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An update to the Staurolite foundation

24 Apr 2017

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are a few that will hopefully illustrate the work of the Staurolite foundation the last half of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. We covet your prayers as we

Real Mission work

10 Feb 2017

Yesterday we were privileged to go out with our friends and participate in training local “baby” Chris!$t!@ns in how to share the word. When we completed the training we shared a meal and then after a time of talking with

And we are off..

04 Feb 2017

Well today is the day. We head out this morning to begin the journey of almost 28 hours to India. If we could find a tv, and then if we could get the game, we could watch the Super Bowl

Nothing is as Good as it seems & Nothing is as bad as it seems

29 Jan 2017

Let me start with an apology of sorts, maybe an excuse or an explanation… I have been neglectful in meeting my own self imposed standards of posting to this page. And, while I am at, don’t expect it to get

Outdoor activities

01 Dec 2016

We are hip deep in elk hunts for wounded military service men in New Mexico while the staff of the New Hope school in Kolkata is also engaged in outdoor activities.

There is something about being out of doors that

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Like Elijah, pastors and ministers need periods of disengagement, reflection and refreshment. However, the structure of many churches and pastoral roles plus the demands of the position make it difficult to find a place and a time for pastors or ministers and their spouses to be able to rest, recharge and return to their roles better prepared to deal with the stresses and demands. Finances are often an issue as well.

The purpose of the Elijah’s Cave ministry is to provide a time and a place for rest and healing for those involved in ministry to be able to take time away, rest and reflect in the beauty of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Visit the Elijah’s Cave page to learn more.

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2013 Mountain Top Safari

It is about the Journey

It really is all about the Journey and almost nothing to do with the success or lack of success, whatever your personal definition is of success. According to Dr. Curtis Hutson, success is knowing God’s will for you and doing it.

We just finished our second Mountain Top Safari. We had 4 combat-wounded, active duty service men and veterans in for a 5 day elk hunt with a day prior to acclimatize. Suffice it to say, the elk did not cooperate. But, the hunt was great.

We were elk hunting up north of Red River, NM. We camped at just above the 10,000 foot elevation mark. The weather was pretty strong for mid – October. We had snow on Friday before going to camp on Saturday. Then we had a sleet storm on Sunday night. And by sleet storm, I mean thunder and lightning, rain, and then sleet. And on Monday night I do not know how cold it got, but my nephew’s radiator froze and it was supposedly good to 5 degrees above zero. Let me just say, it was dad gum cold. We left camp on Tuesday, no great foresight or planning on any of our part, just the Good Lord taking care of us. And that night we had 4-6 inches of snow down at the house. It appeared to snow all day on Wednesday up where we camped. The weather was challenging. The elk did not cooperate. A grand time was had by all.

Participating in this year’s hunt were 4 combat-wounded service men. These are fine men, proud and strong. The names have been left out to protect their identity and because of the high degree of respect I have for them.  One young man is a young marine wounded in combat. He had both legs amputated very high as a result of an IED blast. He was quite an inspiration to us as well as to everyone he encountered.  Despite his physical struggles, he is moving on with his life.  It was always encouraging to watch as he hopped out of his chair and into the back seat of a pickup. Once they reached the area to hunt, he hopped on the back of one of the hosts and into the back of the pickup. I did not witness the first day’s hunt, but later in the week watched him ride in the back of my pickup as we hunted for an elk. It was fairly chilly and fairly rough country, particularly to be riding in the back of a pickup with no legs to brace you or absorb the shock.  I saw nothing but a smile on his face the whole ride. Of course, some of that could have been that the best looking lumberjack in North America was helping with the guide duties…..

Another is a young soldier wounded by an RPG blast to the vehicle where he was riding as gunner. He lost one leg at the knee. You should see him flip that prosthetic around and use it as a shooting rest or just a conversation piece. The first day of the hunt we took off on a 2 mile walk to hunt for an elk. Of course, short is relative, and even slightly uphill above 10,000 foot elevation with any sort of uphill climb and a temperature of less than 20 degrees makes it difficult. He never really stopped, just kept climbing and hunting. I think the challenge of climbing up, packing his rifle and hunting gear, and just keeping moving put a smile on his face and in his heart. I know it did mine.

