Captive Thoughts

Posted: June 27, 2014 in Inspirational Testimonies


beach trees

Have you ever tried to change the position in which you sleep…after fifty years?

I am in the process of transitioning from “stomach sleeper” to “back sleeper.” Why? The way that I have been sleeping—spending over 35% of my life, has created pain in my body. This physical posture has caught up with me, and I need to make a change.

This transition reminds me of the mental and emotional challenge of “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” [2 Cor 10:5] I’d first read this verse shortly after I joined my women’s Bible study in 1996. But, I could not comprehend what it “looked like.” Friends would say, “focus on what is true … noble … right … pure … lovely … admirable—“ (Phil 4:8) This clearly required action from me. No one else was responsible for how my mind processed situations, entertained thoughts, or how I responded. And, these habits began at birth. I needed this change, but the instructions seemed vague to me.

My breakthrough began back in 2013. As I prepared to leave Swaziland, I knew something needed to change, and it was me. I’d allowed circumstances, other people’s words, judgement and choices to rob me of so much life.

As I prayed for direction, I plotted a route to bicycle from Georgia to Louisiana. Or, maybe from Pensacola to Mandeville. Better yet, from the Atlantic to the Pacific—THE ride on my bucket list. Yet, I sensed that God wanted me “home”… first. He wanted me to address heart issues in the environment where these poor habits began. So, I obeyed.

Shortly after I arrived “home,” I found myself facing the very circumstances that I’d left years before. And, my angry thoughts and responses were the same as well, but I wanted both to change.

I drove 75 miles to a worship meeting with friends one morning. I asked them to pray this “anger” out of me, and the thoughts that would not stop. I knew anger was not of God, and I wanted nothing more to do with it. And what followed started my journey to freedom from what once ruled my life!

“I am not so sure we need to pray ‘anger’ out of you. Anger often acts as the protector of wounds that need to heal. Let’s thank Anger for doing his job, and ask him to move aside. Then ask God to reveal what needs to be healed—effectively removing Anger’s job from your life.”–Suzette Bowen, Couples Care Center of Baton Rouge, La


No guilt for my action?

No shame?

No, HOPE came! Hope to overcome the demons, the thoughts that ruled me when circumstances “righteously” deserved an angry response. Hope for real change!

Laying prostrate on the floor of my bedroom that night, I asked God to lead me to each wound that needed to heal. God began to bring different tools to facilitate this process. He brought a tangiable way to sit with the Holy Spirit in each wound and allow God to heal each raw place.

I pressed into God’s word for His presence to discover how to let go. Only HE could loose me from the strongholds and lies that bound my soul. Each moment that I spent entertaining these thoughts distracted me from my calling and more.

Over the ensuing months, I wanted to “bike” far away, yet God would remind me that it’s in the fires where purity lays. So, I stayed.

As the fire intensified through circumstances far beyond my control, opportunities to practice “taking my thoughts captive” came. This pressure-cooker forced my fleshly reactions from beneath the surface, up and out, leading to countless epic fails. Yet, I began to praise God as more wounds were revealed to be healed.

Almost a year later, I began to see clearly the beauty of God’s call back home. Back into the environment that caused so many wounds. So much pain. Yet, He used what once hurt so deeply–what the enemy used to harm me, now heal me. These circumstance revealed the entry points where I gave Satan legal grounds to play inside of my mind. His covert activity came into the light. They could no longer hide!

Through examining my past, the origin of the unfruitful thoughts and reactions, I am able to see the lies trying to rob me of peace, and of all that God has for me. I now stop and close off the access point with truth and prayer, meditating on God’s Word throughout the day and the night.

I’ve yet to conquer the battle to sleep on my back, and every battle of the mind. It’s a process. It’s a choice to change habits, including my thoughts, and the power others have over me. Yet, I’ve gained more ground where the enemy once ruled like a bully on a playground. I will no longer allow circumstances and lies to have power over me–only Truth, because that’s what sets me free. Holding all thoughts and wounds captive to the obedience–to the Truth in my life.

What circumstances, thoughts or reactions are holding you captive from what God has for your life? What wounds are left raw to heal?

Who or what are you giving power to in your life? The truth, or the lies? It’s your choice! Freedom is waiting to arise!


Jennifer Griffith is an Independent Distributor for Young Living. The purity sold her and facilitates nontoxic living habits that keep her well. Follow Ga-Ga 4 Essential Oils on Facebook.  To purchase a Premium Starter Kit [11 oils, a diffuser and more] and receive an 500pg reference book from her valued at $25, go  to here and sign up as a “wholesale member” .

Prem start kit




Ever heard the phrase, “The Canary in the Mine,” and wondered what it meant?

Before technology allowed for proper ventilation and created sensors to detect harmful levels of toxic gas in coal mines, miners would depend on a canary. Yes, a bird.

A canary is sensitive to carbon monoxide and methane gas. If the canary died, this signaled imminent danger for the miners. They would vacate the mine immediately.

People with chemical sensitivities are the canary for the rest of the world regarding household and hygiene products, artificial fragrances, make-up, foods, and more. Our bodies can’t process artificial stuff, and it causes a back-up in the liver, making us very sick. For me, this only happens when a product is altered by man, using chemicals that are harmful to the body. People like me are a warning sign for the rest of the world for toxic products. Your body may not sense immediate danger, yet it’s just as toxic in the long haul.

Since connecting the dots to my health about a decade ago, I made a choice to use products and eat food that enhance my health, instead of taxing it. And, it has paid off. When a product is not pure, my body knows it.

yl_lavender_essential_oilEssential oils have been a part of my life since making the connection, yet it took a while for me to realize that they are not all created equal. I’ve tried many different brands of essential oils, but even some of those cause undesirable reactions. Until my body met up with the purity of Young Living Essential Oils . Essential oils, like lavender have historically caused migraines, yet not Young Living’s. The “seed to seal” purity guaranteed product passed this canary test, and I am thrilled. Lavender has so many health benefits, and I look forward to giving this one another chance.

Lavender is the most versatile essential oil and is often used to cleanse and soothe minor burns, cuts, and other skin irritations. It’s refreshing, relaxing scent has balancing properties that also calm the mind and body.

Stay tuned to find out how to incorporate these oils into your daily lives and use for medicinal purposes, tossing out your over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. If you’d like more information on this line of products, message me and let the dialogue begin. Or go here to find out more!!!

Photo Crediit: Paul Chasus in South Africa

Photo Credit: Paul Chasusa in South Africa

I turn 50 today, and I am thrilled!

Yes, you read that right. THRILLED!!!


