4 Benefits for Christians in This Age

 

Out in the world today, we see a lot of bold claims made by companies. They promise you weight loss, happiness, wealth, status, and anything else that you can think up. What is their purpose in making these bold claims? They want your money. Many of the times the claims are flat out lies and at best they deliver only a fraction of what was promised. What about Christianity? Does the Bible make big claims like companies do?

Personally, I think the Bible makes a lot of claims about those who put their faith in God. But the logical follow up question to that statement is  – are they true? So in this blog post I want to set out to show you four claims the Bible makes about the benefits a Christian receives in this age. The fact that we are talking about this age is important. Obviously a Christian has a major benefit in the age to come with eternal life and the kingdom. However, I want to focus on this life and how being a Christian makes our lives better, now. The four benefits to being a Christian are peace, purpose, perspective, and people.

Peace is a commodity of which the world is in short order. It seems that mental illness is all over the news with illnesses like depression and anxiety sweeping over our nation. Christianity promises to those who put their faith in God that they can find peace. Look at Philippians 4:6-7, “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul, talking to the people of Philippi, is saying that if we hand over our anxiety to God through prayer and thanksgiving in return we will receive peace that surpasses all comprehension. I love how Paul makes the point to say that this peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. I think Christianity has the best solution for finding peace in this life.

1 Peter 2 9

Purpose is an elusive things that some people spend their whole lives searching out. I truly think that people thrive the most when they are living a life after the purpose for which God created them. If you are looking for purpose look at 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says, “9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” First look at verse 10 where it says, “you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God”. In other words, once you had no identity and no purpose but now you are the people of God and you have a purpose. The purpose statement is at the end of verse 9, “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”. I think when we are giving the good news to people, and that is our driving purpose, we find fulfillment with our lives. What could be better than helping someone change their life forever?

Perspective can be a tricky thing to find, especially perspective that is trustworthy and true. Let’s talk about the world’s perspective on one of the most difficult things we deal with in life, death. To the world, death is crushing, scary, oppressive, breaking, and most of all final. The world has no hope when it comes to death but the Bible offers a better perspective on death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” If you are a Christian, you are offered a perspective on death that doesn’t include fear but instead centers on hope. Don’t get me wrong, death is still a painful and difficult event but it isn’t crushing for Christians. To me, 1 Thessalonians 4 is a clarifying and liberating passage. Because of the Bible I am freed from the fear of death. Christianity offers us a better perspective on death and a whole multitude of other things.

People, who doesn’t want a people to call their own? Community is an essential part of human flourishing and Christians absolutely crush the competition when it comes to community. Look at what Jesus says in Mark 10:29-30, “29 Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.’” In this present age we will receive 100 times the family that we currently have. This doesn’t mean that all of a sudden our family multiples by 100. What it means is that those who are Christians become our family. You are probably familiar with the term family of God. It is short hand for the community of believers that form one large family all around the world. When I walk into church I know that those people have my back, they love me, they support me, and they are my family.

Maybe now you are asking how can I be sure that these claims actually hold up under pressure? Are these claims made by the Bible like the false claims made by big companies? If you are curious about the validity of the Bible, just ask a long time Christian that you know. They will tell you about the peace they have felt in their lives when there should not have been peace. They will tell you about the purpose they have found. They will tell you about how the Bible has shifted their perspectives for the better. They will tell you about the community that they have in the family of God.

If you are looking for peace, purpose, perspective, or a people I think you should give Christianity a serious look. Maybe you have been on the fence about dedicating your life to Christ or maybe you have fallen away and aren’t where you want to be with God. Either way there is a better life out there, it just takes commitment. You need to commit to following God wherever He leads and you need to put your trust in Jesus. If you are thinking about dedicating or rededicating your life to Christ find a pastor or Christian you trust and talk to them about how following God can change your life for the better.

-Josiah Cain

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A Lesson from Peru: Faith

peru children

Missions Spotlight: Peru

Within the past five years, ministry in Peru has boomed!  After studying Miguel Cervetes, Pastor Edwin Mauricio came to know the beliefs we hold dear, leaving behind a life of preaching to congregations of thousands. Pastor Edwin mentors several other pastors throughout Peru; we are learning of new pastors and congregations with each visit!  Pictured is a group of youth Yesenia Ruiz Castillo teaches each week in the northern-region of Peru.  