Another of our hunters is a helicopter pilot wounded when the Blackhawk he was flying was shot down by an RPG. He has served in a couple of branches of the military over many years. One of the other guys took him out on another hike to hunt for an elk on the first morning. Again, short hike and uphill are not the same in the mountains of northern New Mexico compared to south Texas or Georgia. Even though he was in a lot of pain and discomfort, he always put the needs of the group ahead of his own. If you think soldiers do not serve out of a true servant’s heart, you should be there to watch and listen to these guys.

Our last hunter is a young man wounded by an IED while in a humvee. He was severely injured by the blast and has limited use of one leg from the explosion. He is full of life. He went with me as we hiked and hunted for elk that first morning. Now if you know me, you know I am not long and lean, and at one point he looked at me and says, “What are you, a Kenyan? You are running circles around us.” Those of you who know me may now laugh appropriately as I do not know anyone who would describe me as being of the type of physical condition as a Kenyan. This young man appears to be physically healthy. He has his own set of physical limitations. Besides being the camp clown, he has one of the biggest servant’s hearts I have ever witnessed. If you think men who serve in these front line military units are warriors, you are right. If you do not realize they are servants, you are dead wrong.

We had several men and women who served in logistical support for the hunt and I would be remiss in not giving them a note. Greg Cliadikis provided transportation from Albuquerque to the area and then drove up and carried the guys back to the Albuquerque airport. I personally had no idea how important this would be at the end of the hunt, but we were all pretty darn worn out and his servant’s heart really made a big difference for everyone.

Rachel, the best looking lumberjack in North America, was committed to supporting this hunt since her involvement in last year’s hunt. She secured donations of food and other supplies as well helping with making camp and with guiding. Technically, we do not guide, we host. Rachel was and will be a foundation of support for these hunts. She said to me after it was over and everyone was gone, “I know we do this to minister to these folks, but I think I am ministered to more than they are.” I would say she summed it up for all of us.

Joe was another who provided a lot of support for this hunt. Joe and I came into contact when I responded to an ad he ran for elk permits. When I told Joe what the permits were for, he quickly said, let me call you back. I got a call back a few hours later and he told me to call the land owner directly. Joe is a broker of tags and makes a part of his living by reselling tags. He simply cut himself out of the deal. So while a lot of us put time and resources into this hunt, Joe truly put himself into it. He also had his company provide jackets for the hunters and t-shirts for everyone. And I think Joe helped host hunters almost every day and twice a day most days.

Cole and Brendon, what can I say. You cannot put together something like this and have any expectation of success without some young legs and young hearts. Both of these guys were more of the generation of the majority of our hunters, which is a generation younger than the rest of us. They went without sleep, some of that self-imposed, worked longer, got up early and stayed up late. They helped set up camp, cook, clean, tear down and rarely sat down. Usually one of them saw something that needed doing and had it done before the rest of us recognized it needed doing. And if they were ever given a task, you did not have to check and see if it was accomplished. It was, and better than the rest of us would have done it. One word of advice, never, ever attempt a hunt like this without a pair like these two.

We would not be able to provide these hunts without the assistance of Cone Underwood and John Branum. Both of these men are retired military and have ongoing contacts with wounded warriors in transition in their respective areas. They provide escorts for the hunters to New Mexico as well as helping out with camp cooking duties and general support all during the hunt. Their experience in the military and relationships with the military are invaluable as is their presence on the hunt. We truly would not be able to put these hunts on without them. Alan Chapman –  Alan dreamed this deal up with me as we were on the side of a mountain horseback hunting for mule deer about three years ago. He has been instrumental in planning and providing for the hunts.

Our original purpose in putting these types of hunts together was to show some appreciation to these who have sacrificed so much for all of us. We hope to show appreciation and here in the mountains, let them reconnect with the Good Lord, Jesus. One of the men made the comment as he was leaving, I thought I was going on an elk hunt, I did not realize it would be a life-changing experience. It is our hope that this was a life-changing experience for them. I know it was for me and everyone else who participated in support.

