But what is really burning in Ecuador is the hearts of my mission team for these people and these children, and God inside them. I am so proud of how they came here open and ready to experience everything and soaked it all in. Yesterday's VBS/Carnival was a blast with 166 kids from the La Comuna neighborhood. We had about a dozen game stations and smiles were to be had all around. The sister's Finley wrote an incredible skit (performed mimed) and recruited some of the team members to act it out. It was about a girl who kept trading her heart for the the things of this world and the deceitfullness of wealth. She ended up with it torn in pieces. Jesus (aka Tom Valentine) came and blew away her broken heart and gave her a new one. I really enjoyed watching from the back as all the kids got silent and stood on their chairs to see. A sacred moment for me for sure. Video on youtube to follow.



I've been asking the team each night to describe the highlight of each day for them. And as I think about my response to this several things come to mind.

It was pretty amazing to have 4 local families willing to host us for dinner last night. So we divided into four teams and just happened to have (enter God) four people with enough spanish to get us through and be able to talk with the families. One group went to a very small home that invited all their relatives over. Not to eat with them as they couldn't afford to feed that many, but to see the gringos. Another group went to the home of a single mother and ate with her and her daughter and a friend.

Last night Krista said Monday was the best day of her life. That's exciting for me to hear from an 18 year old college student who spent the day painting, playing soccer with the neighborhood kids, and leading her group in conversation at dinner with her spanish. I would bet that 90% of the rest of the 18 year olds from the United States would describe the day as their best ever after lounging on the beach or getting an iPhone.

But I will have to answer this question for me with seeing two girls at the Nuevos Amigos site that I have not see for two years. Carolina and Veronica. I had lunch with them over two years ago there. And these are girls with hope thanks to Compassion International and Nuevos Amigos. One wants to be a teacher. The other a nurse. As the day was winding down Christy wanted to pray with the kids and we ended up asking Carolina to pray. And it was in Spanish and not translated and sounded like beautiful music. Maybe that's why in Revelation our prayers are described as being like incense to God. They are transformed into something more than words.

And they transform.

mission team dynamics


So as usual I am really looking forward to getting my team to Quito, Ecuador this Saturday. It's the first mission trip for all but one and most have never been out of the country. We're a part of ChildReach Ministries ( and will spend time painting at Nuevos Amigos Christian School, visiting Compassion Internationals child survival and leadership development programs, meeting the kids we sponsor, attending a cross cultural worship service, putting on a VBS/Carnival and seeing poverty on a level that is hard to compare with anything in the United States.

And my team doesn't realize it yet, but we will become fast friends. I am always amazed at how this takes years to accomplish when we are all wrapped up in jobs and school and parenthood and whatever but takes about 4 days on the mission field. Why is that? I believe it's because of what we experience together: incredible joy, deep sorrow, a God who comes on strong and is way bigger than we ever imagined.

So are you ready Tom, Christy, Shawn, Krista, Kim, Jeff, Marty, Lisa, Jonathan, Rachel and Karissa? Ready to meet people who live in extreme poverty but have incredible joy?
Ready to have your heart broken by the beautiful brown haired, brown eyed children of Ecuador? And ready to make some friends and have an experience you will remember for the rest of your life? Here we go............

god moments


I'm learning that most "God Moments" happen along the way to somewhere else. They are unexpected, unplanned. They seem like interruptions. I think I end up missing most of these moments. I'm a planner and don't like changes to my schedule.

Jesus was good at this. Much of his interaction with people seems to have occurred on the way to somewhere. He was great at being truly present in the moment. He soaked in every opportunity to be with people.

Last night at the Lock 3 concert in Akron we met a dad and his two daughters. But not until we were leaving. It was crowded so my wife Chris told them they could spread out a little into our space (they were sitting behind us on the lawn). We chatted a bit and were amazed to discover they are driving up from Columbus every weekend for these concerts. "We don't have anything like this", the dad said. He told us hid oldest daughter, who looked maybe 12, loves older music like The Beatles.

And as I walked away and drove home, I thought about them. I wanted to connect with them in a deeper way. Like offering them a place to stay when they come up. But I didn't.

Did I miss a "God Moment" last night?

"ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church"


I don't know about you, but I'm bored with middle-class, good mannered religion. And just like God vandalizing the temple curtain, authors Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch spray graffiti on the church wall. But not out of contempt. They do it in deep love for her, asking her, asking you and I, to turn; to re-turn to the core of the founder. Jesus the Nazarene.