 

The “faith chapter” of the Bible is called the “faith chapter” for good reason.  Did you know, the word “faith” is mentioned 23 times in Hebrews 11? Starting with the first chapter, we are told that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.  People have faith in many different things.  We put our faith in our parents, teachers, doctors, and the government.  I have faith that when I flick the light switch, it will send electricity through the lightbulb and give us light. We as Christians know that faith is important because it is the vehicle of our salvation.  John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father but through [him].”  Paul tells us, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  This is nothing new, right?

 

Although you have most likely memorized the definition of faith in your 6th grade Sunday School class, I want to take a moment to reflect on the truly RADICAL things leaders have done in FAITH.  If they didn’t have faith, they surely would not jump out on a limb like this.  As you read through this list, try to put yourself in their shoes, imagine how they must have felt and thought.  I know these are stories we have likely heard before, but take a moment to capture how boldly these Christians stepped out in faith.

  • Noah – The whole world thought he was crazy for building a boat for the rains that no one had ever seen
  • Joseph – The man who stayed true to God even when he was betrayed by his family and sent to a strange land where he was a slave.
  • Moses – The man who returned to a country that hated him to command that Pharaoh set the Israelites free.  This same man had the faith to walk into the sea of reeds and watch as the sea parted before him and the entire Israelite nation walked on dry ground.
  • Daniel – The man who stood in the face of hungry lions with confidence knowing that God could deliver him from even the mightiest beasts.
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – The men who put their faith in God and told Nebuchadnezzar that God can deliver us from the fire, but even if he doesn’t we will not serve your gods because we know YHWH is the one true God.
  • David – The man who went up against a mighty giant with only a sling knowing that if God is behind him, then no one could stand against him.
  • Peter – The man who stepped out onto the water to meet Jesus, defining the natural laws of the world.
  • Paul – The man who despite his imprisonments, beatings, and shipwrecks kept preaching the gospel to whoever would listen to him.

 

Now I want to share with you several others who have stepped out in faith and inspired me on a personal level.  These are believers that live in Peru, and believe as we do.

  • Maria Poma – The woman who continues to serve her community and church after the tragic death of her husband, the former pastor.
  • Edwin Mauricio – The man who left pastoring a congregation of thousands to shepherd a small group, knowing he held the truth.
  • Marco Gutierrez – The man who spends hours travelling long distances to come to church each week to preach and lead Bible studies.
  • Yesenia Castillo – The woman who leads large groups of youth, even after the flooding and destruction of the church building.

 

God never promises us that we won’t have hardship in this life, but he does promise to be with us in the hard time. He will protect us from the hungry lions of this world, but even if he doesn’t, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will still serve him. And because of that, we will spend eternity in God’s kingdom.

 

If you would like to support our family in Peru with money for transportation for Pastor Marco to travel to church, along with buying materials for a renovation of the Lima church kitchen, please follow this link. Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

 

 

A Lesson from Russia: Restoration

 

maxsim

Missions Spotlight: Russia

Maksim works tirelessly to spread the Gospel throughout Eurasia. While trials and tribulations hit Maksim, he stands firm in the power and grace God gives him freely each day.  The evangelistic website he runs has been hacked twice and Brother Uli, a dear friend, is undergoing intensive chemo for a brain tumor. Nonetheless, Maksim keeps traveling, preaching and baptizing.

Whenever something is going poorly in my life or when times seem really hard, I think of the restoration that is to come on this earth. In December, my grandfather passed away.  Looking back on it now, the only way that my family and I made it through that hard time so well is because we had hope of a future where everything will be made right again. Isaiah 35 gives me hope for the future and I encourage you to read it all on your own sometime, but for now I am going to select a few verses here that stand out to me.

3Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
4Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”
5Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.