These soldiers, true wounded warriors, are men who are true American Heroes. It was those of us who provided logistical support to them this past week who may have received the most Blessing. We were disappointed in the lack of elk harvest. But each of these men made it very clear that this was the trip of a lifetime.

These young men have all overcome some major challenges in their lives. As Christians, we know that the purpose of life on this earth is to prepare us, to mold us, to make us into the people that the Good Lord has planned for us to be. As it says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For, I know the plans I have for you,”says the Lord.” They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

We often wonder how the current difficulty that we are going through is in agreement with the above statement, “… plans for good and not for disaster.” I watched these young men camp above 10,000 feet elevation. They pushed their own wheel chair.  They struggled with dragging a prosthetic over snow and deep grass. They were physically exhausted from the strain of walking and moving on legs with no feeling. They had pain and discomfort from metal rods in their back to the point they could not stand. Yet, they never once complained. They simply smiled, laughed, and enjoined the journey.

And, as the week wore on, they seemed to get more life in them. They had more energy. They had more vitality. There is no question that they all have physical obstacles to overcome. There is also no doubt that they have embraced the message from Jeremiah that in spite of this difficulty that was not caused by God, they know they have a future and a hope.

Let me challenge you to enjoy the struggle. I know often in my life I did not enjoy the struggle enough. We are not all called to be warriors. Some are called to be administrators. Some are called to be logistical support to ministry and mission. Some are called to be leaders. Whatever your calling may be, let me encourage you to enjoy the struggle. It is not about reaching the prize. It is not about harvesting an elk. It is about the hunt.

I write this after the warriors have left. The house is quiet and frankly empty. I cannot describe the feeling you have when you walk into the house and there is a pair of leg braces under the bar. Or when you walk into a bathroom to check for supplies and a pair of crutches has been left by the toilet. Or when you walk into a big wall tent and there is a pair of prosthetics leaned up against the corner of the tent wearing pants. I still think they were placed by my bed to try and get to me. I told the camp clown, who I expect put them there, to move them; they were making the tent leak…

And just in case I did not clearly communicate how much I appreciate these men and their sacrifice, let me say Thank you. Be purposeful in choosing to enjoy the journey,

mike

Leadership on Purpose

 

Jeremiah 29:11 “For, I know the plans I have for you,”says the Lord.” They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Proverbs 18:24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. NLT

 

Cowboy Logic: Never get off until it quits bucking

wounded-soldier-elk-huntEndorsed by:

new-mexico-game-and-fish

New Mexico Game & Fish

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The Starfish Project

The New Hope School was started and is supported by Pastor Rudra Singh of the New Hope Church in Kolkata, India. Pastor Rudra began his ministry there in Kolkata after realizing that he had new hope in Jesus Christ.

The Starfish Project is a project of the Staurolite Foundation. The Staurolite Foundation was founded by Mike and Cheryl Smith, with the help of the folks at Powell & Leon,LLP, after a February 2012 mission trip to Kolkata, India. Mike was privileged to participate in this with Oakwood Baptist Church in New Braunfels, TX. The purpose of the Starfish Project is to support the New Hope School which is located in a slum area called Udayan Polly on the outskirts of Kolkata.

The New Hope School is providing hope for children who previously have had no vision of the possibilities that Jesus Christ offers them nor of any hope of living beyond the slum where their family resides. There are many success stories in the short existence of the New Hope School. Two stories of transformation are below.

 

Debasis and Subasis are two boys aged about 10and 11 who attend the New Hope School.

Their mother lives with 4children. When their father found his wife had seizures , he left their mother . Their mother can not do any work and is dependent open her own  mother . Debasis and Subasis have two sisters also. Debesis and  Subasis were scrap gatherers. They collect empty beer bottles, drink left over beer and sell the bottles and get a little money to survive.

Rudra and his church members met with them in 2008. They encouraged them to come to the New Hope school. The boys did not know even what a school is. They began to come to school, began to learn the English alphabet, rhymes and many more things. They left their old work as scrap gatherers and concentrated upon their study. Transformation began.  They were using slang language,  slowly they reduced it. They had no hope. No ambition of their life. The New Hope School gave them a new vision and new ways to think differently, to create hope in their hopeless life. They began to learn about Jesus Christ, learned  how to pray in Jesus name.  They became seekers of Jesus Christ. Before they sang other songs, to Hindu god, now they sing “This is the Day”, Father Abraham had many more Christian songs. Now they are doing very well in their studys as well as other activities. Before they came to the  New Hope School ,they did not know how to think beyond their own current situation in the slum, but now Debasis want to become a police Inspector and Subasis wants to be a business man. This is a real transformation.