1] I am healthier than I have ever been in my life! For real! But, not without several life-threatening health crisis’ through the years. Yet, at 50, I am MORE than alive! I am thriving! And, out of those ashes came a passion to share the abundant wisdom I’ve gained about natural medicine, non-toxic living habits, and trusting God even more!

Come to, bookmark and be ready for the launch by May 30, 2015. I will share my health journey, as well as tips that helped me rise above the floor, and truly LIVE again.

Jennifer koko

Met physical goal: In the last 2 months, I lifted 393,509 pounds and put in 34 miles of cardio at Koko FitClub

2] Steps of obedience have built my faith. Though I’ve taken many big ones in the past, they were often clouded with fear of what might be, what appears to be, or what some might say! No MORE! His ever-present sovereignty has built steady steps of faith that go far beyond anything doubt could ever shake.

Photo Credit: Kevin Cass/Powder Day Photography

My favorite hike to ski! Something I thought I’d never be able to do! Photo Credit: Kevin Cass/Powder Day Photography

3] It took almost 50 years for me to TRULY rest in God’s plans—no matter what the circumstances have thrown back at me. He’s shown grace through the purifying fires that left His beauty behind. His grace has proven more than sufficient to anchor me as the waves of fear and rejection pounded against my soul. He proved himself oh-so-good as I walked by faith, even when all that I could see, screamed back at me, “No, don’t go!” He’s been faithful to this wretched soul, no matter the scenery and characters in my life! Circumstances no longer measure the goodness of my God!


God continues to call me out of my comfort zone, and I LOVE it! Swaziland, 2013

4] I’ve met amazing people who have chosen to be my friends. Some for years through the thickets and the thin, and some who it took almost 50 years to meet. Each have sharpened me, loved me, prayed for me, and knew that something more lay inside of me than what I could see. Something that made them truly friends! I look forward to treasuring my “forevers,” while making more in this next season of my life. And, I’ve particularly loved the addition of my “Little Best Friend,” Harmony!

photo (23)Tutu and nini

Pure love!

5] God granted me enough days to walk in more freedom, hope and peace than I’ve ever lived out before. Freedom from curses, vows and agreements made in subtle ways that held my life captive for far too long. I am free! Free to move on, wherever that might be.

Alyssa jumping in Africa 2

6] My 40’s added more substance to my soul than any single era of my life. I welcome the sustenance that only the 50’s can bring. This life is a gift, and I get to partake of LIFE each day I arise. I get to serve my Lord in how He desires, no matter how many wrinkles and aches appear, some seemingly overnight. No matter what the calendar says, or my financial status, I am alive for a God-given purpose, and I want to LIVE IT! Wherever that may lead.


God called me to learn the drums at age 41

7] God knows the number of my days, and I can honestly say that death is not a stronghold for me. Heaven is for real, and it’s the place I long to be! The only fear I have is living apart from what God has for me on earth. So, the longer I live, the closer I am to living where I desire most to be… in Heaven because it IS for REAL!


Living on God’s edge is the only way to truly LIVE! South Africa, one year ago today!

After so much favor that took all of my 49 years to bring, I am thrilled to turn 50! To see what God has in store, because death has no sting!


Resist the devil and he will flee. [James 4:7]

Many Christians can easily spot when the devil presents a trap that we need to flee while clinging to the power of Christ to overcome.

A seductive scene on TV, a party where alcohol flows as you battle addictions, your favorite dessert passes in front of you at a dinner party when you want to lose some pounds, or an alluring comment from the opposite sex just when your ego needs a boost.

If we are spiritually aware, we can almost see a little red man sticking his pitch-fork across our path trying to make us stumble into sin, which eventually leads to despair.

But there are more subtle tactics that the enemy uses to steal your joy, peace and hope. These are the little foxes that sneak into our lives, running under the radar, yet wrecking havoc on our lives. [Song 2:15]

Three that God has exposed in my own walk include:

Image1] Worry—This little fox was proudly passed down through my family line. My ancestors modeled “worry as love,” and the legacy continued. But God! He revealed this “thief of peace” and evidence of waning faith. He showed me that I missed reaping an abundant harvest by trusting myself more than Him. Worry is not love, but the opposite of what God desires for me—resting, trusting in His plan. And this includes trusting Him with the people I love, and His plan for their life.  Worry had created a deep entrenchment inside of me, but it now overflows with an abundance of hope and peace, not calamity nor despair [Jer 29:11] as I resist that demon.  The lie has been exposed—worry does not equal love. Instead, it’s now the red flag pointing to cracks in my faith. Places where I need to trust God more. Truths that I need to mediate on day and night [Josh 1:8], until all that remains is the Truth that sets me free–God WILL cause all things to work for the good for those who are called according to His purpose. [Matt 8:28]

2] Anger—It’s easy for Christians to point out the not-so-subtle-sin of anger in themselves, and especially in others. It’s destructive for those in its path, and the one who carries it around. I’ve received much condemnation from myself and others for entertaining this sin. Yet, what I learned is that there is more to this than repentance. The paradigm shift happened the day I asked some of my spiritual mentors to pray for anger to leave my heart. I wanted nothing more to do with it. I wanted to walk in peace, in spite of circumstances that disturb my soul! What followed was not condemnation, but revelation and hope! Anger was exposed as a veil covering something deeper. Something that Satan did not want me to see—wounds, so deep and raw, hidden by the smoke and mirrors created by anger acting to cover up my pain. As I gave anger its “pink slip,” God began to expose what needed his healing touch. Now when the urge to “blow a gasket” rises, or even happens, I use it as a red-flag to expose wounds not yet healed by the touch of God. I ask Him to reveal the original source of the wound, and I allow Him to speak truth and healing into my life.

3] Agreements—”I will always be ___.”  You can fill in your own blank. Some may fill it in with “poor”, or “lonely”, or “fat”, or “sick”, or___. It’s like the agreement that, “worry means love.” Yet, as I read the Word of God, I’ve yet to find these words, or anything like them, that God speaks about his children. But what I have found is that He created us in His image. [Gen 1:27] He makes ALL things possible. [Matt 19:26] This includes, friends for the lonely, love for the brokenhearted, or wealth for the poor. Even health for the sick, and more. But the subtle agreements that we make can keep us on track to make choices that line up with the lies. They act as a trap, keeping us from the abundant life that God has planned for all who chose Truth. Who chose to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. [2 Cor 10:5]


God wants his children to recognize the little foxes that spoil our vineyard—our abundant life. As He exposes yours, take a stand to resist the devil, and he will FLEE. No weapon formed against us, shall prosper [Is 54:17] as we stand firm on God’s promises recorded all throughout His word. Let’s allow Him to use those temptations for His glory, to grow and heal us more!!