10And the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

It is no surprise to any of us that bad things happen to good people and I am convinced that sometimes Satan messes with our lives to try and make us lose sight of our hope and our future. He tries to get us to betray our hope and give up on God. Recently Maksim, our Christian brother in Russia, has gone through some trying events and deals with the sin of the world every day. He has had to deal with people hacking his website and undoing all of the hard work he has put in. His close friend has been diagnosed with cancer, which is trying on any Christian. He also sees the sin of the world in a unique way as he ministers to a young orphan through a big brother program. How can Maksim and others put up with the burdens that this sinful world brings? It is through our undying hope of restoration! We are looking forward to the time that God brings healing to all families, healing to all people, and puts a stop to all of the kinds of sin. Not only that, but we live with the current knowledge that God takes care of us through all things right now.

There is not a thing that we go through that God is not aware of.  That statement alone is comforting. This doesn’t mean that if you live a holy life, all things are always going to be perfect. It does, however, mean that in one way or another, in the end it will work out to your advantage, whether it be in this age or in the age to come. I know this because of Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” God works and it should be sobering to us that God works for us. He wants to make sure that we are taken care of but more importantly He wants to make sure that we never have to deal with sin again. This is why God is putting into place a kingdom age where things will be made perfect – where everything wrong with the world will be made right. The, “lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness” (Isa. 35:6). Let’s look forward to that day and let’s praise God for this amazing plan that He has set into motion for us! Hallelujah, praise God, amen!

It is also part of our Christian duty to support those in ministry through our money, through our gifts, and through our prayer. The order I put those in was no accident because I think of those three things money is the least important and prayer is the most important. If you would like to help support Maksim and his ministry in Russia, please pray and follow this link below. May the kingdom age come soon!

If you would like to support Maksim and his ministry in Russia, please follow this link. https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection Thank you!

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain

A Lesson From Mexico: Peace

lupe

Missions Spotlight: Mexico

In 1961, After working as a migrant working in the USA, Lupe’s husband, Roberto, returned to Mexico with the only Bible in their village in hand.  Today, Lupe is a widow who has faithfully served our God and community for many years.  Lupe has served as a mother figure to countless children around her.  Unfortunately, the region of Mexico where she resides has become increasingly dangerous over the recent years, and has thus limited our ability to visit with Lupe from the United States. 

Peace is an interesting thing isn’t it? Peace is something that contradicts the way the world operates. When you are poor, the world says to steal and to cut corners to get ahead. When you are afraid, the world says to attack or run away. When you are angry, the world says to get revenge. But peace, humble old peace, throws that all back into the face of the world. A great passage to look at when talking about peace is Ephesians 2:13-18.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

Jesus came to preach peace. Peace is where, despite your circumstances, you are okay with who and where you are because of your greater belief in something. In our case as Christians, that is God and His son Jesus, who very obviously came to bring us peace – perhaps even a “peace…which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). When we are founded on the truths of the Bible and our redemption from sin, we can be be filled with divine peace in any situation. Our sister Lupe carries on in faith. She understands that Jesus came as the, “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). I encourage you next time you feel overwhelmed or that you might soon be overcome by your circumstance, to take some time to remember who has your back. The creator of all the things around you has your back. Look around you, literally stop reading this for a couple of seconds and look around you and then come back to this post. How intricate and wonderful is this world that we live in? The creator of all of that has your back.  God has established a future that is better than anything you can imagine.  Breathe deeply knowing that the Prince of Peace shed his blood, so that we can live each moment with a peace that only comes from knowing our LORD.  Our hope in God, His son, and the coming kingdom fuels our peace.

Please take some time and pray for our sister Lupe.  Please pray that she might feel an everlasting peace from God and the strength to continue in faith, even as the world around her is different from anything she has ever known. If God so leads you, I encourage you to follow the link below and support her financially. Thank you for reading and God bless!

If you would like to support Lupe in Mexico, please follow this link. https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection Thank you!

-Josiah and Amber Cain

 

 

A Lesson from Pakistan: Preparation

pakistan inside group

Missions Spotlight: Pakistan

Did you know that less than 3% of people living in Pakistan are Christians?  Pakistan is mainly a Muslim country.  Because of religious persecution and the law, our Christian brethren meet in homes.  Currently, we support seven home-congregations that believe as we do.