Nita and gita are two girls about 13 years old. They, like all the others in this area are extremely underprivileged and have no hope of a better life and no knowledge of Jesus. The girls have been a part of the school since its beginning in the later part of 2008. They have received teaching  and personal care for the volunteer teachers, Mita, Raju, and Santu. The teachers have seen transformation happen with these two girls. They no longer want to worship idols, nor do they wan to cheat others and tell lies, which are common character practices of those in the Udayan Polly slum village. In January, Saraswati Idols, the goddess of knowledge, were being worshiped by the villagers. Nita and Gita’s family participated in this festival. During this festival on a certain day all are expected to fast and wait until a fixed time, set by the priest before breaking the fast. When the time arrives, again as set by the priest, all are expected to throw flowers on the idol and put fruits before the idol, then ask for blessings from the idol. Nita and Gita’s parents gave them money to buy fruits and flowers for the idol. They knew that Nita and Gita were participating in the fast. The girls left their house with money and went to a restaurant to get some food and fill their stomachs, then came back to the idol festival location. Standing before the idol with empty hands, no fruit nor flowers, they asked forgiveness to Jesus. “Lord Jesus, please forgive us. If we will not stand in front of this idol then we will get a beating from our father.” The very next day when they came to the New Hope school they shared these things with Mita, the headmistress and asked to offer a prayer of forgiveness to Jesus.

Now you can praise God with Rudra, Mita, Raju and Santu, for the conviction they have! They have been taught and obviously learned that idol worship is a sin. This is a small step toward transformation that we can all rejoice. We will all be able to rejoice when we see total transformation through the power of God.

These two stories came from Pastor Rudra, I have made minimal changes for language issues. Pastor Rudra ended the note with these words, “Together we can; Together we will. Amen”

 

 

The school as it exists today in no way resembles any school in the United States. Yet, these people and this school are making a huge difference in the lives of children. The New Hope School is approximately 40 feet by 25 feet constructed out of masonry walls with a pole roof. This past year they have been able to add a concrete floor, after 4 years of working on tarp covered dirt. The inside walls are painted with murals of animals to brighten the atmosphere. There are estimated to be 900 children who reside in this particular slum, less than 100 are currently having their eyes opened to a new vision for their lives. This new vision is introducing them to Jesus Christ and to the possibilities of a future with an education.

The children now wear uniforms, sewn by ladies of the Udayan Polly slum, in sewing classes taught a couple of times a week in the school building. It seems in India, if you do not have a uniform, then you are attending a real school. The children have some curriculum materials, previously their only “books” were handwritten by the teachers in small notebooks. The teachers are being paid a minimal salary monthly for their work. The teachers have received assistance with transportation issues to get to and from school. A motor scooter and a couple of bikes for the teachers, the uniforms, the curriculum materials, and the material for the uniforms have been provided by the Staurolite Foundation.

 

While I am confident there are many more such schools across the globe who are in need of assistance, this is the one the Good Lord has lead me support. I am writing to enlist your support.

 

In the words of Pastor Rudra, “Thank you so much for your prayer support. Because of your prayer support we could achieve this goal. We have a long way to walk and many things to achieve. Our hands are feeble but God’s hand is Able. Amen.”     

 

Please be in prayer of how you can help.  We need to raise $50,000 to purchase land to build a permanent school. A permanent school will have the opportunity to give more children in the Udayan Polly slum area New Hope. The school will be used for church services and activities.

And while we know, the hope we have in Jesus Christ is not due to any work of ours, I will end with the words of Pastor Ray Still, “ …it can’t hurt any when you show up at heaven if there is a little child from a slum in India, holding Peter’s hand who says, “yes I know them, they helped me.”

 

Blessings,

mike

Michael T. Smith

 

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 

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Welcome to the Staurolite Foundation.

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