The milky way showed off amid the darkness of the Mozambique sky. Drums pulsed from the hillside across the street from the Stauber’s house. Witchdoctors from across Africa gather in the Gaza Providence to harness powers from the Indian Ocean. The spiritual battle the Stauber’s face in Xai-Xai [shy-shy] rose up in the night as we gazed into the sky.


Xai Xai Ocean Front

Four of us had driven from Swaziland to visit Pastor Mel and Diane Stauber and their two children for Easter. We learned that when Mel first traveled to Xai-Xai for Celebration Church, he had no intention of moving his family from Austin, Texas to a third world country. He’d simply went there to facilitate a church plant and set up Children’s CupCarePoints to feed and educate children, while seeking a pastor who speaks Portuguese. Instead, he faced a crisis of faith. Before moving his family to Africa in June 2010, Mel found contentment going for missions, yet living in the States. Diane had recently purchased a hair salon with a friend, and her clientele kept her busy. Their children, Rachel and Matthew, attended some of the finest schools in America. Life was good, but Diane could see that her husband left pieces of his heart behind each time he returned from Africa.



When looking at Xai-Xai’s ocean view, red dirt and sand fills and stains the land. Houses and businesses are perched along the hills. And when the tide rolls out, you get a glimpse of life below the surface of the sea. Yet scattered amid the beauty is a coastline of abandoned hotels, businesses and homes. Having gone through a 20 year war, Russian occupation, and the forced exodus of the Portuguese population, there’s not much trust between people. The economy is depressed. Theft is rampant. A spiritual vacuum exists, most often filled with darkness.

ImageIn December 2009, Mel’s sole purpose was to place a pastor in Xai Xai who would also start and oversee feeding sites and CarePoints for Children’s Cup. But it did not work out. And to make the trip less productive in his mind, Mel had driven a four-wheeler off a cliff, and banged up his shoulder. Back at the hotel, he couldn’t sleep. He was in pain, his roommate snored and there was no air conditioner, in spite of the relentless humid heat. Mosquitoes swarmed under the net around him; the one meant to keep them out. He’d had malaria once, and feared getting it again. And in the middle of all of this misery, God challenged Mel. “Would you be willing to do this work here?”

“Pffff, no way,” Mel replied. “Can you see where I am?”

The sound of his own heart stabbed him deep. All of the physical discomfort became a secondary concern. He suddenly questioned his own faith. “Oh really,’” he said to himself, “so if God were to call me over here, would I say yes, or would I say no?” Mel grieved over the state of his heart. God had simply asked if he was willing to do the work. He hadn’t actually called him to Mozambique at all. Mel wrestled with himself. “Do I really believe in God? Do I really believe this faith?”


Street market in Mozambique

Over the next several hours, Mel pounded his one good arm into his pillow, shed many tears, and swatted mosquitoes, until he reached the end of himself. By 5 am, he said, “Okay God, you’ve got it. Whatever! If you were to call us, I would obey you.”


Mel and Diane Stauber

Mel slept a little and woke up feeling a shift inside. “We really could do this.” He knew it was Celebration Church’s first international church plant, and it had to go well. “Okay, God, you’ve got my attention now. I am willing. Here I am, send me.”

Mel set obedience to God in motion with a text to Diane: “What do you think about moving to Africa?” She laughed it off as a joke, until he texted back for her to pray about it. She then realized he was serious. She “freaked out.” But just like God, He kept putting Africa in front of her, through books, television shows, testimonies. She agreed to fast and pray for 21 days with her husband and their pastors back in Texas. God continued to point them toward Mozambique. But before Pastor Joe Champion consented to this plan, he wanted Diane to first visit Xai-Xai. The area presented an extreme lifestyle change for this southern lady, and Mel was the last person he thought would ever become an African missionary.


Diane and Mel flew from the States to the newly remodeled Johannesburg airport. Diane thought, “This isn’t so bad.” They spent the night in a nice hotel, then hopped a plane to Maputo, Mozambique. When the plane door opened, oppressive humid heat entered in. Piles and piles of trash, ten-feet tall, lining the roads took over the landscape. A spider crawled out of the bread of Diane’s sandwich. Cold showers awaited them at the first hotel with junk cars and more piles of trash. And when they reached their hotel in Xai-Xai, a member of their team discovered a tarantula between the pillows on their bed. This was not what Diane had in mind. She cried herself to sleep, thinking they’d missed God’s lead. Did He really call her family to this country? A place where everything seems deadly from walking the streets, to spiders, mosquitoes and snakes,  and the oppressive heat moving through a suspicious population.

Rachel, Matthew, Diane and Mel Stauber

Rachel, Matthew, Diane and Mel Stauber



The following morning Diane laid eyes on the children for the first time. God’s grace swept away the fears and discomforts from her mind. Her heart opened to the knock of His mercy. She could then see what He had for her family. He had indeed called them to Mozambique.The Stauber’s journey through Mozambique since June 2010 has not been without hardships and difficult occurrences. One happened when Mel found himself falsely accused and in police custody for the longest eighteen hours of his life. He wondered if he’d ever see his family again, yet he never questioned the call on his life. This move caused them to step out of their comfort zone in every realm of life. Diane never thought she’d leave Austin, Texas, her successful business, and live so far from her family and friends. She never imagined home-schooling her children, developing multiple teaching curriculum in Portuguese, and having to travel seven hours to a shopping mall. And safety issues arise with simply being a woman. If you let down your guard, you could be in harm’s way.

Yet in spite of the extreme lifestyle change, both Mel and Diane have experienced first hand the favor that accompanies obedience to God. I could see the mutual love between the people and the Stauber family. The changes and trials have only brought this family closer to the Lord and to each other. They could never settle for their prior comfort zone. God has expanded their bounds, far beyond what their own eyes could see and heart could ever conceive. He gave them a heart for the people of Mozambique.


Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts! And see if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in your way everlasting. Ps 139:23-24

DSCN0948David cried this out to God, knowing the trap of sin and guilt from his past choices. By God’s own account, David chased after His heart through notable victories, yet he also experienced the misery of defeat when following his own. And, even still, he knew where to turn when he found himself in the depths of despair.

The obvious favor that followed David is well recorded in the Old Testament. From being the shepherd boy with enough faith to stand against and defeat the most feared Philistine—a giant named Goliath, with a mere sling-shot and stone. [1Sam 17] To his success as the leader of Saul’s army, defeating tens of thousands in the battlefield [1 Sam 18]. David was granted a handsome appearance, musical talents, gifts of writing and ultimately becoming King of Israel [2 Sam 5].

But, amid all of the favor, David’s choices apart from God led him into the depths of despair. From a failed teen marriage to King Saul’s daughter that resulted in him running for his life from Saul [1 Sam 18]. He also acquired multiple wives and concubines, possibly under pressure to conform to the worldly kingdoms surrounding him, going against God’s revealed will [Deut 17:16-17]. And, lest we forget, he took another man’s wife while he was at war, conceived a child, and murdered her husband to hide his sin [2 Sam 11]. Even though David wanted to please God, he entertained lust. From the Psalms, we glean that David knew where the path to destruction started. In his heart.

This leads me to ponder fasting in a different way. In addition to giving up a certain food, or social networking, or television, or whatever may control your appetite or your time, consider the things we entertain in our heart. This broadens the territory to consider. What’s a part of me that is apart from God? And, what’s the origin in the heart?

Here are some possibilities to consider:

1] Taking offense – Do you find yourself easily offended? Pause when an offense begins to rise up. Ask God to reveal the deeper source. Connect the dots back to the start of the wound, and allow him to heal it.

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:2-3

2] Unforgiveness— Are you in a position where the transgressions against you have surpassed the 490 mark with someone [Matt 18:22]? Then let’s count our transgressions against God. Our number would be far greater. We are all depraved, yet Grace appeared on the cross, sank into the depths of hell to take the keys of bondage away, so we can live the resurrected life in Him. Forgiveness doesn’t condone the transgression. Forgiveness opens the path for God’s love to flow and cause a change in ourselves. Chose to forgive with no expectations from the transgressor, and live free of the bondage that unforgiveness shackles our soul.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matt 6:14

3] Seeking approval of man instead of God –  Do you find yourself compromising what you know to be right and true just to fit in with a crowd—even a Christian crowd? Is there fear in being ostracized by standing firm to what God has called you to do? Stop, and ask God for direction.  Trust his instruction and where it leads, even if it’s you standing alone—with God.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal 1:10

970340_10201415328409147_1897869776_n4] The need to be right – If you find yourself consistently on the side of proving a point to others, even valid points, ask God to search for the wounds that yell out, “You are inadequate!” Do not entertain the lies anymore. Instead, actively entertain “truth” from God’s Word. Start each day in front of a mirror, and speak truth into your own soul. Ask God to change your beliefs about who you are. Rest in not being right all of the time. Rest, knowing that the One who is omniscient knows the truth even if no one else does. Rest in His validation alone. [Rom 3:24, Rom 6:6, John 15:15, 1 Cor 1:30, 1 Cor 6:19, 2 Cor 5:17]

What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

5] Worry & Anxiety – Are you in the habit of worry and anxiety? If so, take your worrisome thoughts captive, and compare them to the Truth of God. [2 Cor 10:5] Your first course of action when trouble comes needs to be faith. Consider the worst case scenario, and then consider God. He is far greater than the worse consequence that you can imagine. Stand on the Truth that God’s hand is on your life, and His perfect will is, well—perfect. When you walk in this Truth, His Spirit flows from you, from your life. Break this habit, and live free from the bondage of disbelief.

 Peace I  leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to  you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

6] Complaining –Consider Jesus. He, of all who walked the earth, had reason to complain. He would die a terrible death on a cross for sins that didn’t belong to him. Yet, with each step, he chose to speak gratitude towards God. When you find yourself reaping the consequences of another person’s sin, ask God for His perspective. Then chose to offer God praise, in spite of the discomfort, the injustice, the ___ [whatever fills in your blank]. God’s grace is woven into it all, and He is using each consequence to mold us and make us into a vessel for Him. He sacrificed his life. We can sacrifice our praise.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  Heb 13:15DSCN0996

7] Praying from emotions versus faith – God responds to our faith, not our emotions. He responds to our trust in Him. This has been a profound revelation for me this year. I’ve entertained self-pity while begging at God’s feet more times than I’d care to admit. Yet, when I look back on answered prayers in my life, even amid the moments of being an emotional mess, it’s been through prayers of faith in who God is, when he has responded near immediately. As you approach God’s altar with a request, it’s okay to let him know how you feel. He already knows, but check the position that you are praying from. Are you standing on the foundation of faith in Him? Or, on how you feel? God’s word doesn’t say that you can move mountains with a river of tears, but through faith the size of a mustard seed. [Matt 21:21]

And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.  Heb 10:38

This list if far from complete. Ask God to search your heart, and reveal habits, reactions, personality traits that slip out in vulnerable situations? Something that God wants you to give up so that more of Him can flow to those who cross your path. Food or activities or addictions are simply a symptom of what’s rotting inside of us. Something that needs to be cut from the vine, so that more of your heart can be resurrected from the dead—making room for more of God, producing more fruit from Him.


Gcinile's gogo's homestead

Gcinile’s gogo’s homestead

“I have been sponsoring a child in Africa for years. I still sponsor her … through Mission of Mercy. Is that now Children’s Cup? Her name is Gcinile N__. See if you can find her.”—This message came via text message from my friend, Patty, back in America. She’d just gone through some papers and found the most recent picture of Gcinile, and had that “ah ha” moment.

Swaziland, Africa had been my temporary home for a month at that point. I’d traveled there for Children’s Cup [CC] to serve for a few months. God had opened a way for me to experience the work that Children’s Cup is doing for the vulnerable and oppressed children in a land overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS orphans and poverty. It was at this perfect time that Patty made this connection.

Like most Americans—including myself not that long ago, the cultures and struggles of this continent blend together collectively as “Africa.” Most of us rarely make a distinction between the borders of over fifty unique countries and populations. Yet, as massive in size as Africa really is, it became awfully small, in a God way, that very day.

I’d received Patty’s message as I left the cottage to go on a hike with friends. One, Tamara, just “happened” to be the person who oversees the child sponsorship program in Swaziland for Children’s Cup, which also includes One Child Matters [formerly known as Mission of Mercy]. I knew immediately that God had set up this divine “coincidence” long before He commissioned me to, “Go … to Swaziland,” for such a time as this.