 

Why do you believe in God?  Have you ever been asked this question?  After being asked this question, I would often flounder around saying things like “Ummm because I was raised in it” or “because the Bible says it’s true” or “God and Jesus changed my life” (meanwhile I didn’t really know how they changed it).  When it came right down to it, I didn’t really know why I believed in God.  If we take our faith seriously, we are not allowed to stay in ignorance; we have to be ready.  There has probably been a time and place when we all had to give an account for our faith to someone, or at least when we have questioned our own beliefs.  Let’s take a look at 1 Peter 3:13 – 18 to see what a very wise man had to say about this subject.

 

“13 Who is [c]there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you [d]are blessed. And do not fear their [e]intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but [f]sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a [g]defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and [h]reverence; 16 [i]and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if [j]God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the [k]spirit”

 

Verse 15 blankly states to always be ready to share your defense, or your testimony of the hope that lives in you!  So let’s get practical and dive into the nitty gritty of what a “defense meant to convince” might look like.  Here are several starters to get you thinking about what elements of your personal faith story are powerful to your testimony.

 

  1. Align your actions with Christ’s.

It’s not enough to just be different from the world.  Buddhists, Muslims, even moral atheists live differently from the world.  If you aren’t living like Christ than anything you say after that can as easily be dismissed as saying the word ‘hypocrite’.

 

  1. Highlight your personal change

Show how you lived before and how your life is different now, only through the power of God’s grace and strength; you couldn’t do this alone!

 

  1. Highlight your hope for the future

The kingdom of God resides here on the Earth now and in the future!!! This belief has given you purpose.  HOPEfully your peers will be able to perceive this from the way you have been living.  Our actions and mindset produce joy!

 

  1. Highlight the coming judgement

There is a judgement day approaching; it is sooner now than it has ever been.  This aspect is meant to help others perceive the urgency of believing

 

  1. Historical/ontological/teleological arguments for trusting the Bible

If you feel like you can articulate these aspects well, go for it! These are very valuable reasons for believing.  However, you do run the risk of appearing uninformed if the person you are talking to is studied up on these subjects.  You wouldn’t want someone to tear apart your arguments and thus misinterpret your testimony.

 

  1. Highlight the changes in others

Express stories of growth and change that you have witnessed in others.  This is a great time to offer a friend the chance to believe!

 

I encourage you to take some time and write out your testimony on paper.  That way, when the time comes you will have a “defense meant to convince” ready to go.

 

In Pakistan, people are not Christians because it is casual, it is the exact opposite.  With only 3% of the country practicing Christianity, our brothers and sisters are not doing it because of the trendy churches, or latest fad.  These people believe in God and Jesus because they have experienced it; they have a powerful testimony to share.  They have done the preparation and know that this is the best way of life.  Although it is not the popular belief, they are prepared disciples.  I am inspired by our brothers and sisters in Pakistan to testify boldly, and to stand ready to share my defense.

 

If you would like to support our family in Pakistan with Bibles and money for meeting grounds, please follow this link. Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

A Lesson from Africa: Leadership

Missions Spotlight: Africa

africa church inside

400 CoG Churches spread across the plains and mountains of Malawi, Mozambique and Kenya.  This past year alone, there have been 23 new church plants in Mozambique and 7 in Malawi! This year, new Church headquarter buildings will be established in Mozambique and Kenya. God is moving in Africa! Pictured is a new church building in Kenya.

 

How did Jesus set up the church to work? Well I’m so glad you asked that question because that is the perfect question to help us lead into today’s topic which is leadership. Christ designed the church around a leadership, evangelism, and then discipleship model. This work begins when a leader who is strong in the faith and well educated on the gospel talks to people about it – a.k.a evangelism. So once this leader has effectively spread the gospel to someone and they decided that they want to become a follower of Christ they start down the path of discipleship. Discipleship is a Christianese word that means to train and grow someone in their faith. Once a person has spent a sufficient time studying the word and learning about Jesus they themselves become leaders and the cycle starts all over. This is how the early church went from 12 people to the official religion of Rome in 300 years! Jesus was our first leader who trained his 12 disciples and then they took it from there. Now that is a simplified version of the New Testament record but that is essentially what happened. The amazing thing is that this model of church has overcome persecution, death, plagues, famine, and time to reach us today. We can be proud that some 2,000 years later we are still carrying out Jesus’ great commission, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matt. 28:19-20.