While the book is somewhat of a difficult read, I recommend trudging through it. Their sentiment about the church, especially in the West, resonates with me:

"To be sure, we do not like gatherings of strangers who never meet or know each other outside of Sundays, who sit passively while virtual strangers preach and lead singing, who put up with second-rate pseudo-community under the guise of connection with each other, who live different lives from Monday to Saturday than they do on Sunday, whose sole expression of worship is pop-style praise and worship, who rarely laugh together, fight injustice together, eat together, pray together, raise each others' children together, serve the poor together, or share Jesus with those who have not yet been set free. We do not like the church if it's a fractured organization with hundreds of competing creeds, names, and doctrines, teaching a multitude of contradictory beliefs and insisting on compliance with a raft of recently invented traditions. But if it's a family of Jesus followers striving, no matter how inadequately, to be Christlike, holistic, peace-loving, worshipful, devoted, graced, holy and healthy, then we will love it with every ounce of physical and emotional strength we have."


Schario Family Adventure


My friend/mentor/guy I can tell anything to/brutha from anotha mutha and his family are in Quito, Ecuador for the summer. They are there to give themselves away by serving children in poverty. They will meet some incredible people. They will come home filled up with God and Hope.

Follow their summer at

5 matchbox cars and the early church


My wife Chris and I visited the Compassion child my grandparents sponsor while we were in Peru last week. Jhordy was shy and reserved but came out of his shell rather quickly. His mother Merlini and younger brother Dustin came along with him for the visit. We learned his father, Manuel, is a sewer for a living.

My favorite part of the day was watching him play with the 5 matchbox cars from the backpack we gave him. They were his favorite, which made me wonder what would happen when brother Dustin got his hands on one. Well I was loving the fact that Jhordy shared right off the bat, just like it was second nature. They ran those 5 cars over logs and grass and concrete and chairs together, basically everything they could find. And then they both seemed to remember the slides they played on earlier in the day.

I soon found myself watching Jhordy and Dustin climb up through the tubes to let the cars go screaming down the slides. They could have done that all day I think. Enter 15 other compassion kids and siblings playing in the same area. I found myself keeping track of those cars for Jhordy. It seemed they meant a lot to him and I didn't want other kids taking his property. All was going well until Luis, a compassion child a few years older than Jhordy, entered the scene. He watched the cars go down the slide and then positioned himself at the bottom one time as Jhordy released the cars from the top. So I figured this was where I would get to step in and explain to Luis that these were not his cars and could you please give them back. I even pictured Luis running off with them an me chasing him.

So down came the cars, followed by Jhordy. When he got to the bottom there was Luis, holding the cars. I watched. I expected an argument at the least and a fight at worst.

But Luis simply handed Jhordy the cars and then Jhordy handed one back and they both proceded to race those cars down the slide. The cars, it seems, were not private property. They were to be shared.

Reminds me of something I've read about the early church sharing all their possessions so no one was in need.

Two Compassion sponsored boys under the age of 8, whose families probably live on less per day than I spend for a cup of coffee, gave me a Bible lesson in practical life.

"........and a little child will lead them."



Long travel day to Peru starts now (3:30am) and completes about midnight tonight............or is that tomorrow night?

1 + 6 +31 = ?


? = sweet, beautiful chaos

1 movie (monsters & aliens in 3D at Great Escape) plus 6 adults (and I use that term loosely) plus 31 Hands of Hope kids was an interesting adventure yesterday.

I expected poor kids from the projects to be a little awed by a movie at a theatre on a big screen, especially in 3D. Which really means I expected them to sit and be quiet and "good".

They weren't.

They wanted more popcorn and something to drink and to sit in a different seat and beside someone else and to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water and they talked over the movie and.................

This in one difference I notice in these kids compared to the poor in Ecuador and Peru. Here in the United States we seem to all be born with an innate desire to get more for numero uno, ourselves. The kids in Ecuador and Peru are incredibly generous. Yes, these observations are oversimplified generalizations, but there is truth therein.

One thing I notice the Hands of Hope kids have in common with South American kids: I love them deeply. They are loud and obnoxious and somewhat ungrateful and incredibly beautiful and made in the image of God.

I got a kick out of helping D'marco navigate the sink and automatic electric hand dryers in the restroom. He had no idea how to get soap out of that stainless steel arm hanging over the sink. It was neat watching him figure out the dryer. He pushed it on all sides until figuring out it came on automatically as he put his hands under it.

There were two dryers.

He ran back and forth between them trying to keep them both running at the same time.

I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else yesterday.