The kitchen at Gcinile's CarePoint in Swaziland

The kitchen at Gcinile’s CarePoint in Swaziland

Upon our first day back at the office in Mbabane, I had the location of Gnicile’s CarePoint. These are the designated places where food is prepared for the sponsored children by volunteer cooks from the community. Facilitators hold preschool and Bible studies here, and arrange for sick children to see the mobile medical team every six weeks. Within a few days, I learned that Gnicile had lost her mom 18 months earlier, and her father had passed away six years before. This is an all too familiar plight of the children in a country where UNICEF claims that 26% of the entire population are HIV positive. It’s believed to infect nearly 50% of the population, including the children, and has effectively wiped out the current parental generation, leaving many children to fend for themselves. Yet, Gcinile is one of the blessed ones. She lives with her grandmother/gogo who adores her. Most of the orphans are at the mercy of their community, each other, or the streets.

Goodies for Gcinile

Goodies for Gcinile

Just prior to our day trip to meet Gcinile, we went shopping. Patty asked me to find out her needs and buy them—a blanket, shoes, socks, school uniform, pants, shirt, sweatshirt, etc. And, knowing how precious chocolate and random knick-knacks are to the children, I sprinkled in the extras. Items taken so for granted in America that are a treasure to the children in Africa.

Words can’t describe how much joy filled my heart as we drove a mere two hours to bless this child and make the connection. One that began continents, oceans, hemispheres apart, nearly ten years earlier. And, we planned the visit on the day of her Bible Camp to observe this annual event. Since I’d arrived in Swaziland, I’d witnessed the dedication, prayer and hard work of the Discipleship Team. They had 21 CarePoints, representing thousands of children, to serve through camps across this small country.

Gcinile hopscotching while learning a bible verse

Gcinile hopscotching while learning a bible verse

As a spectator, I watched as Gcinile memorized a Bible verse while playing a game with her peers, missionaries, and interns from the Global Leadership Academy. Though I didn’t know her, her timid reactions lead me to believe that she knew I was the white stranger who came to meet her. The camp ended with a dance off between the young and the old. And when one of the volunteer cooks took a turn dancing, I videoed this colorful experience as the children cheered her on.

With Gcinile's gogo at the CarePoint where she volunteers to cook for the children

With Gcinile’s gogo at the CarePoint where she volunteers to cook for the children

After the festivities, I met Gcinile and her grandmother/gogo. Her gogo volunteers as a cook for the CarePoint five days a week. I knew Gcinile was in good care. As I walked alongside of Gcinile down her rutted dirt road, I noticed holes worn through her thin flip-flops. Her heels hit pebbles and dirt with each step. I smiled, knowing that she’d soon receive two new pairs of shoes, and some socks! Winter was on its way. With no electricity or heat, the jeans and sweatshirt would be more than just an addition to her wardrobe. They would be needed to keep her warm.

Jennifer helping Gcinile unpack her gift

Jennifer helping Gcinile unpack her gift

Gcinile stood at the only door to her one room house. She slowly unpacked the gift bag with little expression. Children in Swaziland are not used to receiving gifts. They do not always know how to respond. Yet, when she saw the pink zip up sweatshirt with a heart and LOVE across the front, her face lit up! This moment drove home how similar girls are across the glove. Pink, LOVE and hearts all speak to our souls, no matter the language barrier or where we call our home. Girls are GIRLS all the same.

Before I left, Gcinile said, “Tell your friend thank you for all of these things. I will continue to pray for her and ask the Lord to bless her more.”

Her smile says it ALL!

Her smile says it ALL!

Unspeakable joy filled my heart. To be the conduit between my friend in America and her sponsored child made my whole time in Africa complete. No other experience brought me more fulfillment and joy than this moment. Patty, like most who contemplate or follow-through with sponsoring a child in the different country, had fleeting thoughts through the years. Does the money that I send truly reach the child I chose from a board of hundreds of faces? Does she really exist on the other side of the world? Patty gave in faith, and the fruit of her giving was revealed through my trip to Swaziland.

“‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt 25:45

More smiles...

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

When I got back to the cottage that night, I reviewed the photos taken, as well as the videos. As I watched the clip of the dance off, I sat in awe of God as I realized that it was Gcinile’s gogo who I’d captured dancing for the crowd. God let me know that this encounter was arranged by His hand, long before I found Gcinile in “Africa.” I stay in AWE!

Go here to see Gcinile’s gogo dancing!

If you’d like to sponsor a child, visit Children’s Cup or One Child Matters, and KNOW that your support reaches a child just like Gcinile!



Tongogara Refuge Camp–Clothing Distribution in Zimbabwe

By Jennifer L Griffith

Rachel looked down into a valley from her sister’s house. Living on a hillside in Zimbabwe, she could see the Tongogara Refuge Camp about a mile away. The Mozambicans sought a safe haven as civil war raged through their own country. But at age eleven, Rachel fought a war of her own. She’d left her father’s home of neglect only to find herself in another. Her older sister promised to take care of her and let her attend school. Instead, Rachel was secluded, hungry, and responsible for keeping the baboons out of their food. The camp had captured Rachel’s curiosity, but her sister forbade her to go because it was for Mozambicans. Not people of her own.



But desperation had a stronger pull than her sister’s restrictions. Rachel snuck out of the house and down the hill, barefooted, wearing nothing but tattered clothes. She hungered not only for food, but for protection. For community and someone to simply care.

Rachel entered the camp and walked through a sea of people. She saw families clinging together, and yearned to be cherished by her own. As people passed around her, she spotted a white man wearing a safari hat walking toward her. Fear rose up inside. She’d never stood close to a white person before, and this man was a “giant.” Rachel tried to run around him. Instead, she ran right into him.

The small girl cowered, expecting he would scold her for such a mishap. On the contrary, he wrapped his arms around her, giving her the first hug of her life. He said something to her, but when he let her go, she ran away, confused by such kindness from another person.

As life with her sister grew progressively worse, Rachel continued to escape to Tongogara. Yet, the giant white man had not returned, though deep inside she hoped he would. By winter, the camp had become more than a safe haven for just the Mozambicans, but also for Rachel and other children from her community. A common desperation led them all to the same place, just from different wars.


Tongogara Refuge Camp Clothing Distribution

By winter, Rachel saw a white van return to Tongogara. She wondered if the white man who’d hugged her had come back. She ran barefooted back to the camp, shivering in the cold. The man had returned, and she caught his eye again. He approached her, but this time she didn’t run. He offered her a coat and shoes, and poured her a cup of hot tea from a thermos. As steam rose up from the cup, she thought it was magic and wondered if this larger-than-life man was really an angel.

Snuggled warm in her new coat with her feet now protected from the elements, and filled with more hope than ever, Rachel hiked back up the hillside home. But her sister took away her coat and shoes. She accused her of gaining disrespectful favor to receive such gifts. Her sister sent her back to her parents due to her rebellion. Rachel knew that her sister had taken her physical gifts, but could never diminish the touch she’d felt she received from God through the giant white man wearing a safari hat. And little did she know at the time, their spirits would cross again.

When Rachel returned to her parents home, she was thankful to go back to school, even if wearing a uniform held together by multicolored patches. But her father told her she needed to find a husband rather than go to school. She spiraled into rebellion and into the arms of an older man who promised to marry her. Instead, he left her pregnant and in shame, hiding her pregnancy until she gave birth. Her father’s words, “Even if you die, you are not my daughter. I disown you. I don’t want to see you,” sent her into the streets. A year later, her daughter was taken from her by her family. And men, including her father, had proven to be unreliable, unforgiving, and ruthless.

Rachel went to work for the sugar cane industry where God placed someone in her life who lead her to Christ. After sharing her testimony of rising above hardship at a church, a man and his wife offered her a place to live with them in Zimbabwe. They needed help with their growing family. When this offer came more than once in 2000, Rachel move in with them. As part of their family, she experienced the unconditional love and acceptance she hungered for. Later, she moved with them to Mozambique, and while working on her college degree 2007, she was prompted to check her HIV status. She told herself that she would only shed tears [of joy] if she was “negative.” When she learned that she was “positive,” she turned to Jesus. She changed her degree to Applied Psychology for HIV, and Rachel chose to help others thrive, not drown in self-pity. God then prompted her to share this news with her estranged father in Zimbabwe. He cried and asked for forgiveness. Their relationship then started on the road to healing and restoration, where it remains today.


Rachel with mentors, Jerry & Karen Holte, at Global Leadership Academy 2011

God’s path eventually lead Rachel to Healing Place Church—Swaziland. She sat under the guidance of then pastor and Children’s Cup  director, Ben Rodgers and his wife, Susan. Both mentored Rachel, and encouraged her to enroll and live at the newly completed Global Leadership Academy in 2011. While there, she was given a book written by the co-founder of Children’s Cup, Dave Ohlerking titled, Walk With Me: Through some hard places of the world. As she read of Dave’s mission work at Tongogara, she realized the identity of the man who showed her the agape love when she was just a little girl. The “giant white man wearing a safari hat” was not only the founder of the very organization, which molded her life at GLA, but he was the father of Susan Rodgers. A lady who had nurtured God’s amazing grace in her life in Swaziland.


Rachel working with the mobile medical team in rural Swaziland — Section 19

Rachel was never able to thank “the giant white man wearing a safari hat” on earth. Dave Ohlerking went to be with Jesus the day after Rachel helped Susan prepare for her parent’s return to Swaziland in October 2010. But she is forever connected to him through the eternal promise of God. Rachel is just one of thousands of lives touched by the giant heart of the man who said, “You can change a child’s life forever.” This is evident in Rachel’s life. She is currently the HIV Counselor for the Children’s Cup Medical Team. Her vibrant spirit now impacts the oppressed and vulnerable children of Swaziland, giving back what was gifted to her over twenty years earlier—Hope, whose name is definitely Jesus!


Dave & Jean Ohlerking at Tongogara Refuge Camp in Zimbabwe

“Hope’s name is Jesus.”

Dave Ohlerking, founder of Children’s Cup

Serving the oppressed and vulnerable populations of Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland & Zimbabwe in southern Africa.


Rachel & Jennifer at Children’s Cup in Swaziland 2013

I was blessed to have spent several weeks alongside of Rachel during my time in Swaziland. She is rich in spirit and soul, and lives her life to serve. I am honored to call her friend! I look forward to seeing her again… one day!

B&W Cambodia children

First posted on Inspire a Fire Mar 29, 2012. Update follows…

The thought of going to Cambodia had never crossed Millie Carson’s mind. While seeking God’s will for her life in January 2011, a friend suggested that she go to this third world kingdom in Southeast Asia for a few months. Millie had recently finished several semesters of Calvary Chapel Bible College in her homeland of York, United Kingdom, and also in California in the USA. Being more inclined toward traveling, mountains, cowboys, rodeos, snowboarding, a great cup of coffee, and forests, the thought of going to the jungles of Cambodia made her laugh. Yet Millie remained open to God’s purpose on her life. She promised her friend that she would pray about it.

Cambodia on tree 2

Photo by Captured by Compassion — Casey Arneson

That night God sparked an interest in Millie’s nineteen-year-old mind for Cambodia and its people. She told God that the idea sounded ridiculous, but if He provided the funds for this mission, she would go. The following day she learned that her recently deceased grandmother had left her some money. Millie had four months of financial provisions, and had determined to obey God’s call. By May, Millie had joined Calvary Chapel’s ministry called Water of Life in Phom Penh. This ministry supports a boys discipleship home (ages 12-25yrs), girls house (ages 12-25yrs), an orphanage (2-18yrs), and numerous other outreach opportunities.

Millie spent the first few months at the girls house. She did anything that came up—village medical outreach, bible studies, or taking out the trash. While thankful to serve the Lord in this capacity, she felt she could leave Cambodia or stay. Millie felt no real tug on her heart in either direction. But the tug started inside of her during her final planned month. She began to spend time with the children at the orphanage, the Children of Hope.  This orphanage is home to no more than thirty children at a time. They were abandoned, rescued, or lost their parent. Most are nontraditional orphans who simply need someone to love them, care for them, and teach them about the love of Jesus Christ, as opposed to selling them in the thriving sex-trade industry.

Millie and baby

For the love of God

At the end of her four month commitment, Millie had planned to return home to York, yet she now yearned to stay. God had captured her heart through the children of Cambodia. She sought the Lord, and heard Him say, “Go home, get rid of everything you don’t need, and come back December 6th.”

Knowing that God had so much more for her with the children, Millie obeyed. She made a two-year commitment to Cambodia and Water of Life, yet now she can’t imagine doing anything else.

In Millie’s own words, “The biggest thing I have learned by being in the mission field is this: When you have given up all that you possibly can of mind, body and spirit, when your heart is worn out and broken, and you have nothing left to give…give some more, because the only thing you will have left to give is Jesus and Him alone. That sounds backwards, but we are called to turn the world upside-down, and that requires giving all that we have, and then giving more. With God all things are possible.”

A place that had rarely crossed Millie’s mind a year earlier, now crosses her heart with the passion of Jesus Christ.

Children at the dump

Children at the dump

Update Oct 11, 2013

Since this article was first posted, Millie returned to Cambodia for the long haul. She has taken in three children whose parents planned to take them to Thailand for them to work in a factory to help pay off an enormous gambling debt. The girls are 16 and 13, and their brother is 3. They now live under Millie’s love and care in the city, Phnom Penh. God is leading the way for Millie to move her ministry into a rural area. She has purchased land with another lady from Cambodia who shares the same heart and mission: to create a self-sustaining ministry by growing their own food to eat and sell, and then open a small educational center for children in the area, directing them toward the call of Jesus on their lives. If you feel compelled to help Millie through prayer or financial support, please contact her through her blog, Seven Thousand Miles.


Giving hope to wounded and vulnerable children of Cambodia

By Jennifer L Griffith

Captain-Arie-193x300The first time I’d heard the name Arie Dirk Bestebreurtje, JD came from his beloved sister, Hendrika “Hennie” Cantwell, MD. I’d met Hennie and her husband Bill while on a ski vacation in 1998. After I moved to Teton Valley two years later, the Cantwells became cherished friends and my surrogate parents. During one of my numerous stays with them, Hennie shared coffee, something sweet, and stories of her brother, who ironically died doing something he loved—ice skating.

The irony of how “Captain Harry” died comes from how he lived. Especially during his time in World War II. During the war he served multiple allied governments as a Dutchman. Through the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Arie was assigned to the American command unit called the 82nd Airborne in Operation Market Garden. Under British Command he was part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) for the Special Forces Head  Quarters. And he received orders from Prince Bernhard and Dutch Intelligence where he served as “Captain Harry.” Arie’s importance to the Allied Forces cannot be overstated, and by the end of the war, Arie had received eighteen international decorations—second only to General Dwight D Eisenhower. This meant he took risks and saved many lives.

Many suspect that Captain Harry should’ve been awarded more medals, but the Dutch government had a 50 year secrecy cap on war intelligence in order to protect those who helped the underground efforts. What is known is that Arie spent war time behind German lines as a cloak and dagger spy under the elite Jedburghs (Jeds). During that time he survived two serious injuries, was shot three times during Operation Market Garden, was arrested and captured by Germans, and he escaped twice. Yet during the mission that impacted his life the most, he merely broke his ankle, and had no food or water for two to three days.

Arie-after-landing-Sept-17-1944After countless operations as a spy behind enemy lines during two missions with Team Clarence, and Team Stanley II in Operation Market Garden, the Dutch Intelligent Force asked Arie to do one more mission. This one would be of a humanitarian nature. Team Dicing would attempt to neutralize a Dutch concentration camp near the village of Westerbork in early April of 1945.  The advancing Canadian allies would then liberate the camp. The operation needed a Dutchman with his skills to guide them. At the last minute, Prince Bernhard put Captain Harry on the team. The Dutch Lieutenant on the team was a liaison to the Prince, but was not experienced with combat operations behind enemy lines.

Kamp Westerbork held captive 400 Dutch Nationals and around 500 Jews. The allies wanted them freed. If troops even came close to the camp during war time, the Germans killed the prisoners. Team Dicing feared that a planned invasion by the Canadian Allied forces from the north would push the Germans to kill all of the prisoners at Westerbork. Arie said in a speech in 1957, “There were no books written on how to liberate  concentration camps.” And the timing of this mission was crucial.

The four members of Arie’s Jed unit were assigned to fly with the SAS forces who were part of the mission Amherst. They planned to parachute together near the parameter of Westerbork. This SAS team consisted of thirteen members of the Special Forces from France  and Belgium, but had different ordersAnother Jed unit called Team Gamble had dropped a day earlier.

Team-Clarence-Arie-221x300On the night of the mission, Team Dicing and Amherst had many uncontrollable factors going against them: a foggy night, an unfamiliar airplane, time sensitive window, and new gear called a Leg Bag. [photo to left] This bag proved to be the biggest hindrance of the mission. The paratroopers would have to jump through the “Joe Hole” cut in the belly of the British Short Sterling Bomber instead of a door, with the Leg Bag. When Arie jumped  through the awkward portal, the rope from his 100 pound bag wrapped around his neck. As he fell through the air, he had to free himself. This cost him valuable preparation time to land in this 600 foot altitude start drop. The bag slammed Arie to the ground. The rest of the men landed scattered and off target due to the clumsy bags and portal jump as well. This jump delay made the “stick” too long.

Note: One person had heard Arie say they dropped from 600 feet, and he said, “That is impossible. You have to jump much higher.” The Jeds first  learned to jump from a 300 foot tower, and Team Dicing did not practice with the Leg Bags. They had to drop at low altitudes since the  plane would pretend it was in trouble and turn back over the target. The low altitude also kept the stick tight, and allowed the reception partitions to grab them and hid them when they were used.–John Beach

On the ground and in the dark, Arie detached himself from his chute and gear. As the team guide, he had to locate the other two officers and radio Sargent. When he tried to stand, he realized he couldn’t walk. He’d broken his ankle when he hit the ground.

As gunshots filled the air, Arie crawled for cover. He feared members of his team were killed or captured. Fellow Jed member, Major Harcourt found Arie. When he discovered that Arie was unable to walk, Harcourt located a tree to hide him under, and then went to find the rest of the team.

The morning sun rose, and neither Harcourt nor any other Jed had returned for Arie. He noticed towers, platforms, and machine guns all around him. At that moment he realized he’d landed on the inside of the very concentration camp he’d planned to neutralize, with a badly injured ankle, and now, alone. Unorganized search parties started to look for the intruders. Arie noticed that as he shook in fear and pain, so did the tree that hid him. Concerned he’d give himself up with the only moving tree around, he moved away from his cover. Voices hollered out that they’d found his bag and chute. Arie knew that the Nazi’s would soon be looking for him.

The first day had passed. Arie remained out of the Nazi’s sight. On day two he heard a German unit march along the camp road close to his hiding place. The enemy had his prints and photo on file due to his prior arrests and escapes. He knew that if they’d found him this time, they’d  automatically shoot him. He’d spent four months behind enemy lines and never fired a shot, but he prepared himself to do just that.

The soldiers moved in a line five feet apart, searching the area where he lay. As the line of soldiers approached him, the two closest to him turned to look at each other. They started to whisper about chocolate and cigarettes. If they found any, they’d keep the goods for themselves instead of turning them over to their officers. The soldiers passed so close to Arie, he could’ve reached out and touched their boot. Two more days passed with a spotlight shining directly on him through each night. He remained hidden by the light. Arie had to accept the fact that neither Harcourt nor any other Jeds would be back for him. He had to get himself out of the camp.

In the dark of night, Arie cut through the wired fence. He crawled four miles, and by dawn he landed in a ditch surrounded by farm fields. He slept through the day until the sun started to set. Arie watched the farmers leave the field. In his weakened, dehydrated, and starved state, he tried to get the attention of the last farmer. Arie’s parched throat silenced his voice. He eventually worked out a screech. It lured a young boy to him. Arie knew that an underground population existed. He asked the boy for food, knowing that if the boy said, yes, then he was lying and might turn him. Everyone knew that there was a food shortage, even for farmers. No one had food to spare. The boy left Arie without an answer.

Later that night, a man showed up on his bicycle with food and water. The farm boy had sent his father, Jan Schutten. The two exchanged passwords to verify that Jan knew about the Dicing mission. Arie had feared the lives of the man’s family considering the war had escalated, the German’s searched for him, and Allied Forces had moved into German occupied territory. He remained in the ditch another night, hurt but no longer hungry or thirsty.

Jan returned home to questions from his wife. Why did he leave an injured solider to fend for himself? “You have to go and get him. We’ll take care of him,” his wife replied.

BESTRDA-300x212 Knowing nothing of Arie’s religion, race, or nationality, Jan and his son returned to help the following day. Arie later said, “They acted out of one obligation, to help another person in need.” Jan brought his horse carriage to transport Arie to the farm. They laid him down in a box filled with hay and horse manure, and rode through a German occupied town. Arie went unnoticed. At the farm, they undressed Arie and cleaned him up, then stashed him in a safe place. Arie learned that the Schuttens also offered a safe haven for two nurses, one older Jewish man, one priest, and seven young boys from Rotterdam. The Shuttens had the nurses care for Arie’s ankle and malnourished body.

The following day, April 12, 1945, Arie asked Jan’s wife for the current date. When she told him, he replied, “Today is my birthday, and what a great present I received by being here? I prayed a lot for help, because I was worried.”

Jan-Schuttens-farm2-300x225Mrs Schutten replied, “We have to pray for God’s guidance always, not only if we think we need help”.

With the peak of the war surrounding them, and sirens consuming the quiet country air, German soldiers passed through the Schutten’s house looking for food, valuables, and oppostion forces. As they took whatever they desired, Arie stood in the corner of a walk-in closet with stuff in front of him, again going unnoticed. After the soldiers left, the Schuttens knew they’d soon be free when the Allied forces moved in. That night they went to town to celebrate and talk to the Red Cross about helping Arie with his broken leg. The following morning a German Red Cross tank showed up at their farm. They feared they’d told the wrong people about Arie. Their fears eased when they discovered that the tank brought chocolate, coffee, candy, sugar, and more. The Schuttens had not eaten this kind of food in years. The German driver then took Arie. He wore one of Jan’s slippers on his hurt foot. He promised to return to see them as well as write. The following day, an allied plane flew over the farm. Jan’s slipper dropped onto the Shutten’s property. The plane tipped the wing to wave, letting the Shuttens know that Arie was safe, and not held captive.

Due to the Dutch 50-year secrecy cap, some events are hard to piece together. However, on the morning of April 12, 1945, Kamp Westerbork was liberated by Canadian forces, yet all of the Germans had mysteriously disappeared the night before.

Arie’s war time accomplishments are vast. No one can argue that his name should be part of the definition of a “war hero.” But this experience left Captain Harry with many questions after the war. Why did he survive when so many others perished? These questions plagued him as he practiced international law in New York, and settled down with his wife and children. His extended family had left Holland before the war and lived in Berlin and Zurich for a time. When the war started, they fled to America because their Dutch papers could no longer be renewed due to Germany’s invasion of Holland.

On a returned trip to visit the Schuttens, Arie had many questions. With famine taking most people’s lives during the war, especially that final year, how could Jan risk the lives of his family by taking in strangers? The Schuttens fed them, housed them, and cared for them knowing that if they were caught, the men would be executed and the women sent to concentration camps. Arie asked Jan if he was worried that he’d run out of food?

“If I would run out of food, God would supply for more,” said Jan.

Arie tried to be polite and not reply to the man to whom he owed his life, but it sounded silly to him.

But Arie’s cynical attitude didn’t get past Jan. He asked, “This country you come from, do you know the Lord’s prayer over there?”

“I have to admit that we do,” Arie replied.

“Did you ever used it?”


“In there is a line. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ If you just mumbled some meaningless words, forget about it. But if you believed that, then your faith and mine is the same. Give us this day our daily bread. We are not asking for anything for the day after tomorrow. We worry much too much about the all sorts of gray dim things of the future instead of only worrying about one thing. Doing God’s commandments, and then God will take care of us.”

With seeds planted earlier by German minister Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller from his days in Berlin before the war, Arie’s experience  with the Schuttens synched his conviction. He would leave his thriving international law practice to serve God, and teach the Bible and peace to all mankind. Dr Arie D. Bestebreurtje, or Dr B,  was ordained in 1950. He served in positions from Youth director to having his own parish in the Presbyterian Church. Two years after his retirement, Arie fell through ice while skating on a pond. He died from hypothermia and met the Provider of his Daily Bread at the age sixty-six.

Arie-Gertrude-1981-retirement1-300x247Gertrude & Arie at his 1981 Retirement Celebration

Arie D. Bestebreurtje, JD, aka “Captain Harry” or “Dr. B,” retired as a Major. He was married 41 years to Gertrude Maude Bersch, with whom he had four children: Driek, Mary Anne, Anton, and Martha Jane. He received 18 of the highest international medals for his service during World War II, second only to General Dwight D Eisenhower. He had command of seven different languages, was a Captain of the Dutch Intelligence, a U.S. spy with the Office of Strategic Services and Special Operations Executive during World War II, and after the war had a successful International Law practice in New York. He was personified as Captain Harry in the 1977 movie “A Bridge Too Far.” Arie competed as an international speed skater, was on the 1936 Dutch Olympic team, held many international records, and once skated with Dick Button in an Ice Capades show as a clumsy skating clown in New York City in 1953. He also won several national competitions prior to the war. After being ordained as a minister in 1950, he served in several positions from Superintendent of Youth Studies at Asbury United Methodist Church, to head minister of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY in 1957, and in 1966 was transferred to First Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, Va. where he served until his  retirement in 1981.

Arie-and-George-300x192A funny note. “This hero with so many war skills, agile speed skater, and  immaculately groomed minister, still had his glumness, tripping and  falling. He would recover his composure with a laugh and some  funny jester for an excuse. He was about 6’4″ or more with auburn hair and a perfect mustache.” –John Beach

A special thanks to John Beach for use of all of the photos he has collected, and his tireless effort to help me keep the facts straight. To find out more, go to


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