 

A perfect example of this leadership are the pastors of Africa bringing the gospel to their people. About 25 years ago a missionary from our conference discipled a single individual and today there are over 400 churches in Malawi, Mozambique, and Kenya. That is amazing – from 1 person to 400 churches in 25 years! God must be blessing these pastors and no small part of their success is due to their understanding of Biblical leadership. Even though these pastors don’t have the resources we have here in the states they still get the job done. They walk miles on foot to spread gospel, they live morally righteous lives, and sacrifice of themselves to spread the good news. If that isn’t a perfect model of leadership, I don’t know what is.  When I saw them in Africa, I saw Christ in them. I saw them spreading the gospel, making disciples, and empowering believers to be leaders themselves. I saw their undying loyalty to the truth and devotion to live righteous lives despite famine, war, death of children, and poverty; they do not give up and they effectively spread the gospel.

 

Let’s learn from and be inspired by our African brothers who spread the gospel with no fear or hesitation. They are living proof to one of my favorite scriptures Acts 1:8, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The best part of talking about all of this evangelism and leadership is realizing that the mission field is just as big here, in the USA, as it is in Africa. We need leaders now and in the next generation to come and speak truth. We also need to support our leaders now to continue to carry the truth.

 

If you would like to support our brethren in Africa with new church buildings along with fertilizer and seed for crops, please follow this link.  Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

A Lesson from Haiti: Perseverance

haiti

Missions Spotlight: Haiti

Under the direction of Lesly Bertrand, our conference supports 24 orphans with shelter, food and an education.  In addition to tending to the children, Pastor Lesly shepherds one of the 25 Haitian churches that share our beliefs.  He also meets with 21 ministers in the region for Bible study and leadership training each month.

 

This past week, some of our beloved family from Ohio came to stay with us.  Among the company, was our adorable 4-year-old niece, Melody.  The thing about Melody is, from 8AM to 9PM, she does not slow down.   From visits to the playground, building box forts, and painting masterpieces, to singing, dancing and acting on the fireplace hearth, Melody is in constant motion.

 

As I am worn out and ready to head to sleep at 7PM, I am reminded of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 18.  The disciples come to Jesus and ask him just “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus responds, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

 

Melody is innocent, she trusts, she is content, and she makes friends at the Chick-Fil-A play-place within a matter of seconds.   Melody and her buddies fly through the play equipment and zip down the slide over and over and over again.  I get tired just watching her through the glass as I shove another french fry into my mouth.  Melody runs with perseverance.  As long as the sun is up, she never stops.  This zeal and energy brings me to 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

 

We are called to be children of God like Melody. We need to be going for his kingdom from sun up to sun down we can’t stop. I think that is what Jesus meant in Matt. 18. Children are fully reliant on their parents for everything. Like children, we need to be fully reliant on our heavenly father. Children trust without reservation. In the same way, we need to trust without reservation. Children are excited about life. Therefore, we need to be excited about this life and the life that we have to look forward to in the kingdom of God. If we can’t accept God in the simple way children accepts their parents, then we can’t live our Christian life the way Jesus wants.

 

Our conference supports 24 children in Haiti just like Melody.  While I have never met them, I can imagine they are full of energy and life.  When hurricane Matthew hit our brethren in Haiti a short time ago, they did not let the hurdles and obstacles of life defeat them as their churches and homes were crushed.  Instead, they had the mentality of a child.  They understood that their Creator provides for them, that He is always worthy of our praise.

 

Today, I am inspired by the orphans in Haiti to play harder.  I am inspired to take each step one at a time, and remember that God sees me through each situation, no matter how big or small.  I am inspired to run the race with perseverance and consistency; not just choose to serve Him or trust Him when it is easy.  I am inspired to live every moment, whether I am alone in my thoughts, or surrounded by friends and family, for the glory and honor of God.

 

If you would like to support an orphan in Haiti with food, shelter, and education or donate towards hurricane relief, please follow this link.  Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber